Sunday, September 19, 2004


On NBC's "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert asked former Rep. John Thune to respond to a recent fund-raising letter sent out by state GOP Chairman Randy Frederick that said Sen. Tom Daschle's complaints about the administration have brought "comfort to America's enemies."

Thune, a Republican aiming to unseat Daschle in November, said he would not have chosen those words. But Thune said he has talked to soldiers who could never vote for Daschle after his prewar comments that President Bush has failed miserably.

"What it does is emboldens our enemies and undermines the morale of our troops," Thune said.

FOR THAT ALONE YOU SHOULD VOTE DEMOCRAT. This brazen attempt to brand all dissent as "emboldening our enemies" and "undermining the morale of our troops" is as unpatriotic as you can get without taking up arms to destroy the Constitution.

Perhaps John Thune learned what undermines our troop morale when he served... uhh, when he enlisted in the... oh, well, it turns out he never served. I guess he had "other priorities."

And that liberal turn-coat commie bastard Daschle, in his efforts to embolden our enemies, never served... uhh, well, actually he is a veteran. He was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command. Well, he probably just used his time in the military to learn how to undermine troop morale, while Thune didn't ever serve because he was spending too much time trying to figure out how to support the troops, right?

Hypocritical bastard. The closest Thune ever came to serving was when he spoke to the soldiers he mentioned would "never vote for Daschle" because of his comments that President Bush has failed miserably.

Because telling the truth is unpatriotic, and soldiers would never want that. The truth undermines our morale. Thank God for people like Thune who keep us from such unpleasantness or we would all drop our rifles and run - or, perhaps, have our daddies wangle us a safe spot in the Guard. Oh, the Guard is deployed, with tens of thousands of reservists pulling multiple tours and spending years on active duty? So what is actually in reserve then? ooops, I'm undermining troop morale now. Sorry. I just won't ask questions anymore. It is unpatriotic and gives aid and comfort to our enemies.


vrangel said...

Don't forget to slam Dashle for running TV ads where he is hugging Bush. :P

vrangel said...

On Screen: Daschle and President Bush hug on House floor.

Hmmm...on House floor ... ;)

Peter V said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
this we'll defend said...

Peter V I am indeed a veteran. I have read Kerry's 1971 speech and I don't see any betrayal at all. I don't think it emboldened the enemy, no. And we shouldn't worry about "emboldening" the enemy when we speak the truth, as Kerry did. After this reply I will post my take on the "Wintersoldier" affair as you put it. But did the SPC who reported the Abu Ghraib scandal embolden the enemy? No, the actions of the prison guards did, he got it stopped. That is how I see Kerry in 1971 - the bearer of bad news, but not at fault for the bad news.

Of course what Thune said was free speech. He had a right to say it. And that having a right to say it doesn't make it right to say.

Your view that all politicians are "mud-slinging ass-wipes" is offensive and untrue, but you have a right to say that too. No, Daschle is not "just as sleazy" and the attempt to say it is ok to be sleazy because the other side did it first is immature. Sure the public concludes "all politicians are mud-slinging ass-wipes" and tunes out - which in this case is totally to the advantage of the Bush administration because looking at the disastrous mistakes and missteps of this worst president in our history will ensure his defeat on Nov. 2nd. So instead we discuss typography and Vietnam.

Dan Rather? The right sure is happy with him, but I've said all along I don't think Bush was AWOL, AND That he didn't fulfill his obligation. But that gets lost in the spin. Which is exactly what the right wants. Misinformation.

Kerry and the Wintersoldier affair:

Sen. Kerry told no lies in his 1971 testimony. None.

He didn't accuse ALL soldiers or even MOST soldiers of war crimes and atrocities. He said it was a frequent occurence, which it was. Here in Los Angeles so is murder, but 99.999 of Angelenos aren't murderers. That doesn't mean it doesn't occur frequently. It does. Just as with atrocities in Vietnam. I don't slander LA citizens by complaining that murder is an all-too frequent occurence in the city of angels.

And the response of the leadership was what Kerry was angry about - and I am too, and so should you be. Here is why:

My Lai was COVERED UP.

My Lai. Terrible. Can you imagine anyone in a unit you belong to killing babies? Of course not, which is why the label "baby-killer" applied to soldiers returning home was so wrong and misguided and flat-out treasonous. And this is why so many veterans that read only excerpts of the speech and nothing else, who don't read Kerry's other comments, are angry. One of their own discussing atrocities must have seemed high treason.

But Kerry was asking for accountability for the policies of the leadership, not the LTCs and CPTs and SGTs and CPTs. The SecDefs, the Westmorelands, the President, the Congress. Why?

Because My Lai was covered up (I use My Lai as an example, but Army records show many incidents of torture, war crimes, mutilation of corpses, etc - again, that doesn't mean most, but it does mean it happened a lot). Now back to your unit. We have established that you can't imagine anybody in your unit doing such things - killing babies, raping women, setting fire to huts filled with non-combatants. Could you imagine anybody in your unit covering up that such things took place? If you knew a guy in your unit raped a woman and shot her baby before setting fire to her hut where she burned alive, would that be ok with you? Probably not. You might be so angry that you shot him yourself, but you would damn sure report it and he would damn sure still be in Leavenworth today serving out his life sentence, right?

Well, if so, then how do you explain a coverup of a massacre of an entire village that went at least to the one-star level and likely beyond? My Lai was covered up by LT Calley's CO, CPT Medina. Medina was allowed to retire. The entire BN staff and LTC covered it up too. And the same thing at BDE level. It wasn't until pictures were published that the Army finally started the UCMJ ball rolling. And after all that, with photographs, witnesses including soldiers who took part and the brave helicopter crew who stopped the massacre, only Calley was convicted, served a brief period of house arrest, and then was freed. He runs a jewelry store in Columbus GA today.

Kerry called that wrong. So do I. What betrayal occurred? The betrayal by those who forsake our values for expediency.

And other things were wrong as well - body counts. Free fire zones. Unaimed artillery fire misnamed "H&I" fire. torture of prisoners. Execution of prisoners. It all really happened. It isn't commie propaganda.

Kerry stood up and said that was wrong. So do I.

Many veterans have only heard that Kerry was part of the anti-war movement, and their experience with the anti-war movement was being called names, having people insult them for their service, etc. But that wasn't the anti-war Kerry. He was against the war in Vietnam, not his fellow Vietnam warriors.

When soldiers came home they were often shunned, treated as outcasts. The govt cut VA funding so that it took Life Magazine photos of overflowing colostomy and urine bags and uncaring attendents in VA hospitals to start a change in the VA medical system. Pictures of injured, crippled soldiers with rotting bedsores because nobody would rotate them. Pictures of quadrapalegics with rat bites out of their toes - and there was nothing they could do to protect themselves and not enough qualified nurses (or attendants who gave a damn) to keep the rats away. Kerry talked about that too. In the same speech which the right says he stabbed veterans in the back. He said:

"The hospitals across the country won't, or can't meet their demands. It is not a question of not trying. They don't have the appropriations. A man recently died after he had a tracheotomy in California, not because of the operation but because there weren't enough personnel to clean the mucous out of his tube and he suffocated to death.

Another young man just died in a New York VA hospital the other day. A friend of mine was lying in a bed two beds away and tried to help him, but he couldn't. He rang a bell and there was nobody there to service that man and so he died of convulsions.

I understand 57 percent of all those entering the VA hospitals talk about suicide. Some 27 percent have tried, and they try because they come back to this country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam, and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn't really care, that doesn't really care."

He also talked about the reception his fellow veterans were recieving when they came back to the nation they nobly served - again, same speech which the right says he betrayed his fellow vets:

"You think about a poster in this country with a picture of Uncle Sam and the picture says "I want you." And a young man comes out of high school and says, "That is fine. I am going to serve my country." And he goes to Vietnam and he shoots and he kills and he does his job or maybe he doesn't kill, maybe he just goes and he comes back, and when he gets back to this country he finds that he isn't really wanted, because the largest unemployment figure in the country- it varies depending on who you get it from, the VA Administration 15 percent, various other sources 22 percent. But the largest corps of unemployed in this country are veterans of this war."

He continued:

"We are also here to ask, and we are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We are here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatric and so many others. Where are they now that we, the men whom they sent off to war, have returned? These are commanders who have deserted their troops, and there is no more serious crime in the law of war."

As for war crimes in particular, remember the right is charging Kerry with calling all vets war criminals. Here is what he said about My Lai - again, same speech:

"My feeling, Senator, on Lieutenant Calley is what he did quite obviously was a horrible, horrible, horrible thing and I have no bone to pick with the fact that he was prosecuted. But I think that in this question you have to separate guilt from responsibility, and I think clearly the responsibility for what has happened there lies elsewhere.... I think it lies with the men who designed free fire zones. I think it lies with the men who encourage body counts.... I think if you are going to try Lieutenant Calley then you must at the same time, if this country is going to demand respect for the law, you must at the same time try all those other people who have responsibility, and any aversion that we may have to the verdict as veterans is not to say that Calley should be freed, not to say that he is innocent, but to say that you can't just take him alone."

Calley was later freed by an order of President Nixon. Ultimately no one was ever sentenced to prison for My Lai.

You and Kerry might disagree about whether we were right to be in Vietnam in the first place. Given that no dominoes fell some would say Kerry's view has been proven right, but that is of course a matter of opinion. But he didn't lie. And he didn't betray veterans either. And those saying that are dishonest.

But I think they know that and don't care about the truth. So who is the loyal American, and who is the betrayer?

As for me, I prefer the truth even when it isn't what I want to hear.

vrangel said...

Seared in my memory:

"personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam . . . "

Former POW Air Force pilot Jim Warner and others have told of how the North Vietnamese forced American prisoners of war to listen to these words and other speeches by Kerry as part of their effort to make prisoners confess to war crimes.

Stop spinning, TWD.

this we'll defend said...


Vrangel, unless you are claiming Kerry encouraged or condoned the mistreatment of the POWs (an obvious lie) then you have no truth. But obviously that doesn't matter to the smear campaign.

Jim Warner and other Swiftvet liars for Bush are probably telling the truth about the North Vietnamese. And the soldier who came forward about Abu Ghraib to stop the mistreatment is probably responsible for the recent beheading of an American, right? Because he spoke truth? The beheaders mentioned Abu Ghraib, so the guy who blew the whistle is supporting Islamic Terrorists, right? How twisted can you be? And you accuse me of "spin."

Your twisted logic (the logic of most of the right-wing, by the way) is that Kerry's speech and anti-war activities gave aid and comfort to the enemy - just like John Thune did about Daschle. Same thing. Some spin. Apparently the truth is the enemy of democracy in the right-wing world - or as O'Reilly calls it, the "no-spin zone." The hypocrisy is amazing.

If Kerry were lying that would be one thing, but he wasn't. So apparently the way to support our soldiers and POWs in Vietnam was to lie, to not speak out about war crimes, to condone such things.

The common line is that Kerry "slandered" his fellow warriors by lying. Here is the truth via, a non-partisan site that dishes it to both sides, but this won't change anything since obviously truth and democracy mean nothing to the Republican party. They (and you, Vrangel) will just say it is "spin."


Group quotes Kerry's descriptions of atrocities by US forces. In fact, atrocities did happen.

Modified:August 23, 2004


"Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" announced a second anti-Kerry ad Aug. 20, using Kerry's own words against him. It features the 27-year-old Kerry in 1971 telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stories about American troops cutting off heads and ears, razing villages "in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan" and committing "crimes . . . on a day-to-day basis."

The Kerry campaign called it a smear and said his words were "edited" out of context. The ad does indeed fail to mention that Kerry was quoting stories he had heard from others at an anti-war event in Detroit, and not claiming first-hand knowledge. But Kerry passed them on as true stories.

The ad characterizes Kerry as making "accusations . . . against the verterans who served in Vietnam." The Kerry campaign denies that, saying Kerry was placing blame on the country's leaders, not the veterans. But Kerry himself said earlier this year that his words were those of "an angry young man . . . inappropriate . . . a little bit excessive . . . a little bit over the top."

Kerry's critics point to a 1978 history of Vietnam that challenged some of the witnesses Kerry quoted. But other published accounts provide ample evidence that atrocities such as those Kerry described actually were committed.


The ad's title is "sellout," and features Vietnam veterans saying Kerry "dishonored his country" and aided the enemy by airing allegations in 1971 of US atrocities in Vietnam.

Out of Context?

On Aug. 20 the Kerry campaign issued a statement calling the ad an a smear and a distortion, saying it "takes Kerry’s testimony out of context, editing what he said to distort the facts."

There is some missing context. What's missing from the ad is that Kerry was relating what he had heard at an an event in Detroit a few weeks earlier sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and was not claiming to have witnessed those atrocities personally.

Here is a more complete excerpt of what Kerry said, with the words used in the ad bold-faced so that readers can judge for themselves how much the added context might change their understanding of how Kerry was quoted in the ad:

Kerry Senate Testimony (1971): I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam, but they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

The record gives no sign that Kerry doubted the stories he was relating. In fact, he said earlier this year that he still stands by much of what he said 33 years earlier (see below) and that "a lot of them (the atrocity stories) have been documented."

Accusing Veterans? Or US War Policy?

One veteran who appears in the ad says "The accusations that John Kerry made against the veterans who served in Vietnam was just devastating." Kerry's campaign insists his 1971 testimony as "an indictment of America’s political leadership—not fellow veterans."

As an example, Kerry aides point to a portion of Kerry's testimony in which he places the blame for the 1968 My Lai massacre not on the troops, but on their superiors: "I think clearly the responsibility for what has happened there lies elsewhere. I think it lies with the men who designed free fire zones. I think it lies with the men who encourage body counts." But that statement came only in response to a direct question, long after Kerry volunteered his description of rapes and mutilations.

Earlier in 1971, during an NBC "Meet the Press" interview, Kerry explicitly spoke of "the men who designed the free-fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas" and said he considered them "war criminals." But he did not draw such a sharp distinction between leaders and followers during the"atrocity" portion of his Senate testimony.

Winter Soldier Event Discredited?

Kerry critics have long disputed that atrocities by US forces were as prevalent as Kerry suggested. And at least some of the testimony at the "Winter Soldier" event was called into question by historian Guenter Lewy in a 1978 book, America in Vietnam. Lewy noted that the event had been staged with financial help from Jane Fonda. He stated that many of the Winter Soldier participants later refused to speak to investigators for the Naval Investigative Service even though they were assured that they wouldn't be questioned about atrocities they might have committed personally. Lewy also suggested that some of the witnesses were imposters:

Guenter Lewy, America in Vietnam (1978): But the most damaging finding consisted of the sworn statements of several veterans, corroborated by witnesses, that they had in fact not attended the hearing in Detroit. One of them had never been to Detroit in all his life. He did not know, he stated, who might have used his name.

Kerry's critics point to that as evidence that he was irresponsibly passing on false atrocity stories. However, there's no question that events such as Kerry described did happen, as Lewy himself stated:

Lewy: Incidents similar to some of those described at the VVAW hearing undoubtedly did occur. We know that hamlets were destroyed, prisoners tortured, and corpses mutilated.

Some atrocities by US forces have been documented beyond question. Kerry's 1971 testimony came less than one month after Army Lt. William Calley had been convicted in a highly publicized military trial of the murder of the murder of 22 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai hamlet on March 16 1968, when upwards of 300 unarmed men, women and children were killed by the inexperienced soldiers of the Americal Division's Charley Company.

And since Kerry testified, ample evidence of other atrocities has come to light:

Son Thang: In 1998, for example, Marine Corps veteran Gary D. Solis published the book Son Thang: An American War Crime describing the court-martial of four US Marines for the apparently unprovoked killing 16 women and children on the night of February 19, 1970 in a hamlet about 20 miles south of Danang. The four Marines testified that they were under orders by their patrol leader to shoot the villagers. A young Oliver North appeared as a character witness and helped acquit the leader of all charges, but three were convicted.
Tiger Force: The Toledo Blade won a Pulitzer Prize this year for a series published in October, 2003 reporting that atrocities were committed by an elite US Army "Tiger Force" unit that the Blade said killed unarmed civilians and children during a seven-month rampage in 1967. "Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings," the Blade reported. "Investigators concluded that 18 soldiers committed war crimes ranging from murder and assault to dereliction of duty. But no one was charged."
"Hundreds" of others: In December 2003 The New York Times quoted Nicholas Turse, a doctoral candidate at Columbia University who has been studying government archives, as saying the records are filled with accounts of atrocities similar to those described by the Toledo Blade series. "I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported," Turse was quoted as saying. "I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds."
"Exact Same Stories": Keith Nolan, author of 10 published books on Vietnam, says he's heard many veterans describe atrocities just like those Kerry recounted from the Winter Soldier event. Nolan told that since 1978 he's interviewed roughly 1,000 veterans in depth for his books, and spoken to thousands of others. "I have heard the exact same stories dozens if not hundreds of times over," he said. "Wars produce atrocities. Frustrating guerrilla wars produce a particularly horrific number of atrocities. That some individual soldiers and certain units responded with excessive brutality in Vietnam shouldn't really surprise anyone."

"A Little Bit Excessive"

Aside from his Senate testimony, the young Kerry spoke publicly in 1971 of "war crimes," and said in his April 18, 1971 NBC "Meet the Press" interview that he had personally engaged in "atrocities" like "thousands of others" who engaged in shootings in free-fire zones. He said then that he considered the officials who set such war policies to be "war criminals." But 30 years later, anticipating a run for the White House, Kerry took a more conciliatory tone when confronted by NBC's Tim Russert, again on NBC News' "Meet the Press" program:

Kerry (May 6, 2001; Meet the Press): I don't stand by the genocide I think those were the words of an angry young man. We did not try to do that. But I do stand by the description--I don't even believe there is a purpose served in the word "war criminal." I really don't. But I stand by the rest of what happened over there, Tim.

. . . (We) misjudged history. We misjudged our own country. We misjudged our strategy. And we fell into a dark place. All of us. And I think we learned that over time. And I hope the contribution that some of us made as veterans was to come back and help people understand that.

I think our soldiers served as nobly, on the whole, as in any war, and people need to understand that.

And earlier this year, Kerry was again pressed on his 1971 antiwar views, and responded to some of the same points now being raised anew in the Swift Boat Veterans ad. He said his 1971 words were "honest" but "a little bit over the top."

Q: You committed atrocities?

Kerry (Meet the Press Apr. 18, 2004:) Where did all that dark hair go, Tim? That's a big question for me. You know, I thought a lot, for a long time, about that period of time, the things we said, and I think the word is a bad word. I think it's an inappropriate word. I mean, if you wanted to ask me have you ever made mistakes in your life, sure. I think some of the language that I used was a language that reflected an anger. It was honest, but it was in anger, it was a little bit excessive.

Q:You used the word "war criminals."

Kerry: Well, let me just finish. Let me must finish. It was, I think, a reflection of the kind of times we found ourselves in and I don't like it when I hear it today. I don't like it, but I want you to notice that at the end, I wasn't talking about the soldiers and the soldiers' blame, and my great regret is, I hope no soldier--I mean, I think some soldiers were angry at me for that, and I understand that and I regret that, because I love them. But the words were honest but on the other hand, they were a little bit over the top. And I think that there were breaches of the Geneva Conventions. There were policies in place that were not acceptable according to the laws of warfare, and everybody knows that. I mean, books have chronicled that, so I'm not going to walk away from that. But I wish I had found a way to say it in a less abrasive way.

Q: But, Senator, when you testified before the Senate, you talked about some of the hearings you had observed at the winter soldiers meeting and you said that people had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and on and on. A lot of those stories have been discredited, and in hindsight was your testimony...

Kerry: Actually, a lot of them have been documented.

Q: So you stand by that?

Kerry: A lot of those stories have been documented. Have some been discredited? Sure, they have, Tim. The problem is that's not where the focus should have been. And, you know, when you're angry about something and you're young, you know, you're perfectly capable of not--I mean, if I had the kind of experience and time behind me that I have today, I'd have framed some of that differently. Needless to say, I'm proud that I stood up. I don't want anybody to think twice about it. I'm proud that I took the position that I took to oppose it. I think we saved lives, and I'm proud that I stood up at a time when it was important to stand up, but I'm not going to quibble, you know, 35 years later that I might not have phrased things more artfully at times.


"Kerry Campaign Statement on New Swift Boat Veterans for Bush Ad," Kerry-Edwards 2004, 20 Aug 2004.

Testimony of John Kerry, "Legislative Proposals Relating to the War in Southeast Asia," US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 22 April 1971.

Guenter Lewy, "America in Vietnam" Oxford University Press NY 1978

"Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths: The Series; Elite unit savaged civilians in Vietnam," Toledo Blade 22 Oct 2003.

Michael D. Sallah and Mitch Weiss, "Rogue GIs unleashed wave of terror in Central Highlands," Toledo Blade 22 Oct 2003.

Joe Mahr, " Tiger Force answers still elusive; Washington slow in responding to calls for Army prosecution," Toledo Blade, 12 May Jo2004.

John Kifner, "Report on Brutal Vietnam Campaign Stirs Memories," New York Times, 28 Dec 2003: A24.

Interview with Keith Nolan, 23 Aug 2004.

John F. Kerry, "Meet the Press" NBC News 18 April 1991.

John F. Kerry, "Meet the Press" NBC News 6 May 2001.

John F. Kerry, "Meet the Press " NBC News 18 April 2004.

vrangel said...

TWD, don't waste your effort defending Kerry.
He is nothing more than a cynical opportunistic golddiger.
In his 20 years in the Senate he provided no leadership and accomplished nothing.
I sense voters figured him out too.

Today no democrat wants to be associated with Dukakis.
Tomorrow it will be the same with Kerry.
Game over.

vrangel said...

Good blog from soldier in Iraq here.

fbg46 said...

1st Place in the Hypocrisy Sweepstakes goes to John Thune for his regurgitation of RNC talking points, particularly the one which goes that any criticism of Dear Leader's disaster in Iraq "undermines the morale of our troops".

Uh, John, sounds like you haven't spent too much time on the ground. If you had, you'd know that the GIs and Marines who are in Iraq don't need anybody back here telling them what a disaster Iraq has become -- they're seeing it up close and REALLY personal every day. The "undermines the morale" nonsense simply betrays the contempt you (and Dear Leader's handlers) have for the people who are actually doing the heavy lifting.

2nd Place Award goes to vrangel, who's doing the Thune thing re: John Kerry and RVN. Kerry gave voice to the vast majority of the soldiers and Marines who spent time in the bush in Vietnam -- it was an unwinnable war, had been an unwinnable war for quite some time, and all we were accomplishing was getting Americans and Vietnamese killed for no good reason.

Both Thune and vrangel should be ashamed of themselves, but that would require them both to have a moral dimension, which both have demonstrated they do not have.

this we'll defend said...

Thanks fbg46. You sure are harsh on old Vrangel though. I think it is understandable that some veterans, a lot of veterans, think he betrayed them. You want your sacrifice to be for a good cause, so you convince yourself it is a good cause. It is human nature. It takes extraordinary character to lead instead of follow, and even more to take the difficult, but right, path.

Which is why I don't see Bush as a strong leader. He takes the easy, 30-second, simple and therefore popular solutions, and then tries to make it look brave. Standing up and saying "we'll kick their asses" after being attacked isn't brave, its a no-brainer piece of common sense. It's a "no duh" move. But he is portrayed as a hero, having such "resolve."

Standing up and saying "America is doing wrong and we must fix it" is also rare. It is easier to say "I love my country, right or wrong" and present it as steadfast and true. But it isn't. Kerry stood up during the Vietnam War and spoke out, and he is still paying for it - and it was the right thing to do.

It is human nature to cave to peer pressure - at Abu Ghraib it took a brave junior enlisted man to demand the abuse stop. He is unpopular in his home town. If he runs for president 35 years from now he will be branded a traitor.

It took 3 aviators at My Lai threatening to shoot US troops to stop the massacre. They were shunned and despised and called traitors as well. I had the pleasure of hearing one of them speak at the Infantry School many years later, and we gave him a standing ovation. But usually in the real world standing up for the truth doesn't help you, it hurts you. The boys at Enron didn't promote honest people. Bush fired people for speaking the truth before the invasion. Being one of the boys requires you to have "flexible" ethics. And being one of the boys pays better.

So those who speak the truth when it is controversial (like the whistleblower at Enron, the FBI agent that sent the flight school memo, Richard Clarke, or yes John Kerry) are extraordinary. But they often aren't popular and aren't seen as leaders but as enemies. And they are - of a status quo gone wrong.

I understand this. My Savior was murdered for the same reasons, and by those claiming to be doing God's will.

fbg46 said...

Your points are well taken, but you're letting vrangel off way too easy.

In 1971 John Kerry said what had to be said (and which by '71 was obvious to all): Vietnam was unwinnable, and every soldier/Marine/sailor/airman/etc. who was sent there was being dropped into that mixmaster for no reason other than Dick Nixon had made the decision to wait until after the '72 election before pulling the plug. Everybody knew that was the game, and yet it kept getting played because no one had the courage to do anything about it, except a few such as then Lt. (j.g.) John Kerry.

And speaking of a lack of courage -- your comments about My Lai bring to mind another example of spinelessness: My Lai happened in early '68: one of the reasons why the chopper pilots/crew chief you referred to had to keep raising the issue until late '69/early '70 was because of the coverup done by one Major Colin Powell, who at the time of My Lai was a staff officer in the Americal Division, Medina and Calley's Division. The Green Machine had assigned the good Major to "investigate" the massacre and he came up with the equivalent of "Move along folks, nothing to see here."

The more things change . . .