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Conservative Political Commentary

Quote of the Day

Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Let It Alone
posted by Bathus

A couple of weeks ago, when she (along with most of the rest of America) learned about the Swift Boat Veterans' campaign against John Kerry, a solidly conservative internet pal posted the following message to our discussion group:

I really wish they wouldn't do this. It's not going to be pretty and will probably backfire. And the Dems will counter with the missing months of Bush's [National Guard] duty. It was a freaking 30 years ago, let it alone.
In her desire to "let it alone," my online friend expresses a sentiment shared by a substantial majority of her fellow Americans. The subject of Vietnam is one that most of us--especially those of us who came of age during that era-- would very much wish to let alone.

Long ago we had given up almost every hope that the nation would--in our lifetimes--resolve upon anything close to a shared understanding of its Vietnam experience. All the arguments one way or the other had been said and heard so many times that only the most boorish could be foolish enough to think that more talk would change anyone's opinion. Age and experience might change some minds (mine for instance), but further discussion was futile. In the decade following our ignominious withdrawal, communists would potash Cambodia's rice fields with the bones of millions of human skeletons. Of the millions desperately fleeing the daily terrors of communist rule, countless thousands would perish in the Gulf of Thailand or the South China Sea when their pathetically rickety boats capsized under the their own weight. If those millions of deaths weren't enough to convince you that fighting communism in Southeast Asia was a truly righteous cause, then mere words could never persuade you.

Whenever the question of Vietnam percolated to the surface of the nation's collective political consciousness, as it did briefly during Clinton's first presidential campaign, the protagonists on either side only became yet more distrustful and disdainful of the other. And so years ago, wearied by their own arguments as much as by the arguments of their antagonists, sensible majorities of both the supporters and the opponents of the Vietnam war yielded to an unwritten domestic truce composed of two principles:
(1) Those who participated in the war, with the exception of anyone at or above the rank of general officer, are entitled to public honor for their service.

(2) Those who actively opposed the war, with the exception of the most extreme Jane Fonda-types, are not to be branded as cowards or traitors to their country.
Depending on one's political bent, one or the other of the two prongs of the domestic truce might be accepted only grudgingly, but it was accepted none the less, because most of us had become convinced that the best way to handle any question involving Vietnam was just to "let it alone." Yes, there would still be occasional flare-ups when the domestic truce would be tested. Until recently, the most notable episodes involved Dan Quayle and the aforementioned Bill Clinton, who--because they had neither very actively opposed the war nor fought in it--did not seem to be entitled to the truce's honors and amnesties. Those petty skirmishes over Clinton's ROTC dodge and Quayle's "alternative" service stirred up some old antagonisms, but quickly subsided when the larger public declined to enlist. And so, the truce held.

In perfect accord with that domestic truce, a memorial was constructed--an angled black wound cut into the very earth of the nation's capitol--bespeaking loss, but essentially silent on every other question. Even the rules of the design competition for the memorial had commanded that the winning entry must "make no political statement about the war." Thus, the official National Park Service website still proclaims, "The purpose of this memorial is to separate the issue of the sacrifices of the veterans from the U.S. policy in the war, thereby creating a venue for reconciliation," as if true reconciliation could ever emerge from a silence that prohibits public contemplation of what "the sacrifices of the veterans" were for. Of course, each of us individually might still arrive at a personal understanding of what those sacrifices were for, but in the collective consciousness of the nation, for the sake of the domestic truce, the "sacrifice of the veterans" could be attached to nothing beyond itself. Sacrifice unattached to an object is meaningless, and reconciliation cannot emerge from meaninglessness. As a consequence, that self-imposed silence, though necessary perhaps to preserve the domestic truce, has never been a communal experience of national reconciliation. It has always been a divided silence, separating on one side those still too proud to admit their error and on the other side those who know that forgiveness cannot be bestowed upon someone too proud to accept it, much less to seek it. Such silence could never bring reconciliation, but it remained sufficient to permit the continuation of the domestic truce.

Yet out of that silence, the nation's Vietnam experience did produce one apparent lesson that came to be generally accepted on all sides. The lesson was: "We must never ask our troops to fight a war without the 'full support' of the American people." Even more than the domestic truce, this dubious lesson was embraced by both sides, but for rather different reasons. The supporters of the war in Vietnam embraced this lesson because they naively believed that it would always remind everyone how anti-war protests had dispirited the nation and brought on defeat. The lesson would ensure that in the future whenever the nation embarked upon a war, protests would cease, and the nation would come together to "support the troops."

But those on the other side of the divide calculated more correctly that this "lesson" of Vietnam, if taken literally, had granted them a veto against any and every war. They knew that the "lesson" of Vietnam--that America must never fight a war without the "full support" of the people--supplies the easy logic by which a war's opponents, however few, can posit their opposition, however unwise, as the sufficient condition against that war. Understood literally (and this "lesson" of Vietnam is always accepted too literally) the lesson eventually boils down to this: "America should never go to war because there will always be some, usually substantial, domestic faction that opposes it." The historical truth is, that though he should always seek the broadest possible domestic support, it often happens that a wise statesman (Washington and Lincoln come to mind) will lead a war vehemently opposed by a substantial domestic faction. Because "full support" is an impossibility, making "full support" a condition for waging war is a debilitating policy, a policy that transforms the idiocy of Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore into self-fulfilling prophecy:
We must not fight without full support. Because Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore do not support the war, we do not have full support. Therefore, we must not fight.
And so the the "lesson" of Vietnam guarantees that opponents of a war receive instant political legitimacy because their very existence denies the "full support" that is believe to be required according to the "lesson" of Vietnam. If a deeper examination might have yielded better lessons from the Vietnam experience, the wheat seemed not worth the threshing, and most of us thought it best just to "let it alone."

And so the domestic truce has held for decades. But in the passing of those years the nation still found no real peace on the question of Vietnam.

Yet at some brief moments it became possible to imagine, even to hope, that a president who had come of age in the Vietnam era might be exactly the right figure to bind up the nation's psychic wounds from that troubled time. For the president embodies the role most akin to a national priest or national confessor (or, if you prefer a more modern concept, national grief counselor), and so one might hope that a president who came of age during Vietnam, by his own example of transcendence, might lead the nation toward a long-delayed reconciliation. Yet for reasons that seem obvious, Bill Clinton, the first president who had come of age during Vietnam, could not bring about the healing. He could not do it because no man rightly can forgive the sins he has committed against others. Though they are such different men, George W. Bush no better than Clinton could bind up the wounds of Vietnam because he, too, did not fight in that war. So the best Clinton and Bush could do was just to "let it alone," and to their credit, that is what they both tried to do.

After Clinton and Bush, it was clear that only a man who himself had actually fought in Vietnam would be capable of healing the wounds of that war. If a man like John McCain or Bob Kerrey were to ascend to the presidency, he might possess the legitimacy to elucidate a shared communal understanding and to dispense--on behalf of all those who sacrificed--the forgiveness that would be necessary to put Vietnam behind us.

And what about John Kerry? Might he have become the man finally to bind up the wounds of Vietnam? Yes, I believe he could have performed that healing, perhaps more completely even than a John McCain or a Bob Kerrey, precisely because John Kerry was both "sinner" and "sinned against." No one could have better explained to the nation how the world looks different with the passage of time. He could have explained that, although he is remains deeply proud to have served his country in war, he is deeply sorry that in his proudly foolish youth he spoke such vile words about the other men who fought in that war, many of whom were still fighting when he defiled them. He could have explained that there were good men and women who supported the Vietnam war and good men and women who opposed it. He could have explained that, even though he still believes he was right to oppose many things about the war, he now knows he was wrong--unequivocally wrong--to say and do the fraudulent things he said and did when he returned from Vietnam. As a sinner against those who fought in the war and against the nation as a whole, John Kerry could have sought forgiveness on behalf of all those who opposed the war. As a man who fought in that same war, John Kerry could have offered forgiveness on behalf of his fellow warriors to all those who sinned against them. At one and the same time, John Kerry could have inspired forgiveness and received forgiveness.

John Kerry could have begun the healing by saying something like this:
Vietnam has been discussed and written about without an adequate statement of its full meaning.

What is ignored is the way in which our experience during that period reflected in part a positive affirmation of American values and history, not simply the more obvious negatives of loss and confusion. What is missing is a recognition that there exists today a generation that has come into its own with powerful lessons learned, with a voice that has been grounded in experiences both of those who went to Vietnam and those who did not. What is missing and what cries out to be said is that neither one group nor the other from that difficult period of time has cornered the market on virtue or rectitude or love of country.

. . . . The race for the White House should be about leadership, and leadership requires that one help heal the wounds of Vietnam, not reopen them; that one help identify the positive things that we learned about ourselves and about our nation, not play to the divisions and differences of that crucible of our generation.

We do not need to divide America over who served and how.
In fact, John Kerry did say something like that. The words quoted above are his words.

He spoke them, but he did not mean them.

Yet we do not fault John Kerry for failing to seek the reconciliation that history seemed to have placed uniquely within his power to achieve. In the absence of healing, the nation could have continued to observe the well-established domestic truce. We all would have been content to continue to "let it alone," just as we have done for the last twenty-five years.

But now we can't "let it alone." The reason we can't "let it alone" is that John Kerry won't let us "let it alone."

We can't let it alone because John Kerry has pursued a strategy that sounds out old angers with a dissonant message that takes the two prongs of the domestic truce and makes them serve his own advantage. The domestic truce had required that those who served in Vietnam should receive honor. So Kerry now exalts in that half of the truce--not humbly as befits a genuine war hero, but constantly and immodestly waving the bloody shirt of his Vietnam service in the faces of his critics whenever any connection, no matter how illogical, can be drawn between their criticism and Kerry's Vietnam service.

Thus, when Dick Cheney criticized Kerry's positions on national security (an obvious and fair target given Kerry's voting record on defense issues), Kerry responded by "saying it is 'inappropriate' for Cheney to criticize his military service when he 'got every deferment in the world and decided he had better things to do.'" The man who not long ago high-mindedly observed that it is wrong to "divide America over who served and how," now tells us:
I think a lot of veterans are going to be very angry at a president who can't account for his own service in the National Guard, and a vice president who got every deferment in the world and decided he had better things to do, criticizing somebody who fought for their country and served.
Never mind that Cheney has never breathed a word of criticism of Kerry's military service in Vietnam. Also never mind the fact that Bush and Cheney have never even breathed a word of criticism of Kerry's anti-war activities. For them to criticize Kerry's anti-war record would violate the second prong of the domestic truce. So in questioning the service, or lack thereof, of Bush and Cheney, Kerry attempts to turn to his advantage the curious fact, mentioned above, that although the domestic truce grants honor to those who fought in the war and grants amnesties to those who actively opposed it, those in the middle (like Bush, Clinton, Quayle, and Cheney) receive no protection.

As the above story illustrates, long before the SwiftVets arrived on the scene, Kerry all by himself had succeeded in demeaning his service by transforming it into a crass non-sequitur. As one vet put it, "Nobody who claims to have seen the action he does would so shamelessly flaunt it for political gain." In his run for the presidency, Kerry's Vietnam references became so ubiquitous that one clever pundit adopted the practice of never mentioning Kerry's name without the aside that he had "by the way served in Vietnam." With far less humor, Howard Dean and Kerry's other Democrat primary rivals made the same point, noting that his Vietnam record had "become the stock answer for almost every issue for Kerry's campaign."

The predominant quality revealed in Kerry's spinning and unspinning his personal history in the Vietnam era is that, like everything else in his political life (from the SUVs he owns but doesn't own, to the medals he tossed but didn't toss, to the war in Iraq he supports but doesn't support), he's trying to have it both ways. But because of how the Vietnam era tore this country apart and still cripples the nation's political soul, Kerry's trying to have it both ways about that war is so much more telling than his SUV moment or even his flip-flops on the current war.

When Kerry came back from Vietnam, he said:
we are ashamed of and hated what we were called on to do in Southeast Asia. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom . . . is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy.
But now he sounds rather proud of what he did in Vietnam, when he proclaims:
We fought for this nation because we loved it . . . I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President.
Please tell me which statement was true. If we believe Kerry's statement from thirty years ago that the war in Vietnam had nothing to do with the preservation of freedom, much less with the defense of America itself, then how can we possibly take him at his word now when he brags constantly that he "defended this country" by fighting in that war? Isn't that exactly the kind of assertion that young John Kerry called "criminal hypocrisy." But old John Kerry has never retracted young John Kerry's claim that the war in Vietnam had nothing to do with the defense of America's freedom. To the contrary, when given the opportunity to explain what he meant back then, old John Kerry contends that young John Kerry's claims were "honest":
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.
So you see, for old John Kerry the only thing really blameworthy about young John Kerry was that he didn't always phrase things "artfully" (i.e., in a way that would make it easier for old John to have it both ways). The fact that these statements are coming back around to haunt old John is just a problem with young John's inartful phrasing.

As for his "band of brothers,"here's a little of what Kerry said about them in 1971:
There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare.
As the SwiftVets have now reminded us, in preening senate testimony before the eyes of the nation Kerry publicized accusations that his comrades had:
raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped 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 . . . . not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.
And specifically with regard to the actions of the Swifties with whom he served," here's what Kerry said in 1971 about their service:
We established an American presence in most cases by showing the flag and firing at sampans and villages along the banks. Those were our instructions, but they seemed so out of line that we finally began to go ashore, against our orders, and investigate the villages that were supposed to be our targets. We discovered we were butchering a lot of innocent people.
How can it possibly be that his actions thirty years ago, which Kerry himself described as shameful war crimes, are now so undeniably honorable that no one is allowed to question Kerry's account of those actions, not even the very men whom Kerry accused of committing war crimes?

Why must we treat it as acceptable for John Kerry to have demeaned the honor of thousands of his former comrades in 1971 while those men were at that very moment still in Vietnam's swamps and jungles fighting for their lives, but now, when John Kerry himself is well out of harm's way sleeping comfortably every night on the cushion of billions his wife inherited from her dead Republican husband, it's politically incorrect for the men Kerry called war criminals to raise a question about his anti-war activities?

Why are we are not permitted to consider the possibility, supported by the testimony of credible witnesses, that a man who said he was ashamed to have been involved in war crimes against innocent civilians would not have taken advantage of a few very minor scrapes to extricate himself from further participation in activities he considered to be shameful war crimes?

Why is that in 1971 it was patriotic dissent for John Kerry to tell young men to avoid going to Vietnam (because it was dishonorable), but now an official web site of Kerry's Democrat Party suggests it was dishonorable for George Bush not to go to Vietnam that same year? Yes, the official DNC web site throws down the gauntlet with the statement: "Kerry vs. Bush: Compare their service." To help us make that comparison, the Democrats have for years questioned every last detail about Bush's National Guard record. But as soon as anyone points out the contradictions in Kerry's actions during the Vietnam era, Kerry hides behind his tiny "band of brothers" and wraps himself in the flag with neopatriotic statements like this:


We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of those people here tonight and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with.
Is that the same Old Glory displayed in so mocking a fashion on the cover of Kerry's anti-war book, "The New Soldier"?

Yes, thirty years have passed, it was a long time ago, and many people who opposed that war have quietly changed their views without ever publicly apologizing for the things they did back then that were so harmful to the men who were still fighting in that war. The best Kerry can come up with in the way of an apology for the disgusting things he said about his former comrades is a cravenly vapid statement that his anti-war activities were "a little bit excessive . . .. a little bit over the top." Joe Crecca, whose six years in as a POW must entitle him to some respect on the question, does not recall Kerry's anti-war activities as quite so benign:


The rigors and hardships of being a POW aside, I remember the so-called "peace movement" and peace marches and rallies that were taking place back home in the United States.

Our captors were more than willing, within their means, to provide us with any and all anti-U.S. and anti-Vietnam War propaganda. Without a choice in the matter, we listened to the "Voice of Vietnam" broadcasts by "Hanoi Hannah" and were shown newspaper and magazine photos and articles about those opposing the war back in the states.

One of the peace marchers' standard slogans was, "Bring our boys home now and alive." The warped thinking of such people was that by demonstrating against U.S. involvement in Vietnam, they'd be shortening the war and reducing the number of American casualties. These demonstrators would also try to make one believe that their efforts would bring POWs like me home sooner. They were utterly wrong on both counts, not to mention the detrimental effect their actions had on the morale of our troops and our POWs.

John F. Kerry was not just one of these demonstrators. He was leading them.

These demonstrations for peace had the exact opposite effect of what they purported to accomplish. Instead of shortening the war the "peace movement" served only to protract the conflict, resulting in a vastly greater number of Americans killed and wounded, greater economic burdens and longer periods of incarceration for Americans held captive in Vietnam. The war would have been over much sooner and with a much more favorable result if those in the "peace movement" would have rallied behind the commander in chief to accomplish our mission and then withdraw.

Many fewer names would be engraved into the black granite of the Vietnam Memorial if these people had supported our efforts instead of trying to derail them. After all, fighting against a political regime that up to that time had murdered more than a hundred million people couldn't have been all bad. But Kerry thought and acted differently. How many more names on the wall can he take credit for?

After the war ended, some of the war protesters hung on to their anti-war postures for a while. Some of them realized the errors of their ways almost immediately, but it took others 20 to 25 years.

Some, like Kerry, have not realized there was anything wrong with what he did. Instead, he hopes we will see him as a courageous Vietnam veteran. I do not. He hopes we will admire his bravery. I do not. I remember him more for his misdeeds upon his return from Vietnam.

Jim Warner, also a POW for five years, personally experienced the direct effects of Kerry's anti-war activities:


In late May, two months after our arrival in the punishment camp, I was called out for interrogation. I entered the interrogation room to find a junior officer, a Communist's helper, whom we called "Boris." For some time, Boris rambled on about the anti-war movement and of my "crimes." . . .

. . . .

We sparred for about an hour. Then Boris reached behind his back and pulled out some clippings from a left wing newspaper in the U.S. He showed me several articles about an event, which had been held in Detroit, called "The Winter Soldier Hearings." He left me to read the articles while he left the room. The articles reported alleged "testimony" from people who claimed to be Vietnam veterans who allegedly claimed that they had done things which, if true, would have lead to courts martial for each of them. That is, they were typical communist propaganda.

. . . .

When Boris returned he asked me what I thought. I told him that I was from Detroit, but did not recognize any of the names so I assumed that they were Communists brought in from around the country. "Not so," he cried. Look at this. He showed me a picture of an unforgettable face. "This man was an officer in your navy. He says that the war is illegal, immoral and unjust. Read what he says." I read the words of John Kerry.

What John Kerry said, according to the clippings, was that the U.S. should abandon South East Asia, unilaterally and immediately. This, of course, would not only leave the Prisoners of War in the hands of the Communists, but far worse, there was not a sane person in the universe who did not know that the instant the countries of South East Asia were abandoned, the blood bath would begin. I told Boris "this man should be punished. He says that he did criminal things. America is a free country and a free people do not allow such crimes. We are not like Communists." I told Boris that there would be a blood bath if we pulled out unilaterally.

Boris got angry and began threatening me. He said that my own countrymen, Jane Fonda, Sen. Fulbright, and the subject of the article, John Kerry, insisted that the threatened "blood bath" was a myth invented by the reactionary government of the United States. He told me that Kerry had admitted that we were criminals, as the communists never ceased to tell us, and that we should be punished. The interrogation continued for another hour. Finally, Boris, frustrated, put me back in my cell, while still muttering threats at me. It was the longest interrogation I had without torture. . . .

When John Kerry said that Vietnam vets were criminals, did he not know that the Communists would use his words against the POWs? He feels insulted when someone questions his patriotism. What other conclusion would you come to, if you were in my shoes?
Yes, it's true that under the strict terms of our long-standing domestic truce, John Kerry was not required to apologize for the things he said thirty years ago, even though he himself had more recently tested that truce with his attacks on George Bush's National Guard service. But then in January of this year, to burnish his credentials as a war president, Kerry's authorized biography reported a story implying that his Swift Boat comrades had fled the scene of an enemy attack while he alone returned to rescue the wounded. Honor being such an insignificant thing to John Kerry, he probably had no idea that--with his biography reviving war crimes accusations and, more specifically, implying cowardice on the part of his fellow swiftees--he had broken the domestic truce.

The truce is over. The Swift Vets and all the other vets John Kerry has freshly maligned are determined that this time around he is not going to have it both ways. Men like Michael Benge, Kenneth Cordier, Joseph Crecca, and Jim Warner, who have already lost too many years of their lives to the Vietnam war, would have much preferred that Kerry had not restarted this fight. But now that he has, they are not going to let it alone.

[Note: Because it's been too long since my last post, I've decided to post the above item in a rough draft condition. Some links might not work, and the spelling and grammar are probably sorely deficient, but I'll clean it up as time permits. -- Adeimantus]

posted by Bathus | 8/23/2004 01:49:00 AM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As moving a piece as I've read so far. Polish it, publish, spread it. It is truth and common sense.

1:27 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger ALa said...

This is really really well written and expressed. I am going to put a link to it on my post today.

1:35 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe America should do what Jews do. Use Kerry as a scapegoat. Put all the sins of the anti-war protesters on John Kerry's shoulders. Kick him in the ass and with his disappearance from the political scene, also the hatred between the pro- and anti- Vietnam War supporters and the veterans should disappear.

1:52 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger Nate said...

Eloquent and accurate, near as I can tell. Very well said and Wasted Electrons has a link coming up momentarily.

2:06 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sir;
I am impressed with your article beyond my means to tell you here. I am not a member and have to post this way, but to show my sincerity I am C.Herger Thomann.
There were reasons that I opposed the conflict, but (though a long-hair) I never saw it appropriate to denegrade those who served. I actually got into several fights over that tactic employed by the fringe of the time.
I now find myself in the center of the political spectrum and am filled with a physical loathing at what Kerry has done. He has thrown down a gauntlet that he has no intention of backing up, and that makes him a complete coward in my view.
You have provided the most well-worded piece I have seen on the subject, and I shall use it in my current arguments if that is ok with you.
Many, many thanks.

2:52 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger jonkendall said...

a persuasive and thoughtful argument. vietnam needs to be discussed to be understood. to be healed. the swiftvets, lead by O'neill do not appear to be targeting an election. or maybe, not even kerry himself. maybe they are targeting a wholly negative attitude regarding the war that was adopted by our nation. an attitude they see is based on inaccuracies. their firsthand experience was different that what us younger americans have learned [except as we are informed by the recent view of an Iraq War 'two-view']. i want to discuss vietnam, eventhough many find it painful to remember. -k.

2:53 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this piece. And learned from it. Thank you.

One comment. One of your quoted sources asserts that the protests lengthened the war. For example:

======
These demonstrations for peace had the exact opposite effect of what they purported to accomplish. Instead of shortening the war the "peace movement" served only to protract the conflict, resulting in a vastly greater number of Americans killed and wounded, greater economic burdens and longer periods of incarceration for Americans held captive in Vietnam. The war would have been over much sooner and with a much more favorable result if those in the "peace movement" would have rallied behind the commander in chief to accomplish our mission and then withdraw.
=======

But there's no support in the quote or in your article to prove that the war would have ended sooner if there had been less protest. This assertion without evidence was distracting to me, and I'm afraid it would be even more distracting to readers who are leaning toward Kerry, but are still persuadable (those people are out there).

I think that proving this assertion is outside the scope of your article, so I question whether quoting the assertion (which happens in at least one other place from the same long quote) is really desirable. You could either excise those parts of the quote or put in some explanation that these assertions are there merely to illustrate how strongly the war protesters are indicted by those who support the war.

Ed Jordan
jordanedl@yahoo.com

3:02 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so insightful. A must read, imo. I was going to post that I had a very hard time reading the vertical format. The more usual format came up on this Post a Comment page and I was able to quickly re-read and better grasp your points.

Might be better to post horizontally.

Fantastic and unique analysis!

3:08 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger The Monk said...

The problem Kerry has is that he was BOTH an honorable war hero AND a Jane Fonda anti-war nutter. Thus, the truce is broken by his very presence on one level; and on another level it's eviscerated by his constant reference to his heroism without acknowledgement of his Fifth Column actions.

3:10 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger lostingotham said...

Geez, I wish I could write like this.

3:17 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very eloquent, sir.

You have written what I have thought since 1967 when I was a freshman in college. My then high school sweetheart, now husband, was in ROTC at Kent State and would soon be selected for an appointment to the USAFA. I will not bother you with my stories, because they are nothing compared to the men who fought in Vietnam.

Our Princeton graduate son is a Navy SEAL.

This all needs to come out even though most of us had given up long ago when Clinton was elected.

My heart still grieves for the Vietnam vets and their families that were so maligned. I don't think people want to face the fact that many lives were ruined because of the lies that were told about these men. But, now they will. Oh, I know there will be those who still want to believe all the lies and nothing will change their minds. But, we have a chance to set the record straight for those that were born after the war.

Thank you.

3:29 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo!

Far & away this article is the most complete discussion of Kerry's use of Vietnam I've seen.

What concerns me most about Kerry is that he's learned all the wrong lessons from Vietnam - and that, if elected, it will result in the rest of us paying a dreadful price. That record - the "wrong lessons" Kerry learned in Vietnam - reveal themselves in his record in the Senate.

The debate should be about whether Kerry's approach to the rest of the world will keep us safer than the President's, given the challenge we now face from Islamofascism.

Who did what as a snot-nosed Lt. in Vietnam 35 years ago simply isn't relevant to that question.

3:36 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:57 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerry's very presence as the Democratic nominee for president ensured “a” fight would occur. If Kerry would have handled things differently up to the release of the Swiftvet ads, we wouldn’t be here right now. These ads would have gotten very little attention/traction Kerry’s constant war hero, chest beating was raising the ire of more than just Viet Nam vets. When he went so far as advancing the Bush was AWOL thesis of the Democratic Party, ranks of those with “raised hackles “ further swelled. Kerry is only adding further fuel to the fire by not personally addressing the charges against him, and releasing ALL his records.

Although all the positions have been hashed over before, not everyone (like my 23 and 21 year old sons) have heard them. I think they deserve a full accounting of Sen Kerry’s record before they head to the polls.

4:07 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,
That you very much for your astute analysis! I lived through the era, and like many I was against the war after '68 from the comfort of my suburban school.

I long ago created my own 'truce' system. I do not judge ANYONE involved in that era. That was one screwed-up war and a screwed-up time, and a lot of good people on both sides had to do things that perhaps don't sound so good right now. One of the only good things Jimmy Carter did was extend a general amnesty, in retrospect a Mandela-like gesture that signaled a beginning of healing.

Kerry should know better than to violate one of the
immutable lessons of the time: Vietnam is a tar-baby that will stain anyone who tries to touch it. It can only be left alone.

walt

4:09 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is inevitable that the debate on Vietnam gets reopened from time to time. It is my hope that some resolution comes of it this time.

However, looking at the rancor that lives on as a result of the War Between the States, I don't think resolution will happen soon. Several generations will likely come and go before the passion ebbs completely.

I was in Vietnam for 14 verifiable months on the ground, and I am of several minds about the whole thing in general and Kerry's role in particular.

4:18 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger Fausta said...

Simply put, Kerry had to center his campaign on 4 months, 12 days, 30 years ago because he has nothing else to talk about.

4:22 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: BUSH LIED! KERRY 2004

Your comments were thoughtful, articulate, and highly appreciated by a veteran who spent a year and a half in Vietnam. Thank you, sir. You have nailed the cowardly, whining, arrogant, flip-flopping candidate from the Democrat Party.

The "comments" by Monsieur Bush Lied, on the other hand, are the mindless rantings of an infantile whiner. I guess we must all laugh as no amount of discussion can provide a rational framework for such vomitus.

I am grateful for Instapundit for linking me to your comments.

4:26 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger Pat said...

Absolutely staggering, one of the finest blog posts I have ever read or expect to read. Thank you!

5:01 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger David said...

That was a superb post - you laid everything out in a reasoned fashion and made your point effectively. Kerry can't have it both ways and anyone who served in Vietnam or afterward should be righteously offended. It's sad we're debating this at this point in the campaign, when there's so much else to skewer Kerry on, but he wrapped himself in the flag he spat on so many years ago and which others (Michael Moore) spit on today.

5:36 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further compliments on your essay.

I'd like to touch on the part of your piece "exposing" the ridiculous notion that some believe that a country can only go to war if everyone is behind it. In particular you used Mr. Moore as one of the named person in the "Rule."

In Moore's Dem convention interview with O'Reilly, he boiled his argument against the war down to two words ever so childishly over-repeated by an earlier (anonymous) responder above. "Bush Lied". What irritated me most about Mikey's wise-a_s repetition of that phrase is that he seemed to concede (or at least did not even try to refute, as one would expect) O'Reilly's point that Bush believed (as did thousands of other politicians)that what he was said on WMD was true at the time he said it. So to Moore, for a statement to be a lie, it need only be factually inaccurate; no intent to deceive is required.

Under that definition, it would seem that we have ample evidence that Moore's candidate is guilty of "Aggravated Lying" on multiple counts. Can anyone with intellectual integrity really say that Kerry has not intentionaly deceived us with respect to his involvement in the war or his post-servie anti-war activism?

This truth is now seared (like him, I'll say it twice) seared, into my memory.

Bruce Wechsler, NY, NY

5:45 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger lostingotham said...

Note: Instapundit just linked to this piece. Here comes the Instalanche...

5:56 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim Jordan criticized Adeimantus for asserting that the Vietnam war protestors lengthened the war without attempting to support that accusation. For that proof I refer you to A Better War, The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam by Lewis Sorley. (Harcourt Brace 1999)

While many books have done a good job of covering what happened in Vietnam up thru the end of the Tet Offensive, this is that only book I have found which fully covers what happened from the end of the Tet Offensive until the fall of Saigon in 1975.

I obtained my copy of the book from Amazon.com.

6:02 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and articulate piece on this gut-wrenching issue.
Electing a president during war time is so important, and we all wanted to hear policy debated on national security, military strategy, foreign relations, and how we would finance social security and health care for the looming boomers without outright confiscating worker's paychecks.
Instead, the Democratic primary offered up Howard Dean, Dennis Kuchinic and John Kerry and John Edwards. Poor Joe Lieberman, an honorable and thoughtful man with excellent Senate experience, had no hope as a hawk in the war on terror.
As a Republican, I was actually relieved that Kerry won their nomination. He, at least, had served in the military, so even if he was ultra-left he would not be hated or sniggered at by our troops whom he would have to lead and inspire. And, unlike Howard and Dennis, he didn't look and act CRAZED, so if Bush lost we didn't have Peter Sellers in the movie, "The Gardener" for President.
Then I was in a flashback. Instead of sitting next to my husband in 2004 watching the evening news, it was 1972 and we were sitting in the college commons watching John Kerry's Senate Testimony on TV. Suddenly, 30 years fell away, and I said, "Oh, no, not THAT John Kerry, who met with the North Vietnamese in Paris while he was not yet discharged from the navy! Not the one who accused the entire U.S. military of conducting one long gigantic MyLai Massacre!" I knew right then as I watched the evening news, and saw the utter contempt for John Kerry fill my husband's face exactly as it did in 1972 when he was one of 2 Vietnam Veterans on campus, having served 3 tours in the Army, that this was going to be an UGLY campaign. That it would not be about Iraq, or getting Al Qaeda, or stopping massive illegal immigration, or cheaper prescription drugs. It was going to be all about the BLUE FALCON of the Vietnam era who dared to bring that all back up as his MAIN QUALIFICATION FOR PRESIDENT. Yee gods. Kerry IS just as CRAZED as Dean and Kucinich! How on earth did he think he could remind us of earning the medals and we would not remember the betrayal? Just how stupid does Kerry, and the Democratic party "strategists" (at least that is what MSNBC, CNN, and the networks label these people, without saying what their actual political jobs are) think the American public is? I guess they think everyone is under 30 years old, uneducated, and suffering from total amnesia. But damn them, and damn HIM, for tearing open these wounds again. And damn them, and damn HIM, for doing it during wartime AGAIN, when we need to be united against a common enemy AGAIN, and supporting our MISSION and our TROOPS, AGAIN. How DARE he make his PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY more important than the critical times we face as a nation, AGAIN.
Who had COMPLETE CONTROL over this issue? John Kerry. Who has the absolute right to rail against him? The Swift Boat veterans. They paid for that right. And the rest of us are honor bound to let them duke it out, once and for all. John Kerry called them out, and its a fight they've been itching to get into face-to-face for decades. The sooner they settle the score, the sooner we can get on with the election.

6:15 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to publicly apologize for my role in the anti-war movement. I was one of the many followers who uncritically believed whatever we were told and hated Nixon for reasons that now make no sense. I enjoyed the feeling of power and solidarity I got. While I was too cowardly to actually spit on a Vietnam veteran, I had that same attitude for many years. I was stupidly wrong. Just in the last year I have learned that Lyndon Johnson never wanted to fight the Vietnam war. I have learned the anti-war movement depended on lies such as the Winter Soldier Investigation to sway people. I have learned the South Vietnamese government might have survived America's exit from the war if they had received the supplies they needed. I also apologize to the many Vietnamese that were forced to flee their country. I had a part in of one of the worst f**k ups in U.S. history. If any present day anti-war followers read this please don't be as stupid as I was. Look at the history of Vietnam after the North won. Was it worth the peace our anti-war movement got? Just what do you think will happen in Iraq, in the Middle East, if the U.S. pulls out now? Millions more will die. Is it worth it just so you can feel powerful, like you're making a difference? Just so you can feel solidarity, like you're part of a new anti-war movement? You don't have to repeat my stupidity. You don't have to feel the shame I am feeling.
John Scherwitz, Clear Lake, Texas

7:44 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo!

8:25 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very good piece, but brevity would pack a more powerful punch.

8:30 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger Carl said...

Great essay. Look forward to the sequels. I've got a brief post on why Vietnam and Iraq will drive voters from Kerry.

http://nooilforpacifists.blogspot.com/2004/08/kerry-voters-endangered-species.html

8:44 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The subject of Vietnam is one that most of us--especially those of us who came of age during that era--would very much wish to let alone. When did this truce start certainly not in 1992 when Bill Clinton was labelled a draft dodger. Perhaps in 2000, when the Republicans, who for the past thirty years had portrayed the Democrats as weak on defense, nominated a man who received a post with the TANG as a result of
family connections, while the Democrats nominated a man who was actually in Vietnam. Doing a google search sure seems to bring up a fair amount of people questioning Gore's service (he was only in Vietnam for five months) The same scurillous freepers and wingnuts who attacked Al Gore's service are now using the same playbook to attack John Kerry.
The new twist is that John Kerry deserves what ever he gets because he like to point out he is a war hero.
It appears the repbulicans don't have a problem with John Kerry's service except for the fact he has the temerity to mention it in public. Kerry Volunteered for service in Vietnam, requested a more dangerous assignment, fought vallantly earning the respect and gratitude of those he commanded, then returned home and question how the war was being fought.
Why is that dishonarable? Republicans have hero worship for false men: Reagan, Bush and John Wayne who were never under enemy fire - so they tear down those who actually were.

9:45 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger Karridine said...

Concur yr analysis.

The Vietnam War Truce, in-place but informal, held until JFKerry chose to place VietNam, and all that came with it, front and center.

This will precipitate a deeper healing, but NOT with Kerry in the picture. He has not the character to lead in this issue.

By following, he'll relegate himself to an interesting, if ironic, historical footnote to Bush's second term.

"Bring. It. On." followed by "Call. Them. Off." (whimper)

10:02 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunely, this will continue. The Viet Nam generation is now the primary pool for our national candidates. We had the WW1 generation from Hoover to Truman. The WW2 generation began with first Ike, the general, then Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, and GHWBush, Carter just missing the war, and Dole as the last candidate of that generation.

With Clinton we began the next generation. If it wasn't Bush or Kerry, it would be Gore, McCain, Dean, or some other boomer brought up in the "duck and cover" attitude of the early fifties. Each will have his Viet Nam era baggage. Another ten years and they will be considered too old for the job.

10:19 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mostly Well said. I disagree that the problem
with vietnam was that America did not
support the war. The problem was that
the politicains would not let us win it and
fight it full out.

10:37 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely the best article on Kerry/Vietnam issue that I've read so far. And I do read a lot. Thanks, real pleasure to read.

Marek from Toronto

10:48 PM, August 23, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the reporting on the importance of Veitnam to this campaign, this is the only piece which should be required reading by all eligble voters.

10:50 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

This really needs to be published in traditional national media.

I mean, as long as you don't mind regressing for just a bit. You've already published on the leading media of our time.

That's a fine, fine piece of work, sir.

11:47 PM, August 23, 2004  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

WOW!!! Great piece. Better than the Weekly Standard stuff.

It, perhaps rightly, doesn't emphasize that Kerry LIED about Christmas in Cambodia, 1968. Nor that the US anti-War press has enabled Kerry to retell that LIE, over and over.

I'd like you to consider the idea that the truce is one over Which Choise has the Moral Superiority:
War (fighting, killing, dying, killing some innocents)
Peace (& Genocide)
http://tomgrey.motime.com/1093186033#327679

Kerry, and the anti-War Left have claimed, without much open debate, the Peace (& Genocide) are morally superior. But they don't accept the two together.

They want an Unreal Perfection as the comparison, only the good parts of their solution.
Maybe THIS is the issue to break into reality:
every policy has good points and bad points.
War includes killing, and killing innocent folk.
Non-war means accepting Genocide (Cambodia, Rwanda ... Sudan).

Is Genocide, or anything, worth fighting, dying, and killing for?

7:02 AM, August 24, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Jim Jordan: Gen. Giap has been quoted as saying to the effect that after the Tet Offensive failed NV was ready to sue for peace except the anti-war protests made them hope they could eventually succeed (which they did).

And I, for one, am getting tired of hearing this all excused by saying Kerry "volunteered" for the Navy or for a "dangerous" posting. Many of us "volunteered" by signing up for one or another service without being drafted. I joined the Air Force, for example. Others "volunteered" by choosing to join a service AFTER they had received a draft notification or notice that they would get no more deferments. Both my brother, who joined the Army but got to pick his billet, and John Kerry, who attempted to get into the Navy Reserves but was attached to the active Navy, did this. It is certainly not dishonorable, but it was a choice made in the face of certainly being drafted otherwise.

Likewise, even Kerry acknowledges that when he requested transfer to PCFs they were in practically no danger on coastal patrol. They were changed to the very dangerous riverine patrol after he started training. You don't have to exaggerate Kerry's bravery by implying that he went gung ho looking for the worst fighting. He didn't. He admits it. Get over it. As far as I can tell he then served honorably in a very dangerous situation. He also is apparently the only PCF commander to leave with less than a full tour of duty except those invalided out. Make of this what you will, but drop the "he volunteered" attempt to bolster the case.

JorgXMcKie

8:34 AM, August 24, 2004  
Blogger Catherine said...

A terrific essay I hope many will read.

Much of this rings true to me, and jibes with my own experience, but one thing does not: I have never heard anyone make the argument that "We must never ask our troops to fight a war without the 'full support' of the American people"--"full support" meaning "unanimous support."

This strikes me as almost certainly wrong given the existence of an enduring "peace party" here in the U.S., which is one fifth to one quarter of the population for the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the most recent Iraq War.
(source: PUBLIC INTEREST Fall 2003 "Defining the 'peace party;" By James Q. Wilson & Karlyn Bowman--I believe the article is available online)

I think "full support" has probably meant "consensus support." Rick Ballard, one of the regulars at rogerlsimon, says "consensus" starts at 50% support, while a figure of 60% gives you "overwhelming consensus." I believe he's correct given what I have read about polls and polling over the years.

My guess is that when politicians and political scientists talk about "full support" they mean any numbers between 50 and 60%, with 50% being the rock-bottom figure going into a conflict.

My other source of puzzlement is the fact that the Vietnam had consensus support from the public, including all of the major media, at the outset. JFK & LBJ did, in fact, go to war with consensus support; the problem was that public support did not hold.

Beyond these issues, however, I just haven't heard the "full support" 'meme' as a major lesson learned from the war. I could certainly have missed it, so I'm wondering whether there was a particular group of people taking this view. (Conservatives? Leftists, but not mainstream liberals?)

Back to the many things I liked about this essay, I'd like to single out this line: "although the domestic truce grants honor to those who fought in the war and grants amnesties to those who actively opposed it, those in the middle (like Bush, Clinton, Quayle, and Cheney) receive no protection."

I was moved when I read this. It's not often that a writer responds empathically to people in the middle. I'm grateful.

11:56 AM, August 24, 2004  
Blogger Catherine said...

A terrific essay I hope many will read.

Much of this rings true to me, and jibes with my own experience, but one thing does not: I have never heard anyone make the argument that "We must never ask our troops to fight a war without the 'full support' of the American people"--"full support" meaning "unanimous support."

This strikes me as almost certainly wrong given the existence of an enduring "peace party" here in the U.S., which is one fifth to one quarter of the population for the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the most recent Iraq War.
(source: PUBLIC INTEREST Fall 2003 "Defining the 'peace party;" By James Q. Wilson & Karlyn Bowman--I believe the article is available online)

I think "full support" has probably meant "consensus support." Rick Ballard, one of the regulars at rogerlsimon, says "consensus" starts at 50% support, while a figure of 60% gives you "overwhelming consensus." I believe he's correct given what I have read about polls and polling over the years.

My guess is that when politicians and political scientists talk about "full support" they mean any numbers between 50 and 60%, with 50% being the rock-bottom figure going into a conflict.

My other source of puzzlement is the fact that the Vietnam had consensus support from the public, including all of the major media, at the outset. JFK & LBJ did, in fact, go to war with consensus support; the problem was that public support did not hold.

Beyond these issues, however, I just haven't heard the "full support" 'meme' as a major lesson learned from the war. I could certainly have missed it, so I'm wondering whether there was a particular group of people taking this view. (Conservatives? Leftists, but not mainstream liberals?)

Back to the many things I liked about this essay, I'd like to single out this line: "although the domestic truce grants honor to those who fought in the war and grants amnesties to those who actively opposed it, those in the middle (like Bush, Clinton, Quayle, and Cheney) receive no protection."

I was moved when I read this. It's not often that a writer responds empathically to people in the middle. I'm grateful.

11:57 AM, August 24, 2004  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

I am very envious of your ability as a writer. You started off having me believe that this was going to be another piece that attacked the Swiftee's then slowly you built up the case on why they are absolutely driven to seek justice. Thank you very much.

I have a blog and writing like that seems like some distant dream, always to be realized in the next piece.

Pierre Legrand

9:34 AM, August 25, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes serious wounds appear to heal ,but there is terrible infection deep inside. The Vietnam War is such a wound. There were many heroes in Vietnam ,but not everyone there was a hero. John Kerry's attempt to use his Active Service as his only reason that American's should elect him as President, might have held up ,if it weren't for his AntiAmerican activities. He ceased to be any kind of hero at that moment.
So I think unintentionally, Kerry has opened this wound to the air and at last it may start to heal .
It won't heal if Kerry is elected ,though. He would continue to brag of his service ,while he also brags of his AntiAmerican betrayal.So all these brave Vets who have bit their tongues and swallowed their bile all these years ,would be expected to continue on and not ever get to have their say.So ,these Vets must speak up however you can .Blogs, Talkradio ,letters to the Editor any place you can get the truth out.

I want to Thank every Veteran out there who served our Country . I Respect and Honor you and I ask God to Bless you . I wish I had been braver ,back in the 60's and 70's and had been more outspoken in defense of all of you, but I was afraid,like a lot of good people were.At least, I hope you Veterans can accept my Thanks and apologies now.

2:05 PM, August 25, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful thoughtful piece. As a Canadian who has just recently returned to Canada after three years living in the US and who follows the US politics (and political blogs) closely, I must say that I am alarmed at what I see as the rapidly escalating depth of divisions between the "left" and "right" wings of American politics. I see Americans tearing open the scab of the Vietnam War and its politics to the detriment of America's future. How can a country look towards creating a better future for its youth when it is mired in the politics of 30 years ago? I worry that the seeds of the division will foster such blinding emotion that all else is lost.

2:16 PM, August 25, 2004  
Blogger lostingotham said...

Wall Street Opinion Journal just posted this piece: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110005524

At least some of the big media are paying attention.

11:05 PM, August 25, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outstanding, well written article. Your points about the truce and the lack of wisdom show by Kerry on this issue is right on the money. I thought at the time that his using Vietnam as the main emphasis at his convention was a huge mistake. He has nothing to really gain from it. Its really just a distraction from the real issues facing us.

I really wish the Democrats had nominated a better candidate. But...

Bush is the worst president since Harding. The neocons that have taken over my republican party are insane warmongers who have done nothing to promote the kind of conservitism that I support. Bush is such a puppet, Rove is so evil, Cheany is in bed with corprations, Rumsfield has so miss managed the war and the agenda of the neocons is so repugnant that I have fallen into the ABB camp. (anybody but bush) God, anyone has to be better than Bush! I dont want to be at war with Iran in the near future, I hate that my friends in Europe think my government has lost its mind, I hate the incredible amounts of money that has been squandered on a stupid war that has not helped make my nation one bit safer... After 9-11 we could have done anything... we had the full support of the world. Bush desided to use that tragedy as an excuse to invade a country with no military in order to fullfill some insane neocon agenda.

This situation is really infuriating. I dont see how those of us who do not have a vested interest can vote for Bush. I can understand people that are making a lot of money off the war or who believe that america should dominate and subjigate the world support Bush. But those of us who believe in Reagan fiscal responsiblity, avoiding forign intanglements, the warnings of Ike against Militarism and other traditional conservitive values can not support Bush.

I am thinking now that the best thing that can happen is for Kerry to win.

I am sure that by 2008 we are going to be totally fed up with Bush. However, I think the same thing is in store for Kerry. I am beginning to think that the only chance we have for getting our party back and avoid the spectre of never ending corprate benifiting war is to elect this democrat and let him fail.

Perhaps then the Republicans can reorganize themselves, purge the neocons and recapture the white house in 2008 with a candidate I can admire.

4:54 AM, August 26, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outstanding, well written article. Your points about the truce and the lack of wisdom show by Kerry on this issue is right on the money. I thought at the time that his using Vietnam as the main emphasis at his convention was a huge mistake. He has nothing to really gain from it. Its really just a distraction from the real issues facing us.

I really wish the Democrats had nominated a better candidate. But...

Bush is the worst president since Harding. The neocons that have taken over my republican party are insane warmongers who have done nothing to promote the kind of conservitism that I support. Bush is such a puppet, Rove is so evil, Cheany is in bed with corprations, Rumsfield has so miss managed the war and the agenda of the neocons is so repugnant that I have fallen into the ABB camp. (anybody but bush) God, anyone has to be better than Bush! I dont want to be at war with Iran in the near future, I hate that my friends in Europe think my government has lost its mind, I hate the incredible amounts of money that has been squandered on a stupid war that has not helped make my nation one bit safer... After 9-11 we could have done anything... we had the full support of the world. Bush desided to use that tragedy as an excuse to invade a country with no military in order to fullfill some insane neocon agenda.

This situation is really infuriating. I dont see how those of us who do not have a vested interest can vote for Bush. I can understand people that are making a lot of money off the war or who believe that america should dominate and subjigate the world support Bush. But those of us who believe in Reagan fiscal responsiblity, avoiding forign intanglements, the warnings of Ike against Militarism and other traditional conservitive values can not support Bush.

I am thinking now that the best thing that can happen is for Kerry to win.

I am sure that by 2008 we are going to be totally fed up with Bush. However, I think the same thing is in store for Kerry. I am beginning to think that the only chance we have for getting our party back and avoid the spectre of never ending corprate benifiting war is to elect this democrat and let him fail.

Perhaps then the Republicans can reorganize themselves, purge the neocons and recapture the white house in 2008 with a candidate I can admire.

4:54 AM, August 26, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish Kerry hadn't made his military service such a major part of his election campaign. I think it could be his biggest mistake. That said, Bush has got to go. Any president that starts serious wars with countries he doesn't like is unfit for the job. Period. Elect Kerry for president.

Please get rid of the blue-on-blue text boxes. It's painful to read.

Ken M.

10:54 AM, August 26, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said:
"Until recently, the most notable episodes involved Dan Quayle and the aforementioned Bill Clinton, who--because they had neither very actively opposed the war nor fought in it--..."
Isn't it true that Bill Clinton organized anti-war, anti-American demonstrations in London while he was at Oxford -- a tradition of trashing his country from abroad that he continued as President?

12:01 PM, August 26, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In bringing up Viet Nam, John Kerry may have inadvertantly done the best thing he has ever done for the USA. He has given fellow veterans the chance to respond to what he did in the past. Kerry caused all the miltary at that time to be branded as less than dirt. The branding lasted for a long time, some say up until Gulf war I. Thank heaven for the internet for the MSM will not be able to mold this story to their own model. All those military vets and their families from that era have a chance to finally put this behind them in November.

12:53 PM, August 26, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find that the quality of your essay is only matched by some of the moving statements made by the people responding to it. I would suggest to anyone that has not yet looked at some of the responses on this thread to go back and do so. They are tragic examples of the fractures that took place during the Vietnam war.

I live in the UK, and was born in '72 - too young to follow the war, and in the wrong country. But I have always admired the people who fought in Vietnam, and have always considered it the first 'modern' war. For a conscript army, the US forces did very well. It's often been said that they lost the war, but never lost a battle. While one can argue about the strategy and tactics of the war (particularly at a political level), it is clear that the performance of the troops under the circumstances was admirable, even if their behaviour amongst the civilian population left much to be desired.

As for the people back in the USA, I feel nothing but disgust for the antiwar protestors. How can these people live with themselves, knowing the damage they did to their own cause, their own country? In my opinion, the Vietnam war was won abroad, but lost at home. I'm sure those antiwar protestors must have felt really sexy and cool, picking on poor GIs dressed in green fatigues who couldn't bathe or speak to their families. That sure was big of you. And I'm sick of antiwar protestors 'confessing their souls' to seek some kind of forgiveness for what they have done. As if admitting they were wrong somehow erases the pain, deaths and torture they caused their fellow Americans fighting for them. You are not forgiven, despite your confession. Your crimes are not erased, despite your confession. History does not change because you have emotionally matured. The dead are not resurrected because you have undergone a change of opinion. YOU ARE NOT FORGIVEN.

It makes me think of a documentary I watched about Vietnam. In it, an anitwar protestor of the time said something like "in the year 2000, America will look back and say I was the real patriot." I watched that documentary in the year 2000, and I remember thinking "You are wrong now as you were then. You are a traitor."

John Kerry will lose this election, and will come out of the contest a broken man. He will finally have had to pay for the arrogant, spiteful comments he made. That vitriol may have set him on his political career, and may have helped him woo his billionaire wife, but it will ultimately be his undoing.

He still has his money to fall back on. But that is all he will have, because he will no longer have the reputation he had coming into this campaign. Its a terrible thing to say, but Kerry would have been better served by history had he died in Vietnam. His country would have been better served also by his death. When you have that as an epitaph, it doesn't matter how many billions you have. Many good men would be alive today had Kerry died. That's some epitaph.

5:27 AM, August 27, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:55 AM, August 28, 2004  
Blogger Bathus said...

I deleted the comment appearing immediately above this one. The deleted comment consisted entirely of material lifted verbatim from Michael Moore's website.

I will allow a considerable variety of opinions to be posted in the comments sections of this blog. So if Michael Moore himself wants to add to the discussion on this site, he's welcome to post his own comment for himself. However, I will not permit the comments section of this blog to be used to spam propaganda lifted wholesale from other sources.

6:58 PM, August 28, 2004  
Blogger Donald K. said...

Moore is not capable of adding anything worthwhile.

9:31 PM, September 01, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While you do exercise some restraint in stating your very obvious conservative agenda I still must strongly disagree. We "anti-veitnam war" types have not all changed our position, and in fact many previously pro-war types have changed theirs. Kerry's testimony before congress was exagerated in its details, but unfortunately NOT incorrect. The swift boat veterens and neo-cons can attempt to whitewash our policies in South East asia, but it was an extremely brutal conflict. 4-5 million Vietnamese were killed durring our support of the French and direct involvment. 1 in 5 Vietnamese were either killed or injured. Thousands of acres of land destroyed, and millions of gallens of Agent Orange dumped on the countryside. The war may be over for us, but for them they still die from left over munitions and agent orange poisening to this day. Im not anti-american or completely antiwar. I read the history and understand the sacrifice made by our veterens and the apathy they experienced on coming home. Our intentions were good in Vietnam, but our policies were terrible. As to the reference to Pol Pot, your history is a bit too simplified. Yes he was communist by description, but more accurately his regime was a bastard mutation that came to power from the wide scale famine and destabilization brought about by our own christmas bombing campaign in Cambodia. You forgot to mention that little tidbit. The Vietnamese communists brought down his regime after we had pulled out. Communism is a brutal and represive form of goverinment, to be sure, one that deserves our scorn, but pretending our own military activities in southeast asia were without brutality and mistakes, accomplishes nothing. Why did we back colonial France against an independent and freedom seeking Vietnam in the 50s? Why did we Vietnam go communist in the first place, could it be the mass suffering they experienced under the french colonial capitalists who ruled them with an iron fist for decades before we got there? How were we to be percieved then when we entered the fray directly by the poor villagers throughout the countryside? Our intentions were good when we entered that war, but to pretend Kerry's testimony was a complete fabrication is simply not true. Every one of his examples can be documented, from the keeping of body part souveniers to the destruction of whole villages with anti-aircraft guns. Guerilla wars of attrition are especially bloody, and that is what we waged and faced when we fought there. Where Kerry's testimony was fraudilent was in the scale of the atrocities committed. A smal percentage of the American fighting men actually fought the ground war in Vietnam, and some of those soldiers never engaged in the tactics Kery described. many, however, did. Enough to kill millions of civilians over the 10 year period. Honor the veterens who served there, but acnowlege the devestation we wrought on that small country as well. Learn the true details of history from multilpe sources, not just neo-con whitewashed internet web sites.

6:53 PM, February 25, 2005  
Anonymous jacko492 said...

I started a small blog from some pictures I had taken in Nam. Some of them are about vietnam war casualties and similar subjects. I went to your blog to get ideas of how others did theirs. Nice job ! ---Jack---

12:58 AM, January 10, 2006  

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