The Democrats, in a pathetic and desperate attempt to play the "war hero" card, suddenly want to compare their candidate's war record with Bush's. DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe has appeared on television several times criticizing Bush's war record, contrasting it with the record of John "War Hero" Kerry, apparently not realizing the irony of a party that supposedly represents the left making such an argument. Say what you will about George W. Bush, but being AWOL from the National Guard is one of the few honorable things he's ever done! IF you're AWOL from the National Guard, that means you aren't shooting Vietnamese villagers. A cursory look at Kerry's war history makes George W. Bush look like a veritable saint.
After graduating from Yale, Kerry enlisted in the U.S. Navy and volunteered for Vietnam, where he eventually was assigned to captain a swift boat, which he did for about three months. By his own admission, Kerry participated in "free fire" zones and killed many innocent civilians. According to Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, "While in command of Swift Boat 44, Kerry and crew operated without prudence in a Free Fire Zone, carelessly firing at targets of opportunity racking up a number of enemy kills and some civilians. His body count included -- a woman, her baby, a 12 year-old boy, an elderly man and several South Vietnamese soldiers. 'It is one of those terrible things, and I'll never forget, ever, the sight of that child,' Kerry later said about the dead baby."
One of Kerry's crewmates, Drew Whitlow, recalled an incident for the Boston Globe in which he shot civilians in a free fire zone: "This is a free fire zone, I will fire, I will put rounds in, I'm doing my thing, I'm feeling Mr. Macho. But then when you get close, you see the expressions of the village people, people waving their arms, saying, `No, no, no! Wait a minute, hold this off.' I ended up putting a few down, and then I found out it was friendlies." He also said a mortar round ricocheted back at the boat, wounding three crewmen.
In an interview in 1971, John Kerry said, "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." He has admitted that these actions are "contrary to the Hague and Geneva conventions," but don't count on Kerry turning himself in anytime soon. When Tim Russert recently asked Kerry about those incidents, Kerry attempted to whitewash them by saying that he and everyone else simply made an honest error in judgment as a result of the Cold War climate. Too bad the folks at Nuremberg weren't aware of the "Whoops, my bad!" defense.
John Kerry has also come to the defense of Bob Kerrey, another Vietnam vet who was recently revealed to have participated in atrocities. Kerrey admitted to participating in an attack on a village in which six soldiers under his command slaughtered 21 women, children, and elderly men. They were rounded up after the unit had taken control of the village and massacred at point-blank range. Kerrey expressed regret and guilt over the incident, which apparently absolved him from any wrongdoing. John Kerry said that an investigation into the incident would be blaming "the warrior rather than the war," and therefore Kerrey should get a free pass.
To his credit, when John Kerry returned home from the war he became a prominent member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). He gave a memorable testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in which he asked, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" He also detailed some of the stories he and his comrade, Jane Fonda, had uncovered during the Winter Soldier Investigation: "at times [American soldiers] had personally 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, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam."
Apparently, this is the sort of "heroism" that wins elections nowadays.
Justin Felux can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.