Let’s approach this as a black and white issue. Mr. Kerry admitted that he had participated in atrocities – war crimes – during his tenure in Vietnam. Said Kerry: “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 … ” Yet, curiously, Mr. Kerry has never been brought up on charges for these atrocities. It seems to me that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is pretty clear about those in uniform who commit war crimes.
In addition to admitting participation in these acts, Kerry claims to have heard countless accounts from other veterans who themselves committed or witnessed atrocities, and that these events occurred “regularly.” That’s quite an accusation to be sure. It would, at the very least, seem to be something that an impartial, objective media might find worth exploring, particularly in light of the fact that Mr. Kerry wishes to be Commander-In-Chief of the United States Armed Forces – the very forces he slandered and accused of committing these atrocities. Sounds like a good story.
You can be sure that if George W. Bush had made the same claims in front of the Senate thirty-three years ago, every known news agency in the world would have their most slippery super-sleuths out and about trying to dig up something – anything – to support the accusations. Would the media have been more interested in investigating these claims of Kerry’s had he, say, admitted to embarrassing the VC by putting underwear on their heads?
On the other hand, maybe these claims of Kerry’s depicting war crimes committed by American soldiers and himself in Vietnam are exaggerated. Maybe Senator Kerry misspoke all those years ago. Perhaps these things never really happened quite the way Kerry said they did. Maybe he bad-mouthed his country and brethren-in-arms, under oath, for reasons far more selfish and calculating. Maybe he was just a product of his times – the protest culture, the anti-war spit-on-the-baby-killers crowd. Maybe it can all be placed in proper context by recognizing that his disenchantment and bitterness was fuelled (and seared in him) by the pivotal event of his young life – that is, hearing President Richard Nixon lie about the United States not being in Cambodia during Christmas, 1968, although Kerry knew better. (I’ll let that one go).
The fact is that no one denies that atrocities do occur during war. However, this isn’t about war atrocities in and of themselves.
The purpose here is not to attack Senator Kerry personally. He is, after all, a decorated combat veteran and I have never been anywhere near combat. I’m simply trying to illustrate a point here. These questions regarding Kerry’s service are being raised, not by right-leaning pundits and ideological magazine editors, but by decorated war veterans who, more than anyone else, can speak to these matters with the greatest credibility and authority.
This is really all about the integrity and character of the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States who chose to make a four-month window of his life 35 years ago the focal point of his bid for the White House. For Kerry, his time in Vietnam is the great qualifier to lead the United States during this time of war.
As much as I’m loathe to criticize anyone’s military record – particularly those who bravely volunteered for combat – an uneasy truth is emerging that many, including Kerry, now wish we didn’t have to visit. For myself, and many others I’ve spoken with since this Swift-Boat controversy has exploded, the bottom line, brought on by Mr. Kerry himself and based on his own words, seems to be this: Either Mr. Kerry is a war criminal, subject to investigation … or he is a liar. Thanks to the way he and his people have decided to approach his campaign, there is no third option.
Either way, neither choice seems to fare well on a resume for Commander-In-Chief.
From Mr. Kerry’s perspective, some worms are best left in their cans.