February 11, 2004
The Sunshine Patriot: John Forbes Kerry after Vietnam
The Sunshine Patriot: John Forbes Kerry after Vietnam
by Adam Yoshida

According to some people, in essence, John Kerry deserves to be President because he served in Vietnam while George W. Bush was in the Air National Guard. I would point out, as others have, that both of our finest War Presidents had almost no military experience: FDR had none at all. Abraham Lincoln’s military experience consisted of a few months in a militia company during the Black Hawk War, in which he saw no action. Elected the Captain of his company, the first enlisted man he attempted to issue an order to told him to go to hell.


We cannot consider the four months that John Kerry served on the front lines in isolation. In order to understand, we must look at what came before and after. We require the full story.

I do not wish to question the service of John F. Kerry in Vietnam. Some people are trying to search out the recommendation that earned him his Silver Star or to point out that the three “wounds” which earned him his trip back home were so minor as to require virtually no treatment. This is the wrong track: whatever else you can say about John Forbes Kerry, his service in Vietnam is something that deserves respect. This, however, is hardly something that in and of itself ought to qualify someone to be the President of the United States. After all, Colonel David Hackworth was awarded the Silver Star ten times, and he isn’t running for President. To put things in perspective, between 1966 and 1969, there were roughly twenty-eight hundred Silver Stars awarded to the members of the First Cavalry Division alone. Every man who won one is a hero, but that doesn’t make him fit to be President.

So, why is John F. Kerry running for President when all of those others (with the exception of General Wesley Clark, who also holds a Silver Star) are not? What distinguished him from all those others? It is not, I assert, for heroism in war that John F. Kerry gained his present station in life, but for slandering his fellow veterans (those same ones who he now seeks to attach himself to so closely) and for being a primary advocate of a disastrous foreign policy which would subordinate American interests to those of foreign nations and peoples, which would ignore and dismiss threats, and which would, in these days of danger, place the very survival of the Republic at stake.

In his testimony before the Congress in 1971, John Kerry claimed that his fellow 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.” These were slanderous lies drawn largely from testimony at the Jane Fonda-sponsored “Winter Soldier Investigation” in which pro-communist individuals presented fabricated stories of American atrocities in Vietnam so lurid that they would have made the editors of Pravda proud.

In some cases people testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation, telling stories which they could not have possibly witnessed. In other cases the identities of real veterans were simply appropriated by individuals who remain unknown to this day. When the Pentagon sought the cooperation of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (who had organized the event) in conducting formal investigations of the atrocities testified to, they were stonewalled.

Now, some might argue that John Kerry was simply taken in by a clever fraud. Yet, in a 1971 appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kerry openly proclaimed that he had “committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers.” Moreover, that same year, Kerry put out a book entitled The New Soldier which combined his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with various accounts of “atrocities”.

It was for this, and not his service in Vietnam, that John Kerry rose to national prominence. John Kerry built his career by accusing his fellow servicemen of being rapists and murderers, based upon evidence that had been falsified with the deliberate intention of promoting the communist cause in Vietnam.

I have no idea if Kerry was sincerely opposed to the war, or he began protesting it only when he saw that was the way that the wind war blowing. As part of the protests which accompanied Kerry’s Congressional appearance, he (and many other veterans) dramatically threw their medals away. Except, of course, John Kerry didn’t do that: he threw away someone else’s medals, a fact which was revealed many years later when they appeared on the wall of his Senate office. It must have been, then, that even thirty-three years ago, there must have been a time when John Kerry was aware that his medals might be more popular with the public.

While the rest of the protestors camped out, Kerry slept in the home of a wealthy Washingtonian. While other protestors at least (seemingly) had the courage of their convictions and threw their medals away, John Kerry pocketed his: just in case. When he graduated from Yale in 1966, Kerry made a speech denouncing American foreign policy declaring that the young, “question the very roots of what we are serving.” Then he joined the Navy.

The name of the “Winter Soldier Investigation” was taken from Thomas Paine’s The Crisis, in which he declared that, “(t)he summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country.” That well describes John Forbes Kerry. When he thought it would be popular, he went off to become a war hero like his idol JFK. When that wasn’t popular, he spat on the cause that he and his fellow warriors and fought and died for. Now that toughness is in vogue again, he surrounds himself with the same men who he once accused of crimes against humanity.

Similarly, when the first Gulf War seemed likely to prove unpopular, he opposed it. When he recalled that all of the Democrats who voted against the first Gulf War in 1991 were prevented from running for President in 1992, he made sure to vote for the Iraq War. When things got tough in Iraq, he suddenly turned against the war and voted against the money necessary to win the peace.

In 1984, while running for the Senate, he denounced the invasion of Grenada claiming that there had been, “no substantial threat to US interests existed and American lives were not endangered.” He then called the invasion a, “a bully's show of force against a weak Third World nation.” Naturally, today, when the invasion is generally viewed as a turning point in the Cold War, he insists that he, “basically was supportive” of Reagan’s action.

Any serious examination of Kerry’s record finds him to be consumed by two competing impulses. First, the “JFK” syndrome identified by the former President of the Massachusetts Senate- “Just for Kerry.” John Forbes Kerry has been a relentless climber his entire life: running for office for his own sake, marrying heiresses for the cash, taking money from every special interest willing to fork it over. The arrogance of the Junior Senator for Massachusetts is revealed by the countless stories of his efforts to cut in line or otherwise enjoy privileges not granted to his constituents.

This does not mean that John Forbes Kerry lacks political convictions, that’s what scares me about the man. For all his flaws, William Jefferson Clinton was little more than a self-interested dunce, interested in power but without any particular agenda for the country. John Kerry, however, has a very clear agenda for America. He’s the same man who was questioning the roots of what he was serving in 1966.

John Kerry’s entire record suggests someone who views American power to be fundamentally malign and all threats to the United States to be the fantasies of paranoid zealots. In fact, just as John Kerry has been dismissive of the terrorist threat against the United States today, claiming that the threat had been “exaggerated” and that the Bush Administration was, “misleading all Americans in a profound way”, John Kerry was similarly dismissive of the communist threat. In his 1971 Senate testimony he declared that the threat posed by communism was, “bogus, totally artificial.” He went so far as to declare that, “there is no threat.”

During a campaign for Congress in 1970, Kerry declared that he would like to, “almost eliminate CIA activity” and see to it that, American troops were, “dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations.” Later, during the 1980’s, Kerry was a leading advocate of a “Nuclear Freeze” as well as unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United States. He worked aggressively to undermine American efforts to fight communism in the Americas: a fact which he brags about to this very day.

It is true that John Kerry fought gallantly in Vietnam. It is also true that Benedict Arnold fought gallantly at Saratoga. Like Arnold, Kerry fought well and then, when things did not go as he expected, turned violently against those with who he had served. John Kerry fought under the American flag, but he marched under the VC flag.

This election is about what will happen in the next four years, not what happened more than thirty years ago. Those of us interested in the salvation of the Republic would be better served to look at what the records tells us about the candidates today, rather than merely recounting old sins: both real and imagined.

What does the record of John Forbes Kerry tell us about where he would lead the Republic? To this very day, the man carries on his hands the stain of the blood of the innocents. Not those who he claims to have killed in “atrocities”, but that of the millions who were murdered because John Kerry and others like him thought that communism posed “no threat.”

Today John Kerry tells us that the threat of terrorism is “exaggerated”. Will it, I wonder, still be “exaggerated” when there is a giant smoking hole in the ground where Washington, DC once stood? Will Kerry admit to having been wrong then, or will he insist that he had warned against the terrorist threat all along, only no one listened?

Why should we turn away from a Commander-in-Chief who has led America through two wars, and continues to lead her into a dangerous future? Why should we allow a man who has been wrong about every threat to America for four decades to assume command now, at what might be one of the most critical moments since the very beginning of the Republic?

Events are rough at the moment, yes. But who can lead us to victory? To turn away from George Walker Bush, to reject this man based on petty lies and innuendo and, even worse, to replace him with a man who has built his career upon the denigration of the United States, would be an act of supreme folly. In our war against the terrorists, we are winning: and we’ll go on winning so long as we have the right leads. We must recall, as Thomas Paine might remind us, that tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.


Posted by Adam Yoshida at February 11, 2004 11:03 AM | TrackBack