John Kerry opened his campaign in Iowa by hyping the fact that he “cut and ran” from Viet Nam after only four months service there and getting some “band-aid” medals. The ad itself apparently shows him wandering through the jungle (it is perhaps surprising that he did not show film of himself violating standard operating procedures by beaching his boat and chasing after Viet Cong and civilians on the shore, an action which normally would have led to immediate court-martial.) But let’s not look at his home movies – let’s look at his record, which is his sworn testimony before Congress and his subsequent actions, with a remaining obligation with service as a commissioned Naval officer who had sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America:
“And so when thirty years from now our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be able to say "Vietnam" and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory, but mean instead where America finally turned and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning.”
-- Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement by John Kerry to the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, April 23, 1971
It is now thirty years since the United States and an international coalition of forces with SEATO which had been dedicated to the freedom of the South Vietnamese and the recognition of legitimate treaty obligations signed by a number of international parties abandoned the Republic of Viet Nam, allowing a full scale invasion and conquest by Communist North Viet Nam. It is also almost fifty years since the United States and the United Nations stopped communist aggression in both Korea as well as Cold War Germany, so it is a good time to do exactly what Kerry invited us to do – to ask “why” in thirty years.
After World War II, a republic was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north. During the Korean War (1950-1953), US and other UN forces intervened to defend South Korea from North Korean attacks supported by the Chinese. My father, one of only two survivors who had been blown out of a B-17, who was deliberately shot while parachuting to the ground, who spent two years in the infamous Stalag Luft III prison camp in Germany where 52 of his comrades were brutally murdered on the personal orders of Hitler and Himmler, and who survived the subsequent winter death march from Poland to Bavaria, was recalled to service for this conflict. When, as a young boy, I asked Kerry’s questions “why” he had his wounds and was still called to service, he replied that he was serving his country, along with the thousands of others who were injured more severely, were also imprisoned, or who had already seen their share of war. He never put himself in a glorified ad campaign, he never sailed on JFK’s yacht, and he did not marry different wives who were wealthy. He just said that this was his duty to his country, and he never complained. Years later, my brother also aided in supporting our success in Korea while stationed as a Marine in the Pacific.
An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the Peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 20 times the level of North Korea, becoming one of the wonders of Asia in terms of freedom, economic growth, and democracy. Fifty million people are now free and economically secure. North Korea, ruled by clinically insane Kim Chong-il, has one of the worst records in the world of starvation and oppression of its own people. In addition to now threatening others with nuclear weapons which Kerry’s Democratic party insured that he would have by failing to provide security provisions, the lunatic Kim Chong-il also routinely kidnaps actors and actresses from the south and from Japan, has them act in Godzilla movies, and engages in a number of other bizarre behaviors indicative of mental imbalance.
Also after World War II, West Germany was threatened by East Germany and the Soviets, first with blockade and then by invasion and liquidation by nuclear aggression. Although many liberals minimized such fears and fought against our efforts in Europe in those years, the proof of such plans was made clear and established without doubt with the declassification of the VENONA secret cables in the 1990s. (In July 1995, in a ceremony at CIA Headquarters, Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch released the first group of NSA's Venona translations to the public). The sacrifice of those who served in Germany and Europe like myself during the post war years insured that Germany, a country of about fifty million inhabitants at the time, also became one of the wonders of the world in terms of freedom, economic growth, and democracy instead of being overrun by the Soviets, as was fully their intention. Serving as the Chief of Psychology at the Second General Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany at the time, I can assure you that many servicemen and women now “go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face” as a result of their service in Germany, even during the Cold War, to keep all of western Europe free. But it is their sacrifice, not their cowardice, that kept Europe free. And none I knew “cut and ran” after being there for only four months, and I never had any dedicated service men or women come to the hospital after receiving three minor wounds, request medals, and then request early separation in the manner of Kerry.
In contrast, the speech by Kerry, given in sworn testimony to the United States Senate and ghostwritten for him by others, was one part of the overall defeatist movement which insured retreat and communist conquest in Viet Nam. The speech in particular was essentially completely fabricated, accusing the United States of “murdering 200,000 people a year” in the Republic as well as a wide variety of various “war crimes” which never occurred and which were fabricated. The “Winter Soldier” and “Vietnam Veterans Against the War” groups which fabricated these charges even went so far as to fake “testimony” from real veterans who never even attended these meetings, and whose identities were stolen without their knowledge. The so-called “peace” and “anti-war” movements in the United States led neither to peace nor to a cessation of war as the communists eventually broke all international treaties and gorged themselves on a spree of killing and oppression upon the conquest of South Viet Nam. These “peace” and “anti-war” movements left twenty million South Vietnamese enslaved, probably another million killed, and three million Cambodians butchered like animals, with those surviving also enslaved. Tens of thousands then fled the regime which Kerry and Jane Fonda admired so much, but would never themselves agree to live under, with thousands losing their lives. Viet Nam today, despite their efforts, remains one of the poorest and most desolate of countries of all of Asia. I doubt if any Vietnamese saw this as either “peaceful” or as “anti-war.” A quotation displayed prominently in the Pentagon by President John F. Kennedy reminds us that “the absence of war does not by itself imply peace.” At the conclusion of the conquest, General Vo Nguyen Giap himself attributed all of this “success” to the American “peace movement.”
As Kerry swore under oath: “And so when thirty years [later we] ask why, we [are] able to . . . see where America finally turned . . . and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning,” we can see that true American soldiers helped the “turning” of South Korea and Western Europe into bastions of freedom and economic strength and growth, while the failures of Viet Nam could not be more obvious. It is Viet Nam, not Korea or Europe, which is a “desert, and a filthy obscene memory,” and it is those service men and women who “lost a leg, an arm, or a face,” or even their lives, who made life different for all of those who now live in freedom instead of under butchers and madmen like Giap, Pol Pot, or Kim Chong-il.
For our family, we are proud to say that our service “helped it in the turning” to insure that Europe and Korea became and remained free, not that we “helped in the turning” of Viet Nam and Cambodia into enslaved graveyards ruled by the Hanoi politburo. Let’s not have Kerry repeat the same mistake in Afghanistan and Iraq, as he has made it clear that he would take the first opportunity again to “cut and run,” to abandon these countries to the fate of despots, to place the United States once again significantly at risk, and would make the sacrifice of those who fought for security and freedom all for naught once again. His betrayal of both his own country as well as the country of others who trusted him with their “lives, their liberty, and their pursuit of happiness” the 1970’s is disturbing enough; a repeat betrayal is unthinkable.