Note: This feature piece was written as a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, in response to the article Kerry spoke of meeting negotiators on Vietnam. It was never published.
Mr. Healy and Mr. Kranish,
I am an historian of the Vietnam War era, and have read your article in the Boston Globe concerning John F. Kerry's trips to Paris, dated today.
I think you may have been spun away from a salient point of real interest, and may have missed the real story.
The Kerry spokesman would have you focus on the question of whether or not Kerry engaged in "negotiations," which would have been unlawful - or at the very least of questionable legality. He went so far as to assert that Kerry did not attend any of the negotiating sessions, an absurdity on its face, and an obvious diversion. By denying an issue not at issue, he deflected you from the real, and much more serious issue.
Your own reading of Kerry's advice to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will show that what Kerry suggested to them, and proposed to the American public, was the political position and essentially the military objective of the enemy with which we were then engaged in war. Attached is the proposal of the Provisional Revolutionary Government from somewhat later in the year 1971 (Kerry testified in April and this version of the "points" dates from June), at which time the "Eight Points" Kerry refers to had been expanded to nine, but are essentially the same program.
The Madame Binh whom Kerry references and whose "Points" he recommends was not "a leader" of "a communist group in South Vietnam." Madame Nguyen Thi Binh was the Foreign Minister of the PRG, which was the political wing of the only communist movement in South Vietnam, whose military apparatus was called, by the U.S., the Viet Cong. In both its political and military manifestations, this group was merely another operational aspect of the North Vietnamese communist regime and army.
And when the Kerry spokesman refers to Kerry's meeting with "both sides" attending the peace talks, any reading of Kerry's own words in the testimony will reveal that "both sides" means something other than what is implied. The implication is that he also consulted with his own countryman's representatives. But Kerry says, "I have talked to both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government." The DRV was, and is, the Hanoi communist regime. They were four-party talks in Paris. He did not bother talking to the Americans or to our allies, the South Vietnamese. To him "both sides" apparently meant only the two communist entities we were then fighting on the battlefield.
Kerry asserts that there will be far fewer victims of recrimination than the 200,000 murdered by America (but not by its soldiers?) in Vietnam each year, should "his" recommendations be put into effect. Someone should question the correctness of this forecast. His proposition was tested empirically in 1975 when the US abandoned the South Vietnamese. The humanitarian catastrophe which followed is universally ignored by those who condemned the US position in Vietnam - and the prevention of that catastrophe was the essential US purpose in Vietnam.
Kerry's problem is not that he may have violated an esoteric prohibition against negotiating with foreign powers (18 U.S.C. 953). What he did was collaborate with enemy combatants during the war, "adhering to them and giving them aid." The evidence for this is in his own words. That is covered by another law, The Constitution of the United States, Article III, Section 3.
The final unanswered question is how could Kerry or his spokesman make this assertion with a straight face, while never even specifying what "word" is the now retracted one:
"Senator Kerry never suggested or believed and absolutely rejects the idea that the word applied to service of the American soldiers in Vietnam. While opposed to the failed policy, Senator Kerry insisted that Americans must never confuse the war with the warriors."
Most of the words Kerry used in this appearance and applied to the American soldiers who served in Vietnam were far more vitriolic than anything as minor as mere "murder." Having read the full text, need I enumerate them for you? Kerry's entire performance was designed to identify American soldiers as crazed, drug addicted rapists and criminals, and veterans of the war as ticking time bombs addicted to violence as well as drugs. The character of the soldiers who served, and their alleged actions, were the entire stated pretext for his opposition to the war. That was his case. His entire strategy was to confuse the warriors with the war, and he did it by lying about the warriors... but that is another story entirely, about Kerry's and the VVAW's "Winter Soldier Investigation."
A final attachment is a comparison of Kerry's actions in 1971 with a more recent case. You should find it illuminating.
I thank you for being the first in the mainstream media to pick up on the trips (plural) to Paris. Stay with it.
Democratic Republic of Vietnam Peace Proposal, June 26, 1971 (Nine Point Peace Plan)
Peace Proposal of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Viet Nam, July 1, 1971 (Seven Point Peace Plan)
U.S. soldier charged in al-Qaida probe
National Guardsman accused
The Associated Press
Updated: 11:10 p.m. ET Feb. 18, 2004
Spc. Ryan G. Anderson was formally charged Feb. 12 with three counts... The charges could lead to a death sentence.
The charges do not allege that Anderson ever actually passed information to real al-Qaida members.
Anderson is also alleged to have communicated by “oral, written and electronic communication” to the supposed “terrorists” that “I wish to meet with you, I share your cause, I wish to continue contact through conversations and personal meetings.” [emphasis added]
The Uniform Military Code says attempts to aid the enemy can be punished by death.
CbCB) 2004 The Associated Press.
AND... at a time when our POWs were being tortured in North Vietnamese prison camps to make propaganda statements defaming American troops and accusing them of war crimes and in support of a U.S. unilateral ending of the war... torture which most of them were able to resist, and under which some died in silence...
From the Congressional Record,
Thursday April 22, 1971,
The United States Senate,
Committee on Foreign Relations,
The CHAIRMAN. (Senator Fulbright)... Are you familiar with some of the proposals before this committee?
Mr. KERRY. Yes, I am. Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you support or do you have any particular views about any one of them you wish to give the committee.
Mr. KERRY. My feeling, Senator, is undoubtedly this Congress, and I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but I do hot believe that this congress will, in fact, end the war as we would like to, which is immediately and unilaterally and, therefore, if I were to speak I would say we would set a date and the date obviously would be the earliest possible date. But I would like to say, in answering that, that I do not believe it is necessary to stall any longer. I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam [Hanoi Communists, ed.] and the Provisional Revolutionary Government [Viet Cong, ed.] and of all eight of Madam Binh's points [Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, the Viet Cong Foreign Minister, ed.] it has been stated time and time again,... if the United States were to set a date for withdrawal the prisoners of war would be returned.----------
I think this negates very clearly the argument of the President that we have to maintain a presence in Vietnam, to use as a negotiating block for the return of those prisoners. The setting of a date will accomplish that.
19th Combat Engineers
RVN 11/66 - 2/68
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