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Kerry and the Paris Peace Talks

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In June 1971, Le Duc Tho arrived in Paris to join the North Vietnamese Communist delegation to the peace talks. His arrival marked a sea change in the Communists' approach to advancing their goals via negotiations. Le Duc Tho was with Ho Chi Minh one of the original founders of the Communist Party of Indochina, one of North Vietnam's chief strategists.

He arrived to join a comrade, Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, who had been a member of the Central Committee for the National Front for the Liberation of the South, and was now Foreign Minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) of South Vietnam. The military arm of the PRG was widely known as the Viet Cong, just as Madame Binh was widely recognized as the Viet Cong delegate to the conference.

On July 1, 1971, within days of Le Duc Tho's arrival, Madame Binh advanced a new 7-Point Proposal to end the war. Central to this plan was a cleverly crafted provision offering to set a date for the return of U.S. prisoners of war in exchange for the Americans setting a date for complete, unilateral military withdrawal from Vietnam. In other words, America could have her POWs back only if we would agree we lost, surrender, and set a date to leave.

About one year earlier, two young Americans had also come to Paris, arguably for their honeymoon -- John Kerry, a young, clean-shaven Navy war veteran, accompanied by his new wife, the former Julia Thorne, whose lineage traced back to George Washington.

But honeymooning was not John Kerry's only purpose in traveling to Paris. Kerry's presidential campaign has now acknowledged that he "talked privately with a leading communist representative" there.

On April 22, 1971, as he testified before Senator Fulbright's Committee on Foreign Relations, John Kerry mentioned that in Paris he had meetings with "both sides" of the Paris Peace Talks. The strong likelihood is that John Kerry also met with Le Duc Tho, or some other representative of the North Vietnamese delegation, in addition to Madame Binh who was in Paris representing the PRG. There is no reason to assume John Kerry had any interest in meeting with representatives of the other two sides in the Peace Talks -- the United States or South Vietnam.

Madame Binh's proposal was carefully crafted to send a strong emotional message to the American home front; that the only barrier to having our POWs returned was America's own unwillingness to set a date to withdraw -- even if the proposed withdrawal amounted to a defeat. The 7-Point Proposal directly challenged the South Vietnamese proposal to set a date for a truce and a free election designed to reunify Vietnam. The PRG and the Viet Cong clearly agreed with the Premier of Communist China, Cho En-lai that complete withdrawal of American military forces from Vietnam was the only precondition that would be discussed.

On July 22, 1971, John Kerry called a press conference in Washington, D.C. Speaking on behalf of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), Kerry openly urged President Nixon to accept Madame Binh's 7-Point plan. As the New York Times noted the following day, John Kerry suggested that President Nixon had refused to set a date for withdrawal because North Vietnam had not guaranteed the return of American POWs. Now that the Vietnamese Communists were promising to set a POW return date, Kerry argued that Nixon had no reasonable course left, except to set a date for withdrawing US military forces. Kerry failed to mention one consideration President Nixon most likely found compelling -- that America's cause was just and that the interests of freedom might best be served halting the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia. The U.S., in President Nixon's view, had not fought the war to abandon our allies to Communism but to defend South Vietnam's right to self-determination.

Today, presidential candidate John Kerry would have us believe that the only goal of his anti-war activities was to speak up bravely against a war he knew to be without justification. All he wanted to do was to stop a war where military policies such as free fire zones, the issuance of .50 caliber machine guns to Swift Boats, and tactics such as search-and-destroy led inevitably to war crimes, the killing of innocent civilians and the burning of peaceful villages.

John Kerry today wants us to believe that he has always been an anti-Communist. Yet the historical record raises questions about that claim. Loyal Americans think twice about violating the legal provision against negotiating with foreign powers (18 U.S.C. 953) and the Constitutional prohibition against giving support to our nation's enemies during wartime (Article III, Section 3). Anti-Communists do not openly support proposals that amount to an American surrender to Communist enemies in time of war.

John Kerry may believe in his own mind that his participation in the anti-war cause lifted him to a new moral plane, one where he would not be restricted by conventional legal distinctions or common-sense understandings of patriotism. Yet the record shows that Kerry and the VVAW consistently coordinated their efforts with Communists, both foreign and domestic, represented their positions, and repeated their grossly exaggerated claims of American atrocities. In fact, it is hard to find any disagreement whatsoever between Kerry's words and actions as a leader of the VVAW and those of the Hanoi and Vietcong leadership. Had Madame Binh herself been permitted to testify before that Senate committee in place of John Kerry, the most noticeable difference might have been the absence of a Boston accent.

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Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D.

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