John Kerry: I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.
There are many things wrong with this statement. The "investigation" did not check the background of those "150 honorably discharged... veterans." Others have since done so, after a Congressionally ordered investigation failed to substantiate even one of the allegations! Many of those "veterans" had never been to Vietnam. Some had never even served. Others could not possibly have been present at the events they testified to. And he sure as hell didn't represent "all those veterans."
On top of that, Kerry implied that war crimes were U.S. policy.
They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape 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.
Now, why do you think Kerry is telling these lies against his fellow Veterans while his country is at war?
Here is the origin of the damaged veteran myth that is still widely held:
The country doesn't know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence, and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history; men who have returned with a sense of anger and a sense of betrayal which no one has yet grasped.
Again, this is nonsense. First of all, there weren't millions in combat. There were only 2.5 million vets who even set foot in the country. The vast majority were not in combat. Second, polls then and polls now showed that most people were proud of their service and recently have said that given the chance, they would do it again.
...blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties...
Absolutely false. Blacks had an almost perfectly representative percentage of the casualties.
We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them.
Again, nonsense. The closest thing I can find to this was a practice that happened when the enemy would hide in a village. The village civilians would escape, and ask the Americans to bomb the village to kill the VC. The civilians then would no longer be troubled by them, and the US would provide the money to them to rebuild their village better than it had been.
We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.
The Mai Lai massacre was not received "very coolly." It was a major scandal and occupied a whole lot of press time and caused a lot of condemnation. Once again, Kerry is simply lying.
We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals.
This is a deliberate misinterpretation. A free fire zone doesn't mean you can shoot at anything. It means that you don't need higher level clearance to fire at a valid target. That’s all it means. Notice the "cheapness on the lives of Orientals" -- you will see that slander again.
We fought using weapons against "oriental human beings," with quotation marks around that. We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater or let us say a non-third-world people theater...
As you can see, he is using the standard anti-American trick of painting our efforts in a racist way. In fact, the weapons used in Vietnam were standard weapons which would have been used in any conflict. Except that in Europe we expected to have to use nuclear weapons, which were never recommended in Vietnam. Once again, Kerry lies.
...and so we watched while men charged up hills because a general said that hill has to be taken, and after losing one platoon or two platoons they marched away to leave the high for the reoccupation by the North Vietnamese because we watched pride allow the most unimportant of battles to be blown into extravaganzas, because we couldn't lose, and we couldn't retreat, and because it didn't matter how many American bodies were lost to prove that point. And so there were Hamburger Hills and Khe Sanhs and Hill 881's and Fire Base 6's and so many others.
Here, if you believe Kerry is not lying (which is quite a leap), you have to conclude he had no understanding of the strategy of the first half of the war (which, by the way, had been abandoned before Kerry’s short tour, when Abrams became the new commander). Westmoreland was fighting a war of attrition. Hence battles for many of these places took place not to seize territory, but to kill the enemy. Once that was completed, the forces left.
In particular, the battle of Khe Sanh was a move to trick the enemy into trying to recreate Dien Bien Phu. A major base was put very close to the Ho Chi Minh trail. Sensors were planted around it by VO-67 (whose survivors I knew and which was classified until 1997). Because of its position, it appeared to be vulnerable as Dien Bien Phu had been, and it threatened the trail, so the enemy was forced to accept combat with main force units. The sensors allowed B-52 Arc Light raids to be called in on enemy concentrations, and entire North Vietnamese divisions were destroyed. I heard the strategy described by Westmoreland in person.
Abrams correctly determined that attrition was not the appropriate strategy, so by the time Kerry was in country, the strategy changed to protecting the rural Vietnamese populace. Kerry was complaining about a strategy, that while devastating to the enemy, could never provide a decisive win, but a strategy that had been abandoned before he even went to Vietnam and 3 years before his testimony.
Now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese.
This is a nice sound bite that contains another lie. Vietnamization meant turning the war over to the Vietnamese. It didn’t mean what Kerry implies.
Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can't say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to dies so that President Nixon won't be, and these are his words, "the first President to lose a war."
Again, this mischaracterizes the war in the most damning way. Nixon was trying to get Americans out of Vietnam while at the same time providing South Vietnam the ability for it to defend itself against the North. He succeeded very well at this, by the way. The loss of the war came later, as a result of Democrat votes which outlawed Nixon’s strategy.
We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to dies in Vietnam? How do ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
Another nice bit of rhetoric, but meaningless. Every war has a last casualty. And this war was only a mistake because of the way it was ended, as a result of people like Kerry.
But the issue, gentlemen, the issue is communism, and the question is whether or not we will leave that country to the communists or whether or not we will try to give it hope to be a free people.
But the point is they are not a free people now under us. They are not a free people, and we cannot fight communism all over the world, and I think we should have learned that lesson by now.
This is very misleading. The Vietnamese under the corrupt South Vietnamese government were much more free than they have been since the North took over. Furthermore, although it isn't well known, the population was allowed to vote with its feet after 1954, with communists going north and people who did not want to live under communism moving south (when they could get away, which wasn’t easy in spite of the agreement, because the communists tried to stop the southward exodus). Furthermore, we did fight communism all over the world, when someone with more vision that Kerry (Reagan) took over, and we won, liberating hundreds of millions (but the poor Vietnamese are still suffering the tyranny of Communist rule).
I understand 57 percent of all those entering the VA hospitals talk about suicide. Some 27 percent have tried, and they try because they come back to this country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam, and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn't really care, that doesn't really care.
Once again, we see the myth of the damaged veteran. It is true that much of the country didn’t care -- Kerry’s allies were spitting on returning troops. But "have to face what they did in Vietnam" is yet another slander on veterans, implying we had been committing atrocities.
...the hypocrisy in our taking umbrage in the Geneva Conventions and using that as justification for a continuation of this war, when we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions, in the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, the killing of prisoners, accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam.
Once again, exaggeration painting us as butchers. Free fire zones, H&I fire, search and destroy missions and bombings are not violations of the Geneva conventions. Torture and killing of prisoners was rare in American units, and was prohibited with severe penalties.
We are also here to ask, and we are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We are here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatric and so many others. Where are they now that we, the men whom they sent off to war, have returned? These are commanders who have deserted their troops, and there is no more serious crime in the law of war. The Army says they never leave their wounded.
This is an amazing paragraph. The people he names were part of the Democrat administration. Kerry was testifying 2 years into the Nixon administration. Of course they were not around.
We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped their memories of us.
Almost all Vietnam Veterans have no problems with the memories of their service. And how he can divine the contents of the memories of the administration is a mystery to science.
I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and of all eight of Madam Binh's points it has been stated time and time again, and was stated by Senator Vance Hartke when he returned from Paris, and it has been stated by many other officials of this Government, if the United States were to set a date for withdrawal the prisoners of war would be returned.
Madam Binh’s points were the North Vietnamese surrender terms. Kerry went to Paris to meet with our enemy. Kerry, the private citizen, the "representative" of Vietnam Vets, carried the enemy’s water.
Speaking for the enemy:
...with that statement that all of our troops, the moment we set a date, will be given safe conduct out of Vietnam.
Only defeated armies need "safe conduct."
I would, therefore, submit that the most expedient means of getting out of South Vietnam would be for the President of the United States to declare a cease-fire, to stop this blind commitment to a dictatorial regime, the Thieu-Ky-Khiem regime, accept a coalition regime which would represent all the political forces of the country which is in fact what a representative government is supposed to do and which is in fact what this Government here in this country purports to do, and pull the troops out without losing one more American, and still further without losing the South Vietnamese.
In other words, stop fighting and leave. Surrender unconditionally. At the time Kerry was urging this, the situation on the ground in Vietnam was very favorable to the South. The war was essentially won in the South by 1970, and by 1972 the South Vietnamese demonstrated they could defeat a full scale invasion requiring only materials and air support from the U.S. Furthermore, at the end of 1972, Richard Nixon unleashed the Linebacker II bombing campaign against the North. Within 2 weeks the North Vietnamese came to a much more favorable agreement (for us) agreement than Kerry advocated, and also released the POWs. Those same POWs have since written that part of their torture was being forced to listen to Kerry’s testimony.
We believe we do have a plan, and that plan is that if this body were by some means either to permit a special referendum in this country so that the country itself might decide and therefore avoid this recrimination which people constantly refer to or if they couldn't do that, at least do it through immediate legislation which would state there would be an immediate cease-fire and we would be willing to undertake negotiations for a coalition government.
Now he is asking Congress to force the Commander in Chief to immediately cease fire.
I am talking about a vote here in Congress to cut off the funds...
He advocated what Congress did: cut off the funds, handing South Vietnam to the Communists, leading to millions of deaths in Cambodia, hundreds of thousands in South Vietnam, and an untold number as the residents attempted to flee on boats.
Senator Aiken: Do you believe the North Vietnamese would seriously undertake to impede our complete withdrawal?
Mr. Kerry: No, I do not believe that the North Vietnamese would and it has been clearly indicated at the Paris peace talks they would not.
Senator Aiken: Do you think they might help carry the bags for us?
Mr. Kerry: I would say they would be more prone to do that then the Army of the South Vietnamese. (Laughter) (Applause)
Real funny, eh?
After advocating removal (by the United States, by the way) of the government of South Vietnam, Kerry states:
But I think, having done what we have done to that country, we have an obligation to offer sanctuary to the perhaps 2,000, 3,000 people who might face, and obviously they would, we understand that, might face political assassination or something else. But my feeling is that those 3,000 who may have to leave that country...
He never mentioned that in Tet '68 at least this many civilians were taken to the killing fields and shot by the VC, just from the city of Hue during the short time they occupied it and while they were under constant attack. These were determined killer. And of course history tells us that the number endangered by the Communist takeover was a million or more, not a few thousand.
If we don't withdraw, if we maintain a Korean-type presence in South Vietnam, say 50,000 troops or something, with strategic combing raids from Guam and from Japan and from Thailand dropping these 15,000-pound fragmentation bombs on them, et cetera, in the next few years, then what you will have is a people who are continually oppressed, who are continually at warfare, and whose problems will not at all be solved because they will not have any kind of representation.
The actual strategy was to take this force down to nothing but a few advisors, and maintain the threat of air attack. As was amply demonstrated in 1972, this was sufficient to defeat the best attack the North Vietnamese could mount, with no American ground troops involved in the combat. So Kerry is again recommending a surrender, while tossing in the "dropping these 15,000 pound fragmentation bombs on them" lie (there was and is no such thing).
Next, in a couple of paragraphs too long to bother with, Kerry attacks the nature of the Vietnamese Forces. In fact, by the time Kerry was in country, those forces were starting to become effective, and by the time he testified, they had taken back all but 5% of the country, and later that year (as mentioned before) those forces, with only US air support, drove back a massive enemy invasion, which consisted of more manpower than the United States currently has in its army, and involved integrated armour, infantry, shock troops, and anti-aircraft batteries.
Yes, sir. I think we have a very definite obligation to make extensive reparations to the people of Indochina.
So not only should we surrender, but we should give a lot of money to the butchers and terrorists.
My feeling, Senator, on Lieutenant Calley is what he did quite obviously was a horrible, horrible, horrible thing and I have no bone to pick with the fact that he was prosecuted. But I think that in this question you have to separate guilt from responsibility, and I think clearly the responsibility for what has happened there lies elsewhere.
I think it lies with the men who designed free fire zones. I think it lies with the men who encourage body counts. I think it lies in large part with this country, which allows a young child before he reaches the age of 14 to see 12,500 deaths on television, which glorifies the John Wayne syndrome, which puts out fighting man comic books on the stands, which allows us in training to do calisthenics to four counts, on the fourth count of which we stand up and shout "kill" in unison, which has posters in barracks in this country with a crucified Vietnamese, blood on him, and underneath it says "kill the gook," and I think that clearly the responsibility for all of this is what has produced this horrible aberration.
Now, I think if you are going to try Lieutenant Calley then you must at the same time, if this country is going to demand respect for the law, you must at the same time try all those other people who have responsibility, and any aversion that we may have to the verdict as veterans is not to say that Calley should be freed, not to say that he is innocent, but to say that you can't just take him alone, and that would be my response to that.
This tries to raise the rare, isolated incident of Mei Lei to the status of a normal action in the war. It blames our entire culture. It paints us a racists and killers. And yet Calley was stopped by another officer who saw what he was doing. Calley was the exception, and in the entire history of the war there are only two incidents that rise to that level of atrocity. Kerry would make us believe it is the norm. Furthermore, it ignores the fact that these kinds of events happen in all armies in all significant wars, but our army (unlike that of the enemy) tries to avoid them and prosecute those responsible.
You don't have a chance for peace when you arm the people of another country and tell them they can fight a war. That is even criminal in the sense that their country, if we are really worried about recrimination, is going to have to someday face up to the fact that we convinced a certain number of people, perhaps hundred of thousands, perhaps there will be several million, that they could stand up to something which they couldn't and ultimately will face the recrimination of the fact that their lives in addition to all the lives at this point, will be on our conscience.
This is ridiculous. And John Kerry should have those lives on his conscience, since he betrayed all of those people. We gave them a fighting chance – a very good one, and Kerry and others took it away. The idea that it is criminal to arm an ally that is fighting an invasion is preposterous.
It is my opinion that the United States is still reacting in very much the 1945 mood and postwar cold-war period when we reacted to the forces which were at work in World War II and came out of it with this paranoia about the Russians and how the world was going to be divided up between the super powers, and the foreign policy of John Foster Dulles which was responsible for the creation of the SEATO treaty, which was, in fact, a direct reaction to this so-called Communist monolith. And I think we are reacting under cold-war precepts which are no longer applicable.
Kerry now lectures the Senate on U.S. world-wide strategy. He was, as history has shown, terribly wrong, but his position was certainly helpful to our enemy.
At any time that an actual threat is posed to this country or to the security and freedom I will be one of the first people to pick up a gun and defend it, but right now we are reacting with paranoia to this question of peace and the people taking over the world.
Do you want this main waiting until the planes are about to strike a building in the US before deciding we should defend ourselves? He denies that danger of the Communists in the cold war. This man had no concept of geopolitics and sadly, still does not.
Senator, I will say this. I think that politically, historically, the one thing that people try to do, that society is structured on as a whole, is an attempt to satisfy their felt needs, and you can satisfy those needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name it is democratic; in other it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship.
He gives moral equivalence to communism and democracy. Do we want this man as our leader?
A lot of guys, 60, 80 percent stay stoned 24 hours a day just to get through the Vietnam...
This allegation, widely reported, did wonders for the job prospects of Vietnam Veterans. It is also a lie.
We would go in with two quarter-inch aluminum hull boats and get shot at and never secure territory or anything except to quote Admiral Zumwalt to show the American flag and prove to the Vietcong they don't own the rivers. We found they did own them with 60 percent casualties and we thought this was absurd.
I went to Saigon and told this to a member of the news bureau there and I said, "Look, you have got to tell the American people this story." The response was, "Well, I can't write that kind of thing. I can't criticize that much because if I do I would lose my accreditation, and we have to be very careful about just how much we say and when."
He admits to violating his oath as an officer, considering his judgment to be superior than that of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. Considering the number of negative reports that were filed from Vietnam after Tet 1968, it is highly probably that he is lying about the response of the reporter. The press of 1969 or 1970 would have jumped on any story like that.
There is now a more militant attitude even within the military itself, among these soldiers evidenced by the advertisements recently in the New York Times in which members of the First Air Cavalry publicly signed up and said, "We would march on the 24th if we could be there, but we can't because we are in Vietnam."
This is also a lie. While there were morale problems, the New York Times advertisement was found to have been a forgery.
Again, he lies.