A headline in the Des Moines (Iowa) Register of August 14th read “Veteran Kerry Touts His War Experience.” Of course the story was about Senator John F. Kerry, the Vietnam veteran who wants to be the Democrat Party¹s presidential candidate. He returned from the war to lead protests, denigrate our flag, mock anticommunists, and call his fellow veterans “criminals” before a congressional committee. He now reminds us, incessantly, that he served in Vietnam. It wasn’t always that way. John DiStaso of the Manchester (New Hampshire) Union Leader newspaper points out that 11 years ago, during the 1992 New Hampshire primaries, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a fellow Democrat, had contrasted his distinguished war record with that of the draft-dodging Bill Clinton. On February 27th, 1992, John Kerry then attacked his fellow veteran on the Senate floor. Kerry lamented that the subject of Vietnam service had been ‘inserted into the campaign.’ John Kerry told his fellow senators, ‘What saddens me most is that Democrats, above all those who shared the agonies of that generation, should now be refighting the many conflicts of Vietnam in order to win the current political conflict of a Presidential primary...We do not need to divide America over who served and how...’
In 1971, following his service in Vietnam, Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as the leader of a dissident Vietnam veterans group. By now he was famous for wearing tattered fatigues that mocked the US uniform, carrying an upside-down US flag that dishonored Old Glory, and disposing of his medals by throwing them over the White House fence. Kerry asked the assembled senators...‘How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?’ Kerry was unclear as to what, or which, ‘mistake,’ he was referencing. Was it a mistake to fight communism--or was it a mistake to fight it with two arms tied behind our back, and without the support of many congress members--most of which where Democrats? Senator Kerry’s developing career tends to indicate to many that it was anticommunism that was the ‘mistake’--even now that we know so much more about the horrors of communist tyranny.
So now in 2003, when the nation is once again faced with deadly enemies, Kerry frequently reminds us that he once served his country in Vietnam. The ‘mistakes’ made in that era, and any references to who made them--and their ramifications--seem to be forgotten. The medals that were flung over the White House fence are now displayed proudly in the senator’s office. (He now says that the disposed of medals belonged to someone else.) ‘Inserting’ the subject of Vietnam into a presidential primary election is now okay, and dividing America over ‘who served and how’ is useful as long as we are talking about civilian leaders who are currently sending our troops into combat. Never mind that the enemy is someone who would kill us regardless of age, gender, social status--or prior service. On the bombing of the UN compound on August 19th, Kerry said... ‘...the administration...lacks an adequate plan to win the peace and protect the troops.’ In this report there was no indication that Kerry thought the attack on those giving humanitarian aid, feeding the hungry, finding shelter for the dispossessed, and supervising the clearing of minefields, was an inhuman outrage, which required decisive counteraction. Rather, he apparently saw it as merely another opportunity to blame America first, and criticize our leaders, rather than the terrorists. Bush has Ambassador L. Paul Bremer and former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik on the ground in Baghdad, in addition to an all-star class of US military leaders and planners, and a crack team of combat troops and special forces. They are up to the task. But Kerry is not up to the task of being president. If elected, he would probably surround himself with Clinton-era nailbiters who would refrain from taking decisive military action. As we saw on 9/11 and August 19th, that is too risky.
Fielder is a retired army officer with 40-years experience in U.S. intelligence. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.