Why Kerry Remains Unfit for Command
A look back at the ugly truths the Swift Boat Vets brought to light about the senator.
It is now official. Last week, President Obama nominated John Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, saying Kerry's "entire life has prepared him for this role.“ He further contended that Kerry’s service as a Vietnam veteran taught him the "responsibility to use American power wisely, especially our military power.” That assessment may come as a shock to the thousands of Vietnam veterans whose reputations Kerry trashed in order to advance his own radical political agenda.
Remarkably, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, unable to attend the nominating ceremony due to her continuing effort to dodge testimony regarding the Benghazi debacle, viewed that trashing as an asset. “John Kerry has been tested–in war, in government, and in diplomacy. Time and again, he has proven his mettle,” said a written statement released by Clinton. “I remember watching young Lieutenant Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee many years ago and thinking that I had just seen a man of uncommon courage and conscience.”
This is a particularly callous and stinging statement from Clinton. Many Americans are aware of John Kerry’s infamous abuse of his fellow soldiers during the “Winter Soldier Investigations,” when he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 as a representative of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and made the following statement:
They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped 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 in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.
Kerry contended that these atrocities were committed "on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.“
Yet there were even more damnable parts of Kerry’s testimony that have remained largely under the radar. Like every good progressive, Kerry promoted the leftist worldview of a racist America, no better than the enemy we were fighting. "We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by our flag, as blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties. We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs as well as by search and destroy missions, as well as by Vietcong terrorism, and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong,” he stated. Furthermore, Kerry embraced a defeatism proven colossally wrong years later by President Ronald Reagan, claiming, “We cannot fight communism all over the world, and I think we should have learned that lesson by now.”
Kerry’s toxic legacy makes him a perfect choice for the radical Obama administration, as explained by Jerome Corsi, Harvard Ph.D. and co-author with John O'Neill of the book “Unfit For Command, Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry”:
The young John Kerry who condemned the U.S. military in his infamous 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has much in common with the young Barack Obama who expressed admiration for Franz Fanon and Malcolm X when expressing in the pages of his autobiography his particular form of anti-colonial black rage against the United States of America.
Co-author John O'Neill, the former leader of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that played an instrumental role in thwarting Kerry’s presidential bid in 2004, and driving progressives crazy in the process, was equally blunt. In an email published as part of a Wall Street Journal column by former editorial board member Seth Lipsky (written before it was clear whether Kerry would be nominated for State or Defense), O'Neill contended that Kerry “is well qualified to be the Secretary of Defense…of Cuba or Venezuela. He [is] certainly an expert on surrender and can run up a white flag with the best of them.”
Lipsky himself wonders about the hypocrisy of President Obama, who paid lip service to the need to “correct the narrative of Vietnam,” noting that thousands of American GIs were held responsible for the “misdeeds of a few,” while at the same time nominating the Senator from Massachusetts. “It is hard to think of anyone who did more to besmirch the name of the GIs who fought in Vietnam than Sen. Kerry,” says Lipsky, who also reminds us that Kerry testified “after meeting in Paris with envoys of our communist foe and then echoing in the debate here their calls for an immediate withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam.”
Most Americans are unaware that Kerry not only besmirched veterans, but our nation’s methods of conducting war as well. Another statement he made during the hearings ought to be brought up during the nomination process, especially when one considers that President Obama has made extensive use of unmanned drones to kill terrorists. “We veterans can only look with amazement on the fact that this country has been unable to see there is absolutely no difference between ground troops and a helicopter crew, and yet people have accepted a differentiation fed them by the administration,” Kerry states at the Senate hearing. “No ground troops are in Laos, so it is all right to kill Laotians by remote control.” It would be interesting to know if Kerry is against killing terrorists by “remote control” per se, or if he is merely indignant that they are not given an equal opportunity to kill our troops in return, due to America’s technological advantage.
One may further wonder if Kerry knows who the real terrorists are. Despite voting to authorize the use of force in Iraq, based on several statements that Saddam Hussein was a “brutal and murderous dictator” who has “used weapons of mass destruction,” Kerry once again took an opportunity to bash American’s fighting forces on CBS’s “Face the Nation” in 2006. "And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the – of the historical customs, religious customs,“ he told host Bob Schieffer.
That wasn’t Kerry’s only disparagement of soldiers fighting in Iraq. During his speech at Pasadena City College, Kerry thought he was being humorous. "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq,” he said. His fallback excuse was that he was bashing President Bush, not the troops.
Much of Kerry’s record would have been suppressed were it not for the efforts of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth who brought much of this information to the fore. Their efforts in exposing the Senator have been excoriated by the mainstream media, furious that the Swift Boaters were able to derail Kerry’s run for the presidency in 2004. It was the Swift Boat Vets who exposed his slandering of American GIs, and largely debunked much of his self-acclaimed heroism. They were so effective, that a 2010 investigation by Pro Publica and National Public Radio revealed that soldiers who had sustained concussions in Iraq were denied Purple Hearts because some military doctors didn’t want “anymore John Kerrys.” It was the Swift Boaters who charged Kerry with accepting Purple Hearts that were not honestly earned. Part of those charges center around the reality that despite receiving three of them, he never spent any time in a hospital.
Yet it is Kerry himself who has sown the seeds for what ought to be his ultimate disqualification for Secretary of State. In an April 18, 1971 appearance on “Meet the Press,” Kerry admitted that he committed war crimes in Vietnam. "There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed…All of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down.“ Kerry added that those who condoned or engaged in such activities were "war criminals.”
When confronted with that statement by the late Tim Russert in 2004, Kerry claimed the word “atrocities” was “inappropriate.” When Russert pressed him on his Winter Soldier testimony, asking if many of Kerry’s stories had been “discredited,” the Senator hedged. "Actually, a lot of them have been documented,“ he said. Russert asked, "So you stand by that?” Kerry replied, “A lot of those stories have been documented.” Nonetheless, Kerry has also tried to excuse his past behavior as the work of an “angry young man.”
Angry young man or not, how many documented stories constitutes “a lot,” versus the percentage of outright lies – along with Kerry’s assertion that he was a pawn of a government of “war criminals” – ought to be an integral part of any confirmation hearing. So should the ludicrous claim he made in an article he wrote for Foreign Policy magazine last September. “I grew up in a Senate and foreign-policy world where we treated as gospel the notion that–as Sen. Arthur Vandenberg famously said–'politics stops at the water’s edge,‘” Kerry wrote.
That Kerry’s career of politicizing war over the course of decades reveals this to be an utter lie is indisputable. Yet even more troubling, it reveals a level of self-denial so deep, one might be forgiven for wondering how it is possible he is even being considered for Secretary of State, much less a reported shoo-in to get the job. That reality is as much a testament to the nature of something known as “Senate collegiality” which, in this case, amounts to confirming a hack willing to undercut American troops whenever it served his purposes, to a position fourth in the line of presidential succession lest the Senate chamber become a hotbed of rancor if Kerry is denied the nomination.
The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who officially disbanded as a political organization in 2008, might be up to the task of making the process a bit harder for Kerry and his Senate friends. John O'Neill played it close to the vest when he appeared on Fox News’s “Hannity." "We will do the best we can, Sean. I was contacted today, I spoke with three people that won the Congressional Medal of Honor, who will do the very best we can,” he promised. “We’ve got kids–heck, I mean, we have hundreds of thousands of kids who have been engaged in combat or in the armed forces. Can you imagine them counting on John Kerry to protect their back?”
Thousands of troops already know the answer to that question. It is up to the Senate to decide whether their sacrifices and their reputations from Vietnam to the present can be kicked to the curb. When the fog of political expediency is penetrated, Kerry’s fellow senators face a simple choice: they can either demonstrate respect and loyalty for America’s fighting forces, or one of their own.
Arnold Ahlert is a columnist for FrontPage Magazine.