Kerry's Denials at Odds With 1971 Book He Authored
By Marc Morano
CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
February 20, 2004
(CNSNews.com) - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has denied ever accusing American troops of committing war crimes in Vietnam. But his remarks during an interview on CNN Thursday are at odds with the excerpts of a book Kerry authored in 1971, a copy of which CNSNews.com obtained this week.
The New Soldier, which is currently so difficult to find that it was selling on the Internet for about $850, featured the following passage by Kerry about his experiences in Vietnam. "We were sent to Vietnam to kill Communism. But we found instead that we were killing women and children."
In the book, Kerry stated that Vietnamese citizens "didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy" and he instead blamed the United States for causing chaos in Vietnam.
"In the process we created a nation of refugees, bomb craters, amputees, orphans, widows, and prostitutes, and we gave new meaning to the words of the Roman historian Tacitus: 'Where they made a desert they called it peace,'" Kerry explained.
But when asked by CNN anchor Judy Woodruff on Thursday about allegations that he had accused "American troops of war crimes," Kerry issued a denial.
"No, I was accusing American leaders of abandoning the troops. And if you read what I said, it is very clearly an indictment of leadership. I said to the Senate, where is the leadership of our country? And it's the leaders who are responsible, not the soldiers. I never said that. I've always fought for the soldiers," he said. Kerry was referring to his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April of 1971 as part of his involvement with the anti-war group Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
But The New Soldier reveals Kerry's direct criticism of American soldiers, including charges that they committed atrocities against the Vietnamese while on patrol. In the book, Kerry said he "saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs and search-and-destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism..." He added that his combat duty in Vietnam irrevocably transformed his outlook on the military. "Because of all that I saw in Vietnam, the treatment of civilians, the ravaging of their countryside, the needless, useless deaths, the deception and duplicity of our policy, I changed," Kerry wrote.
The cover of the book displays long-haired, bearded men carrying an upside down American flag in an apparent mockery of the famous planting of the American flag on Iwo Jima during World War II.
Kerry's former brother-in-law and current campaign adviser, David Thorne and documentary maker George Butler were credited with editing the book.
A defiant Kerry told CNN's Woodruff that he did not regret his anti-war activism, but also shifted the conversation to his activities on behalf of veterans many years after his own service in Vietnam, his anti-war activities and the publication of his 1971 book.
"In fact, not only did we oppose the war, but we proudly stood up and fought for the additions to the G.I. Bill so that vets would be able to use it. We fought for the V.A. Hospitals. I wrote the Agent Orange legislation with Tom Daschle. I helped with the post-Vietnam stress syndrome outreach centers," Kerry said.
"...The fact is if we want to re-debate the war on Vietnam in 2004, I'm ready for that. It was a mistake, and I'm proud of having stood up and shared with America my perceptions of what was happening," Kerry added.