In an effort to distract voters from a stalled economy and a quagmire in Iraq, the Bush campaign, by way of its minions, has been attempting to increasingly refocus this year's election on the question of John Kerry's service in Vietnam.
John Kerry's valor in Vietnam remained unquestioned for 30 years and I will not lend any space on this website to debating those who attempt to tarnish it now in the context of a presidential campaign.
What I would like to do is address the real source of their anger: John Kerry's testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations in 1971. The content of this testimony has been distorted beyond belief by the Republican party. To read the full testimony, go to C-Span.
The media has played and replayed the following clip from Kerry's testimony:
"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 country side 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."
What the media NEVER bothers to include is the two paragraphs that precede this quote, in which Kerry explains that his description is a paraphrase of testimony provided at a Detroit veterans' meeting several months earlier.
Instead of Kerry summarizing an event, the media makes it look as if this quote was an indictment of every soldier who served in Vietnam.
The above quotation is also only a minute part of a hearing that went on for two hours and touched upon many other issues, a few of which bear comparison to our present situation in Iraq.
Below are some key excerpts from Kerry's testimony:
"In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to use the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart."
"We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace, and they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Vietcong, North Vietnamese, or American."
"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 you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"