First, another confession. I am a C-SPAN junkie. It's about the only place where you can get a lot uncensored, unfiltered news, as opposed to what passes for news on the networks. I say this as an explanation of what I'm doing at 8 o'clock on a Saturday night watching C-SPAN, I like it.
So, last night, I caught Who's Funnier: The Left or the Right? - - Center for American Progress
, which was excellent. The panel included:
Co-Anchor, Weekend Today and Panel Moderator
President & CEO, Center for American Progress
Senior Correspondent, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Principal Partner, Navigators
Host, The Phil Hendrie Show
White House Correspondent, TIME
Well, what I want to point out was a comment made by Phil Hendrie, which starts on page twenty-seven of the transcript,
"HENDRIE: Right. This is not an attitude that's reflected in America. That's why they
got fooled with Howard Dean. That's why they thought this guy was really something,
and he turned out to be nobody cared, nobody wanted to listen to this guy. He wasn't
going to be anybody's president.
John Kerry won't get elected president for a couple of reasons. One, people are going to
look at this guy-
COLBERT: Yeah, exactly. [laughter]
HENDRIE: They're going to look at this guy-
COLBERT: Instruct me, Phil. [laughter]
HENDRIE: They're going to look at this guy.
COLBERT: Write this down, get it down! Write it down. The truth is coming down from
the mountain! I see the [inaudible under cheers] coming off your head. Go ahead.
HENDRIE: John Kerry will not get elected President because they're going to whip
COLBERT: Do it in character!
HENDRIE: --they're going to whip this out in probably September, that John Kerry
stood before the Senate and called his fellow soldiers 'rapists and murderers' back in
1971. Guy's not going to make it. Nobody is going to-
CAREY: Oh, come on.
HENDRIE: At this time in the history of this country, nobody is going to vote for that
PROOPS: You may be right."
And, I think Hendrie has point. Hendrie himself, a self proclaimed democrat who supports Baby Bush, comes across as a fairly strange and somewhat obnoxious individual, but I do think he has a point. If Kerry is going to win the presidency, he has to get past this point now.
So, I have spent a litle time this morning researching this topic and found Statement of John Kerry
, which appears to be a pretty good accounting of the actual testimony, from a link posted at American Civil War Game Club (ACWGC) Forum - John Kerry, Vietnam Vet
: by "Col Ross McDaniel
AoG ". [In fact, this story appeared to be a pretty hot topic on that board for a few days at the end of February, and if your interested in a conservative view on this, please check it out. Lot's of retired military officers, many of them Vietnam Vets, discussing Kerry as...well, a traitor. You should maybe go read those comments for yourselves.]
I find their comments, in light of the Pentagon Papers and SecDef Histories - Robert McNamara
, fairly recent revelations on the Vietnam War a little strange.
[His book, "In Retrospect" by Robert S. McNamara
: "IN RETROSPECT:
THE TRAGEDY AND LESSONS OF VIETNAM
ROBERT S. MCNAMARA
WITH BRIAN VANDEMARK
FROM THE PREFACE:
'We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation. We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.'"
Here is a good interview by CNN with him: CNN Cold War - Interviews: Robert McNamara
Anyway, I was trying to go somewhere with this, so let's re-start. The point was that in Kerry's testimony to the Senate in '71, he basically said that rape, and other crimes were rampant by the military serving in Vietnam. I wasn't there. My dad did two tours in Vietnam, and I never heard him say that this stuff was rampant. He did tell me the story of the GI who sent the Zippo lighter company a letter stating he was so thrilled that he was able to burn down an entire village with his Zippo lighter,and that he would happy to become one of their spokesmen (the company declined his offer). None, of the Vet's I've known over the years have told me that they raped women. But, I have had a few tell me that they shot civilians, and sometimes not by mistake. And, I've had more then one tell me that the interrogation techneique of throwing one guy out of the helicopter, to get the other prisoner to talk, was in fact done. And, while many people are familiar with the My Lai Massacre, Documents relating to the court-martial of Lt. William Calley
, this has always been portrayed as an aberration, a single incident. Yet, another Senator Kerrey (Nebraska) recently had his presidntial ambitions derailed when his participation in a massacre came out: Kerrey Admits Vietnam Killings Former Nebraska Senator Had Role In Civilian Massacre
: "Former Nebraska senator and governor Bob Kerrey, a potential Democratic presidential contender, has revealed that he commanded a raid on a village during the Vietnam War that killed only women, children and older men.
Kerrey stressed that members of his seven-man Navy SEAL team began shooting after they were shot at and assumed they were facing fire from Viet Cong soldiers." So, I don't know how often this type of stuff happened.
And more recently, I had a friend tell me that while in Iraq, serving with the 4th ID, about an incident where his unit had come under fire from a building. Being in a lightly armed support unit, they wound up having to get support from a tank in the area. After the tank turned the building to rubble, they found twenty weapons, but over sixty bodies. Leading to the conclusion that many of the dead where civilian non-combatants. So they decided not report the incident, and buried the bodies (this may also be why so many senior officers are unaware of these types of incidents). He also told me about how he and some of the other members of his unit, took an Iraqi, who was trying to lead his company commander into an ambush, around behind the dune and summarily executed him. So, are these incidents a massacre and the murder of a civilian? I don't think so. I think war is very ugly. And, I think soldiers have to make some decisions, which look bad to arm chair quarterbacks with the advantage of hindsight.
Back to the rape charges. Considering the news of rapes been coming out of the Air Force Academy, several of the air force bases, and reports of rapes of US Service women in Iraq, I find it difficult to say that it is not a wide spread crime. But, I also think it would be wrong to cast a blanket over all soldiers, airmen and sailors. But, how many have to participate for it to be termed widespread?
But, this is one of those cases where the truth or falsity of the statement do not matter. It is American popular opinion and reaction to the statements that can probably hurt Kerry. Most Americans today know nothing about military service, especially in war, except what they get from the popular media. In the seventies and even into the eighties, the military suffered from a very bad reputation. But that has since changed. They are no longer baby killers, they are America's finest, and you can't be on the wrong side of this issue while there is a war on. Oh, yeah, I happen to believe we are still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan despite the 'mission accomplished' banner.
So, Kerry and Kerry's people need to get on this issue, and get it behind them. They need to do it now, and not let the republican attack dogs, under Rove's control, use this against them in September. I think the more that people blog on it, the more likely this issue will be addressed now. So, consider this post my first active effort in support of Kerry. Actually, consider this my first active effort in the anybody but Baby Bush campaign. I'm personally not all that sold on Kerry.
Oh, here are some stats on committed by the military while serving over seas. The first two take on slant, and the third the opposite:
U.S. Military in Korea
U.S. Military Crime in Okinawa: Myth or Reality? (areastudies.org)
I will say, when I was serving in Mannhiem, the only people that committed murders in the area while I was there, were in fact American soldiers or terrorists like the Baader-Meinhoff Gang. In fact, we had two or three incidents of troops shooting a cab driver outside the gate for cab fare. That is one thing I'll say, no German would kill for thirty dollars. That takes an American. Just look at the violent crime and incarceration rates here at home.
Enough for now....