As predicted, now that Kerry is the front runner, the assault has begun and it’s just as nasty as many of us thought it would be. Phaedrus at No Fear of Freedom links to the first shot in the war– a column in the National Review Online (NRO) by Mackubin Thomas Owens in which he claims that Kerry slandered other soldiers for purely political reasons in the so-called “Winter Soldier” investigation of war crimes in Viet Nam .
Kerry did not return from Vietnam a radical antiwar activist. According to the indispensable Stolen Valor, by H. G. “Jug” Burkett and Genna Whitley, “Friends said that when Kerry first began talking about running for office, he was not visibly agitated about the Vietnam War. ‘I thought of him as a rather normal vet,’ a friend said to a reporter, ‘glad to be out but not terribly uptight about the war.’ Another acquaintance who talked to Kerry about his political ambitions called him a ‘very charismatic fellow looking for a good issue.'” Apparently, this good issue would be Vietnam.
Not content with trashing Kerry’s motives, Owens goes on to trash the whole Winter Soldier investigation–according to him it was a pack of lies:
Kerry hooked up with an organization called Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Two events cooked up by this group went a long way toward cementing in the public mind the image of Vietnam as one big atrocity. The first of these was the January 31, 1971, “Winter Soldier Investigation,” organized by “the usual suspects” among antiwar celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory, and Kennedy-assassination conspiracy theorist, Mark Lane. Here, individuals purporting to be Vietnam veterans told horrible stories of atrocities in Vietnam: using prisoners for target practice, throwing them out of helicopters, cutting off the ears of dead Viet Cong soldiers, burning villages, and gang-raping women as a matter of course…..In fact, the entire Winter Soldiers Investigation was a lie. It was inspired by Mark Lane’s 1970 book entitled Conversations with Americans, which claimed to recount atrocity stories by Vietnam veterans.
He goes on to claim that Kerry was a major promoter of this “lie”–
Kerry’s 1971 testimony includes every left-wing cliché about Vietnam and the men who served there. It is part of the reason that even today, people who are too young to remember Vietnam are predisposed to believe the worst about the Vietnam War and those who fought it.
–and that, in fact, the atrocities never happened, or if they did happen, they didn’t happen very often:
The first cliché is that atrocities were widespread in Vietnam. But this is nonsense. Atrocities did occur in Vietnam, but they were far from widespread. Between 1965 and 1973, 201 soldiers and 77 Marines were convicted of serious crimes against the Vietnamese.
So now we have it: a preview of the radcon strategy for destroying Kerry’s candidacy and in the process revising history so it’s more to their liking. Kerry told “heinous” lies for cynical political gain, and he was willing to slander his own comrades to do it. The terrible stories told by Vets were all made up, they weren’t even real soldiers, and anyway we could have won if we hadn’t chickened out.
Rehabilitating the Viet Nam war has been a major radcon goal since the retreat from Saigon, and in Kerry’s candidacy they have obviously caught a glimpse of a way to attack him and re-define the war at the same time. In full holocaust-denial mode, we are about to be treated to a raft of columns and stories insisting that Viet Nam was a just war, that stories to the contrary are liberal propaganda, and that anyone who says otherwise is a traitor.
Anyone who claims that the atrocities reported by the Winter Soldiers never happened or are blown way out of proportion needs to be tied to a chair and forcibly read the Toledo Blade‘s outstanding series on the elite platoon known as Tiger Force.
Since the war ended, the American public has been fed a dose of movies fictionalizing the excesses of U.S. units in Vietnam, such as Apocalypse Now and Platoon. But in reality, most war-crime cases focused on a single event, like the My Lai massacre.The Tiger Force case is different. The atrocities took place over seven months, leaving an untold number dead – possibly several hundred civilians, former soldiers and villagers now say.
This 4-part, in-depth series details the day-today nature of the war, the expectations of higher-ups, the commonality of what we would call atrocities, and the effect this kind of war had on the ordinary soldiers who had to fight it.
With Iraq threatening to turn into another guerilla war against another population that doesn’t want us there, the radcons are desperate to get us to believe that no harm could possibly come from this and that we should turn our backs on the lessons we thought we learned in Nam.
Don’t let them snow you.