In an Afghanistan policy speech, [h/t Instapundit] John Kerry evokes a famous phrase from his infamous testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on April 22, 1971.
David Sanger mentioned that in 1971 I asked the Foreign Relations Committee “how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
I think it relevant to the contemporary debate to recall what else he said in that testimony:
I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.
It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam, but they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.
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.[emp added]
Just to be clear, the Winter Soldier “investigation” was shortly proven to be wholly fraudulent.
The worst charges were laid by people subsequently proven to have either never seen combat in Indochina or never served in Indochina, and in many cases had never even been in the armed forces. Kerry et al never even took the elementary step of reporting the details of the supposed crimes to military, civilian or international authorities so that they could be formally investigated. (Kerry was a U.S. Naval reserve officers at the time, so his failure to report was a court martial offense. He accepted a Presidential pardon in 1977 in order to avoid the consequence of this crime.) Today, not a single serious historian of the war believes the hysterical claims of routine war crimes had any merit. Kerry laid the foundations of his political career on a gross lie.
Let me ask Senator Kerry a question: How do you ask a man to die in a war knowing that people like Kerry will casually slander his memory? How do you ask a man to die in a war knowing that people like Kerry are perfectly willing to piss away every victory for their own short-term political gain? How do you ask a man to die fighting under the command of a party who regards John Kerry as an elder statesman and Presidential material?
I have skin in this game. My cousin’s half brother was killed by an I.E.D. in Iraq. Three close high-school friends of my daughter served in Iraq. One of them is headed for Afghanistan as I write. My son-in-law would have gone to Iraq but he was injured in a training accident. My 17-year-old son is giving serious thought to joining the Army as a combat medic. The thought he might die on some godforsaken mountain in Afghanistan is my greatest nightmare.
The only thing that could be worse would be for him to die, and then have people like Kerry smear his memory and then throw away all that he fought for so that his death would bring no good to the world.
[Note: If I have time, I’ll cover the meat of Kerry’s speech in a subsequent post. I was just gobsmacked that he would reference his 1971 testimony as if he had nothing to be ashamed of. ]