FEELINGS OF MEN COMING BACK FROM VIETNAMThat's some strong stuff and there's plenty more, even in the prepared remarks:
...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 us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart....
WHAT WAS FOUND AND LEARNED IN VIETNAM
We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from.
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 on 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 found also that all too often American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies. We saw first hand how money from American taxes was used for a corrupt dictatorial regime. We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by our flag, as blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties. We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs as well as by search and destroy missions, as well as by Vietcong terrorism, and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong.
We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.
VIETNAMIZATIONSome right leaning blogs accuse Kerry of lying in this testimony -- not representing the views of soldiers and smearing troops. Presumably, Kerry is able to defend himself against this charge since it came up in his very first campaign and he's now been elected US Senator four times.
Now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese....
Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doen'st have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can't say they we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won't be, and these are his words, "the first President to lose a war."
We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? But we are trying to do that, and we are doing it with thousands of rationalizations, and if you read carefully the President's last speech to the people of this country, you can see that he says and says clearly:
But the issue, gentlemen, the issue is communism, and the question is whether or not we will leave that country to the Communists or whether or not we will try to give it hope to be a free people.
But the point is they are not a free people now under us. They are not a free people, and we cannot fight communism all over the world, and I think we should have learned that lesson by now....
Rather than playing defense with this material, however, I think Kerry could mine his previous experience to make a pretty devastating critique of Bush policy in Iraq. Where is the the threat? Why wasn't there more planning? Is it a vital American interest to tie down half of US combat divisions?
I've often argued that Clark's experience gives him a unique vantage point for criticizing Bush's "war on terror." But Kerry's background also gives him a unique vantage point -- and "bring it on" has become his mantra.