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01 November 2006

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Arun

If sending someone to fight and possibly be maimed or die in a wrong war is "respecting them",

then, even putting the worst interpretation on Kerry's words - i.e., without education, you'll be so dumb that you'll get pulled willy-nilly into going into such wars -

Kerry is actually stating a profound truth. Strange that anyone should be offended by it.

For instance, maybe if enough Americans knew about the Sunnis and the Shias they wouldn't have supported the war in Iraq. As it turns out, even people in high positions did not know that.

But Kerry was making a poor joke, the pre-delivery speech transcript supposedly says "If you don't, you'll get us stuck in Iraq".

Bob Gaines

Colonel - I have admired your willingness to criticize the leaders of the service you so clearly love as well as those politicians who have led us into this disastrous war. It is clear you are offended by Kerry's role in calling attention to atrocities in Vietnam. But whatever your opinion of the man, you owe him the simple duty of reporting accurately what he said and -- to the extent that we can discern it -- what his intention was as he said it.

In his 1971 Senate testimony he said:

"...I would like to talk, representing all those veterans [referring to the to members of VVAW sitting behind him], 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."

His testimony made it very clear he was referring to what had been testified to by others at the Winter Soldier Investigation, not what he personally had seen or done.

The intention was not to criticize individual soldiers, but the policies that put them in Vietnam:

"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."

I respect your right to view Kerry however you do, but Kerry exhibited far more moral courage in 1971 than I ever have, and when I heard his senate testimony, I took heart that we might actually end our involvement in that wretched war. For his courage to speak out when it was definitely not popular, I honor him just as I do every other veteran who served our country honorably.

Jacy

Why is a person who is not n any ballot this election season getting wall-to-wall media coverage? There isn't anything better or more important? How about we talk about what politicians were doing in the 60's andm 70's? That's WAY more relevant, right?

Sigh...

Ed

Excellent comments. It was an ill-advised joke that's being blown terribly out of proportion. Two non-candidates duking it out over nothing. Just what the campaign season needed.

Rider

Kerry is not my favorite guy, and I sure as hell hope he does not run again. But anybody who takes offence at this statement went way the hell out of their way to find something to get bent out of shape about. It's obvious that there are a lot of people who hate Kerry's guts and would no matter what he said and would never believe anything but the worst about him. I am also convinced that if the Democrats somehow ran Jesus Christ for president, Rove would find something he had said or done to smear him with and destroy him.

And Bush's phony folksy talk ("plenty smart and plenty brave") makes me want to throw up. I'm from Texas and I've never run across anybody that talked like that. He's also got a lot of nerve twisting somebody's misstatement and using it against them, even John Kerry.

4 billion

From Australia this guy has looked like a bit of a jerk off, but then again most polis do. He does seem to suffer from a bit of S.S.U.A.S. (silver spoon up a. syndrome)
To be fair, I would never consider joining the military as it seems to be a force protecting corporate interest, if it was about national interest, they would have stayed in Afghanistan until the job was done.

Wombat

In Vietnam, did not US policy in creating free-fire zones result in the destruction of villages, foodstocks, cattle, and killing anyone who was found in the zones? At risk of sounding dramatic, isn't that the sort of thing Genghis Khan's troops did? (Minus drinking the blood of the vanquished out skulls...)

taters

Hey JTDavis,
No doubt. Perhaps I was too harsh. Thats'alsa pretty low bar. Certainly former Republican Sen Hecht of Nevada will always be grateful to Kerry's quick thinking and action - despite the fact that Hecht was surrounded by senators( Kit Bond being one) - for saving him from choking. And to Kerry's credit, he never used the event politically - even though Hecht stated he would campaign for him, out of a sense of moral responsibility, but John Kerry never cashed in those chips. Jim Rassman, lifetime Republican and former Green Beret stated Kerry saved his life and worked tirelessly for Kerry's Band of Brothers. And he was a pretty damned good investigator. However, he has the ability at times to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In a scrape in a dark alley - if I have to choose between a hockey player or a cheerleader to cover my back - I choose the hockey player every time. I don't believe anyone can come forward on George Bush's behalf and say "This man saved my life." Here's one that does. Make that two..
`~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Feb.15,2004

Former U.S. Sen. Chic Hecht of Nevada is a staunch Republican, but he thanks his lucky stars for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

On July 12, 1988, Hecht was attending a weekly Republican luncheon when a piece of apple lodged firmly in his throat.

Hecht stumbled out of the room, thinking he might vomit but not wanting to do it in front of his colleagues. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., thumped his back, but Hecht quickly passed out in the hallway.

Just then, Kerry stepped off an elevator, rushed to Hecht's side and gave him the Heimlich maneuver -- four times.

The lifesaving incident made international news, and Dr. Henry Heimlich, who invented the maneuver in 1974, called Hecht to say that had Kerry intervened just 30 seconds later Hecht might have been in a vegetative state for life.

"This man gave me my life," the 75-year-old Hecht said Thursday.

Hecht said he was amazed that Kerry acted so quickly -- some people were assuming that he was having a heart attack.

"He knew exactly what to do," he said. "But a lot of people know what to do. They just don't size up the situation immediately."

The story has a twist of irony: Hecht was up for re-election that year, and Kerry, who was serving as the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had pegged Hecht as one of the most vulnerable Republican seats.

Indeed, the Democratic nominee for Hecht's seat, then-Gov. Richard Bryan, beat Hecht, who served just one term in office.

"Only in America can this happen, where he's working against me to get me defeated and then saves my life," Hecht said.

Hecht, who prides himself on having one of the most conservative records on the books during his six years in the Senate, said he and his wife, Gail, see politics as "a secondary issue" when it comes to Kerry.

"We've had a wonderful life, and it would have all been down the tubes," said Hecht, who is about to celebrate his 45th wedding anniversary with his wife.

Every year the Hechts call Kerry's longtime personal secretary, who tracks down Kerry wherever he is.

Then they recount some of their experiences in the last year. Hecht and his wife thank Kerry for thinking so quickly in the Senate halls that day. And Kerry tells them that their phone call is one of his favorites of the year.

"He's so nice and appreciative," Hecht said.

This year Kerry was taking a day's vacation from campaigning, and he told them that he thought his campaign was finally gaining momentum.

Some of the Hechts hope so. Both of Hecht's daughters have attended Kerry events, and Gail Hecht hopes to travel to California the next time Kerry is there to voice her support, Hecht said.

Still, Hecht points out that he and Gail have given the maximum possible contribution to President Bush's campaign ($2,000 each). Hecht, a longtime businessman and banker, served as President George H.W. Bush's ambassador to the Bahamas.

Soon after the Iowa caucuses, a former Los Angeles county deputy sheriff and Republican Jim Rassmann stood with Kerry at an event to tell the story of when Kerry saved his life in the jungles of Vietnam.

Rassmann, a Green Beret, was ambushed along Bay Hap river, but Kerry, who also had been injured in the attack, grabbed Rassmann's arm and pulled him to safety, according to Kerry's website.

On Wednesday, Roll Call wrote a story about Hecht's incident. So far, Kerry hasn't asked Hecht to appear at a campaign event, but Hecht said he would if he were asked.

Hecht won't, however, say who he would vote for in November if Kerry wins the Democratic nomination.

"Only the Good Lord and myself will know how I'm going to vote," he said.

http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/sun/2004/feb/06/516309920.html


W. Patrick Lang

Bob Gaines

OK. Produce a personal participant who can stand up to my interrogations concerning anything he personally took part in.

wombat

In VN a "free fire zone" was any place that the Vietnamese government said that you did not require their previous approval to shoot into. Such places were pretty much all without Vietnamese population. The Montagnards got screwed. pl

taters

Dear Col. Lang,
I just revisited your excellent Memorial Day tribute,"Dear Hearts Across The Seas." Powerful. Further words fail me, thank you.

anna missed

I did one, plausably normal, tour of duty in VN, and personally witnessed most of the winter soldier allocations. Most of which were not everyday occurances, but, in the course of the year they all added up. I know we'd like to believe it did'nt happen -- but it did.


W. Patrick Lang

Arun

I presume that since you are so intelligent you have avoided all military service? pl

John Hammer

Kerry's "joke" alludes to the Marxist position that was popular amongst the far left during and in the wake of WW I. Namely that, children of the lumpenproletariat were expendable, made good cannon fodder, and paid a disproportionate price in war. This argument is totally refuted by the fact that complete classes from Cambridge and Oxford were annihilated in that war. The argument was conveniently placed on the shelf during WW II because the communist world needed the help of the capitalist world to defeat its arch rival, fascism. Then, it reemerged during Vietnam and was smoked furiously by the antiwar set which, a certain Senator played a key role in.

mlaw230

Colonel Lang: "OK. Produce a personal participant who can stand up to my interrogations concerning anything he personally took part in."

How about the long buried Tiger Force incidents reported by the Toledo Blade? This appears to be a very systemic group of events that could easily have served as the factual basis for the Winter Soldier testimony.

Again, not to disparage the vast majority of soldiers who acted well and bavely, but the point is made, a small number of atrocities overwhelms that reality,whether they could stand up to your interogation or not.

W. Patrick Lang

Joe Lurker

OK. He bought some ribbons to throw over the fence. pl

W. Patrick Lang

mlaw--

"..not to disparage the vast majority of soldiers who acted well and bavely, but the point is made, a small number of atrocities overwhelms that reality,whether they could stand up to your interogation or not."

Balderdash! The criminal actions of a few outweigh the virtue of the many?

This is logic? pl

mlaw230

First, thanks for the response re Tiger Force and the Toledo Blade.

Second, yes it is logical, and I would have thought a truism.

Do "[t]he criminal actions of a few outweigh the virtue of the many?" Certainly not objectively or in the eyes of God, but most definitly in the eyes of the citizenry.

Those brutalized by this small group of unspecial soldiers of the Tiger Force no doubt had family and friends. News of such activity, even if isolated and rare as you suggest, would have spread like wildfire. It is doubtful that many of the Vietnamese understood our culture enough to know that
this behavior would have been condemned by the vast majority of Americans.

The criminal actions of 19 Muslims have clearly overshadowed the virtue of the vast number of Muslims who would despise their actions.

Similarly, we frequently hear about the moral difference between the errant bomb that misses a military target and kills civilians and the terrorist bomb in a bus. This too is objectively and undeniably true, yet if it were my child killed, either inadvertantly or with truly evil intent, I would hate the pepretrator equally.

BrianM

"I am also convinced that if the Democrats somehow ran Jesus Christ for president, Rove would find something he had said or done to smear him with and destroy him."

Debate, 2008:

In Isaiah 9.1, your campaign study group referred to you as "the Prince of
Peace". And yet now, as reported last night on Matthew 10.1, you claim to come
"not to send peace, but a sword". Which is it, Mr. Christ? Were you
for peace before you were against it? And how are we to interpret your
earlier statement, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be
called the children of God"? Are you *not* a child of God?

Joe Lurker

Thanks Pat for the ackowledgement on Kerry's medals/ribbons. Though I have heard nothing convincing that suggests they weren't his own ribbons that he threw over the fence. It is rather damning to suggest otherwise. Though we'll probably never know. Like you, I don't like the guy very much so I don't care. It's between him and God. I just wanted to know what the truth was on the parts we can know, as opposed to giving a leg up to all the slime-spewing GOP talking heads of the world.

Paul

I'm a Democrat, and I can say with a high degree of confidence that Kerry blew his 2008 chances long before this latest kerfluffle.

W. Patrick Lang

All

From a decent respect for the opinions of mankind I should say that my aversion to John Kerry is of long standing, and although the WH is undoubtedly exagerating the extent of pre-meditation of his idiocy, I can never forgive him his earlier statements.

Is that an apology? Hell, no! pl

general panzer

http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-2328683.php

who is more of a threat and disgrace to democracy and freedom ???

jeebus

taters

All

From a decent respect for the opinions of mankind I should say that my aversion to John Kerry is of long standing, and although the WH is undoubtedly exagerating the extent of pre-meditation of his idiocy, I can never forgive him his earlier statements.

Is that an apology? Hell, no! pl
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Col. Lang,
I believe anyone should be able to understand that. The only assessment you've made that I've disagreed with you was when you stated that, perhaps in sarcasm - you were a cruel man. I believe you personify all the best qualities of those that have served in uniform. I hope I'm not offending you but I do consider you a mentor and a teacher to me. As a dependent, when we stationed on Okinawa, all of my baseball and football coaches were Army, Marine, Navy and USAF, all of them served in Vietnam, including my father - this was 66, 67, & 68 and not one of them reminded me of Genghis Khan. Congressional MOH winner chaplain and former Catholic priest Charlie Litke, now an anti war activist never said anything resembling John Kerry's remark, and he is a serious leftie. I try to make it a point of mentioning Hugh Thompson whenever I hear or see Calley's name. God bless you, sir.
btw, I am a definitely a southpaw and a Dem.
Most Respectfully,
Robert M Murray

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