October 22, 2004


This piece addresses a poster on PressThink who claims to have seen atrocities in Vietnam, and who believes any command in chief should be a combat veteran.

Did you report the atrocities you saw or try to prevent them? Were they common or rare in your unit? Were the atrocities war crimes, or the non-war-crime that Kerry considers a war crime - the use of .50 cal against humans? Is there a reason we should believe you in a world where phony Vietnam Vets are a dime a dozen?

As for the argument that only a combat veteran can lead the country in a war, then presumably you consider FDR to have been a bad leader. It is a specious argument. Being a combat veteran is a very wide swath, from people in the thick of hand-to-hand to a pilot who took AAA fire. How about a policeman? Should you have had command of a large unit, or been a frontline grunt? Why do so many combat veterans oppose Kerry?

Why did we not hear this when Clinton ran for president? He ran against a decorated war hero in 1992 and 1996. They didn't go around spouting off about it either. And Bush Senior, after being shot down, refused a two week leave and made it back to his ship where he was shot down again. In between times he was depth charged. Did you, a professed combat veteran, vote for him? Do you criticize Bush's service after having not critized Clintons dishonest manner of ducking it entirely?

Does anyone on here?

Consistency seems to be a bit weak here.

It is a fact that we committed atrocities in Vietnam. More atrocities were committed than reported. It is also a fact that all wars have some number of atrocities.

The important question about American atrocities is were they policy, were there attempts to prevent them, and was the number unusually high for a western power. The answer is that that they were against policy, commanders tried to prevent them and about 200 Americans were convicted of war crimes by the military, and the number was not at all unusual for a civilized army.

Kerry's accusations, and this applies to the press since it is now trying to shore them up, were sweeping. His 1971 presentation and other activities were meant to give the message that America at war was evil, more evil than the enemy (whom, you will note, he ignores on this isue), and that therefore we should surrender. That is the gist of it. In doing so, he made many sweeping generalizations that, while supposedly resulting from the Winter Soldier investigation, were clearly aimed at much broader applicability. "A monster of millions..." - that applies to everyone who was ever in Vietnam. It can be read no other way.

not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

What does that say? There is no way Winter Soldier could produce that information. And by the way, I hear arguments on press think about American journalistic standards and how high they are, and how low is the credibility of the attackers. How many of those same people accept Winter Soldier as a meaningful event? What kinds of standards are these?

Another point that is almost never heard, and most Americans don't know, is that the enemy committed atrocities on a wide scale as a matter of policy. It was how they maintained control of villages - the village chief does the wrong thing, and his kids are killed in front of him, his wife dismeboweled, and then he is killed. That was what they did, that was their policy, and I defy anyone to make a case that the United States had any sort of policy like that. Tens of thousands were killed just by this particular policy.

We heard about the fallacy of limited vision. That applies to those claimining widespread American atrocities also. If David claims his experience is typical, he would be wrong. But he has no first hand way to know that.

Posted by John Moore at October 22, 2004 09:30 PM | TrackBack
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