John Kerry’s prac­ticed be­trayal of friends

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY -

John Kerry doesn’t come late to the be­trayal of friends. He has had con­sid­er­able prac­tice. In 1971, when he was a young lieu­tenant just back from Viet­nam, where he was a dec­o­rated skip­per of a Swift Boat pa­trolling the Mekong River, he ap­peared be­fore the U.S. Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee to pay his “re­spects” to the Amer­i­can sol­diers, sailors and Marines he fought a war with.

Rep­re­sent­ing all those vet­er­ans, he told the sen­a­tors, he wanted to talk about war crimes he said “were com­mit­ted on a day-to-day ba­sis with the full aware­ness of of­fi­cers at all lev­els of com­mand.”

Mr. Kerry pro­ceeded to slan­der and de­fame hun­dreds of thou­sands of young Amer­i­cans who were serv­ing at their coun­try’s call in a dis­tant place where none wanted to be, do­ing their best at achiev­ing the im­pos­si­ble.

Most of us who were there as ob­servers and wit­nesses — I spent the bet­ter part of three years in Viet­nam and South­east Asia as a news­pa­per cor­re­spon­dent — saw ugly anger at work, the bru­tal way of war since Cain picked up a stone to slay his brother Abel. Oc­ca­sional vi­o­lence verged on atroc­ity, but we saw kind­ness and mercy in the midst of the noisy clan­gor of killing.

Mr. Kerry tes­ti­fied that he saw his coun­try only at the work of atroc­ity, young men, many of them highly dec­o­rated, merciless in pursuit of bar­barism. He told of swap­ping war stories with men who “per­son­ally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped 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 coun­try­side of South Viet­nam in ad­di­tion to the rav­age of war, and the nor­mal and very par­tic­u­lar rav­aging which is done by the ap­plied bomb­ing power of this coun­try.”

Old sol­diers who served with him on the Mekong were as­ton­ished at his fan­ci­ful recital of comic-book war story, and gave their elo­quent ver­sion three decades later when Mr. Kerry was the Demo­cratic can­di­date for pres­i­dent. They said he was full of it, “it” be­ing nei­ther hero­ism nor wit­ness to truth. He was a phony, Pur­ple Hearts and Bronze and Sil­ver stars or not.

Men re­turn from wars with dif­fer­ent rec­ol­lec­tions, of course, usu­ally told in good faith, but rarely has a re­turn­ing soldier so slan­dered and de­meaned so many good men. His de­scrip­tions of sav­agery — be­head­ings, cut­ting off ears and limbs and in­dis­crim­i­nate raz­ing of vil­lages — with the full knowl­edge of all se­nior of­fi­cers de­fied be­lief. He seemed to be telling stories from pique and spite, pan­der­ing to the hys­te­ria of the times.

“We ra­tio­nal­ized de­stroy­ing vil­lages in or­der to save them,” he said. “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.”

Most Amer­i­can sol­diers were guilty, in fact, of kind­nesses to Viet­namese chil­dren, even hand­ing out choco­late bars and chew­ing gum, just as Amer­i­can sol­diers had done in pre­vi­ous Amer­i­can wars. But there was no “very cool” ac­cep­tance of the sav­age mas­sacre at a Viet­namese vil­lage called My Lai, but in­stead a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, with con­vic­tion of the guilty in the midst of a war where there was cru­elty at ev­ery hand. No coun­try but the United States of Amer­ica had ever done that.

But John Kerry, as diplo­mats be­fore him have said of na­tions, has no per­ma­nent friends, only his own per­ma­nent in­ter­ests. He is diplo­mat enough to hide some of them un­til a con­ve­nient time ar­rives, and a con­ve­nient time ar­rived with Pres­i­dent Obama’s be­trayal of Is­rael at the United Na­tions, when at the pres­i­dent’s bid­ding the United States de­clined to veto a ma­lig­nantly one-sided res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing the Jewish state for its pol­icy of us­ing set­tle­ments on the West Bank as bar­gain­ing chips if the Pales­tini­ans should give up their dream of evict­ing Is­rael from the globe and seek a last­ing peace.

Mr. Kerry, like the pres­i­dent, seems to have been wait­ing for this mo­ment in time, to stick it to the pesky and res­o­lute Jews who have no taste for the sec­ond Holo­caust when, as promised by the Ira­ni­ans, Is­rael is “wiped off the map.”

Barack Obama en­ter­tains him­self by fuss­ing over his legacy, ea­ger to be re­mem­bered as an Amer­i­can icon, per­haps to re­place Ge­orge Washington. John Kerry was ea­ger to as­sist him with the be­trayal of Is­rael. Both pres­i­dent and sec­re­tary of State were do­ing what comes nat­u­rally. Wes­ley Pru­den is ed­i­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

John Kerry

BY WES­LEY PRU­DEN

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