[Marxism] Counterpunch expose on Kerry's real record in Vietnam

M. Junaid Alam junaidalam at msalam.net
Thu Jul 29 12:53:36 MDT 2004

A must read:

  Hail, the Conquering War Criminal Comes!

  What Kerry Really Did in Vietnam


In his senior year at Yale in 1966 John Kerry enlisted in the US Navy, 
with his actual induction scheduled for the summer, after his 
graduation. Already notorious among his contemporaries for his political 
ambition, he'd maneuvered himself into the top slot at the Yale 
political union, while also winning admission to Skull and Bones.

While Bush, two years behind Kerry, was seeking commercial opportunity 
at Yale by selling ounce bags of cocaine, (so one contemporary has 
recalled) Kerry was keeping a vigilant eye on the political temperature 
and duly noted a contradiction between his personal commitment to go to 
war and the growing antiwar sentiment among the masses, some of whom he 
hoped would vote for him at a not too distant time.

It was a season for important decisions and Kerry pondered his options 
amid the delights of a Skull and Bones retreat on an island in the St 
Lawrence river. He duly decided to junk his speech on the theme of "life 
after graduation" and opted for a fiery denunciation of the war and of 
an LBJ. The speech was well received by the students and some 
professors. Most parents were aghast, though not Kerry's own mother and 

Unlike Bill Clinton and George Bush, Kerry duly presented himself for 
military service. After a year's training he was assigned to the USS 
Gridley, deployed to the Pacific, probably carrying nuclear missiles. 
Beset by boredom, Kerry received the news that once of his best friends, 
Dickie Pershing, grandson of "Black Jack" Pershing had been killed in 
Vietnam. Kerry seethed with rage and yearned, as he put it years later 
to his biographer Douglas Brinkley, for vengeance. (Brinkley's recently 
published and highly admiring bio, A Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the 
Vietnam War, offers many telling vignettes to an assiduous reader. It's 
based almost entirely on Kerry's diaries and letters of the time.)

Kerry engineered reassignment to the Swift boat patrol. In Vietnam the 
Tet offensive had prompted a terrible series of search and destroy 
missions by the US, plus the assassination program known as Phoenix. As 
part of the US Navy's slice of the action, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt and his 
sidekick Captain Roy "Latch" Hoffman had devised "Operation Sea Lords", 
in which the Swift boats would patrol the canals and secondary streams 
of the Mekong Delta, with particular emphasis on the areas near the 
Cambodian border. The basic plan, explicitly acknowledged by many Swift 
boat veterans, was to terrorize the peasants into turning against the 
National Liberation Front, aka Viet Cong. The entire area, except for 
certain designated "friendly villages", was a free fire zone, meaning 
the Americans could shoot at will and count anyone they killed as VC.


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