[Marxism] Kerry and Bush on war and credibility

jak barns fukdetrn at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 8 12:20:31 MST 2004


US Navy casualties aboard the Swift Boats, on river patrol, equalled that of Marine and Army infantry units. Total killed and wounded equalled about 50% of all boat crew members.

lshan at bcn.net wrote:Fred Feldman makes an off-hand reference to Kerry's credibility:

"On most of these debated issues Kerry is clearly gaining ground, for
good reason. Of course when it comes to basic moral credibility on
going to war and establishing a new draft, the badly-injured Vietnam war
veteran and antiwar activist Kerry has Bush beat by a country mile. And
he doesn't have the lies about the WMD and the Haiti coup weighing on
his shoulders. He can lie afresh."

My only quibble about this, and I insert it only to make sure that we have
our facts straight, is regarding Kerry's war service. He was not a
"badly-injured Vietnam war veteran." It is true that he was wounded three
times, but all of these injuries were slight. After the third injury he was
eligible to return to stateside duty. He, of course, sensibly took advantage
of this. In all, Kerry served four months in Vietnam.

When Kerry was at Yale, he found out that there was a high probability that
he would be drafted. Rather than enter the Army as an enlisted man, he chose
to enter the Navy, an historically attractive option for upper-class New
Englanders, as an officer through the OCS program. Like John Kennedy,
although not rich, he was part of the New England sailing fraternity. I have
no statistics on this, but so far as Vietnam was concerned, I would expect
that except for flying, the Navy was expected to be the least dangerous of
the three main branches of the military services. Actually, Kerry took up
flying in his senior year at Yale. Being somewhat of a daredevil, I imagine
that a career as a Naval pilot might have appealed to him. Yet he did not
make that risky choice when he had a chance.

He was already a critic of the Vietnam war, as was evident in his Class
Oration in the spring of 1966.

In other words, Kerry's attitude towards the Vietnam War was very similar to
Clinton's, another young liberal critic of the Vietnam war. However, Clinton
had the advantage of finessing his induction. When Clinton found out that he
would not be drafted, he opted to withdraw from his initial attempt to enter
OCS and instead went to Yale Law School. Clinton-bashers criticized him for
this, but it is clear that he played by the rules.

>From time to time, one reads that Kerry volunteered for duty in Vietnam.
However, I have never read this as a flat-out statement from Kerry or anyone
who claims to personally know the facts. I haven't read the final version of
Douglas Brinkley's "Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War." However,
John Kifner, referencing Brinkley's book in the New York Times, writes that:

"After Officer Candidate School and other training, Mr. Kerry served aboard
the guided-missile frigate Gridley, which had a relatively uneventful
deployment off Vietnam, from February to early June 1968. But while on shore
leave in that period, he saw the small swift boats, reminiscent of the
PT-109, commanded by his idol John F. Kennedy, and volunteered for duty on
the boats. The mission of the swift boats changed drastically just as Mr.
Kerry arrived back in Vietnam in November 1968. Originally, they patrolled
off the coast, relatively safe duty. But Admiral Zumwalt ordered the boats
to enter the shallow waters in the Mekong Delta, territory that was a main
Vietcong infiltration route. 'It was an absolutely different ballgame,' said
Elliott Barker, a fellow swift boat skipper who is now a lawyer in Selma,
Ala."

After basic officer training, officers are asked what branches and areas of
service interest them. There is, however, no guarantee that you will get any
of your choices. Kerry volunteered for the "Swift" boats, but did he
volunteer for Vietnam? At this point we don't know. In any case, it is clear
from Barker's statement above that originally volunteering for the Swift
boat was volunteering for "off-shore" service. It was not for dangerous
patrols in the Mekong Delta.

Contrast with George W. Bush

So far, Kerry's record does not distinguish him from Bush or Clinton or
Quayle. Except in the following very critical area. Bush and Vice-President
Quayle before him did not play by the rules as did Clinton and Kerry. In my
opinion the greatest mark against Bush is not the fact that he didn't report
for duty in Alabama, but the way he got into the Air National Guard in the
first place. There are no details on how this happened, but there is strong
evidence that both the former V.P. and Bush avoided the draft by being
placed ahead of several hundred other applicants. Kerry lived by the code of
"noblesse oblige" (the obligation of those of high rank to be honorable and
generous [often used ironically]). Bush and Quayle did not.

from Brian Shannon


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