How Do You Ask a Man to Be the Last Man to Die in Vietnam?





“One day he’s saying that we were shooting civilians, cutting off their ears, cutting off their heads, throwing away his medals or his ribbons,” Dole said. “The next day he’s standing there, ‘I want to be president because I’m a Vietnam veteran. “Maybe he should apologize to all the other 2.5 million veterans who served. He wasn’t the only one in Vietnam,” said Dole, whose World War II wounds left him without the use of his right arm. -- Associated Press (Aug. 22, 2004)

Following is the statement John Kerry made before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 23, 1971.

I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans 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. These were 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 and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told stories that at times they had 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 Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside 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.

We call this investigation the Winter Soldier Investigation. The term Winter Soldier is a play on words of Thomas Paine's in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriots and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough.

We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country, we could be quiet, we could hold our silence, we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, not the reds, but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out....

In our opinion and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam 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 us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart.

We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from.

We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace, and they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Viet Cong, North Vietnamese or American.

We found also that all too often American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies. We saw first hand how monies from American taxes were used for a corrupt dictatorial regime. We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by the flag, and blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties. We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs and search and destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism - and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong.

We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. 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.

We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals.

We watched the United States falsification of body counts, in fact the glorification of body counts. We listened while month after month we were told the back of the enemy was about to break. We fought using weapons against"oriental human beings." We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater. We watched while men charged up hills because a general said that hill has to be taken, and after losing one platoon or two platoons they marched away to leave the hill for reoccupation by the North Vietnamese. We watched pride allow the most unimportant battles to be blown into extravaganzas, because we couldn't lose, and we couldn't retreat, and because it didn't matter how many American bodies were lost to prove that point, and so there were Hamburger Hills and Khe Sanhs and Hill 81s and Fire Base 6s, and so many others.

Now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese.

Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can't say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won't be, and these are his words,"the first President to lose a war."

We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?....We are here in Washington to say that the problem of this war is not just a question of war and diplomacy. It is part and parcel of everything that we are trying as human beings to communicate to people in this country - the question of racism which is rampant in the military, and so many other questions such as the use of weapons; the hypocrisy in our taking umbrage at the Geneva Conventions and using that as justification for a continuation of this war when we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions; in the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, all accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam. That is what we are trying to say. It is part and parcel of everything.

An American Indian friend of mine who lives in the Indian Nation of Alcatraz put it to me very succinctly. He told me how as a boy on an Indian reservation he had watched television and he used to cheer the cowboys when they came in and shot the Indians, and then suddenly one day he stopped in Vietnam and he said,"my God, I am doing to these people the very same thing that was done to my people," and he stopped. And that is what we are trying to say, that we think this thing has to end.

We are here to ask, and we are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We're here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatrick, and so many others? Where are they now that we, the men they sent off to war, have returned? These are the commanders who have deserted their troops. And there is no more serious crime in the laws of war. The Army says they never leave their wounded. The marines say they never even leave their dead. These men have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude. They've left the real stuff of their reputations bleaching behind them in the sun in this country....

We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped away their memories of us. But all that they have done and all that they can do by this denial is to make more clear than ever our own determination to undertake one last mission - to search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war, to pacify our own hearts, to conquer the hate and fear that have driven this country these last ten years and more. And more. And so when thirty years from now our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be able to say"Vietnam" and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory, but mean instead where America finally turned and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning.
_______________

This page is reprinted from Modern History SourceBook.


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Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

Carl Roselor is full of Baloney! Many of the protestors against the Viet-Nam War were students looking for any excuse to get out of their classes, studies, & tests. Some were pure cowards afraid to wear the uniform lest they be in that comparatively small number of draftees to be sent to Viet-Nam. Only 26% of the G.I.s who served in-country in Viet-Nam were draftees and fewer than 10% of that 26% were frequently engaged in combat. In short, an amazing amount of energy was expended and an equally amazing amount of cowardice was demonstrated to avoid a miniscule chance of getting shot at by the enemy.

HNN's title is not sexist, it reflects reality. Throughout the Viet-Nam War only eight(08) U.S. female military personnel died in Viet-Nam & all but one of those were non-combatant deaths. Thre one & only U.S. female G.I. to be KIA, killed in action, was an Army nurse. She was killed thw Summer of '69 in I Corps when the hospital in which she was working in Chu Lai was struck by a long-range rocket. Several of her patients were WIA by the rocket, but she was the only person killed by it.


Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

The objection to HNN's title illustrates how pathethically PC some folks have become.

Yes, today, a carry-over from White Trash Willie's administration's deliberate weakening of our aremed forces,there are quite a few females in the armed forces, which amounts to a case of military efficiency & our nation's security be damned, as long as this kooky social experiment may be imposed upon the armed forces.

But back during the Viet-Nam War things were a mite different. For instance, during the DOD specified Viet-Nam Era, 5 August 1964-28 March 1973 2,594,000 G.I.s served within the borders of Viet-Nam, another 60,000 served in Viet-Nam between 1960-64. Of that 2,654,000 who served in Viet-Nam only 7,484, or 0.0028%, were female. Of that 7,484 6,250, or 83.5%, were nurses. Throughout the entire Viet-Nam War a grand total of eight, (08), female military personnel died in Viet-Nam & only one, (01), was KIA. The one & only female KIA was an Army nurse killed when a rocket hit the hospital in Chu Lai, in which she was working. So how can it be HNN's title is sexist?


Theodore Brown, Jr. - 8/27/2004

Thank you for publishing the full text of John Kerry's brave and eloquent statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April of 1971. This text should receive wider publication and greater public attention, especially at this time in the light of the recent outrageous attacks on Sen. Kerry by the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." Wholly aside from their absolutely false accusations that Kerry did not earn his distinguished decorations, this group also is misleading the American people into believing that he himself called American soldiers who fought in Vietnam baby-killers and worse. But that is not what Kerry said. A close reading of his statement clearly shows that he was reporting to the Committee the substance of the testimony of more than 150 Vietnam veterans regarding the commission of war crimes by American troops in Southeast Asia. Significantly, Kerry himself did not testify of his own knowledge about the occurrence of such attrocities. His report was that "[t]hey [i.e., the veterans who provided testimony to the Winter Soldier Investigation] told stories that at times they [emphasize "they"] had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, . . . ." Kerry did not--as the so-called Veterans for Truth would have us believe--testify that he had any personal knowledge that such activities had occurred. Nor did he say that he believed that most GI's stationed in Vietnam were baby-killers and the like. Moreover, it is clear that when Kerry spoke about "[t]hese men [who] have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude. . . . [but who have] left the real stuff of their reputations bleaching behind them in the sun of this country," he was referring to the military leadership, President Nixon as commander in chief, and those in his administration who were responsible for conducting Nixon's war in Vietnam and was placing responsibility for the commission of such war crimes in Vietnam on them--not on the soldiers themselves.

Thank you again for providing the real public service of printing the text of Kerry's statement. What is clear from a reading of what Kerry actually said in April 1971 is that he was telling the truth then and that he is telling the truth now and that it is the co-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" who are not telling the truth.

Theodore Brown, Jr.
27 August 2004


EvelynJ Glipim - 8/22/2004

Yes and HNN should have done what the Swift Boat Liars do; change someone else's actual words. ;)

It's a direct quote; you don't change someone's words, not if one has integrity, anyways. besides, in English, like it or not, "man" is understood to include both sexes.


EvelynJ Glipim - 8/22/2004

Sorry but totally NOT TRUE.

They were ALL found to have been Vietnam Vets; YOU are confusing the Winter Soldiers testimonies with Mark Land's BOOK, in which he interviewed soldiers, some of whom were later found to never have been in Vietnam.

NONE of these people testified in the Winter Soldiers hearings.

Also, the "quote" you use is false.

The ACTUAL quote is:

Guenter Lewy in America in Vietnam says:

"The results of this investigation, carried out by the Naval Investigative Service are interesting and revealing.

Many of the veterans, although assured that they would not be questioned about atrocities they might have committed personally, refused to be interviewed. One of the active members of the VVAW told investigators that the leadership had directed the entire membership not to cooperate with military authorities."

Lies don't help your cause of discrediting Kerry (or anyone else...they only discredit yourself.


Rob Morrison - 8/1/2004

The Winter Soldier Testimonies have all withstood full investigation, by multiple agencies, and not a single bit of the testimony has been discredited. You wouldn't know this to listen to Republican propagandists during election seasons, however.
**Beware of the clever mis-information campaign.**

Doublespeak: "The testimonies were discredited!"
Fact: Nixon desperately tried to have the damaging testimonies descredited, but his 'plumbers' were only able to find fault with one veteran: Al Hubbard. Hubbard, a co-organizer of Winter Soldier, admitted to lying about his rank while serving during Vietnam. Hubbard was not a testifier, however. All of those giving testimony checked out, to Nixon's dismay.

Doublespeak: "Many of the testifiers in Winter Soldier were fakes and frauds!"
Fact: In the 1960s and 70s there were numerous frauds claiming Vietnam Experience that they did not have. Not one of these frauds gave testimony during Winter Soldier. Propagandists like to quote Lewy's book out of context, as proof of their assertions. What they fail to quote from Lewy's book, America in Vietnam (page 309):

"The conflict in Vietnam was a guerilla war without fronts, and this created a setting especially conducive to atrocities. Aggressive behavior is often the result of frustration and anxiety, and the American servicemen in Vietnam experienced both of these states of mind in abundance ... Gradually the entire Vietnamese population became an object of fear and hatred. As a marine lieutenant told an American doctor: "You walk through the fucking bush for three days and nights without sleep. Watch your men, your buddies, your goddamn kids get booby trapped. Blown apart. Get thrown six feet in the air by a trap laid by an old lady and come down with no legs." Eventually you conclude, he said, that the only thing to do is 'kill them all.'""

Doublespeak: "Most vets will tell you they never saw anything like the allegedly widespread pattern & practice of human rights violations alleged in the report."
Fact: Most (51%?) probably never did see, or never understood the rampant atrocities being committed - true. While no one involved with the Winter Soldier Investigation, and subsequent Senate hearings, ever accused "all" servicemen of misconduct - it was obvious the problem had grown beyond "isolated incident" status. The problem was perceived by the participants as epidemic, and was seen as ignored and even condoned by leaders at all levels in the military and government. Winter Soldier was the culmination of efforts to finally bring national attention to this situation, and to expedite the end of America's participation in the Vietnam conflict.


Rob Morrison - 8/1/2004

To Livingston, Gannon and Williams:

First, a little lesson in reading comprehension...

Livingston blurts out, "Kerry's whining is a complaint is dishonest. The armed forces are the most racially intgrated institution in the United States. Kerry is a liar to say otherwise."

Kerry was talking about RACISM, you moron, not how many blacks were in the armed forces. To quote Kerry:

-- "has posters in barracks in this country with a crucified Vietnamese, blood on him, and underneath it says "kill the gook,""
-- "We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals."
-- "We listened while month after month we were told the back of the enemy was about to break. We fought using weapons against "oriental human beings," with quotation marks around that. We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater or let us say a non-third-world people theater..."

-- "Anyway, if a G.I. cut off the ears of a dead Dink, so what? The Dink was dead & his body, his remains, were destined to be worm eaten. So what's the big deal about the dead body's ears?" Oh, I apologize... this last quote is from our dear Mr. Livingston, from elsewhere in this forum.

Maybe the 3 of you should read the full transcript of Kerry's speech, as well as the question and answer session he had with the Senators while giving that speech. The complete version is here:

http://www.c-span.org/vote2004/jkerrytestimony.asp

Kerry revealed that our racism toward the "Gooks," the "Oriental Humans," the "Dinks" was epidemic. Sure, we also had racism within our own ranks... to quote David Coffee:
-- "African Americans often did supply a disproportionate number of combat troops, a high percentage of whom had voluntarily enlisted. Although they made up less than 10 percent of American men in arms and about 13 percent of the U.S. population between 1961 and 1966, they accounted for almost 20 percent of all combat-related deaths in Vietnam during that period. In 1965 alone African Americans represented almost one-fourth of the Army's killed in action. In 1968 African Americans, who made up roughly 12 percent of Army and Marine total strengths, frequently contributed half the men in front-line combat units, especially in rifle squads and fire teams. Under heavy criticism, Army and Marine commanders worked to lessen black casualties after 1966, and by the end of the conflict, African American combat deaths amounted to approximately 12 percent—more in line with national population figures. Final casualty estimates do not support the assertion that African Americans suffered disproportionate losses in Vietnam, but this in no way diminishes the fact that they bore a heavy share of the fighting burden, especially early in the conflict.

Destructive riots in the Watts district of Los Angeles and in Harlem had negative effects on the military, but the widespread violent reaction to the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King brought the greatest racial turmoil to the armed forces. Racial strife, rarely an issue among combat units because of shared risk and responsibility, became most evident in rear areas and on domestic installations. At the Navy base at Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), white sailors donned Ku Klux Klan-like outfits, burned crosses, and raised the Confederate flag. African American prisoners, many of whom were jailed for violent crimes, rioted at the U.S. Army stockade at Long Binh, RVN; one white soldier was killed and several others were wounded during the upheaval, which spread over weeks. The Marine base at Camp Lejeune and the Army's Fort Benning were among the important domestic posts to witness serious racial problems."

-> Source: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/s_z/stevens/africanamer.htm

You can massage the statistics to support your blind denial of the obvious, of course, but the effort is moot. Kerry was speaking of Racism, not numbers of blacks in our military.



Rob Morrison - 8/1/2004

Brandt Driscoll states, "Also Kerry voted FOR this Iraq war and when convenient is distancing himself from that war as well. He wants it both ways."

Just to bring you up to date, Mr. Driscoll, Kerry did NOT vote for THIS war. When Kerry cast his vote on the Iraq resolution, he did so with several stipulations, and based on several of Bush's promises. See Kerry's speech to the Senate floor just prior to casting his vote, here:

http://www.independentsforkerry.org/uploads/media/kerry-iraq.html

Bush did not meet those stipulations. Bush did not keep those promises. So, just as Kerry warned he would do in that speech: He is speaking out against Bush. No hypocrisy there.

Valiant attempt by Mr. Driscoll to stay on message, however.


Gabe Arnold - 7/12/2004

Well said Ms. Nguyen


Gabe Arnold - 7/12/2004

Please yourself....While the sentence is rhetorical it refers to a lie put forward by someone who obviously is right-wing and a Bush supporter. It is not rhetoric to debunk a lie. Definitely, the mud-slinging comes from both sides but it seems to me there are more lies and rhetoric from the right than the left. Kerry's military record speaks for itself as does Bush's.


kathy harris - 4/10/2004

If you don't vote you have no right to complain. This can only be a democracy if people vote. I find that those who complain don't do anything to make a change.
ACT! locally or nationaly and be informed.


Annie Nguyen - 4/7/2004

Mr. Livingston,

As a Vietnamese American whose father also fought in this war, I find it vulgar and offensive that you refer to those you killed in Vietnam as "Dinks." "North Vietnamese" or "Viet Cong" is adequate for public discussion. As for being "destined to be worm eaten" and therefore could be multilated, I am confused as to what point mutilation of the deceased is justified. Whether in a WWII concentration camp, off an Iraqi bridge, or even on a Vietnamese battlefield, any mutilation performed on corpses is horrific, and a "nasty war" is far from a reasonable excuse for this inhumanity.


Sean Valencourt - 4/6/2004

R. Porrofatto wrote: "This is all too typical of the 'win-at-any-cost' quasi-religious blindness of the right-wing, and indicative of the truly slime-laden campaign we're going to see coming from them. It would help us all if they would acquire a scruple or two from somewhere."

Please. That sentence contains no intelligent content. It is entirely rhetoric. I could say the say same thing regarding the left-wing, and it would be just as true, if not more so. Leave the rhetoric at home and try to bring logic and any insights you may have to the rest of us, okay? Remember, every time you make a statement like that, it hurts your credibility as someone who will speak to the honest issues instead of slinging mud.


Sean Valencourt - 4/6/2004

It's not sexist. It's realist. The majority of soldiers are men. While we acknowledge, respect, and appreciate the service of women to our country, it does not make sense to change the title. For one thing, titles are by nature, required to be short and could not afford "Man or Woman." Second, everyone understands the title. Third, changing something to a politically correct he or she or him or her, is foolish and there is no reason to capitulate to the pressures of those in society who have placed themselves as self-righteous judges of all that is acceptable.

Especially when it is deemed perfectly fine to use the word "she" as a gender-neutral pronoun now, but it is deemed "sexist" to use the (historic) pronoun "he" in the same situation.


Sean Valencourt - 4/6/2004

Nor can I let that go unchallenged. First of all, it is slim minority who question the patriotism of someone simply due to his political views. However, this slim minority is almost exclusively liberals, not conservatives as you imply. (You can read proof of my point here: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/191ksmqt.asp.)

Secondly, Democrats seem to think that if you served our country in the armed forces that you get a pass for anything you say or do. Our veterans deserve the utmost respect, and they have a lot of courage and many are heroes.

However, this does not mean that after a veteran goes into politics that he should simply be allowed to say whatever he wishes, and he any challenge to his position is "questioning his patriotism."

Kerry's service demands our respect. However, some of his actions after he came home are shameful, and his political positions or lack of them are not something we must like, endorse, or vote for.

Finally, I do not think that military service should be the primary consideration when voting for President. A man can be a great soldier without having the qualities necessary to lead his country.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/28/2004

In the New York Times Sat. 2-28-04 this is the genocide that Senator Kerry witnessed.

Summarizing the accounts of American soldiers he had heard at an antiwar conference in Detroit weeks earlier, Mr. Kerry said the men told how "they had 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 a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam."


Peter N Kirstein - 2/28/2004

In Howard Zinn's much neglected work, Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal, his last chapter is entitled, "A Speech for LBJ." It was a hoped for presidential declaration of withdrawal from Indochina.

An excerpt of Zinn's "speech" was:

"We have made an important decision. It is based on a fundamental American belief that human life is sacred, that peace is precious, and that true power does not consist in the brute force of guns and bombs, but in the economic well-being of a free people." p. 124

"President Roestler's" address, while postwar, reminded me of the Zinn work.


Mark Brooks - 2/28/2004

Well said Marine.


Mark Eberhardt - 2/28/2004

If only!


Carl Roesler - 2/28/2004

My Fellow Imperialists:

As you know this nation fought in Vietnam for reasons that were and remain controversial. This is the 29th year since the liberation of Ho Chi Minh City in April of 1975 and I believe that it is time for us to put this war behind us.

For those 58,000 who died, I say your time as come. For the 2-3 million Vietnamese who died, you time has come.
I say to all of you that such a conflict divided the nation in a manner that it had not seen since the War for Southern Independence. Sister against sister, parents against issue, brother against brother.

Even today in the early skirmishes between myself and Senator Kerry, Vietnam has surfaced as a major campaign issue. I seek to put again that war behind us. While I recognize that some of my predecessors believed in containment and felt the Kennan policy of containment should be applied to Indochina. I recognize they were both captives and contributors to the Cold War. I do not speak ill of my predecessor presidents who foisted this war on the American people. They served vigorously as your chief executive.

Yet as we examine the war, rethink the causes, and reassess the damage that we did to Vietnam and Cambodia and even Laos, one must conclude this was not a moment that would constitute a noble moment for America. This was not a conflict in which we can look back with pride and satisfaction--even if those who fought in that war were pawns in the game and should not be blamed for the misbegotten adventures of their leaders.

Seeking to foster greater international peace and security. Seeking to reclaim the prestige of this nation that we have long enjoyed. Seeking to recognize that nations, no matter how strong and great, may commit horrendous error.

I President Carl Roestler, native of Sandusky, Ohio, graduate of the glorious Kenyon College, do hereby officially and solemnly apologize to the families and friends of all who died in that conflict. The war should was wrong and this country now officially acknowledges its error.

I recognize my decision tonight will not be a popular one. I also recognize that America must mend its ways, or we will be destroyed. We must end its satanic manner of killing and mutilation. I pledge to you NO more war. I pledge to you this apology for Vietnam will be construed as one of the greatest acts in the history of the American presidency.

To Fidel, Ho, Mao, Marx, Engels, Che, I adore you and worhsip you and may you and your followers recognize and accept this apology from this troubled land.

Good night and God Bless the World including America.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/27/2004

I think he was addressing his remarks to me but I really don't have a lot to add Carl.

I would only say that the military historian and professional soldier construes himself as patriotic. Fair enough. Those who oppose imperial overstretch are equally so.

Bye.


Carl Roesler - 2/27/2004

The true patriot is not who fights but one who protests that fighting. The true patriot is a war resister not a warrior. The true patriot does not swoon at the sight of the uniform but construes it as a necessary evil.

I don't "justify" acts of so-called "terror" against us. How can a pacifist justify attacks on soft targets. I do however believe that our foreign policy is misguided and is a principal reason for the attacks against us. I think an arrogant superpower who uses the word "terrorist" like "gook" and "slope" is deliberately avoiding introspection and attempting to formulate policies of conflict resolution.

I do think one's person terrorist is another person's freedom fighter although I consider acts of violence to be terrorist except perhaps under the most dire circumstances.

To talk about Israel as if it were a failed state or an impotent nation that faces annihilation is missing the point. Israel is the strongest power in the region and is a nuclear state. Strong states can afford to engage in confidence building measures and to show some tolerance for those who are so vastly weaker. The reason for the suicide attacks and the 9/11 attacks from a military standpoint is that a nation's strength, when emphasizing only military power, is its weakness. Asymmetrical war takes place when a combatant cannot attack another combatant directly but must emphasize soft, non-combatant targets.

Terrorism is part and parcel of this country, US. It always has been and I recognize it is an emotional term. We need, all of us, to stop using it and assessing why the US and Israel are the two most despised nations on Earth. How could this have happened? How on Earth could this planet detest us so. Answer, genocide, arrogance, violent bullying of other nations, disregard to global and domestic opinion. Never in my career as my shame in being an American been so embraced and shared by so many others. We are not a country worth emulating and respecting but fearing. I only hope the world can contain the US and deter it from its manical militarism and love of empire and violence.

Semper Fi!


Carl Roesler - 2/27/2004

The true patriot is not who fights but one who protests that fighting. The true patriot is a war resister not a warrior. The true patriot does not swoon at the sight of the uniform but construes it as a necessary evil.

I don't "justify" acts of so-called "terror" against us. How can a pacifist justify attacks on soft targets. I do however believe that our foreign policy is misguided and is a principal reason for the attacks against us. I think an arrogant superpower who uses the word "terrorist" like "gook" and "slope" is deliberately avoiding introspection and attempting to formulate policies of conflict resolution.

I do think one's person terrorist is another person's freedom fighter although I consider acts of violence to be terrorist except perhaps under the most dire circumstances.

To talk about Israel as if it were a failed state or an impotent nation that faces annihilation is missing the point. Israel is the strongest power in the region and is a nuclear state. Strong states can afford to engage in confidence building measures and to show some tolerance for those who are so vastly weaker. The reason for the suicide attacks and the 9/11 attacks from a military standpoint is that a nation's strength, when emphasizing only military power, is its weakness. Asymmetrical war takes place when a combatant cannot attack another combatant directly but must emphasize soft, non-combatant targets.

Terrorism is part and parcel of this country, US. It always has been and I recognize it is an emotional term. We need, all of us, to stop using it and assessing why the US and Israel are the two most despised nations on Earth. How could this have happened? How on Earth could this planet detest us so. Answer, genocide, arrogance, violent bullying of other nations, disregard to global and domestic opinion. Never in my career as my shame in being an American been so embraced and shared by so many others. We are not a country worth emulating and respecting but fearing. I only hope the world can contain the US and deter it from its manical militarism and love of empire and violence.

Semper Fi!


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/27/2004

As much as I would like to continue this debate, I see no point in it. I was a professional soldier for most of my adult life, but I not like or enjoy war. I do realize that sometimes it is necessary, like now in the war against terror, because there are some people who want us, and/or those like us, dead.

I believe, and will always believe, that the US was right and just in Vietnam, and if I had the time would love to continue the debate, although your arguments are getting tiresome and predictably circular: take you comments and repeated and incorrect references to WMD, for example. Your defense of traitors who prolonged the war, and thereby insured the deaths of more Americans and Vietnamese, not to mention Vietnamese of the Communist variety as well, is typical.

I believe the US and its allies are also right and just in this war against terror. No doubt, I am sure, you disagree. I can almost hear your arguments now. I am sure that you are ready to "justify" acts of terror aimed against us; and that you believe George W. Bush is a greater threat to peace and freedom than any of the dictators of rogue states - like Saddam Hussein was until recently. You also most likely believe that Israel has no right to defend herself against those bent on her annihilation; and that the only acceptable Israeli action, in your opinion, acceptable to furthering world peace is capitulation and acceptance her own destruction.

So with that, I say, go ahead and believe that if you will. Obviously, you feel the same way about the United States. I am confident that History will prove you incorrect.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/27/2004

It is well to salute their sacrifice but it misses the point. They were sent to die by a government that wanted to maximize its power and dominate the world. Those who go to walls and remember the dead should also protest the government's decision to fight unjust wars. It is amazing how propaganda and misplaced nationalism and patriotism has been able to confine regret to those who were KIA and not be enraged about the warmongers who glorify the professionalism of war and those who command it.

Your comment about mass-murder bombing in 1965 is typical of those who see war as something to be won, as opposed to be studied and held up to scrutiny. This one behind the back approach was similar to Hitler's criticism of surrendering after WWI.

Fonda, Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, etc. were heroes. I knew several of them. They tried to save the lives of our soldiers by ending the war. It is those who are so blinded by nationalism that they see protest as anti-soldier. The traitors were Westmoreland, Abrams, Nixon, KISSINGER, Johnson who sent people to die and kill in an unjust war.
Mass murder is your legacy of Vietnam. Those who fight have nothing, repeat nothing to be proud of.

Also, the New York Times did their own follow up investigation of the serial killers in Tiger Force. Believe me, atrocities were the rule not the exception in Vietnam.

The shame and the horror and the evil of that war will not be erased.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/27/2004

I checked the Tiger Force story you cite.

I will reserve judgment on this story until any investigation is completed. We may find, like some who testified with Kerry years ago, that those “confessing” had not even served in the military, much less in Vietnam, when they told of committing atrocities.

You also failed to mention when you brought it up, that our own Army is investigating the matter. I believe even the story on the web site you provided supports my contention that incidents such as these were aberrations, and not the way US forces conducted themselves on the battlefield. You can always find “anecdotal evidence” to support any activity that was beyond the norm.

As I mentioned, I am an historian. I began military training in December 1971. I served in the Infantry for 21 years (1975-1996). The Vietnam War is one of my research focus areas. I remember much of it and the protest movement against it personally, and have arrived at an even greater understanding as I continue to research, study, and analyze the record.

As for you your question, yes, I have studied the December '72 bombing - "Operation Linebacker" - and know and have spoken with many members of B-52 crews who took part in it as well. I contend that had such an air campaign been launched in 1965, the war would probably have been won by the US and allies much, much sooner, at much, much less cost; and without the "peace" movement pro-longing the war. In 1972, there were very few US forces remaining in Vietnam.

The "insurgency" phase of the war was over with the defeat of the '68 Tet Offensive. The American left just touted Tet as a Communist victory, so that as the North Vietnamese took over the fighting from the shattered remnants of the Viet Cong, they need not have been victorious on the battlefield. The Nixon administration began drawing down the numbers of American forces as early as July 1969 - ironically corresponding to an increase in the size and loudness of the protests - and allied forces began turning over a greater share of the fight to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam.

The fact is the US and its allies won all the big battles and most of the little ones all the way up until 1973. The NVA only had hang on and sustain casualties as long as their allies in this country took up their fight in the media and in the protest marches. When the bad guys finally defeated the Republic of Vietnam in 1975 - 2 years after the last American, Thai, Korean, Australian, New Zealand, and Philippine forces were gone - it was not with a guerilla war, insurgency, or popular uprising, but a massive, conventional, tank-heavy, blitzkrieg-style, cross-border invasion against a nation whose means of defending itself had been cut off.

Obviously, you will continue to believe what you want. I will not change my opinions on traitors like Jane Fonda, Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, et al. I will also never agree with your assessment that the cause was not righteous, nor your description that US and its allied forces practiced “genocide.” I will also continue to contend that militarily, we did not lose on the battlefield, but abandoned our South Vietnamese allies by cutting off the means to defend themselves in 1975.

I also visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I do so regularly, year round, as I work in Washington, DC. I do so as a means of honoring friends, comrades, and a big brother, whom I have lost. I salute their memory, and pay tribute to their sacrifice in what I feel was a noble endeavor; and am confident that history will eventually prove that it truly was the right thing for the United States to do. I started visiting the VVM while I was still on active duty and stationed at the Pentagon before I retired. Then, I always visited in uniform to show my respect to the fallen heroes of Vietnam. I was always impressed by the smart, correct, meaningful, enthusiastic and proud salutes I received from Veterans in all manner of dress, many with service-related mementos on civilian attire, when they recognized an officer in uniform; even if they had left the service decades ago. I cannot express the affection and pride I felt, and continue to feel, in them as I returned the salutes of those whom I consider my heroes in that time-honored show of solidarity and mutual respect with which soldiers greet one another.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/27/2004

I checked the Tiger Force story you cite.

I will reserve judgment on this story until any investigation is completed. We may find, like some who testified with Kerry years ago, that those “confessing” had not even served in the military, much less in Vietnam, when they told of committing atrocities.

You also failed to mention when you brought it up, that our own Army is investigating the matter. I believe even the story on the web site you provided supports my contention that incidents such as these were aberrations, and not the way US forces conducted themselves on the battlefield. You can always find “anecdotal evidence” to support any activity that was beyond the norm.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/27/2004

As I mentioned, I am an historian. I began military training in December 1971. I served in the Infantry for 21 years (1975-1996). The Vietnam War is one of my research focus areas. I remember much of it and the protest movement against it personally, and have arrived at an even greater understanding as I continue to research, study, and analyze the record.

As for you your question, yes, I have studied the December '72 bombing - "Operation Linebacker" - and know and have spoken with many members of B-52 crews who took part in it as well. I contend that had such an air campaign been launched in 1965, the war would probably have been won by the US and allies much, much sooner, at much, much less cost; and without the "peace" movement pro-longing the war. In 1972, there were very few US forces remaining in Vietnam.

The "insurgency" phase of the war was over with the defeat of the '68 Tet Offensive. The American left just touted Tet as a Communist victory, so that as the North Vietnamese took over the fighting from the shattered remnants of the Viet Cong, they need not have been victorious on the battlefield. The Nixon administration began drawing down the numbers of American forces as early as July 1969 - ironically corresponding to an increase in the size and loudness of the protests - and allied forces began turning over a greater share of the fight to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam.

The fact is the US and its allies won all the big battles and most of the little ones all the way up until 1973. The NVA only had hang on and sustain casualties as long as their allies in this country took up their fight in the media and in the protest marches. When the bad guys finally defeated the Republic of Vietnam in 1975 - 2 years after the last American, Thai, Korean, Australian, New Zealand, and Philippine forces were gone - it was not with a guerilla war, insurgency, or popular uprising, but a massive, conventional, tank-heavy, blitzkrieg-style, cross-border invasion against a nation whose means of defending itself had been cut off.

Obviously, you will continue to believe what you want. I will not change my opinions on traitors like Jane Fonda, Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, et al. I will also never agree with your assessment that the cause was not righteous, nor your description that US and its allied forces practiced “genocide.” I will also continue to contend that militarily, we did not lose on the battlefield, but abandoned our South Vietnamese allies by cutting off the means to defend themselves in 1975.

I also visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I do so regularly, year round, as I work in Washington, DC. I do so as a means of honoring friends, comrades, and a big brother, whom I have lost. I salute their memory, and pay tribute to their sacrifice in what I feel was a noble endeavor; and am confident that history will eventually prove that it truly was the right thing for the United States to do. I started visiting the VVM while I was still on active duty and stationed at the Pentagon before I retired. Then, I always visited in uniform to show my respect to the fallen heroes of Vietnam. I was always impressed by the smart, correct, meaningful, enthusiastic and proud salutes I received from Veterans in all manner of dress, many with service-related mementos on civilian attire, when they recognized an officer in uniform; even if they had left the service decades ago. I cannot express the affection and pride I felt, and continue to feel, in them as I returned the salutes of those whom I consider my heroes in that time-honored show of solidarity and mutual respect with which soldiers greet one another.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/26/2004

This is the story that is rumored to be a candidate for the Pulitzer prize. Americans who served in Vietnam were killers, torturers and do NOT deserve the respect of the American people. They did not create the war but they fought it and should be shamed, not persecuted, for it.

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=SRTIGERFORCE

Jane Fonda should be praised for her courage in denouncing American butchers who went to a distant land and who called people gooks, slants, charlie, and used their zippo lighters to destroy their little huts, their little homes that they called hootches. How can you as a military historian not feel disgraced to be an American and to have lived during this mass murder of innocent Vietnamese?

Jane Fonda and others who went to Hanoi went there to show their solidarity with the oppressed; their solidarity with non-white peoples who were being slaughtered by Americans.

Have you not studied the Christmas bombing of 1972? This was an insane president with his corpulent state secretary pursuing the "madman" strategy to get a cease fire so they could exit Vietnam with honor? Honor, decent interval.

When I go to Washington each spring, I go to the wall and
look at those names and feel rage and torment about this country and what it did then.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/26/2004

Obviously, as a military historian and soldier of 21 years' service, I do not agree with your analysis of the historical record of the Vietnam War.

Neither Agent Orange nor Napalm were, are, or ever will be classified as WMD. They do not meet the criteria even you cite, to be considered nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. I am sorry to tell you, but they just are not.

The NYT has been proven wrong, and slanted, in its "reportage" many times. I am not aware of wany special authority, credibility, or lack of bias to which the "Toledo Blade" can claim. If McNamara had not botched the job, and instead had served his president to the best of his ability as he was sworn to do, maybe he would have initiated those policies that proved successful under Nixon earlier, and he would not have to try to excuse his conduct by his self-serving statements of late.

Who was this "Tiger Force" you mention? The American military does not employ “serial killers.”

As a military historian, veteran of 21 years' service myself, and knowing and having served with many, many veterans of Vietnam, I resent your contention that My Lai was not unique. Furthermore, to the many American GIs who participated in Civic Action Programs, or bringing aid, medical assistance, agricultural help, building homes and schools, and orphanages, and MILIIONS of other unreported "good deeds," your statements must have a hollow ring of those who supported our nation's enemies instead of our own troops.

I know that we did not wantonly butcher millions of people. That is why bona fide veterans overwhelmingly tell opinion pollsters that they are proud to have served in Vietnam. As I grow older, I become even more convinced of the nobility and righteousness of our cause, and what heroes those who honorably served there really are.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/26/2004

Anyone who served in Vietnam served in a disgraceful, genocidal, Nazi war.

To leave that war with 2-3 million dead human beings to pursue a maniacal objective of containment is beyond evil. It is barbarism. How anyone can defend such a war is beyond me. Even SecDef McNamara conceded years later is was wrong. That there was no incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964; that the war was unnecessary; that the destruction exceded the aims of the war.

Believe me My Lai was not unique. Tiger Force was a bunch of serial killers who slaughtered for sport men, women and children. Are you unaware of these criminals in the Toledo Blade report and even picked up by the NYT.

I strongly disagree that Agent Orange and Napalm are not WMD. Hey, it was your hero Bush who added chemical and biological weapons to WMD. I was content to confine the term to fission and fission-fusion-fission weapons. But if the Bushites add bc weapons, then I will add Napalm and agent orange. How dare this country face the world with the arrogant swagger of moralism in that it committed the worse war crimes of the postwar period.

VIETNAM WAS EVIL, THE WAR WAS EVIL, NO HONOR IN SERVING IN THAT WAR. I realize many had to serve and many young people enlisted. But I am not condemning them but they participated in mass murder of other human beings who did not live to a full life because of our genocide.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/26/2004

I disagree with you, very much.

We DID NOT 'carpet bomb' cities. Even the most vocal critics of the '72 bombing launched in response to the Communist "Eastertide" Offensive could only criticize it as "dike bombing." Remember the "peace movement's" bumper sticker calling Nixon the "Dike Bomber"?

Our high altitude bombing with B-52s was directed against military targets, like troop concentrations around Khe Sahn in ‘68, and the road/pipeline networks called the Ho Chi Minh Trail. We suffered the losses we did among our pilots over North Vietnam due to their flying low and slow over targets to avoid, as much as possible, "collateral" damage in civilian areas, thereby putting themselves at greater risk. This gave the impetus to developing "smart" munitions. The fact that the NVA could put its resources into maintaining the trail, and its forces and bases in Laos and Cambodia, supporting the Communist Pathet Lao and Khmer Rouge forces fighting to forcibly take over those countries, respectively, and invading the Republic of Vietnam attests to illegitimacy of your claim. Even when we did strike in the North by air, it was an "on again" and "off again" proposition to induce good faith negotiation. That's why when Nixon finally unleashed the B-52s on North Vietnam in late '72, the Communists took about 2 weeks to agree to meaningful talks and stopped dragging their feet and playing rhetorical games in Paris. If the press and "peace" movement had not been so rampantly pro-Communist at the time, we could have dictated terms beneficial to the Republic of Vietnam instead of allowing the Communists so much leeway that enabled them to mask their continued aggression under the cover of the '73 cease-fire.

My Lai was an aberration, as indicated by the courts martial conducted by our own Army!

Napalm is not a "WMD." It is a conventional munition, which is effective only in a limited area against limited targets with a limited persistency: the opposite of the three conditions that define “WMD”!!!!

Agent Orange was a defoliant, not a WMD. It was intended to temporarily defoliate an area of vegetation, not kill people. That is illustrated by the numbers of American GIs who suffered the unintended ill effects of it, because at the time, it was not considered lethal to humans, either theirs or ours.

The “Strategic Hamlet” program was not genocidal. It was an effective means of protecting the civilians of the Republic of Vietnam from the depredations of Viet Cong terror tactics, and giving the locals the means to defend themselves, with US help. It was the bad guys who resorted to assassination, car bombs, drive-by shootings, and other terror tactics (like the massacre of civilians in Hue during Tet of '68), and launching rocket barrages against civilian areas in South Vietnamese cities, etc.

The Phoenix Program was aimed at the clandestine Communist political/military infrastructure, not civilians, in South Vietnam. Most of those reported as killed were battle casualties. Part of its effectiveness in neutralizing the National Liberation Front was seen in the withdrawal of the Communists from the national election of 1972. They believed they could score more political points with the American "peace" movement by Thieu running unopposed, rather than being defeated overwhelmingly in a popular election, as they knew they would.

I very much resent you accusation of our fighting the war as "genocide." It is as incorrect as it is offensive. Furthermore, it was the Communist Khmer Rouge, allies of the North Vietnamese, who were responsible for the Cambodian "killing fields." Pol Pot was installed after the Khmer Rouge, with the aid of the North Vietnamese Army, defeated Cambodian Army, which was then under the presidency of Lon Nol.

Vietnamization was a good idea, which unfortunately, should have been initiated during the Johnson administration, as it would have been far more successful. We can see that it was the correct decision when the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam defeated the massive conventional invasion the Communists launched during Easter-tide in 1972. The Pacification Program was equally successful. You can see that in the virtual absence of Viet Cong guerilla activity during either the ’72 or ’75 Communist invasions, and total lack of Communist-inspired “popular uprisings” to coincide with them.

Who was the "genocide" directed against by the US? We helped the Vietnamese in seeing the benefits of including their ethnic minorities (the Khmers, Nungs, Maos, and various Montagnard groups). The South was more diverse than North Vietnam. We went to great lengths to convince the government of RVN that they could not withstand the NVA invasion without the inclusion of their own ethnic minorities. That is not genocide. And remember, it was millions of Vietnamese who fled, many as “boat people,” AFTER the North Vietnamese were victorious in ’75. Many did so to escape being sent to “re-education” camps. I noticed that no one in the “peace” movement called them “concentration camps,” although many were never heard from again!

I am proud of what this nation did in Vietnam! It was a noble endeavor that could have been executed in a better way by the Johnson administration. The people of the Republic of Vietnam were worth it. Too bad Nixon did not assume office until it was too late to do so with the support of a greater proportion of the American public support.


M Kulper - 2/25/2004

That article you linked at The Baltimore Sun doesn't say it was discredited.

It says that someone claims it was discredited, he just didn't have any proof.

Where is that alleged Navy report that he claims discredits the Winter Soldier Investigation? The Navy can't seem to find it.

Maybe that alleged Navy report got filed away somewhere with George Bush's National Guard proof of attendance records, and lost forever.


Mark Brooks - 2/25/2004

Fair enough

Kucinich in 2004

proudtobeaburdenonsociety


Brandt Driscoll - 2/24/2004

I appreciate your points as expressed. Yes I do believe it constituted genocide. I think the wanton killing of 2-3 million persons with indiscriminate high altitude bombing, the massacres at My Lai and Tiger Force, the search and destroy operations, the use of WMD such as napalm, and Agent Orange, the deliberate carpet bombing of cities such as Hanoi and Haiphong during the Christmas Bombings of 1972, the Gestapo-like Phoenix Program, the concentration camps of the Strategic Hamlet Program and the entire Vietnamization efforts of President Nixon and Secretary Kissinger were acts of racial cleansing that approximate the genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda and Armenia.

Perhaps unfairly, I could never vote for a president who served in Vietnam. If she were to renounce the war and not use it as a pretext for heroism, then possibly so.

Vietnam was equivalent to the Nazis, to the Stalinist collectivization schemes and is a shame and a disgrace that frankly this nation will have to bear and eventually be held accountable to.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/24/2004

Sorry, I meant to include Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, as yes, I realize the Pathet Lao were the Communist insurgents in Laos.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/24/2004

Genocidal war? Do you mean when, after American and other Free World forces withdrew, and the Republic of Vietnam and Cambodia fell to a massive, tank-heavy, conventional, cross-border invasions – not a popular uprising - in 1975? Or, do you mean "genocidal" as meaning the wanton murder of Vietnamese and Cambodian civilians by Communist Pathet Lao, Viet Cong and Peoples Army of (North) Vietnam forces? I hope you do, as it was not the policy of the US and its allies to eliminate the Vietnamese or other groups that populated Cambodia and what was the Republic of Vietnam. Americans guilty of atrocities were tried by our own military. Communists who committed atrocities were even called ‘heroes’ by the American ‘peace’ movement.

I do not know of any Democrats who place sufficient importance on defense. It at best takes second place to redistribution of wealth schemes to please their varied constituencies As for Mr. Kerry, he flashes his credentials as a veteran when convenient, but most Vietnam-era veterans I know see him as a 'turncoat' by his leadership of the "Vietnam Veterans Against the War," an organization that was active and vocal in its support of the enemy fighting against his own former comrades, allied with those groups calling themselves "anti-war" that actually prolonged the conflict – not to mention his association with that infamous traitor ‘Hanoi Jane’ Fonda - and in the end, enabled the 1975 Communist invasion that crushed the South Vietnamese armed forces two years after the last American combat troops left, and after the Democrat-dominated Congress voted to cut off the means for the Vietnamese to defend themselves.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/24/2004

For the illumination of those who may not be aware these are the name of the women who perished in this genocidal war.

Elizabeth Anne Jones
Eleanor Grace Alexander
Pamela Dorothy Donovan
Carole Anne Elizabeth Drazba
Hedwig Diane Orlowski
Sharon Ann Lane
Mary Therese Klinker
Annie Ruth Graham

And now the Democratic-Republicans are debating who wants to spend more on defense and who was more macho in their service in Vietnam. It is amusing that the Democrats attempted to persuade Mr Nader not to run for president even though their policies are so similar to the Republicans. Mr Nader represents, with Dr. Dean out and Congressperson Kucinich lagging, the only peace candidate for this election.


Ben H. Severance - 2/24/2004

I do see your points and I'll defer; you have clearly studied the matter far more extensively than I have. I was speaking only from personal experience and personal perception. Nevertheless, like you I have always considered the military an excellent place for men and women of all colors to reach or discover their potential.

As an aside, your comment about a "poor white kid from Arkansas" reminded me of Wesley Clark. He is the veteran I was hoping Democrats would back (as I did in the Tennessee primary). As a product of the revamped U.S. Army of the 1980s and 1990s, one that has kicked ass around the globe, I am bothered by Kerry's 1970s anti-war message, however understandable his sentiments may have been at the time. Today, in the wake of successful military operations in the Middle East, Kerry's past views seems to lack cogency.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/24/2004

I respectfully disagree with your opinion of President Bush.


Mark Brooks - 2/24/2004

A CINC understands that when soldiers are ordered to fight some of them die. I dont think that Bush understands the concept.

Kuchinich in 2004

proudtobeaburdenonsociety


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/23/2004

A commander-n-chief asks his soldiers to FIGHT, not to die.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/23/2004

Yes, there were. I believe eight female service members died in Vietnam. However, the circumstances of their deaths and the positions they held (all were nurses) do not indicate they were put at greater risk ("ask to die")because of their sex.

I think the broader question is flawed. You do NOT ask anyone TO DIE!!!! You ask them to FIGHT!


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/23/2004

I am sorry, it looks like I was not as clear as I had intended to be. The point was not made inadvertently. I was aware that during the Vietnam War, the Army's (and other services') officer recruitment criteria produced an officer corps that was overwhelmingly white. My point was that if taken as groups, that which sustained the largest per capita loss were white college graduate males from middle class families. But that was only the minor point.

The MAJOR point was that while minorities were "over-represented" in the total strength of the military, the casualty distribution was more reflective of the general population, meaning NON-MINORITIES were represented in the fighting units and SUSTAINED DISPROPORTIONATELY MORE CASUALTIES when compared to their representation in the service than minority service members. Which, in turn, means, MINORITIES DID NOT suffer disproportionately more because of racism as compared to their non-minority comrades.

The officer selection system, as well as other measures of potential racism, has changed through EQUAL OPPORTUNITY! In the military, that does not mean establishing quotas or lowering standards. If you want officers with more diverse backgrounds, you send recruiters to where you will find them. In the days of conscription, the services relied on fewer recruiters because of the influence of the draft on recruitment. Also, you increase the minority representation in the officer corps by establishing ROTC detachments in "historically black colleges," or in Puerto Rico, etc., and by other means that do not require quotas.

"Affirmative Action" also means something different in the military. It is really an Action, and it is Affirmative, designed to create an Equal Opportunity, not just replace it with discrimination against a different group. And the result, a better-trained force with decisions made without any latent or blatant racism, or the effects of residual racism, making its effect.

For instance, because of any number of factors, the Army saw that a substantial number black first term soldiers had lower scores on the ASVAB than would predict the ability to be selected for promotion, training schools, assignments, re-enlistment, etc., below what would otherwise be expected "if all things were equal."

The Army's solution was beginning the "Basic Skills Enhancement Improvement Program (BSEP)." Soldiers scoring below a certain General Technical "GT" aptitude score on the ASVAB when they enlisted, or who were non-high school graduates (or had GEDs), were sent on duty time to develop their verbal and mathematical skills in their first units of assignment. The school terms coincided with unit training cycles so that readiness training was not affected. The "average" student raised his/her "GT" score by 20 points, if he/she did not have a high school diploma, and passed the necessary tests, he/she received one from their hometown's high school (not a GED).

As a result, the promotion, selection, retention rates improved to those proportions you would expect, "with all things being equal," because the applicants were better qualified, and better soldiers after all. AND, their commanders sent anyone who fell in the criteria, regardless of race or ethnic background. Therefore, the poor white kid from the Ozarks of Arkansas who was the product of a substandard public school education could take advantage of it, as could the poor black kid from South East District of Columbia. Both had an Equal Opportunity to compete with the kid who happened to attend a better school system. That AFFIRMATIVE and ACTION, and definitely not a preference based on skin color to make up past discrimination.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/23/2004

Having grown up in a military family, served in the infantry for 21-years myself, and speaking with many soldiers with whom I served who fought in Vietnam, and even more former soldiers who did, I also agree with you.

Interestingly, Harry Sommers also did an opinion poll of Vietnam veterans and found that the overwhelming majority (like in the high 80%s) were proud to have served, and if asked, even knowing the outcome, would do so again!

When speaking with most Vietnam Vets, most seem to respond to comments that the US "lost" the war in Vietnam by saying "we didn't lose, we left." They often cite battlefield victories, the destruction of the Viet Cong (as the NVA took over the fighting after Tet '68), the superiority of American and other allied forces over the NVA in almost every engagement, and the elimination of the National Liberation Front's political infrastructure as proof. Likewise, they cite the "anti-war" movement (and other Communist sympathizers), for pro-longing the war by encouraging the enemy not to negotiate, as they knew they couldn't win the fight, and the slanted media coverage, in duping enough Americans at home to believe the price of "peace" was worth abandoning the people of the Republic of Vietnam and Cambodia.


Ben H. Severance - 2/23/2004

The military has certainly made great strides in racial integration, but not always in equal opportunity. As the data presented by Williams and Livingston reveals (inadvertently to them no doubt), junior officers and chopper pilots were mostly white during the Vietnam War. While the enlisted ranks reflected the nation's racial make-up, the officer corps and speciality positions--pilots--remained predominately a white man's domain. Thus, there is some merit in Kerry's criticism on this matter.

As a white army platoon leader in the early 1990s, several of my black soldiers complained, good-naturedly mind you, that it was still a white man's army. By that they meant that most officers were white (as they definitely are) and that it was harder for black officers to get promoted (which I disagree with). But while things are better today, it must have been hard for black officers to make a career in the Vietnam period. I recall stories from my battalion commander, a black officer, of how difficult life for him in the service was in the 1970s, of how out of place he seemed at times.

Anyway, I can see Kerry's point about racism in the armed forces, without over-reacting to it or seeing it as a condemnation of the military as an honorable profession.


James McNeely - 2/23/2004

The report Kerry keeps citing there was thoroughly discredited. Abuses did occur in Viet Nam, but the Winter Soldier Investigation Report was dummied up by the anti-war movement, and contained interviews with "vets" who had never served, much less served in Viet Nam. Most vets will tell you they never saw anything like the allegedly widespread pattern & practice of human rights violations alleged in the report.

"In his book, America in Vietnam, author Guenter Lewy noted a subsequent inquiry by the Naval Investigative Service that found that many of the veterans who spoke in Detroit refused to be interviewed even when offered immunity, and some who reported the most grisly atrocities were fake witnesses who had used the names of real veterans."

See: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/elections/bal-te.antiwar14feb14,0,2360661.story?coll=bal-election-headlines


Mark Brooks - 2/23/2004

William Livingston

"Although I realize it isn't going to happen nonetheless IMO serving in the armed forces should be a mandatory requirement to have the franchise to vote. And I'm looking forward with favor to a return of conscription, but conscription with no exemption for college students".

Sorry mate me thinks your wrong there. I disagree with Charlie Rangel on this issue as well. I'm glad you are happy with a possible return to conscription. If you have not, invest your son if he is not too old now, not mine. Between my sons two Grandfathers and myself we have over 60 years of military service. I did mine so my son, any yours for that matter do not have to spend time in the military.

“One reason, I'm convinced I would not have earned the military decoration I didn't want, the Purrple Heart, had not the war dragged on in part because of the moral support the Fonda/Kerry gang gave the ewnemy.”

Well Digger that is not a medal I would want either, I was lucky. While Mr. Moshe refutes this point rather handely I would like to add my two cents. The NVA was in a fight to the finish regardless of what went on in the USA. I dont expect that the NVA troopers coming down the Trail really cared what was going on in the USA while they were dodging AC130 and F4 and B52 strikes. Richard Nixion delayed the war simply because he wanted peace with honor while the men of our generation were dying.

"To date I've encountered no Viet vet who supports Kerry's candidacy. All the communications I've seen posted on the internet by my fellow Viet-Nam War veterans have been hostile toward him, some extremely hostile".

Well you have now. Evidently you did not pay attention to the couple of weeks prior to the Iowa Caucus'. Almost all the veterans supporting Kerry were Vietnam Vets, to include members of his Swift Boat crew. Got a couple mad at me for supporting Dennis Kuchinich and not Kerry. If Kerry gets the Democratic nomination he will have my support. Our Brothers and Sisters who vent their hostility toward Kerry have the right to express their opinion. The same right I exercise to vent my hostility that George Bush has the same discharge I have and cannot account for his time, while I can account for 22 years, 2 months and 26 days.


R. Porrofatto - 2/22/2004

In the age of Photoshop, no photo can be believed.

Mr. Livingston wrote: "The back-stabbing ninny posed proudly for a widely distributed anti-war pro-Communist photo of him sitting beneath a North Viet Communist flag."

If you are referring to the "photograph" which originally appeared at the notorious Ted Sampley's web site, then you have been duped by a complete fabrication. Mr. Sampley eventually admitted on his site that he had concocted it, and has now seemed to have removed it from the from his anti-Kerry site altogether (I don't know if he's put it elsewhere.) The fact that it has been circulated and remembered (like the fake photo of Kerry and Jane Fonda sharing a podium) is the unfortunate success of such propaganda.

This is all too typical of the "win-at-any-cost" quasi-religious blindness of the right-wing, and indicative of the truly slime-laden campaign we're going to see coming from them. It would help us all if they would acquire a scruple or two from somewhere.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/21/2004

There were women who died in Vietnam.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/21/2004

I agree with Ms. DePinto that Bush's 1972-1973 alleged absences from the Alabama Air National Guard were not due to ideological opposition to the war. It was probably due to his interest in going to Harvard and pursuing a career that would not be distracted by military service.

My point is the relationship of Kerry's and the DNC raising this issue, that was raised over Bush's pre-presidential political career. It is Kerry's hypocrisy as an antiwar now hawk approach to Vietnam that I find egregious. For a dove to now criticize anyone who avoided any type of military service is hard to reconcile.

So there are two issues it seems to be:
1) The nature of Bush's last year in the Guard.
2) The motivation of Kerry and the DNC to raise it.

For me it shows that a Dean, a Kucinich and a Nader would have been a true alternative in finding a path to peace and avoiding the murderous adventures of preemption and anti-Islamic rage.


Jenise R. DePinto - 2/21/2004

I am curious if Bush ever took a stand on the Viet Nam war, either for or against.

Bush said on Meet the Press that he supported the Vietnam War but did not like the fact that politicians in Washington were making decisions that should have been in the hands of the military command. This is why he is a hypocrite. If he had been morally opposed to the war, and then either refused to serve or joined the Guard for that reason, I would respect him too. But his actions were inconsistent with his ststed support for the war.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/21/2004

I support anyone who avoided service in that war because it was genocide. It was one less person to murder Vietnamese. The fact that Bush did not show up at National Guard meetings if of ABSOLUTELY no consequence to me. I would more harshly judge a killer who goes to Vietnam--it wasn't courage, it was genocide--than one who did not damage or destroy another country's property or people.

I can tell you this, during that war both V V A W and civilian doves were hardly running around "outing" non-active duty personnel who were missing meetings. We were trying to end the war and could careless about military service--or to be more precise those who avoided it. We did not care if it were due to ideology or fear, Kerry and others wanted the war to end--pure and simple.

Now the hypocrite is running as this macho war killer who got all these medals in this war and is outing those who did not attend all their meetings. Gee, I wonder if this has to do with a perception it would garner votes for a presidential election. Not mine, I will tell you that!!

Also Kerry voted FOR this Iraq war and when convenient is distancing himself from that war as well. He wants it both ways. I won't vote for him due to this venality. I won't vote for Bush either but if Kerry does not stop this prowar hypocrisy, maybe I will out of spite.


Harley Ray Miller - 2/21/2004

I am curious if Bush ever took a stand on the Viet Nam war, either for or against. If he was for the war and avoided the danger of being sent to Viet Nam by hiding out in the National Guard, I would have less respect for him. If he was against the war and chose to hide out in the Guard rather than throw his life away in a useless war and take part in the slaughter then I would have more respect for him. If he had the courage go to war, come to believe it wrong, and return to fight against it's continuation like Kerry, I would have a whole lot of respect for him.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 2/21/2004

"All I know is if I hated a war and construed it as immoral and racist, I could care less if some reservists or guard personnel were missing meetings. Heck, I would probably be glad in that the war machine was having some creaky spots in it."

If I hated a war and then discovered that someone had avoided that war by joining the National Guard... and then went AWOL during that Guard service, you can bet I would bring it up.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 2/21/2004

1) "The point is why should Kerry criticize ANYONE who served in Vietnam for avoiding his or her military service, regardless of the record, if the service was related no matter how remotely to an immoral war."

Kerry should not, nor is he. Bush did not serve in Vietnam and your question assumes that Kerry hates (hated) the whole of the United States military. No where does Kerry suggest this.

2) "I think one would be hard pressed to separate so purely a denunciation of a war, and denounce a person who avoided serving even occasionally in a unit DURING the war."

Again, I can't stress this enough: Kerry is NOT denouncing Bush for avoiding Vietnam. The issues are separate and unrelated.

3) "Do you think Kerry during the Winter Soldier investigation and the VVAW was saying. Hey, you soldiers are baby killers and fighting in an imperialistic war and put down your arms and quit. Oh, and you reservists and national guard units make sure you never miss a meeting and keep going up all your obligations even if I hate the war going on."

If I understand you correctly, you seem to be suggesting that opposition to the Vietnam war meant opposition to the entire United States military. Did I misunderstand? In any event, Kerry (and others) are able to separate the 2.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/21/2004

Finally on this matter and I am not an expert on this topic but am merely thinking on the run.

All I know is if I hated a war and construed it as immoral and racist, I could care less if some reservists or guard personnel were missing meetings. Heck, I would probably be glad in that the war machine was having some creaky spots in it.

Kerry seems to merely try to score points on a topic that is utterly irrelevant to the issues of war and peace today.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/21/2004

I meant serving "during Vietnam" and my last sentence shoudl read.

Oh, and you reservists and national guard units make sure you never miss a meeting and maintain all your commitments even if I hate the war going on.


Brandt Driscoll - 2/21/2004

But Roesler points are still so very valid and apt. The issue is not WHY Bush deserted his unit or whether he was antiwar or not. The point is why should Kerry criticize ANYONE who served in Vietnam for avoiding his or her military service, regardless of the record, if the service was related no matter how remotely to an immoral war.

I think one would be hard pressed to separate so purely a denunciation of a war, and denounce a person who avoided serving even occasionally in a unit DURING the war.

Do you think Kerry during the Winter Soldier investigation and the VVAW was saying. Hey, you soldiers are baby killers and fighting in an imperialistic war and put down your arms and quit. Oh, and you reservists and national guard units make sure you never miss a meeting and keep going up all your obligations even if I hate the war going on.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 2/21/2004

Mr. Driscoll,

-- "How can Kerry blast Bush for not doing his National Guard duty in a war that he called immoral and criminal. How can this not be hypocrisy."

Simple: That is not what Kerry is doing. Kerry’s problem is NOT that Bush avoided Vietnam. Indeed, he said that he understands perfectly why people would want to get out of going… which Bush did by entering the National guard. The problem is that (if the accusations are true), Bush disappeared for a time when he was supposed to be on duty.

-- "Gee I felt the Nazis who invaded Poland were evil but am really upset that a certain reservist in Munich went AWOL during WWII."

I have seen no evidence to suggest that Bush did not support the Vietnam war, or that he thought it was "evil." Nor is there any evidence to suggest that Bush avoided service out of a moral disagreement with the war. In any event, the issue of Bush’s so-called moral opposition to the war is moot. Bush was at no risk of being sent to Vietnam by joining the National Guard. This issue is not, contrary to what some believe, whether or not Bush was right to avoid going to Vietnam. The issue is whether Bush was right to skip some of the service he DID sign up for (if indeed, the accusations are true).


Kevin M Gannon - 2/21/2004

Mr. Livingston--

Certainly you can speak with more experience than I; I am too young to have experienced the Vietnam era with any sort of awareness, and my military service is only a decade old. I think recent studies regarding casualty rates and racial categories are important, and I hope that they continue to inform our perceptions of Vietnam as they continue to evolve.

What I am interested in as an historian and ex-Marine is the _perception_ our society holds toward the conflict (not that this is the only interesting aspect, but it is one that has occupied my attention). In this regard, I recommended Wallace Terry's _Bloods_, as it speaks volumes about domestic racial issues, Vietnam, and the interconnectedness between the two. It's a wonderful historical source in that regard--how we interpret war and soldiers in war speaks a great deal as to how we interpret our society as a whole. In this sense, war is eminently political, as it is in may ways an extension of our mores and society--at least in the stated aims for a conflict.

On a personal note, as I close, you and your fellow veterans have my utmost respect. I think our larger society has a great deal to learn from the military when it comes to race and "racial issues," as I've experienced firsthand. I've found the discussion on this thread most enlightening, and it has done much to help me organize my thoughts on the subject.

Regards,
Kevin Gannon


Brandt Driscoll - 2/21/2004

I see a great deal of hypocrisy. How can Kerry blast Bush for not doing his National Guard duty in a war that he called immoral and criminal. How can this not be hypocrisy.

Gee I felt the Nazis who invaded Poland were evil but am really upset that a certain reservist in Munich went AWOL during WWII. Give me a break and thanks MR Roesler for your courage and conviction on many of these posts.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 2/20/2004

1) “Kerry was a card-carrying member of the Fonda/far Left sponsered & financed VVA.

You fail to mention what your problem with the VVA is? I have gone through the site and found it to be exactly what it says it is, which is an organization to “promote and support the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans, to create a new identity for this generation of veterans, and to change public perception of Vietnam veterans.”

If you are against them because they opposed the war, I would challenge you to defend the conflict, given that we KNOW it was based on lies (see the Pentagon Papers) and misunderstandings of the enemy.

2) “The back-stabbing ninny posed proudly for a widely distributed anti-war pro-Communist photo of him sitting beneath a North Viet Communist flag.”

I am not familiar with this photo and would appreciate you sending the site to me so that I can judge for myself.

3) “To date I've encountered no Viet vet who supports Kerry's candidacy. All the communications I've seen posted on the internet by my fellow Viet-Nam War veterans have been hostile toward him, some extremely hostile.”

The people you have encountered are clearly not representative of all Vietnam Veterans. Despite what you may think of him, many Veterans actively support his candidacy. No one who has served with Kerry, to the best of my knowledge (and this may change- who knows?) has come out against him. Thus far, the only Veterans I know of that are against Kerry do so simply because he is a Democrat running against Bush, not out of genuine offense of Kerry’s military record.

I recommend the following article for more on this:
http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,Sanders_020504,00.html


4) “One reason, I'm convinced I would not have earned the military decoration I didn't want, the Purrple Heart, had not the war dragged on in part because of the moral support the Fonda/Kerry gang gave the ewnemy.”

This has been a growing myth of conservatives to re-write the Vietnam war in order to blame the pacifists for loosing the war and the belief that had we just stayed a little longer, we would have won.

This, of course, is an absurdity. Anti-War groups were a minority and had garnered no mass support until the Tet-Offensive, when the public had realized that they had been lied to. To suggest that the Viet Cong somehow would have given up without the support of American liberals is simply demonstrating the same misunderstanding of the enemy that the leaders who started the war had.

http://www.cnn.com/US/9702/15/lbj.vietnam/
http://www.johnkerry.com/pressroom/clips/news_2004_0214f.html


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 2/20/2004

It is equally amusing to see Right-wingers ignore the glaring reality that this is the first administration since WWII in which no one on the ticket fought in a war. They then ignore or dismiss any challenge to their own partisan favorites, while boldly making inflammatory generalizations about Democrats who have served in the military, both during war time, and during peacetime.

As for mandatory conscription, I do not agree with it, but you know who does: DEMOCRAT Charles Rangel of New York, who proposed a bill reinstating the draft. Those who disagree with Rangel’s politics, of course, will no doubt do what they do best: challenge his patriotism and his honor (FYI: Rangel served in the U.S. Army from 1948-52, during which time he fought in Korea and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star).

I tend to agree with John Kerry that “The real test of patriotism is how you treat veterans and keep promises to people who wore the uniform.”
Unfortunately for the conservatives, if that were the standard of patriotism, Bush would have to be seriously reexamined.

http://www.kintera.org/AccountTempFiles/cf/%7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03%7D/bushtroops.htm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A2153-2003Jun16?language=printer


William Livingston - 2/20/2004

It is endlessly amusing to read Leftists, very few of whom who have had the patriotism and courage to wear the uniform even in peacetime, let alone during wartime, whine about Bush's Guard service. Especially when in the very same Guard unit & in the same time-frame in which Bush served were the sons of promenient Texas Democrats.

Although I realize it isn't going to happen nonetheless IMO serving in the armed forces should be a mandatory requirement to have the franchise to vote. And I'm looking forward with favor to a return of conscription, but conscription with no exemption for college students.


William Livingston - 2/20/2004

Adam Moshe,

You've your head in the sand. Wake up & look around you without your Lrftist blinders. Kerry was a card-carrying member of the Fonda/far Left sponsered & financed VVA. The back-stabbing ninny posed proudly
for a widely distributed anti-war pro-Communist photo
of him sitting beneath a North Viet Communist flag. To date I've encountered no Viet vet who supports Kerry's candidacy. All the communications I've seen posted on
the internet by my fellow Viet-Nam War veterans have been hostile toward him, some extremely hostile.

If Kerry is counting on the veteran vote to put him in the White House, he'd best not count on his fellow Viet vets. I despise the jerk and wouldn't vote for him for so much as garbage collector. One reason, I'm convinced I would not have earned the military decoration I didn't want, the Purrple Heart, had not the war dragged on in part because of the moral support the Fonda/Kerry gang gave the ewnemy.


William Livingston - 2/20/2004

Brother Glenn Williams,

Your assessment is, IMHO, right on the money, especially your point that nearly all chopper pilots, over 2,100 of whom were KIA in 'Nam and by far most company grade officers, with their nearly equally high casuality rate, were Caucasian. In any event, I myself have encountered darned few G.I.s who regret having fought in 'Nam. Mosdt of them subscribe to the notion, "I wouldn't go through thst experience again for a million dollars; BUT I wouldn't have missed it for two million." Don't know if that makes sense or not, but it reflects the prevailing sentiment of the Viet vets whom I know. But of course, there are bound to be some out there embittered by the experience I guess, but I just don't associate with such guys. Moreover, right or wrong,I tend to think PTSD is a joke. This regardless a civilian doctor once suggested I'm subject to it.

In any event, i reckon the proper response to the question posed by this essay's title is George S. Parron's remarks that he'd prefer to be the last man killed by the last bullet fired in a given war. But then, he gloried in war. So did I, except when I was scared or bored numb. Then it wasn't much fun.


Glenn Franklin Williams - 2/19/2004

How are we going to define 'racism' in this context?

I am a retired Army officer, now working as an historian with an advanced degree in that field. While in the military, although an Infantry officer, I also earned a MA in Human Resources Management, and had an assignment as an 'Equal Opportunity/Human Relations Staff Officer' as an additional specialty. I decided to go into history as a 'second career,' partly, because civilians do not share the same concepts of 'equal opportunity' or 'affirmative action' as does the military. That is also the subject of a completely different discussion.

I can tell you that services are always reviewing their demographic makeup, and 'representative index' as a way of monitoring potential instances of institutionalized racism. In short, they analyze that by race, color, creed, national origin and sex, that no one group gets more or less than what otherwise would be expected 'with all things being equal,’ of both the available favorable and unfavorable personnel actions, e.g., promotions, awards, selection for training/schools, assignments, non judicial punishment, courts martial, pre- and post-trial confinement, re-enlistments, administrative discharges, to name a few. If a category indicates there is an over or under-representation, it gets closer attention to see if there is a continuing trend, or if it is the result of the demographic makeup of that particular unit, or the occurrence of single event where during that one reporting period, ‘it just happened that way’ without any untoward behavior by the leadership.

Currently, minority representation in the Army, and the rest of the military as a whole, exceeds that of the general population. In the Army, the 'distribution index' shows that non-minority first-term soldiers, however, have a percentage of concentration among the lower-ranks in combat arms units and career fields higher than would otherwise be expected, while first-term minority soldiers are distributed in greater proportion to their percentage of service-wide numbers in the lower ranks of combat service support branches. As one goes up through the NCO ranks, the minority representation balances itself to a more 'expected' rates of distribution. This relates more to the motivation of potential applicants in the recruitment process, and propensity to re-enlist after completion of a first term, than institutional inequities, which we can discuss in more detail at another time.

If we want to talk about who carried which share of the burden in Vietnam, we can do that now. The proportion of minorities within the military was greater than that of the general population. HOWEVER, the distribution of casualties was MORE REFLECTIVE of the general population! Despite the claims of the 'anti-war' movement during that conflict, and their apologists, this means that of those in the military, non-minorities suffered a greater representation among the casualties, and therefore, also among those doing the fighting. These numbers are available from a number of sources, including on-line.

An even better illustration was done a few years back by historian COL (USA-Ret) Harry Summers. He researched the demographic breakdown of all the Vietnam-deployed units of the armed forces and casualties, and also found that those fighting, and being killed and wounded, were representative of their group's proportion to the general population, not their representation from within the armed forces. Furthermore, he found that those who paid the highest price, proportionally, were Caucasian college graduates from middle-class families! Some former war protesters did not believe this, but then, they would not stop to think of who the rifle company commanders and platoon leaders, artillery forward observers, forward air controllers, tactical air support, and attack, assault and medevac helicopter pilots were by the way they read the numbers.

Respectfully,

Glenn Williams


William Livingston - 2/19/2004

Kevin Gannon,

Is it racism when cliques are composed seemingly based largely on racve among the troops? There was much of that, those with like tastes & opinions flocking together during their off-duty time, in the units in "Nam with which I served, but as you suggest from the top down there wasn't anything resembling racism that I a junior, company grade, officer saw--and because I'd recently, 1962-4, served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia I was highly sensitive to the issue upon going on active duty as a Lieutent in the Army in Agust, 1965 & shipped in Sept. of '66 to the 1st Infantry Division in III Corps in the RVN, Republic of Viet-Nam.

Indeed, as I recall, it was roughly during that time-frame that Colin Powell commanded a battalion of the 1st Division in 'Nam. Moreover, when posted to Germany, to a Pershing missile battalion, between my tours in 'Nam both the X.O. & the Ops officer, both Majors, of the missile battalion were Colored. But in 'Nam only a smallish number of the troops, in contrast to some opinion, were either Colored or Hispanic. According to figures in the March, 1993 edition of "VFW" magazine "88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietrnam were Caucasian; 10.6% (275,000)were black; 1% belonged to other races...86.8% of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were caucasian; 12.1% (5,711)were black; 1.1% belonged to other races," but to hear the bleed'n heart Leftist political activist types pushing their agendas most of the KIAs in 'Nam were black & Hispanic. Indeed, I not long ago read a Hispanic to claim 85% of the KIAs in 'Nam were Hispanic--pure baloney!


Todd Christopher Galle - 2/19/2004

Are you suggesting that there were 500 young men lined up to enter flight school, or are you conflating enlisting in the Air National Guard as an Airman 3/C with signing up for the rigors of flying fighters? The situations and qualifications are different, you know.

Are you familiar with the structure of the US Armed Forces during the time period in question? Do you know where the F-102 aircraft fit inside that structure? The F-102 was an interceptor, designed for defense of the continental US. There were still US Forces aligned against the Soviets during this time period, not all US combat forces were deployed to Viet Nam. I have buddies who were in Germany and in Central America during this time, are they "draft dodgers" or "weak-kneed"? Luck of the draw, simple as that.

I understand that Bush tried to volunteer for duty in Viet Nam, but that the program (I forget the name) was winding down, and that he lacked the requisite flying time. By that time though, US forces were displacing, with VietNamization the order of the day.

As for not fulfilling his duties during the end of his stint, with all the USAF pilots returning from Viet Nam, there was probably little for Bush to do. Lots of pilots were early-outed in the early 1970s. I wish critics of the military had a basic understanding of how the armed forces functioned, really I do.

I guess that this "flag waving fascist" simply must support the "treasonous traitor", because if this is the Kerry/Demo idea of discussion, good night. As a Pennsylvanian, though, I will get in the mud for a mite. If the claim that Bush used his Daddy's money to get out of Viet Nam (erroneous though it is - as recent reports show) at least it was his family's money. I don't presume to know what John Heinz would think, but I doubt he would like to see his family's fortune buying Kerry the Presidency.


Kevin M Gannon - 2/18/2004

This is an interesting question; I served briefly in the Marines and did not see any signs of overt racism. Quite the opposite, actually--pro-active measures on the part of Drill Instructors (all but one southern and white) to prevent any vestige of racism in our platoon, actually.

But that was the early 1990s, and not the Vietnam era. I highly recommend Wallace Terry's _Bloods_, a searing account of Vietnam and the home front through the oral histories of thirteen black veterans. There are no clear answers, but there is some resonance from Kerry's speech in the testimony of these veterans, and as an historian I'm inclined to take it seriously.

Kevin Gannon
Texan-in-exile in New England


Jenise R. DePinto - 2/18/2004

Both Bush and Kerry, as sons of the privileged elite minority, could easily have avoided service in Vietnam, that is a class privilege, but only Bush chose to do so. The glaring hypocrisy in this is that Bush supported the war but refused to go and fight it himself; thanks to his Daddy, jumping ahead of a 500 man waiting list to get into the Texas Air Guard, and then failing even to fulfill the service for that! It is even more immoral and hypocritical that he would, thirty years later, send American men and women to fight in a war based on lies, exploiting American fears and popular ignorance, to further enrich his corporate buddies with lucrative redevelopment contracts in Iraq.

Kerry, on the other hand, was against the war in Vietnam, but chose to serve; I suppose this decision was based on his sense of duty to serve the country in a time of war, regardless of whether he thought the decision to go to war was right or wrong.

This willingness to serve, despite one's disagreement with the war, is what most people would consider patriotic, you know selfless dedication to the nation, right or wrong. What Clinton was lambasted for failing to do. The American hero trope that republicans always claim to have a monopoly on!

The only problem is that this time around, it is the republicans' own man, Dubya, who is guilty of being a weak-kneed, draft-dodger, who used his father's wealth, position and power to avoid fighting a war he supported. For any republican, conservative, or fascist to somehow suggest that Kerry is either unpatriotic or hypocritical for anything he has said or done concerning Vietnam is the ultimate in perverted and mindless pseudo-logic. These flagwavers, who are always so quick to tar any dissenting voice with the brush of sedition and un-Americanism, just cannot accept the fact that this time around they support the real treasonous traitor! And everybody now knows it!


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 2/18/2004

- "I would argue if Sen. Kerry is questioning whether Mr Bush fulfilled his duties in a war that the former labeled immoral, as it was, than there seems to be some hypocrisy."

I see no hypocrisy. Kerry is not suggesting at all in any way that the military is immoral as an institution. He is arguing that the Vietnam War was immoral. IF Bush skipped service in the national guard, that is a criticism unrelated to the war in any way.

- "One would think an antiwar person would not be terribly concerned about one's fidelity to one's unit if the entire enterprise, that the unit was at least technically training for, was racist, barbaric, illegal and cruel."

This is only if you assume that
a) the National Guard was training for Vietnam only, and
b) Bush skipped his service (if he did so) because he was morally against the war.

I do not believe in either of those assumptions and therefore find no hypocrisy in opposing the Vietnam War and also opposing National Guardsmen skipping their duties for unknown reasons.


Carl Roesler - 2/18/2004

I would argue if Sen. Kerry is questioning whether Mr Bush fulfilled his duties in a war that the former labeled immoral, as it was, than there seems to be some hypocrisy.

One would think an antiwar person would not be terribly concerned about one's fidelity to one's unit if the entire enterprise, that the unit was at least technically training for, was racist, barbaric, illegal and cruel.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 2/18/2004

“Kerrey is a patsy (of Jane Fonda & the Communists)and a loser---and a liar.”
“Anyway, if a G.I. cut off the ears of a dead Dink, so what?”
“Kerry's lies and complaints are pathetic. Only chair-polishing sissies will fall for them.”

Thus far, behind the derogatory names and inflammatory remarks, no one has said exactly what they hate about Kerry, nor why other Vietnam veterans (like John McCain) have publicly defended Kerry’s anti-war stance, even without sharing it. I know that the Vietnam war can bring out heated emotions from people who do not want to acknowledge the mistake of a conflict that cost 58,000 American lives. However, Kerry has earned the right to complain, even if you disagree with him. He is a decorated veteran who was wounded 3 times in combat.

To suggest that ANY veteran that opposed the war was a communist or in league with the lunatic Jane Fonda is not just the antithesis of democracy, but represents the worst form of groupthink militarism that the United States has so often fought against.

The attacks against him, in my opinion, have more to do with the fact that he is a Democrat who is running against Bush than anything else; especially given the fact that over 2/3 of Americans believed that sending troops to Vietnam was a mistake.

http://www.vaiw.org/vet/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=455&mode

http://www.vvaw.org/


William Livingston - 2/18/2004

Humbug! Someone out to find a cause to whimper about would do better than look at the armed forces for racism. Just look at Colin Powell, out of a New York ghetto he became Chief-of Staff of the U.S. Army. Kerry's whining is a complaint is dishonest. The armed forces are the most racially intgrated institution in the United States. Kerry is a liar to say otherwise.

In the armed forces no-one cares about one's race, especially in combat, so long as one can do one's designated duty assignment. When the lead is flying who cares if a guy has purple skin & green spots, as long as he helps in the success of the assigned mission & isn't a stumble-bum whose carelessness will draw unwanted attention from the enemy & increase the danger of getting blown away?

Kerry's lies and complaints are pathethic. Only chair-polishing sissies will fall for them.


William Livingston - 2/18/2004

IMO Kerrey is a patsy (of Jane Fonda & the Communists)and a loser---and a liar. For Pete's sake he served a less than normal length of twelve month tour on a boat, not stomping around in the jungle & elephant grass. I a veteran of two tours, well most of two, a twelve month tour as a Lieutenant with the First Infantry Division & ten months & days of a second tour with the 101st Airborne, until WIA & hauled back to the States on a stretcher (talk about miserable trips, that was one). As with many of my fellow Viet-Nam War veterans I damned well will not consider voting for this whining phony Kerry!

Never once in my two tours did I see an instance of the brutality of the sort Jane Fonda's pet, Kerry, whimpers about. Granted, it was a nasty war, but aren't all shooting wars nasty? Anyway, if a G.I. cut off the ears of a dead Dink, so what? The Dink was dead & his body, his remains, were destined to be worm eaten. So what's the big deal about the dead body's ears?

So what does this partisan political address have to do with the objective study of history, in the first place? IMO it has no proper place on HNN.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 2/18/2004

What an excellent speech! Kerry risked his life in Vientnam and had nothing to gain by opposing the war once he got home (it is not as if he feared being drafted). Kerry's arguments against the Vietnam conflict are exactly what many historians and political scientists have concluded as well. His articulation and personal accounts of why Vietnam was a mistake tells us much more about John Kerry than it does the Vietnam conflict.

Say what you will about Kerry, to me, this speech and others proves that he is a man of conviction and integrity. I disagree with many policy position he has and he would not have been my first choice to be the nominee, but as of right now, he has my vote!

A side note: I don't recall Kerry ever condemning Bush for avoiding the war. Let us not confuse Kerry with the head of the DLC. What Kerry said was:
"I've never made any judgments about any choice somebody made about avoiding the draft, about going to Canada, going to jail, being a conscientious objector [or] going into the National Guard." Kerry is making an issue of whether Bush fulfilled his duties, but that is not the same as condemning him for not going to Vietnam.


Carl Roesler - 2/18/2004

"We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service..."

Senator Kerry is currently running on his war record and cynically referring to his medals as indicative of his capacity to make executive decisions in the area of national security. He is also questioning the record of President Bush who like so many Americans chose not to go to Vietnam, and frankly became disengaged in his National Guard service.

One would think that Senator Kerry would applaud or at least not condemn President Bush for avoiding a war that he, Senator Kerry, described as immoral and criminal.

I am also struck by the fact that the senator endorsed and supported the neo-conservative war against Iraq and now appears, when convenient, to attempt to disassociate himself with the decision to go to war. Governor Dean was quite right to point that out during the primaries.

I think this merely confirms the rather narrow band of ideological divergence between the democrats and the republicans as they scramble to use war as a political tool to advance their careers as opposed to using ethics as a moral tool to reduce substantially the incidence of war.

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