Skip to comments.Morton Kondracke: Bush's 9/11 vs. Kerry's Vietnam
Posted on 02/16/2004 10:03:44 PM PST by ambrose
By MORTON KONDRACKE, Newspaper Enterprise Association
Both Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and President Bush have had a searing life experience. For Kerry, it was the disaster of Vietnam. For Bush, Sept. 11, 2001. It makes all the difference in their foreign policy views.
While a valiant, decorated combatant, Kerry entered public life condemning the Vietnam War, and his career-long record is one of opposition to uses of American force and the weapons systems needed to carry them out.
Bush, as he explained once again on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, has been "a war president" ever since terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on his watch.
"Every threat had to be reanalyzed," he said, referring to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. "Every potential had to be judged in the context of this war on terrorism. ... We looked at the intelligence and we remembered that he had used weapons, which meant he had weapons. He was a dangerous man in a dangerous part of the world."
The evidence suggests that Bush may feel some responsibility, even guilt, for not doing enough to counter Al Qaeda before Sept. 11, 2001. Certainly, terrorism had no great priority. There was no "war" against it.
Despite Bush's claim to Tim Russert that he is fully cooperating with the commission investigating Sept. 11, the panel's members are so frustrated with White House roadblocks that they have considered issuing subpoenas. This suggests that Bush is deeply embarrassed at what they might find.
But once Sept. 11 happened, Bush's whole presidency was transformed. He began to "worst case" world threats. Every intelligence service in the world believed that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Former President Bill Clinton believed it. Even Kerry believed it.
And, Bush assumed it was only a matter of time before Hussein would use his WMD again, possibly by handing weapons off to terrorists. So, the president decided that Hussein had to be toppled.
To sell the country on that course, it now appears, he and his aides "cherry-picked" and exaggerated the intelligence, playing up the Iraqi threat and ignoring contrary claims.
Democrats and the anti-war media now are making much of a Defense Intelligence Agency warning that there was "no reliable information whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons." But they are cherry-picking, too. The abundance of the evidence was that a WMD arsenal existed.
And so, Bush took the country to war, believing it was "a war of necessity." Was it the right course? Ultimately, the answer depends upon whether the United States can turn Iraq into a stable, semi-democratic country, or whether it cascades into civil war and chaos.
The chances are, Americans will not know for sure before the election whether Bush's risky adventure will end well or badly. They'll have to choose between a "war president" and an "anti-war" challenger.
There seems little question that, had Kerry's policy views prevailed, Hussein would still be in power in fact, he would have scored a strategic defeat over the United States and might have resumed producing WMD.
While Kerry voted to authorize Bush to go to war after Kerry delivered a speech brimming with assertions that Iraq had WMD and represented "a grave threat," the Senator also said, "I will not support a unilateral U.S. war ... unless the threat is imminent and the multilateral effort [to disarm Iraq] has not proven possible under any circumstances."
Referring to his Vietnam experience, Kerry told the Senate on Oct. 9, 2002, that "I know what it means to fight in a war where [public] consent is lost, where allies are in short supply, where conditions are hostile and the mission is ill-defined."
Under the scenario likely to have unfolded under Kerry policy, United Nations inspectors, of course, would never have found WMD in Iraq. France, Germany and other countries would never have agreed to the use of force. Bush would have had to pull back 100,000 troops massed on Iraq's border.
Thereafter, France and Russia would have resumed efforts to lift sanctions on Iraq. Bush would have lost the confrontation. And Hussein would have won. Is this the right course in the age of terrorism?
It may be difficult for voters to know for sure right now, but there seems little question that Kerry's Vietnam-based experience has led him to wrong choices in the past.
He voted against the first Persian Gulf War in 1991 even though Iraq had invaded a neighbor, the U.N. Security Council had voted to force a withdrawal and Bush's father had formed a multinational alliance to carry it out.
In the 1980s, Kerry backed the nuclear freeze movement, which would have permitted the Soviet Union to retain missile dominance in Europe.
In 1984, Kerry declared in a re-election campaign statement that "Americans feel more threatened by the prospect of war, not less so" after the Reagan administration's defense buildup.
He recommended cutting $45 billion to $53 billion from the defense budget and vowed to "cancel" the MX missile, the B-1 bomber, the Tomahawk cruise missile, the Apache helicopter, the Patriot missile and four fighter aircraft programs.
So, does America choose a president this year who can't get over Vietnam? Or one who can't get over Sept. 11? Domestic choices and character choices have to be made, too, but surely more voters now share Bush's trauma than Kerry's.
Morton Kondracke is executive editor of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill.
Copyright 2004, Naples Daily News. All Rights Reserved.
Kerry and the Media will do everything they can to keep Kerry's "anti-war" record from gaining attention.
Witness NBC's keeping Kerry's Meet the Press interview sequestered deep within their vaults.
Along with Libya, Iran, Syria and NK
A friend sent the below letter to our retired SGT/MAJ. Please read it and pass it on.... It should be read by every voter.....Thanks, Bev
Open Letter to John Kerry:
My wife had rotator cuff surgery earlier this year, and the recovery is terribly painful. Then, she developed a staph-epi infection, and they had to cut the same scar open and operate on her again. Just thinking about the pain and anxiety of facing that painful surgery a second time in the same wound, makes me cringe. That experience, however pales in comparison to what I am going through right now, in my heart.
The old hurts are surfacing and the feelings of betrayal by fellow citizens, and their leader stirring them up, are breaking my heart again. I am being cut in the same scar. How did we who served in Vietnam suddenly become cold-blooded killers, torturers, and rapists, of the ilk of the Nazi SS or the Taliban? Most of us were American soldiers who grew up idolizing John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and all the other heroes. That was why I volunteered. But for political expediency, you have rewritten history, again. After spending only four months in the country of Vietnam, you testified before Congress in 1971 with these exact words about incidents you supposedly witnessed or heard about from other vets: "They 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, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam."
I was a green beret officer who volunteered for duty in Vietnam and fought in the thick of it in 1968 and 1969 on a Special Forces A-team on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, just for starters. We were the elite. We saw the most action. Everybody in the world knows that. But we did not just kill people, we built a church, a school, treated illnesses, passed out soap, food, and clothing, and had fun and loving interaction with the indigenous people of Vietnam, just like our boys did in Normandy, Baghdad, Saigon, and everywhere American soldiers ever served. We all gave away our candy bars and rations to kids. Our hearts to oppressed people all over the globe.
My children and grandchildren could read your words, and think those horrendous things about me, Mr. Kerry. You are a bold-faced, unprincipled liar, and a disgrace, and you have dishonored me and all my fellow Vietnam veterans. Sure, there were a couple bad-apples, but I saw none, and I saw it all, and if I did, as an army officer, it was my obligation to stop it, or at the very least report it. Why is there not a single record anywhere of you ever reporting any incidents like this or having the perpetrators arrested? The answer is simple. You are a liar. Your medals and mine are not a free pass for lifetime, Senator Kerry, to bypass character, integrity, and morality. I earn my green beret over and over daily in all aspects of my life.
Eight National Guard green berets, and other National Guard soldiers, have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you totally dishonored their widows and families by lumping National Guard service in with being a draft-dodger, conscientious objector, and deserter, just so you can try to sabotage the patriotism of our President who proudly served as an Air National Guard jet pilot. I have a son earning his green beret at Fort Bragg right now, and his wife serves honorably in the Air National Guard, just like President Bush did, and I am as proud of her as I am my son. I volunteered for Vietnam and have no problem whatsoever with President Bush being our Commander-In-Chief. In fact, I am proud of him as our leader.
John Kerry, you personally derailed the Vietnam Human rights Bill, HR2883, in 2001, after it had passed the House by a 411 to 1 vote, and thousands of pro-American Montagnard tribespeople in Vietnam died since then who could have been saved, by you. Earlier, as Chair of the Senate Select Committee on MIA/POW Affairs, you personally quashed the efforts of any and all veterans to report sightings of living POW's, when you held those reins in Congress. You have fought tooth and nail to push for the US to normalize relations with Vietnam for years. Why, Mr. Kerry? Simple, your first cousin C. Stewart Forbes, CEO, of Colliers International, recently signed a contract with Hanoi, worth BILLIONS of dollars for Collier's International to become the exclusive real estate representative for the country of Vietnam.
"Hanoi John," now that it works for you, you beat your chest about your Vietnam service, but to me, you are a phony, opportunistic, hypocrite. You are one of those politicians that is like a fertilizer machine: all that comes out of you is horse manure, and you are spreading it everywhere.
Medals do not make a man. Morals do.
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