Interview with Richard Moser: Was Kerry Right About Vietnam Atrocities?





Much has been made recently of the Winter Soldier investigation, at which Vietnam veterans claimed they had been involved in -- or heard of -- war crimes and atrocities. To find out more about the investigation and the accuracy of John Kerry's testimony about it before the Senate in 1971, we turned to Mr. Moser, the author of The New Winter Soldiers: Gi and Veteran Dissent During the Vietnam Era (Rutgers University Press, 1996). HNN caught him with him by phone as he was preparing to move from Washington DC to New Jersey.

HNN: The Wall Street Journal last week said that John Kerry made allegations that were never proven about atrocities in Vietnam when he testified before the Senator Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. Do you agree?

Moser: I can't speak directly to John Kerry's allegations of war crimes and atrocities. What I can speak to is the question whether war crimes and atrocities were committed in Vietnam. The answer to that is very clear. Yes, indeed, war crimes and atrocities were committed in Vietnam.

The simple fact is that war crimes have occurred in every war. That is a clearly proved part of the record and I'd like to see anyone prove otherwise. Attempts to suggest there were no war crimes in Vietnam is part of an ongoing attempt to sanitize war in general. And of course it begs the question of what a war crime is.

What people don't know is that as far back as World War I we hit a historic crossroads where more civilians died in conflicts than soldiers. That was true as far back as World War I and it's been true of every single conflict since. So if war crimes are the killing of civilians in war then war crimes have occurred in every war since World War I. In Vietnam it was particularly egregious. The best estimates are that somewhere around fifteen civilians were killed for every combatant. So that was a very lopsided ratio.

I don't want to say that all wars are the same because the possibility for war crimes to occur increases when war is unjust and by that I'm talking about historically debated reasons of what makes wars just and unjust. Wars that are fought with an overriding clear moral purpose are not considered unjust in the historical debate -- mostly those are wars of defense that are considered legitimate. Wars of aggression, wars of preemption are not considered legitimate wars. Wars are not legitimate if they could be avoided by other means, diplomatic, economic, what have you. And wars where one side has a preponderance of power, overwhelming military power. No matter what the justification, if one side has overwhelming military power compared with the other it is not a just war because it implies that other means could have been used to solve the problem.

So if you put that together, if you are fighting in an unjust war the possibility for war crimes and atrocities increases dramatically. And this is the situation we had in Vietnam and I have to say it's returning today in some regards in Iraq. So in an atrocity-producing situation -- an unjust war -- you are much more likely to have everyday kinds of people not able to resist the tendency toward committing atrocities. And that happens because what's viewed as the conventional way that war is fought with clear combatants falls apart. You are fighting people and cannot distinguish between friends and enemies, between civilians and combatants. And in a situation like that the tendency is to take actions against everyone. And that occurred to some extent in Vietnam and is occurring to some degree in Iraq today. So once you are in that situation then these things happen frequently.

In Vietnam there's no doubt that we have war crimes. The most famous of course is My Lai, but there's a whole series of them. And these are documented. The courts martial -- the military's own records, are archived here in Washington. So a lot of those have been very clearly documented over time. And recall Bob Kerrey's recent revelation of his own involvement in killing civilians in Vietnam-that was what a year, a year and a half ago. .

Am I saying every soldier was involved in this? Of course, not. But there was a pattern of abuse of violence. That's one reason why we see so much traumatic stress disorder among Vietnam veterans and will see among Iraq veterans. PTSD is triggered by exposure to abuse of violence and high-stakes betrayal -- situations where soldiers feel they were betrayed. They were sent on a mission they thought was a lofty one, a good one and then they found out that the mission was very confused, murky, as war often is. And they are putting their lives on the line for what is no longer clear. They were exposed to the abuse of violence. And that was true in Vietnam.

There is no doubt there was a pattern of abuse of civilians and war crimes and atrocities in Vietnam. You only have to look at the Iraq prison scandals to see how it gets repeated, particularly when one side has this disproportionate power over the other. You give someone enough power over someone else in the end there will be a percentage of people who abuse their power.

Let me give you a key source or two. One of the key figures to read on this Telford Taylor. He was the principal prosecutor at the Nuremburg Trials for the United States after World War II. He wrote a book called Nuremberg and Vietnam: An American Tragedy, in which he discussed the issue of whether Vietnam should be judged by the same standards and is in the same category as the Nuremberg Trials. He gives a very dispassionate look and in the end he says he's not sure. It's an open question. In a way his very neutrality is quite damning, isn't it, because here's a man who is very intimate with what war crimes are and he said it's an open question.

HNN:There has been mention made of the Winter Soldier investigation. Kerry referred to it in his Senate testimony. What was this?

Moser: This was in 1971. It was an attempt by a group of soldiers organized under the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) to let the American public know about the brutality and viciousness of the war in Vietnam. And so a group of soldiers got together [in Detroit] -- about 100 or so people -- gave testimony about so-called war crimes in South Vietnam in which soldiers reported on either things they were directly involved in or had heard about. That was the cause of much of the speculation, of course, about whether these people were speaking the truth. Without making a judgment about any particular allegation, there is no doubt that the kinds of things these veterans testified to fit a pattern that we can prove using other sources.

HNN: Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" interviewing Senator Kerry said that the Winter Soldier investigation has been discredited. Has it?

Moser: I have never seen a documented investigation of that analysis that discredits it. I have never seen it. If it exists, I'd like to hear it, I'd like to see it. What you hear people say is that they weren't really veterans, which they say about the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in general. It's total malarkey. Not that there weren't a few poseurs in the ranks, oh that's true, I don't care who you look at, any group. But basically there has never been a scholarly work done that discredits the individuals in that investigation or the allegations that they made.

HNN: John Kerry in the same interview seemed to distance himself from his testimony in 1971. Does he have any reason to do so other than politics?

Moser: At the Senate hearing Kerry said people said that they had witnessed atrocities, that these men claimed that they had participated in war crimes. He never himself claimed to have witnessed a war crime or been a party to one.

So his testimony was accurate. People claimed that war crimes occurred. So there's no real reason to distance himself from that other than he might feel that it's a hot political issue. As far as the record, no. But of course the nuances, the truth and the history get lost in the symbolic fray of an election year. And the nuance was that he was reporting what other people had said. And other people did say it. He was reporting truthfully.

HNN: Why is it that historians have not pursued an investigation of the Winter Soldier investigation?

Moser: Good question. I can tell you this. My book, The New Winter Soldiers, was published in 1996. It was the first serious scholarly look at soldier anti-war dissent in Vietnam. There have been a number of other things that have come out since. But in general the problem with soldiers protesting the very war they had fought in is that it was clearly jarring to peoples' understanding of the United States and what it stood for, of our high moral values, of our special moral role in the world, and here was something that seemed to set all that on its head. And so I think people had a hard time making sense of it. And so even though this story [about the Winter Soldier investigation] was a well-known story in the seventies, it was really forgotten during the eighties that there had been this huge movement of veterans.

And it was huge. They spoke for almost half the veterans as best we can figure, that half the veterans opposed the war. (That's more people by the way than opposed the war on college campuses, I must point out, in terms of percentages.) And I think it was too jarring to fit into the narrative of American history. Part of my work is to put the narrative in what I hope is a creative way, which is to say that when soldiers are sent to do a job that is in conflict with the best of American values that in that situation dissent becomes patriotic. In my view the New Winter Soldiers -- the Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- held up the best of American military traditions and political traditions. The war they were sent to fight was an unjust war, unworthy of America's best traditions and values. Even I had to struggle to fit what they did into the narrative of American history and I ended up turning the narrative upside down and envisioning these anti-war protesters as in fact the most patriotic heroes of the period.

HNN: Thank you.

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Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

The problem with wimps such as Moser, who evidently never served in uniform, let alone fought in Viet-Nam asks us in his essay to prove a negative. He says, "The simple fact is that war crimes have occured in every war...I'd like to anyone prove otherwise" is a statement of faith, not fact at all. It is his belief.

While I won't go so far to say that My Lai was the only instance of an atrocity committed by U.S. Forces in Viet-Nam, it nonetheless is true that I, Lieutenant, 1st Infantry Division, 1966-7; Captain, 101st Airborne, 1969-70 never witnessed an atrocity committed by U.S. Forces. Nor did I ever hear a rumor of one having been committed. I damned well never even considered offering harm to a non-combatant myself, nor permitting one to be committed by anyone under my command, albeit never larger than a company. I.e., a small unit.

Part of the problem here is the definition of an atrocity or war crime. For instance, there is little question that German troops driving eastward in 1943 brutalized, to their own misfortune by making angry a populace that was ready to be friendly. Were those atrocities? When Allied bombers bombed Dresden & other German cities perforce killing tens of thousands of innocents were those atrocities? Well before the two atomic bombs were dropped upon Japan tens of thousands of Japanese civilians were killed by our bombing raids upon Japanese cities. Were those atrocities?

What about in Afghanistan when some men celebrating a wedding fired AKs into the air whilst U.S. aircraft were passing overhead & not unnaturally the pilots taking ground fire thought they were being deliberately attacked and consequently called in an air attack upon the position of the origin of the ground fire. IMO the pilots cannot be faulted for reaching the conclusion that they, taking small arms hits in their aircraft, were under deliberate attack. It would be insane to chide them for reaching any conclusion other than that they were placed under attack from ground fire. IMO the idiots firing their Aks into our aircraft deserved to be bombed, but unfortunately the attack upon their position resulted also in the destruction of the wedding party. How could that have been reasonably avoided by our boys?
Are our homefront armchair warriors going to demand that our troops in the field not return fire if fired upon, unless they've consulted with their attackers asking them if they really meant to shoot at our boys?


Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

Moser is very selective in either his memory or the sources he chooses to utilize. It long has been well known that most of the claimants of American atrocities in Viet-Nam in the Winter soldier investigation were not only liars about the so-called atrocities. Moreover, most of the claimants of atrocities weren't even veterans, let alone Viet-Nam veterans who witnessed atroicities.

For a different assessment of Kerry than Moser's whitewash of Kerry's lies see

www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/29339.htm




Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

Marianne Biggs,

I a veteran of 22 months & days in Viet-Nam, 15 Sept. 1966-14 Sept. 1967; Eary March 1969-22 January 1970, when WIA & subsequently evacuated on a stretcher have profound contempt for Kerry with his measly 4 1/2 months in-country, the first quarter of which was spent in a relatively safe rear ehelon training environment. As the record shows, that sissie cut and ran as quickly he could pull strings & manipulate the system in order to get himself out of the line of fire. His three Purple Hears are a collective joke, the three altogether didn't cost him a day of duty.

He was & is a disgrace to the uniform.

Too, evidently the citation of his, another joke, Silver Star, was illegally doctored by him. Just wait, after the election, his Silver Star, Purple Hearts & Bronze Star look to be recinded by the Navy--that is of course if the slippery snake doesn't win the Presidency.

FYI, no, I'm not a Republican, nor even a fan of Geo. W. But like most veterans, whether Viet-Nam War or no, whether commissioned or enlisted, I deeply despise Kerry, or whatever his real name is.

Has it ever dawned various armchair warriors to consider why Kerry is so deeply desised by so many veterans? After all, he who went voluntarily to Viet-Nam would appear to be in the normal course of events the natural choice of veterans, but he clearly is not.

For a glimse of an understanding why Kerry is so deeply despised by literally millions of veterans & G.I.s see: www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/29339.htm


Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

Derek, my boy,

I'd have a bit more respect for the thoughts about the Viet-Nam War if those expressing their thoughts on the subject had been in Viet-Nam during the war. Otherwise, all you armchair warriors have to say is based upon hearsay and drug-induced dreams.

Despite what Moser says, the Winter Soldier gang was long ago throughly discredited as a grotesque bunch of phonies, most of whom never were in the armed forces let alone in 'Nam. See www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/29339.htm

Do you really expect one such as I who fought in Viet-Nam for more than 22 months to accept the unsupported word of some mousy academic that something happened contrary to what I observed in the environment in which I lived? On the other hand, I'd read something about some minor newspaper in Ohio publishing stories about supposed atrocites in Viet-Nam. As far as I am concerned those stories are merely that, stories. B.S. As said before, as far as I know first-hand there were no atrocities committed by U.S. troops, other than at My Lai, which of course I know nothing first-hand, but reports were extensive enough & the official investigation & subsequent trials make it a given that it happened.

Of course, that's why such a fuss was made about My Lai, it was so abnormal, so unusual an event. Kerry's supposed testimony that the average American G.I. commonly committing atrocities and the military chain of command aware of them, if indeed that's what he said, was & is false. It is stupid to believe such a tale, if anyone does. But that isn't to say there weren't isolated incidents, but I do not know for a fact that there were any. The best evidence that I had on the subject was what I saw myself. The only evidence that indeed there were atrocities committed by our boys that came to my personal attention have been nothing but hearsay, first cousin to tall tales. In my considered opinion, Kerry was & is a bold-faced liar, whose word is unworthy of serious consideration.

How do you expect me to react to the contrary to my personal experiences & observations for more than 22 months in-country accusation of some ninnie who was in-country a mere 4 & 1/2 months & fully a quarter of that time was spent in a training environment as far removed from the dangers of combat as was possible to achieve in 'Nam?



John Q Citizen - 10/18/2004

My friend, don't believe the hype of the "ruling regime."
Here are the facts. Everyone knows that to avoid the Vietnam draft, you either ran to Canada or joined the National Guard ( a unit that everyone knew was least likely to deploy.) No disrespect to the President, this is what he did. I am sure he had his reasons. Not many people want to voluntarily die. Now for the Vice P. I have personally seen him say on an tape that he had other priorites; and he also had five deferments. So what do we have. We have a Prez and Vice Prez who, for whatever reasons, choose to walk the other way. Now we have Kerry. Whether, we like him or not, he volunteered to walk the fire. Whether it is for a day or a month, makes not difference, he volunteered. He was a brother in arms, whether we would have beaten him face to face or not. I can certainly go to my death for someone who "walked the fire" than from the orders of those that ran from service. Make no mistake about it, this is what they did. I am not sure where you are from, but we have a word for those that run, duck, or look for excuses when their ticket is called. Those are the facts. Therefore, do not let the distortions of the "ruling regime" cloud your judgment.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/9/2004

I thank you for your post. As for Israel, I can only hope that you are incorrect and that we would not support them under such conditions, but indeed you may very well be correct. After all, we do support Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia even when they abuse and persecute nationalist minorities and others. Let us both hope that such a situation never occurs that would put us in such a precarious situation. Thank you for the comments.


Arnold Shcherban - 9/8/2004

Adam,
Thanks for your comments that are mostly come very close to my standpoint.
There is one item, though, I can't agree with you on, since under no circumstances I'm able to imagine it might happen. And that is my hypothetical scenario about Israeli terrorist attack against China. Call me dogmatic, but I see no way this country would support the wide-scale China's WAR against Israel, even if Israelis killed thousands of Chinese.
The major point of the scenario in question was actually to demonstrate that there are countries, so-called permanent allies, like the UK, Israel, and some others,
that this country's political leaders (Republicans and Democrats alike) would not only support, but protect
under any circumstances, no matter how wrong and what wrong they do (as long, as the latter don't deliberately act against this country's elite geopolitical and economic interests).
And vice versa, there are sovereign states and political groups that no matter how good or bad they do are constantly damned and attacked (one way or another) by
this country.
Don't get me wrong, I still consider the US one of the best countries in the world, ... but also - one of the worst ones.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/7/2004

Bill,
I think you are right. I am not sure what "bet" you are talking about, perhaps you made it only with Derek. In any event, I look forward to talking with you again and all the best of luck in the election.

Best regards,
Adam


Bill Heuisler - 9/7/2004

Adam,
Most devastating for JFK is his vote against the $87 million to support troops in a war he voted for. He knows it, but the vote was convenient at the time to defeat Howard Dean in the Dem primary. He's tough to like.

Thanks for an informative and cordial discussion. We've probably reached crescendo...or petered out, but it's been pleasant. Remember that bet? Are we on, or was it just with Derek?

I'm about to win a primary election of my own today and will be pretty busy for a while. Talk to you soon.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/6/2004

Bill,
You are quite right that I did say ever. Perhaps this Newsweek editorial does a better job of I in articulating the tremendous differences between the constant and media—encouraged vitriol of the Republicans, and the only recently emerging backbone of the Democrats:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5853704/site/newsweek/

1) “Kerry's critics deplore his votes…”

Indeed they do, but much of the evidence they cite are lies, or at the very least, distortion of the truth. For just some examples, the following site documents some of the ads targeting Kerry’s voting record:

http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=247
http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=252
http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=215
http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=209

2) “…his specific words on 4/22/1971…”

Of this, I think you are absolutely correct.

3) “…and his waffling on issues.”

You are correct on this as well, however, I tend to credit much of this criticism on a well-run campaign message of the administration, combined with an unfortunate inability of Senator Kerry to explain his position in a way that will sound good in a five second sound byte. If you actually look at his positions, you will find most of them to be perfectly consistent and clear.

4) “When Zell said he's not questioning Kerry's patriotism, but his judgement, there's a difference.”

Only in semantics. What Miller clearly implied was that John Kerry does not want to arm our military, and he said point blank that “our nation is being torn apart and made weaker” by the Democrats. If that is not questioning Kerry’s (and the Democrats) patriotism, then I am at a loss to think of what actually does.


Val Jobson - 9/6/2004

I need to apologize; apparently the story of Republicans booing when Bush sent good wishes to Clinton was untrue. I am sorry for repeating it and glad that they did not behave as badly as I thought.

The moral is not to be so eager to believe every bad thing that is reported, whether about Republicans or Democrats [including Kerry in Vietnam]. On the other hand, I did see film of an idiot at the NRC wearing one of those stupid bandaids with a purple heart drawn on it.


Val Jobson - 9/6/2004

My apologies, upon checking I find that what happended was that when Bush offered best wishes to Clinton, the Republicans booed. He still failed to rebuke them and they are even worse creeps.


Val Jobson - 9/6/2004

Don't forget the Republicans who applauded when they heard Clinton has to have heart surgery. Bush apparently did not applaud, but he did not rebuke those creeps either.


Bill Heuisler - 9/5/2004

Adam,
My response was aimed at your comment (two posts ago) that
"it seems to me that nothing the Democrats have ever said could ever amount to the vitriol and hate that Republican spout off at every turn." You said "ever said" Adam.

If a high government official declares Mr. Moshe and Mr. Heuisler have betrayed this country, he is accusing us of a Capital Crime, Treason. When Governor Dean agrees our President started a war to enrich himself, he's accusing the President of corruption, murder and also treason. When Senator Kennedy and a DNC Chairman agree that the President "cooked up" the Iraq war in Crawford Texas, they imply he's killing US Marines for oil and revenge.

Kerry's critics deplore his votes, his specific words on 4/22/1971 and his waffling on issues. When Zell said he's not questioning Kerry's patriotism, but his judgement, there's a difference. RNC delegates actually applauded Kerry's service three times. Republicans did not question Kerry's honesty (a quote please) and the only person who can be quoted who denigrates John Kerry's devotion to the United States and attitude towards the military is John Kerry himself on 4/22/71.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/4/2004

Just one example:
“Our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief."
Senator Zell Miller (D)

For the record, I do not believe that Gore ever made such a comment at the convention, but in a speech several months earlier. Furthermore, Republicans have questioned Kerry’s war record, his integrity, his honesty, his devotion to the United States, his attitude towards the military, and so on.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/4/2004

Arnold,
As always, your points are intelligent and thoughtful. I have given your post a great deal of thought and hope that my response is cogent enough to continue this important intellectual discussion.

1) “I think, though unintentionally, you insulted the article's author intelligence, alleging that by "if war crimes are the killing of civilians in war" he meant accidental, not deliberately inflicted, civilian casualties.”

I make the claim not in insult, but because there are many people who believe that any killing of civilians constitutes unacceptable action. Certainly, during the conflict in Afghanistan and elsewhere, there were many groups who decried “American atrocities” whenever civilians were killed. It was not meant to be disrespectful to the author, merely to clarify his comment.

2) “Thus, although I would not bet for "all the wars after WWI", as Mr. Moser does, for the largest of them it is fact.”

I would not disagree with that claim. Certainly, the total wars of WWI and WWII saw massive bombing of civilian cities. As for the post WWII- conflicts, certainly one can find examples of deliberate killing of civilians on all sides.

3) “Wars of preemption shouldn't and aren't considered legitimate, if there were easily conceivable and feasible (though may be difficult) ways to avoid them. If I'm not mistaken, that's exactly what the author meant. Otherwise, I second you in the latter regard.”

I interpreted the author to challenge the validity of any pre-emptive war, even if such a war lacks any other way to avoid them. Again, such is the opinion of many people, and I assumed by the article that the author was among them. One example of a legitimate pre-emptive war (although certainly there are many who would disagree with me) was the Israeli attacks of the Egyptian and Syrian air forces in 1967, preempting what was unquestionably a plan of invasion by those countries.

4) “However, in my opinion, your Afghan example is not exactly representative of the well-justified war. Afghanistan, as a state, has not attacked this country, moreover, there is no solid evidence up to this time (not mentioning the start of the war) that its political leadership was not only responsible for the terrorist acts in question, but knew about them beforehand.”

You are correct in the above points, but I would respectfully disagree. Those terrorists who did attack us were based in Afghanistan for strategic and tactical planning. Under those circumstances, and with the government of Afghanistan refusing to extradite the terrorists, and refusing the United States entry to arrest them, war was the only viable option (short of simply forgiving and forgetting).

If a known murderer entered my home, for example, and I refused to allow the authorities permission to enter my home to arrest the murderer, the authorities would have every legal right to enter my home by force and even arrest me if I resisted. That is not only the law, it is in my humble opinion, the only moral course of action.

5) “The Taliban goverment did not refuse to abide by international laws, it just requested the evidence that the terrorist acts were indeed organized, financed or perpetrated by Osama's men based on Afghan territory.”

Both the United States as well as the United Nations believed that our request was justified. Evidence was conclusive that Bin Laden was responsible for previous attacks on the United States and all of the evidence indicated that 9/11 was also his responsibility. Certainly, at the very least, there was every reason to believe it was Bin Laden.

6) “Could you imagine a situation, that a group of Israeli terrorists commited the analogous act of atrocity against peaceful citizens on, say, Chinese territory, and the US would support Chinese "preemptive" war against Israel?”

If indeed, the situation occurred as it had, I can imagine it very easily. If, for example, these Chechnan rebels that attacked the school in Russia turned out to be Israeli, and if that group was training for attacks on Russia from Israel, and if Israel refused to turn over the leaders of the attack, then yes, I can imagine Russia (or China if you will) declaring war on Israel, as would be their right. I would hope that the United States would support such a war, as Russia would be in the right.

7) “This country has not even attacked Saudi-Arabia, despite 15-16 out the twenty 9/11 terrorists were that country citizens and Saudis definitely sponsor Muslim terrorism!”

You will get no dispute of that from me. The only explanation that I can offer is that, to date, Saudi Arabia has cooperated with our wishes in terms of halting support for terrorist organization that threaten the United States. Thus, there would be no reason to wage war against them.

Of course, we all know that the root cause of our friendship with them is oil. Thus, even though Saudi Arabia is probably either indirectly or directly related to virtually ALL Middle Eastern terrorism and fanaticism, no nation will really oppose them, because of what it could potentially do to world oil prices.

8) “… the whole world makes everything possible to hold India back from the massive military retaliation. Why do you think? Because, according to overwhelming opinion of the international community no civilised country in modern history should resort to wide-scale war just to fight terrorist activities.”

I disagree. It is my belief that the world wants to prevent war between India and Pakistan because it could be a nuclear war (you will note that the 2 countries have gone to war against each other several times without international problem). The war between the United States and Afghanistan had no way of becoming a nuclear struggle. If there were, you can be assured that the international community would be just as concerned.

9) “…by all peaceful and powerful means in the international community disposition, the US military could launch series of sudden devastating missile and bombing strikes against the well-known Al-Qaeda bases on the Afghan territory, along with the rest of measures in Pakistan and other neigboring countries that the US took anyway (the latter measures leading to capture of more terrorist leaders than the war itself).”

Certainly, that would also have been a viable option, assuming that targeted bombing would have done the job. I would not dispute that as a viable alternative. Nevertheless, I also believe that full war was equally justifiable in light of what had happened. However, I must add that my opinion on this subject is bias due to the extraordinary oppression and slave-like conditions occurring under Taliban rule. This humanitarian nightmare does tend to influence my judgment on military involvement, tending to favor any action that would rid that country of their fundamentalist regime.

My apologies for making this so long, but I wanted to give your posts all of the thought and concern that they deserve. With much regards,

Adam


Michael Dean Almer - 9/4/2004

"As I said before, as far as I know first-hand there were no atrocities committed by U.S. troops, other than at My Lai, which of course I know nothing first-hand, but reports were extensive enough & the official investigation & subsequent trials make it a given that it happened."

First, I would have to disagree with Mr. Livingston's logic when he says that atrocities did not occur in Vietnam because he never saw or heard of any. I would think that anyone who fought in that war would recognize that individual experiences there were unique and not always shared by others. I've heard of all manner of things happening in the war that I never personally witnessed, but I would not neccessarily dismiss them out of hand just because I did not experience the same thing. Second, I suspect Mr. Livingston is choosing to define atrocity only as mass murder. The crimes reported by by Kerry in his Senate testimony used the term atrocity to describe many other types of "criminal" events. As an infantryman in the 25th Division in 1968 and 1969 I did personally witness what has been called war crimes.

While patroling near a presumalbly friendly village one day, my platoon came across some freshly turned soil and dug up what we thought might be an arms cache. What we found however was the plastic-wrapped body of a VC solider. After conferring on the radio with his superiors, my platoon leader had several blocks of C-4 explosive placed on the body and blew it up. I still recall large body parts laying around the dry rice paddy as we moved on.

On another occasion, I participated in taking random gun shots at an apparently unarmed figure running across a distant paddy. We always assumed anyone running away from us was a bad guy. I also witnessed on three occasions the torturing of suspected enemy soliders. These events took place inside an American fire support base by Vietnamese and observed by American officers in the battalion CP area of the FSB. Once a suspect was being beaten on the other two ocassions wires from a field telephone were used to apply electric shock to the suspects - one fellow had the wires attached to his index fingers, the other had one wire around his neck an another trailing into his shorts.

Since I won't be posting my DD-214, Mr. Livingston is free to dispute my claim of veteranhood and dismiss these recollections. If he chooses to give me the benefit of a doubt, he can at least say he has heard of atrocities occuring during the Vietnam War.


Bill Heuisler - 9/4/2004

Adam,
The reference is to Kerry's bio. The Navy has stated there is no V on a SS. The Ex-Navy Secretary says he never signed the SS. They are investigating. Kerry can say anything he likes, but he accused others of crimes.

The ex- Vice President of the US screamed how President Bush "betrayed" his country and lied to cause the deaths of our young men and women. Governor Dean alluded that President Bush knew about 9/11 before the terrorists attacked. Senator Kennedy said the Iraq war had been plotted in Texas and Senator Kerry put his arm around a creep who said President Bush lied and plotted to get the US into a war with Iraq for personal gain. Did you even listen to the slimy speeches by Al Sharpton and Ex- President Carter? Traitor. Liar. Profiteer. Killer.

There's no comparison in the Republican convention. I'm a little surprised you tried to make one. Please quote a line in the Republican Convention that comes close to "He betrayed this country!" by Al Gore.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/4/2004

If Kerry's personal journal says that he was not anywhere near Cambodia, I would sooner believe that and assume that Kerry is either mistaken, has convinced himself that it happened, or is simply lying.

As for the medal, if the US Navy tells me Kerry made it up or recieved it falsely, then and only then, will I concur on the charges.

As for his post-Vietnam speeches (the real heart of the matter as far as I am concerned since I believe it is this that motivates many to tarnish his actual service record), I do not believe he has anything to apologize for, except perhaps using language that was a bit over the top. His opposition to the war was based on sound reason as far as I am concerned, and the atrocities that he described has yet to be discredited, even while SOME of the so-called vets in Detroit were indeed fakes. Soldiers really were committing crimes in Vietnam, certainly not all of them.

As for the Dems and the Reps, while I acknowledge that this is my own bias speaking, it seems to me that nothing the Democrats have ever said could ever amount to the vitriol and hate that Republican spout off at every turn. A simple comparison of the two conventions reveals a very different approach. After the Republican convention, Kerry is finally taking off the gloves, and about time I might add. Politics is dirty and rotten, and that is an unfortunate reality of American elections.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/09/03/schwarzenegger.ap/index.html


Arnold Shcherban - 9/3/2004

It is the greatest in human history... for American citizens, though even here millions won't agree with you.
It is hell for the Third World. On the latter, billions
will and do agree with me.

Amen!


Arnold Shcherban - 9/3/2004

Adam,

In most parts I quite agree with the points you made in your last message.

Threfore, I allow myself just slightly touch some of the clarifications you tried to make addressing the main points of the article.

First, you write: "the killing of civilians must be deliberate and unconnected with any legitimate military target in order to constitute as a war crime."
I think, though unintentionally, you insulted the article's author intelligence, alleging that by "if war crimes are the killing of civilians in war" he meant accidental, not deliberately inflicted, civilian casualties.
It also looks clear that speaking of war crimes Moser meant not just "infantry", by which Mr. Heiusler tried to limit the discussion domain, but the prosecution of war in general.
Now, let's take a look at some of the more infamous wars after WWI in this context.
Judged on the basis of the criterion suggested by you:
In WWII not only Germany, but other countries, as well,
undoubtedly commited massive war crimes;
During Korean war, the US undoubtedly commited massive war crimes.
During Vietnam war, the US undoubtedly commited massive war crimes in South-East Asia.
During Iraq-Iran war, both sides did commit war crimes.
During Soviet war in Afghanistan, both sides did commit war crimes, with the war being one-sidedly unjust.

Thus, although I would not bet for "all the wars after WWI", as Mr. Moser does, for the largest of them it is fact.

Wars of preemption shouldn't and aren't considered legitimate, if there were easily conceivable and feasible(though may be difficult) ways to avoid them. If I'm not mistaken, that's exactly what the author meant. Otherwise, I second you in the latter regard.
However, in my opinion, your Afghan example is not exactly representative of the well-justified war.
Afghanistan, as a state, has not attacked this country,
moreover, there is no solid evidence up to this time (not mentioning the start of the war) that its political leadership was not only responsible for the terrorist acts in question, but knew about them beforehand.
A terroist group based on the Afghan territory was responsible for the act, not the government; there was
no a single Afghani in the group!
The extremely lucky and unprobably succesful for terrorists strike was not a declaration or act of war
by Taliban state against the US, it was just what I said
above - the terrorist act, horrible - yes, but not - a war.
Afghanistan situated thousands of miles away from the US
territory and was/is in no position (economically, military, politically) to entertain a thought about war against the US, in any shape or form, not mentioning waging it.
The Taliban goverment did not refuse to abide by international laws, it just requested the evidence that
the terrorist acts were indeed organized, financed or perpetrated by Osama's men based on Afghan territory.
Could you imagine a situation, that a group of Israeli terrorists commited the analogous act of atrocity against peaceful citizens on, say, Chinese territory, and the US would support Chinese "preemptive" war against Israel?
This country has not even attacked Saudi-Arabia, despite
15-16 out the twenty 9/11 terrorists were that country citizens and Saudis definitely sponsor Muslim terrorism!

In fact, Pakistani terrorists routinely kill peaceful
Indian citizens in Kashmir, and other provinces of India,
but the whole world makes everything possible to hold
India back from the massive military retaliation. Why
do you think? Because, according to overwhelming opinion of the international community no civilised country
in modern history should resort to wide-scale war just to fight terrorist activities.

Even discarding the option of escalating international
pressure on the Taliban government, by all peaceful and powerful means in the international community disposition, the US military could launch series of sudden devastating missile and bombing strikes against the well-known Al-Qaeda bases on the Afghan territory, along with the rest of measures in Pakistan and other neigboring countries that the US took anyway (the latter
measures leading to capture of more terrorist leaders than the war itself).

A couple of words on the overwhelming power of one country comparing with another.
My interpretation of what Moser said in that regard is
different than yours. I think he meant the vast choice
of means available for the superpower(in addition to that supported by the international majority), besides
of prosecution of war, to put the pressure on the comparative dwarf to make the latter do, sooner or later, whatever the superpower wants.

With profound respect for your comments, Arnold.


Bill Heuisler - 9/3/2004

Adam,
You believe Kerry? Lots of luck.
Kerry argues with Kerry on Christmas in Cambodia. His recently written bio (taken from journal accounts given to the author - that he won't make public) says he spent the '98 Christmas 50 miles away from Cambodia. Do you believe a journal written near or at the time, or words during campaigns and Senate hearings? As to memory of combat, that issue becomes moot when a journal/diary has been kept. Remember, journals/diaries are generally admissable as evidence in both criminal and civil court.

The Navy is disputing the V, Adam, they say it doesn't exist. Also, Lehrer's signature on the Silver Star is being disputed by none other than Navy Secretary Lehrer.

Let me clarify something: Count me as another vet who really doesn't care about his medals, but who cares very deeply about post-VN accusations. That said, had he not brought the whole thing up repeatedly, had he simply regretted youthful indescretions and apologized like Fonda did, no examination would be happening. Most vets think there's something fishy. Most don't make their thirty-year-old-past exploits the substance of campaigns or resumes and ignore a twenty-year-old Senate career.

I'd much rather argue about his voting record, but the Dems seem determined to damn the President and praise the Senator for their distant past. That makes it partisan and I'm more partisan than most.
Bill


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/3/2004

1) “That whole Slate article dances around the issue - makes "near" the Cambodian border good enough when Kerry didn't say he was near. He said it was seared into his mind that he was violating the border of a neutral country.”

I could not disagree more. The accusation is that Kerry was lying and that there was no way he was in Cambodia. In fact, those who make that claim are either wrong or (I suspect) lying. The Slate article proves (as much as can be proven) that Kerry could indeed have been in Cambodia, contrary to the accusations against him. You may think Kerry was not there, but it is his word versus yours (and anyone else who claims otherwise).

2) “Another thing. That V on his Silver Star?

According to John Kerry, he was authorized to wear the “combat V.” In all honestly, I do not know enough about military medals to know if there were any wrongdoing or unusualness of this.

However, so long as there lacks a credible source, or some actual investigation, I simply cannot believe that this award is not yet another attempt to link Kerry’s record with some kind of foul play. A search on the issue quickly reveals that most (if not all) of the organizations or magazines who have taken issue with the medal have also taken issue with everything about the man.

http://www.vietnamwar.net/Kerry-2.htm
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,131319,00.html


Bill Heuisler - 9/3/2004

Chris,
No offense intended, but your opinions on international law hold no sway whatsoever in my judgment. You tend to be blindly ideological and are obviously steeped in the odious writings of Howard and Noam. Too bad.

We quite literally have nothing to say to each other since I consider this country to be the greatest in human history while you apparently believe the US responsible for most of the ills of the world. You also seem to think in collective terms rather than individual.

However, if you must share your thoughts, please write:
Heuisler
5264 N. Placita Del Pensador
Tucson, AZ 85745-9809
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 9/3/2004

Adam,
Come on, "near or in"? The point of Kerry's statement during the Nicaraguan Contra Senate discussions was to criticize RR's policy of "illegal" incursions in violation of the Boland Amendment. He was relating how he'd entered Cambodia while (future) President Nixon was saying we weren't there. Not only was it a lie, but it was a clumsy lie. That whole Slate article dances around the issue - makes "near" the Cambodian border good enough when Kerry didn't say he was near. He said it was seared into his mind that he was violating the border of a neutral country.

Another thing. That V on his Silver Star?
Navy Admiral Boorda to was driven to suicide a few years ago over a similar question.

The Boston Globe covered Kerry's comments at the time.
"Is it wrong? Yes, it is very wrong. Sufficient to question his leadership position? The answer is yes, which he clearly understood." Citing uncertainty of whether Boorda deliberately wore the pins improperly, Kerry added: "If he made a mistake, in my judgment it wasn't worth his life, so I'm very sad about it. The military is a rigorous culture that places a high premium on battlefield accomplishment."

And then Kerry added something eerily prescient,
"In a sense, there's nothing that says more about your career than when you fought, where you fought and how you fought. If you wind up being less than what you’re pretending to be, there is a major confrontation with value and self-esteem and your sense of how others view you."

The Chicago Sun-Times has recently quoted a U.S. Navy spokesman: "Kerry's record is incorrect. The Navy has never issued a 'combat V' to anyone for a Silver Star." Naval regulations do not allow for the use of a "combat V" for the Silver Star, the third-highest decoration the Navy awards. None of the other services has ever granted a Silver Star "combat V," either.

Did Slate cover that nauseating dose of hypocrisy?
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/3/2004

http://www.slate.com/id/2105529/


chris l pettit - 9/3/2004

...and I will email you LEGAL analysis of why your above statement is absolutely incorrect. You can make an emotional, "might makes right" argument until you are blue in the face, but your argument that Mr. Trombley's argument is a myth is sheer partisanship.

Get over it...the war was illegal. You cannot find an international lawyer outside of the US and a small minority in the UK that will support your argument, and they know a hell of a lot more than you do.

CP
www.wicper.org


Marianne Briggs - 9/2/2004

No offense taken.

However, please don't mistake my respect for Mr. Kerry's service record with a blanket affection for all Democrats. In fact, I'm not a fan of Bill Clinton's leadership decisions in many areas.

But I do have respect for people who opposed the war and found ways to avoid serving more than I do people who professed then and/or now to have supported our military goals there, yet were unwilling to put that support in the form of a personal commitment to face combat as John Kerry did.


Marianne Briggs - 9/2/2004

oops, Ended up replying to you under my first comment.


Marianne Briggs - 9/2/2004

No offense taken.

However, please don't mistake my respect for Mr. Kerry's service record with a blanket affection for all Democrats. In fact, I'm not a fan of Bill Clinton's leadership decisions in many areas.

But I do have respect for people who opposed the war and found ways to avoid serving more than I do people who professed then and/or now to have supported our military goals there, yet were unwilling to put that support in the form of a personal commitment to face combat as John Kerry did.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/2/2004

Bill,
1) “The issue is POW, MIA. VFW decided McCain didn't believe there were unaccounted-for men still imprisoned in Vietnam. Bush agreed. This was not a smear. This did not question McCain's patriotism.”

You may very well be correct about that, if so, I retract my prior statement on the subject.

2) “Weren't you one of the posters a few months ago who were questioning the President's service in Texas and Alabama?”

Indeed I was, although I supported a draft-dodger in the past so the issue certainly is not why I do not support the president (sorry for the double-negative). The principle difference here and in my posts is that no one is claiming anything for certainty to my knowledge (at least no mainstream Democrat from what I have heard, and certainly not myself in my past posts), only, raising the possibility, and that the accusations are based on some degree of ambiguity in the records (such a required physical that Bush did not show up for, costing him his flying wings), not trying to refute what the record unambiguously demonstrates, such as the fact that John Kerry was indeed under fire during the event in question.

3) “Didn't those posters demand all his records?”

Some did, and I would have opposed that as well, if anyone demanded records that have no relevance to the charges brought against him.

4) “The larger question is why Kerry will not release his. Medical records would clear up the extent of his wounds. Fitness reports would either back up Kerry or his critics.”

I disagree. Since most of the criticism does not concern his wounds but rather if he was under fire in a particular situation, I see no relevance to his medical records from that time period, nor do I believe he is obligated to show them. It is my own belief that he is called on to show them simply because he has not yet done so, thus giving some conservatives the opportunity to blame him for hiding something. If I believed that releasing his medical records would clear up anything or end the debate, I would advocate their release just for that purpose.

5) “You have been misinformed. John Kerry has not released hundreds of pages of his military records - even after stating he did so - and his journal/diary has been given to an author, but not to the public.”

If you visit his site, you can clearly see numerous Naval documents related to all of the events under dispute. Some conservatives argue that they are incorrect, but if you believe them, they have all the answers to these issues.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/22/politics/main613190.shtml
http://www.johnkerry.com/about/john_kerry/military_records.html

6) As to the "under fire" question: the incident occurred on 12/4 but the accounting of his biographer (quoting from Kerry's journal) has Kerry saying he'd not been under fire up to that point. The journal entry was 12/11.

I am unaware of what Kerry’s journal says, but I do know that both Kerry, his crewmen, and the United States Navy assert that he was under fire. The newly obtained records of Larry Thurlow's (one of them men behind the allegation that Kerry was NOT under fire) medal citation show that he, like Kerry, won a Bronze Star in the engagement and that Thurlow's citation says he also was under attacked!

Thurlow, a registered Republican, said he was angry with Kerry for anti-war activities after his return to the United States, especially his claim that U.S. troops committed war crimes with the knowledge of their officers up the chain of command. Now the question remains: Is the trashing of Kerry’s record really about what happened in Vietnam, or revenge for what happened after?

7) “Go back in time, Mr. Moshe? Kerry has forced the matter by his inability to discuss anything else except his VN service.”

Harry Truman used to campaign with his troop when he was a Captain in WWI, JFK often referred to his military experience, as more recently did Bob Dole (in fact, some of his campaign literature on his war record can still be found on google). If you listen to Kerry’s speeches, his service almost never dominates his message, only used as buffer to give his message more credibility. There is nothing new in this. If every person who uses their military background to get votes had that background tarnished the way Kerry’s is, I am afraid we would not be seeing veterans run for office any time soon (indeed, many speculate that this is one reason Colin Powell opted not to run).


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/2/2004

Bill,
1) “The issue is POW, MIA. VFW decided McCain didn't believe there were unaccounted-for men still imprisoned in Vietnam. Bush agreed. This was not a smear. This did not question McCain's patriotism.”

You may very well be correct about that, if so, I retract my prior statement on the subject.

2) “Weren't you one of the posters a few months ago who were questioning the President's service in Texas and Alabama?”

Indeed I was, although I supported a draft-dodger in the past so the issue certainly is not why I do not support the president (sorry for the double-negative). The principle difference here and in my posts is that no one is claiming anything for certainty to my knowledge (at least no mainstream Democrat from what I have heard, and certainly not myself in my past posts), only, raising the possibility, and that the accusations are based on some degree of ambiguity in the records (such a required physical that Bush did not show up for, costing him his flying wings), not trying to refute what the record unambiguously demonstrates, such as the fact that John Kerry was indeed under fire during the event in question.

3) “Didn't those posters demand all his records?”

Some did, and I would have opposed that as well, if anyone demanded records that have no relevance to the charges brought against him.

4) “The larger question is why Kerry will not release his. Medical records would clear up the extent of his wounds. Fitness reports would either back up Kerry or his critics.”

I disagree. Since most of the criticism does not concern his wounds but rather if he was under fire in a particular situation, I see no relevance to his medical records from that time period, nor do I believe he is obligated to show them. It is my own belief that he is called on to show them simply because he has not yet done so, thus giving some conservatives the opportunity to blame him for hiding something. If I believed that releasing his medical records would clear up anything or end the debate, I would advocate their release just for that purpose.

5) “You have been misinformed. John Kerry has not released hundreds of pages of his military records - even after stating he did so - and his journal/diary has been given to an author, but not to the public.”

If you visit his site, you can clearly see numerous Naval documents related to all of the events under dispute. Some conservatives argue that they are incorrect, but if you believe them, they have all the answers to these issues.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/22/politics/main613190.shtml
http://www.johnkerry.com/about/john_kerry/military_records.html

6) As to the "under fire" question: the incident occurred on 12/4 but the accounting of his biographer (quoting from Kerry's journal) has Kerry saying he'd not been under fire up to that point. The journal entry was 12/11.

I am unaware of what Kerry’s journal says, but I do know that both Kerry, his crewmen, and the United States Navy assert that he was under fire. The newly obtained records of Larry Thurlow's (one of them men behind the allegation that Kerry was NOT under fire) medal citation show that he, like Kerry, won a Bronze Star in the engagement and that Thurlow's citation says he also was under attacked!

Thurlow, a registered Republican, said he was angry with Kerry for anti-war activities after his return to the United States, especially his claim that U.S. troops committed war crimes with the knowledge of their officers up the chain of command. Now the question remains: Is the trashing of Kerry’s record really about what happened in Vietnam, or revenge for what happened after?

7) “Go back in time, Mr. Moshe? Kerry has forced the matter by his inability to discuss anything else except his VN service.”

Harry Truman used to campaign with his troop when he was a Captain in WWI, JFK often referred to his military experience, as more recently did Bob Dole (in fact, some of his campaign literature on his war record can still be found on google). If you listen to Kerry’s speeches, his service almost never dominates his message, only used as buffer to give his message more credibility. There is nothing new in this. If every person who uses their military background to get votes had that background tarnished the way Kerry’s is, I am afraid we would not be seeing veterans run for office any time soon (indeed, many speculate that this is one reason Colin Powell opted not to run).


Bill Heuisler - 9/2/2004

Mr. Moshe,
You wrote, "In a 2000 Primary debate, a video clearly shows McCain excoriating Bush for being affiliated with a Veterans groups who claimed that McCain left them behind." Exactly so. The issue is POW, MIA. VFW decided McCain didn't believe there were unaccounted-for men still imprisoned in Vietnam. Bush agreed. This was not a smear. This did not question McCain's patriotism.

Weren't you one of the posters a few months ago who were questioning the President's service in Texas and Alabama?
Didn't those posters demand all his records? The larger question is why Kerry will not release his. Medical records would clear up the extent of his wounds. Fitness reports would either back up Kerry or his critics. You have been misinformed. John Kerry has not released hundreds of pages of his military records - even after stating he did so - and his journal/diary has been given to an author, but not to the public.

As to the "under fire" question: the incident occurred on 12/4 but the accounting of his biographer (quoting from Kerry's journal) has Kerry saying he'd not been under fire up to that point. The journal entry was 12/11.

Go back in time, Mr. Moshe? Kerry has forced the matter by his inability to discuss anything else except his VN service. His sloppy (uncovered) salute and his reporting for duty were designed to draw attention to his military service. They did. BTW Navy and Marine personnel do not salute uncovered. You'd think he'd remember.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/2/2004

1) “No veterans group trashed McCain in 2000. That's a myth. McCain voted in 1999 against a Veterans Affairs spending bill and his work to normalize relations with Vietnam angered many VFW members. There was no smear in NC.”

I believe you are mistaken. In a 2000 Primary debate, a video clearly shows McCain excoriating Bush for being affiliated with a Veterans groups who claimed that McCain left them behind. Granted, it was not the same level of vitriol and contempt that some have leveled against Kerry, but the tactics are the same.
http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/08/05/kerry.mccain.ap/

2) “Gardner, his 50 gunner denies Kerry's accounts of the Silver Star and at least one PH. The after action reports the Navy relied on were probably written by Kerry”

I do not believe Kerry authorship has been proven in any way, but even if it were, the accounts that Kerry’s boat was not under fire not only implies that he and his crew are lying, but that the military allowed such an egregious error to go uninvestigated. Indeed, one of the authors of this story, Larry Thurlow, it was revealed, had himself won a medal for the exact same episode!

3) “Kerry has admitted the first PH was "unintentionally self inflicted". Kerry has admitted he was not in Cambodia Christmas of 1968.”

You are correct, as Bob Dole made a similar admission in a 1988 autobiography about a medal he had received by a self-inflicted wound. As for the Cambodia story, I suspect that this is not at all unusual to mix up dates from 30 years ago in wartime, in fact it has even been said on this very website by no fan of Kerry that memory distortions are quite common.

4) “Finally, Kerry could clear everything up by releasing all the hundreds of medical and military records - and the journal he gave to the author of his bio. You'd think the Presidency would be important enough to him that he'd sign a few release forms, wouldn't you?”

No I do not because they would “prove” nothing. Everything Kerry has- short of his private medical forms- have been released. To any neutral observer, more than enough to refute the charges that have been made against him. I am inclined to believe that conservatives call for his medical records only for one reason: because they can as he has not released them yet. If he does, you can be sure, it will not put a dent in the controversy.

5) “However Kerry is on tape smearing many vets who might agree with him politically. Few will forgive him. I will not, nor would I if he were in my family. What he did can be called a blood libel and to say he was merely quoting others is to misquote him. Read the transcript of his testimony and his appearances on Meet the Press in 1971.”

I have read it many times and do not judge him on it but in any event, that is a separate issue all together. What you have just said above, I can understand and respect. What I have problems with is people looking at his 1971 testimony, or his 2004 bid for president, and then deciding to go back in time and discredit his actual war record when he was in Vietnam. My suspicion is that all of these attacks are politics as usual and have little to do with what actually happened when he was in Vietnam.

6) “None, however would testify under oath to their accusations. Believe them? Why? Very little of what they said has been independently documented anywhere. None of the instances cited in the fact check.org you provided formed any part of their unsworn testimony.”

I do not have to believe them. All that matters to me is; was Kerry reasonable for believing them at that time. If he was, then quoting them (while giving them full credit for anyone interested in investigating) was perfectly valid.

7) “And you couldn't possibly know how deep the anger goes.”

The anger on the right (and some on the left), you are right, elude me as to its depth and, for the most part, its cause.


Bill Heuisler - 9/2/2004

Mr. Moshe,
No veterans group trashed McCain in 2000. That's a myth.
McCain voted in 1999 against a Veterans Affairs spending bill and his work to normalize relations with Vietnam angered many VFW members. There was no smear in NC. Bush questioned McCain's votes he characterized as anti-vet and John said his patriotism weas being questioned. He's notorious for being thin-skinned - has been for many years here in Arizona. There was no dirty "push poll" in NC. Some witnesses said the callers said "Don't be misled by McCain's negative tactics", but there was absolutely no witness evidence of a smear. Check it out.

You wrote the SB vets said, "...that Kerry and his entire crew had lied about their service, and that the United States Navy either lied as well, or was utterly incompetent. Of this group, they have not been able to provide any proof of their allegations...". Not true.

Gardner, his 50 gunner denies Kerry's accounts of the Silver Star and at least one PH. The after action reports the Navy relied on were probably written by Kerry; this fact absolves the Navy of lying or incompetence and the SB Vets are aware of this because four of the 250 were Kerry's immediate superior officers. Kerry has admitted the first PH was "unintentionally self inflicted". Kerry has admitted he was not in Cambodia Christmas of 1968. Finally, Kerry could clear everything up by releasing all the hundreds of medical and military records - and the journal he gave to the author of his bio.

You'd think the Presidency would be important enough to him that he'd sign a few release forms, wouldn't you?

However Kerry is on tape smearing many vets who might agree with him politically. Few will forgive him. I will not, nor would I if he were in my family. What he did can be called a blood libel and to say he was merely quoting others is to misquote him. Read the transcript of his testimony and his appearances on Meet the Press in 1971.

I wrote that Hubbard's so-called record was all phoney. Most of the Winter Soldiers were imposters also, but I cannot say all. None, however would testify under oath to their accusations. Believe them? Why? Very little of what they said has been independently documented anywhere. None of the instances cited in the fact check.org you provided formed any part of their unsworn testimony.
And you couldn't possibly know how deep the anger goes.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/1/2004

I agree with your entire post but would note that if I judged people based on repeating something without checking out of the facts, particularly in Kerry's circumstances and timeframe, I would honestly run out of politicians to support.


Richard Henry Morgan - 9/1/2004

It has been asserted that the Winter Soldier "Investigation" has not been discredited. That is artfully put. One could also say that it has not been credited either, but that goes unmentioned.

The statements given at the Winter Soldier "Investigation" were not under oath, under penalty of perjury. In fact, Kerry and the VVAW advised those making the statements not to provide depositions to Army investigators as a basis for prosecution. On the Cavett show Kerry was quite explicit -- he demanded that there be aninvestigation, and only when the investigation proved his assertions, would the VVAW call for depositions from those making the charges.

But let's talk about his 1971 testimony. The book Stolen Valor has that he didn't eve3n right his presentation -- that it was written for him by Adam Walinsky, speechwriter for Robert Kennedy. One thing is certain. In his testimony he repeated the North Vietnamese propaganda that blacks represented the highest percentage of casualties in the war. That is false, even laughably so. That he would repeat something without checking out the facts tells me all I need to know about the man.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/1/2004

I do not want to get into a discussion about Bob Kerry’s record, because it is irrelevant (although for the record, John Kerry defended Bob Kerry then just as other Vietnam veterans such as John McCain defend Kerry today in the face of such low attacks).

The reality is that a group of people have come forward alleging that Kerry and his entire crew had lied about their service, and that the United States Navy either lied as well, or was utterly incompetent. Of this group, they have not been able to provide any proof of their allegations, the Navy has not chosen to rescind the awards (which is their legal right to do), and several of the members have been discredited (one having received the same award and another seen campaigning for Kerry on his record in a previous election).

The fact that this argument lies on partisan grounds is enough for me to be suspicious. Or can you honestly say that if you agreed with Kerry politically, you would still be so inclined to have such faith in such questionable sources? I am curious to know whether you also held such contempt for John McCain when a Veterans group trashed his record during the primary election in 2000?

http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=244

As for the more civilians than soldiers, perhaps the author should have specified that he was referring to modern warfare, not the raids of villages from Barbarian tribes, or the continental euphoria during the crusades. In the post Westphalia system, with the rise in state sovereignty and the advent of the modern war between nation-states, WWI seems to be a logical threshold. You are free to disagree with that designation, of course, but without factual statistics (which I do not have myself) I find it a legitimate hypothesis.

As for the Winter soldiers, I ask for proof from you since you make a definitive statement that the entire thing was “phony.” I do not need to provide proof that it is all true since I make no such claim. Kerry recounts their testimony, and much of what he has said has been independently documented. That was my point.


Bill Heuisler - 9/1/2004

Ms. Briggs,
No offense intended, but your opinions of President Clinton's Serbian endeavors would fascinate me because of your assessment of hawkish stances.
Thanks, Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 9/1/2004

Mr. Trombley,
This repetition of Leftist-myth is becoming tiresome.
Your "illegal intervention" is an extension of a war that was paused by a cease-fire under certain conditions. The first Anglo-American defeat of Iraq was perfectly legal and sanctioned by the world. The cease-fire was broken nearly every day by attacks on coalition planes, by an attempted assassination of an American President, by harboring known terrorists in Baghdad, by paying suicide bombers' relatives a bounty, by training terrorists on the use of ricin in Northern Iraq and to highjack planes without firearms in Salman Pak - 40 miles from Baghdad.

Intervention? No. Iraq violated a cease fire and deserved our resumption of hostilities long before the fact. Stop your pretense about intriguing questions. An adult's inability to absorb fact is what's really intriguing.
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 9/1/2004

Mr. Moshe,
Last first: With Bob Kerry a complete Seal Team present at Thanh Phong disputes one member, and his entire chain of command has commended him as a fine officer. With John Kerry a majority of those sailors present at the first PH and the Silver Star dispute the six of his crew who support him. His entire chain of command have described JFK as unfit to command in a book, interviews and barely average fitness reports. Fake? Only JFK. I consider any vet who allows his record (DD-214) to include a Silver Star "with a V" to be a fake. There is no such decoration on a medal bestowed for valor. A bookkeeping error? Sure.

Setting aside Cologne, London, Nagasaki etcetera. as unconnected to infantry - as "sterile" actions of a command structure far removed from the blood - the actions of infantry can be said to have become more humane, rather than less, since we've been able to read morning newspapers. And Moser is speaking of infantry.

More civilian than soldiers die - 20th Century crossroad?
This shouldn't even be disputed. Think Timur the Lame and his mountains of skulls; Genghis Khan; Batu Khan; Seventh Century Arabs; Crusaders in Jerusalem etc. There's more evidence the crossroad was in the other direction after the industrial revolution. After all, a conquerer needs civilians to run the factories.

Medieval sieges were noted for the destruction of the peasantry in "enemy" lands. Destroy crops and starve the nearly impregnable castle into submission. Most major battles in that period were sieges and most lengthy sieges involved armies devouring the countryside. A few hundred men-at-arms enduring a siege could result in the deaths by pillage and starvation of thousands of serfs.

Proof "NONE" was true? Of course not. But the widespread war crime accusation based on phoney Winter Soldiers has no proof either. I would think you, Mr. Moshe, would require proof of accusation, rather than the opposite.
Bill Heuisler


Frank Richard Trombley - 9/1/2004

An intriguing question is what legal status the acts of a belligerent has if it engages in an illegal intervention. If the Anglo-American intervention in Iraq is illegal, the deaths of both Iraqi military personnel and civilians may be reagrded as wrongful, and therefore as war crimes under international law.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 9/1/2004

1) “Moser's "historic crossroad" of WWI where supposedly more civilians died than soldiers is unworthy of a historian. In the Franco Prussian War the destruction of the village of Bazeilles with all its civilians by Bavarians is only one example of killing civilians as a matter of policy. Thirty Years War, Hundred Years War, expansion of the Ottomans into Eastern Europe - all are clearly defined by indiscriminate slaughter of civilians with all the rape, burning and pillage that was normal and standard for all wars since the fall of Troy. Crossroads, my foot.”

I believe you have mistaken the argument. It is not that civilians have not died in other wars, but that in WWI, more civilians died than soldiers. To the best of my knowledge, and I may be wrong, but I have heard that claim elsewhere and believe it to be a correct statistic. Moser is using this fact as a symbolic crossroad in which civilians will now bear the most brunt in warfare.

2) “On the other hand, modern wars have differed - are set apart - by British & American infantrymen's consistent attempts to avoid killing civilians, even to suffering casualties for their efforts. The crossroad has come with the American armies of liberation and with their humanity.”

I would recommend the documentary, “The Fog of War.” In it, McNammera refutes your point, noting that most of the cities of Japan were completely destroyed for virtually no strategic purpose, other than the vague argument of lowering enemy morale, which of course if irrelevant in a dictatorship in any event. And of course, there was Vietnam…

3) “The Winter Soldiers were largely imposters told not to cooperate with the Feds who were trying to investigate the charges they made. Their leader, Al Hubbard, was a fraud who said he'd been an Air Force Officer in combat and been wounded. None of it was true.”

You are correct about Hubbard, I believe, but that does not at all justify the last comment. Do you have proof that NONE of it was true? Even if you did (which I sincerely doubt) there are many other atrocities that have been well documented.

4) “Lastly, to assume Senator Bob Kerry committed a war crime is to do him a disservice. His men were approaching Thanh Phong in jungle at midnight. They were fired on. They fired back with hundreds of rounds. Later they found dead women and children. A crime implies intent, doesn't it?”

The event, which Kerry won a medal for (odd how John Kerry is a coward who deserves nothing, while Bob Kerry’s medal remains unchallenged and his actions apologized for) was exposed when Kerry learned that one of his SEAL squad members on that mission had given a different account during a joint interview with The New York Times and CBS News. Gerhard Klann said the squad, acting on Kerrey's orders, rounded up people and intentionally killed civilians.

Who is correct, Kerry or Klann? I assume you believe Kerry and have no reason to question that, but you also call other Vietnam veterans fakes with far less to stand on. Why the discrepancy in your attacks?


Bill Heuisler - 9/1/2004

Derek,
Please address articles rather than attacking posters. How can you can defend an article so full of mistakes, exaggerations, phoney assumptions and downright goofs?

Mr. Livingston is correct in his assertions about Moser, but he doesn't go far enough. Moser's ignorance is clear in nearly all his main assertions.

Moser's "historic crossroad" of WWI where supposedly more civilians died than soldiers is unworthy of a historian. In the Franco Prussian War the destruction of the village of Bazeilles with all its civilians by Bavarians is only one example of killing civilians as a matter of policy. Thirty Years War, Hundred Years War, expansion of the Ottomans into Eastern Europe - all are clearly defined by indiscriminate slaughter of civilians with all the rape, burning and pillage that was normal and standard for all wars since the fall of Troy. Crossroads, my foot.

On the other hand, modern wars have differed - are set apart - by British & American infantrymen's consistent attempts to avoid killing civilians, even to suffering casualties for their efforts. The crossroad has come with the American armies of liberation and with their humanity.

The Winter Soldiers were largely imposters told not to cooperate with the Feds who were trying to investigate the charges they made. Their leader, Al Hubbard, was a fraud who said he'd been an Air Force Officer in combat and been wounded. None of it was true. Moser can assume the suddenly furtive Winter Soldiers were truthful while he requires us to prove war crimes were NOT committed wholesale in VN...but the inconsistency is laughable.

Lastly, to assume Senator Bob Kerry committed a war crime is to do him a disservice. His men were approaching Thanh Phong in jungle at midnight. They were fired on. They fired back with hundreds of rounds. Later they found dead women and children. A crime implies intent, doesn't it?
Apparently not when Moser or the VVAW judge the US.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 8/31/2004

I thank you for the kind words Derek.


Derek Charles Catsam - 8/31/2004

Good job, as usual, Adam. Your posts raising questions about Moser's case provide a nice counterpoint to the shriller voices that see the world in simplistic ways and believe all who disagree with them are merely wimps.
dc


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 8/31/2004

I enjoyed the interview and believe that the author is correct overall. However, not to nitpick, but I disagree with Mr. Moser on a number of fundamental points.

1) “So if war crimes are the killing of civilians in war then war crimes have occurred in every war since World War I.”

Of course, one cannot disagree with that statement since it is self-defining. However, I do not believe the “mere” killing of civilians constitutes war crimes (not that I mean to marginalize such awful and tragic occurrences). To me, the killing of civilians must be deliberate and unconnected with any legitimate military target in order to constitute as a war crime. This may or may not negate his generalizations about all conflicts since then, but I do believe that his definition of a war crime is far too broad and inconsistent with what we generally think of.

2) “Wars of aggression, wars of preemption are not considered legitimate wars.”

I do not mean to nitpick, but pre-emptive wars can be seen as legitimate. I reject the claim that the war in Iraq was in fact pre-emptive since there is no (nor was there ever) any indication that Saddam posed a clear and imminent threat to the United States. However, there are instances in which an enemy has mobilized their forces for war, made public pronouncements, began amassing troops on the border and were unquestionably prepared to strike. Under such circumstances, I find pre-emptive action more than justified.

3) “No matter what the justification, if one side has overwhelming military power compared with the other it is not a just war because it implies that other means could have been used to solve the problem.

I could not DISagree more with this claim. Our war against Afghanistan was justified on the grounds that we were attacked by persons being sheltered by the government. The fact that we were overwhelmingly stronger does not negate the morality of the cause if the weaker side leaves open no other alternatives.


Derek Charles Catsam - 8/31/2004

Well, Big Tough Dave, I was born in the 1970s, so it would have been tough for me to have fought there. but it is nice to know that using your logic i'll never have to hear your opinions about World QWar II, Korea, the Crimean war or the Gulf War, because apparently fighting in a war is the only way to have an opinion about it. meanwhile Kerry did fight in Vietnam. Many other veterans who did fight in Vietnam have politics that disagree with yours. Thus, by any semblence of logic, the "I was there" argument, even by the Universal Soldier such as yourself, who speaks for all soldiers, doesn't fly.
So you saw everything there was to see in vietnam, dave? So nothing outside of your 22 month ambit is legitimate? So Bob Kerrey resigned for no reason, because he obviously could not have been involved in atrocities because you never saw them? Do tell what you mean. your service surely stands for something. It does not stand for everything.
Your cheap shots about wimps and mousy acedemics reveal your arguments for what they are: bullying. Not very bright bullying, and not especially intimidating, making them all the more laughable -- bullying by someone without the wherewithal to be a bully. Pathetic.
dc


Marianne Briggs - 8/31/2004

Mr Livingston, you wrote:

I'd have a bit more respect for the thoughts about the Viet-Nam War if those expressing their thoughts on the subject had been in Viet-Nam during the war.

This is precisely why John Kerry has more credibility with me as a "war time leader" than either George Bush or Dick Cheney.

He saw combat. He served. Even though I opposed that war, I respect people who served because they believed in it as well as those who went because they were drafted.

I wouldn't hold it against Bush or Cheney because they chose other routes, unless they did so while maintaining hawkish stances then, But I think a combat veteran has something more to contribute to armed forces leadership than someone who never saw action.


Arnold Shcherban - 8/31/2004

Or, really Mr Livingston?

Those "armchair" historians who didn't participate in Vietnam war personally, cannot give an objective and insightful account of it?
Isn't historical science is primarily an account of the events that the accountant didn't personally witness?
Haven't you heard a phrase "to lie as a witness"?
Don't you know that nowhere else in the world the well-documented fact of the Americans committing NUMEROUS AND MASSIVE war crimes in Vietnam, Korea, and in some other countries of the world has been a disputed issue for decades?
But, you gentlemen behave like a criminal refusing to
admit its guilt despite the fingerprints and the DNA.


Derek Charles Catsam - 8/31/2004

Too bad Mr. Lin=vingston decided to refer to Moser as a wimp. he may have had a point, but why bother to go through and discern if anyone who disagrees with him is going to be tarred. it seems especially silly since one of the people Livingston is spewing at would have to be Kerry -- is he a wimp, too? So not serving = wimp? I know a few linebackers who might like to hear you say that one up close.
You may have had a point. But why would anyone who might disagree with you, oh tough arbiter of manliness, if the result is namecalling (see, anyone can do it.)?
dc

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