Kerry demanded an ‘immediate withdrawal from South Vietnam’…

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March 1, 2013

DURING THE Vietnam War, there were many memorable hearings at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but none resonated with the raw power and eloquence of John Kerry’s on April 22, 1971. It was a time of crisis in America—a war seemingly without end for a goal still without clarity, in a country split not only on the war but also on a host of emotional political, cultural and social issues.

When Kerry entered room 4221 of what is now called the Dirksen Senate Office Building, its impressive walls covered with maps and books and with nineteen senators seated behind a huge U-shaped table, he did more than add instant credibility to the dovish cry for Congress finally to do something about ending the war, even going so far as to advocate cutting off funding; he personalized the war that for so many others still seemed a puzzling, costly embarrassment in an unfamiliar corner of the world.

Kerry was a 1966 Yale graduate who had volunteered for duty in Vietnam, where he served honorably, winning two medals for courage and three Purple Hearts. “I believed very strongly in the code of service to one’s country,” he said. By that time, 56,193 Americans had died in and around Vietnam, and campuses were ablaze with antiwar rallies. Many students escaped military service by joining the National Guard or fleeing to Canada.

Dressed in green army fatigues, with four rows of ribbons over his left pocket, the twenty-seven-year-old survivor of dangerous Swift Boat missions leveled a blistering attack on American policy in Vietnam, his New England accent adding a dimension of authenticity to the sharpness of his critique. When he finished his testimony an hour later, he had become, in the words of one supporter, an “instant celebrity . . . with major national recognition.”

Speaking on behalf of more than a hundred veterans jammed into the Senate chamber and more than a thousand others camped outside to demonstrate against the war, Kerry demanded an “immediate withdrawal from South Vietnam.” He came to Congress, and not the president, he said, because “this body can be responsive to the will of the people, and . . . the will of the people says that we should be out of Vietnam now.”

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4O years later, John Kerry has become Secretary of State.  By bringing in John Kerry to pose as the next US Secretary of State, it is hoped global opinion will see US foreign policy in a new, more tolerant light. Kerry, however, has wasted no time attempting to simply resell verbatim the same failed, absurd policy US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton destroyed her career peddling, spinning, and covering up – as finalized in the case of Benghazi, Libya.

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About kruitvat

I am working for the Belgian human rights association 'Werkgroep Morkhoven' which revealed the Zandvoort childporn case (88.539 victims). The case was covered up by the authorities. During the past years I have been really shocked by the way the rich countries of the western empire want to rule the world. One of my blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Je travaille pour le 'Werkgroep Morkhoven', un groupe d'action qui a révélé le réseau pornographique d'enfants 'Zandvoort' (88.539 victims). Cette affaire a été couverte par les autorités. Au cours des dernières années, j'ai été vraiment choqué par la façon dont l'Occident et les pays riches veulent gouverner le monde. Un de mes blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Ik werk voor de Werkgroep Morkhoven die destijds de kinderpornozaak Zandvoort onthulde (88.539 slachtoffers). Deze zaak werd door de overheid op een misdadige manier toegedekt. Gedurende de voorbije jaren was ik werkelijke geschokt door de manier waarop het rijke westen de wereld wil overheersen. Bezoek onze blog «Latest News Syria» (WordPress) ------- Photo: victims of the NATO-bombings on the Chinese embassy in Yougoslavia
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6 Responses to Kerry demanded an ‘immediate withdrawal from South Vietnam’…

  1. kruitvat says:

    John Kerry’s verified lie on Syria

    March 1, 2013

    The US State Department, and to a greater extent, US foreign policy itself, having exhausted completely their collective credibility, has attempted yet another “reset.”

    By bringing in John Kerry to pose as the next US Secretary of State, it is hoped global opinion will see US foreign policy in a new, more tolerant light. Kerry, however, has wasted no time attempting to simply resell verbatim the same failed, absurd policy US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton destroyed her career peddling, spinning, and covering up – as finalized in the case of Benghazi, Libya.

    The Washington Post’s piece, “U.S. announces expanded battlefield aid to Syrian rebels, but not arms,” rehashes the same tired, patently false narrative that has been used throughout the duration of the US-fueled Syrian conflict. The Washington Post reports:

    “The Obama administration will provide food and medicine to Syrian rebel fighters, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Thursday, announcing a cautious U.S. foray into front-line battlefield support that falls far short of the heavy weapons or high-tech gear the rebels seek. The stakes are really high, and we can’t risk letting this country – in the heart of the Middle East – be destroyed by vicious autocrats or hijacked by the extremists,” Kerry said following discussions among a group of Western and Arab nations that are funding, and in some cases arming, the fighters.

    The United States will, for the first time, send supplies through the rebels’ central military headquarters, with U.S. advisers supervising the distribution of food rations and medical supplies, U.S. officials said. The shift is intended to give the U.S.-backed Syrian Opposition Coalition greater say over the aid, but it is also a test of the rebels’ ability to keep donated supplies out of the hands of extremists in their midst.”

    The Washington Post report is a verified lie. US assistance, cash, weapons, and covert military support had been ongoing in Syria since 2007 – in other words – before the current conflict even began. And the US has been providing this support not for moderates, but specifically and intentionally for the ideological foundation of al-Qaeda itself, the sectarian extremist Muslim Brotherhood, since the Bush administration.

    Outright admissions by administration officials, Saudi and Lebanese officials working in tandem with the US, and US intelligence agents have outlined a criminal conspiracy that has now transcended two presidencies and provided the clearest example yet of the corporate-financier driven “continuity of agenda” that truly guides Western foreign policy. This criminal conspiracy has also incurred a staggering list of egregious crimes against humanity, crimes we are reminded of daily by the very interests responsible for them, including the 70,000 alleged dead in the Syrian conflict so far.

    Secretary John Kerry’s Narrative Is a Verified Lie

    Secretary Kerry’s “desire” to keep weapons out of the hands of extremists is willfully disingenuous misdirection. It has been extremists the US has been, on record, purposefully propping up in Syria years before the conflict even began in 2011.

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?”, stated explicitly that:

    “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

    Hersh’s report would also include:

    “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad [sic], of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations.”

    Hersh also reported that a supporter of the Lebanese pro-US-Saudi Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

    “[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.”

    The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007 US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:

    “There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.”

    At one point in Hersh’s report, it is even admitted that officials from US ally Saudi Arabia admitted to “controlling” the “religious fundamentalists.” The report states specifically:

    “[Saudi Arabia’s] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

    While Kerry, as did Clinton before him, and others throughout the Western establishment attempt to portray the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its armed front, al-Qaeda, in Syria as an unforeseeable, unfortunate consequence of an equally unforeseeable, unfortunate conflict – it is clear that in 2007, such “consequences” were essential elements of a premeditated conflict the West had poured cash, weapons, and logistics into the creation of, along with its partners in the Middle East, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

    Also in 2007, the Wall Street Journal would publish a report titled, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers.” In this report, it was revealed that even in 2007, Syrian opposition groups were being created from whole-cloth by the US State Department and paraded around in front of Syria’s embassies in the West. The article begins with one such protest, stating:

    “On a humid afternoon in late May, about 100 supporters of Syria’s largest exile opposition group, the National Salvation Front, gathered outside Damascus’s embassy here to protest Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule. The participants shouted anti-Assad slogans and raised banners proclaiming: “Change the Regime Now.”

    Later in the article, it would be revealed that the National Salvation Front (NSF) was in contact with the US State Department and that a Washington-based consulting firm in fact assisted the NSF in organizing the rally:

    “In the weeks before the presidential election, the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, which promotes regional democracy, and NSF members met to talk about publicizing Syria’s lack of democracy and low voter turnout, participants say. A Washington-based consulting firm, C&O Resources Inc., assisted the NSF in its planning for the May 26 anti-Assad rally at the Syrian embassy, providing media and political contacts. State Department officials stress they provided no financial or technical support to the protestors.”

    And while the Wall Street Journal then, just as the US State Department and the Western media houses are now portraying the Syrian opposition as representing a wide range of interests across Syrian society, it was admitted then, just as it is plainly obvious now, that the sectarian extremist Muslim Brotherhood was in fact at the very center of the “uprising:”

    “One of the NSF’s most influential members is the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood — the decades-old political movement active across the Middle East whose leaders have inspired the terrorist groups Hamas and al Qaeda. Its Syrian offshoot says it has renounced armed struggle in favor of democratic reform.”

    It was evidently clear, even in 2007, that extremists would play a leading role in any future armed conflict to overthrow the Syrian government, and now, years later, that engineered conflict has been executed verbatim and to horrific consequence – consequences the West not only refuses to take responsibility for, but seeks to further compound with increased aid to the forces of armed sedition it itself created.

    Absurdity of Kerry’s Narrative Only Outdone by Proposed Solution

    The solution Kerry proposes is to flood Syria with more cash, equipment, training, weapons, and other aid, either directly, or laundered through proxies such as al-Qaeda’s chief financiers and arms providers, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Washington Post’s report states:

    “The goal of the new money is to counter the increasingly effective network of services provided by militants.”

    Unfortunately, the so-called Syrian Opposition Coalition handcrafted by the US, and founded in Doha, Qatar, is led by an extremist, Mouaz al-Khatib, who openly embraces al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra front in Syria, credited with some of the most heinous atrocities committed during the two-year conflict, as well as systematic abuse, oppression, and subjugation in all areas along Syria’s border with NATO-member Turkey it controls.

    In late 2012, al-Khatib demanded that the US reverse its decision to list al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization. Reuters quoted al-Khatib as saying:

    “The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed. We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime.”

    The more recent Washington Post article, in fact, reaffirms al-Khatib’s support for extremists groups, stating:

    “Coalition chairman Mouaz al-Khatib angrily appealed for a humanitarian corridor to the besieged city of Homs and said the rebels are tired of Western complaints about extremists in their ranks. He argued that the real enemy is the Assad regime but said too many outsiders are worried only about “the length of a beard of a fighter.

    “No terrorists in the world have such a savage nature as those in the regime,” Khatib said in Arabic.

    The Syrian opposition leader’s finger-jabbing anger was in marked contrast to Kerry’s clipped and measured tone. Kerry looked at Khatib without expression as the Syrian spoke.”

    And yet this US-created “opposition” movement, run by a leader openly embracing and defending al-Qaeda, will be the recipient of some $60 million in “non-lethal aid” and “training” to allegedly “undermine” al-Qaeda. The Washington Post indicated that France and the UK were even considering sending armored vehicles to the openly pro-al-Qaeda front.

    The face-value absurdity of current Western foreign policy in the wake of a decade-long “War on Terror” that has left it bankrupt, thousands of its soldiers dead, tens of thousands more maimed or mentally ill, is perhaps so profoundly acute, it is hoped it is easier to instead believe US Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated lies.

    And astonishingly, even as French soldiers die fighting militants in Mali – armed, trained, and funded by NATO’s similar intervention in Libya in 2011, and allegedly still funded and armed by US, UK, and French ally Qatar – the Washington Post article indicates France will be eagerly making the same “mistake” in Syria, and will be further assisting terrorists there, including the training of rebel forces “outside Syria.”

    The exhausted legitimacy of the West, punctuated by unhinged hypocrisy, and rapidly unraveling financial and military might, would seem a perfect opportunity for the United Nations to prove its relevance or legitimacy by condemning the purposeful expansion of an already intolerable proxy war initiated by Western interests. Instead, it remains silent, or worse yet, complicit in the premeditated, documented assault on Syria under the increasingly tenuous guise of “democracy promotion,” “revolution,” and “humanitarian concern.”

    Nations existing outside the West’s unraveling international enterprise would do best to continue resisting, and increasingly condemning the overt state-sponsorship of terrorism that is destroying Syria. For the rest of us, we must identify the corporate-financier interests driving this agenda – interests we most likely patronize on a daily basis, and both boycott and permanently replace them to erode the unwarranted influence they have used to both plan and execute this assault on Syria’s people.

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/03/01/291384/john-kerrys-verified-lie-on-syria/

  2. kruitvat says:

    When Kerry Stormed D.C.

    Marvin Kalb | March 1, 2013

    DURING THE Vietnam War, there were many memorable hearings at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but none resonated with the raw power and eloquence of John Kerry’s on April 22, 1971. It was a time of crisis in America—a war seemingly without end for a goal still without clarity, in a country split not only on the war but also on a host of emotional political, cultural and social issues.

    When Kerry entered room 4221 of what is now called the Dirksen Senate Office Building, its impressive walls covered with maps and books and with nineteen senators seated behind a huge U-shaped table, he did more than add instant credibility to the dovish cry for Congress finally to do something about ending the war, even going so far as to advocate cutting off funding; he personalized the war that for so many others still seemed a puzzling, costly embarrassment in an unfamiliar corner of the world.

    Kerry was a 1966 Yale graduate who had volunteered for duty in Vietnam, where he served honorably, winning two medals for courage and three Purple Hearts. “I believed very strongly in the code of service to one’s country,” he said. By that time, 56,193 Americans had died in and around Vietnam, and campuses were ablaze with antiwar rallies. Many students escaped military service by joining the National Guard or fleeing to Canada.

    Dressed in green army fatigues, with four rows of ribbons over his left pocket, the twenty-seven-year-old survivor of dangerous Swift Boat missions leveled a blistering attack on American policy in Vietnam, his New England accent adding a dimension of authenticity to the sharpness of his critique. When he finished his testimony an hour later, he had become, in the words of one supporter, an “instant celebrity . . . with major national recognition.”

    Speaking on behalf of more than a hundred veterans jammed into the Senate chamber and more than a thousand others camped outside to demonstrate against the war, Kerry demanded an “immediate withdrawal from South Vietnam.” He came to Congress, and not the president, he said, because “this body can be responsive to the will of the people, and . . . the will of the people says that we should be out of Vietnam now.”

    If Kerry had simply expressed this demand, and not amplified it with reports of American atrocities, he likely would have avoided the devastating criticism that hounded him throughout his political career—criticism that eventually morphed into charges of treason and treachery, deception and lies, cowardice and even more lies, undercutting his presidential drive in 2004.

    Kerry told the committee that in Detroit a few months earlier, 150 “honorably discharged . . . veterans” launched what they called the “Winter Soldier Investigation.” In 1776, the pamphleteer Thomas Paine had written about the “sunshine patriot,” who had deserted at Valley Forge “because the going was rough.” Now, Kerry continued, the going was rough again, and the veterans who opposed the war felt that they had to speak out against the “crimes which we are committing.”

    Kerry emphasized the word “crimes,” and most of the senators and all of the journalists leaned forward in their seats. A hush fell over the room. I was among the reporters covering Kerry’s testimony. During the 1960s and early 1970s, when, as diplomatic correspondent for CBS News, I reported on a number of important foreign-policy deliberations at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I generally stood with my camera crew in the back of the room. Rarely was it crowded. Most of the radio, newspaper and magazine reporters gathered around a large rectangular table near the tall windows. A second large table was on the other side of the room. Between the two and directly behind the witness table were rows of chairs for aides, guests and tourists.

    On this very special day, however, the seating rules were suspended. I arrived early, but even so most of the seats were already taken. The veterans squeezed into the back of the room, most standing, very few seated. I spotted one empty chair in the front row and ran for it, beating out a network competitor by half a step. I was lucky; I had a great seat, no more than six feet from where this young antiwar leader was to deliver testimony that yielded the immediate advantage of dominating the news that day. Kerry hoped this would be the case, but it also carried the unintended consequence of providing ammunition to his political opponents to prove he was unworthy of higher office.

    KERRY STARTED with his most explosive charge. He quoted the “very highly decorated veterans” who had unburdened themselves in Detroit, saying:

    They told the stories at times that they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam.

    Kerry continued, “The country doesn’t know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence.” He was describing his buddies, the Vietnam veterans on the Washington Mall, and many others, the “quadriplegics and amputees” who lay “forgotten in Veterans’ Administration hospitals.” They weren’t “really wanted” in a country of widespread “indifference,” where there were no jobs, where the veterans constituted “the largest corps of unemployed in this country,” and where 57 percent of hospitalized veterans considered suicide.

    http://nationalinterest.org/article/when-kerry-stormed-dc-8142

  3. kruitvat says:

    I suspect most of us in room 4221 were shocked by Kerry’s description of the veterans just back from the Vietnam War. I had always thought of the American soldier as a brave, patriotic and honorable warrior—that had been my personal experience in the U.S. Army—not as a “monster . . . taught to deal and to trade in violence” who “personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads,” comparable to the rampaging legions of Genghis Khan in the thirteenth century. Kerry’s words evoked images totally foreign to the American experience, certainly to me. I wondered: Could Kerry be right? After all, he had fought in Vietnam. I hadn’t.

    We were by then familiar with the so-called credibility gap, the “five o’clock follies” in Saigon, and White House briefings pumped up with artificial optimism and more than an occasional fib. And if Kerry was right, how could the senators have been so wrong, so gullible? How could we Washington journalists, who had covered so many other hearings, speeches and backgrounders, have been so misled? More pointedly, how could we have allowed ourselves to be so misled? Could Kerry’s portrait of the American veteran actually be a portrait of Dorian Gray in khaki?

    Listening to this decorated veteran, a Yale graduate with an old-fashioned sense of service and patriotism, I thought of the political scientist Richard Neustadt’s emphasis on the importance of “speaking truth to power.” I had the feeling that this veteran was speaking truth to Congress and to the American people, though with a flair for hyperbole that he was later to regret. Often, during his testimony, I found myself in a state of semi-hypnosis, pen in hand but not taking notes, absorbed by the boldness—and relevance—of his criticism. The massacre at My Lai was in the air. Army lieutenant William L. Calley had been on the cover of Time. If a lieutenant could burn down a village with a Zippo lighter, was it not possible that another lieutenant could be high on drugs—and then rape and kill? Could Kerry be right? I had once been a hawk on the Vietnam War—I had thought that stopping Communism in Southeast Asia was as sound a strategy as stopping it in Europe. But after the Tet Offensive in early 1968, and after General William Westmoreland’s stunning request for an additional 206,000 troops, to be added to the 543,000 troops already in theater (a request fortunately rejected by the new secretary of defense Clark Clifford), I began to change my mind not only about the strategy but also about the very purpose of the war. That day, Kerry pushed me (and many other Americans) over the brink. I began to think that the United States had made a terrible mistake in Southeast Asia and that it was time to admit it and take the appropriate action.

    Indeed, every now and then, a question crystallizes a national dilemma. Kerry asked: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” If the war was a mistake, then why pursue it? One reason was that President Richard Nixon did not want to be, as he put it, “the first President to lose a war,” even though he knew that Vietnam was an “unwinnable proposition.” And then Kerry asked another question of equal pertinence: “Where are the leaders of our country?” Much to my surprise, as he listed his candidates for ignominy, he did not include Nixon or Henry Kissinger. “We are here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatric,” he continued:

    These are commanders who have deserted their troops, and there is no more serious crime in the law of war. The Army says they never leave their wounded. The Marines say they never leave even their dead. These men have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude.

    The senators did not move. The reporters tried to look unmoved. The room was very silent. Only the cameras hummed politely as they recorded Kerry’s testimony for later broadcast to the nation.

    In conclusion, Kerry accused “this administration” of paying the veterans the “ultimate dishonor.” He said, “They have attempted to disown us and the sacrifice we made for this country. In their blindness and fear they have tried to deny that we are veterans or that we served in Nam. We do not need their testimony. Our own scars and stumps of limbs are witnesses enough for others and for ourselves.”

    And then, more in sadness than artificial pomp, though maybe a bit of both, since Kerry was an accomplished orator, he finished with these words:

    We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped their memories of us. But all that they have done and all that they can do by this denial is to make more clear than ever our own determination to undertake one last mission, to search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war, to pacify our own hearts, to conquer the hate and the fear that have driven this country these last 10 years and more, and so when, in 30 years from now, our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be able to say “Vietnam” and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory but mean instead the place where America finally turned and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning.

    http://nationalinterest.org/article/when-kerry-stormed-dc-8142

  4. kruitvat says:

    The room, which had been still, erupted in applause and cheers. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), the organization Kerry was representing, had finally been heard, not just on Capitol Hill but in time across the nation. Outside, among the veterans gathered on the Washington Mall, small groups formed around transistor radios, listening to Kerry’s critique. Many got down on one knee, raising their right fists to the sky. American flags were unfurled. One could even see a number of Vietcong banners. On the fringes, there were other flags: “Quakers for Peace” and “Hard Hats Against the War.” One veteran, who had lost both legs, sat in a wheelchair—he too raised his fist to the sky. He had fought his last war.

    CHAIRMAN J. William Fulbright, a Democrat from Arkansas, who had helped steer the Tonkin Gulf resolution through Congress in August 1964, providing the “legal” authority for American military action in Vietnam, but who later became an active critic of the war, praised Kerry for his eloquence and his message and asked whether he was familiar with the antiwar resolutions then under discussion and debate in Congress. Fulbright said that a number of committee members had advanced resolutions to end the war, “seeking the most practical way that we can find and, I believe, to do it at the earliest opportunity that we can.” Kerry responded that his veterans would like to end the war “immediately and unilaterally.” Based on his talks with the North Vietnamese in Paris, Kerry believed, naively as it turned out, that if the United States “set a date . . . the earliest possible date” for its withdrawal from Vietnam, the North Vietnamese would then release American prisoners of war. What we later learned was that the North Vietnamese had other plans. Kerry added that he didn’t “mean to sound pessimistic,” but he really didn’t think “this Congress” would end the war by legislation.

    Senators known for their volubility sat speechless.

    “You have a Silver Star; have you not?” injected Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri. A Silver Star was the army’s third-highest award for valor.

    “Yes, I do,” Kerry responded.

    “You have a Purple Heart?” Symington continued.

    “Yes, I do.”

    “How many clusters on it?”

    “Two clusters.”

    “You were wounded three times?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “I have no further questions,” Symington concluded.

    Other senators asked other questions, but they were mostly in the form of compliments and congratulations—they were not probing for substantive information.

    Fulbright and Kerry were obviously reading from the same sheet of antiwar music. The two had met at a reception honoring the VVAW held at the home of Senator Phil Hart of Michigan, and Fulbright liked Kerry’s style. He was, according to historian Douglas Brinkley, “very impressed by Kerry’s polite . . . demeanor. He was not a screamer. He didn’t look disheveled.” The next morning a Fulbright staffer called Kerry. “We want you to testify,” he said. Happily, Kerry agreed, even though he knew he did not have enough time to prepare properly. With Adam Walinsky, a former aide to both John and Robert Kennedy, at his side, Kerry spent the whole night writing and rewriting his testimony, while balancing other responsibilities as one of the principal coordinators of the five-day demonstration.

    Around 9:30 a.m., Thursday, April 22, 1971, a friend, reporter Tom Oliphant of the Boston Globe, found Kerry at a meeting at a demonstration on the Hill. “Do you realize what time it is?” he asked. “Shouldn’t we get going?” Kerry checked his watch. “Oh, my God,” he said. “Let’s go.” With Oliphant, he set off at a brisk pace down Independence Avenue toward the Dirksen Senate Office Building. As they passed the Supreme Court, Kerry noticed an angry group of veterans on the top steps of the building. He then did what he had been doing all week. “Up he went, and once again, you know, the hand on the arm, the talking them down.” Oliphant heard Kerry say: “We don’t want any sideshows. Please help.” Kerry always worried about image—about whether the veterans, many of them looking like Woodstock hippies, were making a positive impression on the American people.

    By then, it was “six or seven minutes” to the start of the hearing. “Uh, John,” Oliphant said, pulling on his sleeve, “you might want to go testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.” Kerry broke away from the protesting veterans. The two rushed off to room 4221. “We got to the door, and I actually opened it,” Oliphant remembered, “and he started to go towards it, at which point he pulled back like somebody had punched him, just went back like this, and said, ‘Oh shit!’” Kerry had just caught his first glimpse of the crowded, noisy conference room. He suddenly realized he was entering the big leagues of national politics.

    Oliphant continued:

    The room was completely jammed. There was a full spread of television cameras, completely filled press tables, the most prestigious committee in the entire United States Congress, to see a twenty-seven-year-old in combat fatigues make a statement about the Vietnam War. The response, not just inside the hearing room, but nationally—it was electric, and it was immediate. This person and that message had gone national in the blink of an eye.

    http://nationalinterest.org/article/when-kerry-stormed-dc-8142

  5. kruitvat says:

    AT THE White House, which had anxiously observed the antiwar demonstration all week and done everything in its power to contain and downplay it, President Nixon met with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, to consider other steps they could take against the antiwar veterans. Neither could ignore the impact of Kerry’s testimony. They had decided early on that the Nixon administration would have no contact with these veterans. No official would be allowed to talk to them or to receive them at the White House, the Pentagon or the State Department. They had even refused to grant permission to five “Gold Star Mothers” to enter Arlington National Cemetery to lay two wreaths at gravesites for Asian and American soldiers. The next morning, seeing the negative play in the media, they changed their minds and allowed a few of the “Mothers” to enter. The administration also withheld permission for the veterans to camp on the Washington Mall, but three remarkable things then happened: the courts imposed a ban on Mall camping, the veterans simply ignored it and the Washington police did nothing to enforce it.

    Before both Nixon and Haldeman were reports of media coverage of Kerry and the veterans, which was extensive and for the most part favorable. According to the official audiotape of their conversation, both were impressed by Kerry’s performance, and both realized that it only made their job harder. They were still responsible for prosecuting a war and for running a country that was quickly losing confidence in their leadership.

    Nixon: “Apparently, this fellow, uh, that they put in the front row, is, that you say, the front, according to [White House aide Patrick] Buchanan . . . ‘the real star was Kerry.’”

    Haldeman: “He is, he did a hell of a job.”

    Nixon: “He said he was very effective.”

    Haldeman: “I think he did a superb job at the Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. . . . A Kennedy type—he looks like a, looks like a Kennedy and talks exactly like a Kennedy.”

    Kerry had hit the White House with the force of an unwelcome guest. He demanded an end to the war. Impossible, for Nixon. He demanded access to an administration official. Denied. He demanded a total change in policy. No way. “Disgraceful!” Kerry later told reporters. “We had men here with no legs, men with no arms, men who got nine Purple Hearts, and they ignored that simply because of the politics.” Ironically, Kerry had impressed Nixon so much that the president decided to take even stronger action against the demonstrating veterans.

    David Thorne, once Kerry’s brother-in-law and now a close friend and adviser, told me that “the White House was sending out guys to start fights and to try anything they could do to discredit vets on the Mall. . . . We heard that Nixon was nuts about this. He was doing things in the dirty tricks department.” Brinkley said that the administration created a “get John Kerry campaign.” The exact words of a memo from White House special counsel Chuck Colson were: “I think we have Kerry on the run . . . but let’s not let up, let’s destroy this young demagogue before he becomes another Ralph Nader.’” Columnist Joe Klein, who covered Kerry at the time, reported: “They were investigating John Kerry up and down and Colson said to me, ‘We couldn’t find anything. There wasn’t anything we could find.’” Colson concocted the crazy idea of finding another John Kerry to destroy the real John Kerry. “We found this guy John O’Neill to run a group that would counter the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.” O’Neill was also a Swift Boat veteran, but he believed in the war and hated Kerry. They called the new group “The Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace.” Just as O’Neill was central to derailing Kerry’s 2004 run for the presidency, so too was he central to Nixon’s effort to undermine Kerry in 1971. O’Neill met with administration leaders, including the president. “Give it to him,” Nixon urged. “Give it to him. And you can do it because you have a—a pleasant manner. And I think it’s a great service to the country.” Colson helped O’Neill organize media interviews around the country.

    More White House audiotape shows Colson trying to buck up Nixon’s sagging spirit:

    Colson: “And this boy O’Neill, who is, God, you’d just be proud of him. These young fellows, we’ve had some luck getting them placed.”

    Nixon: “Have you?”

    Colson: “Yes, sir.”

    Nixon: “Good.”

    Colson: “And they’ll be on. We’ll start seeing more of them. They would give you the greatest lift.”

    http://nationalinterest.org/article/when-kerry-stormed-dc-8142

  6. kruitvat says:

    The White House was obviously concerned that Kerry was becoming too much of a television star, spreading his antiwar message from one program to another. The White House was also concerned that the VVAW was generating too much sympathy and support. The war was still in progress, yet here were veterans demonstrating against it. They had come from all over the country, many in khaki, bearded, wearing headbands and sporting antiwar slogans on their T-shirts. Several were on crutches, a few in wheelchairs. On occasion, because there was no violence, they looked like respectable hippies promoting an antiwar message, some armed with nothing more lethal than a guitar. They marched through Washington, past the Lincoln Memorial, past the State Department, past the White House. Once, according to CBS correspondent Bruce Morton, who covered the week-long demonstration, “They passed some smiling members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a woman said: ‘This will be bad for the troops’ morale,’ and someone answered, ‘These are the troops.’” A national poll at the time revealed that one in three Americans approved of the VVAW’s demonstration, hardly an overwhelming number, but still encouraging to the VVAW’s leadership, including Kerry, who knew they had started from nowhere and now found themselves at 32 percent. Not bad for one week’s work. Forty-two percent disapproved. With the nation at war, the White House had expected a higher level of disapproval.

    ON FRIDAY, April 23, the last day of the Washington demonstration, a hundred or so veterans threw their medals over a hastily built fence near the Capitol in a show of anger and disgust. Kerry threw ribbons, not medals. One veteran, making no distinction, said: “I got a Silver Star, a Purple Heart . . . eight air medals, and the rest of this garbage. It doesn’t mean a thing.”

    If it didn’t “mean a thing” to this veteran, it did to many White House supporters, who, fearing their popular support dwindling, quickly denounced this display of anger as disrespectful to both the country and to the troops still fighting in Vietnam. Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, a Pennsylvania Republican, dismissively described these veterans as only “a minority of one-tenth of one percent of our veterans. I’m probably doing more to get us out of the war than these marchers.” Commander Herbert B. Rainwater of the Veterans of Foreign Wars chimed in with a double put-down: the antiwar veterans were too small a group to generate so much news, and besides they were not representative of the average veteran. Conservative columnist William F. Buckley Jr. trashed Kerry as “an ignorant young man,” who had crystallized “an assault upon America which has been fostered over the years by an intellectual class given over to self-doubt and self-hatred, driven by a cultural disgust with the uses to which so many people put their freedom.”

    Nixon appreciated these measured expressions of support. With the war on the front burner of popular concern, sparking one Washington demonstration after another (one day after the VVAW’s protests, known as Dewey Canyon III, ended, a huge peace march arrived in the nation’s capital), Nixon yearned for good news, for the joys of a long weekend at Key Biscayne, but could find little in those days that could be defined as good. And Dewey Canyon III reminded him of a recurring nightmare that, though he tried, he could not escape. He worried that some Vietnam veterans might be returning not as the “monster” Kerry described, but as drug addicts. In his splendid biography of Nixon, journalist Richard Reeves wrote that the president’s worry was political. Reeves explained:

    What worried him most was the effect on Middle American support for the war if clean-cut young men were coming back to their mothers and their hometowns as junkies. Suddenly drug use was a national security crisis. “This is our problem,” wrote Nixon on a news summary report of a Washington Post story that quoted the mayor of Galesburg, Illinois, saying that almost everyone in that conservative town wanted their sons out of Vietnam.

    NBC News reported that half of a contingent of 120 soldiers returning to Boston had drug problems. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that each day 250 soldiers were returning with duffel bags full of drugs—as Reeves put it, “for their own use or to sell when they got back home.”

    “As Common as Chewing Gum” was the way Time headlined a story about drug use by the troops. A GOP congressman, Robert W. Steele of Connecticut, told the White House that, based on his recent visit to Vietnam, he estimated that as many as forty thousand troops were already addicts. In some units, he said, one in four soldiers was a drug user. By May 16, the problem worsened, and the New York Times headlined its story “G.I. Heroin Addiction Epidemic in Vietnam.”

    http://nationalinterest.org/article/when-kerry-stormed-dc-8142

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