Monday, August 09, 2004


How Viet Nam Continues to Define Him Personally and Politically

Part 1 - Flashback 1980s

In the '80s, I was in high school. Had no idea a politics. Or at least limited to my social studies and history classes. Vietnam was in a history book. I had an Uncle that never talked about it accept to say that he wanted to go back and finish the job.

I was taught history that basically said Viet Nam was a losing proposition, no matter what. The US shouldn't have been there. The country was torn in two. There were protests and riots. Saigon fell. But nobody talked about what happened after Saigon fell. That wasn't something that you were told in your history class.

It seems to me, that we continue to fight this war even today. Every war we are involved in is no longer held up against the measure of the World War II, but instead Viet Nam. Every motivation for war is compared to that war. The question in the future will be rather we will ever leave that war behind as the measure or if we will be doomed to suffer it's negative connotations forever.

One thing that is apparent. Our current Democrat candidate for President seems very determined to hold on to the war and apply it to his entire life. Every action within the Senate for the last twenty years seems to work on the premise that all actions by the government are suspect. Even sometimes if he might have to ignore some information for it to fit in his pre-conceived notion of the evilness of the government. That only through his participation in government, can he be sure that it is marginalized.

And, in 1985, Kerry got his first chance as a freshman Senator form Massachusetts.

In the '80s, there were many interesting things politically, but I barely recall all of them. I do vaguely recall the Iran-Contra scandal. You remember? The Reagan administration was backing the Contra's of Nicaragua against the pro-Communist rebels the Sandinistas in an attempt to thwart the development of Communism in our hemi-sphere.

For further history lessons in why we might be interfering in Nicaragua, try looking up the "Monroe Doctrine".

I didn't remember all the things that led up to the scandal, so I looked them up. In essence, the members of the Reagan Administration were accused of selling arms to Iran under the table and filtering that money to the Contras. This deal allowed him to negotiate for the release of the hostages that had been held for 444 days. Since they were released within days of his taking office, it must be expected that this deal was already in the works either through his contacts or within the CIA and only required his approval.

The arms trading continued through until 1986 when the scandal broke. This probably wouldn't have been an issue accept that Congress had passed the Boland Amendment in 1984 which effectively cut off all US aid to the Contras. Since Reagan saw the Soviet Union and Communism as the major threats to US security, it appears that he gave tacit approval for it to continue after this amendment was in place. Thus, Ollie North and a number of other people were brought up for prosecution for failing to abide by the law of the land.

But what about Senator Kerry? What's his part?

Boston Globe-The Cold War was reaching its final stages when Kerry entered the Senate in 1985. Reagan had been re-elected in a thunderous landslide in November of 1984 and was using his administration to help the contra armies destabilize the Sandinista government of Nicaragua as part of a global strategy to give the tottering communist empire a final shove.

Reagan had carried Massachusetts that fall, but the contra cause was unpopular in the state. House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill Jr., a Democrat from Cambridge, feared the United States would be drawn into another Vietnam in the jungles of Central America, and he worked with Congressman Edward Boland, an old Democratic pal from Springfield, to attach a series of "Boland amendments" to appropriation bills, banning or limiting US aid to the contras.

The continuing specter of Viet Nam. Even today, every military action that is taken seems haunted by the cries of Viet Nam.

At first, Kerry's audacity cost him. Within weeks of taking office in 1985, he was off to Nicaragua, accompanied by reporters on a 36-hour, self-appointed fact-finding mission with another freshman, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. Congressional Democrats had accused the White House of exaggerating the communist threat posed by the Sandinista regime. So the two senators were publicly castigated when -- just days after meeting with Daniel Ortega and other leaders of the regime -- the Sandinistas climbed aboard a plane to Moscow to cement their Soviet ties.

In other words, without authorization. Not requested. Not approved. He proceeded to make un-authorized negotiations with Daniel Ortega:

News Max -The result: a meaningless document that State Department experts considered little more than an offer to the Contras to surrender. The Sandinistas made no commitment to national reconciliation, and that was the heart of the matter.

Nonetheless, Kerry raced back to Washington with the document he touted as a “peace proposal.” Indeed, Ortega promises a cease-fire, as long as the United States cut off all assistance, including humanitarian aid, to the anti-communist forces and their families.

“Here,” Kerry boldly pronounced to the Senate, “is a guarantee of the security interest of the United States.”

And why did he take it upon himself to do this?

Kerry worried that a repeat of Vietnam -- with a White House misleading the public -- was in the making. "A central part of my campaign had been the notion that I would bring to the Senate the experience of the Vietnam period, which cautioned me against the kind of illegal activities we were hearing about, and the things that were going on," Kerry recalls. "Literally, I did do an ad hoc investigation."

Viet Nam, again.

One thing to remember about Mr. Kerry is that he returned from Viet Nam with the acute belief that the government was lying to the American people. That the war in Viet Nam had nothing to do with holding back Communism or at least, that there was no necessity in holding Communism back from taking over Asia. He felt, and still feels, that Communism was not a threat to the United States.

Frankly, I have found nothing yet as to why he believed this to be true aside from the popular anti-war belief that the Vietnamese were simply fighting for their country against the hegemony of the United States. Even today, he seems not to ponder the involvement of China supplying the North Vietnamese with supplies, weapons, training and men. I have yet to hear him discuss or place at any time the disaster of Saigon being over run by the NVA and the subsequent slaughter of thousands of people or their disappearance into the Communist prisons. Nor the spread of Communism to countries like Laos and Cambodia.

I have heard people from the anti-war movement, that were active at that time, express their feelings that these were US failures as well and, had we not continued to support the corrupt South Viet Namese in their bid for freedom, the Communists would not have felt the necessity to treat the South Vietnamese so harshly. This frankly smacks of the apologist. And considering that the anti-war movement, then and now, have been infiltrated by Marxist organizations, it should not be surprising that the Communists are given a pass for their behavior.

But, I digress, to continue on the subject, it appears that Mr. Kerry and Sen. Harkin are ridiculed for making a deal with the Ortega:

News Max-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., accused Kerry and Harkin of “transgressing” against the Constitution by holding unauthorized negotiations with a foreign leader.

A peeved Secretary of State George Shultz announced, “Those who assure us that these dire consequences are not in prospect [in Central America] are some of those who assured us of the same in Indochina before 1975. The litany of apology for communists, and condemnation for America and our friends, is beginning again.”

This subject is treated differently in the Boston Globe story:

Secretary of State George Shultz declared that Kerry and Harkin had been "used" by the Nicaraguans, and he ridiculed them for their naivete in "dealing with the communists." Kerry was called "silly" in the Boston press.

Basically implying that calling Sen. Kerry on the carpet for his un-authorized negotiations was unfounded. While later, the Iran/Contra affair comes out, it doesn't negate the import of his actions. If you take these two sections and put them together, the reality is that Kerry took his position too far and interfered in areas that fell under the State Department. Further, he directly violated the tenets of the Constitution which states in Article 2, Section 2 that the President "He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties,". The Senate cannot make these treaties on it's own. It is the Presidents duty, with the assistance of the State Department to obtain such treaties and present it to the Senate for ratification or amendment.

He also interfered in on-going negotiations that were occurring at the time. While his motives may have been good, it is certain that he allowed his emotions over a still stinging sore of Viet Nam to impact his decision making. He also appears to continue to give Communist governments the benefit of the doubt as some how trustworthy enough to make agreements that would be upheld. Part of the proposed deal was for the Sandanistas to create an inclusive government that would allow the Contras to participate.

Considering how Daniel Ortega operated and continued to operate after the fact, it would seem that Mr. Kerry was in fact either willfully blind or terribly naive. But the story continues:

Boston Globe-In late 1985, an intriguing report came to Kerry's staff from John Mattes, a public defender in Miami whose sister was a Massachusetts peace advocate. Mattes had a client who claimed to know all about the contras' secret supply network. Kerry's staff interviewed Mattes and his client and traveled to Costa Rica to quiz other young men who allegedly had been working in a US-sanctioned contra supply network. (...)

Before long, Kerry encountered resistance. Congressional investigators would later detail how the government intimidated Kerry's witnesses, including a mysterious figure named Jack Terrell, who claimed to have been a contra adviser operating under the nom de guerre "Colonel Flaco."

Terrell told Kerry and a handful of investigative reporters that North's supply network had been used to smuggle arms and drugs.

IN MONTH TK, Kerry's staff interviewed Terrell in New Orleans, brought him to Washington, installed him in a safe house, and obtained funding from a liberal think tank, the International Center for Development Policy. In a memo to Reagan, later obtained by the Iran-contra committee, North warned that "Terrell's accusations are at the center of Senator Kerry's investigation." North labeled Terrell a possible Nicaraguan spy, potential presidential assassin, and a "terrorist threat."

Which conveniently leaves out an important part of the story, provided here by News Max:

In desperation to keep the raked muck churning, Kerry signed a letter used in a direct-mail appeal for an outside group to raise money. That outside group was Commission on United States-Central American Relations, which was reportedly a front of International Center for Development Policy and included as members open supporters of the Sandinistas, the communist Cuban dictatorship of Fidel Castro and the Communist FMLN guerrillas of El Salvador, according to commission literature.

This agency is mentioned by both news sources, but I have not been able to locate information on the internet concerning whether it exists today and under what format it might operate today. What the Boston Globe also fails to mention is that Kerry's staffers, in their quest to come up with the dirt, over stepped their boundaries again, according to News Max:

But by the summer of 1986, the Washington Times was reporting that aides to Kerry “severely damaged a federal drug investigation by interfering with a witness while pursuing allegations of drug smuggling by the Nicaraguan resistance.”

The Times later followed up with a report, citing federal law-enforcement officials. The revelation: The FBI repeatedly had warned Kerry's staffers to back off because they were endangering a federal anti-drug operation. According to the report, an FBI informant became “spooked” and stopped cooperating after Kerry’s staff interfered – going as far as to change her story to include the Contras as part of the plot.

At this point, this is either a good play on the point of the Kerry group or extremely arrogant in believing that they could run over an already existing federal investigation. What probably motivated them was the belief that their endeavor was more important. But, it had a very bad trickle down effect:

As was the case earlier, Kerry's ploy began to unravel. Drug traffickers "are selling a story to Congress and to the media that they have concocted to have their sentences reduced or to have their cases dismissed,” a Drug Enforcement Administration agent told the New York Times.

Eventually the DEA and Justice Department dismissing the claims of one of Kerry’s star witnesses, accused cocaine trafficker Jorge Morales, that the CIA and Nicaraguan resistance forces were involved in large-scale drug trafficking.

The committee to investigate the Iran/Contra affair is formed and Sen. Kerry is left off the board. And the Boston Globe does an excellent job of explaining why:

The feeling among a disappointed Kerry and his staff was that the committee members were chosen to put a lid on things. "He was told early on they were not going to put him on it," Winer recalls. "He was too junior and too controversial . . .. They were concerned about the survival of the republic."

Even some Democrats "thought John was a little hotter than they would like," says Rosenblith.

These are telling comments. This seems to imply that some people thought that Mr. Kerry would put his quest above the good of the country, believing that was more important than the US. This also seems to be an extension of his post Viet Nam protesting, in which he believed that the cause "for the truth" should over ride the interests of the United States. Possibly even continuing to believe that the interests of the United States in foreign affairs and national security must be wrong. This is either highly idealistic, naive or seriously libertarian. Maybe all three.

Going on, Kerry is assigned to a sub-committee to investigate the narco-guerilla wars and drug trafficking. Boston Globe:

As a consolation prize, the Democratic leadership gave Kerry chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations and a charter to dig into the contra-drug connection. While disappointed, Kerry stuck with his investigation and the subcommittee published a report in 1989 that concluded the CIA and other US agencies had turned a blind eye to drug trafficking occurring on the fringes of the contra network. In many cases, traffickers were using the same airplanes, airfields, and other resources that the contras were using.

To the disappointment of the conspiracy theorists, Kerry and his team found no evidence the United States ran or sanctioned a contra drug ring.

And the part of the story left out from the Globe and reported by News Max:

Thickening the unsavory brew, the Washington Times then revealed that Kerry had concealed evidence of Sandinista drug trafficking and had deleted information from his staff report of the previous October to pin the blame on the Sandinistas’ U.S.-backed opponents.

The camera-hogging Kerry suddenly made himself scarce. He refused to speak to journalists seeking to question him.

“Sen. John Kerry is coming under increasing fire from federal law-enforcement officials,” the Associated Press reported. “The officials have said Kerry’s work was based largely on unsubstantiated allegations from informants, most of whom already have been interviewed by federal law-enforcement officials and some of whom have previously been found to be unreliable. A number of them are charged with various crimes or are in jail.”

By this time, it was the election cycle again and Vice President Bush was running for elections against Sen. Kerry's long time friend and mentor, Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential elections. During that time, the Contra-Drug Trafficking investigation was continuing and information was leaked that seemed to implicate the then running Vice President Bush:

Globe-During the investigation, an Oregon businessman claiming CIA ties, Richard Brenneke, whose testimony was taken by Kerry's committee, made the sensational and undocumented charge that Vice President George H. W. Bush's office had sanctioned a contra-drug smuggling operation. Bush challenged Kerry to "show some evidence and stop leaking out information that is not true."

Kerry denied he was the source of the leak, and the committee dropped the Brenneke angle.

Republican senators were suspicious of Kerry's motives. The Kerry investigation -- done in the midst of the 1988 presidential campaign pitting Vice President Bush against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis -- was "being conducted as if it were a division of the Dukakis campaign," recalls Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who served as ranking Republican on the subcommittee. The probe "deteriorated into a biased partisan agenda" that, to McConnell, was primarily aimed at cooking up allegations to tarnish Bush's reputation and presidential hopes.

Or, by News Max:

Unrepentant, Kerry switched again to the attack mode for defense, trying to connect drug dealers to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, who was campaigning at the time to succeed Reagan as president of the United States.

In May 1988, Bush accused Kerry of leaking unsubstantiated allegations that his office approved drugs-for-weapons deals to arm the contras. No evidence ever surfaced to confirm the claims.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the ranking Republican on Kerry’s subcommittee, publicly accused Kerry of abusing the subcommittee to damage Bush and to help the flagging presidential campaign of Kerry’s longtime friend, mentor and ally Michael Dukakis. McConnell charged that Kerry had given credibility to witnesses who were critical of President Reagan and Vice President Bush but failed to summon others to testify who would rebut the criticisms.

If you read the Globe paragraphs, you can tell already where the article was going. Basically, that the Republican party was making false allegations about the false allegations. News Max treats it totally the opposite and assumes Kerry's party was guilty of trying to influence the elections. The truth is likely in the middle. Kerry may or may not have known about what was being leaked, but it most certainly came from his committee, under his control and was certainly in deference to the then on-going elections.

What should be noted is that George Bush, Sr, was not mentioned in any of the investigations or allegations about the Iran/Contra deal. Even these news organizations take care not to imply that.

But, moving on, let's address where the Boston Globe continues to portray the committee as a success:

Ultimately, the subcommittee's findings on the scope of the contra-drug connection were validated by two subsequent federal investigations. Inspectors General at the CIA and the Justice Department found that these agencies had done little or nothing in response to hundreds of allegations that elements of the contras and their supply networks were involved with drugs.

"Kerry's proven conclusion was that the government, especially the CIA, looked the other way," says Blanton. "The Kerry committee findings hold up."

The problem here is that first the Globe asserts that the committee could not find any direct CIA involvement in the drug trafficking in Central America. What they found was that the CIA looked the other way. Which would seem to be a telling indictment of the CIA except if one were to understand that it was not the CIAs job to interdict drug trafficking. That is Customs and the FBI. It is rightly not the CIAs job to intervene in these matters because it would possible blow their cover for gathering of intelligence for national security. So, the Globe totally by passes this in favor of making Sen. Kerry appear successful in pointing out a government system failure. The reality is that this committee may have done more damage to undercover efforts by the CIA and FBI.

In the final analysis of Sen. Kerry's reasons for his idealist zealotry on these matters, his own words tell us, not only why he has behaved that way in the past, but what will shape his future policies for Foreign Relations and National Security:

Globe-Kerry was on his way to a second term, where Vietnam -- a war that he questioned, then fought for, and then opposed -- would continue to define his senatorial career, just as it had in the 1980s.

"Vietnam is a lesson," Kerry says. "It is history to me. It can guide me, but it doesn't run me. You have to move on and I moved on long ago. But the lessons are valuable. I love the lessons."

In essence, Kerry has given us his complete motivation for every action, every policy that he will under take in the future. In some way, we must look at this as dispassionately as possible, because, he cannot.

One thing seems clear, while he will not personally say that the current President lied to take us to war, it would seem that he believes it and embraces it whole heartedly with the inclusion of certain organizations in his campaign:

Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11

This is Sen. Kerry's re-play of the Winter Soldier campaign. In many ways, he continues to fight the Viet Nam war in every effort that he undertakes and he seems very insistent on driving it to these conclusions, regardless of what the potential outcome may be.

How do we know these things? In Kerry/Viet Nam Part II, I will explore his testimony before the Senate in 1971, his speeches and his book, "The New Soldier" compared to his current campaign tactics and promises.

If you listen to Mr. Kerry's speeches today, this should sound familiar:

I think that, more than anything, the New Soldier is trying to point out how there are two Americas -- the one the speeches are about and the one we really are. Rhetoric has blinded us so much that we are unable to see the realities which exist in this country.

-The New Soldier, 1971

Boston Globe-Making of a Candidate
News Max - Kerry Again
Winter Soldier - New Soldier Excerpts


Sean from DocintheBox said...

Wow, awesome post, looks like you put a lot of work into it, good job!

Anonymous said...

Thanks...I appreciate the comments. I had so much information about this, I had to start breaking it up. Glad to see you enjoyed it.

Stay tuned for the next round of Kerry's Viet Nam, the future of foreign policy in America

Pat in NC said...

I think Kerry may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. He seems totally unable to think beyond Vietnam.
His ego in making his unauthorized trips to meddle in things he had no right to do is astonishing. ie. his private negotiations with the North Vietnamese and his
involving himself with the Sandinistas and thinking he could make treaties. I wish he would release his full medical records while in the military and his FBI filesThanks kat for doing all of this research.