John Kerry's Anti-War Book Riles Former Green Beret
July 7, 2008 - 7:30 PM
(CNSNews.com) - John F. Kerry downplayed any threat posed by the communist government of North Vietnam in his 1971 book The New Soldier and instead charged that American soldiers "were killing women and children" and helping to create "a nation of refugees, bomb craters, amputees, orphans, widows, and prostitutes..." in Vietnam.
The book, a copy of which CNSNews.com has obtained, is very difficult to find 33 years after it was written. Single copies of the book reportedly are selling for as high as $849.95 on the Internet. The cover of the book displays long-haired, bearded men carrying an upside down American flag in an apparent mockery of the famous planting of the American flag on Iwo Jima during World War II.
The book might not mean much if Kerry weren't the frontrunner in the Democratic race for president and fresh off another win this week in the Wisconsin primary.
But Kerry's anti-war activism of three decades ago is being attacked by among others, a retired Green Beret, who labels the Massachusetts senator's behavior upon returning from Vietnam "a Benedict Arnold type of betrayal."
In the book's epilogue, which begins on page 158, Kerry sums up his views on the war by writing, "We were sent to Vietnam to kill Communism. But we found instead that we were killing women and children." Kerry served in Vietnam, receiving three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.
The book is a compilation of testimonies from members of the anti-war group Vietnam Veterans Against the War. It alleges abuses and crimes committed by U.S. soldiers while on duty in Vietnam.
Kerry is listed as the author. His former brother-in-law and current campaign adviser, David Thorne and documentary maker George Butler were credited with editing the book.
Ted Sampley, a retired Green Beret and founder of the website VietnamVeteransAgainstJohnKerry.com told CNSNews.com that Kerry's book and his anti-war activism during the early 1970s represented nothing less than "a Benedict Arnold type of betrayal."
Sampley, a Vietnam veteran and current publisher of the U.S. Veteran Dispatch, said "the communists used [Kerry's and his group's allegations] and gained great propaganda value out of that."
In the book, Kerry states that Vietnamese citizens "didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy" and he instead blamed the United States for causing chaos in Vietnam.
"In the process we created a nation of refugees, bomb craters, amputees, orphans, widows, and prostitutes, and we gave new meaning to the words of the Roman historian Tacitus: 'Where they made a desert they called it peace,'" Kerry explained.
Kerry also said he "saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs and search-and-destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism..."
But Sampley refutes Kerry's charges of widespread atrocities. "Many of the people who made those [atrocity] allegations were not even Vietnam veterans," Sampley said.
"From my experience of two combat tours in Vietnam, I never witnessed anything like [Kerry] described anywhere and if I had, I would not have allowed it to happen," Sampley said. "Most American soldiers are really offended [by Kerry's allegations], because everyone would not have behaved like that and it was a lie," he added.
Kerry predicted that as a result of their experiences during the war, veterans like himself "will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars..."
"We will not uphold traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim," he wrote.
Long before Kerry's Democratic rival, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, complained of there being "two Americas," one for the rich and powerful, the other for the poor, Kerry was using the phrase in his 1971 book.
"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," Kerry wrote.
"We are asking America to turn from false glory, hollow victory, fabricated foreign threats, fear which threatens us as a nation, shallow pride which feeds off fear, and mostly from the promises which have proven so deceiving these past ten years," Kerry added.
Kerry wrote that his tours of duty in Vietnam irrevocably transformed his outlook on the military.
"Because of all that I saw in Vietnam, the treatment of civilians, the ravaging of their countryside, the needless, useless deaths, the deception and duplicity of our policy, I changed," Kerry wrote.
While Kerry maintained on page 166 that he was "still willing to pick up arms and defend it (America) - die for it if necessary," the book left the impression that the nature of war needed to be classified as criminal activity.
One page after Kerry's epilogue concludes the book quotes Ernest Hemingway calling all war "a crime."
"Never think that war no matter how necessary nor how justified is not a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead," reads the Hemingway quote on page 167 of Kerry's book.
While Kerry's anti-war activism has created controversy with many Vietnam veterans, others defend the would-be president.
Former Democratic U.S. senator and decorated Vietnam veteran Max Cleland from Georgia said Kerry "was articulating what so many of us felt deep in our gut."
"I wouldn't have joined an anti-war parade, but John came back and began to see that the greatest service to his veterans was to fight (President) Nixon and to stop the war," Cleland said, according to wire reports.
Kerry defended his anti-war activism last week, calling his protests "a measurement of character."
"I didn't love coming back from the war I fought in and having to tell people, 'This is wrong, this is screwed up.' But it was," Kerry said, according to wire reports.
But Sampley said he and many other Vietnam veterans believe Kerry betrayed and dishonored the soldiers who fought the war.
"In order to get to where he is today, to run for president, John Kerry had to wade through the blood of American servicemen still on the battlefield in 1971," Sampley said.
E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.
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