Four months in Vietnam won't cut it

Ben Shapiro
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Posted: Aug 04, 2004 12:00 AM

John Kerry served in Vietnam.

 And I couldn't care less.

 I was born in 1984, over eight years after the end of the Vietnam War. The fact that John Kerry served in the Navy on a swift boat for four months means little to me, beyond the fact that I'm grateful for the service of any veteran -- even if that service was clearly an excuse to bulk up a resume.

 John Kerry was anti-war before he ever set foot in Vietnam, so the idea that he became pacifistic only after seeing the horrors of war is baloney. In 1966, two years before Kerry entered the Gulf of Tonkin, he told his graduating class at Yale that "The United States must, I think, bring itself to understand that the policy of intervention that was right for Western Europe does not and cannot find the same application to the rest of the world."

 In any case, I'm far more concerned with John Kerry's record since he got back to the United States. His record starts with stabbing in the back American soldiers who were still under fire. In 1971, he told Congress that American military members "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, (blew) 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 ... "

 Hilariously, Kerry has attempted to build his 2004 presidential campaign on the idea that he was a famous war hero. Kerry infamously intoned upon reaching the stage at the Democratic National Convention: "I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty." In his nomination acceptance speech, Kerry referred to his Vietnam service no fewer than eight times. He didn't refer to his 1971 testimony before Congress once.

 But the fact remains that had Kerry not defamed American troops, he would be an obscure war veteran, not a presidential candidate. To ignore this essential element of Kerry's history is to overlook his opportunism. If experiencing enemy fire makes you a better president, being a selfish mercenary surely makes you a worse one.

 Despite his encouragement to judge him by his record, during his acceptance speech, Kerry completely overlooked his tenure as Massachusetts lieutenant governor under Michael Dukakis. He explicitly mentioned his Senate service a grand total of one time and even then only mentioned three policies he pursued. This is a man obviously attempting to escape his record -- which is why he can only point to his four months of service in Vietnam.

 Kerry believes Americans are children who will accept platitudes over substance, who will overlook 30 years of radical liberalism in favor of four months in Vietnam. We are not. Whether "help is on the way" or whether Kerry is campaigning for "a stronger America," Americans want real policy solutions, not tired one-liners. And merely hearkening back to Vietnam, when candidate Kerry led men into combat -- men whom he would later slander -- won't do the trick. Those voters within my general age range especially refuse to look back years before our births to find the last recorded example of Kerry's honorability.

 It's much easier and much more accurate to examine Kerry's actions in the past few years. In fact, let's simply scrutinize the key point in Kerry's acceptance speech: "I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to."

 Ignoring the bad grammar here (for a Boston Brahmin to end a phrase with a preposition is unforgivable), the idea that elective war must be denounced is absurd. Yet Kerry reiterated this ridiculous idea, stating: "Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response."

 Apparently, Kerry believes that only a direct attack on the United States justifies war, which would invalidate every major American military action since 1900 aside from World War II in the Pacific sphere and the Afghanistan war. In John Kerry's world, Americans have to die in Los Angeles or New York or Chicago or Washington, D.C., before the American military can defang the monster.

 That solution is unacceptable. John Kerry can talk all he likes about avoiding military engagements around the world. But fighting abroad is certainly a better solution than watching as more American buildings become smoking rubble -- or standing by as millions die from the effects of a biological or dirty-bomb attack. No amount of posturing about service in Vietnam can justify Kerry's lack of a pre-emptive strategy. And I'm not willing to risk that a President John Kerry would prevent such an attack, just because he spent four months on a swift boat.