Still, burning down someone's straw hut, while not exactly polite, is far from the sort of war crime Kerry had conjured in his Senate testimony. As for all the soldiers Kerry had quoted, the Naval Investigative Service attempted to interview all 150 of them to get names, dates and places. What they discovered, as B.G. Burkett unveiled in his groundbreaking book "Stolen Valor," is that many of those so-called Vietnam Vets had never even been to Vietnam. Among those who had, many had never seen combat but had technical or service jobs. None was able to sign an affidavit attesting to actual atrocities.
Kerry did make a provocative point when he asked whether it was fair to continue the war when we had already decided to withdraw (the United States was then engaged in the "Vietnamization" policy, which was intended to transfer war fighting gradually to the South Vietnamese). Some soldier, Kerry said, "is going to be the last guy to die for an admitted mistake." What Kerry failed to see, and still fails to see, judging by his votes regarding the Iraq War (he voted for the war but against the funds to see it through), is that there are consequences to cutting and running in ignominious fashion.
Cavett attempted to remain neutral, but it was ultimately too much for him. Not only did he agree with Kerry, but O'Neill tried his patience by interrupting repeatedly. With barely concealed sarcasm, Cavett said: "Nobody believes that there will be a blood bath if we withdraw. That was a cliche we used to hear a lot. Neither of you believes that do you?" Kerry's answer was emblematic of the antiwar left. He said he thought it was a "baiting argument" by the pro-war side since "there'd be no interest on the part of the Vietnamese to start massacring people after people (the United States) had pulled out."
Following America's withdrawal and Congress' decision to cut off every penny for Southeast Asia, there was a terrible genocide in Cambodia, so terrible that it overshadows the horror of what befell Vietnam. Roughly 800,000 boat people chose to take their lives in their hands rather than remain in communist Vietnam. Some 65,000 were executed, and this does not include those who slowly starved in concentration camps.
Wonder if the senator would care to revise and extend his remarks?
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