John F'n Kerry's Lies
By John Kerry
James Taranto misinterpreted my words and misreads history (" 'It Didn't Happen,' " July 26). I know the tragedy that followed a tragic war. John McCain and I led the effort to locate American POWs and ultimately normalize relations with Vietnam. I traveled to Cambodia to help create a genocide tribunal to bring to justice the butchers of the killing fields.
But what did not happen was the region-wide war or immediate chaos predicted by many who believed we had to maintain our massive military presence in Vietnam. A brutal dictatorship consolidated power in Vietnam, the region's refugee crisis worsened, and two years after we left Vietnam, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge launched a genocide.
Mr. Taranto mistakenly views the violence after 1973 as a direct result of our withdrawal. In fact, the violence arose from the conditions that led us to withdraw: a Vietnamese civil war we couldn't stop supported by a Cambodian insurgency we couldn't bomb into submission. It's horrifying that so many South Vietnamese suffered. But, even accepting Mr. Taranto's estimate of 165,000 Vietnamese deaths--double that of most academic sources--this is a significant decrease from the preceding eight years when 450,000 civilians and 1.1 million soldiers were killed.
We should not repeat the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq, but let's have an honest debate rather than a hysterical one. The agony of exiting a quagmire is that there are few certainties and no good options. That choice was created not by the advocates for changing course, but by the architects of a disastrous war.
'Leading the effort to locate American POWs and normalize relations between the U.S.A. and Vietnam' didn't have a damn thing to do with the violence and mayhem that was generated by our backing out of the Vietnam War. We may have withdrawn our troops in 1973, but it was 2 years later, when Congress cut funding, that led to the bloodbath that came after the war.
Despite all of Jon Carry's magic hat tricks, he didn't go to Cambodia to 'oversee genocide tribunals to bring justice to the butchers of the killing fields' until approximately the year 2000--nearly a quarter of a century AFTER the population had been decimated, and long after Vietnamese boat people died trying to escape Communism, as a result of the war.
I don't know what self-aggrandizing point this narcissistic fool is trying to make, but if he doesn't think it mattered how we left Vietnam, he's saying millions and millions of people just didn't count.