Michael J. Totten argues that the fact that a Democratic candidate is touting his experience as a war hero is a very welcome change from the days when they felt the need to appear reflexively anti-military. Certainly true.
Indeed, among the great ironies in the last generation of American politics is that George McGovern and Jimmy Carter were perceived as so anti-military, when the former was a legitimate hero of WWII and the latter a Naval Academy graduate who gave years of honorable service. Carter also gets too much flack on the military front for his stint as commander-in-chief. While his pardoning of those who ran off to Canada to avoid the draft only four years after the war was over was deservedly thought to be a slap in the face to its veterans, the transformation into the high tech force that made us easily the number one power in the world began under his watch as well. From Richard Holbrooke:
When Jimmy Carter became president and Harold Brown became secretary of Defense, he gave Bill Perry THE job, THE technology job in the United States military establishment, the undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering, the famous DDR&E job, the top technology and buying job in the Pentagon, which was then structured a little less messily than it is today.
Along with Harold Brown, he developed the offset strategy, according to which superior Soviet numbers of troops and tanks would have to be offset not by American manpower, but by our unique strength; not raw numbers and not nuclear weapons, but technology. Bill Perry is widely regarded as the father of the stealth bomber, the F-117, the B-2, the C Shadow and other weapon systems and technologies that are still too classified to be revealed or else we’d have to shoot you. (Laughter.) The Global Positioning System, GPS, which you’re all familiar with, would not exist if it were not for Bill Perry. Use of reconnaissance satellites for support of military operations and development of precision-guided bombs were all pioneered by our guest this evening. By the time of the 1991 Gulf War, these weapons were in the inventory and dazzled the world by their performance. They are what the people in the Pentagon call the transformational generation of weapons.
Ronald Reagan gets a lot of the credit for this–deservedly so–for making this happen much faster because of massive funding. But Carter and Co. deserve some of the credit, too, and get virtually none.
Michael also points to this New Republic article which puts John Kerry’s remarks before the Senate in context:
Months before Kerry’s appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vvaw had held what it called the “Winter Soldier Investigation” in Detroit, at which more than 100 Vietnam veterans testified to war crimes they themselves committed while serving in Vietnam. Those are the crimes to which Kerry referred in his Senate testimony, as a fuller version of his remarks–which, to National Review‘s limited credit, it did print in its actual article–makes clear. Speaking of the veterans who testified at the “Winter Soldier Investigation,” Kerry said, “They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war.” So, far from making the allegations himself, Kerry was simply repeating what other veterans themselves had admitted.
Now, Kerry was there and should have put in some huge disclaimers–emphasizing that the vast majority of the soldiers over there were serving honorably. But if this testimony is all there is to the “Hanoi John” charges, it would be not only morally correct but tactically wise to move on.