Lieutenant John Kerry (USN) awards; Silver Star, Bronze Star (with Valor device), Purple Hearts (three oak leaf clusters), Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation (for heroism), Navy Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters), Republic of Vietnam Unit Citation Gallantry Cross Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Civil Action Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal. We will ignore the fact he chose to wear his medals on his fatigue uniform when he testified as part of the Vietnam Vets Against the War.
Unlike others, I'm not here to challenge his record. There is no denying that he served his country with distinction in Vietnam. Vietnam was an ugly war with the Vietnamese people suffering horrible atrocities and the US troops that survived being damaged by those same atrocities only to return home to an American public too ashamed of them to offer the vets anything other the ridicule and condemnation.
If you asked most people today, they think the Vietnam war started in 1968 (the year the peace negotiated by the Pope was shattered by the NVA attacking the 25th Infantry Regiment). If they happen to be a little older they might say 1965 (when combat units were first deployed in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident). Actually the US involvement in Vietnam goes back to the early 1950s, when advisors were first sent in to assist the French and South Vietnamese in preventing the spread of Communism. The Second Indochina War (what we call the Vietnam War) actually started on Nov 1, 1955. The US presence went from a few hundred advisors, tripled in 1961 and then again in 1962. It explains how there was such a huge military presence prior to the events of the Gulf of Tonkin and the incident could incite a huge military response.
Events in Vietnam eerily parallel events in Iraq today. A weak government (Iraq) is seen as a puppet of the United States (the same way the South Vietnamese government was viewed). A group from the North (Syrian backed Sunnis) oppose the weak government that has sought to marginalize them. In retaliation, the United States labels the opposition as a "threat" (Communism being replaced by radical Islamists) and sends in military advisors (Green Berets, the same troops used in Vietnam) to shore up the weak government leader. The parallels are almost too similar.
John Kerry served in Vietnam from 1969-1970. What seems like ancient history to most today was current events for him. He, as the Secretary of State, more than anyone else in the White House (including the goof of a SecDef) should recognize the opening act to this play. Instead, we get this in today's New York Times;
Winding up a day of crisis talks with Iraqi leaders, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that the Sunni militants seizing territory in Iraq had become such a threat that the United States might not wait for Iraqi politicians to form a new government before taking military action.
“They do pose a threat,” Mr. Kerry said, referring to the fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “They cannot be given safe haven anywhere.”
“That’s why, again, I reiterate the president will not be hampered if he deems it necessary if the formation is not complete,” he added, referring to the Iraqi efforts to establish a new multisectarian government that bridges the deep divisions among the majority Shiites and minority Sunnis, Kurds and other smaller groups.
This is after Obama assured everyone that "no combat troops" would be sent into Iraq after he announced the deployment of the 300 advisors (which were in addition to the 300 Marine FAST team).
Just like France did in Indochina, the US has broke the political and military system that was in place and worked (forget about Saddam, look at Baghdad before 2003 and now). Now the US has backed the wrong man (Maliki) and Kerry is the latest (after Colin Powell, Condolezza Rice and Hillary Clinton) to try to put a band aid on a sucking chest wound. Colin Powell at least recognized the risks if we invaded Iraq. Kerry should know better than most that whenever you send in advisors, you risk escalation.
Iraq has already granted the US advisors limited immunity from prosecution. WTF? If you don't see where this heading then you've not been reading your history. If you don't recognize how "radical Islam" has replaced "Communism", then you haven't read enough about McCarthyism and Black Lists.
Kerry also shows he doesn't understand Iraq when he turned to Barzani and asked for the Kurds to assist in keeping the Iraqi government in power. Are you kidding? The Kurds have no love for Maliki and see this as the best opportunity to seek and independent Kurdish state.
So Lieutenant John Kerry, USN, I salute your service. Now please use that experience to keep our troops the hell out of another Vietnam.