February 22, 2004

Letter to the Paper V

The entire Kerry/Winter Soldier Investigation thing has been bothering me ever since I wrote my earlier piece. I decided to jot this off to the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

Dear Rabbi Hier,

I watch and read with concern that Presidential contender Sen. John Kerry has recently (this year) taken the position that US soldiers in Vietnam committed horrific acts during that war that contravened the laws of war but, because these acts were known and condoned throughout the US military command chain they were not guilty of war crimes (though, perhaps their superiors were). To my knowledge his most recent explicit statement in support of this idea came in a taped interview on CNN's Inside Politics on February 19, 2004. A transcript can be found at the address below:

Sen. Kerry's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 23, 1971 can be found at the address below:

I quote:

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 fashion reminiscent of Ghengis 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 and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

end quote

There is a terrible principle that must be defended, that war crimes can never be legitimized by the orders of superiors, much less simply having superiors condoning these acts. Irrespective of whether the testimony gathered by the Winter Soldiers Investigation are true or not, this is an assault on the very logic that has been held for decades in the case of the nazis and their horrific actions.

If Sen. Kerry thinks that soldiers raped, killed, desecrated bodies and committed other war crimes yet there should be no responsibility, no trials for the perpetrators of these acts, then it is no longer true that there is no statute of limitations on war crimes, merely a convenient line which can be moved this way or that depending on who is in power. If you pick the right side, if you have enough power, you can get away with atrocities and never be called to justice.

Now I happen to think that Sen. Kerry is wrong, that the Winter Soldier Investigation is riddled with falsehoods, some of which have already been uncovered. But Sen. Kerry's position, no matter what the actual facts are, has moral implications and they demand to be addressed.

What do you say?

Who knows what they'll say but I'll relate any responses I get.

Posted by TMLutas at February 22, 2004 07:59 PM