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John Kerry: 1971 vs. 2013

By   /   August 30, 2013  /   11 Comments

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

In 1971, John Kerry was at the center of one of the great anti-war demonstrations in American history.  His testimony before Congress was a crucial element in turning public opinion against the war in Vietnam.

On Friday afternoon, Kerry was again giving a much-watched public speech in Washington, D.C.  But the one-time “winter soldier” who was willing to straight-talk Congress about the bloody quagmire in Southeast Asia has changed his tune about America’s role in international conflicts.

NO MORE WAR: John Kerry was one of the faces of the anti-war movement after his return from Vietnam.

NO MORE WAR: John Kerry was one of the faces of the anti-war movement after his return from Vietnam.

Here’s three side-by-side comparisons of Kerry in 1971 vs. Kerry in 2013:

In 1971, Kerry said America’s involvement in Vietnam was never about national security:

“In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart.”

In 2013, Kerry said America’s involvement in Syria was about national security:

“It matters deeply to the credibility and the future interests of the United States of America and our allies…. And make no mistake, in an increasingly complicated world of sectarian and religious extremist violence, what we choose to do or not do matters in real ways to our own security.”

In 1971, Kerry said America lost its sense of morality by bombing villages in Vietnam:

“We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.”

In 2013, Kerry said America must bomb villages in Syria, because of our sense of morality:

“It is also profoundly about who we are. We are the United States of America. We are the country that has tried, not always successfully, but always tried to honor a set of universal values around which we have organized our lives and our aspirations.

MORE WAR: As Secretary of State, John Kerry laid out the case for America to go to war with Syria.

MORE WAR: As Secretary of State, John Kerry laid out the case for America to go to war with Syria.

“This crime against conscience, this crime against humanity, this crime against the most fundamental principles of international community, against the norm of the international community, this matters to us.

“And it matters to who we are. And it matters to leadership and to our credibility in the world.”

In 1971, Kerry said America should stay out of internal civil wars in other nations – no matter how bad they might be – because history shows that is the right thing to do.

“The war will continue. So what I am saying is that yes, there will be some recrimination but far, far less than the 200,000 a year who are murdered by the United States of America, and we can’t go around — President Kennedy said this, many times. He said that the United States simply can’t right every wrong, that we can’t solve the problems of the other 94 percent of mankind. We didn’t go into East Pakistan; we didn’t go into Czechoslovakia. Why then should we feel that we now have the power to solve the internal political struggles of this country?

We have to let them solve their problems while we solve ours and help other people in an altruistic fashion commensurate with our capability. But we have extended that capacity; we have exhausted that capacity, Senator. So I think the question is really moot.”

In 2013, Kerry said America must intervene in what he admits is an internal civil war in another nation, because history shows that is the right thing to do:

“But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about. And history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency, these things we do know.

“We also know that we have a president that does what he says that he will do. And he has said, very clearly, that whatever decision he makes in Syria it will bear no resemblance to Afghanistan, Iraq or even Libya. It will not involve any boots on the ground. It will not be open ended. And it will not assume responsibility for a civil war that is already well underway.”

The full transcript of Kerry’s testimony before Congress in 1971 can be found hereFull transcript of his remarks on Friday can be found here.

Eric Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com.  Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87

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Eric is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes while writing about state governments, pensions, labor issues and economic/civil liberty. Previously, he worked for more than three years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, covering Pennsylvania state politics and occasionally sneaking across the border to Delaware to buy six-packs of beer. He has also lived (in order of desirability) in Brussels, Belgium, Pennsburg, Pa., Fairfield, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and elsewhere. He received a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University in 2009, but he refuses to hang on his wall until his student loans are fully paid off sometime in the mid-2020s. When he steps away from the computer, he enjoys drinking craft beers in classy bars, cheering for an eclectic mix of favorite sports teams (mostly based in Philadelphia) and traveling to new places.

  • boldaq

    Statement of Mr. John Traitor Kerry-Proven lies that he has never apologized for.
    “I would like to talk, representing
    all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit,
    we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged
    and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes
    committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes
    committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers
    at all levels of command….

    They told the stories 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 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, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done
    by the applied bombing power of this country.”

  • gthomson13

    I didn’t care that John Kerry opposed the war in Vietnam but it was how he did it, accusing his former fellow U.S. military men of atrocities and war crimes on a large scale. Now he asks us to believe him, whereas he at one time was saying we shouldn’t trust the people who were in the exact same position he’s in now. The left continually puts itself in ironical situations and it never ceases to amaze me how they never learn. So here we are with no options other than strike with deadly force or look as week as everyone believes us to be – and there is no blaming anyone else except Pres. Obama/ Hillary Clinton and John Kerry for this mess. (Remember the famous “Reset” button pushed by Mrs. Clinton (except the Russian version said something other than reset – very stupid in and of itself). Instead of REset the United States got REduced.

    Mr. Kerry and his fellow leftists have long preached negotiations can cure just about any international problem and while negotiations can be a powerful tool, but FIRST YOU MUST HAVE SOMETHING TO NEGOTIATE WITH! The Obama / Clinton / Kerry international relations policy has been to unilaterally give in on just about anything. Now they are painted into a corner and most of the proverbial “international community” don’t believe Obama has the stomach to really take harsh measures – certainly not the resolve to go the long run with them. Putin and all the middle east leaders know how weak this administration’s resolve is for getting tough. Iran is ready to pounce. And our stingiest ally in the mid-east, Israel, stands in the crosshairs. (I suspect they gave up on the Obama administration within the first 6 months and have been preparing to stand up for themselves for awhile. They’ve even set up an alliance, albeit a tentative one, with Saudi Arabia. )

    If the pain weren’t so great for so many, I would like to stand on the sidelines and laugh at the bumbling of this leftist administration. However, in the long run we are all hurt and that is no laughing matter. We are watching the massive failure of American leftist international relations ideology played out on the grand stage. I don’t like the script.

  • OldmanRick

    Scary Kerry’s is also known as the flip flopper extraordinaire. He is always for it before he is against it or visa versa. He’s kinda like the brat – indecisive and a liar.

  • Prospector69

    It has been said that the young argue and fight with the passion of their feeling and their heart. As they grow up, they learn and experience the realities of the world. Then, as older people, they argue and fight with their minds and hopefully with their wisdom. One party, and it’s people, doesn’t want to ever grow up. John Kerry is one of those. He still wants to wear the rose colored hippie shades to color the world the way that he wants and ignore or protest the world that is.

  • http://www.openletter.avoiceofthepeople.com/ we__the__people

    John Kerry statement after Congress refuses to allow bombing of Syria: “I just want everyone to know that I was for bombing Syria, before I was against it.”

  • wassup402

    Two words – Duplicitous hypocrite.

  • Douglas Phillips

    STOP this government! VOTE! Clean this mess up people!

  • Anastasiagirl

    Is he Genghis Khan now?

  • Thomas F. McDonald

    O Canada!
    Our home and native land!
    True patriot love in all thy sons command.
    With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
    The True North strong and free!
    From far and wide,
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
    God keep our land glorious and free!
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

  • grown up

    more crap out of the mouth of a “Proud American”. It is the divisive labeling I object to in your rhetoric, not the opinion that we should stay out of the “mess” you blame on Obama, Clinton and Kerry. There has been plenty of blame to go around in previous administrations. You want to concentrate on the nasty little kiddies game of : My family is better and smarter than yours”. Cripe! This is America! One (or once?) great country !
    I don’t give a hoot about this disgusting game of slurs. It is from people like you who can’t see the value in objectivity that tears us apart…. from getting on with what reality is before us,……honestly and honorably working together to try saving our freedom and DEMOCRACY. Enough with the ignorant , “go nowhere” hateful name-blame calling.
    I was probably an ignorant, nasty little (“oh so right”) republican back in the seventies. I think I was wrong then. I’ve painfully grown up some in the past many years of my life. Right or “left”, Liberal or “Conservative”, doesn’t mean a damned thing out of the mouths of ignorance.
    What’s done is done. What we should or should not do now should concern us. I don’t really have a clue, but I do feel that we can’t afford that ” last straw” that will take us down the costly, bloody road to heartbreak, loss and more ruined economy.
    What did the last wars do to help our country or the others? See now what hunting and stirring a hornets nest has done for peace and prosperity!

  • boldaq

    How would you feel if you were a Nam vet who knew Kerry was simply repeating phony b.s. war stories? His self-serving lies forever marked Nam vets as crazed, drug addled killers. Scores of movies were made portraying us that way based on the filth that came out of Kerry’s mouth.
    No, it’s not “done”. We will never forget and never stop letting the world know what John Traitor Kerry really is.

    .

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