FLASHBACK: March 4, 2004John Kerry: On the Losing Side of History

(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Thursday, March 4, 2004) The Cold War and the ominous threat of Communist expansion are long over. Still, Americans should start thinking about communism again. Why dig up the past? Because our current enemy–loosely organized Islamic radicalism–is not nearly as serious a threat as the one Sen. John F. Kerry (D.-Mass.), pooh-poohed under questioning from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971: “I think [the threat of Communism] is bogus. Totally artificial. There is no threat. The Communists are not about to take over our McDonald Hamburger stands.” Was it worth fighting to resist Red expansion? Kerry thought not. “To attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom . . . is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy.” Several writers have addressed Kerry’s slanders against every American who served in Vietnam and his accusations of unspeakable daily war crimes committed “with the full awareness of officers at every level of command.” But Kerry’s direct statements on communism, while less potent politically, are even more interesting because they place the man squarely on the losing side of history. Russian Soldiers in Our Streets Former Sen. Jeremiah Denton (R.-Ala.), a Vietnam POW who suffered four years of solitary confinement in Hanoi and who later wrote When Hell Was in Session, was Kerry’s Senate colleague from 1985 to 1987. When Kerry was testifying in Washington in 1971, Denton was in his sixth year of captivity in North Vietnam. “We barely won the Cold War,” Denton said to me last week. “If we had gone the way Kerry was voting while I was in the Senate, we would have Russian soldiers walking in our streets today.” Laugh if you like, but this is not the exaggeration it may seem. When Kerry testified in 1971, the outcome of the Cold War was still very much in doubt. Communism was on the move not only in Southeast Asia, but also in South and Central America, in Yemen, in East and West Africa. Stateside, only a prescient few even recognized the Cold War as a war that could and must be won decisively. John Kerry was obviously not one of them. In his opinion, America merely “reacted to the forces which were at work in World War II and came out of it with this paranoia about the Russians, and how the world was going to be divided up between the super powers, and the foreign policy of John Foster Dulles…a direct reaction to this so-called Communist monolith.” Communism, Kerry told the Senate committee, was not a global threat, but one form of government among many, just like ours: “Politically, historically, the one thing that people try to do, that society is structured on as a whole, is an attempt to satisfy their felt needs. And you can satisfy those needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name it is democratic; in others it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship…” Kerry went on to suggest that it was the American system that was failing to meet its people’s needs, even as whole peoples faced extermination under communist regimes in Asia. With his testimony and public witness, John F. Kerry handed global communism perhaps its greatest propaganda victory since Sputnik. Imagine this handsome young veteran officer, his chest gleaming with medals, as he cited dubious accusations against American soldiers from unreliable sources, implicating America as the world’s greatest war criminal, and her policies as outdated “paranoia about the Russians.” Kerry went so far as to remark, in 1971, “I think we are reacting under Cold War precepts which are no longer applicable.” A Shameful Witness Kerry has never repudiated his foolish showmanship of the early 1970s. He cannot repudiate it, because it got him to where he is today. Yet this part of his history is truly shameful in a way few younger Americans can even understand. After bravely and honorably serving his country in Vietnam, Kerry went on to build his political career by helping America’s most powerful enemy and its global agenda of violent expansion. And Kerry’s guilt in advancing evil is only augmented by his decorated war service, which gave undue credibility to his preposterous testimony. There were many legitimate reasons for opposing the war in Vietnam in 1971–for wanting to cut short our involvement there and live to fight another day, especially after the war had been so badly mismanaged for so long. But as we have seen, Kerry testified in 1971 not only against the Vietnam War but also against the idea that communism was a true threat. “Right now we are reacting with paranoia,” he said. Kerry’s words were an aid to the enemy, a siren song lulling the nation into a posture of tolerance and even accommodation toward an Evil Empire bent on the destruction of the West and the subjugation of free peoples. America’s uncertainty of purpose during the 1970s, its “malaise,” was wrought by credible and otherwise honorable men like John Kerry who lent their significant talents to apologizing for the greatest threat to security and peace the world has ever known. If this reopening of the Cold War seems anachronistic, it is only because we elected Ronald Reagan in 1980–a man nothing like John Kerry. Reagan wanted to win the Cold War, and to that end he refused at every turn to appease the Evil Empire and suffered no provocation without a strong response. History did not have to bless us with the relative peace we enjoy in the world today. If men like John F. Kerry had had their way, it would not have. This piece was first published in Brainwash, the weekly web-zine of the America’s Future Foundation on February 22, 2004.