Kerry's Radical Anti-Defense Record

For 20 years, Sen. John Kerry’s standard operating procedure was to propose amendments cutting defense and intelligence spending. Fortunately for the armed forces, most of them failed badly. During Ronald Reagan’s $2-trillion military buildup, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts voted against nearly ever major weapons system. Never mind that it was this show of might that helped topple the Soviet empire.

“The Reagan Administration has no rational plan for our military,” Mr. Kerry said in the 1980s. “Instead, it acts on misinformed assumptions about the strength of the Soviet military and a presumed ‘window of vulnerability,’ which we now know not to exist.”

Not content with that sort of mis-forecasting, Mr. Kerry targeted the Pentagon again in the 1990s. President Clinton’s budget cuts were not enough, even as the commander in chief slashed Army divisions, Navy ships and Air Force fighter wings. In one Senate debate, Kerry proposed slicing nearly $50 billion more. The bid was so over the top most of his liberal Democrat colleagues failed to join in, and the amendment failed miserably.

Undaunted, Mr. Kerry also went after the CIA’s budget–after America was learning of a new deadly threat called al Qaeda. Kerry was becoming such a loner on national defense that one of his amendments to cut $300 million from the CIA did not attract one co-sponsor. Despite the track record, Mr. Kerry had the gumption to say this on CBS after the September 11 attacks: “And the tragedy is at the moment, the single most important weapon for the United States of America is intelligence. It’s the single most important
weapon in this particular war.”

Kerry’s history is, of course, mightily important today. He is campaigning to be the next commander in chief. All of those budget cuts he failed to achieve as a legislator may become a reality in a Kerry presidency. The historical record comes complements of retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert (Buzz) Patterson in his new book, Reckless Disregard: How Liberal Democrats Undercut Our Military, Endanger Our Soldiers, and Jeopardize Our Security. It is not only an indictment of Kerry, but also of the liberal establishment’s 30-year crusade against American’s defenses.

There is Jane Fonda giving comfort to the enemy by visiting American prisoners of war in North Vietnam and forcing them to listen to her anti-U.S. tirade. “When I saw Fonda and heard her anti-war rhetoric, I was almost sick to my stomach,” recalls former POW David Hoffman, who was tortured into leaving his cell and meeting Fonda. “She called us criminals and murderers. I detested Jane Fonda then and I detest her now.”

There is Ted Kennedy joining Kerry in most anti-defense votes. And there is Bill Clinton, who sent the military on a record number of war and peacekeeping missions in the 1990s, while reducing their ranks and money. Former National Security Council staffer Richard Clarke, the darling of liberals for blaming Bush for September 11, is singled out by Patterson as particularly ineffective in combating terrorism.

Patterson had seats on the 50-yard line for that era. He served as the active duty officer who carried the president’s “nuclear football”–the briefcase containing super-secret codes for launching an all-out attack. The officer remembered what he saw. Upon retiring, he wrote a New York Times bestseller, Dereliction of Duty, an “eyewitness account of how Bill Clinton compromised America’s national security.” Patterson charged that Clinton once “lost” the launch codes and watched a golf tournament on TV while pilots waited for his order to strike targets in Iraq. The mission was scratched.

In his new book, Patterson, an airline pilot living in Atlanta, does not let up. “President Bill Clinton was Jimmy Carter????? ¹s natural successor and will be remembered as the most incompetent of all commanders in chief,” he writes in Reckless Disregard. “He entered office an avowed draft dodger with a self-professed loathing for the military,” Patterson argues. “He left eight years later having as his legacy the most extreme and ill-advised defense reductions in our nation’s history.”

Patterson examines the roots of Kerry’s anti-defense votes, a search that takes the author to the Vietnam era. Kerry, a decorated Navy officer, left Vietnam, quit the Navy and became one of the nation’s most publicized anti-war demonstrators.

But Patterson points out that many of the “veterans” with whom Kerry associated turned out to be frauds who spread blatant untruths. These friends, and Kerry himself, accused America’s youth of a string of atrocities in Vietnam. Trouble is, virtually none of them were true. But by the time authors and military investigators took the time to follow-up the charges and deem them unfounded, the damage to that generation had been done.

In one instance, Kerry convened the 1971 Winter Soldier conference in Detroit. Veterans told their stories. A documentary of their stories was told at the Cannes film festival, where it promptly won an award. Yes, the French of 1971 were ever so much like the French of 2004. Only this time, Michael Moore got the honors for his semi-fiction attack on George Bush. Patterson points out B. G. Burkett, in his classic Stolen Valor discovered that many of Kerry’s Winter Soldier conventioneers were frauds.

Writes Patterson in a no-holds-barred style, “One of Kerry’s colleagues was Al Hubbard, the executive director of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Hubbard claimed to be an Air Force officer who had spent two years in Vietnam and was wounded in combat. In reality, Hubbard was a fake. While he had served in the military, he was never promoted beyond the rank of staff sergeant, had never served in Vietnam and was never wounded. Kerry and Hubbard, however, went on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ side by side, to denounce the war.”

Most of Reckless Disregard deals with more recent history, such as the sudden fame of Richard Clarke and his best-selling book, Against All Enemies. Clarke mesmerized Democrats, if not the nation, by testifying before the September 11 commission the same week his book came out. The book party included commission members holding up the publication for a huge TV audience to see. Clarke, an eight-year Clinton employee, blamed Bush for not stopping al Qaeda’s attack. Without modesty, he said that if only Bush’s people had listened to him, he could have stopped the carnage.

Patterson’s White House posting allowed him to observe Clarke firsthand. The author saw things differently. A reader immediately gets the flavor with this chapter title: “The Clinton Catastrophe II: Corruption, Cowardice, and the Fraud of Richard Clarke.”

“His apology before the 9-11 commission was pure grandstanding before he tried to place the blame elsewhere,” Patterson decides. “According to Clarke, Clinton ‘identified terrorism as the major post-Cold War threat,’ but ‘could not get the CIA, Pentagon, and FBI to act sufficiently to deal with the threat.'”

“Who’s the president here?” Patterson asks. “Clarkeism is Clintonism: It’s somebody else’s fault.”


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