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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
KERRY-O'NEILL, 1971. So I've spent the last hour and a half carefully reading this transcript of John Kerry and John O'Neill's debate on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971 [LINK UPDATED TO UNROT, August 26th, 2009]. There's a lot of text, and were I to attempt to analyze it all here, I'd be at it for a lot more hours. I'm not going to do that. Y'all can read it for yourself, or view the streaming video at that link (I didn't; I read a lot faster than live action). Or, of course, not. There's no really compelling reason to, unless you're interested in history, or want to get at the truth of John Kerry's opinions in 1971.
As someone who spent many years intently obsessed with the Vietnam War, although I was thankfully entirely too young to have had to deal with the draft issue (by 1974, I was only turning 16 in November), but who futher also worked professionally as a junior editor and assistant on Avon Books's nonfiction and fiction Vietnam line in the mid-Eighties, and who has read literally hundreds of histories, memoirs, and manuscripts on the War -- but if I'd ever long ago read this transcript, I'd long ago forgotten it -- I found much here fascinating. I also found much dispiriting.
Frankly, I thought both of them had some valid things to say, and some points that fail. I'm not going to score them overall; you can decide for yourself, if you like; moreover, I'm quite sure that anyone who is or has been firmly against John Kerry isn't going to read/view this, and suddenly change their mind. There are some entirely valid points to take issue with Kerry on, or question, particularly with the benefit of hindsight, but the same applies very much to O'Neill. Of course, O'Neill isn't running for President, so that matters rather considerably less now.
I am, however, going to quote just a very few bits I think are key to keep in mind now, insofar as a) the entire issue of what either John Kerry or George W. Bush was doing and saying thirty-three years ago is irrelevant to how one should vote in less than two and a half weeks (certainly George W. Bush seems a great deal less impressive in every way, in his thirty-three-years-ago self, to me, but at this point, so what?); b) these aren't going to be likely to change anyone's mind about the Vietnam War who already has firm opinions.
However, I'd like to put them on my own record, and besides, a lot of folks are young enough to not have firm opinions about that War, which was deeply complex, and now long ago, and apt to be a very confusing issue to anyone who has not intently studied in great depth and detail.
MR. KERRY: [...] I think, first of all, I'm somewhat surprised at the attitude of somebody who wore the same uniform as I did who served in the same military for the same kind, I hope, of patriotic reasons, and I really haven't come back to this country nor have Vietnam Veterans against the War come back to this country to try in any sense or in any form to show bitterness or to tear the country apart or to tear it down.
I think that what we're doing is we're trying in a sense to show where the country went wrong, and we believe that as veterans who took part in this war, we have nothing to gain by coming back here and talking about those things that have happened except to try and point the way to America, to try and say, "Here is where we went wrong and we've got to change."
MR. O'NEILL: [...] What's so interesting about many of Mr. Kerry's backers including Clark Clifford, Roger Hillsman (phonetic spelling) and a number of others, is that they happen to be exactly the same people who sent us to Vietnam.
Which is perfectly true; I was informed earlier today that "Back in 1971, Kerry orchestrated a KGB authored campaign of lies, smears and innuendo against Vietnam Veterans and the country in order to undermine the war," and we nowadays see this sort of statement all the time from the rightwing lunatic fringe, or those who have picked up their memes, that Kerry carried out a "KGB agenda" in opposing the War.
Of course, if so -- and here a logical and factual distinction is lost, which is the fact that there certainly was such a KGB agenda, but it was almost entirely irrelevant to the rise of the domestic U.S. anti-war movement (it was a trifle more relevant in Europe and elsewhere) -- somehow the KGB managed to control, by the early Seventies, much of the former leaderership of the Johnson, and to some degree, the Nixon, Administrations, as well as the majority of the populace of the United States, who turned en masse against support of the War. Were this insanity so, one wonders why Brezhnev didn't simply take over the U.S., but never mind. There was no more need for the KGB to support the anti-war movement for it to grow to be the majority view in the early Seventies than there's been for a KGB creating the comparatively trivial anti-Iraq war movement.
With 500,000+ drafted kids fighting and dying in Vietnam, and the War going on for bloody year after year, in defense of an overwhelmingly corrupt and inept succession of regimes, no matter the nastiness of the North Vietnamese regime (also blurrier to most then), sold by U.S. governments that had provably, by the Pentagon Papers, and contemporary reporting, consciously endlessly lied to and deceived the American people, and with no sign of military victory in sight, there was simply no need for outside forces to encourage or aid the growth of a vast U.S. anti-war movement.
[...] MR. KERRY: Well, I have often talked about this subject. I personally didn't see personal atrocities in the sense that I saw somebody cut a head off or something like that. However, I did take part in free fire zones and I did take part in harassment interdiction fire. I did take part in search-and-destroy missions in which the houses of noncombatants were burned to the ground. And all of these, I find out later on, these acts are contrary to the Hague and Geneva Conventions and to the laws of warfare. So in that sense, anybody who took part in those, if you carry out the applications of the Nuremberg principles, is in fact guilty.
This remains a key point in refuting the accusations that Kerry was smearing masses, or all, individual vets, by claiming that a huge number of soldiers were engaged in My Lai type activity. That's not what he was saying then, and it's not ever been what he said. He was making a generalized legalistic point about the Geneva Accords forbidding free-fire zones, as we'll see later. This is an entirely defensible position. It was also firmly and clearly directed at the leadership of the war who set such policy, and not at all at individual vets; he was entirely clear on this. His very next words:
But we're not trying to find war criminals. That's not our purpose. It never has been. I have a letter here which I could read to you which we wrote to Washington D.C. in an effort to try and solve the problem of these war crimes, and we sent it to Senator Stennis, and we said, "On behalf of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, we're writing to ask that the Senate Armed Services Committee immediately convene public hearings to examine the testimony presented by these veterans." May I go on?
Among the questions raised were charges. What we're looking for is an examination of our policy by people in this country, particularly by the leaders before they take young men who are the objects of that policy and try them rather than examine the policy at the highest level where it was in fact promulgated.
But what we're saying is – and the reason that some of these men have not signed depositions is very, very simple, and it's up to each individual. One reason is that specifically they are not looking to implicate other people. They haven't cited names of individuals involved because they don't want more Calleys. They don't want men to enter double jeopardy, to have to come back to the United States of America and be penalized for those things that they did that were the result of the mistakes and the bad decisions of their leaders.
MR. CAVETT: Uh-huh.
MR. KERRY: And the purpose of them not signing them is literally to call for an examination of policy and not scapegoats and to examine it from the President of the United States to General Westmoreland and others. And when they do that, then they will sign and then they will talk.
Now, when we talk about something like war crimes, we're not throwing this term out lightly. The Hague Convention, the Geneva Conventions, history has laid down certain laws of warfare. Hague Convention, I believe, Article Four, states that you are not allowed to bombard uninhabited villages or villages that are not occupied by defendants. We have done that constantly in Vietnam.
MR. O'NEILL: [Unintelligible] John. Can you tell me about any war crimes that occurred in that unit, Coastal Division 11? And a second question: Why didn't you attempt to get out of the unit or submit a request when you were there if you saw anything that shocked a normal man?
MR. KERRY: We – Well, I'll come back to the question.
MR. O'NEILL: I'd like you to answer that question, if you would. You obviously are quite good on the polished rhetoric, but I did serve in the same place you did, and not for four months but for 18 months, and I never saw anything, and I'd like you to tell me about the war crimes you saw committed there, and also why you didn't do something about them, although [unintelligible].
MR. KERRY: Did you serve in a free fire zone?
MR. O'NEILL: I certainly did serve in a free fire zone.
MR. KERRY: [Reading] "Free fire zone, in which we kill anything that moves – man, woman or child. This practice suspends the distinction between combatant and non-combatant and contravenes Geneva Convention Article 3.1."
MR. O'NEILL: Where is that from, John?
MR. KERRY: Geneva Conventions. You've heard about the Geneva Conventions.
MR. O'NEILL: I suggest – I suggest –
This segment of discussion went on for a while, but O'Neill's response boiled down to this:
No, we never – I never – I never burned a village, that's absolutely correct.
Who can say this isn't so? But O'Neill simply never responded to the question of free fire zones, and any attempt to deny that they were policy, and constantly employed for years in Vietnam, rightly or wrongly, would be ludicrous. And that's the gist of what John Kerry was saying. The charges that he was deliberately smearing the masses of soldiers for being responsible for that policy, or for war crimes, are simply false.
[...] MR. O'NEILL: [...] On the Vietnamization program of the president, I don't think there's any rational man in this country that believes that we should have a military solution any longer to the Vietnam war. The people that escalated the war, as I've indicated, were the same people that are close friends of Mr. Kerry at the present time.
O'Neill repeats several times that no rational man in the U.S. believes there is, by 1971, a military solution to the war. This refutes the charge that John Kerry, in so also maintaining -- as was, indeed, the overwhelming opinion of almost everyone, including Nixon supporters and, you know, Richard Nixon, was agreement -- was traitorous, defeatist, undermining the war effort, blah, blah, blah. That's just nonsense, but is also still widely seen these days.
MR. O'NEILL: I agree with Mr. Kerry. His innuendo, of course, is unique, that somebody would withdraw in time for the election in order to win an election, though.
MR. O'NEILL: I suggest it all comes in terms of an understanding of the issue, sir. We no longer, obviously, plan to win a military victory there.
I find it particularly remarkable that this gentleman who is building his political career apparently upon the misery of all of us that served there, for him to libel by innuendo the President of the United States and to suggest that he's keeping people there any longer than they have to be for political reasons. I think that's a particularly remarkable thing to have happen.
And, in retrospect in particular, maintaining that Richard Nixon was an honest, trustworthy, leader, who would never make a military decision for political reasons is, well, well, need I finish that thought? It's simply utterly indefensible in light of documented history, touching though it was to hold then (or to now believe that our present leadership would not, has not, and is not, making military decisions for political reasons).
Now, the fact is, there's a great deal more here. And a great deal to validly criticize the John Kerry of 1971 for believing or advocating. Were that man running for President today (cough, Dennis Kucinich, cough), I would most certainly work against him. But it was 33 years ago, and he's not the same man, any more than, whatever his faults, George Bush is a drunken sot frat boy at present. For the record, however, I'd criticize, question, or find open to questioning and arguing with, John Kerry-of-1971 over his beliefs on Vietnamization, on the likely outcomes of negotiations with the North Vietnamese under the terms he was advocating, his beliefs (which were widely held at the time, and only revealed to be clearly false by history) that the Viet Cong were independent from North Vietnam, and a variety of other policy issues. A number of his opinions were simply, in retrospect, dumb and naive.
O'Neill made a number of valid points to Kerry on some of these, including that Kerry would have left us with no leverage to obtain our POWs while the North Vietnamese would have continued to demand, had we simply "set a date certain" for a complete pull-out, that we not get the POWs back until we ourselves toppled the South Vietnamese government (corrupt and ineffective as it was), paid them reparations, and probably danced around the maypole tree.
If I wanted to attack John Kerry-of-1971, I could pull out a number of quotes in which he was wrong. I could also pull a bunch more John O'Neill quotes to point out and mock where he was wrong, or naive.
But so what? Anyone want to argue with George W. Bush-of-1971's war policies? Anyone believe he had any?
None of that is relevant any more. That was then. This is now.