The world, they say, is a turning one, as Secretary of State John Kerry found out recently. The former senator, Vietnam vet, and an anti-Vietnam War protestor was confronted by a modern anti-war activist at a hearing about the administration’s efforts to confront ISIS, according to a Wednesday story in the Hill. Kerry was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when a Code Pink protester jumped to her feet and began berating the secretary about the Obama administration’s Middle East policy.
The protestor shouted, “The American people are speaking out, Secretary Kerry. We’re tired of the endless war.” She went on to suggest that American efforts to combat ISIS, the terrorist army that had rampaged throughout Northern Syria and Northern Iraq, was “creating more terrorism, killing more innocent people.”
Secretary Kerry was clearly not amused. He shot back, “Killing more innocent people? I wonder how our journalists, who were beheaded, and the pilot who was fighting for freedom, who was burned alive — what they would have to say to their efforts to protect innocent people.” The Code Pink protestor had no answer to Kerry’s points.
The sense of irony was heavy in the Senate hearing room. Over 40 years ago, after serving a tour of duty as a swift boat skipper along the Mekong River, Kerry turned on his fellow vets and accused them of being an army of war criminals in a now infamous testimony before the very same Senate Foreign Relations Committee to which he advocated the current president’s war against ISIS. His attitude toward war was decidedly different.
“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.”
Kerry was able to parley his anti-war antics into a Senate career. When it came time for him to run for president in 2004, attitudes toward the military had changed, and he decided to emphasize his Vietnam War service rather than what he did afterwards. His gambit was thwarted by a group of officers who had served with him, known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who ran devastating television ads that suggested that Kerry’s wartime heroics were less than what was claimed.