On Sept. 21, 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth introduced a TV ad titled, “Friends,” with the message that “John Kerry Secretly Met Enemy Leaders” during the Vietnam War, in 1970, while he was yet in the Naval Reserves.
The Kerry immediate response team jumped into action, charging rather characteristically that the Swift Vets were lying. John Kerry, his surrogates maintained, did not meet “secretly” with Vietnamese communist negotiators to the Paris Peace talks – he openly told Sen. Fulbright’s committee in April 1971 that he had traveled to Paris and met with “both sides” to the Paris Peace talks.
Since he told the Fulbright Committee about his meeting, it could not be “secret,” the spokespersons for the campaign maintained. Besides, since he met with “both sides,” implying that one of the sides had to be ours, how could the trip have been anything else other than a fact-finding trip? Besides, many anti-war radicals were in Paris in 1970 and 1971 meeting with the Vietnamese communists, why wouldn’t John Kerry have done the same?
Dissecting “Kerry-speak” takes some doing. First, the meeting was secret. Only in March of this year, did Michael Meehan, one of Kerry’s top spokespersons, finally admit to the Boston Globe that Kerry did actually meet with Madame Binh, the top Viet Cong negotiator to the Paris Peace talks. Even today, we do not know how Kerry arranged the meeting, where it was held, how long it lasted, or what precisely Kerry and Madame Binh discussed. These details remain hidden.
All we know for sure is that on July 22, 1971, John Kerry held a press conference in Washington, D.C., where – surrounded by POW families – he called upon President Nixon to accept Madame Binh’s peace proposal, a peace proposal that called for the United States to set a date for military withdrawal and pay reparations – in effect, to surrender – all this to induce the Vietnamese communists to set a date for the release of our POWs.
Madame Nguyen Thi Binh is not someone familiar to most Americans today. Yet, in 1970, she was virtually the “Dragon Lady” of the Viet Cong. Madame Binh was a close associate of Ho Chi Minh. She was a teacher who achieved distinction in North Vietnam for her time in the captivity of the French during the war before the French withdrew and we arrived to take up the fight.
Madame Binh was beautiful and highly intelligent. Just before John Kerry came on the scene, Ho Chi Minh had dispatched one of his closest associates, Lo Duc Tho, to Paris in order to perfect the 7-point peace plan Madame Binh would advance. Lo Duc Tho was one of the original founders of the Communist Party of Indochina and one of the North Vietnamese communist’s chief strategists.
Lo Duc Tho and Madame Binh crafted a clever plan designed to undermine the formal peace negotiations being undertaken on behalf of the United States government by Richard Nixon’s appointed team of negotiators headed by Henry Kissinger. The point of Madame Binh’s 7-point peace proposal was that the only barrier to our getting our POWs back was our own unwillingness to set a date for withdrawal. The Vietnamese communists wanted the world to perceive that the only unreasonable party in this conflict was the USA, not the Vietnamese communists. In other words, we ourselves in our refusal to set a date to end the war were the sole reason our POWs were not coming home.
When John Kerry appeared on the scene, a handsome and decorated war veteran turned anti-war activist, he was the perfect candidate to carry the communist message back to the United States. Judged by the outcome, Kerry’s trip to Paris no simple “fact-finding mission.” The evidence is that Kerry – while still in the Naval Reserves – inserted himself into a complex negotiation with the result that he advanced the communist side to the detriment of our official negotiating position.
The historical record is that when he returned home he held a public press conference to endorse Madame Binh’s proposal. From Paris where Kerry received the communist message, to Washington, D.C., where he mouthed that message, Kerry became Lo Duc Tho and Madame Binh’s surrogate spokesperson.
Nor did the “both sides” include the United States delegation to the Paris Peace talks. There is no historical evidence that would support a Kerry contention that he met with anyone else other than the Viet Cong, officially known as the Provisional Revolutionary Government, of whom Madame Binh was the foreign minister, and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the official name of North Vietnam’s communist government, of which Lo Duc Tho was a member. There were two Vietnamese communist parties to the Paris Peace talks – these are the “both sides” with whom Kerry met.
When John Kerry in his street-theater military fatigues sat before Sen. Fulbright’s Foreign Relations Committee, he was there to deliver the enemy’s message. America, so Kerry maintained, was fighting an immoral war. We were a colonial power inserting ourselves on the wrong side of a civil war, in support of a puppet regime not supported by the people of Vietnam. The American military, so Kerry argued, were committing atrocities on a daily basis, atrocities which were approved up and down the entire chain of command – the army of Ghengis Khan.
Kerry’s 1971 message to the U.S. Senate was communist propaganda, pure and simple. Yet even today, in 2004, while running for president, Kerry refuses to apologize to his fellow veterans. Instead, he and his campaign supporters still seize upon every story of a war crime in Vietnam in a desperate attempt to prove that atrocities were not isolated illegal acts, but everyday occurrences, a natural outcome of officially sanctioned rules of engagement.
The Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth expect to be called “liars” by John Kerry, even when they run a TV ad that tells the truth. Why should today be any different than 33 years ago?