Bob Kerrey in
April 27, 2001
by Jorge Root
Let's go over the story ...
Three decades ago, Bob Kerrey was leading a SEAL combat mission somewhere
in the Mekong Delta which resulted in the SEAL team killing more than
20 unarmed civilians, mostly women and children.
One of the seven members of his squad claims Kerrey ordered the civilians
herded all together in a group, lined up and shot from very close range.
Kerrey, a former U.S. Senator and potential presidential candidate, does
not dispute there were civilian casualties. What Kerrey does dispute is
the way it happened.
Mr. Kerrey's account of the incident, in a nutshell and in my words,
goes like this:
The mission was organized by Mr. Kerrey, it was a counterinsurgency type
mission, it took place in a free-fire-zone where the enemy was known to
be operating and civilians in the area were considered to be either sympathetic
to the Viet Cong or participating in lethal attacks against US forces.
Additionally the incident took place on a moonless night and the squad
was fired upon which resulted in the squad returning fire. It was after
this fire-fight that it was discovered the casualties included women and
I think we've heard enough.
When the news broke I was, at first, shocked. Then I realized it has
been 30-plus years since the Vietnam conflict. Just maybe I should roll
back the clock and judge this on how I would have felt in, let's say,
1969. Good choice Jorge, Woodstock.
In 1969 Ho Chi Minh was "Da Man." He was revered like a God
in Vietnam. An extremely clever revolutionary, for more than 30 years
he inspired his people, lived by example and provided a great reference
point for trying to cope with the endless wave of outside influences ...
the French, the Chinese and the Americans.
It was Ho Chi Minh who predicted the Americans could never win the Vietnam
conflict because we have no taste for death. Life is dear to us. In war
you must be willing to kill and be killed. No other approach is suitable.
The man died with an unfulfilled desire to meet Lenin. What more can be
With nearly every Vietnamese civilian inspired by this man, the only
smart thing for any military person would be to treat everyone as the
enemy until proven differently. I'm sure Mr. Kerrey knew this and practiced
this. Otherwise, he would be a fool.
Now we know by which rules we are playing ... Ho Chi Minh's rules.
When the shooting starts, what are you going to do? Ask who is on the
other end of the rifle? Oh! You're civilians ... is that friendly civilians
or unfriendly civilians? Wham, right in the heart. Everything is
spinning, gotta hold on, Maybe I can wave to mom as I pass through the
light. Shouldn't have asked that last question ... should have ducked
instead and fired back like we practiced in boot camp. Boot camp? Seems
so long ago ... how could I have known then that they really knew what
they were talking about?
How all this works out for Mr. Kerrey is anyone's guess. I can only hope
there are enough of us left that remember Vietnam and knew people who
served and what they were up against.
The worse case scenario is one that I shudder to think about, but it
goes like this:
The Repugs are are at it again. Using the right wing hate media to step
on anyone who even resembles a 2004 Democratic presidential candidate.
You may or may not have noticed, but their 2004 candidate is extremely
weak and will be even weaker in 3 plus years. This leaves them no choice
except to demonize all Democrats so their candidate becomes the lesser
of 2 evils and wins more or less by default.
Line em up: Kerrey (and Kerry), Torricelli, others. Ready, Aim, Fire.
Mow 'em down. Did I just say "Mow 'em down"? Hmmmm... we're right
back to where we started. Deja vu all over again.
By the way, where is Yogi when we need him?
Some things are better left to the imagination.