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Bob Kerrey in the Crosshairs
April 27, 2001
by Jorge Root

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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 children.

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 said?

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.

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