Kerry: How Do You Ask a Man to Be the Last One to Die for a Mistake?
This was the question that 27-year-old John Kerry (see photo) asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 in his compelling and passionate condemnation of the Vietnam war. Kerry’s historic testimony was a turning point and created an unstoppable momentum of public support for the anti-war movement.
“We are asking here in Washington for some action, action from the Congress of the United States which has the power to raise and maintain armies, and which by the constitution also has the power to declare war. We have come here, not to the President, because we believe that this body can be responsible to the will of the people, and we believe that the will of the people says we should be out of Vietnam now,” said John Kerry in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.
It is amazing to consider that if you replace the word Vietnam by Afghanistan, in Kerry’s statement, how much what applied then applies to the situation in Afghanistan now. More recently Kerry compared Vietnam to Afghanistan during Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of State. For a brief moment, we saw a glimpse of the man who brought President Nixon to its knees.
“I am deeply concerned that, at least so far, our policy in Afghanistan has kind of been on automatic pilot. Our original goal was to go in there and take on Al Qaeda. It was to capture or kill Bin Laden. It was not to adopt the 51st state of the United States. It was not to try to impose a form of government on the Afghan people,” said Senator Kerry.
Senator Kerry was in Afghanistan Saturday, taking part in the overall diplomatic effort to solve the mess in the aftermath of the elections fiasco. It appears now, that a second round between Hamid Karzai and his challenger Abdullah Abdullah is likely. With Afghanistan’s election crisis deepening, Senator Kerry said it would be irresponsible for the US to consider sending additional troops at this time.
“I don’t see how President Obama can make a decision about the committing of our additional forces or even the further fulfillment of our mission, without an adequate government in place or knowledge about what that government is going to be,” said Senator Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on CBS’ “Face The Nation” yesterday.
Further, what Senator Kerry should do, in good conscience, is to ask himself and President Obama the excellent question he asked Congress and America 38 years ago: “How do you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?” John Kerry was instrumental in ending the Vietnam war. If John Kerry could become part of the man he used to be in 1971, we might be able to end the tragic mistake that is the war in Afghanistan.