Chapter two – The Reluctant Warrior
Sources of this chapter:
Douglas Brinkley, “Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War,” William Morrow, New York, 2004
Samuel Goldhaber, “John Kerry: A Navy Dove Runs for Congress,” Harvard Crimson, Feb 18, 1970
J. F. Kelly Jr, “Living with His Anti-War Past: Should John Kerry become commander in chief?” California Republic, June 20, 2004
Kranish, Mooney & Easton, “John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best,” New York: Public Affairs, 2004
Basic assertions of this chapter:
John Kerry has portrayed himself as a warrior, and has used his experience to belittle his opponents who didn’t serve. However, Kerry’s experience was not heroic.
(Unfit For Command): But Kerry’s (war) record is important because Kerry himself says it is important.
(UFC): Kerry runs on his short record of three combat months (plus one training month) in Vietnam thirty-four years ago. He has placed full-page campaign ads in the New York Times with photos of himself receiving a medal…Kerry has pursued the war-hero theme with a persistent purpose, repeatedly demeaning the purported nonexperience of his opponents.
(UFC) Kerry petitioned the draft board for a student deferment. At Yale, Kerry’s antiwar political views were well known. He was chairman of the Political Union and used his commencement address in 1966 to criticize the foreign policy of President Lyndon Johnson.
(UFC) The top choice was the Navy Reserves where the duty commitment was shorter and a larger proportion of the period could be served stateside on inactive duty.
This is a weak chapter because it deals with the past, although it does methodically demolish Kerry’s image as a “reluctant warrior”. What I find interesting, is the media inattention to the fact that Kerry did not join the US Navy, but the Navy reserves – a safer alternative than, say, the Army or Marine corps since the Vietcong didn’t have a navy worthy of the name.
Also, I learned that the swift boats were originally a plush assignment – at least according to Kerry himself. They patrolled the coastal waters “and had very little to do with the War” (Kerry’s entry in The Vietnam Experience (1986)). That changed in late 1968 when the boats were ordered into inland waterways.
Why did Kerry join the antiwar movement?
Why does Kerry refuse to release his military records by signing Form 180?