Lawrence F. Kaplan suggests in TNR that Kerry's claim that "if I were president, we'd have a very different set of activities going on in Iraq today," is a repeat from his post-Vietnam anti-war activist phase, in which he accused the whole country of the war crimes committed by troops.
It is precisely because John Kerry famous accused every person who served in the Vietnam War of having committed war crimes, and even claimed that he have done so himself, that his current attacks blaming this on Bush rings of the kind of charges he made in 1971. That did grave harm to our military, by opening a gap between public opinion and the people who protect this country.
I don't agree with Kaplan's claim that "there is no longer room in American political discourse for a voice that says anything remotely critical of 'the troops,'"
Kaplan asserts that his role in the My Lai massacre made William Calley "an overnight hero." That's not how I remember him. He was convicted of murder. The fact that Richard Nixon pardoned him doesn't make Calley a hero. He was seen by many as a victim since he claimed that he had been following orders, but that doesn't add up to hero.
But Kerry defended Calley, " Those of us who have served in Vietnam [not that again!] know that the real guilty party is the United States of America."
Kerry's suggestion that Abu Ghraib was more policy than accident implies that the guards were not so much victimizers as victims who deserve a Nuremberg defense.In his eagerness to capitalize on bad news for Bush, Kerry has made some pretty incredible claims, suggesting that being president is similar to commanding a swift boat on the Mekong River and that this wouldn't have happened if he were president. Is he really so naive? He said "I will not be the last to know what's going on in my administration!" How does he propose to make that happen?