Wednesday, August 25, 2004

John Kerry's "The New Soldier"

According to Glenn Reynolds over at the Instapundit, the Kerry campaign has been attempting to buy up all of the existing copies of John Kerry's anti-war screed The New Soldier (Kerry was a main contributor to the work). As Prof. Reynolds has pointed out, they apparently didn't count on the Internet factor. In the spirit of "Freedom of the Press", I have downloaded copies of the 3 PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files that comprise this electronic edition of the Kerry book. (See below, and I will be permanently linking to them on the right, too). Additionally, another site,, has more web-friendly versions of the book as well as a plethora of information on the entire Vietnam Veterans Against the War movement.

The book is comprised of an Introduction, written by the editors, a Main Section, which contains "first hand" testimonies by Vietnam Vets, a two-page Epilogue penned by John Kerry and an Appendix. One may think that Kerry's contribution to the work is relatively insignificant, though the fact that he was given the primary credit (the "By John Kerry") indicates the editors of the work thought otherwise. Needless to say, the very fact that the Kerry campaign is attempting limit access to this book speaks, er, volumes, doesn't it?


I have read Kerry's Epilogue in The New Soldier, and have determined there really isn't too much there (it's only two pages long). It seems that the Kerry campaign is more concerned with the associations one could infer from Kerry penning the Epilogue than from anything within the actual two-page piece. Their real concern should be with Kerry's 1971 Senate Testimony (Thanks to for posting the document. I have now made it available here at the Ocean State Blogger). Nonetheless, here are some of excerpts of Kerry's contribution to The New Soldier:


We will not quickly join those who march on Veteran's Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands whod died for the "greater glory of the United States." We will not accept the rhetoric. We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars-in fact, we will find it hard to join anythig at all and when we do, we will demand relevancy such as other organizations have recently been unable to provide. We will not take solace from the creation of monuments or the naming of parks after a select few of the thousands of dead Americans and Vietnamese. We will not uphold traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim.

It is from these things that the New Soldier is asking America to turn. We are asking America to turn from false glory, hollow victory, fabricated foreign threats, fear which threatens us as a nation, shallow pride which feeds off fear, and mostly from the promises which have proven so deceiving these past ten years. ("The New Soldier" - Epilogue, page 1 of New-Soldier-Epilogue.pdf)

We were sent to Vietnam to kill COmmunism. But we found instead that we were killing women and children. We knew the saying "War is hell" and we knew also that wars take their toll in civilian casualties. In Vietnam, though, the "greatest soldiers in the world," better armed and better equipped than the opposition, unleashed the power of the greatest technology in the world against thatch huts and mud paths. In the process we created a nation of refugees, bomb craters, amputees, orphans, widows, and prostitutes, and we gave new meaning to the words of the ROman historian Tacitus: "Where they made a desert they called it peace." ("The New Soldier" - Epilogue, page 1 of New-Soldier-Epilogue.pdf)

Certainly not all veterans of this war are New Soldiers. Not all want to be or even understand what many of their veteran contemporaries are trying to say. ("The New Soldier" - Epilogue, page 2 of New-Soldier-Epilogue.pdf)


I myself went into the service with very little awareness of the people in the streets. I accepted then and still accept the idea of service to one's country. But because of all that I saw in Vietnam, the treatment of civilians, the ravaging of their countryside, the needless, useless deaths, the deception and duplicity of our policy, I changed. Traditional assumptions and expectations simply were not enough. I still want to serve my country. I am still willing to pick up arms and defend it--die for it, if necessary. Now, however, I will not go blindly because my government says that I must go. I will not go unless we can make real our promises of self-determination and justice at home. I will not go unless the threat is a real one and we all know it to be so. I will not go unless the people of this country decided ror themselves that we must all of us go. ("The New Soldier" - Epilogue, page 2 of New-Soldier-Epilogue.pdf)

No comments: