Friday, August 13, 2004

swift perfidy

The Island of Balta goes into great detail about the validity of the swiftee claims that Kerry couldn't possibly have gone into Cambodia.

He provides a link to the relevant book excerpt, and after reading its almost laughable assertions, I'm amazed Balta felt the need to spend almost 2000 words refuting it.

Shorter Swiftee:

Kerry couldn't have gone into Cambodia because:

  • There were US boats patrolling the Mekong river.

  • There was a large sign at the border "prohibiting" entry. ("Foils! That sign is far too big for us to ignore!")

  • Some swiftee commanders say Kerry would have been severely disciplined if he'd ventured into Cambodia, because of course the US wasn't operating in "neutral" Cambodia. That would have been a crime. (This is part and parcel with their argument that no atrocities were perpetrated by the US in Vietnam--which ties in with their true beef with Kerry--that he blew the whistle on returning to the US.)

  • Documents suggest Kerry was "based" 55 miles away from the border, and Kerry was supposedly at base on Christmas.
Balta doesn't directly address Kerry's ability to (1) navigate past patrols, (2) avoid the dreaded sign, and (3) not be court-martialed, but it's amazing how easy it is to sneak by your own people when you're on a mission for your own country controlled by superiors in your own military. Kerry, whose missions regularly involved insertions of personnel into enemy territory, might even have enjoyed the luxury of friendly intelligence on the locations of patrol boats.

Balta does do a painstaking job of parsing and refuting the swiftee arguments, and if you are really concerned about this issue, go read his well-documented points. But here's a shorter Balta:

Kerry could too have been in Cambodia because:

  • The US boats patrolling the Mekong River couldn't possibly have effectively patrolled all the side channels and byways that the river takes around the border (he has maps).

  • Balta doesn't address the serious sign issue, so I will. There is almost no evidence at all that in 1968 the US had the technology necessary to erect a force field (using a power source hidden by the really big sign) preventing border crossing.

  • The US was indeed operating in Cambodia by 1969 (he has historical links), deemed necessary by the fact that the VietCong were using Cambodia already, and they were killing us.

  • Both the range and speed of swift boats (a detail you might actually expect a swiftee to know) make it quite possible that Kerry's boat could have been both in Cambodia and at base within a 12-hour period.
About the original swiftee accusation, it is interesting to note that, tacked onto the end of their wholly uncompelling "Cambodia" case against Kerry, there is a wholly unsubstantiated and spurious slur against Kerry's judgment and skills as an officer. That seems to be their MO. Drum up some weak case about a true event, and use the miniscule amount of credibility from that argument to drive home some fairy tale whose sole intent is to cast doubt on Kerry's character. It's amazing that anyone reading the fairy tales retains any trust in these people at all.

Yeah, I guess you could say I'm ticked. Because these kinds of tactics drag down the potential of the entire country.