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3. His Vietnam Experience Does Not Inform His Position on Afghanistan
John Kerry was one of only three major party presidential candidates to have served in the Vietnam war (the others being Al Gore in 2000 and John McCain in 2008). Kerry enlisted in 1966 and was deployed to Vietnam in 1968. After returning in 1970 he joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War, an anti-war organization targeted by President Richard Nixon. “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Kerry famously asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during testimony in 1971. The question was invoked at the conclusion of the Iraq war in December 2011.
Yet Kerry was not against the Iraq war or the Afghanistan war. Instead, he joined a chorus of liberals in criticizing President Bush for the way the wars were handled.
By the time the 2008 election was in full swing, the process of ending the war in Iraq had begun, and Democrats, led by Obama, had pivoted to Afghanistan, his “good war,” even though the news from Afghanistan under Obama, like the news from Afghanistan under Bush, hasn’t been good.
And while the 11-year-old war is now at Vietnam length, Vietnam veteran Kerry sees no connection. "In my judgement, Afghanistan is just not Vietnam," Kerry said on Meet the Press in 2010, in support of the tack Obama was then taking on Afghanistan. "We shouldn't have been in Vietnam. It was a surrogate war, it was a cold war. There are any number of reasons it was a gigantic mistake. In Afghanistan, we're there for a purpose. I don't believe the size of the footprint we have doing everything we're doing, as I've said publicly many times, and I don't think the president, in the long run, wants to do that, which is why he has committed to this transition.” That transition envisioned the Afghans taking over the Afghanistan war by 2014. Since the election, that date’s been all but jettisoned.
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