"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
Thomas Paine, writing in 1776
The so-called Winter Soldier testimonies of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans start today in Washington, D.C. No one knows how many former soldiers will show up, what they will actually say, or even more than a few names of those slated to appear. These men and women are attempting to re-create the Winter Soldier allegations made in 1971 by a group of dissident Vietnam Vets, of whom John Kerry was a prominent member.
While we don't yet know a whole lot about the current crop of dissidents or their possible connections with our enemies, we now know a great deal about the original Winter Soldiers, who were the first Americans to try this aid-and-abet-the-enemy scheme on such a large scale, with a collective organization in a public forum.
We know from resulting investigations of the Winter Soldiers' allegations, FBI reports and independent research that a large number of those who publicly spoke in 1971, were phonies and liars, while some were merely repeating rumors, hearsay or stories spun for them by behind-the-scenes prompters. Many of the original Winter Soldiers never even served in Vietnam. Some of those claiming to have been wounded in the war were found later to have had sports injuries from civilian life, not war wounds.
Telling tall tales of atrocity after atrocity, war crime after war crime, these dissident vets framed the entire American army and their commanders as the outright enemies of every standard of decency. They freely slandered 2 ½ million United States soldiers as rampaging barbarians without a shred of conscience, even admitting to some war crimes themselves, on the grounds that they were mentally impaired by the horrors of war.
These little turn-on-your-friends-for-personal-gain gambits are just about as old as human nature itself, and seem to crop up in every place and era, especially in wartime.
And the lengths to which people will go to justify, rationalize and otherwise alter the perception of their less than noble deeds is equally infinite.
Hence, the name Winter Soldiers.
A guileful attempt, in my opinion, to alter public perception with a clever name.
What's in a name?
Actually, not much, as Shakespeare so eloquently noted.
The original Winter Soldiers adopted their name, they said, to demonstrate that they were the opposites of Thomas Paine's "summer soldiers" and "sunshine patriots," the kind of Americans that refused to fight for their liberties. More than likely, however, they called themselves the Winter Soldiers as a shrewdly calculated move designed to preempt their denunciation by the populace as shameful traitors to America's war efforts.
So, were the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, aka Winter Soldiers, genuinely trying to help America as true heroes willing to "speak truth to power"?
Or, were they merely the useful idiots doing some of the dirty work for America's enemies, the North Vietnamese communists and the Viet Cong?
Meetings in Paris with the Enemy
Recently unearthed, official documents reveal that the anti-Vietnam-war movement, of which the Winter Soldiers were a part, was not really the loosely connected, independently motivated concoction of various like-minded Americans in the way that the groups themselves painted it.
Instead, these documents, which were taken from the communists themselves, indicate that there was a cohesion of purpose dictated by our own enemies in Vietnam, and that the Winter Soldier allegations were just part and parcel of that larger scheme.
Several Winter Soldiers made trips to Paris from 1970 to 1972, specifically to meet with Madame Bingh, a formal representative of the South Vietnamese communists (Viet Cong). These Vietnam Veterans Against the War, of whom John Kerry was one, were given copies of the communists' 7-point plan for peace, and soon after began mimicking the same terminology in their "peace" demonstrations.
Among other points, the plan specifically demanded:
A firm date for withdrawal of all United States forces and weaponry.
Monetary reparations for the damage caused by America's war on Vietnam.
If all conditions were met posthaste, then the communists honorably promised that perfect peace and harmony among all would promptly ensue.
Left unstated was the last line of this fairytale, "And they all lived happily ever after."
Of course, these loving, peaceful, harmonious communists were not quite true to their words. As soon as our Democrat-controlled Congress cut off the funding that was to ensure and protect the hard-won peace, the North Vietnamese invaded South Vietnam, and with the assistance of the Viet Cong, conducted a brutal genocide that resulted in more than a million atrocious murders. Millions more were sent to re-education camps to be brainwashed in communist groupthink.
Isn't it a wonder that so many bright, young, well-educated Americans of the anti-war left, bought the whole communist line without even having to be forcefully re-educated?
Are the VVAW and the IVAW two peas in the same plot?
Here we are 37 years after the first Winter Soldier shenanigans, witnessing a reincarnation of seemingly the same old tactics.
And eerily similar demands:
A specific date for withdrawal of troops.
Close Guantanamo and stop "cruel" and "inhumane" treatment of detainees.
Garner world opinion on the enemy's side.
Cut off the funding for the war.
Impeach the President.
For several years now, the anti-war left has put up a concerted effort to convince the American public that Iraq was just another Vietnam. They've called it a quagmire. Unwinnable. A political war. A civil war that we caused.
The anti-Iraq war factions have called our President a war criminal. They have called our honorable soldiers cold-blooded murderers. And they have called the insurgent enemies "freedom fighters."
And all this time, I have felt the queasy déjà vu that has at times hurled me back in time to the days in America when communist propaganda won over common sense and sound reason.
In the Vietnam era, we took the propagandists at their word.
So, will I put a lot of stock in whatever these new Iraq Winter Soldiers say in Washington this week?
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...not likely.
2008 is not 1971
In 1971, both the citizenry and our government were taken off guard by these men, posturing themselves as the victims of an indefensible war. We took them mostly at their words.
Even though investigations did shortly reveal that most refused to give depositions under oath, could provide no verifiable details of the allegations they had made or any corroboration whatsoever, they fooled enough people in the Congress and the public to succeed in their efforts to stop the war and deliver victory to our enemies.
This time, however, the Winter Soldiers will be met with a good number of American citizens who are older and wiser and will make them accountable for their words and their actions.
Many pro-troop citizens groups will be in Washington to meet the Iraq veterans that are part of the Winter Soldier conclave.
A few of those who will be in Washington this week to confront the Iraq Veterans Against the War are Eagles Up, Gathering of Eagles and Move America Forward. I'm certain there will be many others. This time we have Americans who will stand up for America.
When I spoke with retired Army Colonel, Harry Wiley, of Eagles Up, he told me that he had previously heard Iraq veterans speak out against the war, and that for the most part, these were young people saying in effect that they "had not liked seeing the impact of war."
"Well, none of us do," he told me. "But that's part of war, always has been."
Colonel Riley should know about war. He served in the army from 1956 - 1992, fought in Vietnam and has seen more than his share of the ugliness of war.
When I asked Colonel Riley how a good soldier maintains his civility in the face of enemy barbarism, he gave the answer that I have heard again and again from veterans, especially of the Vietnam and Iraq wars.
"A man falls back on his own moral code, knowing that all human life is important and worthy of protecting. When a soldier kills, he doesn't do it because he wants to; he does it because he has to. It's kill or be killed."
Americans will have a choice in Washington this week.
Our Congress has already shown a willingness to be taken in by the kind of allegations these Winter Soldiers may be making. In 1971, the VVAW members were taken at their words, only to be found out much later after grievous harm had been done to our Nation and to the reputations of 2 ½ million American soldiers.
In my opinion, uncorroborated statements, not even rendered under oath, ought not be given much weight. According to the U.S. Constitution, every accused has the right to face his accuser and the right to view the evidence against him.
I have a real hunch that these vets calling themselves "Winter Soldiers" are just ole' fashioned summer soldiers up to the same tomfoolery as their namesakes.
One can only hope that we are too wise to be fooled twice.Update: See this video on both MichelleMalkin.com and HotAir.com sites.