Who is Unfit for Command?

by Dr. Wunmi Akintide

I am sick to my stomach hearing about the silly and unpatriotic and disgraceful indictment and blackmail of a genuine war hero named John Kerry by a group of desperate and heartless Republican supporters calling themselves the Swift Boat Veterans. They are Swift Boat blackmailers of the worst order with no conscience It is crystal clear to all reasonable and objective observers around the country, that this group is working for a President who prides himself as the custodian of American values, and who had promised way back in 2000, he would be above board like Julius Caesar’s wife, and would never do anything that is unbecoming of the dignity of the presidency. He was sure, ever before the vote was fully counted, and he gleefully said it, as brilliantly captured in Fahrenheit 9/11, that Florida, one way or the other was going to be the icebreaker that would, all of a sudden turn the loser into a winner by fluke, but thru the grace of his sibling and the rubber stamp of the highest Court in the Land.

I recall a journalist once comparing George Bush to his predecessor, Bill Clinton who once did, what most of us would do – lie about sex, if necessary, to protect our self and family. Let him cast the first stone who has never done what the Republicans had wanted one of the greatest presidents of this century crucified for. I recall President Bush clearly losing his cool, telling the reporter, he would never lie to the Nation, come rain or shine, regardless of the circumstance. That was then, this is now. True, Bill Clinton had lied about sex, but this President had lied about War and about everything imaginable before and after taking his oath of office as President. He had lied about driving while drunk as a young man. He had lied to take the country and her allies into a totally unnecessary War with Iraq, and he is lying, one time too many, about having anything to do with the never ending campaign of calumny his team had previously launched to discredit John McCain in 2000 and Senator Max McLeland of Georgia in 2002, and now against John Kerry who is his main opponent in the next Presidential Election in November.

The hand is that of Esau but the voice is that of Jacob. We know who the Swift Boat Blackmailers are working for and who is giving them legal advice to do the dirty job that the Commander-in-Chief is too cowardly to admit before the Nation. Why? Because he knows as much as you and I do, that the Nation expects a much higher sense of values and morality from our President.

The politician in Bush the Second was played out, He had blatantly said that Jesus of Nazareth was his role model, and not even his own father who had stopped short of rolling over the whole of Iraq in the Mother of all Wars in 1991. Rather than march on to Baghdad the Bush Senior simply returned his troops back home, because he had given an undertaking to his allies in that War, that the mission was to expel Saddam from Kuwait, no more no less. Having already committed to an exit strategy before going in, the senior Bush had felt obliged as a member of the greatest generation that Tom Brokaw had so eloquently written about that America’s leadership credibility was on the line. There are lines of trust and decency that a good President of our dream, would not cross, even if it means losing the election to an opponent.

I can conveniently predict here and now that this latest offensive by Bush, hiding behind the Swift Boat Blackmailers, is going to boomerang on him when all the chips are down. For how long will this country continue to tolerate a President who believes that no blackmail is beneath the dignity of the President and the leader of the Free World. It is true that most politicians are liars, but a good leader must be able to draw the line somewhere beyond which he would not cross.

The Watergate break-in would probably never have occurred, if Tricky Dicky was bound by that moral standard and rectitude. You don’t as a President, go and lay ambush for your opponent or smear him, in a country as sophisticated as America. And if you do, you have to be able to draw a line on the sand beyond which you would not cross for the good of your country and the prestige of that office. Winning is not all that counts, how you do it is equally as important for all men of honor and in a country that the whole world has now come to regard as the leader, and the pace setter in all that is good and edifying. I rate this country above what I am seeing today. In some third world countries, I can understand why a group like the Swift Boat Blackmailers would be doing to their opponents what they are doing to Kerry. But I expect higher standard from America. I have heard of politicians killing a person and placing the corpse at the backyard of a political rival just to incriminate and tarnish him irredeemably. What the Republicans and this President are doing in their desperation to win by all means, is not too different from what I have just alluded to in this write up. It is a very scary picture, I might add.

I think this President who has gotten away with so much cutting corners and cheating in the past in getting this far in life. He may have come to believe now that the end justifies the means which is not always the case for morally decent leaders, all over the world. Adolph Hitler, the world’s worst despot and villain, had once crafted a hypothesis that falsehood repeated over and over again assumes a new life of its own, because the hearers may start believing it is the truth. The so-called Swift Boat Veterans for the “Truth” are hiding under the pretext of being independent-minded people, with some tacit encouragement and support from a President who has so far refused to condemn what they are doing, despite public revulsion against it, from far and near, and from coast to coast, and from sea to shining sea.

He, the President just wants them to continue to raise this doubt about the heroism and the well deserved medals of John Kerry, because he had figured it out that his claim to being a war time President has become hollow and totally indefensible, when viewed against the war time achievements of John Kerry, who like the President, was also born with the silver spoon in his mouth. He as a patrician child of privilege and a product of Yale, did not have to go to Vietnam if he was willing and determined to dodge the draft, using his parent’s connections. He could easily have dodged the war, or take a pass in the reserve National Guard where he would not have fired a shot or being shot at by anybody. While this President had chosen the line of least resistance, John Kerry had decided to risk his own life for America at a time he had not the slightest inkling, he might be running for President someday. That is what I call profile in Courage, and that is what is needed in a Commander-in-Chief for the greatest country on Earth.

John Kerry, unlike Bush, did not do shirk his duties and responsibilities. He chose to go to Vietnam to fight for his country even though he did not agree with the decision of the American leaders at the time to prosecute that war. He chose to put his life on the line for the good of the country. The people he confronted in combat were those who had strongly believed in “kill or be killed” and they did not discriminate on those who should be killed or spared like the terrible blackmailers are insinuating. As long as you were an American, you were seen as the enemy, and it was quite easy to tell an American soldier from the Vietcong. John Kerry not only commanded a swift boat operation, he risked his life not to leave anyone behind, and he truly deserved all his medals without any question. I take it that all of the swift boat revisionists are jealous of Kerry’s good luck and achievements as a soldier. He could easily have been killed but he was lucky to survive. He came back from Vietnam to devote the rest of his life to Public Service, and championing the cause of the downtrodden and the underdogs in this Society. He has every right, like all Americans, to want to be President of this great nation, because he had given so much to the country when it mattered the most, and it is pay back time from a grateful nation.

The swift boat charlatans and the Republicans supporting them can run their mouth from now to eternity. One thing they all cannot deny, is the fact that John Kerry did show up for duty in Vietnam unlike his opponent. They are surely doing a disservice to this country and disgracing US Armed Forces by questioning their motives and rational for awarding medals to deserving winners of those medals both in War and Peace time. The so-called Commander-in-Chief which is what any incumbent President is, in the American system has no “locus standi” to start criticizing Kerry on War and to be an effective War Commander. A President who went AWOL or assumed a lesser responsibility, ought not to be seen as aiding and abetting such a group, like Bush is doing now for political reasons.

I feel so concerned about this issue as a son of a veteran of the Second World War. From 1939 to 1945. My own father, the late retired Sergeant Samuel Akintide Gbangba had fought under the British flag in the Royal West African Frontier Force that had seen active service in Egypt, India, Burma and Celon. My father was demobilized from the war at the age of 42, with three medals of honor, and a citation for exemplary conduct — all of which he had passed on to me for safe keeping, as his first son, before he made his triumphant transition in 1997 at the age of 93. Because of his legacies and gallantry my first son is following in the footsteps of his grand father by joining in the US Navy, and currently proudly serving in the Submarine Unit, at Groton, Connecticut, USA The last thing my father told me was how much he had treasured those medals, and how he was glad passing them on to me, as a major beneficiary of his combat service during the Second World War.

I became the first proud recipient of the British/Canadian Legion Scholarships, first awarded to children of the veterans of that War in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia in 1963. The one scholarship that was set aside for Nigeria, as a former British colony was won by me. I had used that scholarship from 1963 to 1966 to do my first degree in History and International Relations at the former University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. I cannot imagine some foolish veterans of that War coming back to start raising some doubts about the authenticity and the validity of my father’s medals 59 years later, all because of politics.

I think the Swift Boat veterans and their sponsors and financiers are a bunch of heartless revisionists who should be condemned for trying to smear Kerry, needlessly, just to save the sinking boat of a failing and incompetent presidency. Nobody goes to combat to play games. if you come back alive, you have reason to thank God. Those who try to smear your efforts and good fortune in battle are children of Lucifer who should be ashamed of themselves.

In summary, I would like to end this write-up, by taking a swipe at each of the silly allegations the swift boat veterans are making about each of the medals won by Kerry in some details to show that those blackmailers are making fool of themselves big time in the arena of public opinion across the country. The controversy over John Kerry’s decorated Vietnam service boils down to incidents on four dates between 1968 and 1969 as follows:

December 2, 1968,
Kerry’s first Purple Heart:
While on a patrol in a small skiff with two other sailors, Kerry had received a slight arm wound after a prolonged fire fight. In battle there is nothing like a slight wound The anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for “Truth” wants the world to believe the wound was the result of Kerry mishandling a grenade launcher. What a statement? What of Bush who never went to war talk less of mishandling a launcher by mistake? The mere fact of War is enough to explain such a mistake. The group also cites medical officer, Dr. Louis Letson as treating Kerry and disputing the Purple Heart. But Dr. Letson’s name has not appeared in any Navy’s records as having treated Kerry at any point in his career. That Charge dismissed with ignominy. Period.

February 2, 1969
Kerry’s Silver Star:
Kerry drives his Swift Boat at a Viet Cong River bank ambush. He beaches the boat and jumps Ashore to chase down and kill a Viet Cong who was carrying a B-40 rocket propelled grenade launcher. Anti-Kerry retired Captain George Elliot now claims Kerry was reckless to have killed an enemy who had turned his back. It was the most stupid charge of all in a “kill or be killed” type of cul-de-sac. Kerry deserves his Silver Star without that any question.

February 20, 1969
Kerry’s Second Purple Heart:
Shrapnel in the leg was the only medal the anti-Kerry camp has conceded. Big deal! They should Have gone ahead to contest that as well in their stupid rage and jealousy to bring down a war hero.

March 13, 1969
Bronze Star and Purple Heart:
As a part of a five boat flotilla, Kerry begins maneuvering his swift boat after a mine explodes under another boat. Army Lt. Jim Rassmann had fallen off Kerry’s boat. While Kerry was himself wounded, he had defied all odds and discountenanced his own injury and opposing fire to go pull poor Rassmann to safety risking his own life. The most credible witness of that gallantry is Lt. Rassmann himself. We saw him testify to that at every opportunity.

The anti-Kerry officer named Larry Thurlow, another Swift Boat Commander not in the same Boat with Kerry claims there was no enemy fire that day.

But Thurlow’s own Bronze Star citation for action the same day says he reacted heroically “despite enemy Bullets flying about him” The anti-Kerry group stupidly claimed Kerry’s Purple Heart was for a shrapnel to the buttocks, but that the wound was self-inflicted. Nonsense…

I wonder why Mr. Thurlow too did not and could not inflict similar wounds on himself to get more citations. It is ridiculous how some charlatans would go to blackmail their fellow human being, all in the name of Politics.

John Kerry is a true American hero who has truly earned all his medals, and should be proud to talk about any where in the world. Doesn’t the US Military award medals and citations to those serving in the National Guard as well? How many of those medals has George Bush won while flying those jets in Alabama or wherever he claimed to have served?

Serving in the National Guards is considered a national service without any question, but one national service is more risky and more heroic than the other. Going to Vietnam to battle the Viet Congs was more heroic than flying a jet without enemy fire shooting at you. The National Guard currently stationed in the Upper Hudson River Valley in Up State New York in the aftermath of 9/11, are currently being drafted to Long Island in New York, as we speak, to go secure some abandoned Railway tracks and station that have not been used for years. Can you compare that kind of assignment to being drafted to fight in Najaf, as we speak? While George Bush was busy trying to secure an abandoned Railway tracks and stations in some remote places in Alabama, John Kerry was literarily in Najaf, Iraq facing enemy fire and leaving no one behind. If one of these two leaders has to lead a war, and be a Commander-in-Chief, which of them would you support? That is exactly the choice before the American voters in November, if you ask me. There is an urgent need for a change of Guard at the White house as this Bush dog would not hunt, and it is time to get rid of him using our votes in November.

I rest my case.

Dr. Wunmi Akintide.

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