Argument: The death toll following the US withdrawal from Vietnam was not that bad
- John Kerry. "Exaggerated Claims Of Violence in Vietnam". April 8th, 2007 - "James Taranto misinterpreted my words and misreads history ("'It Didn't Happen,'" Opinion, July 26). I know the tragedy that followed a tragic war. John McCain and I led the effort to locate American POWs and ultimately normalize relations with Vietnam. I traveled to Cambodia to help create a genocide tribunal to bring to justice the butchers of the killing fields.
- But what did not happen was the region-wide war or immediate chaos predicted by many who believed we had to maintain our massive military presence in Vietnam. A brutal dictatorship consolidated power in Vietnam, the region's refugee crisis worsened and two years after we left Vietnam, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge launched a genocide.
- Mr. Taranto mistakenly views the violence after 1973 as a direct result of our withdrawal. In fact, the violence arose from the conditions that led us to withdraw: a Vietnamese civil war we couldn't stop supported by a Cambodian insurgency we couldn't bomb into submission. It's horrifying that so many South Vietnamese suffered. But, even accepting Mr. Taranto's estimate of 165,000 Vietnamese deaths -- double that of most academic sources -- this is a significant decrease from the preceding eight years when 450,000 civilians and 1.1 million soldiers were killed.
- We should not repeat the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq, but let's have an honest debate rather than a hysterical one. The agony of exiting a quagmire is that there are few certainties and no good options. That choice was created not by the advocates for changing course, but by the architects of a disastrous war."