What a delightful change of pace it has been this past week listening to Secretary of State John F. Kerry accuse someone other than U.S. soldiers of committing atrocities against innocent civilians, women and children during war.
His animated recitation of chemical weapons use by Syrian strongman Bashar Assad — high dudgeon we are told by his staff that he personally penned on his iPad — brings to mind the first time the Secretary of Insufferable Wind-Baggery shed light unto the world of heinous crimes against mankind.
"Not isolated incidents," he told a congressional committee in 1972. "But crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."
He was not, of course, talking about the Assad regime. Not about Ho Chi Minh or even about what the Viet Cong was doing at that very moment to U.S. soldiers held in prisoner-of-war camps.
No, he claims he was talking about what he had heard U.S. troops were doing to innocent women, children and civilians in Vietnam. Troops he had served alongside. Troops he returned safely home from — only to betray in the most despicable way.
"They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country," Mr. Kerry told the congressional committee.
Again, this was all hearsay — so, not even admissible in traffic court — but, hey, the cameras were rolling, and he was in the spotlight. You've got to perform when your time comes if you want to get ahead.
A lot of people still remember Mr. Kerry's traitorous testimony, especially American prisoners of war sitting in squalid dungeons, starving and trying to recover from their last beatings. They remember the testimony because that is what their VC captors played over the loud speakers in the concentration camps.
His effete, drawn-out pronunciation of "Genghis Khan" was what stuck in their heads even decades later.
For those soldiers, their belief in a just cause was their only succor. And Mr. Kerry stripped from them that last reason to stay alive. But no worries, Mr. Kerry had a glittering future ahead of him, squiring around wealthy women and establishing a political career that would allow him to talk endlessly into microphones as much as he wanted.
Now, to be fair to the Secretary of Insufferable Wind-Baggery, U.S. soldiers are not the only other people he has accused of committing mass atrocities.
He also accused Iraqi madman Saddam Hussein.
"I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security," he grandly orated in the run-up to the Iraq War.
"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein," he eloquated a few months later. "He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime."
That impassioned fervor lasted well, it lasted until the next election, in which he found it to his professional benefit to oppose the war in Iraq. Remember, on the campaign trail he boasted how he had actually been for the war before he was against the war.
Not only was that yet another easy betrayal of U.S. soldiers, it also turned out to be really bad politics. But it is all worth keeping in mind as Mr. Kerry marshals his splenetic ardor in his latest crusade against atrocities that may or may not last through the next election.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @charleshurt.