Anti-War Protesters Threaten Vietnam Vets With Violence
(CNSNews.com) - Two generations of Americans will collide in Washington, D.C., on Saturday when a coalition of Vietnam veterans counter-protests thousands of anti-war protesters, many of whom were born years after Saigon fell to the Communists in 1975. Almost three decades later, the Vietnam veterans want to ensure America's military avoids another unfinished war.
But even as these veterans prepare for their counter demonstration, an official with one veterans group said his organization has been receiving e-mail threats of violence by people identifying themselves as anti-war and peace activists.
Joel Kernodle, spokesman for MOVEOUT! (Marines and Other Veterans Engaging Un-American Traitors), said American troops that are preparing for war with Iraq need to know that their country is behind them, and they should not confuse the political posturing back home with their mission abroad.
"We remember when we didn't have that -- not to the degree that we should have had it and needed it -- so, things turned out badly," said Kernodle, who served in Vietnam as a lance corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"Militarily, we won the war in Vietnam, and then we were called out of there and we left. Then, about 18 months later, it was basically handed over to the communists on a silver platter," he said.
Kernodle said the current anti-war movement is merely interested in maintaining the status quo in a Middle Eastern region ruled by fundamentalist extremists who are constantly plotting to destroy America.
"There is a close working relationship among these fundamentalists to aid, abet and provide training grounds and funds for terrorists. That's how war is being waged on us," he said. "They can't face us heads up. They don't have the technology to do it, so this is how they're getting the job done."
But Kernodle said the majority of anti-war activists don't believe the Vietnam vets and other patriotic citizens have a right to demonstrate in support of America's war on terror. (The Vietnam veterans' demonstration is being co-sponsored by the D.C. Chapter of the Free Republic.)
Unlike the anti-war groups and students who will be participating in International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s (Act Now to Stop the War and End Racism) protest rally Saturday, Kernodle said his organization believes that this country has been attacked by terrorists supported by Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
However, he said, "It is extremely apparent that there is a large number of the radicals on the left who absolutely are intolerant of any voice but their own, and they will go to the point of being physically threatening to preclude any of that happening."
Kernodle said a recent online announcement of the veterans group's intention to counter-protest International A.N.S.W.E.R. in Washington yielded more than 150 responses from anti-war activists - all threatening some form of physical violence against him and fellow veterans intent on attending the Jan. 18 event.
"All we want to do is go there and show what our presence is, and that's all," he said. "We're not physically threatening the left. We haven't told anybody, 'We're going to attack you.' They've certainly done it to us."
Amidst all of their differences, Kernodle said his contingency of war veterans has at least one item in common with anti-war activists. By his account, both groups agree the Bush administration must be held accountable for the way it conducts itself in a wartime situation with Iraq.
"We're not totally in disagreement with everything that the other side is going there for," he said of International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s anti-war agenda. "We will be watching how the administration handles this war, and if need be, we will be critical of that."
According to Kernodle, nothing short of a leadership change in Iraq will suffice for military victory for Vietnam veterans.
"We think that there needs to be focus in getting the job done because in every instance where we decisively acted, it turned out good in the end in places like Germany and Japan," he said.
"When we didn't use resolve to finish the job properly like we didn't in Korea, Vietnam and in Desert Storm, look what happened. We just continued to have the problem," Kernodle said.
Some Desert Storm veterans, however, do not share Kernodle and MOVEOUT!'s all-or-nothing military agenda towards Iraq. At least two veterans groups whose members have seen active duty in the Persian Gulf say they're not convinced Iraq presents a "clear and present danger" to America.
Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) and Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) will hold a joint press conference on Friday to highlight issues that the groups claim President Bush has failed to address. Both groups want Bush "to reassure them and an increasingly alarmed public that his administration is not hell bent on conflict."
Friday's event will mark the first time that families with deployed volunteer service members and Desert Storm veterans have joined together to voice their concerns and search for the "smoking gun" that would legitimize any U.S. military action against Iraq.
"War with Iraq is neither necessary nor inevitable," the groups stated. "Americans feel the president has failed to justify a U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. We encourage him to win without war by adhering to the U.N. process."
E-mail a news tip to Michael L. Betsch.
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