Kerry's '72 Army Comments Mirror Latest
By JOHN SOLOMON
WASHINGTON (AP) - During a Vietnam-era run for Congress three decades ago, John Kerry said he opposed a volunteer Army because it would be dominated by the underprivileged, be less accountable and be more prone to "the perpetuation of war crimes."
Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran who turned against the war, made the observations in answers to a 1972 candidate questionnaire from a Massachusetts peace group.
After Kerry caused a firestorm this week with what he termed a botched campaign joke that Republicans said insulted current soldiers, The Associated Press was alerted to the historical comments by a former law enforcement official who monitored 1970s anti-war activities
Kerry apologized Wednesday for the 2006 campaign trail gaffe that some took as suggesting U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq were undereducated. He contended the remark was aimed at Bush, not the soldiers.
In 1972, as he ran for the House, he was less apologetic in his comments about the merits of a volunteer army. He declared in the questionnaire that he opposed the draft but considered a volunteer army "a greater anathema."
"I am convinced a volunteer army would be an army of the poor and the black and the brown," Kerry wrote. "We must not repeat the travesty of the inequities present during Vietnam. I also fear having a professional army that views the perpetuation of war crimes as simply 'doing its job.'
"Equally as important, a volunteer army with our present constitutional crisis takes accountability away from the president and put the people further from control over military activities," he wrote.
Kerry's spokesman, David Wade, said Wednesday the historical document needed to be viewed in the era in which it was written but that it nonetheless raised a "bedrock question in a time of war when sacrifice should be shared by all Americans."
"These are the words 34 years ago of a 28-year-old veteran home from a war gone wrong, wondering who in America will bear the cost of battle and shoulder the responsibility of military service," Wade said.
Kerry filled out the candidate questionnaire at the request of Massachusetts Political Action for Peace, an anti-war group that decades later turned over its historical documents to university researchers.
AP obtained the document from someone who gathered it from archives during Kerry's unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign against President Bush. Republicans in that election relentlessly assailed Kerry's role in the anti-war movement decades earlier.
Kerry and Bush renewed their rivalry again this week, with the president accusing Kerry of offending troops. Kerry said he botched the text of a joke and didn't mean to insult troops.
On Wednesday, Kerry canceled campaign appearance on behalf of Democratic congressional candidates and issued an apology.
It is obvious that this was not a joke, but how Kerry really feels about our military.