Versions of the below letter were published in several publications including New York Newsday, Queens Edition, 5/14/01 (circ. 571,283); The Oklahoma Gazette 5/17/01 (circ. 54,500); The Colorado Springs Independent, 5/16/01 (circ. 30,500); and The Western Queens Gazette, 5/16/01
To the Editor:
Former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey's search for atonement after admitting that he massacred Vietnamese civilians holds a simple lesson for today's policymakers: that such acts are begotten from desperate situations, and desperate situations are born of ill-conceived policies.
Bob Kerrey was no bloodthirsty Rambo. He was a morally upright young man from America's heartland who committed an unthinkable atrocity because his leaders placed him in a guerilla war that could not be won unless fought on the Vietcong's own brutal terms.
Like Cassandra's prophesy, this tragic cycle gets played over and over again by those who should know better. Our dismemberment of Yugoslavia guaranteed that thousands of young Serbians, Croatians, Bosnian Muslims and Albanians would relive Kerrey's man-made nightmare. When Henry Kissinger acquiesced to Turkey's invasion of Cyprus in 1974, he condemned a generation of young Turks to Kerrey's private hell.
Yialtsin Kiouchouk, then a young officer in the Turkish army, wept when he described the murder he witnessed of a mentally-handicapped Greek woman, who had the bullets of a gun emptied into her vagina. Then there is Sergeant Nejarti, who is tortured by the image etched in his mind of the double rape of a mother and her child "in both sides at the same time."
For us to meet the Vietnams and Cypruses to come, our policymakers must listen to the simple truths that echo from an American son's pleas for redemption. As Kerrey related during a recent interview on national television, in the end what is left is dead women and children.
American Hellenic Media Project