We aren’t done yet with John Kerry’s alleged war crimes. Our knowledgeable readers find Kerry not guilty of war crimes, but find him guilty of crimes against the truth. Air Force Capt. Wendy R. “Whiskey” Whitt writes:
I am an Air Force JAG serving at Osan Air Base, and one of my duties is to brief the troops on the law of armed conflicted (affectionately known as LOAC). I agree with Lt. Swanson’s assessment of Kerry’s “war crimes,” but I have a few points to add.
We may use any authorized weapon in our arsenal as long as we don’t alter them to make them more dangerous; no sawed off M16s or such. If you are issued a weapon, use it but don’t abuse it. It was therefore acceptable for
Mr. Kerry to use the crew guns on enemy combatants.
Mr. Kerry is also wrong about search and destroy missions; those aren’t illegal per se. The target of a mission and the method of attack determines whether it is legal. Harassment and interdiction fire generally refers to firing on known enemy hangouts and trails even when you don’t know the enemy is there; that’s not an illegal tactic. Enemy trails and hangouts are lawful targets, and therefore the decision whether/how to attack them should analyzed under the basic principles of LOAC: military necessity, distinction, and proportionality. Same applies to an attack on a village; if the village is filled with enemy fighters, the loss of a few civilian homes does not make the village an illegal target.
Anyway, I could discuss the rules and principles of LOAC all day, but the point is that Mr. Kerry fails to comprehend the “nuances” of international law. Airmen must be trained in LOAC annually, so he should be wary of throwing around terms like “war crimes” in front of so many potential voters; they probably know more than he does about the topic!
Finally, the most disturbing part of Mr. Kerry’s diatribe is his statement that he committed what he called “atrocities.” When we brief the troops on LOAC, the rule we want them to remember is that you must report all LOAC violations. If your commander gives you an unlawful order, you must not obey it. If Mr. Kerry truly observed the violent acts he was so keen on referencing, he is a criminal as well. Perhaps he should submit himself to the Hague or ICC and take responsibility for his actions…
UPDATE and CORRECTION: Peter Swanson advises that he was promoted to Captain while on active duty and that he holds the rank of Major in the Army Reserve.