Those of us masochistic enough to have watched the 2004 Democratic convention might faintly recall the name Captain Wade Sanders. Sanders was one of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s fellow Swift Boat veterans, and Sanders was the man who introduced Kerry at the convention, whereupon the candidate saluted the crowd and uttered the immortal words, “I’m John Kerry, and I’m reporting for duty.”
Sanders’s role in the Kerry campaign was small but significant. Kerry was publicly being attacked by dozens of Swift Boat veterans who served with him in Vietnam. And Sanders was one of the few—perhaps only—fellow Swift Boat vets to defend Kerry’s questionable war record publicly. While Sanders’s record as a Democratic hack suggested he might have political reasons for supporting Kerry, Sanders also had a stellar military record, having been awarded a Silver Star in 1992, and his credibility wasn’t much in question.
That’s why The Scrapbook feels compelled to point out the ignominious denouement of the Wade -Sanders career. Yes, it’s true that Sanders is currently doing time in a federal penitentiary after admitting to being in possession of child pornography. As bad as that is, it’s not nearly as remarkable as what just happened to Sanders.
On July 18, Navy Times reported that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus had revoked Sanders’s Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for combat valor—apparently for reasons having nothing to do with his recent criminal conduct.
“Had the subsequently determined facts and evidence surrounding both the incident for which the award was made and the processing of the award itself been known to the secretary of the Navy in 1992, those facts would have prevented the award of the Silver Star,” Captain Pamela Kunze told Navy Times regarding the Navy Department Board of Medals and Decorations’ decision.
Suffice to say, in 2004 Kerry was indignant that his fellow veterans would question the awarding of his own Silver Star—and yet, just about the only Swift Boat vet defending Kerry apparently didn’t earn his. Sanders’s offense must have been egregious; the few instances of a Navy commendation being revoked all predate World War I.
Yet, for reasons that The Scrapbook will never fully understand, the normal scrutiny of a presidential candidate’s résumé was deemed in Kerry’s case to be somehow beneath contempt, and the term “Swift Boat” was turned into a verb and a pejorative one at that.
Recall that the Kerry campaign was forced to admit Kerry had inaccurately claimed he crossed into Cambodia around Christmas of 1968. The basic fact that Kerry spent less than four months in Vietnam and emerged with three Purple Hearts without missing a single day of active duty due to injury should be sufficient to question his veracity.
But most telling is Kerry’s own penchant for recklessly criticizing the combat record of his fellow soldiers, starting with his “winter soldier” testimony before Congress in 1971, when he accused fellow vets of wanton atrocities without proof. Then in the campaign bio authored by Douglas Brinkley, Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War, Kerry said that the distinguished admiral Roy Hoffman, the officer in charge of the Swift-Boat mission, had “a genuine taste for the more unsavory aspects of warfare” and sought “splashy victories in the Mekong Delta” to get promoted. It was an understandably incensed Hoffman who organized the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, not the Bush campaign.
The scrutiny of Kerry’s war record was not only warranted but richly deserved comeuppance. If you still refuse to believe Adm. Roy Hoffman and the rest of the honorable Swift Boat veterans that Kerry didn’t tell the truth about his war record, go ahead and take Captain Wade Sanders’s word for it.
Holding Hands with the Iranians
What do Harvard’s Stephen Walt and the Iranian parliament have in common? Both are obsessed with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a bipartisan think tank in Washington that we’re proud to call our neighbor. Walt and the Iranians, on the other hand, both see FDD as a pillar of—you guessed it—the “Israel lobby.”
“The Most Important Think Tanks of the United States on the Security of Iran” is a pamphlet published last month by the research center of the Iranian parliament, or maj-lis, that identified a number of U.S. think tanks that it deemed central to formulating Washington’s official Iran policy. Not surprisingly, the venerable Brookings Institution was named, as were the Council on Foreign Relations and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, but pride of place was reserved for what the Iranians perceive to be right-wing institutions, like FDD, which the pamphlet ranks as most influential.
The majlis research center is presumably something like our Congressional Research Service, except the latter does genuine research whereas the former seems to reprint whatever it’s downloaded from the Internet—photos, too. The publication features a headshot of FDD fellow and Weekly Standard contributing editor Reuel Marc Gerecht, as well as Scrapbook boss William Kristol, an FDD board member—both of them smiling, presumably with the sinister knowledge that has placed them in the bosom of what the pamphlet labels “the Israel Lobby think tank.”
It’s worth noting that, in the Iranians’ assessment, none of the self-described progressive think tanks make the cut. The Iranians apparently believe that no one in Obama-era Washington is listening to the left, not even to the New America Foundation’s Flynt Leverett, who has agitated harder than almost anyone in Washington on behalf of the regime in Tehran. The Iranians, of course, have a twisted worldview. They believe the United States is led on a leash by Israel, which, the Iranians assume, is determined to bomb Iran to smithereens.
Well, it’s one thing for Iranian officials to think like members of an obscurantist clerical regime, but it’s something else again when a Harvard professor holds hands with them, analytically speaking. In a recent post at FP.com, Foreign Policy magazine’s blog, Stephen Walt claims that FDD “has been in the vanguard of the campaign for war with Iran, reflexively supportive of the Israeli right. . . . It will therefore surprise no one that its primary financial backers are also hard-core Zionists, and that the democracy it seems most committed to defending is located far from Washington, D.C.”
One might be forgiven for assuming that Walt is doing his best impersonation of an Iranian research institution, but the fact is that his information here comes from the Center for American Progress, a self-identifying progressive think tank run by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta.
Blogging on CAP’s Think Progress website, Eli Clifton tries to paint FDD as a reactionary leviathan (“in line with the Bush administration’s militant ‘war on terror’ and policies espoused by Israel’s right wing Likud party”)—but he’s undercut by his own evidence. It turns out that a number of the donors presumably driving FDD’s ideological crusade are usually to be found on the Walt/Podesta side of the aisle. Among other contributors, there’s Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, a former Democratic party political consultant, Charles and Edgar Bronfman, typically associated with left-wing causes, and Haim Saban, a major Democratic fundraiser.
In other words, the disposition of the Islamic Republic of Iran—its nuclear weapons program, its regional campaign against U.S. allies, including Israel but also Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon—is a concern shared by Americans across the political spectrum. Walt and his like-minded colleagues at places like the Center for American Progress give the impression of men marching to the beat of a Persian drummer.
Foie Gras Verboten
Tensions are mounting along the Franco-German border—the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Allies crossed the Rhine. Ministers are balking, diplomats are scurrying, threats are being issued. And all because of goose liver. And duck liver, too—the kind that is fattened to ten times its normal size through force-feeding, sold as golden-hued lobes at an exorbitant price, and magically transformed into delicate terrines and pâtés. In short, a battle has erupted over French foie gras.
It all came about when the organizers of this year’s Anuga FoodTec fair in Cologne decided not to allow foie gras during the event, which, as Anuga FoodTec’s website boasts, “will be the world’s most important trade fair for the food and drink industry.” It is also “a valuable marketplace for all those who want to present their solutions and products to a global audience of trade visitors.” But since the production of foie gras is banned in Germany, why should the fair support the sale of such gluttonous fare?
The Telegraph reports that the French minister of external trade, Pierre Lellouche, “summoned Germany’s ambassador to Paris and called on his government to ‘exercise the strongest authority over the (fair) organisers and get them to respect European law’ (on free movement and nondiscrimination of goods)” but that the German minister for food, agriculture, and consumer protection, Ilse Aigner, insists “it was up to the organisers to decide on the issue.”
Others in the French government are speaking out. The Telegraph quotes a Socialist member of the senate as saying, “It’s unbelievable. It’s like banning German sausages in France.” Meanwhile, animal-rights activists, including actress Brigitte Bardot, are hoping the Germans don’t cave. And French agriculture minister Bruno le Maire is threatening a boycott of the fair’s opening ceremony. Mon dieu!
In all seriousness, you can’t blame the French for being outraged. For while Germany has banned foie gras production on its own soil because of animal-cruelty concerns, its citizens continue to buy rich and succulent foie gras from their French neighbors—and a lot of it. The Telegraph reports that Germans devour 170 tons of pâté each year.