"In the first week of May, 1967, the International War Crimes Tribunal met in Stockholm, Sweden to hear evidence and render judgment on the US role in the war in Vietnam. The Tribunal was conceived in the fall of 1966 by Lord Bertrand Russell and was to have one primary function: to condemn the US for the war in Vietnam.
In Lord Russell's opening statement to the Tribunal he stated, "In Vietnam, we have done what Hitler did in Europe. We shall suffer the degradation of Nazi Germany unless we act... It is overdue that those without power sit in judgment over those who have it. This is the test we must meet, alone if need be. We are responsible before history.
To accomplish its task the Tribunal brought together some of the great intellectual minds of the West: Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Issac Deutcher, as well as such European radicals as Lelio Basso, Italian Socialist; Vladimir Dedijer, former Yugoslav partisan; and Mehemet Ali Aybar, Turkish socialist.
From America came Dave Dellinger, Carl Oglesby, and Courtland Cox who sat in for Stokely Carmichael.
From the Far East came Ali Kasuri, chief prosecutor of Pakistan; Amado Henandez, former Huk and poet laureate of the Philippines; and a distinguished delegation of Japanese activists and lawyers. And from Cuba came Melba Hernandez, a national heroine and comrade of Fidel from the early beginnings of the Cuban Revolution in the Sierra Maestra.
...yet few people in America or Europe are aware that there even was a Tribunal, not to mention the nature of the evidence collected by the Tribunal. The press simply blacked out most news about the Tribunal, as it was supposed to do by its very nature. Many Third World political activists viewed the Tribunal as did a diplomat from Mali who said: "What is the Tribunal going to do, give Johnson four years in jail?"
The Tribunal's judgment was, of course, that the US was guilty of aggression in Vietnam... Having said that, what was said? The judgment had not changed the political reality, which was the war in Vietnam. The steel-pellet bombs and the napalm were being dropped as the Tribunal met as they are being dropped now. "
And so forth. The frustration and the sense of futility expressed by Julius Lester in this piece is palpable. And yet I think he was wrong. Out of this Tribunal came even more concerted action at home and abroad to shut the war down.
Johnson gave up the presidency in the hope that some way could be found to end the war -- if he was out of the way. Of course, what happened through the rest of 1968 ensured that the Indochina bloodbath would continue for five more years -- partly due to assassins' bullets, partly due to reactionary forces in the United States -- but the Tribunal itself brought forth so much information about the horrors that were being inflicted on the people of Vietnam in the name of "democracy," and so much of that information spread so widely, there was no way that war and domination of Vietnam could be sustained.
The Japanese made a documentary about their findings in North Vietnam that is still a powerful statement of what had to be done to end this vile war.
It's something we anti-war folks can learn from today: