Sunday, January 20, 2013
On The Vietnam War Crimes Book
The chatter about Nick Turse's "Kill Anything That Moves" is sort of like an out of body experience in that there seems to be a belief abroad in the land that because of Powell and My Lai -- or something -- the government successfully covered up the many other atrocities and war crimes that characterized the Vietnam War and nobody knew what was going on over there.
Oh yes, we knew. The Vietnamese certainly knew as well. So did pretty much anybody around the world who bothered to pay attention.
We knew from the beginning that this was an atrocious, monstrous, vile thing going on in the jungles and on the riverbanks and in the rice paddies and in the cities of Vietnam, that it was criminally engaged in and chewing up thousands and thousands of Americans, and who knew how many Vietnamese (we couldn't find out the truth -- or anything close to it -- until after the war was over) in a slaughter and blood fest of gargantuan proportions, a campaign of almost unimaginable destruction and annihilation that seemed to go on forever.
We even knew a lot of the details -- the many murders, rapes, and plunders that went unremarked on in the mainstream but were extensively reported in the alternative media of the day, "Ramparts" for example, or in "The Nation." We knew, too, because soldiers came back, broken and soul-destroyed, and told their stories, not just at "Winter Soldier" conclaves, but one by one, to families, friends, co-workers.
We couldn't escape it.
Why do you think so many of us opposed this monstrous thing?
Of course not everybody did oppose it. And that's the key understanding about the Vietnam War and why it went on, despite the growing opposition, year in and year out with ever greater levels of crime and atrocity. In fact, most Americans did not opposed it at any time during the war, they applauded it. They cheered on the slaughter, the mayhem, the monstrousness of it all. As long as it was mostly Gooks getting their heads blown off and their nuts crushed, Yay! Americans loved that shit.
They still do.
To pretend that it went on -- and on and on -- because "we didn't know" is absurd. Of course we knew.
But many Americans who knew what was going on approved of it, heartily.
Killing The Other and taking their stuff -- or just killing and maiming them for sport -- after all, is as American as apple pie and motherhood. Vast ideological struggles don't enter in to it. It doesn't matter who the designated Other is or what they believe or where they are. What matters to many Americans is that they be exterminated and their goods and chattel seized. Period.
In other words, the crimes and atrocities in Vietnam -- which were no mysteries when they were going on -- weren't monstrous enough in the eyes of many Americans because the Gooks were still fighting back, they were still winning, and ultimately they won. And today they rule, and they are our best friends in Asia. Go figure.
Though it takes many fewer Americans in the various theaters and outposts of the Great and Glorious War on Terror, the crimes and atrocities of the Vietnam War are repeated on an even vaster -- and bloodier -- scale today. The wonder is not that it goes on, the wonder is that there is such muted opposition.
Of course Nixon's genius was to end the draft, not the war. Ending the draft pulled the rug out from the opposition to the Vietnam War, and once that was done, the thing could go on "quietly" in the background, and be ultimately be wound down and brought to a conclusion. The wonder too is that the Vietnamese "enemy" has never sought revenge for what was done to them.