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Jonathan Schell
Tom Dispatch / Op-Ed
Published: Thursday 17 January 2013
A New Book Transforms Our Understanding of What the Vietnam War Actually Was.

How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam?

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For half a century we have been arguing about “the Vietnam War.” Is it possible that we didn’t know what we were talking about? After all that has been written (some 30,000 books and counting), it scarcely seems possible, but such, it turns out, has literally been the case.

Now, in Kill Anything that MovesNick Turse has for the first time put together a comprehensive picture, written with mastery and dignity, of what American forces actually were doing in Vietnam. The findings disclose an almost unspeakable truth.  Meticulously piecing together newly released classified information, court-martial records, Pentagon reports, and firsthand interviews in Vietnam and the United States, as well as contemporaneous press accounts and secondary literature, Turse discovers that episodes of devastation, murder, massacre, rape, and torture once considered isolated atrocities were in fact the norm, adding up to a continuous stream of atrocity, unfolding, year after year, throughout that country.

It has been Turse’s great achievement to see that, thanks to the special character of the war, its prime reality -- an accurate overall picture of what physically was occurring on the ground -- had never been assembled; that with imagination and years of dogged work this could be done; and that even a half-century after the beginning of the war it still should be done. Turse acknowledges that, even now, not enough is known to present this picture in statistical terms. To be sure, he offers plenty of numbers -- for instance the mind-boggling estimates that during the war there were some two million civilians killed and some five million wounded, that the United States flew 3.4 million aircraft sorties, and that it expended 30 billion pounds of munitions, releasing the equivalent in explosive force of 640 Hiroshima bombs.

Yet it would not have been enough to simply accumulate anecdotal evidence of abuses. Therefore, while providing an abundance of firsthand accounts, he has supplemented this approach. Like a fabric, a social reality -- a town, a university, a revolution, a war -- has a pattern and a texture.  No fact is an island. Each one is rich in implications, which, so to speak, reach out toward the wider area of the surrounding facts. When some of these other facts are confirmed, they begin to reveal the pattern and texture in question.

Turse repeatedly invites us to ask what sort of larger picture each story implies. For example, he writes:

“If one man and his tiny team could claim more KIAs [killed in action] than an entire battalion without raising red flags among superiors; if a brigade commander could up the body count by picking off civilians from his helicopter with impunity; if a top general could institutionalize atrocities through the profligate use of heavy firepower in areas packed with civilians -- then what could be expected down the line, especially among heavily armed young infantrymen operating in the field for weeks, angry, tired, and scared, often unable to locate the enemy and yet relentlessly pressed for kills?”

Like a tightening net, the web of stories and reports drawn from myriad sources coalesces into a convincing, inescapable portrait of this war -- a portrait that, as an American, you do not wish to see; that, having seen, you wish you could forget, but that you should not forget; and that the facts force you to see and remember and take into account when you ask yourself what the United States has done and been in the last half century, and what it still is doing and still is.

Scorched Earth in I Corps

My angle of vision on these matters is a highly particular one. In early August 1967, I arrived in I Corps, the northernmost district of American military operations in what was then South Vietnam.  I was there to report for the New Yorker on the “air war.” The phrase was a misnomer.  The Vietnamese foe, of course, had no assets in the air in the South, and so there was no “war” of that description.

There was only the unilateral bombardment of the land and people by the fantastic array of aircraft assembled by the United States in Vietnam.  These ranged from the B-52, which laid down a pattern of destruction a mile long and several football fields wide; to fighter bombers capable of dropping, along with much else, 500-pound bombs and canisters of napalm; to the reconfigured DC-3 equipped with a cannon capable of firing 100 rounds per second; to the ubiquitous fleets of helicopters, large and small, that crowded the skies. All this was abetted by continuous artillery fire into “free-fire” zones and naval bombardment from ships just off the coast.

By the time I arrived, the destruction of the villages in the region and the removal of their people to squalid refugee camps was approaching completion. (However, they often returned to their blasted villages, now subject to indiscriminate artillery fire.) Only a few pockets of villages survived. I witnessed the destruction of many of these in Quang Ngai and Quang Tinh provinces from the back seat of small Cessnas called Forward Air Control planes.

As we floated overhead day after day, I would watch long lines of houses burst into flames one after another as troops moved through the area of operation.  In the meantime, the Forward Air Controllers were calling in air strikes as requested by radio from troops on the ground. In past operations, the villagers had been herded out of the area into the camps.  But this time, no evacuation had been ordered, and the population was being subjected to the full fury of a ground and air assault. A rural society was being torn to pieces before my eyes.

The broad results of American actions in I Corps were thus visible and measurable from the air. No scorched earth policy had been announced but scorched earth had been the result.  Still, a huge piece was missing from the puzzle.  I was not able to witness most of the significant operations on the ground firsthand. I sought to interview some soldiers but they would not talk, though one did hint at dark deeds.  “You wouldn’t believe it so I’m not going to tell you,” he said to me. “No one’s ever going to find out about some things, and after this war is over, and we’ve all gone home, no one is ever going to know.”

In other words, like so many reporters in Vietnam, I saw mainly one aspect of one corner of the war.  What I had seen was ghastly, but it was not enough to serve as a basis for generalizations about the conduct of the war as a whole. Just a few years later, in 1969, thanks to the determined efforts of a courageous soldier, Ron Ridenhour, and the persistence of a reporter, Seymour Hersh, one piece of the hidden truth about ground operations in I Corp came to light.

It was the My Lai massacre, in which more than 500 civilians were murdered in cold blood by Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, of the Americal Division. In subsequent years, news of other atrocities in the area filtered into the press, often many years after the fact. For example, in 2003 the Toledo Bladedisclosed a campaign of torture and murder over a period of months, including the summary execution of two blind men by a “reconnaissance” squad called Tiger Force.  Still, no comprehensive picture of the generality of ground operations in the area emerged.

It has not been until the publication of Turse’s book that the everyday reality of which these atrocities were a part has been brought so fully to light. Almost immediately after the American troops arrived in I Corps, a pattern of savagery was established. My Lai, it turns out, was exceptional only in the numbers killed.

Turse offers a massacre at a village called Trieu Ai in October 1967 as a paradigm.  A marine company suffered the loss of a man to a booby trap near the village, which had in fact had been mostly burned down by other American forces a few days earlier.  Some villagers had, however, returned for their belongings. Now, the Marine company, enraged by its loss but unable to find the enemy, entered the village firing their M-16s, setting fire to any intact houses, and tossing grenades into bomb shelters.

A Marine marched a woman into a field and shot her.  Another reported that there were children in the shelters that were being blown up.  His superior replied, “Tough shit, they grow up to be VC [Vietcong].”  Five or ten people rushed out of a shelter when a grenade was thrown into it.  They were cut down in a hail of fire. Turse comments:

“In the story of Trieu Ai one can see virtually the entire war writ small.  Here was the repeated aerial bombing and artillery fire… Here was the deliberate burning of peasant homes and the relocation of villagers to refugee camps... Angry troops primed to lash out, often following losses within the unit; civilians trapped in their paths; and officers in the field issuing ambiguous or illegal orders to young men conditioned to obey -- that was the basic recipe for many of the mass killings carried out by army soldiers and marines over the years.”

The savagery often extended to the utmost depravity: gratuitous torture, killing for target practice, slaughter of children and babies, gang rape.  Consider the following all-too-typical actions of Company B, 1st Battalion, 35th infantry beginning in October 1967:

“The company stumbled upon an unarmed young boy.  'Someone caught him up on a hill, and they brought him down and the lieutenant asked who wanted to kill him...' medic Jamie Henry later told army investigators. A radioman and another medic volunteered for the job.  The radioman... ’kicked the boy in the stomach and the medic took him around behind a rock and I heard one magazine go off complete on automatic...’ “A few days after this incident, members of that same unit brutalized an elderly man to the point of collapse and then threw him off a cliff without even knowing whether he was dead or alive... “A couple of days after that, they used an unarmed man for target practice...“And less than two weeks later, members of Company B reportedly killed five unarmed women... “Unit members rattled off a litany of other brutal acts committed by the company... [including] a living woman who had an ear cut off while her baby was thrown to the ground and stomped on...”

Pumping Up the Body Count

Turse’s findings completed the picture of the war in I Corps for me.  Whatever the policymight have been in theory, the reality, on the ground as in the air, was the scorched earth I had witnessed from the Forward Air Control planes. Whatever the United States thoughtit was doing in I Corps, it was actuallywaging systematic war against the people of the region.

And so it was, as Turse voluminously documents, throughout the country.  Details differed from area to area but the broad picture was the same as the one in I Corps. A case in point is the war in the Mekong Delta, home to some five to six million people in an area of less than 15,000 square miles laced with rivers and canals. In February 1968, General Julian Ewell, soon to be known by Vietnamese and Americans alike as “the Butcher of the Delta,” was placed in charge of the 9th Infantry Division.

In December 1968, he launched Operation Speedy Express. His specialty, amounting to obsession, was increasing “the body count,” ordained by the high command as the key measure of progress in defeating the enemy. Theoretically, only slain soldiers were to be included in that count but -- as anyone, soldier or reporter, who spent a half-hour in the field quickly learned -- virtually all slain Vietnamese, most of them clearly civilians, were included in the total.  The higher an officer’s body count, the more likely his promotion. Privates who turned in high counts were rewarded with mini-vacations. Ewell set out to increase the ratio of supposed enemy soldiers killed to American soldiers killed.  Pressure to do so was ratcheted up at all levels in the 9th Division. One of his chiefs of staff “went berserk,” in the words of a later chief of staff.

The means were simple: immensely increase the already staggering firepower being used and loosen the already highly permissive “rules of engagement” by, for example, ordering more night raids.  In a typical night episode, Cobra gunships strafed a herd of water buffalo and seven children tending them. All died, and the children were reported as enemy soldiers killed in action.

The kill ratios duly rose from an already suspiciously high 24 “Vietcong” for every dead American to a completely surreal 134 Vietcong per American.  The unreality, however, did not simply lie in the inflated kill numbers but in the identities of the corpses.  Overwhelmingly, they were not enemy soldiers but civilians.  A “Concerned Sergeant” who protested the operation in an anonymous letter to the high command at the time described the results as he witnessed them:

“A battalion would kill maybe 15 to 20 a day.  With 4 battalions in the Brigade that would be maybe 40 to 50 a day or 1200 a month 1500, easy. (One battalion claimed almost 1000 body counts one month!)  If I am only 10% right, and believe me its lots more, then I am trying to tell you about 120-150 murders, or a My Lay [My Lai] each month for over a year.”

This range of estimates was confirmed in later analyses. Operations in I Corp perhaps depended more on infantry attacks supported by air strikes, while Speedy Express depended more on helicopter raids and demands for high body counts, but the results were the same: indiscriminate warfare, unrestrained by calculation or humanity, on the population of South Vietnam.

Turse reminds us that off the battlefield, too, casual violence -- such as the use of military trucks to run over Vietnamese on the roads, seemingly for entertainment -- was widespread.  The commonest terms for Vietnamese were the racist epithets “gooks,” “dinks,” and “slopes.”  And the U.S. military machine was supplemented by an equally brutal American-South Vietnamese prison system in which torture was standard procedure and extrajudicial executions common.

How did it happen? How did a country that believes itself to be guided by principles of decency permit such savagery to break out and then allow it to continue for more than a decade?

Why, when the first Marines arrived in I Corps in early 1965, did so many of them almost immediately cast aside the rules of war as well as all ordinary scruples and sink to the lowest levels of barbarism?  What chains of cause and effect linked “the best and the brightest” of America’s top universities and corporations who were running the war with the murder of those buffalo boys in the Mekong Delta?

How did the gates of hell open? This is a different question from the often-asked one of how the United States got into the war. I cannot pretend to begin to do it justice here. The moral and cognitive seasickness that has attended the Vietnam War from the beginning afflicts us still. Yet Kill Anything that Moves permits us, finally, to at least formulate the question in light of the actual facts of the case.

Reflections would certainly seem in order for a country that, since Vietnam, has done its best to unlearn even such lessons as were learned from that debacle in preparation for other misbegotten wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here, however, are a few thoughts, offered in a spirit of thinking aloud.

The Fictitious War and the Real One

Roughly since the massacre at My Lai was revealed, people have debated whether the atrocities of the war were the product of decisions by troops on the ground or of high policy, of orders issued from above -- whether they were “aberrations” or “operations.” The first school obviously lends itself to bad-apple-in-a-healthy-barrel thinking, blaming individual units for unacceptable behavior while exonerating the higher ups; the second tends to exonerate the troops while pinning the blame on their superiors.

Turse’s book shows that the barrel was rotten through and through.  It discredits the “aberration” school once and for all. Yet it does not exactly offer support for the orders-from-the-top school either. Perhaps the problem always was that these alternatives framed the situation inaccurately.  The relationship between policy and practice in Vietnam was, it turns out, far more peculiar than the two choices suggest.

It’s often said that truth is the first casualty of war. In Vietnam, however, it was not just that the United States was doing one thing while saying another (for example, destroying villages while claiming to protect them), true as that was.  Rather, from its inception the war’s structure was shaped by an attempt to superimpose a false official narrative on a reality of a wholly different character.

In the official war, the people of South Vietnam were resisting the attempts of the North Vietnamese to conquer them in the name of world communism.  The United States was simply assisting them in their patriotic resistance.  In reality, most people in South Vietnam, insofar as they were politically minded, were nationalists who sought to push out foreign conquerors: first, the French, then the Japanese, and next the Americans, along with their client state, the South Vietnamese government which was never able to develop any independent strength in a land supposedly its own.  This fictitious official narrative was not added on later to disguise unpalatable facts; it was baked into the enterprise from the outset.

Accordingly, the collision of policy and reality first took place on the ground in Trieu Ai village and its like. The American forces, including their local commanders, were confronted with a reality that the policymakers had not faced and would not face for many long years. Expecting to be welcomed as saviors, the troops found themselves in a sea of nearly universal hostility.

No manual was handed out in Washington to deal with the unexpected situation. It was left to the soldiers to decide what to do. Throughout the country, they started to improvise. To this extent, policy was indeed being made in the field. Yet it was not within the troops’ power to reverse basic policy; they could not, for instance, have withdrawn themselves from the whole misconceived exercise.  They could only respond to the unexpected circumstances in which they found themselves.

The result would combine an incomprehensible and impossible mission dictated from above (to win the “hearts and minds” of a population already overwhelmingly hostile, while pulverizing their society) and locally conceived illegal but sometimes vague orders that left plenty of room for spontaneous, rage-driven improvisation on the ground. In this gap between the fiction of high policy and the actuality of the real war was born the futile, abhorrent assault on the people of Vietnam.

The improvisatory character of all this, as Turse emphasizes, can be seen in the fact that while the abuses of civilians were pervasive they were not consistent. As he summarizes what a villager in one brutalized area told him decades later, “Sometimes U.S. troops handed out candies.  Sometimes they shot at people.  Sometimes they passed through a village hardly touching a thing.  Sometimes they burned all the homes. ‘We didn’t understand the reasons why the acted in the way they did.’”

Alongside the imaginary official war, then, there grew up the real war on the ground, the one that Turse has, for the first time, adequately described.  It is no defense of what happened to point out that, for the troops, it was not so much their orders from on high as their circumstances -- what Robert J. Lifton has called “atrocity-producing situations” -- that generated their degraded behavior. Neither does such an account provide escape from accountability for the war’s architects without whose blind and misguided policies these infernal situations never would have arisen.

In one further bitter irony, this real war came at a certain point to be partially codified at ever higher levels of command into policies that did translate into orders from the top. In effect, the generals gradually -- if absurdly, in light of the supposed goals of the war -- sanctioned and promoted the de facto war on the population.  Enter General Ewell and his body counts.

In other words, the improvising moved up the chain of command until the soldierswere following orders when they killed civilians, though, as in the case of Ewell, those orders rarely took exactly that form.  Nonetheless, the generals sometimes went quite far in formulating these new rules, even when they flagrantly contradicted official policies.

To give one example supplied by Turse, in 1965, General William Westmoreland, who was made commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam in 1964, implicitly declared war on the peasantry of South Vietnam. He said:

“Until now the war has been characterized by a substantial majority of the population remaining neutral.  In the past year we have seen an escalation to a higher intensity in the war.  This will bring about a moment of decision for the peasant farmer.  He will have to choose if he stays alive.”

Like his underlings, Westmoreland, was improvising. This new policy of, in effect, terrorizing the peasantry into submission was utterly inconsistent with the Washington narrative of winning hearts and minds, but it was fully consistent with everything his forces were actually doing and about to do in I Corps and throughout the country.

A Skyscraper of Lies

One more level of the conflict needs to be mentioned in this context.  Documents show that, as early as the mid-1960s, the key mistaken assumptions of the war -- that the Vietnamese foe was a tentacle of world communism, that the war was a front in the Cold War rather than an episode in the long decolonization movement of the twentieth century, that the South Vietnamese were eager for rescue by the United States -- were widely suspected to be mistaken in official Washington.  But one other assumption was not found to be mistaken: that whichever administration “lost” Vietnam would likely lose the next election.

Rightly or wrongly, presidents lived in terror of losing the war and so being politically destroyed by a movement of the kind Senator Joe McCarthy launched after the American “loss” of China in 1949.  Later, McGeorge Bundy, Lyndon Johnson’s national security advisor, would describe his understanding of the president’s frame of mind at the time this way:

"LBJ isn't deeply concerned about who governs Laos, or who governs South Vietnam -- he's deeply concerned with what the average American voter is going to think about how he did in the ball game of the Cold War. The great Cold War championship gets played in the largest stadium in the United States and he, Lyndon Johnson, is the quarterback, and if he loses, how does he do in the next election? So don't lose. Now that's too simple, but it's where he is. He's living with his own political survival every time he looks at these questions.”

In this context, domestic political considerations trumped the substantive reasoning that, once the futility and horror of the enterprise had been revealed, might have led to an end to the war. More and more it was understood to be a murderous farce, but politics dictated that it must continue. As long as this remained the case, no news from Vietnam could lead to a reversal of the war policies.

This was the top floor of the skyscraper of lies that was the Vietnam War. Domestic politics was the largest and most fact-proof of the atrocity-producing situations.  Do we imagine that this has changed?

Click Here To Read Tom‘s Response.



ABOUT Jonathan Schell

Jonathan Schell is The Nation Institute's Harold Willens Peace Fellow. He is the author of The Unconquerable World and many other books.

Jonathan Schell is one of the

Jonathan Schell is one of the writers who changed my life. When I read Chapter 6 of "The Time of Illusion" it gave me a new perspective about the Cold War. My new understanding was that Presidents Johnson & Nixon were holding the line in Vietnam in order to prevent a nuclear war against the USSR. Schell's thesis, at the time, was that both Johnson and Nixon felt that they had no choice but to hold the line because the survival of the human race was at stake. He explained that, to LBJ and Nixon, the desires of the people of Vietnam or the people of the United States, or even the continuation of our constitutional democracy, was of no consequence compared to the possibility of nuclear annihilation. Credibility alone could hold back Armageddon.

I found his case to be persuasive enough that this former McGovern voter soon enlisted in the military. After active duty, I served in a reserve unit that practiced for a Soviet invasion of Germany. I saw the common sense of Schell's thesis, that NATO's "tripwire" forces could not have protected France from the USSR without using tactical nukes. That scenario was soon dramatized on a television show called "The Day After." Schell's "The Fate of the Earth" was recommended in the study guide that was distributed to school for the telecast.

In recent years, it seems that Schell has repudiated his own thesis. Now he writes that President Johnson only cared about the next election.

It has been almost a quarter of a century since the nuclear Sword of Damocles hung over our heads. I fear that the world will stumble into another nuclear stalemate and another Cold War someday. I don't know for sure whether the old Schell or the new Schell had it right. I just hope we are giving the next generation the information they will need to deal with it when it happens.

As a WWII vet (noncombative)

As a WWII vet (noncombative) I have watched many programs on
T.V. which were disgusting to say the least. It's amazing to me, how humans can lay claim, to being civilized.

If all the money, natural resources and effort were applied to making the Earth a better place to live, improve life for all living things and live peacefully with one another, We would truly be living in paradise instead of living in hope that religion may finally be able to provide it for us. If we all lived the way that religion believes we should. It may really happen. WHY DO WE CONTINUE TO LIVE THE LIFE OF SIN? WHY DO WE CONTINUE TO FIGHT WARS, THAT HAVE REALLY NOT GIVEN MANKIND THE KIND OF LIFE, WE LONG FOR? WHY WON'T WE TRY SOME OTHER OPTION? EVEN IF IT TURNS OUT TO BE WRONG. LETS GET TOGETHER, IN ONE GREAT EXPERIMENT. One thing for sure it won't cost more, destroy more natural resources or life

Sad to say these

Sad to say these "revelations" are no surprise.

But it's of inestimable value that Turse has documented them.

If only each next generation would learn the truth about war instead of succumbing to its glorification.

Smedley Butler's "War is a Racket" should be required reading in every high school in America.

War dehumanizes. War is, in

War dehumanizes. War is, in and of itself, an atrocity. Every war ever waged has been the stage for untold atrocities, only a few of which actually come to light. Why should Vietnam be any different. The greater lesson, it seems to me, is "never trust what your government leaders are telling you, where war is concerned."

The Soviet Union undertook a

The Soviet Union undertook a successful world-wide propaganda war to win more territory for the last colonial empire of a European nation to survive in the world. It wanted Cam Ranh Bay as a base for its warm-water navy. Writers like Schell, Turse, and many others were recruited to spread their propaganda in the United States. The lack of competence of the Johnson and Nixon Administrations brought them success in this war. The COMINTERN member using the name Ho Chi Minh provided the cannon fodder for this war. All weapons were delivered by the Soviet Union and its European satellites. First, the war was supposed to be an "insurgency." That would mean that it was started by irate farmers against an unpopular government. In fact, it was a carefully planned invasion by the North Vietnamese Army. The supply routes through Laos were built in 1959, and the first combat units arrived from North Vietnam in 1960. The People's Liberation Front of South Vietnam was founded in 1961, and the People's Liberation Army (Viet Cong) was founded in 1962. If the North Vietnamese were arriving in 1960, how could they be assisting the Viet Cong, an army that did not exist until 1962. The misunderstanding of the nature of the war by Kennedy and Johnson led to a whole series in errors in their planning. Our presidents were simply misled by a stupid press, which was taken in by Communist propaganda. The outcome of the war led to the slaughter of more than 4 million innocent Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians, who America had promised to defend. The Communists killed more people in about 2 years after "peace" came in 1975 than had died in the previous 12 years of war. I just personally visited the atrocity museum in Phnom Penh, where it is officially reported that 3 million Cambodians were killed during the brief rule of the Khmer Rouge. Uncounted millions of South Vietnam victims of the Communist slaughter still lie in the mass graves of South Vietnam. The whole Soviet plot collapsed because of the Sino-Soviet split. A tank-led Vietnamese Army of about 235,000 soldiers were lined up along the Thai-Cambodian border after crushing the pro-Chinese Khmer Rough at a cost of tens of thousands of lives. All of the Thai armed forces numbered less than 200,000. Then, the Chinese invaded North Vietnam, putting an end to Hanoi's aggression. A completely demoralized United States stood by and tried to ignore what it had left behind after its hasty withdrawal. The entire period from 1959 through 1978 is one of shame that the United States will never live down because it deserted its allies after promising to stand by them, it abandoned as many as 500 of its war prisoners, and it allowed its veterans to be defamed by the faithful mouthpieces for the pack of lies produced in Moscow as part of the world-wide propaganda to justify its war to aggression to expand the Russian Empire at a time when all other European colonial powers were freeing their colonies.

The philosophy of "Kill them

The philosophy of "Kill them all and let GOD sort them out!" was the strategy of the US military in Vietnam in the 1960s.

Some of the psychotic mass murderering war criminals were driven by not knowing who exactly was the enemy -- a young child could be secretly armed and capable of killing an invading occupier. Some of these Vietnam vets came home and became cops, Congressmen, corporate executives, and other so-called "pillars of society" while others fell through the cracks and ended up prematurely dead, addicted to hard drugs, or in prison. That "police action" which was a war did much more damage to this country than we would like to admit.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara called Vietnam "a mistake" years after the war ended. Many Vietnam vets were so incensed over McNamara's statement that they would have killed him with their bare hands if he had been in their presence when he said it.

No wonder there is a plague

No wonder there is a plague of mental illness in America and a mass of consciousness distorters (condoned, illicit and prescribed) followed by Alzheimers....

As long as Americans and

As long as Americans and presidents are convinced that war is just a "ball game" that you win or loose complete with score cards, trophies and victory parades and a long bus ride home for the loosers, Koreas, Viet Nams, El Salvadors, Nicaraugas, Grenadas, Lebenons, Afghanistans, Iraqs and Lybias will be the Sunday opiate of entertainment for the masses.

We need a monument to all the

We need a monument to all the victims in Viet Nam, those we murdered, as well as our own sons we sent in to be part of all the unspeakable evil.

Maybe we need such a monument in every state.

And we must never, ever forget.

We must resist any narrative that Obama or anybody else offers that brushes off the war against Viet Nam as at worst a mistake.

And we must stop our current atrocities in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and other places. We should withdraw every soldier, every contractor, and have at most a small embassy in such countries, if even that.

(And thanks Jonathan for the review of Turse's book.)

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