There are no just wars. The death, the depravity, and destruction should never have pretense of being a noble endeavour. War is like being dragged face first through fifteen kilometres of shit, nobility and honour be damned.
We’re going to look at a “bad” war, that is a war that we did all the things we usually do, but couldn’t manage to spin a victory or even a “Mission Accomplished” out of the briny wash. Vietnam seems to cause soul-searching in the US. The Vietnam War should do that at the barest of minimums. I wonder how much “soul-searching” the Vietnamese do considering it was their country that was systematically raped, poisoned and bombed into a moonscape.
War kills people, like you and like me. Not the Enemy, not the “evildoers” but women, men and children. Families, friends, acquaintances are all maliciously erased by the callous hand of war. The article from Alter.net that excerpts a book by Nick Turse is about the humiliations, gang rapes and murders visited upon the women of Vietnam by the invading American troops. Make no mistake, this happens in every war and is committed by almost every military.
“In 1971, Major Gordon Livingston, a West Point graduate who served as regimental surgeon with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, testified before members of Congress about the ease with which Americans killed Vietnamese. “Above 90 percent of the Americans with whom I had contact in Vietnam,” said Dr. Livingston, treated the Vietnamese as subhuman and with “nearly universal contempt.” To illustrate his point, Livingston told his listeners about a helicopter pilot who swooped down on two Vietnamese women riding bicycles and killed them with the helicopter skids. The pilot was temporarily grounded as the incident was being investigated, and Livingston spoke to him in his medical capacity. He found that the man felt no remorse about the killings and only regretted not receiving his pay during the investigation.”
War makes us forget who we are and what we value. Once we strip the humanity from our enemies, anything becomes possible.
“General George S. Patton III. Son of the famed World War II general of the same name, the younger Patton was known for his bloodthirsty attitude and the macabre souvenirs that he kept, including a Vietnamese skull that sat on his desk. He even carried it around at his end-of- tour farewell party. Of course, Patton was just one of many Americans who collected and displayed Vietnamese body parts.” [..]
Some soldiers hacked the heads off Vietnamese to keep, trade, or exchange for prizes offered by commanders. Many more cut off the ears of their victims, in the hopes that disfiguring the dead would frighten the enemy. Some of these trophies were presented to superiors as gifts or as proof to confirm a body count; others were retained by the “grunts” and worn on necklaces or otherwise displayed. While ears were the most common souvenirs of this type, scalps, penises, noses, breasts, teeth, and fingers were also favored.”
Ah yes, even this very day, we boldly proclaim our civilization and our humanity to all of those who would listen. Can you imagine the rage and indignation of those who have suffered at our hands?
“In a rather medieval display, some American troops hacked the heads off the dead and mounted them on pikes or poles to frighten guerrillas or local Vietnamese villagers. Others, in a more modern variant of the same practice, lashed corpses to U.S. vehicles and drove through towns and villages to send a similar message. And while South Vietnamese troops were often singled out in the press for making public displays of dead guerrillas, U.S. troops did much the same, sometimes even more spectacularly. Alexander Haig— who went on to serve as a division brigade commander, vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, and then President Nixon’s chief of staff— recalled that in 1966, when he was the operations officer with the 1st Infantry Division, one tactic under discussion involved throwing bodies out of aircraft.
“I was there when some staffers recommended dropping dead North Vietnamese soldiers from helicopters . . . simply for the psychology of it,” Haig remembered decades later. “I said ‘If that happens I’m resigning right here and now.’ And it didn’t happen.” The historical record, though, contradicts Haig’s last sentence. In November 1966, the New York Times reported that, following a particularly successful battle, an “elated” Lieutenant Colonel Jack Whitted of the 1st Infantry Division had the corpses of dead revolutionary troops loaded into a helicopter. “We’re giving the bodies back to Victor Charles!” he shouted. “We’ll dump the bodies in the next clearing.” The corpses were then hurled out.”
There is no moral high ground once a war starts. It is an “all in” affair. Compassion, empathy, kindness are all sacrificed on the altar of war. All that is left are the atrocities, which both sides gleefully pursue without hesitation, and without remorse.
“As a result, sexual violence and sexual exploitation became an omnipresent part of the American War. With their husbands or fathers away at war or dead because of it, without other employment prospects and desperate to provide for their families, many women found that catering to the desires of U.S. soldiers was their only option.By 1966, as the feminist scholar Susan Brownmiller observed, the 1st Cavalry Division, the 1st Infantry Division, and the 4th Infantry Division had all already “established official military brothels within the perimeter of their basecamps.” At the 1st Infantry Division base at Lai Khe, refugee women—recruited by the South Vietnamese province chief and channeled into their jobs by the mayor of the town—worked in sixty curtained cubicles kept under military police guard.”
War destroys country and people. Women who bring life are often made to suffer the worst.
“Most rapes and other crimes against Vietnamese women, however, did take place in the field — in hamlets and villages populated mainly by women and children when the Americans arrived. Rape was a way of asserting dominance, and sometimes a weapon of war, employed in field interrogations of women captives to gain information about enemy troops. Aside from any such considerations, rural women were generally assumed by Americans to be secret saboteurs or the wives and girlfriends of Viet Cong guerrillas, and thus fair game.
“The reports of sexual assault implicated units up and down the country. A veteran who served with 198th Light Infantry Brigade testified that he knew of ten to fifteen incidents, within a span of just six or seven months, in which soldiers from his unit raped young girls. A soldier who served with the 25th Infantry Division admitted that, in his unit, rape was virtually standard operating procedure. One member of the Americal Division remembered fellow soldiers on patrol through a village suddenly singling out a girl to be raped. “All three grunts grabbed the gook chick and began dragging her into the hootch. I didn’t know what to do,” he recalled. “As a result of this one experience I learned to recognize the sounds of rape at a great distance . . . Over the next two months I would hear this sound on the average of once every third day.”
In November 1966, soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division brazenly kidnapped a young Vietnamese woman named Phan Thi Mao to use as a sexual slave. One unit member testified that, prior to the mission, his patrol leader had explicitly stated, “We would get the woman for the purpose of boom boom, or sexual intercourse, and at the end of five days we would kill her.” The sergeant was true to his word. The woman was kidnapped, raped by four of the patrol members in turn, and murdered the following day.”
I’m done for commenting on this article.