Crimes of War: A Legal, Political-Documentary, and Psychological Inquiry into the Responsibility of Leaders, Citizens, and Soldiers for Criminal Acts in Wars

By Richard A. Falk; Gabriel Kolko et al. | Go to book overview

ANTI-VIETCONG CORDON DISRUPTS LIFE OF A VILLAGE

Terence Smith*

Phuhoadong, South Vietnam, Sept. 23--For eight days this dusty farming village northwest of Saigon has been surrounded by a tight cordon of American and South Vietnamese soldiers.

The central market and all the shops have been shuttered and the fertile rice fields left untended while the soldiers have combed the village house by house in search of Vietcong. Traffic to and from the village has been completely cut off.

The cordon was drawn because the village is thought to be a command center and key supply point for local guerrilla units. By every military measure the operation has been a thorough success.

Seven hundred soldiers quietly encircled the village in a few hours on the night of Sept. 15. The surprise was apparently complete. As far as is known no Vietcong slipped through the net, though several tried to shoot their way out. Twenty-two were killed, 17 have been taken prisoner and 13 surrendered, and 23 suspects were arrested. In addition, 11 draft-dodgers have been picked up.

The military men who planned and executed the cordon are pleased so far. Lieut. Col. Ronald Ochis, commander of the joint American-South Vietnamese force, told a visitor today that the local Vietcong network has been "knocked for a loop." He added: "It will be months before they recover from this one."

The villagers of Phuhoadong are not so sure that the operation has been a success. They had seen four cordon operations in the last 15 months, including one that lasted 13 days. The Vietcong are everywhere, they say, and will be back when the Americans leave.

The villagers have also seen another side of the operation, one that Col. Ochis failed to mention in his briefing. Twenty

____________________
*
This dispatch is one of many which frequently appear in the daily press. It was in the New York Times, September 24, 1969.

-386-

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Crimes of War: A Legal, Political-Documentary, and Psychological Inquiry into the Responsibility of Leaders, Citizens, and Soldiers for Criminal Acts in Wars
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page vii
  • Editors' Statement xi
  • Contents xiii
  • The Question of War Crimes: A Statement of Perspective 3
  • On the Avoidance of Reality 11
  • Beyond Atrocity 17
  • A Legal Framework 29
  • 1 - Standards and Norms 31
  • 2 - The Experience of World War II 73
  • 3 - Focus on Vietnam 177
  • The Political Setting: Documents 263
  • American Atrocities in Vietnam 265
  • Chemical Warfare in Vietnam 285
  • Pacification in Vietnam 291
  • A Doctor Reports from South Vietnam 309
  • Testimony of Don Luce 338
  • Testimony of Roger Hilsman, Former U.S. Official 344
  • Over Vietnam: An Eyewitness Report 345
  • Terror for Helicopters 357
  • Son My Mothers Call for Vengeance 360
  • The Tombs of Ben Suc 363
  • Repression in South Vietnam 371
  • Anti-Vietcong Cordon Disrupts Life of a Village 386
  • The Balang an Massacre 389
  • The Face of War, December, 1969 393
  • Letters to His Parents - Captain William H. Miller 395
  • Precision Bombing Not Very Precise 397
  • Saigon "Falsifying" Casualty Figures 401
  • War Crimes and the Nature of the Vietnam War 403
  • Contributors 415
  • The Psychological and Ethical Context 417
  • Victims and Executioners 419
  • Healing in Vietnam 430
  • It Didn't Happen and Besides, They Deserved It 441
  • Cover Your Ass 445
  • The Changing Climate of Atrocity 459
  • From Boot Camp to My Lai 462
  • The Gift 469
  • The Age of Abdication 473
  • German Guilt 476
  • On Responsibility for Evil 486
  • Gandhi versus the Policing Mind 502
  • On Killing 513
  • On Dying 528
  • On Genocede 534
  • A Victory 550
  • Deadly Paradoxes 555
  • Absurd Technological Death 559
  • Contributors 576
  • Recommendations for Further Reading 577
  • Index 579
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