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

A VICTORY

Jean-Paul Sartre

In 1943, in the Rue Lauriston (the Gestapo headquarters in Paris), Frenchmen were screaming in agony and pain: all France could hear them. In those days the outcome of the war was uncertain and we did not want to think about the future. Only one thing seemed impossible in any circumstances: that one day men should be made to scream by those acting in our name.

There is no such word as impossible: in 1958, in Algiers, people are tortured regularly and systematically. Everyone from M. Lacoste (Minister Resident for Algeria) to the farmers in Aveyron, knows this is so, but almost no one talks of it. At most, a few thin voices trickle through the silence. France is almost as mute as during the Occupation, but then she had the excuse of being gagged.

Abroad, the conclusion has already been drawn: some people say our decline has gone on since 1939, other say since 1918. That is too simple. I find it hard to believe in the degradation of a people; I do believe in stagnation and stupor. During the war, when the English radio and the clandestine Press spoke of the massacre of Oradour, we watched the German soldiers walking inoffensively down the street, and would say to ourselves: "They look like us. How can they act as they do?" And we were proud of ourselves for not understanding.

Today we know there was nothing to understand. The decline has been gradual and imperceptible. But now when we raise our heads and look into the mirror we see an unfamiliar and hideous reflection: ourselves.

Appalled, the French are discovering this terrible truth: that if nothing can protect a nation against itself, neither its traditions nor its loyalties nor its laws, and if fifteen years are enough to transform victims into executioners, then its behaviour is no more than a matter of opportunity and occasion. Anybody, at any time, may equally find himself victim or executioner.

Happy are those who died without ever having had to ask

-550-

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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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