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

This remarkable description of what it is like to be under
American air attack is one of the very few available, and it was
written for the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. It is taken
here from the collection of Mr. Honda dispatches, The Na-
tional Liberation Front (So-called "Viet Cong")
( Tokyo:
Committee for the English Publication of "Vietnam--A Voice from the Villages," 1968), pp. 43-45.


TERROR FOR HELICOPTERS

Katsuichi Honda

The village had been attacked by gunships (armed helicopters) many times. We could clearly see the helicopter in the air through nipa palm leaves as it kept machine gunning and shooting rockets at the nearest hamlet while circling it. This didn't seem so dangerous to us because we knew what the helicopter was aiming at and we had time to take refuge. What was most terrifying was to have a helicopter attack you suddenly on a whim after you thought it was going to pass you by.

One evening at about six o'clock, I was listening to a BBC broadcast from London on the radio I had borrowed from Mr. Thieu. A helicopter was coming straight from the north in the twilight. We were not being especially careful because many helicopters came and returned overhead that day. Suddenly, we heard a blast just about our house. A rocket! Startled, we ran to the air-raid shelter. Mr. Thieu, who had been lying in a mosquito net, jumped into the shelter faster than a chased rabbit and got there before we did. Just then there was a big bang and the vibration of an explosion coming from the nipa palm thicket just behind us.

We felt relieved. It would have been too late for us to take refuge if it had hit the house. We were amused at remembering how Mr. Thieu had leaped into the shelter, but we were also greatly impressed by the remarkable rapidity of his reflex movements. The radio, left behind under the mosquito net, was broadcasting U.S. Army announcements: "About 50 Viet Cong were killed in skirmishes in the Mekong Delta, while U.S. casualties were light with four soldiers dead and . . ."

-357-

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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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