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 account of the Son My massacre appeared in the May 27,
1968, issue of Viet Nam Courier, published in Hanoi and cir-
culated throughout the world. It understates the actual deaths,
but the larger account was amplified in the U.S. press over a
year later. The Vietnamese have also released voluminous docu-
mentation on similar crimes.


SON MY MOTHERS CALL FOR VENGEANCE

The Women's Committee for Liberation of Son My village, Son Tinh district, Quang Ngai province (South Viet Nam), has just denounced the massacre of 502 people, most of them women and children, perpetrated by U.S. troops on March 16.

The unheard-of savagery and magnitude of the massacre

were denounced in a letter sent to the PLAF fighters calling on them to exact vengeance. The letter gave the following details:

"At 6:30 A.M. on March 16, 1968, all the enemy batteries installed around Son My started pounding the village for more than half an hour. The eleven choppers came in, strafing the locality and landing American troops whose sanguinary intention was visible on their faces. They shot at all that came in sight: men, women, children, elderly people, plants and animals, and destroyed everything: crops, fruit-trees, houses . . .

"The inhabitants, who were going about their work, setting off for market or for fishing, had hardly time to run to safety when the GIs came and fell on them.

" Vo Thi Phu, mother of a 12-month-old baby, was shot dead. She had only time to say to Tuyet, a 12-year-old girl, 'Tell my husband that my savings are hidden under the door step and he should take good care of our child.' The baby, which tried to suck at its mother's breast, cried when it found only blood instead of milk. The Yankees got angry and shouted 'Viet Cong, Viet Cong,' and heaped straw on mother and baby and set fire to it.

"Other GIs pulled Mui and Mot out of their trench, beat them, threw into the same trench and blew it up with a mine:

-360-

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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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