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

THE FACE OF WAR, DECEMBER, 1969

A brief word about how Vietnam looks. Flying over and driving through the Delta, our general impression was that the area looks relatively untouched and prosperous. There are no stretches of deserted or razed villages, and we saw only some evidence of past defoliation. Still the war is ever present. The sound of mortar fire is sporadic during the day but almost continuous at night. And when we drove out to the village of Cho Gau, fifteen miles or so outside My Tho, late in the afternoon with some young CORDS officers with whom we were spending the night, they were noticeably nervous when we found ourselves waiting unduly long for a ferry that was to take us across a river that stood between the hamlet and the road back to My Tho.

The view of I Corps from the air is quiet different. Along the coast in the vicinity of Route 1, the "street without joy," there are large stretches of desolated country with abandoned and burned out villages and long reaches of defoliated trees and underbrush stretching along canal and river banks.

Perhaps the Vietnamese can best describe their own country. The quotation below is from a pamphlet used at the Vietnamese training center at Vungtau where Revolutionary Development cadre, village and hamlet officials, Peoples Self- Defense Force personnel and others are trained.

Rural Vietnam today is desolate, bleak and in many areas deserted. Gardens are plowed by either bombs and shells or by men digging not furrows for seed but shelters and trenches. Houses appear in irregular patterns, some curiously unscathed by the ravages of war, but many are destroyed or knocked askew and lean drunkenly, adding to the mournful loneliness which is the hallmark of abandoned areas. Previously lush rice fields are overgrown with weeds, the silence unbroken by the

____________________
*
From U. S. Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Vietnam: December 1969, 91: 2, February 2, 1970 ( Washington, D.C., 1970), p. 15. This report was prepared by two staff consultants who went to South Vietnam at the end of 1969.

-393-

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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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