THE VIETNAM WAR
There are no census takers of the barbarism of the twentieth century, and there has been far too much of it to measure. The executioners are not willing, and the victims are rarely able, to provide exact details. What is certain in Vietnam, save to those who have neither the will nor the interest to confront truth, is the general magnitude and quality of the United States's combat against the Vietnamese. This relationship necessarily has a logic and structure which leads to war crimes as the inevitable consequence of a war that is intrinsically criminal. More important, the war is the outcome of post-World War II American policy toward the world and its effort to resolve the U.S.'s greatest dilemma in the second half of this century: to relate its industrial power to the political and ideological realities of popular revolutionary movements in the Third World.
After the Second World War the United States pursued its diplomacy on the traditional postulate of military power ultimately being based on physical plant, economic capacity, and the ability to destroy it. This assumption was also a definition of the nature of the world conflict, which after 1945 designated the Soviet Union as the primary threat to American security and interests. Such a premise, which not so much discounted as ignored the mobilizing potential of ideology and the capability of Third World guerrilla and liberation movements, gave the United States supreme confidence in the efficacy and strategic doctrines of its own military. This armed force was designed essentially to operate against a centralized, industrial society, a reinforcing proposition Washington thought the military and diplomatic facts, as well as its own economic priorities, warranted. Every strategy has a price tag, and strategic bombing has a predictable and relatively low cost, but it also necessitated a vulnerable industrial enemy.
The Korean war shattered a half-century of conventional wisdom and raised a critical dilemma. It immediately proved