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

Sartre here examines the French and American experiences with atrocity, and sets forth the kind of conditions that leave little room for anything but genocide, the conditions under which America fights in Vietnam.


ON GENOCEDE

Jean-Paul Sartre

The word "genocide" is relatively new. It was coined by the jurist Raphael Lemkin between the two world wars. But the fact of genocide is as old as humanity. To this day there has been no society protected by its structure from committing that crime. Every case of genocide is a product of history and bears the stamp of the society which has given birth to it. The one we have before us for judgment is the act of the greatest capitalist power in the world today. It is as such that we must try to analyze it--in other words, as the simultaneous expression of the economic infrastructure of that power, its political objectives and the contradictions of its present situation.

In particular, we must try to understand the genocidal intent in the war which the American government is waging against Vietnam, for Article 2 of the 1948 Geneva Convention defines genocide on the basis of intent; the Convention was tacitly referring to memories which were still fresh. Hitler had proclaimed it his deliberate intent to exterminate the Jews. He made genocide a political means and did not hide it. A Jew had to be put to death, whoever he was, not for having been caught carrying a weapon or for having joined a resistance movement, but simply because he was a Jew. The American government has avoided making such clear statements. It has even claimed that it was answering the call of its allies, the South Vietnamese, who had been attacked by the communists. Is it possible for us, by studying the facts objectively, to discover implicit in them such a genocidal intention? And after such an investigation, can we say that the armed forces of the United States are killing Vietnamese in Vietnam for the simple reason that they are Vietnamese?

-534-

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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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