Jeffrey Blankfort wrote:
I believe that the death of young men on any side in combat is tragic.
Me too, and not anecdotaly either.
Only when truly defending one's land, however, can be considered
What constitutes truly defending? If one sincerely believes one is
defending, is one then honorable?
Jerry thinks "it all boils down to what you call a war crime."
Minimally, it is the killing of civilians by a soldier. If that soldier
is an invader like Americans were in Vietnam, and the civilians are
armed and resisting the invader, it makes it no less a war crime.
That is a bit far fetched. If you want to say that unprovoked invasion
is a war crime then I would probably agree, but to make a distinction
about armed civilians vs military personal is silly. Also, when you
start talking about war as a war crime instead of specific and narrowly
definable acts then you have to ask yourself if people are to blame for
committing so called war crimes that they did not even realize were
crimes? Some of the anti-veteran stuff I have heard would make good
reading material for witch hunters.
That the Vietnam war was not "an endless string of atrocities does not
lessen by one whit the many atrocities that were committed and
No, it does not, and atrocities should be untolerable and severely
punished. The problem is agreeing on what constitutes an atrocity. It
was not uncommon in the 60-70's period for some to consider practically
everything a soldier did as a "war crime."
As for the Marines, and there were more of them than Regular Army
testifying a to the crimes they either committed or saw their buddies
commit, at those Winter Soldier Hearings. They wore their uniforms and
I still have the photos I took at KPFK. Maybe, Jerry, you should ask my
old buddy, Ron Kovic, who testified as to those he committed, but I
honor Ron because of what he did when he came back and I honor those
other vets who either spoke out against the war, and there were a lot of
I was one of them. I also do not doubt that war crimes happened, but
aside from the whole event in total being a gigantic crime, most
veterans did not commit war crimes unless your definition of war crime
is pretty loose.
Again, as for the Marines, you should look up Gen. Smedley Butler's
quote about their role. Outside of the two WWs they have been a mafia
for big business.
Butler is a man who I respect deeply, but there is a difference between
condemning the use to which the Marine Corps was put and condemning rank
and file Marines.
.... please don't tell me that the majority of boys were over there for
love of country because I know too many who would say that's a lot of
It certainly wasn't my reason, although it was in the background from my
upbringing. One learns with experience. Like you say, there were many
different reasons for being there, but I bet very few were their because
they wanted to be war criminals, and a lot of them that I knew were
there because they couldn't see many other choices.
As for your take on career soldiers after Korea, I knew more of them
than you can count. Some were career because it was a secure life and
they would not have done as well on the outside, but then there were
some who would have excelled anywhere and chose the military. I have
known some pretty miserable academics in my life too.
Finally, I would recommend to those who my arguments have not convinced,
to get a copy of The Road Back, by Remarque, the sequel to All Quiet on
the Western (Front)....
Good reccomendation, I read it 40 years ago. If I remember right, THE
DOWNFALL by Emile Zola would fit in the anti-war reading list too.
-- Jerry West Editor/publisher/janitor ---------------------------------------------------- THE RECORD On line news from Nootka Sound & Canada's West Coast An independent, progressive regional publication http://www.island.net/~record/
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