[sixties-l] Re: sixties-l-digest -Vietnam Memorial

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (jab@tucradio.org)
Date: Mon Jun 19 2000 - 12:38:50 CUT

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    I wrote:
    > Only when truly defending one's land, however, can be considered
    > honorable.
    and Jerry West replied:

    > What constitutes truly defending? If one sincerely believes one is
    > defending, is one then honorable?

    JB:There is a point where an individual must take some kind of
    responsibility. When an invader lands on your beaches or knocks in your
    door is not the same thing as traveling across the world to land on
    someone else's beaches, and knock down their doors, their homes and
    their entire villages. There is NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING honorable
    about doing that or being in an military that is doing that no matter
    what nonsense you may believe or what you have been taught to believe.
    I wrote:
    > 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.
    > JW replied:
    > 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.

    JB:There is something fundamentally wrong and criminal about going into
    a country that has not harmed you and shooting and killing the people of
    that country who are defending from you, no matter what you have been
    told about them. Ignorance is no excuse in our courts of law and it
    should be the no different for an invading army.
    I wrote:
    > That the Vietnam war was not "an endless string of atrocities does not
    > lessen by one whit the many atrocities that were committed and
    > documented.
    > JW replied:
    > 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."

    JB:Let me be specific. Anyone who actively participated in the
    massacres such as My-Lai was commiting a war crime (and remember, the
    only reason we know about My-Lai was because one gutsy war photog took
    photos of the dead. No photos, no massacre, so we don't hear about the
    other villanies. Anyone who dropped or participated in the dropping of
    napalm, white phosphorous or cluster bombs on civilians or soldiers is,
    in my mind, a war criminal. I actually find myself gagging on your
    question "what constitutes an atrocity?" since I have seen children who
    have been victims of US-made, Israeli-dropped cluster bombs, in Israel,
    and children in Vietnam and Laos are still being blown to bits by
    ordinance dropped by those US war criminals more than three decades
    ago. If some country had done to us what we did to Vietnam, more
    Americans have an understanding of what we did. That the US has not
    experienced a war on its soil in well more than a century, for which
    those who live here obviously fail to appreciate, it has led to
    disasters for people around the globe.
    I wrote:
    > 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
    > them, ....
    > JW replied:
    > 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.

    JB:My definition of war crimes is not loose as I have previously
    indicated and I am sure that most veterans did not commit them, although
    many of those saw them committed. But again, the discussion was whether
    Vietnam vets should be honored for their participation in that war, not
    how many of them committed criminal acts in that war. Honor should not
    be confused with heroism, which one sees in every war and on every side.
    > I wrote:
    > 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.
    > JW replied:
    > 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.

    JB: The Marines had a history of ruthlessness in suppressing indigenous
    peoples from Mexico to the Phillipines to Nicargua to Panama, without
    even mentioning Vietnam, and the killing was not done by the officers,
    but by rank-and-file Marines, who were inflamed and imbued with racism
    and contempt against darker skinned peoples which has made this country,
    literally, what it is today. Yeah, I am condemning any rank-and-file
    Marine who did SS like work in those countries. This all reminds me of
    the demand by the US government that no American be tried for war crimes
    by an international war crimes tribunal. It is the highest form of
    imperial arrogance.

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