Jeffrey Blankfort wrote:
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.
Ergo the British and Americans that landed on Normandy beaches and
Sicily beaches and other places were war criminals since they were
invading someone else's country. I think that things are a little bit
more complicated than your simplistic black and white universe, Jeff.
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.
Ah, now you suppose that soldiers know the real reasons that they are
fighting wars as opposed to the official reasons which I guess are never
to be believed. And of course, if they have been mislead and sincerely
believe in what they are doing it doesn't matter. Sounds kind of like
something out of the Inquisition to me. As a matter of fact ignorance
is an excuse in our courts of law. Diminished capacity and insanity can
be classed as forms of ignorance in the legal sense for one, and the
degree of a crime often depends upon one's intent at the time of
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.
Any one participating in events such as My-Lai were in fact committing
war crimes, and I think that they all go off too lightly. Even for the
most ingnorant in our society there is no defence for shooting down
unarmed people, even enemy soldiers. You may want to think that Vietnam
was one My-Lai after another, Jeff, but it was not. I spent a lot of
time in the field and never saw anything of the nature of My-Lai. In
fact, the units that I worked with would have refused to do something
like that. No doubt there were other atrocities, and as far as I am
concerned I wish that they would come to light and those responsible be
punished, as do soldiers like Col. David Hackworth and LtCol. Anthony
Herbert who both lost careers because of their opposition to the war and
to atrocities. However, I will not condemn young soldiers who did not
commit My-Lai like atrocities but did risk their lives (some times for
Vietnamese civilians) to do their duty, even though I disagree in the
bigger picture about what they were being ordered to do.
Anyone who dropped or participated in the dropping of napalm, white
phosphorous or cluster bombs on civilians or soldiers is, in my mind, a
So now attacking opposing soldiers is a war crime? I would have more
respect for your position if you would just say that war is wrong and
that we shouldn't kill other people. Your above statement makes it
sound like there are some nice and acceptable ways to kill and maim.
There are not, they are all atrocious.
Now, a question. Where do you stand on the fire bombing of Tokyo and
Dresden by the Allies, or the whole bombing campaign of WWII for that
matter? Shall we start rounding up the serviving members from those
campaigns and proceed with war crimes trials?
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.
No doubt, and by Russian made ordnance, and Chinese, and French, and
German, and on and on and on. People all over the world are being
maimed and killed daily by all sorts of lethal toys and countries and
factions on all sides of these conflicts are to blame for the
proliferation. Around here we still have Japanese mines coming ashore
What exactly is your point? Are napalm and cluster bombs war crimes in
themselves, not matter who uses them or why, or does the situation make
their use a war crime?
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.
Well, in your case maybe broad is a better term. I also question how
many are the many as a percentage of the whole who saw them committed. I
am of the opinion that if anyone saw something on the order of My-Lai
and did not report it they are accessory to a war crime and should be
rooted out and prosecuted too.
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 think that they should be recognized for their sacrifice, which is not
the same as honoring the war, and those who refused on principle and had
the guts to go to prison for their beliefs should be recognized too, as
should others in the anti-war movement who put themseleves at
considerable risk and took their lumps for it. Those who hid out in the
National Guard, student deferments and what not, they did not make any
hard decisions nor give up much, for them, live and let live.
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.
Just for your info, today's Marine, as well as the Vietnam Era one, is
just as likely to be darker skinned as not.
Now for your point. Those Marines you hate for being "inflamed and
imbued with racism" came from a society that was likewise. Who are they
to know any different? It was also a society where the Army was busily
eliminating Native Americans in the west (having already done it in the
east in the centuries before). It was also a society that inherited
centuries of racism from almost every ethnic portion of its make-up. In
fact we still have a world where Moslems oppress Jews and other
infidels, Jews oppress Palestinians, Japanese look down on everyone who
is not only not Japanese but not the right kind of Japanese, and the
list could go on for pages. What is new? I will argue on your side if
you want to take on US foreign policy over the last 200 years, but let's
put the blame where it is due, at the top, not on the peons.
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.
I agree. All war criminals, whether they be American, IRA, Palistinian
or Isarali, Iranian or Iraqi, and so on belong in the docket at the
Hague, including the architects of our terror bombing of Serbia and any
others back through the decades that can be identified and evidence
brought forward against.
But, the question remains, which acts are war crimes and who qualifies
as a war criminal and who doesn't. A true pacifist might tell you that
all wars are crimes and it is just as criminal to resist as a defender
as it is to be an oppressor.
One could make a logical case for everyone who voted either Republican
or Democrat as a war criminal since they were partly responsible for
placing the people in power who odered these acts on their behalf.
-- 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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