Re: [sixties-l] Making the Vietnam-Israeli Link ex

From: Jerry West (
Date: 10/13/00

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    Jeffrey Blankfort wrote:
    While I appreciate the sincerity of Jerry West's response, he most
    assuredly was not everywhere in Vietnam and so is in no position to
    state with any accuracy that My Lai was a "sole exception" which
    involved US troops killing children.
    JW reply:
    I did not state that, Jeff.  You are spinning my remarks.  I said:
    ....but with rare exceptions such as My Lai directly shooting down
    children was not a common occurance....
    Rare is not the same as sole, directly shooting down, as in specifically
    targeting children directly, is not the same as children being caught in
    the middle of a military action.  If you want to argue that a lot of
    children were harmed and that the war was wrong or even just the conduct
    of the war was wrong, then I will agree with you completely.  But, let's
    not try to spin every trajedy into an atrocity and devalue our criticism
    of the war.
    And I wasn't everywhere in Vietnam, just 18 months all over I Corps, but
    in the last 30 years I have studied quite a bit about the war and Asian
    history, and I did have routine access to Top Secret material while
    serving after my time in Vietnam, some of which helped to form my
    decision to become very active in the anti-war movement.
    JB wrote:
    As I mentioned in an earlier post, BEFORE My Lai became public, I was
    given a two-page list by Vietnamese representatives in London which
    contained the names of villages in which the inhabitants had been
    massacred by US soldiers and Vietnam was only one of the villages on
    that list.
    JW reply:
    I assume that you mean that My Lai was only one of the villages.  I
    don't doubt your sources, although it would be interesting to see
    exactly what makes it into the category of massacre, particularly the
    willful, inexcusable kind that happened at My Lai.  I have read of
    others and that there were more is not the issue.  It is the propensity
    of some for whatever purpose to spin and distort the reality of the war
    into one big My Lai that I object to.  There are a lot better reasons to
    object to this war and US policy than an occasional massacre.
    Also, while they were giving you this data did they give you statistics
    on the villagers executed (massacred) by the VC?  That also was not
    unheard of. Perhaps they told you about the VC practice of using
    children as shields and as walking bombs?  An honest war crimes trial on
    events in the Vietnam War would scoop up criminals on both sides.
    JB wrote:
    Had a US military photography not publicized the photos of My Lai, we
    may never have known about it in the US. I have also spoken with other
    Vietnam vets who confirmed the killing of children by their units.
    JW reply:
    More photos should have gotten out, and note that it was a military
    photographer who leaked them.  And I would say that almost all combat
    units killed children indirectly, but most of them not like the scum
    bags who shot down people in cold blood at My Lai.
    JB wrote:
    It is only now that we are learning about a massacre of South Korean
    civilians early in the Korean War, the veracity of which was confirmed
    to be by a Korean vet who went to So. Korea to investigate the killings
    by "Defense" Secretary Cohen.
    JW reply:
    And the more we dig, the more of this stuff is going to come to light
    and all sides from here to the first recorded battle in history are
    going to have dirty hands.  It doesn't make it right, but singling out
    one side or the other to carry the can for this stuff is a political
    manuever, not a moral one.
    JB wrote:
    It is both illusory and inaccurate to even imply that the North
    Vietnamese and the NLF were in any equipped in a manner equal to that of
    the US forces in Vietnam who had both jet fighters and helicopter
    gunships to support them and soften up "the enemy", not to mention the
    B29s which dropped more bombs on that country than were dropped in all
    of Europe in WW 2. It was the US also that exclusively used napalm,
    cluster bombs and white phosphorus against the Vietnamese, civilians and
    combatants alike, as well as Agent Orange which also inadvertently
    caused the subsequent illness and death of US soldiers who came near
    contaminated areas.
    JW reply:
    First, it is B-52s not B-29s.  The NVA had jet fighters and SAM
    missiles. The AK-47 is a better weapon than the M-16.  RPGs are not
    exactly clubs and spears.  The NVA had bigger mortars and damn good
    artillery.  Helicopters are great for transport and medevac, but only ok
    for ground support, and almost useless as such in bad weather and triple
    canopy jungle.  Some people would like to portray the Vietnamese as
    primitive warriors with sling shots, it isn't so.
    I would check my sources on white phosphorous, it is a common military
    item.  I think that the Geneva Convention forbade its use against
    troops, but I could be wrong, and the GC was not strictly adhered to
    anyway as far as I could see.
    Your point on Agent Orange and napalm, although I have no doubt that the
    NVA and VC would have used napalm too had they had an effective way to
    deliver it.  Agent Orange under various names was used commonly by the
    folks at home to kill weeds, so I am not sure how to assign moral blame
    for that except that I wouldn't have used it, but then I refuse to use
    it at home too.
    How does all of this relate to Israel in 2000?  One can always find some
    similarities, and both Vietnam and Israel are bit parts in a bigger act,
    but to compare the US role in Vietnam to Israelis shooting down rock
    throwing children as Tom Nagy did, is a stretch.
    Jerry West
    On line news from Nootka Sound & Canada's West Coast
    An independent, progressive regional publication

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