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

From: Jerry West (
Date: 10/14/00

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    Ted Morgan wrote:
    First, there is precious, and I do mean precious, little difference
    --and none at all in terms of the outcome-- between "directly shooting
    down children" and, well, not "children being caught in the middle of a
    military action" which adopts a neutral framing for looking at the
    larger work, but children inevitably being in effect a central 'target'
    in a policy of indiscriminate violence from the air and an inevitable
    target population in village sweeps where troops encountered "suspected
    VC activity" and went in "dropping grenades in the hooches" or spraying
    village huts with automatic weapons fire, or 'going ballistic' and
    emptying a few rounds into a family hiding in their huts (after getting
    hit by enemy fire from the vicinity of the village).
    JW reply:
    The initial issue in this discussion was the linking of Isaraelis
    shooting rock throwing children and American policy in Vietnam.  While I
    don't disagree with your abhorance of children being (or anybody for me)
    being caught in war, there is a difference between acts that result in
    harm to children incidentally and soldiers taking deliberate aim and
    firing on children as they are in Israel.  As you say, not that the
    former is any better in the end, but it is different.  A better
    comparison in the first place might have been between what is happening
    in Israel and what happened at Kent State.
    I would also dispute your assertation that children were a central
    target in Vietnam.  Had there been no children there the actions would
    have been the same.  Now if you want to argue that it is a crime that
    children get caught in this crap and we ought to do something about it,
    I am with you.
    TM wrote:
    Both of these --the indiscriminate air bombardment, use of napalm, etc.;
    and the village sweeps with all they entailed-- were routine and
    inherent aspects in the American war against a nationalist guerrilla
    movement grounded in the lives of the civilian population, as guerrilla
    movements are.  VC atrocities are individually reprehensible, but one
    has to ask what fundamental "intervention" by the United States in 1954
    (and France, again, in 1945-6) created the basis for this response.
    JW reply:
    The Devil Made Me Do It is not a good excuse for VC atrocities. 
    Atrocities are atrocious, period.  As far as the indiscriminate air
    bombardment and so on, these have been routine and inherent aspects of
    most wars, give or take technological ability.  If you want to argue
    that they are wrong, then there is some merit to that, if you want to
    single out the US or any other power individually then you lose the
    moral basis for your opposition.
    At the end of the day one has to ask oneself: "Am I opposed to war and
    its horrors, or only to wars waged by certain parties?"
    TM wrote:
    I understand what Jerry is getting at --the horror we sense observing a
    soldier aiming his rifle at a child and killing him --because there is
    the "clarity" about what the soldier is doing.  He is killing a child. 
    But, to make this difference seem significant borders on the obscene in
    my mind, because it, in effect, suggests a degree of "legitimacy" or
    "justification" for actions which do precisely the same thing --kill
    children by the thousands....
    JW reply:
    But it is significant, a consciencious and direct act on the part of an
    individual to shoot unarmed children is different from policy that
    incidentally results in injury and death to children, not that I support
    either.  The question to be asking of the Israelis is are your soldiers
    shooting children as a matter of policy.  If the answer is no then ask
    when we can expect to see the soldiers put on trial.
    >From your arguements I would gather that you condemn allied action in
    WWII as well as the acts of violence perpetrated on children and others
    by the Palestinians and the Moslem fanatics.  Everybody is guilty of
    killing children and I question the mental diligence if not morals of
    anyone who wants to draw selective links between one act of violence and
    another that are not unique.
    Jerry West
    On line news from Nootka Sound & Canada's West Coast
    An independent, progressive regional publication

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