Re: [sixties-l] Vietnam

From: Jerry West (
Date: 10/20/00

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    Hi Jeff:
    Glad to see you paring down the superfluous rehtoric to the meat and
    potatoes so we can begin to see where we actually stand on this topic. 
    Probably a lot closer together than you think.
    Jeffrey Blankfort wrote:
    Thirty years doesn't change facts. It doesn't equate the victimizer with
    the victim although this is the way much, if not most of US history has
    been reported in our textbooks, and I have no doubt that other countries
    do the same as well, but few have as much to cover-up as we do over the
    same period of time.
    JW reply:
    No, thirty years doesn't change facts, but it should widen our
    preceptions of them and move our rhetoric away from the hyberbole used
    to present an urgent case to end a war to a more studied and scholarly
    And, you were misreading me if you think that I was equating the
    victimizer with the victim.  It wasn't about the Vietnamese at all.  I
    used the case of the NLF/NVA as examples to illustrate my objection to
    the broad scope of your statements that painted not only US policy and
    policy makers in a bad light but by implication everyone else, except
    the NVA/NLF, who were involved, including people like Ron Kovics,
    without any consideration for reasons and circumstances on a narrower
    and more individual level.
    JB wrote:
    I have responded to your allegations and what seems to me a desire on
    your part to make the NVA and the NLF forces into a bunch of child
    killers when the number of dead children at the hands of US forces,
    including the Marines, dwarfs whatever number were killed, as you say,
    by the NVA and the NLF.
    JW reply:
    The fact that you say that I wanted to make the NVA and NLF into a bunch
    of child killers illustrates my point about your hyperbole.  That some
    of them killed children I do not doubt, that they are all a bunch of
    child killers is not a term that I would use, no more than I would say
    or imply that the US forces in RVN were all a bunch of child killers. 
    That would be a gross overstatement that would not fare well under any
    serious academic scrutiny.
    As for who killed how many, I don't have any reliable figures, do you?
    One thing to note is that often the figures for casualties are cited
    that the US lost so many and the Vietnamese lost so many and we
    immediately equate the Vietnamese losses to those of the NLF/NVA and
    allied civilians, conveniently forgetting that a lot of Vietnamese
    losses were caused by other Vietnamese.
    JB wrote:
    I am not going to bother with another point by point refutation more
    than to deny anything I wrote endorses the killing of children by any
    JW reply:
    I do not doubt that you do not endorse the killing of children but some
    of your defense of the NVA/NLF seems to say "so what if they did, the US
    made them do it."  
    JB wrote:
    What I would like to know is what proof you can offer that NVA and NLF
    engaged in the killing of children (and for what reason?) The US
    military clearly had its reasons, but your efforts to rewrite history
    don't make the millions of dead at US hands any less repulsive.  Sorry.
    JW reply:
    I can not offer you first hand information on that although I would
    suspect that the reason would be the same as for most killed by the US,
    incidental and undesired casualties in an action.  One would hope that
    they would not have shot entire families in cold blood as a lesson to
    others, but I can't say for sure, and it would not surprise me.  As much
    as their cause was right, they were not angels.
    I am curious as to what you may think that the US reasons were for
    killing children, particularly since you say that they are so clear.
    Finally I am not rewriting history here, just trying to clarify it
    instead of enshrining anti-war slogans and personal predjudices.
    And you are right, no matter how we cut it in the end, the number of
    deaths on either side will remain totaly repulsive.  Every single one
    was a waste and all of those who were responsible for the policy that
    put us there and then kept us there despite good advice and public
    desire to the contrary should be held accountable.
    Jerry West
    On line news from Nootka Sound & Canada's West Coast
    An independent, progressive regional publication

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