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Monday, March 20, 2017

VIETNAM WAR NEWSLETTER #8

OMNI
VIETNAM WAR NEWSLETTER #8,
March 20, 2017.
Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology. 
  (#1 July 24, 2011; #2 June 9, 2012; #3 Sept. 25, 2012; #4 April 13, 2013; #5, April 9, 2014; #6, Feb. 18, 2015; #7, March 24, 2015).  Thanks to Marc.

2015, the 50th anniversary of the start of US direct combat operations in Vietnam.

What’s at stake:  
     During the Vietnam War and even after the catastrophe, too many officials, educators, media, pundits, because they were uninformed and uncritical, failed to provide present and future generations “the critical skills needed for informed dissent and empowered citizenship in a democracy,” resulting in a pliable populace and prolonged state of war.  “This militaristic state  ‘is so ingrained in American institutions…so totalitarian—that the government is practically unthinkable without it.’  This war mentality influences every social institution and emphasizes ‘secrecy not candor, propaganda not information.’”
     “In May 2012, President Barack Obama and the Pentagon announced a Commemoration of the Vietnam War to continue through 2025, the fiftieth anniversary of the conflict’s end. . . .The Commemoration will sponsor thousands of activities over the next ten years, including concerts, educational curricula, school visits by veterans, symposia, school projects, memorial festivities, and POW/MIA ceremonies.”    Marciano, The American War in Vietnam (14-15, 9).   
      To the Pentagon, former President Obama, and President Trump: Don’t whitewash this war.  We must not forget how atrocious was this war, its massive destruction and suffering for no good purpose.   The Warriors are trying to turn it into part of US patriotic history.  Let us instead seek the truth about the war—and all the other US wars of aggression since WWII.


See OMNI’s Westward, Pacific/E. Asia Empire Newsletters, now all in US Imperialism newsletters.  Here is the latest:  US Imperialism Newsletter #35 (consolidating Imperialism and Westward Imperialism newsletter).


Contents #7 at end.

Contents: Vietnam War Newsletter #8, March 20, 2017
FULL DISCLOSURE
Telling the Truth About the War vs. Pentagon/Pres. Obama Official History;
Consequences of the War to US and Vietnamese Troops and Vietnamese People.

Remembering the War for Peace or for more wars:  Films
Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
In September a 10-Part PBS film series by Lynn Novick and Ken Burns

Two films by Michael Grigsby on war’s destructive effects on US troops
Naneek: A US Veteran returns after 40 years, and meets Vietnamese vets

Histories of the War

Nick Turse, Kill Anything That Moves (2013)
Christian Appy, American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our
      National Identify (
2015).

Atrocities
Jack Doxie, the 48th Anniversary of My Lai
Nadya Williams, Chuck Searcy:  Birth defects of Vietnam's children
Bill Fletcher, Agent Orange
Marjorie Cohn, From Nuclear Bombs to Agent Orange

The Warriors Who Started the War and Kept it Going
Kissinger: 2 articles 

Vietnam War Part of US History of Global Aggression
“Patriotic Genocide” by Mike Hastie, poet

The Vietnam War Peace Movement
Tom Hayden, Hell No (2017, published shortly before he died)
John Marciano, The American War in Vietnam (2016).


FULL DISCLOSURE of the US WAR AGAINST VIETNAM

The Way a War is Remembered Enables or Prevents Future Wars
Nothing Ever Dies:  Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen.  2016.
On The Tavis Smiley Show, listen to (or watch) Viet Thanh Nguyen discuss how he made sense of his personal history—and America’s—through both fiction and nonfiction:
All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the bestselling novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of the conflict Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War—a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both nations.

From a kaleidoscope of cultural forms—novels, memoirs, cemeteries, monuments, films, photography, museum exhibits, video games, souvenirs, and more—Nothing Ever Dies brings a comprehensive vision of the war into sharp focus. At stake are ethical questions about how the war should be remembered by participants that include not only Americans and Vietnamese but also Laotians, Cambodians, South Koreans, and Southeast Asian Americans. Too often, memorials valorize the experience of one’s own people above all else, honoring their sacrifices while demonizing the “enemy”—or, most often, ignoring combatants and civilians on the other side altogether. Visiting sites across the United States, Southeast Asia, and Korea, Viet Thanh Nguyen provides penetrating interpretations of the way memories of the war help to enable future wars or struggle to prevent them.

Drawing from this war, Nguyen offers a lesson for all wars by calling on us to recognize not only our shared humanity but our ever-present inhumanity. This is the only path to reconciliation with our foes, and with ourselves. Without reconciliation, war’s truth will be impossible to remember, and war’s trauma impossible to forget.

RELATED LINKS
Read Literary Hub’s interview with Viet Thanh Nguyen on Nothing Ever Dies, his 2016 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Sympathizer, and how to broaden the way Americans think about Vietnam
Read a Los Angeles Review of Books interview with Nguyen
Read excerpts from Nothing Ever Dies at The American Scholar and Literary Hub
Read a Bustle profile of Nguyen
Read a discussion with Nguyen in the Charlottesville, VA, Daily Progress
Visit Nguyen’s website


PBS: This September a National Conversation on the Vietnam War
THE VIETNAM WAR, the 10-part, 18-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, will air in September 2017 on PBS stations. Its creators are promoting it as intended to "spark thought, questions and debate around one of the most transformative periods in modern American history."
"The film will be accompanied by an unprecedented outreach and public engagement program, providing opportunities ­ facilitated by public television stations ­for communities to participate in a national conversation about what happened during the Vietnam War, what went wrong and what lessons are to be learned. In addition, there will be a robust interactive website and an educational initiative designed to engage teachers and students through multiple platforms, including PBS LearningMedia."
“Action ideas: 
1) Contact your local PBS station and offer your experience during the Vietnam War era and/or your knowledge of post-war legacies if they are facilitating community conversations.

2) Create viewing parties in local colleges, high schools, religious institutions, public libraries, neighborhood centers or homes to share personal stories among members of the Vietnam and later generations.  Use Facebook and other social media for outreach and recruitment.

[This appears to be an attempt to present a comprehensive, balanced report.  Would be nice to have such a large study available to the general public to help counteract the Pentagon/Obama/Trump Propaganda Machine.   Send me your opinions and reviews you think should be read.  –Dick]


MORE FILMS
A review of 2 films 1970 and 2012 by Michael Grigsby on impact of VNW on troops, in Peace In Our Times, Veterans For Peace  magazine (Fall 2014).   The producers hope the 2nd film especially will be shown from 2015, the 50th anniversary of the start of the US invasion and as part of VFP's ongoing Full Disclosure Campaign against Pentagon's VNW whitewashing.  –Dick


Naneek
from Neal Steeno PRO 4 months ago ALL AUDIENCES
Combat veteran Tim Keenan has feared his return to Vietnam for over 40 years. Until Now. Naneek captures Tim’s emotional journey as he meets with former enemies, revisits the battleground of Dak To, and confronts a past he’s been unable to overcome. Most important, you hear the other side of the story through the eyes of 5 North Vietnamese Army Soldiers.
If anyone would like to donate to the work of Veterans for Peace, Chapter 50, feel free to email naneekfilm@gmail.com - Tim and Neal
Audience Award Best Documentary Short - Traverse City Film Festival
Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Short - Woodstock Film Festival
For more information about the film visit naneek.com or follow our process from day one on our Facebook pagefacebook.com/TiminVietnam


HISTORIES OF THE WAR

Kill Anything That Moves by Nick Turse.
Tom Gallagher, “A Nation Unhinged: The Grim Realities of ‘The Real American War’.”  August 4th, 2013.  Los Angeles Review of Books.    Rev. of  Kill Anything That Moves by Nick Turse.  [I read “A Nation Unhinged” in the Spring 2015 number of Peace in Our Times, pub. by VFP.   –Dick]
WE SHOULD MAKE NICK TURSE an honorary baby boomer for writing Kill Anything That Moves. A history of the Vietnam War that finds the My Lai massacre more the rule than the exception, this book is almost guaranteed to reveal something that will drop your jaw — at least once. For me, it was the number of American military helicopter sorties flown during the Vietnam War: over 36 million. Filled with such shocking details, Kill Anything That Moves will shake you with a deeper understanding of the serial atrocity that was the US war effort in Vietnam.

Though under 40, Turse has written just the sort of book we might have hoped to get from more baby boomers as they entered their autobiographical years. Say what you will about whether those who lived through World War II merit the title of this country’s “Greatest Generation”; they have, at the least, proven themselves America’s greatest memoir-writing generation. Never before have so many stepped forward to tell their truths, the stories of man’s inhumanity to man that they witnessed during the Holocaust and the Second World War. Which makes the relative scarcity of public reflection on the Vietnam War all the more striking, especially given all the shouting it inspired at the time.

Yes, the war looms large in collective memory — as the great alienation engine of the 1960s back in the US. But Turse’s book reminds us that the primary “tragedy of Vietnam” was not that America somehow “lost its way” in fighting an ill-advised war but rather that the war itself was a series of criminal acts perpetrated by the US government on the Vietnamese people. My characterization may sound strident to many today. Most Americans at the time certainly would have disagreed with it. Yet as the war dragged on, the number who recognized the war’s criminality grew inexorably. If you don’t already know the reason, Kill Anything That Moves will show you. And if you already do, this book will remind you why we must never forget what our country did to Vietnam.

Before the baby boomers became the “Vietnam War Generation,” we might say that they had grown up as the “Nuremberg Generation.” The 1947 Nuremberg Nazi War Crimes Trials created something of a new world order — no longer would “just following orders” render you innocent of a war crime, nor would obeying the dogma of “my country, right or wrong.” Now, it seemed that it was a people’s right — perhaps even its responsibility — to oppose its government if that government pursued an unjust war. Even silence could be criminal. When the US government then tried to conduct the Vietnam War using draftees drawn from a generation that had grown up hearing these new rules, it encountered unprecedented difficulties.

Yet, so far as American public opinion on the Vietnam War went, the Nuremberg Trials may ultimately have proven something of a double-edged sword in the sense that the enormity of the Nazi crimes confronted in those hearings may have desensitized us to the horrors that came in later years. Could anything really shock us after Auschwitz? Perhaps not, but Kill Anything That Moves overwhelmingly argues that outrage is still possible — and necessary.

To fully appreciate the Vietnam War, we must first clear up any misperception that it was some kind of fair fight between Vietnamese, with the US helping one side and the Soviet Union and China helping the other. Turse’s book does so in many ways: There’s the fact that “our side” — American and South Vietnamese government forces — used 128,400 tons of ammunition a month in 1970, while the “other side” — the National Liberation Front (NLF), or “Viet Cong,” and the North Vietnamese government — never fired more than 1,000 tons a month. Or that the US dropped 32 tons of bombs per hour on North Vietnam from 1965 to 1968, causing some to predict it would become the most bombed country in world history.

This prediction proved wrong, Turse points out. It was South Vietnam, our ally, that became the most bombed country in history as “US and South Vietnamese aircraft flew 3.4 million combat sorties in Southeast Asia,” during which they dropped “the equivalent of 640 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs.” The “other side,” remember, never launched an aerial bombing run. “Our side” subjected 12 million acres to saturation bombing and dropped 70 million liters of herbicide (notably Agent Orange). One of the war images that lives on is that of a naked nine-year old Phan Thi Kim Phúc running down a road after having been napalmed by our South Vietnamese allies in 1972. (“Our side” dropped 400,000 tons of napalm in Southeast Asia.) Though Kim Phúc survived, a low-end estimate of the number of Vietnamese civilians who did not would be 250,000. By 1968, a US Senate study had put the number of civilians killed or wounded in free fire zones at 300,000. Free fire zones, as Turse reports in an infantryman’s words, meant that “everyone, men, women, children, could be considered [a fair target]; you could not be held responsible for firing on innocent civilians since by definition there were none there.”

Indeed, an American advisor reported in 1970:

[I] have medivaced enough elderly people and children to firmly believe that the percentage of Viet Cong killed by support assets is equal to the percentage of Viet Cong in the population. That is, if 8% of the population [of] an area is VC about 8% of the people we kill are VC.

In 1995, the Vietnamese government (i.e., the “other side,” which won the war) put the number of war dead at 3 million, 2 million of them civilians; a 2008 Harvard Medical School/University of Washington research study produced even higher figures. (The population of South Vietnam was about 19 million.) Obviously nothing comparable happened in the United States.

However, no one came away from the war unfamiliar with the killing of Vietnamese civilians, if only due to the public exposure of the March 15, 1968 My Lai massacre, where American troops murdered an entire village of 300–500 unarmed South Vietnamese, in addition to raping civilians, killing their livestock, mutilating corpses, burning down houses, and fouling drinking water. (In the official record, the Americans recorded killing 128 enemy troops and suffering no casualties.) But where My Lai, Turse writes, “has entered the popular American consciousness as an exceptional, one-of-a-kind event,” his investigation caused him to see “the indiscriminate killing of South Vietnamese noncombatants” as “neither accidental nor unforeseeable.”

For Turse, a journalist and the author of a previous book on the military industrial complex’s impact on daily life, the first glimmer of understanding came in 2001 when, as a graduate student researching post-traumatic stress disorder among Vietnam veterans, he happened upon the records of the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group. This was “a secret Pentagon task force that had,” he writes, “been assembled after the My Lai massacre to ensure that the army would never again be caught off-guard by a major war crimes scandal.” The papers “documented a nightmare war that is essentially missing from our understanding of the Vietnam conflict.”

In this book, the devil is truly in the details. There were, for instance, the military units placed in kill-count competition so that, one soldier recalled, “as you passed through the chow line you were able to look up at a chart and see that we had killed so many.” How to decide if a corpse was Viet Cong, and thus merited a chow line check mark? As the saying went, “If it’s dead and it’s Vietnamese, it’s VC.” (This expansive sense of the enemy was a Western tradition: when the French fought the Viet Minh (a predecessor organization to the Viet Cong), a French lieutenant once asked, “What is a Viet Minh – A Viet Minh? He is a dead Vietnamese.”) Turse writes, “The purest expression of the effect of the rules of engagement I ever found was on the death certificate of Nguyen Mai, an unarmed Vietnamese man who died ‘from a penetrating wound’ to the face.” The certificate listed the “external caus[e]” of death as “Running from US forces.” As Ron Ridenhour, the soldier who gathered the details of the My Lai massacre, said 25 years later, My Lai “was an operation, not an aberration.”

There were also the Zippo squads — the men who set thatched houses on fire with cigarette lighters when the military ordered the peasant population to move out because there were Viet Cong in the neighborhood. If this doesn’t strike you as the most brilliant way to win the Vietnamese “hearts and minds” our government told us it was striving for, you’re not alone. Turse cites a 1970 refugee study in one province where 80 percent blamed their homelessness on US and allied South Vietnamese government forces, 18 percent attributed the damage to actual battles between the two sides, and only 2 percent blamed the NLF alone. This assessment was backed up by John Paul Vann, head of the US’s Saigon-area “pacification” program, who wrote in 1968 that “I estimate 15,000 houses destroyed — about 99 percent of this has been the result of overreaction on the part of US and [South] Vietnamese units.” Overreaction.

Another of Turse’s interesting finds is an official army investigation of the “Torture of Prisoners of War by US Officers,” which concluded that such torture was “standard practice” among US troops. And the study Defense Secretary William McNamara commissioned in 1969 that found more “than 96 percent of Marine Corps second lieutenants […] surveyed […] indicated that they would resort to torture to obtain information.” Turse concludes:

For the Vietnamese, the American War was an endless gauntlet of potential calamities. Killed for the sake of a bounty or shot in a garbage dump, forced into prostitution or gang-raped by GIs, run down for sport on a roadway or locked away in jail to be tortured without the benefit of a trial — the range of disasters was nearly endless.

Not everyone was unaware of these monstrosities at the time. When the My Lai story surfaced in late 1969, Nixon’s White House advisors feared the case might “develop into a major trial almost of the Nuremberg scope and could have a major effect on public opinion.” In 1971, retired army general Telford Taylor, chief prosecution counsel at the Nuremberg Trials, raised the precedent of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, who was executed in 1946 after an American military tribunal found him guilty of failing to prevent atrocities by his troops — even though he had lost contact with the troops at the time the crimes were committed. Taylor suggested that General William Westmoreland, commander of US forces in Vietnam, might be in a similar situation given what had occurred on his watch.

(Westmoreland once told a filmmaker: “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient. As the philosophy of the Orient expresses it, life is not important.” Damning as this opinion may sound now, it was well within mainstream discussion at the time. There were definitely Americans who thought that the huge numbers of Vietnamese that forced us to kill them — by not surrendering — was evidence of a general Asian lack of respect for the value of human life.)

But the administration managed to contain the fallout, with no convictions of anyone higher ranking than Lieutenant William Calley. In 1968, in terms of press coverage, even Ramparts, arguably the most radical mass-market publication in the nation, refused to run a war-crime story by a veteran who had witnessed the crime. But after My Lai became public knowledge, Turse asserts: “It was almost as if America’s leading media outlets had gone straight from ignoring atrocities to treating them as old news.” In 1972, Newsweek’s departing Saigon bureau chief filed a story about an operation called “Speedy Express,” in which he concluded that “thousands of unarmed, noncombatant civilians have been killed by American firepower. They were not killed by accident. The American way of fighting made their deaths inevitable.” His editors, however, argued that running the story would constitute a “gratuitous attack” upon the Nixon Administration, which had just taken such a hit over My Lai.

Henry Kissinger once told Richard Nixon, “Once we’ve broken the war, no one will care about war crimes.” And as the US turned the bulk of the war over to its South Vietnamese government allies to lose, Kissinger proved right. In the tremendous research effort that produced this book (including many interviews of Vietnamese and American soldiers), Turse finds that, “The scale of the suffering becomes almost unimaginable,” but not as “unimaginable as the fact that somehow, in the United States it was more or less ignored as it happened, and then written out of history even more thoroughly in the decades since.”

We will almost certainly never see an outpouring of truth-telling about Vietnam approaching that of the Second World War era for the simple reason that “we” were not on the side of the angels in Vietnam. But this only makes Turse’s work all the more significant.


AMERICAN RECKONING: THE VIETNAM WAR AND OUR NATIONAL IDENTITY by Christian Appy.  Viking, 2015.  Review by Blogger Doug Anderson in MASSACHUSETTS REVIEW.
Christian Appy's new book, American Reckoning, is a brilliant and readable synthesis of all previous thinking about the Vietnam War plus deep insights into the inner workings of the powers behind the war, especially what the American people were not privy to at the time. The war had gone sour for LBJ and key members of his administration long before anybody knew about it. The war had become unwinnable but simultaneously unendable.

Appy recounts a moment when Lyndon Johnson, badgered by reporters to explain why we continued to fight a war that was plainly unwinnable, “the president unzipped his fly, drew out his substantial organ, and declared, ‘This is why.’” This was typical of LBJ’s Aristophanic self-expression but it was also a metaphor Freud would have loved—revealing what American power thought of itself and its assumed place in the world. Johnson and his key players thought that a withdrawal from Vietnam would signal weakness to the rest of the world. 

Appy is particularly astute about Vietnam Veterans, a demographic still largely misunderstood by the American public. All combat troops, whatever their politics, had the following experience. They were taught to believe that we were fighting a noble war to prevent the innocent South Vietnamese from being overrun by the godless communist hoards from the north. They arrived in country and quickly discovered that the Vietnamese civilians were in on the game. True, many Vietnamese, especially those who remembered the French, merely wanted to be left alone by both sides, but eighty percent of the country was pro-NLF. When Diem, the president we had installed in Saigon realized this, he canceled elections. This structural oversight on the part of the war's architects was responsible for a lot of dead Americans and Vietnamese.

Ground troops were continually walking into ambushes and stepping on mines in close proximity to villages and were quick to assume that the villagers knew about the mines and the enemy presence.  If a farmer walks over the same paddy dike for a week and doesn't step on the mine and then an American does, soldiers and marines assumed the villagers were working for the enemy. Often, they were. In any case, by the time I arrived in Vietnam in 1967 the hostility toward the Vietnamese in general was extreme. The war became a matter of staying alive for American ground troops and any notions of a noble cause had flown. The reprisals against the civilian population were often fierce.

Most of the American servicemen in Vietnam were decent human beings who had inherited their military service identity from their World War II-generation parents, a belief that the US was the world's eternal good guy always doing the right thing and helping out the underdog. We had stopped Tojo and Hitler, after all. The fall from grace of this generation of men was to have devastating consequences. The My Lai massacre brought attention to the problem of civilian casualties and revealed that it wasn't only mass killings like My Lai: the brutal treatment of civilians was a daily occurrence.

The next nightmare was the relocation of entire village populations to large camps called "strategic hamlets," and the chemical defoliation of known enemy sanctuaries that became known as "free fire zones." The affects of these relocations and the chemical spraying destroyed most of the rice crop and mid-war, Vietnam, known for its rice, was having to import it. Appy's tracking of the stages of the continuing disaster is quite convincing: idiocy after idiocy, bungle after bungle, all the way to "Vietnamization" and the ignominious exit of the Americans in 1975.

Appy follows the troops home to their dismal reception. Incidents of returning soldiers being spit on and called baby killers were very rare. What most troops faced was indifference, disgust or embarrassment. In some cases they were literally shunned.  They were not welcomed.  They were further stigmatized as drug addicts and psychopaths.  For a while during the seventies every time a television series needed a psycho they created a character that was a Vietnam veteran.

After the initial shaming of homecoming troops, Ronald Reagan and his administration tried to resuscitate them as victims. The memory of the war had sufficiently subsided enough for veterans to be recast as men who, if they had been allowed to fight the war, if they hadn't been undermined by student protests, would have won. Most veterans rejected both roles—loser or hero—and watched in amazement while they were reconstructed for political purposes.

The American right has been trying to make Vietnam go away for nearly a half century.  The week after the first invasion of Iraq in 1991, George H. W. Bush declared that the "Vietnam Syndrome" was over.  The slick media packaging of the invasion with lots of exploding ordnance was meant to kick off a new era in which the US would be restored to its position as supreme power.  Bush the Second began two wars that were supposed to kick the ball further down field.  In both cases, they failed, and Vietnam, is still very much with us.

The Vietnam War was an opportunity for the US to question and revise its national identity in ways that could have avoided much of the violence that continues now in the Middle East. With the swing toward the right since Reagan it has done the opposite, and the GOP in particular has become downright arterially sclerotic in its insistence that the country be restored to its pre Vietnam idea of itself. That will never happen, and they just continue to dig the grave deeper.

Appy has subsumed most of the previous books—from Michael Herr's Dispatches to Frances Fitzgerald's Fire in the Lake, to Neil Sheehan's A Bright and Shining Lie—into a brilliant analysis of a war doomed from the get-go. He has exhaustively interviewed people, dug around in the Library of Congress, and woven it all into a vigorous and gracefully written argument. Let's hope he finds an audience beyond the well-preached-to choir. A joke-meme is gathering momentum online, sometimes appearing as a cartoon, with the following caption: “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do study history are doomed to sit around and watch other people repeat it.”

Doug Anderson is the author of the memoir Keep Your Head Down, as well as several collections of poetry, including The Moon Reflected Fire. His poem "Seventy" appears in the current issue of MR.

[Also see the excellent review by Bill Griffin in The Catholic Worker (June-July 2015).  I wasn’t able to find it online in order to forward to you.  The book “focuses on US imperialism in the post Second World War era and the civic religion of American exceptionalism,” which Appy exposes as “a dangerous myth.”]

THE ATROCITIES
48th Anniversary of Mai Lai Massacre, VFP E-News, March 11, 2016 http://www.veteransforpeace.org/, by Jack Doxey, Vietnam veteran and member of VFP,  Hugh Thompson Chapter 91 in San Diego CA.  Doxey reflects on the day Hugh Thompson intervened in the slaughtering of innocent My Lai villagers.   
March 16th 2016 marks the 48th anniversary of the Vietnam My Lai Massacre. To say that it was a sad day in the history of our country is a gross understatement. Our United States military systematically slaughtered over 500 Vietnamese women, children, infants and old men in the tiny village of My Lai.  

VFP Viet Nam Tour - The life threatening birth defects of Vietnam's children
Nadya Williams  nadyanomad@gmail.com via uark.onmicrosoft.com 
Jan 4 (1 day ago)
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https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif
This is a hard video to watch, but it shows one of the issues that the March 5-21, 2017 VFP tour to Viet Nam always includes. This will be the last & 6th VFP annual tour to VN.
TOUR FLYER ATTACHED Nadya                                                                                                                                                         
From: Chuck Searcy <chuckusvn@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 2:51 AM
Subject: The life threatening birth defects of Vietnam's children
To: Chuck Searcy <chuckusvn@gmail.com>
Thanks to Carter Sio I saw this 2.5-min. video for the first time, from Channel 4 News, entitled "The life threatening birth defects of Vietnam's children."  It can be seen on YouTube at 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70N66iwx1To.
More than 5,700 Facebook comments to the video indicate the pain and sympathy that most people feel for these children, and anger at the injustice of their plight.

My comment, for those who don't use Facebook, was this:

Thanks Carter, I had not seen this video. It's an accurate portrayal of the harsh reality, very sad to witness, at Tu Du Hospital and other institutions. Yet that's only a small piece of a much bigger silent picture, hidden in the homes of Vietnamese families who are caring for two, three or more severely disabled children.. Dr. Phuong is now retired from Tu Du Hospital but continues her mission as Vice President of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA). She is one of the heroes and pioneers in this work, bringing the issue to the attention of the world, many years ago. Of course increased awareness and knowledge, and vast amounts of sympathy and good will, do not translate into effective action by the U.S. government and certainly not to any remorse at all, or responsibility or accountability, from the chemical companies that made Agent Orange and other poisons. Belatedly, after four decades, the U.S. government has increased its support in Viet Nam to people with disabilities, assuming that some of that assistance will reach victims of Agent Orange. There needs to be a more comprehensive strategy making better use of capable Vietnamese institutions with people and resources that need more funding and support to do the job. Generations after the first use of Agent Orange, these Vietnamese families still need help. And we don't know how long this tragic consequence of the war will continue to shadow Viet Nam. At least, after years of political struggle and litigation, American veterans exposed to Agent Orange are getting some assistance from the U.S. government. We have a moral obligation to do more for the Vietnamese.
CHUCK SEARCY
71 Trần Quốc Toản
Hà Nội, Việt Nam
Email      chuckusvn@gmail.com
Skype     chucksearcy
Cell VN   +8 490 342 0769
Cell US   +1 404 740 0653


Agent Orange and the Continuing Vietnam War

In observance of the United Nations Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare, VFP has selected an article from blackvoicenews.com.
Link to article - http://www.blackvoicenews.com/commentary/more-commentary/48980-agent-orange-and-the-continuing-vietnam-war.html
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and national board member of the “Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.” Follow him on Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com.
In a 2009 visit to Vietnam I asked a retired colonel in the Vietnam People’s Army about the notorious toxin “Agent Orange.” The colonel, who was also a former leader in a Vietnamese advocacy group for Agent Orange’s victims, spoke fluent English and was a veteran of the war with the United States. I asked him when had the Vietnamese realized the long-term dangers associated with the Agent Orange herbicide used by the U.S.A. His answer was as simple as it was heart-wrenching: ”When the children were born,” was his response.
In an effort to defeat the National Liberation Front and North Vietnamese Army (the Vietnam People’s Army), the U.S. concocted the idea that if it destroyed the forests and jungles that there would be nowhere for the guerrillas to hide. They, thus, unleashed a massive defoliation campaign, the results of which exist with us to this day. Approximately 19 million gallons of herbicides were used during the war, affecting between 2 million and 4.8 million Vietnamese, along with thousands of US military personnel. Additionally, Laos and Cambodia were exposed to Agent Orange by the USA in the larger Indochina War.
Despite the original public relations associated with the use of Agent Orange aimed at making it appear safe and humane, it was chemical warfare and it is not an exaggeration to suggest that it was genocidal. The cancers promoted by Agent Orange (affecting the Vietnamese colonel I interviewed, as a matter of fact) along with the catastrophic rise in birth defects, have not only haunted the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, but also the United States. Those in the US military involved in the dispersal of Agent Orange, and those who were simply exposed to it, brought the curse home.
The United States government has refused to take responsibility for the war of aggression it waged against the Vietnamese. This includes a failure to acknowledge the extent of the devastation wrought by Agent Orange. Ironically, it has also failed to assume responsibility for the totality of the horror as it affected U.S. veterans, thus leaving the veterans and their families to too often fight this demon alone.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee recently introduced House Resolution 2519, “To direct the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide assistance for individuals affected by exposure to Agent Orange, and for other purposes.” In many respects, this bill is about settling some of the accounts associated with the war against Vietnam. The U.S.] reneged on reparations that it promised to Vietnam and to this day there remain those in the media and government who wish to whitewash this horrendous war of aggression as if it were some sort of misconstrued moral crusade.
HR 2519 takes us one step towards accepting responsibility for a war crime that was perpetrated against the Vietnamese and that, literally and figuratively, blew back in our faces as our government desperately tried to crush an opponent it should never have first been fighting. For that reason, we need Congress to pass and fund HR 2519. HR 2519 should be understood as a down payment on a much larger bill owed to the peoples of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and to the US veterans sent into hell.
[For more information on HR 2519 and the issue of Agent Orange, contact the "Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign" at www.vn-agentorange.org.]


From Japan to Vietnam, Radiation and Agent Orange Survivors Deserve Justice From the U.S. by Marjorie Cohn, VFP  Advisory Board Member.  Friday, August 21, 2015. 
We have just marked anniversaries of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the US government against the people of Japan and Vietnam. Seventy years ago, on August 6, 1945, the U.S. military unleashed an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing at least 140,000 people. Three days later, the United States dropped a second bomb, on Nagasaki, which killed 70,000. And 54 years ago, on August 10, 1961, the US military began spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam. It contained the deadly chemical dioxin, which has poisoned an estimated 3 million people throughout that country <More>




THE PERPS: THE US WARRIORS WHO STARTED THE BOMBING, SPRAYING, BURNING, SHOOTING, TORTURING AND KEPT IT UP 10 YEARS

 

HENRY KISSINGER

VIETNAM FULL DISCLOSURE, Feb. 13, 2016. http://vietnamfulldisclosure.org/

Henry Kissinger’s genocidal legacy: Vietnam, Cambodia and the Birth of American Militarism.

(Credit: Reuters/Pascal Lauener) This post originally appeared at TomDispatch.com   Nixon introduced us to permanent, extrajudicial war in Southeast Asia, and it continues today in the Middle East.    GREG GRANDIN, TOMDISPATCH.COM

A Review of Kissinger’s Shadow by Howie Machtinger.  Feb. 11, 2016. http://vietnamfulldisclosure.org/

Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman by Greg Grandin Review by Howie Machtinger   In his important new book, Kissinger’s Shadow, NYU Professor Greg Grandin joins the ranks of

 

 

VIETNAM WAR AS PART OF US WARS OF AGGRESSION INSEPARABLE FROM US HISTORY
Patriotic Genocide by Mike Hastie
PUBLISHED ON: FEBRUARY 7, 2016.   FILED UNDER: POET'S CORNER
[I read this essay in Peace in Our Times (Winter 2016).  --Dick]
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Patriotic Genocide
American History 101
Simply Google on your computer:
” History of U.S. Military Interventions
Around The World.”
The machine gun belt of countries
goes from Wounded Knee in 1890,
to the present war in Syria.
There is enough information here to choke a horse.
It has never stopped.
You do not bring the enemy to the
peace table by just killing military
combatants.
You ultimately bring the enemy to
the peace table by killing innocent
civilians.
They are military targets.
This strategy is as old as warfare itself.
During World War II, 1.1 million people
were murdered at Auschwitz.
During the war, the Allied Forces made no attempt
to bomb the train tracks that led to these death camps.
They had other priorities.
There are only so many chairs around a dinner table.
On March 9-10, 1945, the United States unmercifully
bombed Tokyo, Japan with a new weapon called,
NAPALM.
According to General Curtis LeMay, who was the commander
of the B29s that were responsible for the bombing, he later
said, ” We scorched and boiled and baked to death more
people in Tokyo on the night of March 9-10, than went up
in vapor in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.”
There are only so many chairs around a dinner table.
On August 6, and August 9, 1945,
the world changed forever.
On July 16, 1945, the first test of the atom bomb was carried
out in New Mexico.
The very next day, 70 of the scientists who made the bomb
possible sent a petition to President Truman pleading with
him to not use the bomb without first warning Japan.
The letter was delivered to the military, but the letter was
never delivered to Truman.
On the morning of August 6, 1945, at 8:10AM,
an hallucinogenic madness of murder incinerated
Hiroshima, Japan.
100,000 people, ( 95,000 of them civilians ),
died instantly.
Another 100,000 died from the slow death of radiation.
Absolutely no language in human history was sufficient
enough to describe the horror of what happened.
This violence came from another world.
On August 9, 1945, The United States Government
committed another act of vaporized murder that came
from another world.
As of January 2016, the American people have no
idea that their government was responsible for
the horrors of an Auschwitz.
The only difference was that the murders happened
instantly, instead of over a period of several years.
During World War II, the U.S. dropped 2,000,000 tons
of bombs.
In Indochina at least 8,000,000 tons were dropped.
This was equivalent to 640 Hiroshimas.
According to Howard Zinn, the United States was
responsible for 20 million bomb craters during the
Vietnam War.
I can’t imagine how many thousands of atrocities
went into making 20 million bomb craters?
They were My Lai’s from the skies.
The United States Government has justified every
bomb, and every boot in every country in the
Middle East.
It absolutely has to.
The suffering is beyond comprehension.
It is worse than a firing squad ending the life of a
small child, because he was defending his country.
The U.S. economy is a life force that cannot survive
without war, and searching for enemies is the oil
that lubricates the illusion.
The American people are existing in a poverty of lies,
that is as frightening as the unstoppable release of
methane gas.
300 Lakota Sioux were murdered at Wounded Knee
on December 29, 1890, because there just weren’t
enough chairs around the Thanksgiving dinner table.
That has not changed.
Mike Hastie
Army Medic Vietnam
January 24, 2016

THE VIETNAM WAR PEACE MOVEMENT THEN AND NOW


Peace Movement History

The PEACE MOVEMENT vs. the Vietnam War, Tom Hayden, Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement

KIRKUS REVIEW of Hell No

“Hell, no, we won’t go!” Recently deceased politician and one-time radical leader Hayden (Listen Yankee! Why Cuba Matters, 2015, etc.) sounds a cri di antiguerre for the movement that helped halt America’s misadventure in Vietnam.
“Truth, it is said, is war’s first casualty. Memory is its second.” So writes the author, perfectly encapsulating his argument. By Hayden’s account, the Vietnam experience is slowly being remade, courtesy of conservative forces, into a just and blameless exercise in American goodwill. In that program of revision, the anti-war movement is being written out of history altogether. In this slender volume, the author charts how that movement originated, informed by popular struggles for independence around the world and for civil rights at home. He notes that, when it came to the early days of the movement, nothing was prepackaged, so that he and other radical leaders had to build their own set of arguments against “the dominant paradigm over our lives: that the Cold War was necessary to stop monolithic international Communism from knocking over the ‘dominoes’ of the Free World, one by one.” Hayden then considers the anti-war movement in action, voicing passing regret at the handful of protestors who chose to fly the Viet Cong flag. Against that tiny number of misguided people, he writes, stands a much-overshadowing popular movement, the first of its kind since McCarthyism, to halt an unjust war, one that needs to be studied and revived today. Another regret in this lucid and perfectly sized essay in reflection: that to some extent everyone might just as well have stayed home, since, he notes on a trip to Vietnam, the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are lined with the same shops as in Kansas City: “Why kill, maim, and uproot millions of Vietnamese if the outcome was a consumer wonderland approved by the country’s still-undefeated Communist Party?”
Movement-builders of today will want to take note of Hayden’s thoughtful look back.

 

Hell No, Some Chronological Highlights from opening pages of Chapter 2, Selected by Dick

April 17, 1965, March on Washington, “then the largest antiwar march in American history” (34)

May 21-22, 1965, teach-in at U. of California “attracted thirty-five thousand participants” (34)

 “Public opinion turned against the war much earlier than many historians concede” (35).  If you consider “emerging trends” rather than head counts,  “the crucial time was March-May 1966, just after Arkansas senator William Fulbright mesmerized the public with critical Senate hearings on Vietnam, faulting an ‘arrogance of power’ as the root cause.”

1968, Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy ran for president as peace candidates.  “one hundred peace candidates ran in twenty states.”  “There were forty-one cases of bombing and arson in the fall of 1968” (37).  President Johnson decided not to run again.  “Both the rank and file activists in the peace movement and the peace candidates who arose from the movement have to be considered together in weighing the immense impact generated…between 1965 and 1968” (36).

November 1969, “National Moratorium was hailed as the ‘largest peace march ever,’ with half a million gathering in Washington alone” (34).

1972,  Shirley Chisholm and George McGovern ran for president for peaceful resolution of the war.  “Thirty million” voted for George McGovern, “a total inconceivable at the time of the first march only seven years before.”

Hayden offers many more peace movement milestones in chapter 2 on resisting and ending the war.   --Dick

 

Comments on the Pentagon/Obama (and now Trump) Commemoration.   Sad that there would be a campaign to whitewash the Vietnam War after all these years. The truthtellers are particularly precious in these times of obfuscation.  Frank Scheide.

 

A Book-Length Repudiation of the Pentagon/Obama/(Trump) Commemoration of the Vietnam War.

The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?
by John Marciano.  Monthly Review Press, 2016.
On May 25, 2012, President Obama announced that the United States would spend the next thirteen years—through November 11, 2025—commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, and the American soldiers, “more than 58,000 patriots,” who died in Vietnam. The fact that at least 3 million Vietnamese—soldiers, parents, grandparents, children—also died in that war will be largely unknown and entirely uncommemorated. U.S. history barely stops to record the millions of Vietnamese who lived on after being displaced, tortured, maimed, raped, or born with birth defects, the result of devastating chemicals wreaked on the land by the U.S. military. The reason for this appalling disconnect of consciousness lies in an unremitting public relations campaign waged by top American politicians, military leaders, business people, and scholars who have spent the last sixty years justifying the U.S. presence in Vietnam.
A devastating follow-up to William L. Griffen and Marciano’s 1979 classic Teaching the Vietnam WarThe American War in Vietnam seeks not to commemorate the Vietnam War, but to stop the ongoing U.S. war on actual history. Marciano reveals the grandiose flag-waving that stems from the “Noble Cause principle,” the notion that America is “chosen by God” to bring democracy to the world. The result is critical writing and teaching at its best. This book will find a home in classrooms where teachers seek to do more than repeat the trite glorifications of U.S. Empire. It will provide students everywhere with insights that can prepare them to change the world.
Marciano has written a newer history of the war that provides analysis and perspective on how the war ought to be remembered—and how it is being misremembered and misused. I am eager to add it to my curriculum!
—W.D. Ehrhart Ph.D., editor, Carrying the Darkness: the Poetry of the Vietnam War, author, Vietnam-Perkasie: A Combat Marine Memoir
Marciano provides a deft overview of the American War in Vietnam with all its deceits and horrors while demonstrating how the true history has been sanitized and distorted in class-room history texts, thus depriving younger generations a proper historical and political consciousness, making them unable often to see through the flood of propaganda used to sell more recent military interventions.
—Jeremy Kuzmarov, J.P. Walker assistant professor of history, University of Tulsa; author of Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century and The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs
The American War in Vietnam pulls no punches in its condemnation of America’s participation in the Vietnam War, citing both outright war crimes (such as the notorious My Lai massacre) and the extensive collateral damage and human suffering that the war inflicted. Author and antiwar activist John Marciano (Professor Emeritus at SUNY Cortland) further denounces the pervasive whitewashing of America’s purpose, role, and methods in the Vietnam War. Notes, a bibliography, and an index round out this stark, persuasive, and ferocious challenge to America’s status quo historical narrative.
Midwest Book Review
John’s book is now at the top of my list of recommended readings for people planning to come to Viet Nam. The other is Huu Ngoc’s recently released Viet Nam: Tradition and Change. Those books will give visitors context and an accurate framework of Viet Nam’s past and present—including the massive American shadow that we still cast here.
—Chuck Searcy, former U.S. Army intelligence specialist in Vietnam; current International Advisor to Project RENEW, which works to eliminate landmines and help Vietnamese families with consequences of Agent Orange
John Marciano, Professor Emeritus at SUNY Cortland, is an antiwar and social justice activist, author, scholar, teacher, and trade unionist. He is also the author, with William L. Griffen, of Teaching the Vietnam War (1979) and Civic Illiteracy and Education: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of American Youth (1997). From 2004 through 2008, he taught community courses for adults in Santa Monica, CA on Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and Empire as a Way of Life, based on the work of William Appleman Williams.

 

 

Recent OMNI Newsletters

RUSSIA NEWSLETTER #5, March 10, 2017.
ANTHROPOCENE NEWSLETTER #2, February 27, 2017

Arkansas Federal Representatives
None of the senators or representatives publishes his e-mail address, but each can be contacted by filling in forms offered through his website.
Senator John Boozman: (202)224-4843
Lowell Office phone:  479-725-0400
Senator Tom Cotton: (202)224-2353
Springdale Office phone:  479-751-0879
Rep. Rick Crawford, 1st District: (202)225-4076
Rep. French Hill, 2nd District: (202)225-2506
Rep. Steve Womack, 3rd District: (202)225-4301
1119 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
3333 Pinnacle Hills, Suite 120
Rogers, Arkansas 72758
Rep. Bruce Westerman, 4th District: (202) 225-3772


See: Agent Orange, Air War, Chemical War, Civilian Deaths and Suffering, Deceit, Imperialism, Kissinger, Killing Civilians, Land Mines, Literature About the War, Lying, Militarism, Nixon, Pentagon, Propaganda, Protest, Recruiting, Suicides, Torture, US Westward Empire, VFP, War Crimes, Waste, Whistleblowing, and more.
(479) 442-4600
2582 Jimmie Ave.
Fayetteville, AR 72703


Contents: Vietnam War Newsletter #7
Telling the Truth About the War vs. Pentagon/Pres. Obama Official History
Editorial from Peace in Our Times
A Call to the Wall, Peace in Our Times
Veterans for Peace, Vietnam: The Power of Protest.  Telling the Truth.
     Learning the Lessons
Lembcke, Refuting the Myths
Keating, GI Resistance During the War
Peace Movement
From HAW, Two Commemorations
Consequences of the War to US and Vietnamese Troops and Vietnamese People
Dick, Literature and the Wall

Contact Pres. Obama



END VIETNAM WAR NEWSLETTER #8

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