A Policy of Murder

This month we're seeing observances of the fortieth anniversary of the end of the American war in Vietnam. Or, to be more accurate, of the defeat of the United States in its war of aggression against Vietnam.


Conservatives have done everything they can to rehabilitate the war and those who perpetrated it, from the phony POW-MIA flags you see all over the place, to Rambo, The Deer Hunter, and other revisionist movies, to the excessive celebration over more recent military veterans, born in part of a guilty national conscience, retroactively valorizing those who fought in a losing and profoundly evil war.


On this anniversary Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker revisits his reporting on the massacre at My Lai, making clear that, far from an aberration, mass murders of civilians were the policy of the United States. You might think that after almost fifty years later there is nothing more to learn, but you'd be wrong. Of a return visit to Vietnam, Hersh writes:


The message was clear: what happened at My Lai 4 was not singular, not an aberration; it was replicated, in lesser numbers, by Bravo Company. Bravo was attached to the same unit—Task Force Barker—as Charlie Company. The assaults were by far the most important operation carried out that day by any combat unit in the Americal Division, which Task Force Barker was attached to. The division’s senior leadership, including its commander, Major General Samuel Koster, flew in and out of the area throughout the day to check its progress.


You should read the whole article. We must not forget.

2 thoughts on “A Policy of Murder

  1. I suspect there was a PR effort somewhere deep in Wolfowitz’ closet even before George HW found an excuse to start the first Iraq war.

    Why people of our generation are so ready to believe that there was widespread public mistreatment of returning Vietnam vets has always puzzled me.  

    Yes, there certainly were instances of this; and yes, as unpopular as that war was by the end, a soldier in uniform was not embraced simply for having fought in Viet Nam.  

    Nevertheless, as I recall, most people recognized that soldiers had been victims too;  firstly, of the draft and secondly, of the fecklessness of our leadership.

    It was that leadership that disappointed the returning draftees when they needed care and support in the long years of PTSD that followed.

    It took them another twenty years before they could once again sell war to the American people, and they did so by cleverly passing over the failed mission of Viet Nam to invoke the Victory celebrations of WWII, the horrors of which were so far in the past that there were few living memories to spoil the rally effect.

  2. And in ’69 there was still this asshole Major General in the Mekong Delta zone (9th Division, I believe–Army) who was obsessed with body counts.  Free fire zones for choppers and ground troops.  Murder of civilians on the ground by chopper guns if they ran. It was a policy Westmoreland encouraged because body counts meant his job.  He won the body count but lost the war with Tet.  

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