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Thu Jan 17, 2013, 09:36 PM

How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam?


from TomDispatch:




How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam?
A New Book Transforms Our Understanding of What the Vietnam War Actually Was

By Jonathan Schell


For half a century we have been arguing about “the Vietnam War.” Is it possible that we didn’t know what we were talking about? After all that has been written (some 30,000 books and counting), it scarcely seems possible, but such, it turns out, has literally been the case.

Now, in Kill Anything that Moves, Nick Turse has for the first time put together a comprehensive picture, written with mastery and dignity, of what American forces actually were doing in Vietnam. The findings disclose an almost unspeakable truth. Meticulously piecing together newly released classified information, court-martial records, Pentagon reports, and firsthand interviews in Vietnam and the United States, as well as contemporaneous press accounts and secondary literature, Turse discovers that episodes of devastation, murder, massacre, rape, and torture once considered isolated atrocities were in fact the norm, adding up to a continuous stream of atrocity, unfolding, year after year, throughout that country.

It has been Turse’s great achievement to see that, thanks to the special character of the war, its prime reality -- an accurate overall picture of what physically was occurring on the ground -- had never been assembled; that with imagination and years of dogged work this could be done; and that even a half-century after the beginning of the war it still should be done. Turse acknowledges that, even now, not enough is known to present this picture in statistical terms. To be sure, he offers plenty of numbers -- for instance the mind-boggling estimates that during the war there were some two million civilians killed and some five million wounded, that the United States flew 3.4 million aircraft sorties, and that it expended 30 billion pounds of munitions, releasing the equivalent in explosive force of 640 Hiroshima bombs.

Yet it would not have been enough to simply accumulate anecdotal evidence of abuses. Therefore, while providing an abundance of firsthand accounts, he has supplemented this approach. Like a fabric, a social reality -- a town, a university, a revolution, a war -- has a pattern and a texture. No fact is an island. Each one is rich in implications, which, so to speak, reach out toward the wider area of the surrounding facts. When some of these other facts are confirmed, they begin to reveal the pattern and texture in question. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175639/tomgram%3A_jonathan_schell%2C_seeing_the_reality_of_the_vietnam_war%2C_50_years_late/#more



7 replies, 1350 views

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam? (Original post)
marmar Jan 2013 OP
bemildred Jan 2013 #1
Judi Lynn Jan 2013 #2
polly7 Jan 2013 #3
marmar Jan 2013 #5
polly7 Jan 2013 #4
kenny blankenship Jan 2013 #6
Dread Pirate Roberts Jan 2013 #7

Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 10:46 AM

1. Wow. Schell.

He sure can write.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 04:24 PM

2. Thanks for this mention. No doubt many DU'ers will be reading this a.s.a.p.

The truth MUST be told, it must be heard, and understood, finally.

It's available right now, while it can still help.

Time for our country to stop covering up one war by diving into a new one.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 08:45 AM

3. Thanks for the article marmar, it's excellent.

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Response to polly7 (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 09:44 AM

5. Thanks for that link Polly. That was a good watch.

nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 08:51 AM

4. “So Many People Died”

The American System of Suffering, 1965-2014
By Nick Turse

Source: TomDispatch.com

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Pham To told me that the planes began their bombing runs in 1965 and that periodic artillery shelling started about the same time. Nobody will ever know just how many civilians were killed in the years after that. “The number is uncountable,” he said one spring day a few years ago in a village in the mountains of rural central Vietnam. “So many people died.”

And it only got worse. Chemical defoliants came next, ravaging the land. Helicopter machine gunners began firing on locals. By 1969, bombing and shelling were day-and-night occurrences. Many villagers fled. Some headed further into the mountains, trading the terror of imminent death for a daily struggle of hardscrabble privation; others were forced into squalid refugee resettlement areas. Those who remained in the village suffered more when the troops came through. Homes were burned as a matter of course. People were kicked and beaten. Men were shot when they ran in fear. Women were raped. One morning, a massacre by American soldiers wiped out 21 fellow villagers. This was the Vietnam War for Pham To, as for so many rural Vietnamese.


Then there are those 3.2 million Iraqis who were internally displaced or fled the violence to other lands, only to find uncertainty and deprivation in places like Jordan, Iran, and now war-torn Syria. By 2011, 9% or more of Iraq’s women, as many as 1 million, were widows (a number that skyrocketed in the years after the U.S. invasion). A recent survey found that 800,000 to 1 million Iraqi children had lost one or both parents, a figure that only grows with the continuing violence that the U.S. unleashed but never stamped out.


The latest iteration of war there began with an invasion by U.S. and allied forces in 2001, and has since claimed the lives of many thousands of civilians in roadside and aerial bombings, suicide attacks and helicopter attacks, night raids and outright massacres. Untold numbers of Afghans have also died of everything from lack of access to medical care (there are just 2 doctors for every 10,000 Afghans) to exposure, including shocking reports of children freezing to death in refugee camps last winter and again this year. They were among the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been internally displaced during the war. Millions more live as refugees outside the country, mostly in Iran and Pakistan. Of the women who remain in the country, up to 2 million are widows. In addition, there are now an estimated 2 million Afghan orphans. No wonder polling by Gallup this past summer found 96% of Afghans claiming they were either “suffering” or “struggling,” and just 4% “thriving.”


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/so-many-people-died-by-nick-turse

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Response to polly7 (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 05:18 PM

6. But we meant well.

We can always point to that. Our intentions were only the best. We are not just the world's cop, we are humanitarians and emissaries of Freedom. Maybe things went off the rails here or there; but driven by the USA, the greatest force for good on the planet, the arc of history has bent towards benevolence and free markets! Don't the Vietnamese want factory jobs now, to make our plastic gewgaws and trinkets? Maybe they shouldn't have resisted our attempts to help them. They'd have two million extra workers, plus all their offspring, that we wouldn't have had to kill, to help drive the price of their labor even lower than it is now. Think of how competitive they could be! They'd be so far ahead of themselves now if they hadn't made us angry.

That was all ancient history - the kind of awful thing you'll never hear of again. Drones don't get PTSD and tell no war stories. One day soon I bet, Vietnam will apologize to us, Iraq will offer reparations, and Afghanistan will thank us and beg us not to leave. But for now, we have to concentrate on the task of spreading our love elsewhere so we can give Iran a change of heart, too.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 06:19 PM

7. Whenever I read accounts like this....

I just get a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. Wherever there is war this kind of behavior always follows. This is why anytime a decision is made to take military action that means atrocities will also be taking place. Its as old as war itself. Knowing that its being done "in your name" so to speak should make every citizen think twice (or three times) about these decisions. I'll never understand people who get all "gung ho" at the mention of war (maybe I do but I just don't want to) because you know that this is part of the story too. That was one powerful read. Thank you for posting.

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