“Executive Summary,” Report of the Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. United States Senate. 1993-01-13; and Appy, American Reckoning, p. 243. See also Franklin, M.I.A., or Mythmaking in America.
The Pentagon Papers, Vol. IV. C. 11. “The United States Re-Emphasizes Pacification – 1965 to Present, An Examination of a Major Trend in our Effort.” This summary report focused almost exclusively on organization and agency relationships to the exclusion of program results, noting only that Washington’s demands exceeded realistic possibilities.
(Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so,
Only what nobody denies is so.)
A minute and a drop of me settle my brain,
I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps,
And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman,
And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other,
And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it
And until one and all shall delight us, and we them.
The American massacre of civilians at My Lai on March 16, 1968, was part of the U.S. counteroffensive following Tet. The area in which the My Lai village was located was labeled “Pinkville” and a U.S. unit known as Charlie company – led by Captain Ernest Medina, with 2nd Lt. William Calley commanding the First Platoon – treated it as a free-fire zone, killing some 500 unarmed men, women, children, and infants. A number of women were raped as well. Not all soldiers participated in the murders; one broke down and cried; another shot animals instead. Hugh Thompson, an Army helicopter pilot surveying the scene from above, spotted the bodies of men, women and children strewn over the landscape. Realizing that a massacre was taking place, he landed his chopper and rescued ten civilians while ordering his crew chief to shoot any American soldiers who opened fire on the civilians. On the same day, another U.S. unit, Bravo company, murdered some 90 civilians in the village of My Khe, two kilometers to the east. These massacres were not acknowledged by military authorities at the time. The task force commander overseeing operations wrote in his after-action report that the day’s maneuvers were “well planned, well-executed, and successful.”
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff
that is fine,
One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the
largest the same,
A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and
hospitable down by the Oconee I live,
A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest
joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,
A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin
leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,
A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,
At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the
Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving
their big proportions,)
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands
and welcome to drink and meat,
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,
A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.
Criticism of imperious U.S. policies in Vietnam began long before U.S. troops were deployed. During the 1950s, insightful critiques were proffered by investigative journalists Bernard Fall and I. F. Stone, political scientist Hans Morgenthau, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, and peace leaders A. J. Muste and Sidney Lens, to name a few; and in publications such as I. F. Stone’s Weekly, The Christian Century, The New Republic, The Nation, Dissent, Monthly Review, and Liberation. In the November 1952 issue of The Christian Century, for example, the editors castigated the U.S. for supporting French imperialism in Vietnam and ominously warned, “American boys are not dying in Indo-China – yet. But American policy is getting into a deeper and deeper morass there.” In the June 1954 issue of Monthly Review, following the defeat of the French, Marxist scholars Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman issued another warning:
U.S. conduct clearly violated international laws, including the Hague Convention of 1907, which outlawed the bombing of undefended villages and the use of indiscriminate firepower and chemical weapons, and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Specific articles of the latter convention, summarized by the American Red Cross, include the following:
A summary Pentagon report at the end of 1966 took stock of civilian casualties, estimating that about 80 percent of the 13,000 to 24,000 North Vietnamese killed by American bombs were civilians. The commanding generals discussed the issue of civilian casualties, not as a humanitarian crisis, but as a public relations problem, as any acknowledgement of civilian casualties would give North Vietnam a “propaganda” advantage and turn world opinion (more strongly) against the United States. The report also noted that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were eager to abolish all legal restraints on bombing. A final report on Operation Rolling Thunder issued in the fall of 1968 summarized its failure to achieve stated military and psychological objectives:
The liberal wing of the antiwar movement, represented by groups such as SANE, WSP, Student Peace Union, and Americans for Democratic Action, supported détente, diplomacy, and demilitarization of the Cold War, paying particular attention to the nuclear arms race. Liberal peace groups worked to build a broad-based movement, gain positive media attention, and influence members of Congress – all essential elements of movement-building. At the same time, they tended to narrow their vision and political goals to what was feasible within the American context, which fell short of what was needed to achieve peace in the international context. The unwillingness of liberal peace groups to support U.S. withdrawal from South Vietnam not only divided the antiwar movement but also constituted a missed opportunity to combine domestic peace efforts with international diplomatic efforts led by UN Secretary-General U Thant, which were based on the Geneva formula. According to the historian Milton Katz:
Guerrillas manufactured homemade bombs and mines from unexploded American ordinance. They set up punji traps and camouflaged land-mines for GIs to step on while on patrol. To trick American ground sensors, which were prone to false alarm and inaccurate placement, they used decoys such as sending herds of cattle to simulate troop movement. NLF officers placed their radio huts at a distance from command posts, resulting in air strikes “blast[ing] a patch of jungle just because a transmitter had been heard there,” according to an NSA study. Tanks and other heavy equipment as well as rice supplies were shipped through an alternative route from the heavily bombed Ho Chi Minh trail, Cambodia’s Port of Sihanoukville. Some of the most dedicated revolutionary fighters were women, following the example of the Trung sisters and Lady Trieu who had fought previous foreign invaders. Nguyen Thi Dinh led rebellions in Ben Tre province, while Ngo Thi Tuyen carried 95 kilograms of ammunition (twice her body weight) down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The antiwar movement was a never-ending fount of new organizations and projects. From 1965 to 1967, new organizations included Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam, Veterans for Peace in Vietnam, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Another Mother for Peace, RESIST, and American Writers and Artists Against the War. Among the new projects were the National Voters Peace Pledge Campaign, organized by SANE, “Vietnam Summer,” a community organizing project led by Martin Luther King and Benjamin Spock, and “Negotiations Now,” a petition drive led by prominent liberals such as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
In the aftermath of the Versailles Conference, Ho turned to socialist writings for inspiration, and to socialist and communist parties for support. Living in Paris, he read Vladimir Lenin’s “Thesis on the National and Colonial Questions” and came to the conclusion that “only Socialism and Communism can liberate the oppressed nations.” In 1920, Ho became a founding member of the French Communist Party. In the summer of that year, the Second Congress of the Communist International met in Petrograd and Moscow, and declared its support for anti-colonial revolutions, offering revolutionaries space for headquarters and limited funding. In 1930, Ho became a founding member of the Indochinese Communist Party.