[dehai-news] The My Lai Massacre Revisited 41 years ago

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: wolda002@umn.edu
Date: Tue Mar 17 2009 - 21:51:19 EST

The My Lai Massacre Revisited
41 years ago

By Dr. Gary G. Kohls

Global Research, March 16, 2009

Forty-one years ago, on March 16,1968, a company of US Army combat soldiers
from the Americal Division swept into the South Vietnamese hamlet of My
Lai, rounded up the 500+ unarmed residents, all women, children and old
men, and executed them in cold blood, Nazi-style. No weapons were found in
the village, and the whole operation took only 4 hours.

Although there was a serious attempt to cover-up this operation (which
involved a young up-and-coming US Army Major named Colin Powell), those who
orchestrated this “business-as-usual” war zone event did not deny the
details of the slaughter when the case came to trial several years later.
But the story did eventually filter back to the Western news media, thanks
to a couple of courageous soldier eye-witnesses whose consciences were
still intact. An Army court-marital trial eventually convened against a
handful of the soldiers, including Lt. William Calley and Company C
commanding officer, Ernest Medina.

According to many of the soldiers in Company C, Medina ordered the killing
of “every living thing in My Lai,” all of them innocent noncombatants -
men, women, children, babies and even farm animals. Lt. Calley was charged
with the murder of 109 civilians. In his defense statement he stated that
he had been taught to hate all Vietnamese, even children, who, he had been
told, “were very good at planting mines.”

That a massacre had occurred was confirmed by all of Medina’s soldiers
and it was recorded by Army photographers, but the Army still tried to
cover it up. The cases were tried in military courts with juries of Army
officers, which eventually dropped the charges against all of the
defendants (except Calley) or acquitted them. Medina and the others who
were among the killing soldiers that day went free, and only Calley was
convicted of the murders of “at least 20 civilians.” Nobody was
convicted of the murders of the other 400+ villagers. Calley was sentenced
to life imprisonment for his crime, but, under pressure from patriotic
pro-war Americans, President Nixon pardoned him within weeks of the

The trial stimulated a lot of interest because it occurred during the
rising outcry of millions of Americans against the war, acknowledged widely
as an “overwhelming atrocity.” Many thoughtful Americans, including
many military conscripts and veterans, were sick of the killing. However,
79% of those that were polled strenuously objected to Calley’s
conviction, some veteran’s groups even voicing the opinion that instead
of condemnation, he should have received medals of honor for killing
“Commie Gooks.”

Just like the Jewish Holocaust of World War II, the realities of My Lai
deserve to be revisited again and again so that it will happen “never
again.” The Vietnam War, (as is the current quagmire in Iraq) was an
excruciating time for conscientious Americans because of the numerous moral
issues surrounding the mass slaughter in a war that uselessly killed 58,000
American soldiers, caused the spiritual deaths of millions of others,
killed 3 million Vietnamese (mostly innocent civilians) and
psychologically, physically and spiritually traumatized countless others on
both sides of the conflict.

Of course the Vietnam War was a thousand times worse for the innocent
people of that doomed land than it was for the soldiers. The Vietnamese
people were victims of an army of heavily-armed, ruthless, adolescent males
from a foreign land who were taught that the “little yellow people”
were pitiful sub-humans and deserved to be killed - with some GIs
preferring to inflict torture first. “Kill-or-be-killed” is a reality
that is standard operating procedure for military combat units of every
nation of every era and of every ideology.

Vietnam veterans tell me that there were scores, maybe hundreds, of “My
Lai-type massacres”. Not surprisingly, the Pentagon refuses to
acknowledge that truth. Execution-style killings of “potential” Viet
Cong sympathizers (i.e., anybody that wasn’t an American at the time)
were common. Many combat units “took no prisoners” (a euphemism for
murdering captives, rather than having to follow the nuisance Geneva
Conventions which requires humane, but time-consuming treatment for
prisoners of war). The only unusual thing about My Lai was that it was
found out, and the Pentagon’s routine attempt at a cover-up failed.

Very few soldiers or their commanding officers have ever been punished for
the many war crimes that occurred during that war because those in charge
thought that killing (or torturing) of innocent civilians during war-time
is simply the norm, usually labeled “collateral damage.” After all, as
US Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld infamously
proclaimed, “stuff happens” during wars

The torture and shooting was enjoyable for some - for awhile (witness Abu
Graib and Guantanamo Bay realities). And wars are profitable for many - and
still are (witness Halliburton, Blackwater, et al. today).

Those who plan wars and/or participate in them, yet also profess to be
Christians, are explicitly rejecting the ethical teachings of Jesus in the
Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 and 7) and Matthew 25:31-46. Those
Christians are either ignorant of or simply reject what Jesus repeatedly
said about the issue of homicidal violence (in so many words, he says:
“Violence is forbidden for those who wish to follow me”). And what is
most hypocritical of all is the fact that pro-war or neutral Christians, by
their actions, are rejecting Jesus’ Golden Rule command: “Do onto
others as you would have them do unto you.”

The rejection of the Way of Jesus also includes the rejection of his clear
teachings on how his followers are to treat the neighbor, the stranger, the
hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the captive, the enemy and all others in
need of mercy and understanding. In order to participate in the legal
homicide that takes place in all wars, the followers of Jesus have to
reject gospel ethics and adopt the un-Christ-like, non-gospel Just War
Theory of Augustine (which first appeared 3 centuries after Jesus’
death). There seems to be no ethical way for the follower of the nonviolent
Jesus to participate in or support the mass slaughter of war. The Christian
has to choose between two irreconcilable realities: the Way of the God of
Love or the way of the god of war.

The whole issue of the justification of war, with its inherent atrocities,
never seems to be thoroughly examined in an atmosphere of openness and
historical honesty. Full understanding of the realities of war and its
spiritual, psychological and economic consequences for the victims – or
for the victimizers, for that matter - is rarely attempted, even for people
of faith. If we who are non-soldiers ever truly experienced the horrors of
combat, the effort to abolish war would suddenly be a top priority (perhaps
even for the current crop of unelected “Chicken Hawk” warmongers in the
Bush and Obama Administrations.

If we actually knew the gruesome realities of war (or even understood the
immorality of spending trillions of dollars on war preparation while
hundreds of millions of people are homeless and starving) we would refuse
to cooperate with the things that make for war. But that wouldn’t be good
for the various war profiteers and their shareholders who profit from war.
So those “merchants of death” must hide the gruesome truths and try
instead to make war look like something glorious, benign,
character-building or patriotic, with, for example, sloganeering like “Be
All That You Can Be.” Or they might try to convince the
soon-to-be-childless mothers of doomed, dead or dying soldiers that their
child had died honorably fighting for God and Country instead of for
domination of the Middle East’s oil reserves.

Let’s face it. The US military’s standing army system has been
gradually bankrupting America at $500+ billion annually year after year
after year – even in times of so-called “peace.” The warmongering
legacy of the Pentagon is still with us, particularly among those who
wanted to “nuke the gooks” in Vietnam. Un-elected policy-makers of
their ilk are still in charge of US war-planning and war-making today, no
matter who is president, and they have been solidifying their power to
flush more and more money down the Pentagon toilet with the huge profits
made off the deaths, screams, blood, guts and permanent disabilities of
those hood-winked soldiers who were told that they were ”saving the world
for democracy” when in fact they were making the world safe for
exploitive capitalism with obscene profits for the few. And even the
politicians who are paid lapdogs for the corporate war profiteers don’t
want the gravy train to be derailed.

Things haven’t changed much even from the World War II mentality that
conveniently and guiltlessly overlooked the monstrous evil that was
perpetrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945, war crimes so
heinous that the psychological consequences, immune deficiency disorders
and cancers from that nuclear holocaust are still being experienced in
unimaginable suffering 6 decades later.

Things haven’t really changed much when one witnesses the political
mentality that ignores the 500,000 deaths of innocent Iraqi civilians in
the aftermath of the first Gulf War or the 600,000 plus civilian deaths in
the current fiasco in Iraq.

It is apparent that our military and political leaders haven’t learned
anything about the real costs of war since WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, not to
mention what has happened to every army that ever tried to conquer
Afghanistan. And sadly, it appears that the churches haven't learned much
either. The person sitting next to you in the comfortable church pew is,
like most unaware or apathetic Americans, blissfully unaware of the hellish
realities of the war-zone, so he is likely to be blindly patriotic and
therefore indifferent to the plight of “the other” who suffers so much
in war. He may think, contrary to Jesus’ clear teachings, that some
people are "less than" us white Americans, and, therefore, if necessary,
can be justifiably killed for "Volk, Fuhrer und Vaterland.”

As long as most American citizens continue to glorify war and militarism
and denigrate its peacemakers; and as long as the American public endorses
the current spirit of nationalism and ruthless global capitalism; and as
long as the American church leadership remains prudently silent (and
therefore consenting to the homicidal violence of war) we will not be able
to effect a change away from the influence of conscienceless war-mongers.
The prophets, the peacemakers and the conscientious objectors to war and
killing are never valued in militarized nations, especially in times of
war; indeed, they are virtually always marginalized, demeaned, imprisoned
and sometimes even executed as traitors. And one of the reasons is that
there are no profits to be made in peacemaking, whereas there are trillions
to be made in the biggest business going: the preparation for, and
execution of, war and the “inconvenient” but inevitable collateral
damage to the creation and its innocent creatures. The current "Blow it Up
Then Build it Up" reality makes money first for the killing machine and
then also for the Halliburtons of the world.

As long as we continue to be led by unapologetic and merciless war-makers
(and their various partners in crime - the wealthy corporate elite); and as
long as there are under-employed young men and women who don’t know they
are being lied to at the military recruiting stations; and as long as the
nuclear giants (but ethical infants) in Washington, DC continue to be
corrupted by the big money bribes and bonuses for their short-term
profiteering, there is no chance America will ever obtain a meaningful

And as long as America’s Christian religious leaders and their followers
continue to be silent about what Jesus surely would have had them
vociferously resist, namely the mass slaughter that is modern war,
suffering humanity will be condemned to future wars, poverty, pestilence
and starvation.

And unless America stops their military’s carnage, fully repents of its
crimes against humanity and offers compensation and pays for the damage
done, its turn as a recipient of retaliatory violence, like that suffered
by all previous collapsed and collapsing empires, will surely come, and it
will come from those, foreign and domestic victims that our nation has
treated so shamefully over the past half-century.

Gary G. Kohls, MD, Duluth, MN – for Every Church A Peace Church
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility
of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for
Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole
responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization
will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect
statements contained in this article.

To become a Member of Global Research

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles
on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified.
The source and the author's copyright must be displayed. For publication of
Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial
internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has
not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are
making such material available to our readers under the provisions of "fair
use" in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic
and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit
to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research
and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for
purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the
copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com

© Copyright Gary G. Kohls, Global Research, 2009

The url address of this article is:

         ----[This List to be used for Eritrea Related News Only]----

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 1993-2009
All rights reserved