For all the people saying this massacre couldn’t have happened, and that those who expose it are traitors: let me remind you of My Lai. It has been 38 years, so many have forgotten.

Gary has a link there that will lead you deep into the right wing fever swamp. It’s creepy how those on that increasingly discredited side are more upset that a senator mentioned this than that a 3-year-old girl may have been willfully murdered by our soldiers.


  1. Caledonian says

    If the US Armed Forces actually admitted when soldiers did terrible things right away, instead of stonewalling and denying endlessly, the might have some credibility when making statements. As it is, only the most naive and partisan sycophant believes them when they officially confirm or deny anything. Setting aside ethics for a moment, this strategy seems to be a poor one from a Macheivellian perspective as well. Isn’t strategy what militaries are supposed to be good at?

    Murtha DOES have a great deal of credibility, as he has repeatedly spoken the truth when doing so would cost him in general popularity. The fact that he is associated with this claim greatly enhances its plausibility in my mind.

    I wish I could say I was surprised. Wonder how long it will be before the phone database is used to track down and silence soldiers who are willing to tell the real truth?

  2. says

    I saw John Murtha interviewed last night on “Hardball” and I concur with him that, while these alleged crimes are inexcusable, they aren’t to be unexpected and are in fact inevitable, considering the third or fourth tours of duty that the Administration is imposing on our troops, and the subsequent stress of daily attacks and casualties. Good commanders steer the circumstances under which soldiers fight, with clear battle plans, adequate equpiment and coverage, and exit strategies (I’m talking just on the platoon level). This seat-of-our-pants conduction of the Iraq War by our so-called Commander-in-Chief was beyond reprehensible long ago.

    The American people need to realize that American soldiers will follow the same psychological and behaviorial patterns that exist for all human beings in specific circumstances, and that these patterns will not be avoided simply by appealing to American uniqueness, moral values, or personal responsibility. No more photo-ops of them handing out soccer balls and patting little girls on the head. These guys are going to crack, and while I shudder to think this, it’s going to keep on happening! We need to accept that, and to realize that most of them (hopefully) will come home. We have the choice as to what state they come home in. As it stands now, the rate of psychological trauma among our Iraqi veterans is skyrocketing, but the military hospitals want to hear about how their mommies were mean, not about what this war is doing to them.

    Murtha also mentioned the men who came home from the war and murdered their wives. The local news interviewed a veteran who related how he found himself freaking out in a Wal-Mart one day, screaming at some poor clerk for no reason. And there are still damaged men from the Vietnam War. At a reading of a memoir written by a friend of mine who was in that war, a debate erupted between my friend who is ashamed of his actions and one of his fellow veterans who defended what we did in Vietnam. The Vietnam War defender and I spoke afterward, and we shook hands though I disagreed with him, and then he said something like, “But you know, I can’t sleep at night, and my health is shot, and no woman can stand me for long” and then he practically ran away from me.

    “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”–Friedrich Nietzsche

  3. boojieboy says

    The June issue of Harper’s has a piece by Kevin Baker in there that allows you to understand the conservative response perfectly. You can’t find the full text of the article online, but you can find a blog summary of it here:


    Basically, the argument goes that

    a. conservatives will attack anyone who questions the righteousness of the cause as a backstabber (but we already knew that);

    and b. conservatives will try to use this type of framing (we’re being betrayed by the left!) to rally the public to their cause. In fact, they NEED to use this kind of framing in order to succeed. So, in effect, for a while Murtha and anyone else needs to expect that they will temporarily boost the conservative agenda.

    Baker pretty much says that it’s a prelude to fascism, and as far out as I think Harper’s goes on occasion, here I agree with the author.

  4. Caledonian says

    Collectively, we are responsible for every death that has occurred since this invasion began. We are responsible for every killed, maimed, or traumatized civilian, every killed, maimed, or traumatized soldier.

    Culpability, however, does not obey conservation laws. Incidents such as these become inevitabilities when sufficiently large numbers of individuals are involved, but individuals are responsible for them. Our collective culpability does not diminish the culpability of the soldiers involved in this atrocity.

  5. says

    “It’s creepy how those on that increasingly discredited side are more upset that a senator mentioned this….”

    I belatedly notice that, of course, Murtha is a long-standing member of the House of Representatives, not the Senate.

    Facts, corrections, important, credibility, major difference, that sort of thing.

    Thanks again for the link.

  6. says

    Just wanted to note that Hugh Thompson, the incredibly courageous OH-23 pilot who stopped the killing at My Lai at tremendous risk to his own well being and reputation, died just this last January. When you think of My Lai, it’s important to remember that while war can bring out the worst in men, it can also showcase a kind of humanity you’d never see anywhere else. If you’re not familiar with the story of how he put his chopper between the Vietnamese civilians and the American Soldiers, telling them to let the civilians leave and ordering his men to fire on any American Soldier who disobeyed (in spite of Thompson being outranked by all present officers–he was a CWO), you’ve got to look it up. It is the story of what REAL heroism is, what a REAL American does, and you can’t read it without tearing up. CWO Hugh Thompson, Jr. Gone, but NEVER forgotten…


  7. says

    hemlok, I hadn’t realised Thompson was dead! I did a piece on the My Lai anniversary in March and none of the bios I consulted had noted his death. I’m very sad to hear that, as he wasn’t that old and had not had that many years of vindication, knowing that the military had finally acknowledged that My Lai was an atrocity.

  8. gregorach says

    Such events hardly compare to the mass death inevitably invovled in aerial bombardment. What difference does it make whether you shoot a child face-to-face or just drop several tens of thousands of tonnes of high explosive in the general vicinity? Their death is just as certain either way. Concentrating on symbolic, but minor episodes such as these merely helps draw attention away from the far worse but more run-of-the-mill mass barbarism that goes on all the time.

  9. MegaTroopX says

    Here’s an idea, let’s actually be certain this actually happened, as opposed to another “bombed wedding” lie.

    Reasonable people should not have a knee-jerk “It makes (insert service branch here) look monstrous, so it must be true!” reaction.

    If even the worst criminals have a right to not have the “jury pool” of public perception tainted before the investigation is even complete, the USMC deserves no less.

    You can cry crocodile tears all you want for their “trauma”, but how much of the trauma of Vietnam vets Kristine mentions was caused by the war, and how much by the treatment they received on their return? The treatment rendered by people like John Murtha?

    Misconduct is a blow to all services, but before you damn, be sure there’s a real reason, not just “Ooh! Chance to slam the Marines! Chance to get Bush! Full speed ahead!”

    “Fake but accurate” doesn’t cut it.

    BTW, gregroach, did you just stop following military tech around 1963 or so?