Sunday, June 24, 2018

Americans at War

Americans At War
P. Schultz

            The following passages are from one of my favorite books, Fire in the Lake, by Francis Fitzgerald. Read them and weep for our nation.

            “In 1969 an incident came to the attention of the U.S. Congress that had occurred a year and a half before in the wake of the Tet offensive. On a routine search and destroy mission a company from the Americal division had walked into the village of My Lai and without provocation had gunned down 347 civilians, most of them women and children. A photographer had taken pictures of screaming women, dead babies, and a mass of bodies piled up in a ditch. Even once substantiated, the story seemed incredible to many people. How could American soldiers have committed such an atrocity? The congressional subcommittee investigating the incident wrote much later, ‘What obviously happened at My Lai was wrong. In fact, it was so wrong and so foreign to the normal character and actions of our military forces as to immediately raise the question as to the legal sanity at the time of those men involved.’ But as teams of psychiatrists were later to show, Lt. William Calley and the other men involved were at the time quite as ‘sane’ as the members of the congressional committee who investigated them. The incident was not exceptional to the American war.'

            “Young men from the small towns of America, the GIs who came to Vietnam found themselves in a place halfway round the earth among people with whom they could make no human contact. Like an Orwellian army, they knew everything about military tactics, but nothing about where they were or who the enemy was….Their buddies killed by land mines, sniper fire,, and mortar attacks, but the enemy remained invisible, not only in the jungle but among the people of the villages –an almost metaphysical enemy who inflicted upon them heat, boredom, terror, and death, and gave them nothing to show for it – no territory taken, no visible sign of progress except the bodies of small yellow men….They were all ‘gooks’ after all. Just look how they lived in shacks and the filth; they’d steal the watch from your arm.” [pp. 463-464]

            Seems relevant today when we have a president who is willing to abduct children and hold them hostage.  

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