Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (American Empire Project)

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Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (American Empire Project)

Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (American Empire Project)

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Turse has been faulted for not focusing on the horrible bombing of North Vietnam. Well, that was not his subject. He does mention briefly now and then the atrocities committed by the VC but indicates that they were mild compared to the size, scope and varieties of tortures, mutilations, murder and killings carried by the U.S. which pretended to help the Vietnamese. The juxtaposition of the gruesome deeds and the image sold at home and abroad is THE most perfect and giant example of schizophrenic marketing and successful image making. If a society has THE highest violent crime rate of all adv. societies than one can potentially expects its soldiers to misbehave brutally in wars. John Wayne's movie the Green Berets and Reagan's statement that the war was for a noble cause can only prompt cynical derision. They are in the realm of severe psychopathology and grandiose self-delusion very similar to our presumed high living standard, which BTW few believe any more, given slumerica created by those who were uncritically operating in our dangerous myths. After Kennedy's assassination, President Lyndon Johnson repeatedly escalated the war with bombing raids on North Vietnam, and unleashed an ever more furious onslaught on the South. In 1965 the fiction of "advisers" was finally dropped, and the American War, as it is known in Vietnam, began in earnest. In a televised speech, Johnson insisted that the United States was not inserting itself into a faraway civil war but taking steps to contain a communist menace. The war, he said, was "guided by North Vietnam . . . Its goal is to conquer the South, to defeat American power, and to extend the Asiatic dominion of communism."21 To counter this, the United States turned huge swaths of the South Vietnamese countryside—where most of South Vietnam's population lived—into battered battlegrounds. While the higher-ups had their rules of engagement, at the same time they judged the troops by how many people they killed. That's where the infamous "body count" came into play. Lower-grade officers knew that their promotions were based on how many bodies their units produced, and enlisted men were rewarded with things like beer or extra recreation time for bringing in more bodies. Kill Anything That Moves was criticized for downplaying the scope and importance of the contribution Vietnam veterans made to the antiwar effort in the United States. During the war, U.S. antiwar activists repeatedly pointed to atrocities that Turse claimed to have "discovered." Another criticism is that his book focuses on crimes by individual U.S. soldiers while ignoring policies such as the bombing of North Vietnam that killed tens of thousands of Vietnamese civilians. [42]

With only a general location to go by—fifteen miles west of an old port town known as Hoi An—we embarked on a shoe-leather search. Inquiries with locals led us to An Truong, a small hamlet with a monument to a 1968 massacre. But this particular mass killing took place on January 9, 1968, rather than in February, and was carried out by South Korean forces allied to the Americans rather than by U.S. soldiers themselves. It was not the place we had been looking for. My conversations with the veterans gave nuance to my understanding of the war, bringing human emotion to the sometimes dry language of military records, and added context to investigation files that often focused on a single incident. These men also repeatedly showed me just how incomplete the archives I'd come upon really were, even though the files detailed hundreds of atrocity allegations. In one case, for instance, I called a veteran seeking more information about a sexual assault carried out by members of his unit, which I found mentioned in one of the files. He offered me more details about that particular incident but also said that it was no anomaly. Men from his unit had raped numerous other women as well, he told me. But neither those assaults nor the random shootings of farmers by his fellow soldiers had ever been formally investigated. Based on classified documents and first-person interviews, a startling history of the American war on Vietnamese civilians Indeed, Calley, whose unit cold-bloodedly murdered 104 civilians, ultimately ended up serving less than four years on house arrest. He was even pardoned by President Nixon. At his trial, Calley stated: If you are faint-hearted, you might want to keep some smelling salts nearby when you read it. It's that bad...The truth hurts. This is an important book.” ―Dayton Daily News

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If you are faint-hearted, you might want to keep some smelling salts nearby when you read it. It's that bad...The truth hurts. This is an important book.” — Dayton Daily News A masterpiece... Kill Anything That Moves is not only one of the most important books ever written about the Vietnam conflict but provides readers with an unflinching account of the nature of modern industrial warfare....Turse, finally, grasps that the trauma that plagues most combat veterans is a result not only of what they witnessed or endured, but what they did.” A powerful case…With his urgent but highly readable style, Turse delves into the secret history of U.S.-led atrocities. He has brought to his book an impressive trove of new research--archives explored and eyewitnesses interviewed in the United States and Vietnam. With superb narrative skill, he spotlights a troubling question: Why, with all the evidence collected by the military at the time of the war, were atrocities not prosecuted?” An indispensable, paradigm-shifting new history of the war...All these decades later, Americans still haven't drawn the right lesson from Vietnam.” ―San Francisco Chronicle At the end of it, if you ask people what happened at My Lai, they would say: "Oh yeah, isn't that where Lieutenant Calley went crazy and killed all those people?" No, that was not what happened. Lieutenant Calley was one of the people who went crazy and killed a lot of people at My Lai, but this was an operation, not an aberration.11

Those soldiers and Marines who did report the war crimes they witnessed could sometimes face a fate worse than being pressured, discredited or ignored. On Sept. 12, 1969, Turse writes, George Chunko sent a letter to his parents explaining how his unit had entered a home that had a young Vietnamese woman, four young children, an elderly man and a military-age male. It appeared the younger man was AWOL from the South Vietnamese army. The young man was stripped naked and tied to a tree. His wife fell to her knees and begged the soldiers for mercy. The prisoner, Chunko wrote, was “ridiculed, slapped around and [had] mud rubbed into this face.” He was then executed. A day after he wrote the letter Chunko was killed. Chunko’s parents “suspected that their son had been murdered to cover up the crime.”


In January 2016 Turse agreed to remove defamatory statements in the book that Thomas K. Equels and his unit the 48th Assault Helicopter Company knowingly killed civilians in a mission on 4 April 1972. [46] U.S. military operations in Africa [ edit ]

Meticulously documented, utterly persuasive, this book is a shattering and dismaying read.” ―Minneapolis Star Tribune Over time, following leads from the veterans I'd spoken to and from other sources, I discovered additional long-forgotten court-martial records, investigation files, and related documents in assorted archives and sometimes in private homes across the country. Paging through one of these case files, I found myself virtually inhaling decades-old dust from half a world away. The year was 1970, and a small U.S. Army patrol had set up an ambush in the jungle near the Minh Thanh rubber plantation in Binh Long Province, north of Saigon. Almost immediately the soldiers heard chopping noises, then branches snapping and Vietnamese voices coming toward them. Next, a man broke through the brush—he was in uniform, they would later say, as was the entire group of Vietnamese following behind him. In an instant, the Americans sprang the ambush, setting off two Claymore mines—each sending seven hundred small steel pellets flying more than 150 feet in a lethal sixty-degree arc—and firing an M-60 machine gun. All but one of the Vietnamese in the clearing were killed instantly. The unit's radioman immediately got on his field telephone and called in ten "enemy KIA"—killed in action.This was, and remains, the American military's official position. In many ways, it remains the popular understanding in the United States as a whole. Today, histories of the Vietnam War regularly discuss war crimes or civilian suffering only in the context of a single incident: the My Lai massacre cited by McDuff. Even as that one event has become the subject of numerous books and articles, all the other atrocities perpetrated by U.S. soldiers have essentially vanished from popular memory. Such impulses only grew stronger in the years of the "culture wars," when the Republican Party and an emboldened right wing rose to power. Until Ronald Reagan's presidency, the Vietnam War was generally seen as an American defeat, but even before taking office Reagan began rebranding the conflict as "a noble cause." In the same spirit, scholars and veterans began, with significant success, to recast the war in rosier terms.16 Even in the early years of the twenty-first century, as newspapers and magazines published exposés of long-hidden U.S. atrocities, apologist historians continued to ignore much of the evidence, portraying American war crimes as no more than isolated incidents.17

Turse earned an MA in history from Rutgers University–Newark in 1999 [6] and his doctorate in sociomedical sciences from the Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) in 2005. [7] As a graduate student, Turse was a fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2010-2011 [8] and at New York University's Center for the United States and the Cold War. He also worked as an associate research scientist at the Mailman School's of Public Health Center for the History and Ethics at Columbia University. [9] In the sixties many people and most students were against the war. Everybody knew some of the nasty things that were reported about the Vietnam war but no one knew that the weekly body count was surprisingly generated by the intentional and almost universal killings of civilians, kids and the elderly year after year to boost the body count which, in turn, was used to maximize military promotion and rest and relaxation time and awards and recognition, etc. The war's casualty figures are staggering indeed. From 1955 to 1975, the United States lost more than 58,000 military personnel in Southeast Asia. Its troops were wounded around 304,000 times, with 153,000 cases serious enough to require hospitalization, and 75,000 veterans left severely disabled.26 While Americans who served in Vietnam paid a grave price, an extremely conservative estimate of Vietnamese deaths found them to be "proportionally 100 times greater than those suffered by the United States."27 The military forces of the U.S.-allied Republic of Vietnam reportedly lost more than 254,000 killed and more than 783,000 wounded.28 And the casualties of the revolutionary forces were evidently far graver—perhaps 1.7 million, including 1 million killed in battle, plus some 300,000 personnel still "missing" according to the official but incomplete Vietnamese government figures.29 Meticulously documented, utterly persuasive, this book is a shattering and dismaying read.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune A searing and meticulously documented book...A damning account of the horrors the United States inflicted on civilians.” — Financial Times

Loewenstein, Antony (2016-07-24). "When a Nation Collapses". Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) . Retrieved 7 May 2018. And such massacres by soldiers and marines, my research showed, were themselves just a tiny part of the story. For every mass killing by ground troops that left piles of civilian corpses in a forest clearing or a drainage ditch, there were exponentially more victims killed by the everyday exercise of the American way of war from the air. Throughout South Vietnam, women and children were asphyxiated or crushed to death when their bunkers collapsed on them, burying them alive after direct hits from jets' 500-pound bombs or 1,900-pound shells launched from offshore ships. Countless others, crazed with fear, bolted for safety when helicopters swooped toward their villages, only to have a door gunner cut them in half with bursts from an M-60 machine gun—and many others, who froze in place, suffered the same fate. There's only so much killing a squad, a platoon, or a company can do. Face-to-face atrocities were responsible for just a fraction of the millions of civilian casualties in South Vietnam. Matter-of-fact mass killing that dwarfed the slaughter at My Lai normally involved heavier firepower and command policies that allowed it to be unleashed with impunity. A searing and meticulously documented book...A damning account of the horrors the United States inflicted on civilians.” a b c Lerner, Lawrence (2016-08-17). "RU-N Faculty and Alumni Win Prestigious 2016 American Book Award". Rutgers University-Newark . Retrieved 7 May 2018. An indispensable, paradigm-shifting new history of the war...All these decades later, Americans still haven't drawn the right lesson from Vietnam.”

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