Massacres In Vietnam

0001_leonard_liggioThe Old Right’s great responsibility over the last quarter century has been that of bearer of the most profound truth about the American state. As Harry Elmer Barnes expressed it after the U. S. had unleashed its massive bombings of Vietnam—”we always knew that the business of the U. S. government is mass murder.” The Old Right at the end of the second great imperialist war in 1945 recognized the special repugnance of the U. S. government. The burden of that fact was so great that many sought to evade the responsibility by adopting the historical amnesia of the New Right which paralleled the historical blackout about that war imposed by the Old Left (that this parallel is more than accidental may be suggested by the fact that many of the philosophers of the New Right had been the creators of the historical blackout when they were part of the Old Left).

The massive bombings of civilians by the U. S. air force was a natural development of American imperialism. The fire bombings of German cities such as Hamburg and Dresden, of Japanese cities such as Tokyo, and finally the atomic bombing of two Japanese cities, was the result of the unquestioned assumption which formed the foundation of U. S. policy. The development and application of strategic airpower to civilian populations is the unique contribution of the U. S. to that whimsical facade labeled Christian Civilization.

The Old Right found a uniting element in its condemnation of the U. S. technological implementation of its program which declared a whole people to be The Enemy. On October 5, 1946, in his famous Kenyon College speech “Equal Justice under Law”, (in Arthur Ekirch, Voices in Dissent, An Anthology of Individualist Thought in the United States Citadel Press), which attacked the launching of the Cold War by the untried war criminals of the second world war, Churchill, Truman et al., Senator Robert A. Taft analyzed this American advance to barbarism. Taft described the Cold War policy as an abandonment of international law and the substitution of naked U. S. police power. This was a continuation of the American foreign policy which had lost sight of the truth that the police are incidental to the law, and that any deviation by the police from absolute adherence to law makes the police the creators of complete disorder in society. The U. S. failure to respect the law of humanity by its war against civilians had created the postwar disorder in world society. “Our whole attitude in the world, for a year after V-E Day,” Taft declared, “including the use of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, seems to me a departure from the principle of fair and equal treatment which has made America respected throughout the world before the second World War.”

The continued application of total war against civilians was carried out against the Korean people by the U. S. air force, 1950-53. Although some of the facts of U. S. genocide against the Korean people were reported at the time in European papers, little was known about it in America due to the blackout by the government-inspired press (the tentative moves recently by a few elements of the media toward independence brought forth the massive bellows from the offices of the chief magistrate as well as of the president of the senate).

Thus, when the U. S. unleashed its massive fire power against the Vietnamese people, it was remnants of the Old Right who understood immediately the absolute barbarism being applied in Vietnam while the Old Left and most of the amorphous New Left spent months in utter confusion about the realities of U. S. policy due to an almost incurable patriotism. The pacifist movement had shared the Old Right’s analysis and burden regarding American barbarism during and since the second world war. As a result they were equally in the forefront in understanding the genocidal nature of the war against the Vietnamese people (A. J. Muste, Dave Dellinger and Staughton Lynd were most active in this regard).

Old Right elements in the current anti-imperialist movement emphasized what others had not the memory or the experience with U. S. barbarism to know. Thus, they were in a position to perform a vanguard function by initially raising the issue of genocide and presenting the earlier history of U. S. barbarism to convince those anti-imperialists who had not yet shed their love affair with the U. S. government. Finally, after the U. S. intervention in Vietnam had become understood, the anti-imperialist movement adopted the radical critique presented by the Old Right. The Old Right transmitted to the Movement as a whole the realization that the U. S. government and its agents are war criminals. The recognition of the criminal nature of the U. S. state and its servants was the major intellectual advance which permitted the Movement to grow from protest to resistance.

The Vietnamese in the northern and southern parts of their country have been subjected to the war crimes committed by the U. S. war criminals for more than five years. They have been poisoned with chemicals and anti-personnel gases, bombed by anti-personnel bombs, cluster bombs and the many other devices developed by U. S. know-how. B-52 saturation bombings, ‘free fire zones’ air strikes, search and destroy missions, torture, atrocities and massacres by the U. S. have become the everyday life of the Vietnamese people. Having suffered this genocide the Vietnamese may wonder if it was not irony when the incumbent chief U. S. war criminal insisted that the atrocities and barbarism must continue in order to save them from . . . massacres. As recent revelations have verified, the Vietnamese are being subjected daily to massacres by the U. S. The victims include men, women and children. The most famous crime attributed to the Germans during World War II was the 1942 massacre in the Czech town of Lidice where every male was shot, but not the women and children. The U. S., unlike the Germans, has universalized the atrocity to make a Lidice out of the whole of Vietnam.

The chief manager of genocide touched all our hearts by his sincerity when he declared recently: “We saw the prelude of what would happen in South Vietnam when the Communists entered the city of Hué last year. During their brief rule there, there was a bloody reign of terror in which 3,000 civilians were clubbed, shot to death and buried in mass graves.” The case of Hué was discussed in an article inThe Christian Century (Nov. 5, 1969) by Len Ackland who had lived in Hué and speaks Vietnamese. Writing about the seizure of Hué by the National Liberation Front, he said: “When on the first day of the attack, about 20 Vietcong entered Gia Hoi (a precinct of 25,000 residents in Hué) in order to secure the area, they carried with them a list of those who were to be killed immediately as ‘enemies of the people.’ According to Le Ngan, director of Hué’s special police, the list consisted of five names, all those of officers of special police.” The Catholic priest of the district explained that “none of his clergy or parishioners were harmed by the NLF.” The Saigon rulers refused to make Hué an open city to save the lives of the citizens. Instead, the Saigon army and U. S. marines undertook the systematic destruction of Hué by bombing and artillery in order to dislodge the NLF who had gained control of the city without resistance. No Saigon officials have sought to estimate the number of people killed by the American bombings and artillery attacks on Hué. Tran Van Dinh, a former Vietnamese envoy to Washington who broke with the Thieu-Ky regime, is a resident of Hué and described how members of his own family had been reported by the Saigon government as killed by the NLF while the family knew they had been victims of the U. S. bombing and had been buried in temporary graves since a regular burial was impossible during the U. S. bombardments. As George McT. Kahin, Cornell professor and America’s most prestigious Southeast Asian scholar, has noted, the three thousand people who died in Hué were mainly the victims of U. S. bombs, bullets, shells and napalm—an additional aspect of the overall genocide committed by the U. S. against the Vietnamese people. So much for the fabricated “Vietcong massacres”.

Having observed the complete lack of accuracy in the presidential statement, it is necessary to ask why it was possible for the NLF to take Hué in a few hours without many shots while it required 26 days for the U. S. marine corps to recapture Hué at the price of thousands killed by American bombardments. The northern half of South Vietnam (part of the province of Annam which is divided by the 17th parallel) had been the center of the struggle of Vietnam’s Buddhist majority for freedom from the Diem dictatorship which they caused to be overthrown in 1963. When the Thieu-Ky government imposed similar restrictions on their freedom, the Buddhist students in cooperation with the civil authorities and army commanders in this region in this region established an autonomous government in early 1966. Accepting the good faith of U. S. pro-consul, Henry Cabot Lodge, these civil, military and religious leaders of the Vietnamese of the region were betrayed and the Saigon troops were flown into Hué and other cities in U. S. transports to seize control and arrest the local leaders. Those who escaped became members of the National Liberation Front. Thus, leading the forces which entered Hué two years later were the former Buddhist leaders of Hué. These were welcomed by their compatriots, the citizens of Hué, while the Saigon officers and troops fled. Given the purges and executions committed by the Saigon police in Hué for two years, that only five special police in the district, according to the non-NLF source, were to be punished suggests the validity of the frequent accusation against the NLF that they are too mild and insufficiently rigorous in carrying out popular justice against the major criminals of the state apparatus. But, then it has always been beyond the conception of our European minds how Asians have such reverence for human life, even of an enemy. The race against time is whether the Vietnamese will have taught this to Americans before they are exterminated.

— Leonard P. Liggio

The Libertarian Forum, February 1, 1970

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