Iraq, And The M Word
By Mickey Z.
08 December, 2006
Jimmy Carter was the latest to
use the M Word. The former president said he believes the "occupancy
of Iraq and all the consequences of it are a big mistake." This
echoes John Kerry's infamous 1971 question: "How do you ask a man
to die for a mistake?" Hmm...perhaps recalling a few details about
the Vietnam "mistake" might shine some light on the Iraq "blunder."
In 1954, Vice President Richard Nixon explained the need for U.S. intervention
in Southeast Asia: "The Vietnamese lack the ability to conduct
a war or govern themselves." Over the next two decades, the U.S.
(by mistake?) dropped the equivalent of one 500-pound bomb for every
person living in Vietnam. (Those bomber doors really needed better latches.)
In 1966, David Lawrence, editor of U.S. News & World Report, wrote:
"What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant
example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have
witnessed in our times." When challenged with stories of American
atrocities in Vietnam, Lawrence corrected his little gaffe, "Primitive
peoples with savagery in their hearts have to be helped to understand
the true basis of a civilized existence." When at war with savages,
you can rationalize dumping 400,000 tons of napalm on them.
What Americans (mistakenly) called the "Viet Cong" was really
the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the NLF enjoyed the broad support
of the Vietnamese people. In response, the U.S. Army began, as author
Mark Zepezauer explains, "destroying villages, herding people into
internment camps, weeding out the leaders and turning the countryside
into a 'free-fire zone' (in other words, shoot anything that moves)."
Part of this terror campaign was Operation Phoenix, an assassination
program put into action by the CIA (oops). "Between 1968 and 1972
hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians were rounded up and turned
over to the Vietnamese police for questioning," says former CIA
agent, Ralph McGehee. "Such interrogation has usually been marked
by brutal torture." (Our bad.) Zepezauer adds: "Some were
tossed from helicopters during interrogation." (Surely they slipped.)
K. Barton Osborn was a U.S. military-intelligence officer in Vietnam
who testified that Phoenix suspects were subject to electric shock torture
and "the insertion into the ear of a six-inch dowel which was tapped
through the brain until the victim died." (Hey, anyone can mistake
a six-inch dowel for a Q-Tip.)
William Colby, who later became CIA director, was the Agency official
in charge of Operation Phoenix. Calling the program a "military
necessity," he put the death toll at 20,587. (Pardon us.)
Congress asked: "Are you certain that we know a member of the VCI
(Vietcong infrastructure) from a loyal member of the South Vietnam citizenry?"
Colby replied: "No, Mr. Congressman, I am not." (See: a mistake!)
Operation Phoenix was a joint operation between the U.S. and the South
Vietnamese who estimated the operation's death toll at 40,994. (Mea
In his book, ³Nuremberg and Vietnam: An American Tragedy,²
Telford Taylor, chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg, suggested that members
of the Johnson administration could be found guilty of war crimes under
criteria established at Nuremberg (unless, of course, they employed
the "oopsy daisy defense").
Other countries have war criminals. In America, we have the mistaken.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
Share Your Insights