Pictured above, Wilfred Burchett, being relatable to the people in the West’s killing fields of Vietnam or Cambodia, circa late 1960s. Notice how he was embedded with the genocidal American troops, so he could send censored articles to the CIA’s New York Times and Washington Post for final propaganda touch-ups. His armored personnel carrier is awe-inspiring. I especially like his bullet proof helmet, as well as all the body armor he thought he needed to protect himself from those e-v-i-l Viet Cong. The night goggles are a nice touch too, to watch all the US carpet bombing, napalming and dioxin spraying on everything dead and alive, humans, plants and animals alike. And you never know when you may need US military-issued jackboots to die in, when your Department of War propaganda minders frag you in the back for not cheering empire’s kill-all-burn-all-destroy-all commie hating mantra.
May the proud memory of one of the 20th century’s greatest reporters for truth and justice, forever shine brightly.
Downloadable SoundCloud podcast (also at the bottom of this page), as well as being syndicated on iTunes and Stitcher Radio (links below),
M arch 16th is the anniversary date for the much-publicized massacre in My Lai, Vietnam in 1968 (https://www.rt.com/usa/421522-my-lai-massacre-50-years/). I wrote in Book #2 of The China Trilogy (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/05/19/the-china-trilogy/), China Rising – Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations (https://ganxy.com/i/113798/jeff-j-brown/china-rising-capitalist-roads-socialist-destinations), that all invasions, wars and occupations are a My Lai every day, especially if it’s Americans and Westerners rampaging in your backyard.
What is so insidious about the mainstream My Lai propaganda big lie is that it gives the impression this genocidal day in 1968 was a one-off fluke, a handful of good men gone bad, an aberration, an anomaly in Eurangloland’s otherwise noble mission to “civilize, westernize and Christianize” the dark-skinned peoples of the world. Not true, as usual.
My Lai was the norm. My Lai was the official US policy of genocide on the peoples of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, where many millions of women, children and elderly were exterminated – bombed, torched and poisoned to death – like rats. My Lai is still official policy in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and the many thousands of other locales around the world, past and present future, where the West uses proxies, assassinations, color revolutions and false flag terrorism to maintain its tyranny of global capitalism.
In Asia, we should respectfully honor the several million slaughtered by the United Nations coalition in Korea, 1950-1953, including the blatant use of American germ warfare (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2018/03/12/noose-of-truth-is-tightening-around-milton-leitenberg-co-s-collective-neck-china-rising-radio-sinoland-180310/ and http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/08/19/japan-admits-bio-and-chemical-weapons-use-in-wwii-when-will-the-us-come-clean-china-rising-radio-sinoland-170819/ and http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/07/29/americas-big-lie-about-bioweapon-crimes-in-korea-tom-powell-on-china-rising-radio-sinoland-170729/). The West’s millions of My Lai’s and grotesque crimes against humanity were and continue to be steeped in the poisonous, evil elixir of millennial racism (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2018/01/06/slavs-and-the-yellow-peril-are-niggers-brutes-and-beasts-in-the-eyes-of-western-empire-china-rising-radio-sinoland/ – just updated and expanded).
Back in the 1950s-1970s, one brave reporter was there during the Korean and Southeast Asian genocides, screaming censored truth to imperial power and demanding recognition to the countless millions of the West’s victims. Wilfred Burchett was on the ground, talking to the tortured survivors and photographing colonialism’s realpolitik zeitgeist.
His son, George Burchett is my friend and colleague, as well as a founding member of the American Bioweapons Truth Commission, where he has and continues to make valuable contributions to its Global Online Library (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2018/03/12/noose-of-truth-is-tightening-around-milton-leitenberg-co-s-collective-neck-china-rising-radio-sinoland-180310/). In his father’s proud and honorable memory, George is publishing online Wilfred Burchett’s classic anti-imperial book about Vietnam, called Vietnam Will Win (https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/02/02/vietnam-will-win-introduction/).
Pictured above, the classic anti-imperial, antiwar book by Wilfred Burchett, Vietnam Will Win, now kindly made available online by his son, George.
Below is Chapter Nine from Wilfred’s book. It is all you need to read/listen to/watch to know, crystal clear, how true it is, that for Americans in particular and Westerners in general, every day is My Lai wherever their troops are tyrannizing peoples around the globe. It’s the same diabolical dance of death and destruction, going back to at least the 15th century and its plunder of the Americas, when Eurmericans wiped out 100 million Natives. Or feel free to go back to the Crusades, where millions perished throughout Slavic and Semitic lands. Better still, go ahead and make 4th century BC’s Alexander the benchmark. His was the West’s first “diplomatic mission” to Africa and Asia, with his scorched earth genocide on anyone who resisted subjugation.
Westerners have nothing on Nazis and other assorted fascists throughout history. At its heart, the West is fascist, via its thousands of years of virulent and violent racism, colonialism, wars and genocide. Hitler and the Nazis were just one brand name among many: American Empire, Belgian Empire, British Empire, Dutch Empire, French Empire, German Empire, Italian Empire, Portuguese Empire, Spanish Empire, Zionism, ad nauseam. We can also add the West’s honorary Aryan Asians, the Japanese Empire.
Every American president since George Washington, who signed the first executive order to extirpate the Pequot Indians, pre-Orwellian doublespeak for massacre every last one of those miserable savages, on through to Donald Trump, practiced across the Americas and today continues to apply fascist racism around the globe. All the leaders of Eurangloland and their deep state puppeteers are just as guilty – they are relentless and pathological – every last one.
Below, Wilfred Burchett opens a frightening and disturbing window into the ingrained psychopathy of Western racism and genocide. It’s a My Lai every day.
Chapter 9: Vietnam Will Win: Emptying the Sea
Among the ways Washington tries to sell a “continuous progress” story to the American public is by the synthetic creation of “refugees from Vietcong terror.” The statistical increase of those in the shanty camps around major cities is portrayed as “progress” and proof of communist perfidy.
These unfortunates are indeed refugees from terror. But it is American terror from the countless tons of bombs dropped by B-52 bombers. Others are refugees from the sweep operations of U.S. troops, which often had no other aim than to strike terror in the population in the NLF [editor’s note: National Liberation Front, also known as the Viet Cong, Communist North Vietnam, etc.) zones and the disputed zones and to serve as an object lesson in the restive Saigon-controlled areas. A similar process produced the statistics of “defectors.” In the sweep operations the same American officer decided whether those rounded up should be herded off into refugee centers or “open arms” camps for conscription into the Saigon Army, or handed over to the torture and execution squads as “hardcore Vietcong.”
Jonathan Schell, in his book about Ben Suc, described how the survivors of the assault on the village were taken off by force to the infamous Phu Loi camp and found the words WELCOME TO FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY and WELCOME TO THE RECEPTION CENTER FOR REFUGEES FLEEING COMMUNISM on cloth banners strung over the barbed wires surrounding the camp. Their numbers, however, were added to the progress reports.
It is a commentary on the state of self-deception which dominates the U.S. Command in Saigon, that before the mass bombings started General Westmoreland employed psychologists to sample public opinion in South Vietnam’s villages about the bombings and reported back to Washington their surprising conclusion that the peasants apparently enjoyed being bombed and had no hard feelings about the United States on this score. Farfetched? There is a report from Washington in the October 13, 1965 New York Herald Tribune by columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak which states:
“Two bits of evidence fly in the face of all the lamentations that although U.S. bombing of villages in South Vietnam may be winning battles, it is losing the war by alienating the people.
“Evidence No. 1. The results of a special task-force studying the psychological reaction in the villages, indicates no mass anti-US. feeling resulting from the bombing.
“Evidence No. 2. The counter-insurgency mission headed by retired Major General Edward Lansdale that has gone into the villages to win over the people has not sent back a single complaint about the bombings.
“This good news is crucially important because for strictly military reasons the U.S. bombings in the South figures are to accelerate-not decrease-in the near future…
“Still U.S. policy-makers have kept their fingers crossed about the ultimate impact of the bombings…
“Although no official announcement was made, a special task force has been set up by Army General William C. Westmoreland …
“Its assignment, to study psychological reactions in the villages to remorseless pounding from the air. A Pentagon expert in mass psychology has been assigned to the task force …
“In the classic definition by Mao Tse-tung, guerrilla warriors are fish and the sea they swim in is the people. Without the sea, the fish could not swim.”
As the U.S. war machine was unable to catch the fish, it was to be used to try to empty the sea. The Evans-Novak article was the prelude to a concentrated effort to wipe out everything that lives, moves or grows in the areas controlled by the NLF. By bombs on the villages, poisonous chemicals on the vegetation and “kill all, burn all, destroy all” sweep operations, total war was declared on every man, woman, child, beast and bird, everything that lived and grew in the NLF-controlled areas. The only way to escape immediate death, according to official U.S. policy, was to accept the living death of the concentration camps dubbed “Refugee Reception Centers.” Exaggerated?
“Each day, each week, each month, more and more of your comrades, base camps, and tunnels are found and destroyed… Only DEATH is near. Do you hear the planes? Do you hear the bombs? These are the sounds of DEATH: YOUR DEATH. Rally now to survive.”
This is a typical text of leaflets dropped over villages. The reverse side is illustrated with the photo of a bomb victim with entrails gushing out or some other depiction of death intended to terrify the viewer. But to try to escape death in any other than the approved method of fleeing to Saigon-controlled areas is evidence of guilt. For any villager to flee the bombs or machine-gun bullets during a bombing raid was evidence of guilt and justification for being cut down; anyone who hid in a shelter during the aerial and artillery bombardment that preceded American entry into any village was automatically a “Vietcong” to be gassed like a rat in a burrow. Even possession of such a shelter was evidence of guilt, which is why the casualties when the Americans “accidentally” bombed villages under Saigon control or in the disputed areas were immeasurably higher than when they bombed one in the NLF areas, where every home had its deep shelter and every village its communication trenches.
Only those who stood and died above ground could be presumed innocent. The only live, “guiltless” Vietnamese in the countryside were those behind barbed wire or who accepted this for their immediate future.
“Perhaps if you accept this war, all can be justified – the free strike zones, the refugees, the spraying of herbicides on crops, the napalm… We have flown at a safe height over the deserted villages, the sterile valleys, the forests with huge swathes out and the long-abandoned rice-fields… We read with anguish the daily count of ‘enemy’ dead. We know that these ‘enemy’ are not all combat soldiers committed to one side. Many are old men, women and young boys who ran when a helicopter hovered, who were hiding from bombs in an enemy bunker, or who refused to leave their farms… ”
This was written by a group of Americans who knew better than any others what was going on in the villages. It is an extract from an open letter sent to President Johnson on September 19, 1967, signed by Don Luce, head of International Volunteer Services (IVS), a social welfare group operating in South Vietnam with U.S. endorsement. Besides Luce, four deputy heads and 44 others from IVS signed the letter. After seven years service in South Vietnam, Luce and his four deputies resigned in protest over American conduct of the war. Another 35 IVS members, almost all the Americans, also wanted to sign but were intimidated by U.S. Embassy threats to draft them immediately into the U.S. Army if they signed. Apart from a few isolated Quaker groups, the IVS was the only American organization to have real contacts with the population in the countryside. Some of the signatories of the “open letter” told me that virtually all members had come to South Vietnam deeply convinced of the righteous nature of the American commitment in Vietnam but had become sickened by the realities. The signatories demanded, among other things, an end to the bombings of North Vietnam, recognition of the NLF, an immediate end to the practice of defoliation (the spraying of crops with toxic chemicals) and an end to the war.
The “refugee reception center” was Westmoreland’s contribution to the “strategic hamlet” conception of his predecessors. At all costs, South Vietnam’s rural population was to be put behind barbed wire, and if the promise of dollar handouts proved ineffective to lure the peasants in, then the threat and the reality of extermination of the rural recalcitrants would be applied. One of the methods was to designate regions as “free strike zones.” Any area not under Saigon control, that is, where the peasants were not behind barbed wire, was declared a “free strike zone” where bomber crews who had no combat missions or were returning with unused ordnance could bomb and strafe at will, their activities supplemented by regular raids by B-52 bombers, each of which carried well over 30 tons of bombs.
During one period, it was only South Vietnamese Air Force pilots who had the right to` dump their bomb loads in the “free strike” zones. But according to a New York Times report, the Pentagon assigned a Rand Corporation study group to advise whether American planes should also start large-scale bombing of the villages. The study group’s conclusion was summarized by the Times as: “We’ve got the onus, let’s get the bonus.” This curious expression, explained the Times, meant that the Rand group had taken into consideration that the “South Vietnamese” planes which had been destroying villages for years past were piloted by Americans, so the additional opprobrium incurred by openly using the US. Air Force, and on a much bigger scale, would not make much difference.
Tran Van Thien, a political officer at NLF headquarters, commented on the Evans-Novak and Rand reports as follows: “The Nazis in their time carried out so called ‘scientific experiments’ on the living bodies of their victims, deliberately infecting them with deadly bacteria to study the reactions as they died. The Americans are now experimenting with the living body of the whole South Vietnamese people. From the Nazi experiments came extermination in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other such camps. For our people mass extermination is to be applied in the countryside on a national scale.”
The number of “refugees from Vietcong terror” moved up by tens of thousands a month, according to the intensity of the bombing raids and the success of American “sweep” operations. Every additional 100,000 was acclaimed by U.S. press officers, in Saigon and Washington, as proof of progress in the war, a fantasy repeated by high officials, including the U.S. President. When the figure approached the million mark, there were some conscience pangs in certain circles. Senator Edward Kennedy, after an on-the-spot look at the refugee camp situation, ran off to Geneva and other world centers trying to present this deliberate manufacture of refugees as an international problem, the relief of which should be financed by international refugee organizations.
Everything from bombs to bulldozers was used to wipe out of existence as many villages as American power could reach. Late in 1966 I entered Cu Chi District, one of the six that make up Gia Dinh Province, in which Saigon is located. The district center is about 12 miles north of Saigon in a straight line, 24 miles by road. Of the prosperous bamboo-surrounded villages I had seen during my first visit to Cu Chi nearly three years previous, not a trace remained – not a hamlet, not a house (in the usual sense of the term), not a tree, not a buffalo. Where there had been lush stretches of rice, magnificent fields of cabbages, turnips and pineapples, there were only overlapping craters. Earlier that year in North Vietnam I had seen fields of sweet potatoes and corn “rise to their feet.” Actually these were camouflaged self-defense units during maneuvers in one case, and school children with green-leaf camouflage getting to their feet after an air raid, in the other. But at Cu Chi, I saw the soil itself standing up after the passage of a flight of helicopters. Stark naked men who rose from the mud to haul and push plows and wield hoes, and drop back into the mud when the helicopters returned.
There had been 60,000 people in the six villages of Cu Chi when the 2nd Brigade of the U.S. 25th Infantry Division set up its headquarters there on January 19, 1966, after a 10-day “search and destroy” offensive in the district. In the month that followed the Americans claimed they fired 180,000 shells into Cu Chi District, continuing at about the same tempo throughout that year. There were daily plane attacks against any sign of life: a bush moving with the wind, a chicken running out of a hedge or a buffalo wallowing in a pond. While I was there high velocity guns were fired at all hours of the night, sending streams of shells pouring into the fields in every direction from the brigade headquarters.
I spoke with one gaunt, naked cultivator. He was not embarrassed and he did not need to be. The gory mud caked over his body removed any impression of nudity. He was a statue in living clay, part of the soil come to life in human form.
“My people have always been here,” he said. “My father, my father’s father and his father as long as we can count back. Their bones lie here, even if the Yankee devils have torn up the tombstones with their bombs and shells and tanks. I will live and fight here and if I die from Yankee shells or bombs, at least my bones win remain on the same bit of soil as those of my ancestors.”
I asked how anything could be produced under such conditions. “We can’t produce as much as before, but enough to keep us alive and fighting,” he said. “We have no buffalo and the Americans have destroyed most of the plows. They plow the fields with their bombs and shells. Sometimes we have only to rake over the water-filled craters to plant some rice seedlings and a few cabbages. They started to send tanks to crush our little plots but after the first couple got bogged in the mud, they gave up. We give the plots a bit more water these days,” he said with a grim laugh which brought some caked mud peeling off his cheeks. “We from Cu Chi,” he concluded, “will eat grass and roots, the earth itself if need be, but we will never leave this soil of our ancestors. We will fight, and our sons and grandsons will fight until the invader takes himself off.”
Hiep, a member of the Cu Chi district committee of the NLF, whom I had met during my previous visit, explained that Cu Chi formed the southern point of a zone extending about 12 miles northeast to Ben Cat, which was bombed and shelled continuously in order “to turn the area into a desert in which nothing can move, live or grow. But apart from trying to prevent our forces from advancing toward the capital,” Hiep continued, “the Americans hope to force our people into the refugee camps as part of the so called Lansdale ‘pacification plan.’ But in spite of everything the population hangs on. Of our 60,000, less than 800-representing 150 families-have left the district. But not to enter the refugee camps. As this is an old revolutionary area and our rear stretches back into the solidly liberated areas, most of those who left went back into those areas, while some others left for contested areas where the bombings are not so fierce. Nobody fell for the American promise of money to buy a house and 500 piastres a month in the refugee camps. Some of our agents went into the camps, then came out to report on the terrible conditions there, and if any had ideas about taking off for the camps they changed their minds when they heard what goes on there, families starving to death in filth and squalor, and the camp commanders grabbing most of the miserable sums the Americans give for their upkeep.”
In an area like Cu Chi, where the formidable guerrillas remained strongly organized and could protect the population, the Americans could make no headway in rounding up the population. This was also the case in the Mekong Delta, where there was no strong implantation of U.S. forces. But Quakers and IVS people who worked in the Delta regions, have told me of innumerable cases in which helicopters suddenly swooped down on a village, sending roofs and street-market goods flying into the air in swirls of dust, while troops rounded up as many people as they could catch, throwing them aboard the helicopters and taking off with the motors never having stopped. Mothers had no idea where their children were taken even; children, no idea of the fate of their mothers. Families were ripped apart in this artificial creation of a refugee problem which will make the “displaced persons” of World War II seem insignificant considering the proportion of families involved. That the might of the United States is being used deliberately to create a new “displaced persons” problem on an unprecedented scale is one of the most scandalous aspects of U.S. activities in Vietnam. The systematic breaking up of families is all the more horrifying in a country where family ties, of all things, are held most sacred.
“They neither know why they are arrested nor why they have been torn from their homes and separated from their families. And this is all the more intolerable and contrary to official statements that those concerned were only IC’s, that is to say, civilians recognized as innocent following a tough interrogation,” stated Orville Schell.
The IVS “open letter” to President Johnson quoted above is in some respects as bitter an indictment as I have ever heard from an NLF cadre. Another portion of the letter includes this statement from an IVS volunteer at the showplace refugee center of Cai Be in the Mekong Delta:
“Cai Be has a very successful refugee program as measured by the criteria of the government, but when measured by any human criteria, it stinks. We have neatly arranged hamlets, good canals, military security, elections and dozens of other assets which win points in Saigon, but we don’t have people living decent lives… These refugees are with few exceptions farmers, but they have been settled on plots of land so small that only the ingenious can manage anything like a decent life. I say the most ingenious can do this without knowing a single person who is that ingenious… Not only do refugee camps force these people into an existence which is marginal at best they do incalculable violence to the customs and traditions of the Vietnamese people… The government has not offered a new and better life, it has only exchanged one form of terrorism for another.” (It should be borne in mind that the IVS group had come to Vietnam firmly convinced that they were helping to save the South Vietnamese from “communist terrorism” and “aggression from the North.” Their criticisms were based on what they saw in the U.S.-Saigon areas; none had experience of life in NLF zones.)
“As volunteers in Vietnam, we work with people, not statistics,” the letter continues. “War reported in statistics gives a false picture. We read the monthly totals of Hoi Chanh (Open Arms Returnees) and then ask who these people are. Hardcore Vietcong suddenly disillusioned with a philosophy that has been their life and bread for years? No. They are marginal Vietcong at best, if Vietcong at all, looking for a little rest from this tired war and attracted by the dollar signs of the program. People who can be bought are not going to effect change in Vietnam…
“A village lives peacefully under Vietcong control. Government or American troops arrive to ‘liberate’ the population. Violence ensues, refugees are created, but the Vietcong vanish. If the military decides not to plow the village under – as with Ben Sue in Operation Cedar Falls – the Vietcong will come back and resume their authority…”
That “Violence ensues” when Saigon or American troops “liberate” a village is an understatement. At the beginning of March 1967, I visited a refugee center in Cambodia’s Svay Rieng Province in which there were altogether 3,801 refugees including 358 men, 980 women, the rest children. They had fled from barbarous attacks on their frontier villages in South Vietnam’s Kien Phuong Province. Their stories were distressingly similar. Diep Van Day, a peasant of 63 years, from Tan Thanh village, said: “The Americans swarmed down in helicopters. They opened fire at everything: people, animals, huts. Anyone they laid their hands on who refused to talk, they killed immediately. They killed all the buffalo, pigs and chickens and burned the village down. Then they went away in their helicopters. Planes came and sprayed the crops with blue and yellow powder. Everything dried up. Those of us who could get away into the forest crossed the river at night into Cambodia…”
Lam Thi Vo of Hung Dien village told what happened to her family: “My husband was in the rice field They grabbed him and asked if there were any Vietcong around. He said there were not. They asked where were his children. Weren’t they with the Vietcong? He said, ‘No. I only have one girl of 15 and she is here in the field.’ They stabbed at his stomach with bayonets until his entrails gushed out. Others had already grabbed my daughter and asked her where the Vietcong were. She said she didn’t know. They killed her the same way, threatening her first with their bayonets, then driving them deep into her stomach.”
Was she sure these were American troops, not South Vietnamese or South Koreans? “They were American,” she insisted. “Only Americans came to our village, with one or two South Vietnamese interpreters.” And all were unanimous on this point. Nguyen Thi Vien, an old woman from Vinh Thanh, said: “They swarmed out of their helicopters and grabbed anyone they could. My son was one of them. He couldn’t tell them anything, so they shot him. He has six small children so I brought them here. Four days ago they came back and burned the village down.”
Le Bong a woman also from Hung Dien village, said: “They came out of the helicopters with their guns blazing. My husband was pulling in his fishing net and they shot him. His body just slumped down in to the river. People rushed to save him. Perhaps he was only wounded, but they shot them down with their machine guns.”
Vo Thi Ba, 75 years, a toothless, shrunken-faced woman from Vinh Thanh village, said: “My husband and my son were in their fishing boat, getting ready to set their nets. The soldiers came running out of the helicopters and fired at them from the bank. Both were killed. Four days ago they, the Americans, came back and set fire to all the houses.”
Pham Thi Suc, a woman of 26, also from Hung Dien village, suckling a very young baby, explained that the attack was at the moment when the water in the rivers was low and all the able-bodied were engaged in catching fish for making nuoc mam, the concentrated fish sauce indispensable for Vietnamese diet.
“It will be a bad year for us all,” she said. “My husband was also out fishing. The Yankee troops just opened up on all the boats, on anyone they could see. My husband was there with the boats and was killed. All our boats were riddled with holes and went to the bottom. The soldiers rushed around grabbing all the nets they could find. They piled them up, poured gasoline over them and set them on fire. They smashed all the nuoc mam pots they could find and any boat still on the bank. I have three more little children,” she said, her large black eyes brimming with tears, her lips trembling as she looked down at the tiny baby nestling in the crook of her arm. “We must go back as soon as possible while the fish are still easy to catch.”
In this case the Americans had “flea-hopped” from village to village in swift “kill all, destroy all” raids, coming back a week or so later to carry out the “burn all” part of their mission.
The refugees sent scouts back every night to report on the situation in the various villages. One scout had been surprised the night previous to my visit to the refugee camps and had been killed. As soon as they were sure the Americans had left the area the refugees would all go back to start rebuilding their villages. A week later when I returned to the camp to get some additional information, there were less than a hundred left. And these people were awaiting word from their village, which was further away from the frontier than the others.
On another trip to the frontier areas at that time, I visited the Cambodian village of Chrak Kranh, in Kompong Cham Province. This village had been occupied for one week by U.S. troops during a supplementary action of Operation Junction City. Prior to the occupation, the area surrounding the village was bombed, strafed and bombarded by 105-mm artillery, some 27 shells being fired. Before they withdrew, the Americans destroyed every house, the school, public health center and pagoda with incendiary grenades. They killed all the livestock and smashed everything they could find from agricultural implements down to enamel wash bowls. The facts of this vandalism in a peaceful Cambodian village were confirmed by the International Control Commission, whose chief delegates visited the village after the Americans withdrew.
Whether this was another of the famous American map reading “mistakes” and they thought Chrak Kranh was “only” another South Vietnamese village is beside the point. Fortunately there was no loss of life. Alerted by the bombs and shells and the noise of tanks crashing through the jungle, the villagers of Chrak Kranh withdrew from their village, driving ahead of them as many of their buffalo and pigs as they could round up. The smallest children trudged along with chickens under their arms and loads on their backs. They were fortunate. They had a vast peaceful hinterland into which to withdraw. The unfortunates in villages like Huong Dien, on the other side of the frontier were caught with a river at their backs and blazing machine guns ahead. For the areas of South Vietnam accessible to U.S. power there are only two alternatives: the wreckage and cinders of the village Chrak Kranh or life behind the barbed wire of concentration camp villages and “strategic hamlets” (now called “revolutionary development centers”).
Further confirmation of “emptying the sea” methods was revealed in an interview with a deserter from a “Mike” force paratroop unit of the U.S. Special Forces. As a member of an investigation team of the International War Crimes Tribunal, I was in the frontier village of Phnom Denh in Cambodia’s Takeo Province, on September 11, 1967, to take evidence from refugees of the Khmer (Cambodian) minority people in South Vietnam. Their accounts of the destruction of their villages was similar to those of the Vietnamese refugees at the Svay Rien camps. The day before our arrival, a Special Forces master sergeant of Khmer origin, carrying an AR-15 combination automatic rifle and grenade launcher, had crossed the frontier and given himself up. He gave his name as Muong Ponn, a veteran soldier of 19 years service, first with an infantry battalion under the French, then with the Diem army and finally, until the day previous to our meeting, with the U.S.officered “Mike Force.”
Part of the conversation went as follows:
– What was your unit doing in this region?
– It was taking part in an operation to rescue five Americans thought to be held prisoners on a nearby hill.
– Why did you decide to come to Cambodia?
– I became disgusted at the destruction of Khmer villages and massacres
of the Khmer population in our “mopping-up operations.”
– What is meant by “mopping-up”?
– We are parachuted or dropped in with helicopters. We fire at everything and kill everyone we can.
– Do you have orders to this effect?
– Who gives the orders?
– The Americans.
– Can you describe a recent operation against a Khmer village?
– Yes. On April 12, this year, we took part in an operation against a village at Phnom Ak Yom. First the F-105s bombed it. Then we were parachuted in. There was a terrible massacre, mostly women and children. There were only a few men, apart from the very old ones. Our instructions were to shoot to kill at anything that moved.
– Did Americans take part?
– Yes. Our commanding officer in charge of the operation was Major Marchand.[It was impossible to get the name accurately as Muong Ponn could not write in Latin script and could give only an approximate rendering of the name. He confirmed, however, that the unit was based at Can Tho, in the Mekong Delta, and the same officer commanded all operations.]
– What kind of village was it?
– It was almost entirely Khmer. It was after this operation that I decided to leave.
– Can you describe other cases of this kind, recently?
– Yes. There was an operation in My Da village in Moe Boa Province. Sixty inhabitants were killed, nearly all of them women and children. It was a mixed village of Vietnamese and Khmers. We were given orders to wipe out the whole village. There were practically only women and children; they were the only ones that had remained behind. I was disgusted.
An officer from Cambodian Army Intelligence later added that during his first interrogation, Muong Ponn had explained that a group of women and children in My Da village had been lined up and the American officer, the same Marchand, gave the order to fire. The Khmer soldiers refused and it was the Americans who did the shooting. Ponn said his unit was made up of three companies of about 180 men each, with 30 American officers and NCOs.
Had the survivors of these massacres fled to one of the South Vietnamese “refugee centers” instead of to Svay Rieng and Takeo Province of Cambodia, they would certainly have been added to the statistics of “refugees from Vietcong terror.”
“It is a fact, a brutal and alarming fact that because of the war, almost a third of the Vietnamese population has been displaced,” said Senator Edward Kennedy in an address to the International Committee on October 31, 1967. “The tragic and destructive consequences of this tremendous upheaval in the lives of the refugees and on that of the society of which they are a part, shocks the imagination and defies understanding. The war has created a people without roots, it has destroyed family rites and village traditions, it has engendered apathy, disorientation and even mistrust and hatred towards our efforts, among a by no means negligible part of the South Vietnamese people.
“We have flown over whole groups of villages and hamlets showering them with leaflets describing their fate if they do not evacuate. We arrive in those areas with our convoys and cram our trucks with people snatched away from their homes. We have razed villages and leveled the countryside, transporting the inhabitants to places called camps, places absolutely not prepared to receive them, at which there are neither buildings, sanitary facilities, roads, nor any possibilities of finding work or subsistence. Their houses and farms are then placed in a zone in which anything that moves must be considered a hostile element…”
If Senator Kennedy can be moved toward such heights of indignation, then one can imagine what is the real state of affairs.
Giving evidence at the second session of the International War Crimes Tribunal, Dr. Erik Wulff also accused the U.S.A. of a deliberate policy of “generating refugees.” He described what happens at the “refugee centers”:
“Families are divided into groups at the head of which a police stooge is placed. How do they manage this? People don’t leave [their villages] voluntarily; the Vietnamese are particularly attached to their rice fields, their villages; ancestor worship plays an important role. Every Vietnamese peasant wants to live, marry, have children and die where he was born, in his own village. People don’t leave voluntarily. They have to be forced to go to the refugee camps and for that, the Americans employ different methods, called in general, according to a relatively recent term, ‘generating refugees.’ This term, employed by the majority of American officials, is naturally never spoken at press conferences. How does one ‘generate refugees?’
“First they declare a certain region a ‘free-fire zone,’ ‘free-strike zone’ or ‘free-target zone,’ the technical terms employed…” Dr. Wulff went on to describe the sort of process mentioned by Senator Kennedy of leaflet drops followed by bombing, napalming and machine-gunning of the villages and when people still refuse to move out by such terror methods, the forced evacuation. “For that, planes, helicopters are brought in, with troops moving the inhabitants out at gun-point. They have to leave without taking anything at all with them, a sort of punishment for not having followed the benevolent instructions of the Americans…”
By the means described in this chapter, the U.S.-Saigon Command managed partially to “empty the sea,” although Senator Kennedy’s figure of “one-third of the population” was exaggerated, certainly at that time. But that there was still enough water for the fish to be swimming around more vigorously than ever was shown by the NLF successes in their 1967-68 dry season offensives. What the Americans found to their cost was that they had moved a very important part of the “sea” to the approaches of major towns and the “fish” felt very much at home there, preparing for their 1968 Lunar New Year attacks. It was through this artificial “sea” that the NLF forces swam in their Têt offensive. Hundreds of thousands of “refugees,” their hearts burning with hatred against the Americans, were among the most trusty allies the NLF forces had, hiding them and their arms and helping them to make their way secretly into towns and cities throughout South Vietnam. And so the U.S. policy of “generating refugees” brought about results precisely contrary to those planned.
 Scene of an atrocious massacre-by-poisoning of over 1,000 “Vietcong suspects” in October, 1959.
 Jonathan Schell, The Village of Ben Suc, Knopf, New York, 1967, page 94.
 Jonathan Schell, The Village of Ben Suc, pp. 15-16.
 November 22, 1965.
 Then a brigadier general, Lansdale was a leading CIA agent who played a key role – as Colonel Lansdale – in setting up Ngo Dinh Diem in power in Saigon and in eliminating the pro-French armed religious sects. He was later retired, but brought back to South Vietnam by Lodge when the latter returned for his second term as U.S. ambassador, to direct “pacification” After an admitted total failure, Lansdale was retired again when Ellsworth Bunker replaced Cabot Lodge as ambassador in March 1967.
 Shell was quoting from an article titled “Vietnamese Prisoners” he had written for the New York Review of Books, in replying to questions by the French lawyer, Gisèle Halimi, acting on behalf of the International War Crimes Tribunal.
 Together with Madame Cukier-Kahn, a biochemist, Professor of Medicine Francis Kahn and the French TV producer, Roger Pic.
 This extract was Presented by Gisèle Halimi, a French lawyer, at the 2nd Session of the International War Crimes Tribunal and is retranslated from French, the original English text not being available at the time of writing.
 Dr Erich Wulff of the Federal German Republic’s Medical Aid Mission to South Vietnam who spent over six years in Hué, his work there ending only a few days before he gave evidence at Roskilde.
NEXT: Chapter Ten – The Repression-Resistance Spiral
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