Sunday, 16 March 2008
The joys of liberation.
My Lai: Legacy of a massacre
By Celina Dunlop
Forty years on, and "My Lai" is synonymous with "massacre".
Celina Dunlop is picture editor of the Economist. The Archive Hour: The My Lai Tapes will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 2000 GMT on Saturday, 15 March, 2008. You can also listen online for seven days after that at Radio 4's Listen again page.
The above is taken from today’s BBC website.
It’s very difficult to try to recall my own feelings at that time. On the 16th of March 1968 I was stationed at Phan Thiet and we had our own problems. Half the town had been occupied by the Viet Cong and large sections destroyed in the subsequent fighting. Our ammunition depot had exploded during one attack. After three years in the country I had grown rather cynical. I cannot remember feeling very involved when news began to filter out about the events at My Lai. There were massacres in war, the Viet Cong had reportedly killed thousands of civilians at Hue. Such was war.
Over the years one perhaps looks at things in a different light. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan one takes another look back. The Americans have always had the problem of on the one hand being the Boy Scouts of the world and the other applying total force in their military operations. The thing that has irritated me the most has always been the moral hypocrisy of politicians.
On reading the account on today’s BBC website what strikes me the most is this. That soldiers in the field go berserk happens. That’s an unavoidable fact of war. That they are ordered to kill one and all from their superiors happens but is totally unacceptable. It would appear that there was a most inexcusable cover up of My Lai.
However I find it very minor compared to the collateral damage caused by the use of Agent Orange, a matter that has not as yet been resolved.
That Bush avoided service in Vietnam I have always found inexcusable. That Blair supported him over Iraq when during the Vietnam war he was a long haired guitar playing law student I find lamentable.