Table of Contents

Noam Chomsky Foreword (21 pages)
Noam Chomsky After Pinkville (28 pages)
Bertrand Russell Speech to the First Meeting of Members of the War Crimes Tribunal (3 pages)
Aims of the Tribunal agreed at the Constituting Session (1 page)
Jean-Paul Sartre Inaugural Statement (6 pages)
Leon Matarasso Outline of the General Introductory Report (9 pages)
Gabriel Kolko The United States in Vietnam, 1944-66: Origins and Objectives of an Intervention (43 pages)
Jean-Pierre Vigier Technical Aspects of Fragmentation Bombs (4 pages)
Malcolm Caldwell Report from North Vietnam (9 pages)
Lawrence Daly American Bombing in North Vietnam (6 pages)
Tariq Ali Report from Cambodia and North Vietnam (5 pages)
Martin Birnstingl Report from North Vietnam (4 pages)
Henrick Forss Examinations of Victims of US Bombs (4 pages)
Do Van Ngoc Testimony (2 pages)
Ngo Thi Nga Testimony (2 pages)
Hoang Tan Hung Testimony (3 pages)
Nguyen Van Dong Testimony for the NLF of South Vietnam (5 pages)
John Takman and Axel Höjer Bombardment of Civilians in North Vietnam (5 pages)
Abraham Behar Summary Report on the Bombing of the Civil Population of the North (14 pages)
Fujio Yamazaki Significance of the Destruction of Dikes in North Vietnam (3 pages)
Makato Kandachi Some Facts on Bombing of Dikes (3 pages)
Kim-Eng Khouroudeth Report from Cambodia (5 pages)
Jean-Paul Sartre Summary and Verdict of the Stockholm Session (10 pages)
Bertrand Russell Closing Address to the Stockholm Session (3 pages)
Gilbert Dreyfus Napalm and its Effects on Human Beings (9 pages)
Masahiro Hashimoto The Napalm Bomb (5 pages)
Edgar Lederer Report on Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (23 pages)
Thai Binh Danh Testimony (2 pages)
Pham Thi Yen Imprisonment and Torture of a Political Prisoner (4 pages)
Nguyen Thi Tho Conditions in Diem’s Prisons (3 pages)
Pham Ngoc Thach Testimony from North Vietnam (6 pages)
David Kenneth Tuck Testimony and Questioning (14 pages)
Peter Martinsen Testimony and Questioning (23 pages)
Donald Duncan Testimony and Questioning (31 pages)
Wilfred Burchett The United States and Laos (6 pages)
Erich Wulff Testimony from South Vietnam (9 pages)
Charles Fourniau Summary Report on the Complicity of Thailand and the Philippines (4 pages)
Japanese Commission Report on the Complicity of Japan (8 pages)
Lelio Basso Summing-up of the Second Session (21 pages)
Summary of the Second Session (6 pages)
Jean-Paul Sartre On Genocide (16 pages)
Verdict of the Second Session (2 pages)
An Appeal to American and World Opinion read by Dave Dellinger (4 pages)
The International War Crimes Tribunal (5 pages)
Afterword from the Editors of the Swedish and English edition (4 pages)
Postscript (8 pages)

Noam Chomsky Foreword



‘We are not judges. We are witnesses. Our task is to make mankind bear witness to these terrible crimes and to unite humanity on the side of justice in Vietnam.’

With these words, Bertrand Russell opened the second session of the International War Crimes Tribunal, in November 1967. The American people were given no opportunity, at that time, to bear witness to the terrible crimes recorded in the proceedings of the Tribunal. As Russell writes in the introduction to the first edition, ‘… it is in the nature of imperialism that citizens of the imperial power are always among the last to know – or care – about circumstances in the colonies’. The evidence brought before the Tribunal was suppressed by the self-censorship of the mass media, and its proceedings, when they appeared in print, were barely reviewed.

Russell wrote that ‘it is in the United States that this book can have its most profound effect’. He expressed his faith in the essential decency of the American people, his faith that the ordinary man is not a gangster by nature, and will react in a civilized way when he is given the facts. We have yet to show that this faith is justified. Russell hoped to ‘arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance … in the smug streets of Europe and the complacent cities of North America’. By now, there are few who can honestly claim to be unaware of the character of the American war in Vietnam. There are few, for example, who can now claim ignorance of the ‘new Oradours and Lidices’ described, in testimony to the Tribunal, by a West German physician who spent six years in Vietnam (see p.306). But consciousness has yet to create mass resistance. The streets of Europe and the cities of North America remain smug and complacent – with the {9} significant and honourable exception of the student youth. The record of the Tribunal stands as an eloquent and dramatic appeal to renounce the crime of silence. The crime was compounded by the silence that greeted its detailed documentation and careful studies. However, although no honest effort was made to deal with the factual record made public in the proceedings of the Tribunal, its work did receive some oblique response. The Pentagon was forced to admit that it was, indeed, using anti-personnel weapons in its attack against North Vietnam (though it could not resist the final lie that the targets were radar stations and anti-aircraft batteries). The hypocritical claim that the American bombing policy was one of magnificent restraint, that its targets were ‘steel and concrete’, was finally exploded beyond repair. A State Department functionary who had become an object of general contempt for his unending deceit regarding Vietnam demeaned himself still further by informing journalists that he had no intention of ‘playing games with a 94-year-old Briton’, referring to one of the truly great men of the twentieth century. Those who were prepared to go beyond the mass media for information could learn something about the work of the Tribunal from such journals as Liberation, as could readers of the foreign press, in particular, Le Monde. The Tribunal Proceedings, along with the documentary study, In the Name of America, which appeared in the same year, and the honest and courageous work of many fine war correspondents, helped to crumble the defences erected by the government, with the partial collusion of the media, to keep the reality of the war from popular consciousness.

Though not reported honestly, the Tribunal was sharply criticized. Many of the criticisms are answered, effectively I believe, in Part 1 of this book. There are two criticisms that retain a certain validity, however. The participants, the ‘jurors’ and the witnesses, were undoubtedly biased. They made no attempt, in fact, to conceal this bias, this profound hatred of murder and wanton destruction carried out by a brutal foreign invader with unmatched technological resources.

A second and less frivolous criticism that might be raised is that the indictment is, in a sense, superfluous and redundant. This is a matter that deserves more serious attention.

The Pentagon will gladly supply, on request, such information {10} as the quantity of ordnance expended in Indochina. From 1965 through 1969 this amounts to about four and a half million tons by aerial bombardment. This is nine times the tonnage of bombing in the entire Pacific theatre in the Second World War, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki – ‘over 70 tons of bombs for every square mile of Vietnam, North and South … about 500 pounds of bombs for every man, woman and child in Vietnam’.1 The total of ‘ordnance expended’ is more than doubled when ground and naval attack are taken into account. With no further information than this, a person who has not lost his senses must realize that the war is an overwhelming atrocity.

A few weeks before the Tribunal began its second session, forty-nine volunteers of International Voluntary Services wrote a letter to President Johnson describing the war as ‘an overwhelming atrocity’. Four of the staff leaders resigned. These volunteers had worked for many years in Vietnam. They were among the few Americans who had some human contact with the people of Vietnam. Their activities, and even the letter of protest, indicate their belief – surprisingly uncritical – in the legitimacy of the American effort in Vietnam.2 In this letter they refer to ‘the free strike zones, the refugees, the spraying of herbicide on crops, the napalm . .. the deserted villages, the sterile valleys, the forests with the huge swaths cut out, and the long-abandoned rice checks’. They speak of the refugees ‘forcibly resettled, landless, in isolated desolate places which are turned into colonies of mendicants’; of ‘the Saigon slums, secure but ridden with disease and the compulsion towards crime’; of ‘refugees generated not by Viet Cong terrorism, but by a policy, an American policy’ – a process described by cynical American scholars as ‘urbanization’ or ‘modernization’.

So effective is urbanization in Vietnam that Saigon is now estimated to have a population density more than twice that of {11} Tokyo. Experts in pacification (‘peace researchers’, to use the preferred term) assure us that ‘the only sense in which [we have demolished the society of Vietnam] is the sense in which every modernizing country abandons reactionary traditionalism’.3 The methods of ‘urbanization’ are described, for example, by Orville and Jonathan Schell:

We both spent several weeks in Quang Ngai some six months before the [Song My] incident. We flew daily with the FACS (Forward Air Control). What we saw was a province utterly destroyed. In August 1967, during Operation Benton, the ‘pacification’ camps became so full that Army units were ordered not to ‘generate’ any more refugees. The Army complied. But search-and-destroy operations continued.

Only now peasants were not warned before an airstrike was called in on their villages because there was no room for them in the swamped pacification camps. The usual warning by helicopter loudspeaker or air-dropped leaflets were stopped. Every civilian on the ground was assumed to be enemy by the pilots by nature of living in Quang Ngai, which was largely a free-fire zone.

Pilots, servicemen not unlike Calley and Mitchell, continued to carry out their orders. Village after village was destroyed from the air as a matter of de facto policy. Airstrikes on civilians became a matter of routine. It was under these circumstances of official acquiescence to the destruction of the countryside and its people that the massacre of Song My occurred.

Such atrocities were and are the logical consequences of a war directed against an enemy indistinguishable from the people.4

Elsewhere, Orville Schell quotes a Newsweek correspondent returning from Quang Ngai: ‘Having had experience in Europe during World War II, he said what he had seen was “much worse than what the Nazis had done to Europe”.’ Schell adds: ‘Had he written about it in these terms? No.’5 Vietnamese-speaking field workers of the American Friends Service Committee describe more recent stages of modernization, as seen from the ground: {12}

In one such removal, during Operation Bold Mariner in January 1969, 12,000 peasants from the Batangan Peninsula were taken to a waterless camp near Quang Ngai over whose guarded gate floated a banner saying, ‘We thank you for liberating us from communist terror.’ These people had been given an hour to get out before the USS New Jersey began to shell their homes. After eight weeks of imprisonment they were ferried back to what was left of their villages, given a few sheets of corrugated metal and told to fend for themselves. When asked what they would live on until new crops could be raised, the Vietnamese camp commander said, ‘Maybe they can fish.’6

Reports by Western observers are limited to areas more or less under American control. The most intensive attacks are therefore unreported in the West. We do, however, have Vietnamese reports, which will, perhaps, be given somewhat greater credence than heretofore now that the incident at Song My, which they described with accuracy at the time, has finally been made public. To select one such report virtually at random:

In Trang Bang on the evening of October 24 [1969], three flights of B52s made three sorties, killing 47 people, wounding many others (mostly children, and old folks), completely levelling 450 houses and devastating 650 hectares of fields. On the night of October 25, B52s flew nine attacks in Quang Tri and Quang Nam provinces, dumping more than 1,000 tons of bombs, killing 300 people, wounding 236 others, setting afire 564 houses and damaging hundreds of hectares of fields and orchards. In Pleiku, a fertile region, many flights of B52s came in on the morning of October 17 and released 700 tons of bombs which wrought havoc in hundreds of hectares of fields and orchards …

In the area of Nui Ba and the villages of Ninh Thanh, Hiep Ninh Thanh, Hiep Ninh of the Tay Ninh Cao Dai persuasion, the US puppets resorted to toxic chemicals to destroy the crops and kill civilians. American hovercraft dumped tens of thousands of CS cans while helicopters dropped hundreds of thousands of toxic bombs on the villages. Moreover, enemy guns and mortars fired more than 5,000 gas shells affecting over 1,000 people, with 13 children under 13 killed (Ninh Thanh and Hiep Ninh villages) and more than 100 hectares of crops completely destroyed.7

{13} And on and on, without end.
The facts are, of course, familiar in a general way to the highest authorities in the United States. The Under Secretary of the Air Force, Townsend Hoopes, wrote a memorandum in March 1968 in which he pointed out that:

…ARVN and US forces in the towns and cities are now responding to mortar fire from nearby villages by the liberal use of artillery and air strikes. This response is causing widespread destruction and heavy civilian casualties – among people who were considered only a few weeks ago to be secure elements of the GVN constituency. … The present mode and tempo of operations in SVN is already destroying cities, villages and crops, and is creating civilian casualties at an increasing rate.8

He describes the savage American reaction to the conquest of many cities by the NLF in the Tet offensive in January 1968 – for example, in Saigon, where in an effort to dislodge the 1,000 soldiers who had taken the city, ‘artillery and air strikes were repeatedly used against densely populated areas of the city, causing heavy civilian casualties’; or in Hue, where the American reoccupation left ‘a devastated and prostrate city’. ‘Eighty per cent of the buildings had been reduced to rubble, and in the smashed ruins lay 2,000 dead civilians.9 … Three quarters of the city’s {14} people were rendered homeless and looting was widespread, members of the ARVN being the worst offenders’. Elsewhere, the story was much the same:

Everywhere, the US-ARVN forces mounted counterattacks of great severity. In the delta region below Saigon, half of the city of Mytho, with a population of 70,000, was destroyed by artillery and air strikes in an effort to eject a strong VC force. In Ben Tre on 7 February, at least 1,000 civilians were killed and 1,500 wounded in an effort to dislodge 2,500 VC.

According to Hoopes, the combat photographer David Douglas Duncan, whose war experience covers the Second World War, Korea, Algeria and the French war in Vietnam, ‘was appalled by the US-ARVN method of freeing Hue’. He quotes him as saying:

The Americans pounded the Citadel and surrounding city almost to dust with air strikes, napalm runs, artillery and naval gunfire, and the direct cannon fire from tanks and recoilless rifles a total effort to root out and kill every enemy soldier. The mind reels at the carnage, cost, and ruthlessness of it all.

Hoopes also reports that a ‘sizable part’ of the PAVN force of 1,000 escaped. Compare the figures on casualties, cited above.

These events occurred too late to be considered by the Tribunal. I need not elaborate on what has been revealed since. Some indications are given in my book, After Pinkville. For far more, see the book by Edward Herman, cited in footnote 1 on p. 11.

I have mentioned all of this in connexion with the question, raised earlier, as to whether it is necessary, today, to publicize the detailed reports of the Tribunal. Is it not true that by now the monstrous character of the war has penetrated the American consciousness so fully that further documentation is superfluous? Unfortunately, the answer must be negative. To see why, consider again the case of Townsend Hoopes, who is now a leading ‘dove’. {15}

A reviewer of his book in the New York Times describes it as the most persuasive presentation of the case for American withdrawal from Vietnam. It is instructive to compare his position with that of the ‘hawks’ on the one hand, and that of the Tribunal, on the other. Such a comparison shows how narrow is the gap between the ‘hawks’ and the ‘doves’, and how far removed the dove-hawk position still remains from the consciousness that Russell hoped would be aroused by the factual record and historical and legal argument of the Tribunal. I want to stress that Hoopes’s is one of the most humane and enlightened voices to be heard within the mainstream of American opinion today, surely among those who have had any significant role in the formation and implementation of policy. For this reason, his views are important and deserve careful consideration.

America’s early strategy, as Hoopes describes it, was to kill as many VC as possible with artillery and air strikes:

As late as the fall of 1966… a certain aura of optimism surrounded this strategy. Some were ready to believe that, in its unprecedented mobility and massive firepower, American forces had discovered the military answer to endless Asian manpower and Oriental indifference to death. For a few weeks there hung in the expectant Washington air the exhilarating possibility that the most modern, mobile, professional American field force in the nation’s history was going to lay to rest the time-honoured superstition, the gnawing unease of military planners, that a major land war against Asian hordes is by definition a disastrous plunge into quicksand for any Western army.

But this glorious hope was dashed. The endless manpower of Vietnam, the Asian hordes with their Oriental indifference to death, confounded our strategy. And our bombing of North Vietnam also availed us little, given the nature of the enemy. As Hoopes explains, quoting a senior US Army officer: ‘Caucasians cannot really imagine what ant labour can do.’ In short, our strategy was rational, but it presupposed civilized Western values:

We believe the enemy can be forced to be ‘reasonable’, i.e. to compromise or even capitulate, because we assume he wants to avoid pain, death, and material destruction. We assume that if these are inflicted on him with increasing severity, then at some point in the process he will want to stop the suffering. Ours is a plausible strategy – for those who are rich, who love life and fear pain. But happiness, wealth, and {16} power are expectations that constitute a dimension far beyond the experience, and probably beyond the emotional comprehension, of the Asian poor.

Hoopes does not tell us how he knows that the Asian poor do not love life or fear pain, or that happiness is probably beyond their emotional comprehension.10 But he does go on to explain how ‘ideologues in Asia’ make use of these characteristics of the Asian hordes. Their strategy is to convert ‘Asia’s capacity for endurance in suffering into an instrument for exploiting a basic vulnerability of the Christian West’. They do this by inviting the West ‘to carry its strategic logic to the final conclusion, which is genocide’. The Asians thus ‘defy us by a readiness to struggle, suffer, and die on a scale that seems to us beyond the bounds of humanity…. At that point we hesitate, for, remembering Hitler and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we realize anew that genocide is a terrible burden to bear.’

Thus by their willingness to die, the Asian hordes, who do not love life, who fear no pain and cannot conceive of happiness, exploit our basic weakness, our Christian values which make us reluctant to bear the burden of genocide, the final conclusion of our strategic logic. Is it really possible that one can read these passages without being stunned by the crudity and callousness?

Let us continue. Seeing that our strategy, though plausible, has failed, the Air Force Staff worked out several alternative strategies, which they presented to the new Secretary of Defense, Clark Clifford, in March 1968. The Air Staff preferred the following:

an intensified bombing campaign in the North, including attacks on the dock area of Haiphong, on railroad equipment within the Chinese Buffer Zone, and on the dike system that controlled irrigation for NVN agriculture.

But Hoopes and Air Force Secretary Harold Brown demurred. Why? They felt ‘there was little assurance such a campaign could either force NVN to the conference table, or even significantly reduce its war effort’; furthermore, ‘it was a course embodying {17} excessive risks of confrontation with Russia’. If they had any other objections to intensified bombing of the dike system of NVN, Hoopes does not inform us of them.11 Hoopes himself preferred, rather, the following tactics:

a campaign designed to substitute tactical airpower for a large portion of the search-and-destroy operations currently conducted by ground forces, thus permitting the ground troops to concentrate on a perimeter defence of the heavily populated areas … the analysis seemed to show that tactical air-power could provide a potent ‘left jab’ to keep the enemy in the South off balance while the US-ARVN ground forces adopted a modified enclaves strategy, featuring enough aggressive reconnaissance to identify and break up developing attacks, but designed primarily to protect the people of Vietnam and, by population control measures, to force exposure of the VC political cadres.12

In a letter of 12 February 1968 to Clark Clifford, Hoopes explains his preferences in similar terms. We should, he urges, stop the militarily insignificant bombing of North Vietnam and undertake a less ambitious ground strategy in the South, trying merely to control (the technical term is ‘protect’) the populated areas. This policy:

would give us a better chance to develop a definable geographical {18} area of South Vietnamese political and economic stability; and by reducing the intensity of the war tempo, it could materially improve the prospect of our staying the course for an added number of grinding years without rending our own society… [my italics].

Compare these recommendations with the tactics now being followed by the Nixon administration. Secretary of the Army Resor, testifying before the House Appropriations Committee,13 refused to predict how long the war would last, but he sees time as ‘running on our side’:

Therefore, if we can just buy some time in the US by these periodic progressive withdrawals and the American people can just shore up their patience and determination, I think we can bring this to a successful conclusion.

To this remark General Westmoreland added: ‘I have never made the prediction that this would be other than a long war.’
Thus the present Secretary of the Army agrees with the Hoopes letter of February 1968, that we may be able to stay the course for ‘an added number of grinding years’ if the American people will consent, if this policy will not rend our own society. And with this judgement, finally, Mr Hoopes disagrees:

Vietnam is not of course the only source of division in America today, but it is the most pervasive issue of our discord, the catalytic agent that stimulates and magnifies all other divisive issues. In particular, there can be no real truce between the generations – no end to the bitterness and alienation of even the large majority of our youth that is neither revolutionary nor irresponsible – until Vietnam is terminated.

This is the primary reason why, he urges, we must withdraw from Vietnam.

So the hawks and the doves divide: can the American people stay the course until victory, or will the polarization and discord in American society make this effort inadvisable, not in our national interest?

I do not want to suggest that the spectrum from Hoopes to Resor exhausts the contemporary debate over Vietnam, but there is little doubt that it represents the range of views and {19} assumptions expressed within the mainstream of ‘responsible’ American opinion. With this observation, we can return to the Tribunal. Its assumptions, of course, fall entirely outside of this spectrum. It is unfortunate, but undeniable, that the central issue in the American debate over Vietnam, in respectable circles, has been the question: can we win at an acceptable cost? The doves and the hawks disagree. Hawks become doves as their assessment of the probabilities and costs shifts, and if the American conquest were to prove successful, they would, no doubt, resume their former militancy. The Tribunal is concerned with very different questions. It does not ask whether the US can win at an acceptable cost, but rather whether it should win, whether it should be involved at all in the internal affairs of the Vietnamese, whether it has any right to try to settle or even influence these internal matters by force. Until this becomes the unique and overriding issue, within the United States, the debate over Vietnam will not even have begun.

Inevitably, despite disclaimers, the Russell Tribunal will evoke memories of Nuremberg and Tokyo. With the revelation of the Song My atrocities, the issues raised in the War Crimes trials have become, at last, a matter of public concern. We can hardly suppress the memory of our initiative at Nuremberg and Tokyo, or the explicit insistence of the US prosecutor, Robert Jackson, that the principles of Nuremberg are to be regarded as universal in their applicability. After the trials, he wrote:

If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.14

It might be argued that the verdict of Nuremberg and Tokyo was merely the judgement of victors, who sought vengeance and retribution rather than justice. I think there is merit in this accusation, but – right or wrong – it does not affect the broader question of the legitimacy of the principles that were recognized in the Charter of the War Crimes Tribunals. Legal niceties aside, the citizen is justified in taking these principles as his guide. {20}

A classic liberal doctrine holds that: ‘Generally speaking, it is the drawn sword of the nation which checks the physical power of its rulers.’15 It is the fundamental duty of the citizen to resist and to restrain the violence of the state. Those who choose to disregard this responsibility can justly be accused of complicity in war crimes, which is itself designated as ‘a crime under international law’ in the principles of the Charter of Nuremberg. This is, in essence, the challenge posed to us by the Russell Tribunal.

Richard A. Falk has written about this matter in an important recent article.16 He points out that ‘Song My stands out as a landmark atrocity in the history of warfare, and its occurrence is a moral challenge to the entire American society’. Nevertheless, it would ‘be misleading to isolate the awful happenings at Song My from the overall conduct of the war’. Among the war policies that might, he argues, be found illegal, are these: ‘(1) the Phoenix Programme; (2) aerial and naval bombardment of undefended villages; (3) destruction of crops and forests; (4) “search-and-destroy” missions; (5) “harassment and interdiction” fire; (6) forcible removal of civilian population; (7) reliance on a variety of weapons prohibited by treaty.’ That these policies have been followed, on a massive scale, is not in question. Falk argues that: ‘if found to be “illegal”, such policies should be discontinued forthwith and those responsible for the policy and its execution should be prosecuted as war criminals by appropriate tribunals’. He also notes how broad was the conception of criminal responsibility developed, under American initiative, in the War Crimes Trials. In Falk’s paraphrase, the majority judgement of the Tokyo Tribunal held as follows:

A leader must take affirmative acts to prevent war crimes or dissociate himself from the government. If he fails to do one or the other, then by the very act of remaining in a government or a state guilty of war crimes, he becomes a war criminal.

And Falk emphasizes the obligation of resistance for the citizen, if {21} the evidence is strong that the state is engaged in criminal acts.

It is correct, but irrelevant, to stress the vast differences in the political processes of America and the fascist states. It is correct, but hardly relevant, to point out that the United States has stopped short of carrying ‘its strategic logic to the final conclusion, which is genocide’ (Hoopes). Thus one cannot compare American policy to that of Nazi Germany, as of 1942. It would be more difficult to argue that American policy is not comparable to that of fascist Japan, or of Germany prior to the ‘final solution’. There may be those who are prepared to tolerate any policy less ghastly than crematoria and death camps and to reserve their horror for the particular forms of criminal insanity perfected by the Nazi technicians. Others will not lightly disregard comparisons which, though harsh, may well be accurate.

Nazi Germany was sui generis, of that there is no doubt. But we should have the courage and honesty to face the question whether the principles applied to Nazi Germany and fascist Japan do not, as well, apply to the American war in Vietnam. Recall the objectives of ‘denazification’, as formulated by those who were responsible for this policy. General Lucius D. Clay, in 1950, described the primary objective as follows: ‘to safeguard the new German democracy from Nazi influence and to make it possible for anti-Nazi, non-Nazi and outspoken democratic individuals to enter public life and replace the Nazi elements which had dominated all life in Germany from 1933 to 1945’.17 He reports that:

This was, perhaps, the most extensive legal procedure the world had ever witnessed. In the US Zone alone more than 13 million persons had been involved, of whom over three and two-thirds million were found chargeable, and of these some 800,000 persons were made subject to penalty for their party affiliations or actions. All this was, of course, apart from the punishment of war criminals many of whom were high-ranking Nazis.

Field-Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery saw the objective of the allied forces in Germany as ‘to change the heart, and the way of life, of the German people’. Denazification involved a cultural and ideological change, to proceed side-by-side with economic reconstruction.18 {22} We can certainly ask whether three and two-thirds million Germans in the US Zone were more guilty of complicity in war crimes than any Americans. And we can ask whether a cultural and ideological change in the United States, at the very least, is not imperative if many others, who fear neither pain nor death, are not to be spared the fate of Vietnam.

Some of these questions arise in a revealing exchange between Townsend Hoopes and two young journalists who published an interview with him in the Village Voice (see note 14 above). Hoopes insisted that:

War crimes tribunals would be the worst thing that could happen in this country. That would amount to McCarthyism. You’re proposing a system of legal guilt for top elected officials. The traditional way to deal with these top officials is to throw the rascals out.

In an article in which he comments on ‘the curious piece of reporting’ of Coburn and Cowan, Hoopes explains further that ‘a democratic and an entirely elective form of retribution’ has already been visited upon Lyndon Johnson, and that his ‘closest collaborators’ may also be excluded from high office.19 Hoopes does not say whether this form of ‘retribution’ would also have been more appropriate in the case of the Japanese and German war criminals should the West, then, merely have guaranteed a democratic election in which they might have been deprived of office? He does, however, reject the suggestion that civilian officials be held accountable for such incidents as the Song My massacre, or for the bombing of North Vietnam, or for such policies as those enumerated by Falk, cited above. In fact, Coburn and Cowan report that ‘in the friendliest possible terms, he accused our “generation” of wanting to impose a totalitarian system of morality’ which would lead to ‘universal anarchy’. Coburn and Cowan, in turn, ask:

If Tojo can be sentenced to be executed by an American war crimes tribunal for leading Japan into a ‘war of aggression’, should the only punishment for an American President be that he is voted out of office while his Secretary of Defense serves a secure term as President of the World Bank?

{23} This seems a not unreasonable question, certainly not unreasonable for those who take seriously the statement of Justice Jackson, quoted earlier. Nor do Coburn and Cowan appear unreasonable when they add that: ‘The “anarchists” who frighten us most are those who wield the big bombs, control the courts, and assume for themselves the power to declare all their enemies outlaws.’

Hoopes strongly disagrees. It is these strange conclusions that make the Coburn-Cowan article such ‘a curious piece of reporting’. To him it is ‘crystal clear … that such views could not conceivably be held or expressed by anyone who was a young man during the Second World War or who was engaged in the mortal struggles of its aftermath – in Greece, in Germany, in Berlin, in Korea’. Only ‘sensitive, clever children’ could be moved to such harsh judgements, ‘unshaped by historical perspective and untempered by any first-hand experience with the unruly forces at work in this near-cyclonic century’. Those who designed our Vietnam policy were ‘struggling in good conscience to uphold the Constitution and to serve the broad national interest according to their lights’; they were, ‘almost uniformly, those considered when they took office to be among the ablest, the best, the most humane and liberal men that could be found for public trust’, and ‘no one doubted their honest, high-minded pursuit of the best interests of their country, and indeed of the whole non-Communist world, as they perceived these interests’. To be sure, they were deluded by the ‘tensions of the Cold War years’. The tragedy of Vietnam, as he sees it, is that these good men were unable to perceive that the triumph of the national revolution in Vietnam would be ‘neither a triumph for Moscow and Peking nor a disaster for the United States’. Furthermore, their policies received wide public support. ‘Set against these facts, the easy designation of individuals as deliberate or imputed “war criminals” is shockingly glib, even if one allows for the inexperience of the young.’ Similarly, it would be ‘absurd’ even to ask whether a war crimes tribunal, even in principle, should try Nixon and Kissinger as ‘war criminals’ (even though they continue to ‘buy some time in the US’ so that the war can be brought ‘to a successful conclusion’, in the words of the present Secretary of the Army).

One should, I believe, agree with Townsend Hoopes that ‘what the country needs is not retribution, but therapy in the form of {24} deeper understanding of our problems and of each other’. No one, to my knowledge, has urged that those responsible for the massacre of the people of Vietnam, their forced evacuation from their homes,20 and the destruction of their country, be jailed or executed, or even that ‘denazification’ procedures of the sort instituted against thirteen million Germans in the US Zone be applied to the American population. Let us, by all means, try rather to achieve a deeper understanding of our problems. Among these problems is the fact that one of the most liberal and enlightened commentators on contemporary affairs can assure us that Asian hordes care nothing of death, fear no pain and cannot conceive of happiness, while as for us – it is our Christian values that impel us to stop short of a final solution. Among our problems is the fact that the same spokesman can summon up the kind of ‘historical perspective’ that sees our intervention in Greece, in the 1940s, as a ‘mortal struggle’ (against whom?); or the fact that those who were, quite possibly, the most humane and liberal men that could be found for public trust could set out to annihilate the Vietnamese in the belief (whether honest or feigned – it hardly matters) that they were combating a communist monolith that included ‘Moscow and Peking’ (in 1965!). One of our problems is the doctrine developed by Mr Hoopes, in accordance with which – to take his words literally – no policy carried out by the best American leaders with wide public support could be criminal, could in principle demand any response other than ‘to throw the rascals out’.

In fact, is it not a trifle naive (or even ‘glib’) of Mr Hoopes to suggest that we throw the rascals out? Did we vote the rascals in? Richard Barnet, in a recent study, writes:

Most of the men who have set the framework of America’s national-security policy, as I found when I studied the background of the top 400 decision-makers, have come from executive suites and law offices {25} within shouting distance of one another in fifteen city blocks in New York, Washington, Detroit, Chicago, and Boston. It is not surprising that they emerge from homogeneous backgrounds and virtually identical careers with a standard way of looking at the world. They may argue with one another about means but not about ends.21

No one who considers carefully the role of the executive in civil-military decisions in the post-war world, or the role of the private economic empires in determining national policy (either in their own protected domain, or within the parliamentary system itself), or the kinds of choices presented by the two competing candidate-producing organizations can so easily speak of ‘throwing the rascals out’. It would require social revolution, leading to a redistribution of power throughout the industrial as well as the political system, for a significant change to take place in the top decision-making positions in American society. For this reason alone, one must fully accept the judgement that ‘what the country needs is not retribution, but therapy in the form of deeper understanding of our problems’ – and appropriate action to remedy these problems, which, given our enormous power, are problems of life and death for a good part of the world.

These problems should be on the agenda for any thinking person. More immediate, however, is the problem of bringing about a withdrawal of American force from Vietnam. There is no indication that any such policy is envisioned, at present. Rather, it is clear that the US government is hoping to stay the course until victory is achieved, adjusting tactics, where necessary, to buy some time at home. For this reason, the Proceedings of the Tribunal is a document of first importance; the spirit and convictions that underlie it must, as Russell hoped, become a part of the consciousness of all Americans.

Richard Falk concludes the article I quoted earlier, writing:

Given the perils and horrors of the contemporary world, it is time that individuals everywhere called their government to account for indulging or ignoring the daily evidences of barbarism… the obsolete pretensions of sovereign prerogative and military necessity had better be challenged soon if life on earth is to survive.

{26} The Tribunal takes one step – small, perhaps, but significant. The Tribunal, or another like it, should turn to Czechoslovakia, to Greece, to a dozen other countries that are suffering in the grip of the imperialist powers or the local forces that they support and maintain. Still more important, the work initiated by the Tribunal should be carried further by groups of citizens who take upon themselves the duty of discovering and making public the daily evidences of barbarism, and the still more severe duty of challenging the powers – state or private – that are responsible for violence and oppression, looking forward to the day when an international movement for freedom and social justice will end their rule. {27}{28}

1. Edward S. Herman, ‘Atrocities’ in Vietnam: Myths and Realities (Pilgrim Press, 1970). In a careful analysis, he estimates South Vietnamese civilian casualties at over a million dead, over two million wounded, and he notes that two years ago the total number of refugees ‘generated’ mainly by the American scorched earth policy was estimated at almost four million by the Kennedy Committee of the 90th Congress.Back
2. The letter appears as an Appendix in Don Luce and John Sommer, Vietnam: the Unheard Voices (Cornell University Press, 1969).Back
3. Ithiel Pool, New York Review of Books, 13 February 1969, letters.Back
4. New York Times, letter, 26 November 1969. The war in Quang Ngai and Quang Tin provinces is described in unforgettable detail by Jonathan Schell, The Military Half (Vintage Books, 1968).Back
5. ‘Pop me some dinks’, New Republic, 3 January 1970.Back
6. Vietnam: 1969, AFSC White Paper, 5 May 1969, 160 N. 15th Street, Philadelphia, Penna. 19102.Back
7. South Viet Nam: The Struggle, publication of the NLF Information Commission, No.48, 15 November 1969.Back
8. Limits of Intervention (McKay, 1969).Back
9. The NLF claims that 2,000 victims of the American bombardment were buried in mass graves (see Wilfred Burchett, Guardian, 6 December 1969). This is consistent with Hoopes’s account. Hoopes states that, after ten days of fighting, 300 local officials and prominent citizens were found in a mass grave. This corresponds roughly with the estimate of Police Chief Doan Cong Lap, who estimated the total number executed as 200; he also gives the figure of 3,776 civilian casualties in the battle of Hue (Stewart Harris, The Times, 27 March 1968). Apart from Harris, I know of only one journalist who has given a detailed eye-witness report from Hue at the time, namely Marc Riboud. US authorities were unable to show him the mass graves reported by the US mission. Riboud reports 4,000 civilians killed during the reconquest of the ‘assassinated city’ of Hue (Le Monde, 13 April 1968). AFSC staff people in Hue were unable to confirm the reports of mass graves, though they reported many civilians shot and killed during the reconquest of the city (see the report by John Sullivan of AFSC, 9 May 1968). For attempts to evaluate government propaganda on mass killings in Hue, see D. Gareth Porter and Len E. Ackland, ‘Vietnam: the bloodbath argument’, Christian Century, 5 November 1969; Vietnam International, December 1969 (6 Endsleigh Street, London, W.C.1); Tran Van Dinh, ‘Fear of a bloodbath’, New Republic, 6 December 1969. The only other accounts I have seen merely convey information given out by American government sources.Back
10. This is not quite accurate. He does provide a brief philosophical discussion of Buddhist beliefs, which tend ‘to create a positive impetus towards honourable death’.Back
11. As Gabriel Kolko notes, in testimony to the Tribunal, the barbarism of Seyss-Inquart in opening the dikes in Holland was considered one of the most monstrous crimes of the Second World War, and was prominent among the charges that led to his death sentence at Nuremberg. Note also Kolko’s discussion of the bombing of dikes in the Korean war, and the testimony given regarding American bombing of dikes in North Vietnam. Eye-witness reports of the bombing of dikes in the Red River Delta have appeared in the American press. See Christian Science Monitor, 8 September 1967, quoted in my American Power and the New Mandarins (Chatto & Windus, 1969), p.15.Back
12. As we know from other sources, the VC political cadres thus ‘exposed’ were to be eliminated by ‘Operation Phoenix’, which, in the year 1968, is claimed to have killed 18,393 persons. See Senator Charles E. Goodell, New Republic, 22 November 1969 (cited in Herman, op. cit.), and also Judith Coburn and Geoffrey Cowan, ‘Training for terror: a deliberate policy?’, Village Voice, 11 December 1969. On ‘population control measures’, see William Nighswonger, Rural Pacification in Vietnam (Praeger, 1967). For earlier precedents during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, see my American Power and the New Mandarins, pp. 195-203.Back
13. 8 October 1969, released 2 December. Quoted in I. F. Stone’s Weekly, 15 December 1969.Back
14. Quoted in an article to which I return in a moment: Judith Coburn and Geoffrey Cowan, ‘The war criminals hedge their bets’, Village Voice, 4 December 1969.Back
15. Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Limits of State Action, 1792 (Cambridge University Press, 1969), J. W. Burrow (ed.).Back
16. ‘The circle of responsibility’, The Nation, 26 January 1970. Falk is Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice, Princeton University.Back
17. The Present State of Denazification, reprinted in Constantine Fitzgibbon, Denazification (Norton, 1969).Back
18. Fitzgibbon, op. cit.Back
19. ‘The Nuremberg Suggestion’, Washington Monthly, January 1970. Noam Chomsky.Back
20. Coburn and Cowan report the views of Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, who says in a statement to Congress on the refugee situation that the figures may be misleading, since the war-torn Vietnamese are used to disruption and ‘have been moving around for centuries’. Since this is true, to a far greater extent, of the American population, there would presumably be even less reason to protest, if they were driven from their homes by a foreign invader.Back
21. The Economy of Death (Atheneum, 1969). See also the detailed analysis by Gabriel Kolko, The Roots of American Foreign Policy(Beacon Press, 1969), Chapter 1.Back

Noam Chomsky After Pinkville


After Pinkville

On 15 October 1965, an estimated 70,000 people took part in large-scale anti-war demonstrations. The demonstrators heard pleas for an end to the bombing of North Vietnam and for a serious commitment to negotiations, in response to the negotiation offers from North Vietnam and UN efforts to settle the war. To be more precise, this is what they heard if they heard anything at all. On the Boston Common, for example, they heard not a word from the speakers, who were drowned out by hecklers and counter-demonstrators.

On the Senate floor, Senator Mansfield denounced the ‘sense of utter irresponsibility’ shown by the demonstrators, while Everett Dirksen said the demonstrations were ‘enough to make any person loyal to his country weep’. Richard Nixon wrote, in a letter to the New York Times, that ‘… victory for the Viet Cong… would mean ultimately the destruction of freedom of speech for all men for all time not only in Asia, but in the United States as well’ – nothing less.

In a sense, Senator Mansfield was right in speaking of the sense of utter irresponsibility shown by demonstrators. They should have been demanding not an end to the bombing of North Vietnam and negotiations, but a complete and immediate withdrawal of all American troops and matériel – an end to any forceful interference in the internal affairs of Vietnam or any other nation. They should have been demanding not merely that the US adhere to international law and its own treaty obligations – thus removing itself forthwith from Vietnam; but they should also have exercised their right and duty to resist the violence of the state, which was as vicious in practice as it was illegal in principle.

In October 1967 there were, once again, mass demonstrations {29} against the war, this time in Washington and at the Pentagon. A few months earlier, still larger, though less militant, demonstrations had taken place in New York. The Tet offensive, shortly after, revealed that American military strategy was ‘foolish to the point of insanity’.1 It also revealed to the public that government propaganda was either an illusion or a fraud. Moreover, an international monetary crisis threatened, attributable in part to Vietnam.

In retrospect, it seems possible that the war could have been ended if popular pressure had been maintained. But many radicals felt that the war was over, that it had become, in any case, a ‘liberal issue’, and they turned to other concerns. Those who had demanded no more than an end to the bombing of North Vietnam and a commitment to negotiations saw their demands being realized, and lapsed into silence.

These demands, however, had always been beside the point. As to negotiations, there is, in fact, very little to negotiate. As long as an American army of occupation remains in Vietnam, the war will continue. Withdrawal of American troops must be a unilateral act, as the invasion of Vietnam by the American government was a unilateral act in the first place. Those who had been calling for ‘negotiations now’ were deluding themselves and others, just as those who now call for a cease-fire that will leave an American expeditionary force in Vietnam are not facing reality.

As to the bombing of North Vietnam, this had always been a side-show, in large measure a propaganda cover for the American invasion of the South. The US government could not admit that it was invading South Vietnam to protect from its own population a government that we had installed. Therefore it was rescuing the South Vietnamese from ‘aggression’. But then surely it must strike at the ‘source of aggression’. Hence the bombing of North Vietnam. This, at least, seems the most rational explanation for the bombing of North Vietnam in February 1965, at a time when no North Vietnamese troops were in the South, so far as was known, and there was a bare trickle of supplies.

To be sure, those who are ‘in the know’ have different explanations {30} for the bombing of North Vietnam. Consider, for example, the explanation offered by Sir Robert Thompson, the British counter-insurgency expert who has been for many years a close adviser of the American army in South Vietnam – a man who is, incidentally, much admired by American social scientists who like to consider themselves ‘tough minded, hard-nosed realists’, no doubt because of his utter contempt for democracy and his relatively pure colonialist attitudes. In the Guardian of 19 May 1969, his views are explained as follows:

He also condemns the bombing of the North. The US Air Force in 1965 was having great budgetary problems, because the army was the only one that had a war on its hands and was thus getting all the money. ‘So the Air Force had to get in, and you had the bombing of North Vietnam … the budgetary problems of the Air Force were then solved.’

In his No Exit From Vietnam (1969), he explains more graphically the attractiveness of air power:

One can so easily imagine the commander of the Strategic Air Command striding up and down his operations room wondering how he could get in on the act. With all that power available and an enormous investment doing nothing, it is not surprising that reasons and means had to be found for their engagement. The war was therefore waged in a manner which enabled this massive air armada to be used round the clock. … In this way the war could be fought as an American war without the previous frustrations of cooperating with the Vietnamese.

Or consider the explanation for the bombing of the North offered by Adam Yarmolinsky, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, 1965-6, previously Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. According to his analysis, the strategic bombing of North Vietnam ‘produced no military advantages except for its putative favourable impact on morale in the south. But [this step] was taken, at least in part, because it was one of the things that the US military forces were best prepared to do.’2

So North Vietnam was flattened and impelled to send troops to {31} the South, as it did a few months after the bombing began, if the Department of Defense can be believed.

Since the bombing of North Vietnam ‘produced no military advantages’ and was extremely costly, it could be stopped with little difficulty and little effect on the American war in South Vietnam. And so it was, in two steps: on 1 April 1968, when the regular bombing was restricted to the southern part of North Vietnam, and on 1 November, when it was halted. At the same time, the total American bombing, now restricted to Laos and South Vietnam, was increased in April and increased again in November. By March 1969 the total level of bombardment had reached 130,000 tons a month – nearly two Hiroshimas a week in South Vietnam and Laos, defenceless countries. And Melvin Laird’s projection for the next twelve to eighteen months was the same.3 The redistribution (and intensification) of bombing and the largely empty negotiations stilled domestic protest for a time and permitted the war to go on as before.

We can now look back over the failure of the ‘peace movement’ to sustain and intensify its protest over the past four years. By now, defoliation has been carried out over an area the size of Massachusetts, with what effect no one has any real idea. The bombardment of Vietnam far exceeds the bombardment of Korea or anything in the Second World War. The number of Vietnamese killed or driven from their homes cannot be seriously estimated.

It is important to understand that the massacre of the rural population of Vietnam and their forced evacuation is not an accidental by-product of the war. Rather it is of the very essence of American strategy. The theory behind it has been explained with great clarity and explicitness, for example by Professor Samuel Huntington, Chairman of the Government Department at Harvard and at the time (1968) Chairman of the Council on Vietnamese Studies of the Southeast Asia Development Advisory Group, ultimately responsible to the State Department. Writing in Foreign Affairs, he explains that the Viet Cong is ‘a powerful force which cannot be dislodged from its constituency {32} so long as the constituency continues to exist’. The conclusion is obvious, and he does not shrink from it. ‘We can ensure that the constituency ceases to exist by “direct application of mechanical and conventional power”… on such a massive scale as to produce a massive migration from countryside to city’, where the Viet Cong constituency – the rural population – can, it is hoped, be controlled in refugee camps and suburban slums around Saigon.

Technically, the process is known as ‘urbanization’ or ‘modernization’. It is described, with the proper contempt, by Daniel Ellsberg, a Department of Defense consultant on pacification in South Vietnam, who concludes, from his extensive on-the-spot observations, that ‘we have, of course, demolished the society of Vietnam’, that ‘the bombing of the South has gone on long enough to disrupt the society of South Vietnam enormously and probably permanently’; he speaks of the ‘people who have been driven to Saigon by what Huntington regards as our “modernizing instruments” in Vietnam, bombs and artillery’.4 Reporters have long been aware of the nature of these tactics, aware that ‘by now the sheer weight of years of firepower, massive sweeps, and grand forced population shifts have reduced the population base of the ….. .’5 so that conceivably, by brute force, we may still hope to ‘win’.

One thing is clear: so long as an organized social life can be maintained in South Vietnam, the NLF will be a powerful, probably dominant, force. This is the dilemma which has always plagued American policy, and which has made it impossible for us to permit even the most rudimentary democratic institutions in South Vietnam. For these reasons we have been forced to the solution outlined by Professor Huntington: to crush the people’s war, we must eliminate the people.

A second thing is tolerably clear: there has been no modification in this policy. Once again, as two years ago, there is mounting popular protest against the war. Once again, a tactical {33} adjustment is being devised that will permit Washington to pursue its dual goal, to pacify the people of South Vietnam while pacifying the American people also. The first of these tasks has not been accomplished too well. The second, to our shame, has been managed quite successfully, for the most part. Now, we hear that the burden of fighting the war is to be shifted away from the American infantry to the B52s and fighter-bombers and a mercenary force of Vietnamese. Only a token force, of between 200,000 and 300,000 men, backed by the Pacific Naval and Air command, will be retained, indefinitely, to ensure that the Vietnamese have the right of self-determination.

At a recent press conference, Averell Harriman explained that the North Vietnamese cannot believe that we really intend to abandon the huge military bases we have constructed in Vietnam, such as the one at Cam Ranh Bay (Village Voice, 27 November 1969). Knowledgeable American observers have found it equally difficult to believe this. For example, as long ago as 27 August 1965, James Reston wrote in the New York Times:

US bases and supply areas are being constructed on a scale far larger than is necessary to care for the present level of American forces in fact, the US base at Cam Ranh … is being developed into another Okinawa, not merely for the purposes of this war, but as a major power complex from which American officials hope a wider alliance of Asian nations, with the help of the US, will eventually be able to contain the expansion of China.

The phrase ‘contain the expansion of China’ must be understood as code for the unpronounceable expression: ‘repress movements for national independence and social reconstruction in Southeast Asia’.

Premier Eisaku Sato, in a speech described by American officials as part of a joint Japanese-American policy statement, announced that we are entering a ‘new Pacific age’ in which ‘a new order will be created by Japan and the United States’ (New York Times, 22 November 1969). His words, one must assume, were chosen advisedly. To perpetuate this new order we will need military bases such as that at Cam Ranh Bay, which can play the role of the Canal Zone in the western hemisphere. There we can base our own forces and train those of our loyal dependencies. {34}

We will no doubt soon proceed to construct an ‘inter-Asian’ army that can protect helpless governments from their own populations, much as the Brazilians were called in to legitimize our Dominican intervention. Where popular rebellion is in progress, these forces can gain valuable experience. Thus a senior American officer at Camp Bearcat in South Vietnam, where Thai units are based, explains that ‘they are infusing their army with experience they could never get in their own homeland…. They are coordinating their own piece of real estate’. And a Thai colonel adds: ‘If my country ever has the same subversion, I’ll have to fight there. I want to practice here’ (New York Times, 3 December 1969). Surely Reston was right in 1965 in speculating about our long-range plans for the South Vietnamese bases, from which our ‘token force’ of a quarter of a million men will operate in the 1970s.6

Who can complain about a quarter of a million men, a force that can be compared, let us say, with the Japanese army of 160,000 which invaded North China in 1937, in an act of aggression that scandalized the civilized world and set the stage for the Pacific phase of the Second World War? In fact, counterinsurgency experts like Sir Robert Thompson have long argued that the American forces were far too large to be effective, and have advocated a ‘low-cost, long-haul strategy’ of a sort which will now very likely be adopted by the Nixon administration, if, once again, the American people will trust their leaders and settle into passivity.

As American combat troops are withdrawn, their place, it is {35} hoped, will be taken by a more effective force of Vietnamese – just as Czechoslovakia is controlled, it is reported, by fewer than 100,000 Russian troops. Meanwhile, the war will no doubt be escalated technologically. It will become more ‘capital intensive’.7 Some of the prospects were revealed in a speech by Chief of Staff William Westmoreland, reported in the Christian Science Monitor (25-7 October 1969) under the heading: ‘Technologically the Vietnam war has been a great success.’ General Westmoreland ‘sees machines carrying more and more of the burden’. He says:

I see an army built into and around an integrated area control system that exploits the advanced technology of communications, sensors, fire direction, and the required automatic data processing – a system that is sensitive to the dynamics of the ever-changing battlefield – a system that materially assists the tactical commander in making sound and timely decisions. Further details are presented by Leonard Sullivan, Deputy Director of Research and Development for South-east Asian Matters:8

These developments open up some very exciting horizons as to what we can do five or ten years from now. When one realizes that we can detect anything that perspires, moves, carries metal, makes a noise, or is hotter or colder than its surroundings, one begins to see the potential. This is the beginning of instrumentation of the entire battlefield. Eventually, we will be able to tell when anybody shoots, what he is shooting at, and where he was shooting from. You begin to get a ‘Year 2000’ vision of an electronic map with little lights that flash for different kinds of activity. This is what we require for this ‘porous’ war, where the friendly and the enemy are all mixed together. Note the time scale that is projected for Vietnam. News reports reveal some of the early stages of these exciting developments. The New York Times, 22 November 1969, reports a plan to use remote-controlled unmanned aircraft as supply transports for {36} combat areas. On 1 October 1969 the New York Times explains that:

The landscape of Vietnam and the border regions are studded with electronic sensors that beep information into the banks of computers. Radar, cameras, infrared detectors and a growing array of more exotic devices contribute to the mass of information. Not long ago reconnaissance planes began carrying television cameras.

The data go into the Combined Intelligence Center near Tansonnhut Air Base: ‘Day and night in its antiseptic interior a family of blinking, whirring computers devours, digests and spews out a Gargantuan diet of information about the enemy’, the better to serve the ‘conglomerate of allied civil and military organizations that work together to destroy the Vietcong’s underground government’ – freely admitted to have been the most authentic popular social structure in South Vietnam prior to the American effort to demolish the society of Vietnam. One can understand the gloating of Douglas Pike: ‘The tactics that delivered victory in the Viet Minh war, however impressive once, had been relegated by science to the military history textbook.’9

What this means is, to put it simply, that we intend to turn the land of Vietnam into an automated murder machine. The techniques of which Westmoreland, Sullivan and Pike are so proud are, of course, designed for use against a special kind of enemy: one who is too weak to retaliate, whose land can be occupied. These ‘Year 2000’ devices, which Westmoreland describes as a quantum jump in warfare, are fit only for colonial wars. There is surely an element of lunacy in this technocratic nightmare. And if {37} we are still at all capable of honesty, we will, with little difficulty, identify its antecedents.

Our science may yet succeed in bringing to reality the fears of Bernard Fall – no alarmist, and fundamentally in favour of the war during its early years – who wrote in one of his last essays that ‘Vietnam as a cultural and historic entity … is threatened with extinction … the countryside literally dies under the blows of the largest military machine ever unleashed on an area of this size’. The South Vietnamese Minister of Information wrote in 1968 that ordinary Vietnamese would continue ‘to be horrified and embittered at the way the Americans fight their war…. Our peasants will remember their cratered rice fields and defoliated forests, devastated by an alien air force that seems at war with the very land of Vietnam’.10

American reporters have told us the same thing so often that it is almost superfluous to quote. Tom Buckley – to mention only the most recent – describes the delta and the central lowlands:

… bomb craters beyond counting, the dead gray and black fields, forests that have been defoliated and scorched by napalm, land that has been ploughed flat to destroy Vietcong hiding places. And everywhere can be seen the piles of ashes forming the outlines of huts and houses, to show where hamlets once stood.11

The truth about defoliants is only beginning to emerge, with the discovery that one of the two primary agents used is ‘potentially dangerous, but needing further study’ while the other causes cancer and birth defects, and probably mental retardation. Both will continue to be used in Vietnam against enemy ‘training and regroupment centres’ – i.e. anywhere we please, throughout the countryside.12 {38}

Of course it may be argued that the American government did not know, in 1961, that these agents were so dangerous. That is true. It was merely an experiment. Virtually nothing was known about what the effects might be. Perhaps there would be no ill effects, or perhaps – at the other extreme – Vietnam would become unfit for human life, or a race of mutants and mental retardates would be created. How could we know, without trying? In such ways ‘the tactics that delivered victory in the Viet Minh war, however impressive once, had been relegated by science to the military history textbook’.

To see what may lie ahead, I’d like to turn away from Vietnam to a less familiar case. It has been claimed that Vietnam is the second most heavily bombarded country in history. The most intensively bombarded, so it seems, is Laos. According to Le Monde, ‘North Vietnam was more heavily bombed than Korea; Laos is now being bombed even more than North Vietnam. And this battering has been going on for over five years. … The US Air Force carries out more than 12,500 raids a month.’13 On the same day, 1 October 1969, the New York Times announced its discovery that in Laos, ‘the rebel economy and social fabric’ are now the main target of the American bombardment, which is claimed to be a success:

Refugees from the Plaine des Jarres area say that during recent months most open spaces have been evacuated. Both civilians and soldiers have retreated into the forests or hills and frequently spend most of the daylight hours in caves or tunnels. Refugees said they could only plough their fields at night because they were unsafe {39} during the day. ‘So long as the US bombing continues at its new level,’ a European diplomat said here this week, ‘so-called Communist territory is little but a shooting range….’ The bombing, by creating refugees, deprives the Communists of their chief source of food and transport. The population of the Pathet Lao zone has been declining for several years and the Pathet Lao find it increasingly difficult to fight a ‘people’s war’ with fewer and fewer people.

The world’s most advanced society has found the answer to people’s war: eliminate the people.

It is, incidentally, remarkable that the New York Times can so blandly announce that the rebel economy and social fabric are the main target of the American bombardment. It is remarkable that this claim, which, if correct, sets American policy at the moral level of Nazi Germany, can be merely noted in a casual comment, with – so far as I know – no public reaction of horror and indignation.

Still, it is good that the American press has discovered that the rebel economy and social fabric are the target of the American bombardment of Laos. Perhaps we will be spared the pretence that our targets are steel and concrete, or that the bombing is ‘the most restrained in modern warfare’ (as McGeorge Bundy so elegantly put it at the time when virtually every structure in North Vietnam, outside of the centres of Hanoi and Haiphong, was being demolished).

The discovery has been mysteriously delayed. For example, in July 1968, the south-east Asia expert of Le Monde, Jacques Decornoy, published detailed reports of his visits to the liberated areas of Laos: ‘a world without noise, for the surrounding villages have disappeared, the inhabitants themselves living hidden in the mountains … it is dangerous to lean out at any time of the night or day’ because of the ceaseless bombardment which leads to ‘the scientific destruction of the areas held by the enemy’. ‘The Americans are trying to “break” the Laotian Left, both psychologically and if possible, physically.’ The nature of their relentless attack ‘can only be explained if the target is the central administration of the Neo Lao Haksat’ – the political organization that won handily in 1958 in the only unrigged election in Laos. This electoral victory inspired the {40} American effort at subversion that led to the Laotian crisis in the early sixties, which still persists.

Decornoy describes ‘the motionless ruins and deserted houses’ of the central town of Sam-Neua district:

The first real raid against the population centre itself was launched on 19 February 1965. Very serious attacks were made on it quite recently on 17 and 19 March 1968…. The two ends of the town were razed to the ground. The old ruins of 1965 have disappeared, those of March 1968 were still ‘smoking’ when we visited them. Branches of trees lay all along the length of the river, houses were totally burned out (phosphorus had been used). At the other end of Sam-Neua, the sight was even more painful. Everywhere enormous craters, the church and many houses were demolished. In order to reach the people who might be living there, the Americans dropped their all-too-famous fragmentation bombs. Here lay a ‘mother bomb’ disembowelled, by the side of the road. All round, over a dozen metres, the earth was covered with ‘daughter bombs’, little machines that the Vietnamese know well, unexploded and hiding hundreds of steel splinters. … One of the officials of Sam-Neua district told us that between February 1965 and March 1968, 65 villages had been destroyed. A number impossible to verify in a short report, but it is a fact that between Sam-Neua and a place about 30 kilometres away where we stayed, no house in the villages and hamlets had been spared. Bridges had been destroyed, fields up to the rivers were holed with bomb craters.

Decornoy reports that ‘American raids on “liberated Laos” began in May 1964, therefore well before the Gulf of Tonkin incident (August 1964) and the policy of escalation to North Vietnam (spring 1965). For this reason, Laos has, in some ways, served as a testing ground or experimental site’. He describes the amazing persistence of the Laotians in maintaining and advancing the social revolution in the face of this attack, their ‘virulent nationalism’ and refusal to follow foreign models, the schools and factories in caves, the prosperity of the rare villages that have still, for unknown reasons, escaped destruction. Finally he quotes an American diplomat in Vientiane who says: ‘To make progress in this country, it is necessary to level everything. The inhabitants must go back to zero, lose their traditional culture, for it blocks everything.’ And Decornoy comments: ‘The Americans accuse the North Vietnamese of intervening militarily in the country, but {41} it is they who talk of reducing Laos to zero, while the Pathet Lao exalts the national culture and national independence.’

No doubt Laos is still serving as a testing ground or experimental site for the next stage of the Vietnam war, for our new long-haul, low-cost policy. If the American people will only trust their leaders, perhaps there is still a chance to crush the people’s war in South Vietnam by methods that will be as well concealed as have been those of the Laotian war.

The secret can be kept. Americans know virtually nothing about the bombing of South Vietnam. To my knowledge, there has been only one pro-Western correspondent who has spent time in the liberated zones of South Vietnam, Katsuichi Honda – and I am sure that his reports in Asahi in the fall of 1967 are known to very few Americans.14 He describes, for example, the incessant attacks on undefended villages by gunboats in the Mekong river and by helicopter gunships ‘firing away at random at farmhouses’

They seemed to fire whimsically and in passing even though they were not being shot at from the ground nor could they identify the people as NLF. They did it impulsively for fun, using the farmers for targets as if in a hunting mood. They are hunting Asians…. This whimsical firing would explain the reason why the surgical wards in every hospital in the towns of the Mekong Delta were full of wounded.

He is speaking, notice, of the Mekong Delta, where few North Vietnamese soldiers were identified until several months after the Tet offensive, where, according to American intelligence, there were 800 North Vietnamese troops before last summer;15 and {42} which contained some forty per cent of the population of South Vietnam prior to the American assault.

Occasionally such material finds its way to the American press. Consider again the Mekong Delta. ‘In March [1969] alone, the United States 9th Infantry Division reported that it killed 3,504 Viet Cong troops and sympathizers in the northern delta [and] senior officers confidently forecast that they will continue to kill at least 100 a day well into the summer.’ The ‘conflagration … is tearing the social fabric apart’. In ‘free-fire zones, the Americans could bring to bear at any time the enormous firepower available from helicopter gunships, bombers and artillery … fighter bombers and artillery pound the enemy positions into the grey porridge that the green delta land becomes when pulverized by high explosives’.16

Apparently the performance of the 9th Division was not entirely satisfactory, however: ‘… . in the Mekong Delta, US military advisers at My Tho told a UPI correspondent, Robert Kaylor, that the government’s pacification programme was still being hampered by the effects of indiscriminate killing of civilians by US 9th Infantry Division troops recently withdrawn from the area. “You can’t exactly expect people who have had parts of their family blown away by the 9th to be wholeheartedly on our side,” said the US source, a member of a pacification team.’17

In the Monitor, 14 October 1969, there is a front page story reviewing such efforts. It explains that ‘the proportion of the country “pacified” has risen with the flow of peasants to resettlement and refugee areas’, although the Viet Cong ‘currently are intensifying their campaign to drive peasants back to their home areas where [they] have a better chance of controlling them’. The picture is clear. We, in our magnanimity, are using our modernizing instruments, bombs and artillery, to lead the suffering peasants to the promised land of resettlement and refugee {43} areas. while the ferocious Viet Cong – mere ‘village thugs’, as the MIT political scientist, Ithiel Pool, explains in the journal of the Gandhi Peace Foundation – cruelly drive them back to their homes. The Monitor article also notes that ‘despite years of thought and effort, officials here are still not agreed on how best to pacify a troubled land. In those years, pacification has advanced from being a theoretical ideal – though inconvenient – to the more important but second-class status of being “the other war”’ – and a proper theoretical exercise for American scientists and scholars.

The New York Times, 24 September 1969, presents an example of how pacification proceeds. North-west of Saigon, 700 soldiers encircled a village, killing twenty-two and arresting fifty-three. It was the fourth such operation in this village in fifteen months. As for the villagers: ‘The Viet Cong are everywhere, they say, and will be back when the Americans leave.’ An American junior officer, looking at the deserted central market, had this to say:

‘They say this village is 80 per cent VC supporters. By the time we finish this it will be 95 per cent.’ Such reports are hardly more newsworthy than a small item of 27 September which notes ‘that United States Army helicopter gunships mistakenly attacked a group of Vietnamese civilians 25 miles west of Tamky Tuesday, killing 14 civilians. … United States helicopter gunships killed 7 unarmed civilians and wounded 17 others in a similar incident 16 September in the Mekong delta.’ It is not easy to avoid such accidents as we try to ensure that the Viet Cong constituency ceases to exist.

In Look magazine, 18 November 1969, Foreign Editor Robert Moskin describes his visit to a refugee camp, which ‘tells part of the story of Vietnam’s hopelessness’. Its 3,125 refugees (240 men) were transferred to this ‘desolate sand-dune camp’ in a military sweep last summer from an island that was regarded as a VC stronghold: ‘The rest of the men are still hiding with the VC in the tall grass.’ This is in Quang Nam province, where even the American officials in charge admit that the battle was lost ‘to Viet Cong forces recruited for the most part from within the province’.18 With an honesty that others would do well to emulate, {44} Moskin states that in Vietnam ‘America’s historic westward-driving wave has crested’.

With justice, ‘a staff major [of the American 1st Division in Chulai] said: “We are at war with the 10-year-old children. It may not be humanitarian, but that’s what it’s like.” ’19

And now there is Song My ‘Pinkville’. More than two decades of indoctrination and counter-revolutionary interventions have created the possibility of a name like ‘Pinkville’ – and the acts that may be done in a place so named. Orville and Jonathan Schell have pointed out20 what any literate person should realize, that this was no isolated atrocity, but the logical consequence of a virtual war of extermination directed against helpless peasants: ‘enemies’, ‘reds’, ‘dinks’. But there are, perhaps, still deeper roots. Some time ago, I read with a slight shock the statement by Eqbal Ahmad that ‘America has institutionalized even its genocide’, referring to the fact that the extermination of the Indians ‘has become the object of public entertainment and children’s games’.21 Shortly after, I was thumbing through my daughter’s fourth-grade social science reader.22 The protagonist, Robert, is told the story of the extermination of the Pequot tribe by Captain John Mason:

His little army attacked in the morning before it was light and took the Pequots by surprise. The soldiers broke down the stockade with their axes, rushed inside, and set fire to the wigwams. They killed nearly all the braves, squaws, and children, and burned their corn and other food. There were no Pequots left to make more trouble. When the other Indian tribes saw what good fighters the white men were, they kept the peace for many years.

I wish I were a man and had been there,’ thought Robert.

Nowhere does Robert express, or hear, second thoughts about the matter. The text omits some other pertinent remarks: for example, by Cotton Mather, who said that ‘it was supposed that no less than six hundred Pequot souls were brought down to hell {45} that day.’23 Is it an exaggeration to suggest that our history of extermination and racism is reaching its climax in Vietnam today? It is not a question that Americans can easily put aside.

The revelation of the Song My atrocity to a wide public appears to have been a by-product of the November mobilization. As Richard L. Strout wrote in the Monitor:

American press self-censorship thwarted Mr Ridenhour’s disclosures for a year. ‘No one wanted to go into it,’ his agent said of telegrams sent to Life, Look, and Newsweek magazines outlining allegations.

Except for the recent antiwar march in Washington the event might not have been publicized. In connexion with the march a news offshoot (Dispatch News Service) of the left-wing Institute of Policy Studies of this city aggressively told and marketed the story to approximately 30 US and Canadian newspapers.24

Apart from this, it probably would have disappeared from history, along with who knows what else.

The first investigation by the Pentagon ‘reported that the carnage was due to artillery fire. Civilian casualties by artillery fire among hostile villages are so common that this explanation ended the inquiry’.25 But the murdered Vietnamese were not the victims of artillery fire. Since the soldiers looked into the faces of their victims, the inquiry must continue, despite the difficulties. Henry Kamm reported in the New York Times that:

The task of the investigators is complicated by the fact that last January, most of the inhabitants of the peninsula were forcibly evacuated by American and South Vietnamese troops in the course of a drive to clear the area of Viet Cong. More than 12,000 persons were removed from Batangan Peninsula by helicopters and taken to a processing camp near this provincial capital. Heavy American bombing and artillery and naval shelling had destroyed many of the houses and forced them to live in caves and bunkers for many months before the evacuation. … An elaborate interrogation and screening procedure, in which American intelligence agents were said to have taken an {46} important part, yielded only a hundred or so active Viet Cong suspects. Most of the people were sent to a newly established refugee camp. … Despite the extensive movement of the population and the military operation, the Viet Cong remain active in the area.26

On 22 November, Kamm adds the further information that ‘the number of refugees “generated” – the term for the people forcibly dislocated in this process – exceeded intelligence estimates fourfold’. ‘The 12,000, instead of being scattered in many hamlets where it would be difficult to keep out the Viet Cong, are now concentrated in six guarded, camp-like settlements.’

It is perhaps remarkable that none of this appears to occasion much concern. It is only the acts of a company of half-crazed GIs that are regarded as a scandal, a disgrace to America. It will, indeed, be a still greater national scandal – if we assume that to be possible – if they alone are subjected to criminal prosecution, but not those who have created and accepted the long-term atrocity to which they contributed one detail – merely a few hundred more murdered Vietnamese.

Recently, a study of American public opinion about Vietnam concluded with this speculation: ‘… . little reaction to the war is based on humanitarian or moral considerations. Americans are not now rejecting “war”, they merely wish to see this current conflict ended. To achieve this goal, most Americans would pursue a more militant policy and ignore resultant atrocities.’27 We may soon discover whether this speculation is correct. Of {47} course, there is sure to be a segment of American society that will not ‘ignore resultant atrocities’ – namely, the irresponsible, loudmouth vocal minority, or those who are described so nicely by Colonel Joseph Bellas, commanding officer of a hospital in Vietnam where soldiers boycotted Thanksgiving dinner in protest against the war: ‘They’re young, they’re idealistic and don’t like man’s inhumanity to man. As they get older they will become wiser and more tolerant.’28 If a majority of the American people will, indeed, ignore resultant atrocities and support Nixon’s policy of pursuing a war without discernible end, then this segment of American society may be subjected to domestic repression of a sort that is not without precedent in American history; we seem to be seeing the early signs today with the savage repression of the Panthers, the conspiracy trial in Chicago, and other incidents.

The fact that repression may be attempted does not imply that it must succeed. Surely the possibility exists, today, to create a broad-based movement of opposition to war and repression that might stave off such an attack. It is now even imaginable, as a few years ago it was not, that a significant American left may emerge that will be a voice in national affairs, and even, perhaps, a potential force for radical social change. There has been a remarkable shift in popular attitudes over the past months, an openness to radical political thinking of a sort that I do not recall for many years. To let these opportunities pass is to condemn many others to the fate of Vietnam.

Is there an ‘honourable’ way out of Vietnam – meaning by that a way that might be tolerable to the present state of American opinion? The question is important, for if the answer is negative, it may well be that the threat of extinction that Fall recognized will in fact be realized. It is important to stress this possibility, in view of the present mood in certain ‘movement’ circles where it is a criterion of one’s radicalism to believe that America has been defeated and that the Vietnamese will win. On the contrary, a serious person will follow Gramsci’s maxim: pessimism of the intelligence, optimism of the will. There is not much doubt that the United States has the power to deny victory, or even continued existence, to the people of Vietnam. No one knows whether the {48} present strategy of capital-intensive war can reduce the level of organized social life in Vietnam to the point where an American-imposed solution may, in its terms, be successful.

There surely is an ‘honourable’ way of ending the war. The PRG and DRV delegations in Paris have proposed such a way, repeatedly. It is a measure of the Government’s contempt for the American people that Nixon was willing to publish Ho Chi Minh’s conciliatory letter, with the statement that it signified – in Nixon’s phrase – ‘the other side’s absolute refusal to show the least willingness to join in seeking peace’. It seems that the intermediary in the Ho-Nixon exchange was Jean Sainteny. He was interviewed by Joseph Kraft, who writes:

I saw Sainteny at the end of September, just after his return from the funeral of Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi. He had had a long talk with Premier Pham Van Dong. He was persuaded that the other side was prepared to accept a settlement that would include an independent and non-Communist South Vietnam set in a neutralist Southeast Asia. The obstacle to agreement in his view was that Hanoi did not have any faith in Mr Nixon’s claim that he wanted an agreement. On the contrary, the North Vietnamese thought the United States was still trying to impose on Saigon, by military means, a pro-American government hostile to Hanoi. M. Sainteny felt – and his feelings were made known to the President – that the United States could dispel Hanoi’s doubts in two ways. One would be a formal statement that the United States recognized the principle of total withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam at some unstipulated date. The other would be by broadening the present regime in Saigon to include some political figures who were not die-hard anti-Communists.29

Corroboratory evidence appears in an article by Philippe Devillers in L’Actualité, 24 October 1969, and Averell Harriman has publicly stated that Kraft’s report is consistent with his understanding of the situation.30 Subsequent statements by Xuan Thuy and Mme Binh in Paris provide further confirmation of the possibilities for a reasonable settlement.

Since 1960, the NLF has demanded that a neutralized South Vietnam be governed by a coalition in which they would have a {49} fair representation. It is this demand that we have consistently opposed – not surprisingly, in view of the judgement of the American mission at the time, and since, on the political power of the NLF relative to that of the succession of puppets we have installed. When the full-scale American invasion began, Bernard Fall cited a remark to George Chaffard of Le Monde by a ‘high-ranking spokesman of the Front’: ‘We have not fought all these years simply to end up by installing one set of dictators in place of the old.’ Fall added: ‘One does not fight for eight long years, under the crushing weight of American armour, napalm, jet bombers and, finally, vomiting gases, for the sheer joy of handing over what one fights for to some bureaucrat in Hanoi, merely on the say-so of a faraway party apparatus.’31 Despite the intensive American effort since 1965 to destroy social life in Vietnam, there is no reason to believe that the situation is fundamentally different today.

Nixon’s speech of 3 November 1969 must be understood as a rejection of these possibilities for an ‘honourable’ settlement, one that should be acceptable to a large, I should think overwhelming, segment of the American public. Nixon denied the existence of the PRG-DRV initiatives, and made it clear that we have no intention of withdrawing our expeditionary force or broadening the Saigon regime. The present Saigon regime, which exists solely by the force of American arms, is not an acceptable partner in a coalition with the PRG and would no doubt collapse were a realistic effort to resolve the conflict seriously contemplated.

Under these conditions, it is important to take note of recent political developments in Saigon. President Thieu has apparently abandoned any effort to construct a significant political base. Elizabeth Pond reports from Saigon that his new party ‘should be very similar to the Can Lao Party [virtually, a branch of Diem’s secret police], as it is being directed by old Diemists, several of whom were Can Lao members’. Thieu has been able to find no political base apart from the generals and the northern {50} Catholics – essentially a reconstruction of the Diem regime.32 One of the Hoa Hao factions recently left Thieu’s party in protest ‘against the intensification of military control of the government in recent months – and the President’s continuing refusal to deal seriously even with the member groups of his own alliance’. Its leader asserted that the President’s coalition ‘cannot do anything good for the country’.33 A report on the non-Communist opposition in South Vietnam quotes Pham Ba Cam, a Hoa Hao leader: ‘It’s not very healthy to be in the opposition in Vietnam. If you want to learn about the status of the non-Communist opposition, go to Con Son [offshore prison island]. That’s where you’ll find the largest gathering.’34 As Pond reports, ‘President Thieu’s decision to organize an Army/Catholic party – at this time and in this manner – sets the course for increasing isolation of the Saigon regime’. It is a decision ‘to maintain the narrow interests and power of the existing military oligarchy as long as possible’.

This narrowing of the base of the Saigon regime reflects the political realities of South Vietnam. It also reflects a rational political judgement on the part of General Thieu:

As Vietnamese sources analyse President Thieu’s thinking, he is calculating that the US cannot afford to lose the war and is therefore stuck here almost no matter what Saigon does. The US might dare, it is reasoned, to abandon the Thieu regime within a year or so, but it would never dare to destroy the South Vietnamese Army. If President Thieu links his destiny inextricably to that of the Army, then, he may figure that the US cannot depose him.35

Thus the current political developments confirm, once again, {51} the failure of the American military to create a workable Quisling regime in the manner of the Russians in Czechoslovakia or the Germans in much of occupied Europe. The consequences of this situation are summarized adequately by Jacques Decornoy:

‘Under these conditions, a military solution may be a task for several decades, supposing, that is, that there still remain Vietnamese to fight and Americans to accept a conflict without end and without hope.’36

Twenty years ago the People’s Republic of China was founded. Just a few months earlier, Dean Acheson had formed a committee to reassess American policy in Asia, now that China was ‘lost’. The committee was to operate under this instruction: ‘You will please take it as your assumption that it is a fundamental decision of American policy that the United States does not intend to permit further extension of Communist domination on the continent of Asia or in the south-east Asia area… ’37 Acheson made his thoughts more precise, shortly afterwards, when writing on the Soviet threat: ‘It is not only the threat of direct military attack which must be considered, but also that of conquest by default, by pressure, by persuasion, by subversion, by “neutralism”’38

In May 1950, Acheson announced that economic aid and military equipment would be sent to the French in Indochina ‘in order to assist them in restoring stability’. Not long after, the State Department explained our support for French imperialism in Indochina in these terms: ‘. . . the fall of Indochina … would be taken by many as a sign that the force of communism is irresistible and would lead to an attitude of defeatism…. Communist forces there must be decisively conquered down to the last pocket of resistance’ – in the name of French imperialism39. The ‘much-needed rice, rubber, and tin’ were also cited as a justification for our support for the French in their ill-fated effort to reconquer their former colony. Upon their failure, we took over management of the enterprise directly. {52}

In 1955 the Communist threat was defined, very perceptively, in an extensive study of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the National Planning Association, The Political Economy of American Foreign Policy, a study that involved a representative segment of the tiny élite that largely determines foreign policy, whoever is technically in office. The primary threat of Communism is the economic transformation of the Communist powers ‘in ways which reduce their willingness and ability to complement the industrial economies of the West’. Communism, in short, reduces the ‘willingness and ability’ of underdeveloped countries to function in the world capitalist economy in the manner of the Philippines – to take a classic Asian example – where:

Their economy has for nearly half a century been deliberately geared into that of the United States to an extent which caused Mr McNutt, in testifying as High Commissioner, to say that ‘our businessmen and our statesmen in past years allowed the Philippines to become a complete economic dependency of the United States to a greater degree than any single State of the Union is economically dependent on the rest of the United States.’40

Since then, there has been little substantive change in what UN Ambassador Salvador Lopez called the classic colonial economy of the Philippines. To be sure, we have bequeathed them the blessings of democracy. As Tillman Durdin accurately describes this legacy of half a century of colonial domination: ‘Filipinos view elections as a confirmation of the power of the wealthy business and landed interests who back both parties but usually pick the winners before Election Day and quietly give them the most support. In this case they picked President Marcos.’41 And in gratitude, the Filipinos have helped us in our war in Vietnam, in the manner explained in a recent report of the Symington subcommittee. William Selover summarized this report in a recent Monitor:

The hearings showed, for example, that the US taxpayer has been {53} paying for the Philippine troop commitment in Vietnam. It has also shown that, without this payment, the Philippines would not have sent a single man to help the US in Vietnam. … Administration officials admitted paying the Philippines some $40 million to send the troops to Vietnam.42

Still more revealing is the stated purpose of the US military commitment to the Philippines. Selover reports Lieutenant-General Robert H. Warren’s admission that the commitment was designed partly ‘to maintain internal security and stability and, thereby, make our own activities over there more secure’. Senator Symington put it succinctly, with General Warren’s reluctant assent: ‘In other words we are paying the Philippine Government to protect us from the Philippine people who do not agree with the policies of the government or do not like Americans.’ Pentagon officials admitted in the hearings that ‘the only real threat that the Philippines faces . .. [is] . . . internal subversion’. The threat is related, perhaps, to the fact that, for most of the population, living standards have not materially changed since the Spanish occupation.

It is this ‘Communist threat’ that we have been combating in Vietnam, where, as has frequently been noted, Vietnamese communism threatens the new order that we have been trying to construct in Asia with Japan as junior partner, linked to Asia by essentially colonial relationships. As President Eisenhower expressed it:

One of Japan’s greatest opportunities for increased trade lies in a free and developing Southeast Asia. . . . The great need in one country is for raw materials, in the other country for manufactured goods. The two regions complement each other markedly. By strengthening of Vietnam and helping ensure the safety of the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, we gradually develop the great trade potential between this region … and highly industrialized Japan to the benefit of {54} both. In this way freedom in the Western Pacific will be greatly strengthened.43

It remains to be seen how long Japan will be able to fend off economic intervention of a sort that is increasingly turning Western Europe into a dependency of American-based multi-national corporations, those ‘US enterprises abroad [which] in the aggregate comprise the third largest country … in the world – with a gross product greater than that of any country except the United States and the Soviet Union’.44

It is not likely that the population of the empire – the ‘integrated world economy’ dominated by American capital, to use the technical euphemism – will remain quiescent, willing indefinitely to complement the industrial economies of the West. Seventy-five years ago, shortly before the American invasion of the Philippines in a war that was, apart from scale, rather like our present war in Vietnam, the Philippine nationalist José Rizal castigated his countrymen because they were ‘like a slave who asked only for a bandage to wrap the chain so that it may rattle less and not ulcerate the skin’. Those days are past. Those whom Marx called ‘the slaves and drudges of the [bourgeois] order’ are no longer satisfied with a bandage to wrap their chains, and their discontent will lead to turmoil and violent repression, so long as we consent.

What can we do to affect the events that are to come? First, we must not make the mistake of placing trust in the government. The large upsurge of anti-war sentiment can be an effective device {55} for changing national policy if it is sustained in continuing mass actions across the country. Otherwise the administration can ride out the storm and continue as before to systematically demolish the society of South Vietnam and Laos. It is difficult week after week, month after month to sustain a high level of protest against the war. As American society becomes more polarized and the true, familiar Nixon emerges in the person of Mitchell or Agnew, as the threat of repression becomes more real, it will be hard to maintain the kinds of resistance and protest that the Vietnam catastrophe demands. As the reports of massacres and automated murder become routine, the impulse to respond by violence may become more difficult to stifle, despite the realization that this can only have the effect of bringing the mass of the population to ‘ignore resultant atrocities’. Continued mass actions, patient explanation, principled resistance can be boring, depressing. But those who programme the B52 attacks and the ‘pacification’ exercise are not bored, and as long as they continue in their work, so must we.

This essay appeared in the 1 January 1970 issue of the New York Review of Books. Reprinted by kind permission.


1. Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Warnke as quoted by Townsend Hoopes, see New York Times, 28 September 1969.Back
2. No More Vietnams?, R. Pfeffer (ed.) (Harper & Row, 1968).Back
3. For detailed analysis based largely on Defense Department sources, see Gabriel Kolko, London Bulletin, August 1969.Back
4. No More Vietnams? For further discussion, see my article in the New York Review, 2 January 1969 and my At War with Asia (Pantheon, 1970), Chapter 1, Section 3.Back
5. Elizabeth Pond, Christian Science Monitor, 8 November 1969.Back
6. On 10 December 1969, after this article was written, Reston returned to the question of Cam Ranh Bay, stating that it was now ‘an air and naval base which is the best in Asia’, and that it has been a ‘fundamental question throughout the Paris negotiations’ whether the US is willing to abandon it ‘and many other modern military bases’. He raises the question whether the US would withdraw all troops or only all ‘combat forces’, a plan which ‘could leave a couple of hundred thousand Americans in Vietnam to maintain and fly the planes and helicopter gunships and continue to train and supply and help direct the Vietnamese’.
There is no indication of any serious intention to withdraw all forces or to abandon the bases. As Joseph Kraft has reported (see p. 49) the American refusal to commit itself to the principle of complete withdrawal is one of the factors blocking progress in Paris. Back
7. In the apt phrase of E. Herman and R. Duboff, ‘How to coo like a dove while fighting to win’, pamphlet of Philadelphia SANE, 20 S. Street, Philadelphia, Penna. 19107.Back
8. Congressional Record, 8 August 1969. Cited in the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, October 1969 (1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, Mass. – an important journal for those concerned with Asian affairs).Back
9. War, Peace, and the Viet Cong (MIT, 1969). He estimates that in 1963 ‘perhaps half the population of South Vietnam at least tacitly supported the NLF’. The same estimate was given by the US Mission in 1962. Elsewhere, he has explained that in late 1964 it was impossible to consider an apparently genuine offer of a coalition government, because there was no force that could compete politically with the Viet Cong, with the possible exception of the Buddhists, who were not long after suppressed as a political force by Marshal Ky’s American-backed storm troopers. The same difficulty has been noted, repeatedly, by spokesmen for the American and Saigon governments and reporters. For some examples, see Herman and Duboff, op. cit., or my American Power and the New Mandarins (Chatto & Windus, 1969), Chapter 3.Back
10. New York Times, 11 June 1968.Back
11. New York Times Magazine, 23 November 1969.Back
12. See Washington Post, 31 October 1969; Los Angeles Times, 31 October 1969; New York Post, 4 November 1969; Science, 7 November 1969. A Vietnamese student in the United States, Ngo Vinh Long, has summarized much of what is known, including his personal experience from 1959 to 1963 when he visited ‘virtually every hamlet and village in the country’ as a military map maker, in Thoi-Bao Ga, November 1969, 76a Pleasant Street, Cambridge, Mass., a monthly publication of Vietnamese students in the United States. He describes how defoliation has been used since 1961 to drive peasants into government-controlled camps, and from his own experience and published records in Vietnam, he records some of the effects: starvation, death, hideously deformed babies. He quotes the head of the Agronomy Section of the Japan Science Council who claims that by 1967 about half the arable land had been seriously affected. For American estimates, see the report of the Daddario subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, 8 August 1969. They estimate the total area sprayed through 1968 as 6,600 square miles (extrapolating through 1969 the figure would reach about 8,600 square miles, about sixty per cent of this respraying – over ten per cent of it crop destruction).Back
13. Weekly selection, 1 October 1969.Back
14. They have appeared in English, and can be obtained from the Committee for the English publication of ‘Vietnam – a voice from the villages’, do Mrs Reiko Ishida, 2-13-7, Nishikata, Bunyo-ku, Tokyo.Back
15. ‘Before this summer, the enemy in the delta consisted mostly of indigenous Vietcong units and guerrillas, many of whom worked during the day in the rice fields and fought at night. The only North Vietnamese were troops and officers who led some of the guerrilla units. They numbered about 800 as against an estimated total of 49,000 Vietcong soldiers and support troops.’ New York Times, 15 September 1969. On 16 September, The Times reports that ‘for the first time in the war, a regular North Vietnamese army unit, the 18B Regiment, had attacked in the delta’.Back
16. New York Times, Peter Arnett, 15 April 1969. Arnett claims that only ninety per cent of the enemy forces of 40,000 are recruited locally, giving a far higher estimate of North Vietnamese than the intelligence reports cited above, or others: e.g., Christian Science Monitor, 16 September 1969, which reports that in the early fall of 1969 ‘North Vietnamese troops in the delta doubled in number, to between 2,000 and 3,000 men.’Back
17. Boston Globe, 1 December 1969.Back
18. William Nighswonger, Rural Pacification in Vietnam (Praeger, 1967).Back
19. Henry Kamm, New York Times, 1 December 1969.Back
20. New York Times, 26 November 1969.Back
21. In No More Vietnams? On the widely noted analogy between Vietnam and the Indian wars see my American Power and the New Mandarins, Chapter 3, note 42.Back
22. Harold B. Clifford, Exploring New England (Follett, 1961).Back
23. See Howard Zinn, ‘Violence and social change’, Boston University Graduate Journal, Fall 1968. When disease decimated the Indians, Mather said: ‘The woods were almost cleared of those pernicious creatures, to make room for a better growth.’Back
24. On 24 November 1969. Attention Mr Agnew.Back
25. ibid., 29 November 1969.Back
26. Henry Kamm, New York Times, 15 November 1969.Back
27. J. Robinson and S. G. Jacobson, in Vietnam: Issues and Alternatives (Shenkman, 1968), a symposium of the Peace Research Society (International). This organization, following a script by Orwell, is concerned with a special kind of peace research: the question of ‘how pacification can be achieved in turbulent village societies’, along lines that we have been pioneering in Vietnam, for example. The editor explains that the United States is one ‘participant in the game of world domination’. It might be asked why scholars should assist the Government in this game. The answer is that the foreign policy of the US has been characterized ‘by good-intentioned leaders and policy makers’, so the problem, presumably, does not arise. But even the Peace Research Society (International) is not monolithic. It would be unfair to assume that the conclusion of the cited study is mere wishful thinking. It has to be taken seriously.Back
28. Reuters, Boston Globe, 27 November 1969.Back
29. Boston Globe, 10 November 1969.Back
30. In a panel at Johns Hopkins University, 14 November 1969Back
31. New Society, 22 April 1965, reprinted in Fall and Raskin, Vietnam Reader. Those who speak so glibly of ‘bloodbaths’ might note his report that from 1957 through April 1965, ‘over 160,000 South Vietnamese [overwhelmingly Viet Cong] have thus far been killed in this war’. Note the date.Back
32. Monitor, 6, 8, 14 November 1969. Miss Pond has been one of the few correspondents, over the years, to give any serious attention to Vietnamese political and social life. In the past, her analyses have proven quite accurate. For additional corroboratory information, see D. Gareth Porter, ‘The Diemist restoration’, Commonweal, 11 July 1969.Back
33. John Woodruff, Baltimore Sun, 25 October 1969.Back
34. Terence Smith, New York Times, dateline 24 October 1969. The scale and character of forceful repression of dissent in South Vietnam have been amply reported. See, for example, Herman and Duboff, op. cit., and references therein.Back
35. Pond, 6 November 1969.Back
36. Le Monde diplomatique, November.Back
37. Memorandum from Acheson to Philip Jessup, cited by Gabriel Kolko, Roots of American Foreign Policy (Beacon Press, 1969), p. 95 (see note 10, p. 82 below).Back
38. Cited by Walter LaFeber, America, Russia and the Cold War 1945-1966 (Wiley, 1968), p.102.Back
39. ibid., p.116.Back
40. Rupert Emerson, in J. C. Vincent (ed.), America’s Future in the Pacific, 1947.Back
41. Commenting on the recent elections, New York Times, 16 November 1969. For some discussion of Philippine politics, see Onofre Corpuz, The Philippines (Prentice-Hall, 1966).Back
42. 28 November 1969: ‘From the hearings it is learned that the US paid South Korea and Thailand as well to send their troops to Vietnam in a show of solidarity.’ This was somewhat more expensive. According to The Times, 1 December, the bribe to Thailand amounted to a billion dollars.Back
43. 4 April 1959, quoted in Harry Magdoff, The Age of Imperialism (Monthly Review Press, 1969). On early American post-war policy in this area, see John Dower, ‘Occupied Japan and the American Lake’, in America’s Asia, M. Seldon and E. Friedman (eds.), (Pantheon, 1970). He presents material in support of the analysis of ‘critical Japanese commentators’ that ‘Japan was to be developed not only as a military base against China and the Soviet Union, but also as an industrial base supporting the counter-revolutionary cause in Southeast Asia’, a policy that was opposed not only by Russia but also by virtually all the members of the Far Eastern Commission. See also his essay on the US-Japan military relationship in the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, October 1969 (see note 8 above). For still earlier background, see Gabriel Kolko, Politics of War (Random House, 1968).Back
44. Leo Model, Foreign Affair, July 1967, quoted in Magdoff, op. cit.Back

Bertrand Russell Speech to the First Meeting of Members of the War Crimes Tribunal


Speech to the First Meeting of Members of the War Crimes Tribunal, London, 13 November 1966¹

Allow me to express my appreciation to you for your willingness to participate in this Tribunal. It has been convened so that we may investigate and assess the character of the United States’ war in Vietnam.

The Tribunal has no clear historical precedent. The Nuremberg Tribunal, although concerned with designated war crimes, was possible because the victorious allied Powers compelled the vanquished to present their leaders for trial. Inevitably, the Nuremberg trials, supported as they were by state power, contained a strong element of realpolitik. Despite these inhibiting factors, which call in question certain of the Nuremberg procedures, the Nuremberg Tribunal expressed the sense of outrage, which was virtually universal, at the crimes committed by the Nazis in Europe. Somehow, it was widely felt, there had to be criteria against which such actions could be judged, and according to which Nazi crimes could be condemned. Many felt it was morally necessary to record the full horror. It was hoped that a legal method could be devised, capable of coming to terms with the magnitude of Nazi crimes. These ill-defined but deeply felt sentiments surrounded the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Our own task is more difficult, but the same responsibility obtains. We do not represent any state power, nor can we compel the policy-makers responsible for crimes against the people of Vietnam to stand accused before us. We lack force majeure. The procedures of a trial are impossible to implement.

I believe that these apparent limitations are, in fact, virtues. We are free to conduct a solemn and historic investigation, uncompelled {57} by reasons of state or other such obligations. Why is this war being fought in Vietnam? In whose interest is it being waged? We have, I am certain, an obligation to study these questions and to pronounce on them, after thorough investigation, for in doing so we can assist mankind in understanding why a small agrarian people have endured for more than twelve years the assault of the largest industrial power on earth, possessing the most developed and cruel military capacity.

I have prepared a paper, which I hope you will wish to read during your deliberations. It sets out a considerable number of reports from Western newspapers and such sources, giving an indication of the record of the United States in Vietnam. These reports should make it clear that we enter our inquiry with considerable prima facie evidence of crimes reported not by the victims but by media favourable to the policies responsible. I believe that we are justified in concluding that it is necessary to convene a solemn Tribunal, composed of men eminent not through their power, but through their intellectual and moral contribution to what we optimistically call ‘human civilization’.

I feel certain that this Tribunal will perform an historic role if its investigation is exhaustive. We must record the truth in Vietnam. We must pass judgement on what we find to be the truth. We must warn of the consequences of this truth. We must, moreover, reject the view that only indifferent men are impartial men. We must repudiate the degenerate conception of individual intelligence, which confuses open minds with empty ones.

I hope that this Tribunal will select men who respect the truth and whose life’s work bears witness to that respect. Such men will have feelings about the prima facie evidence of which I speak. No man unacquainted with this evidence through indifference has any claim to judge it.

I enjoin this Tribunal to select commissions for the purpose of dividing the areas of investigation and taking responsibility for their conduct, under the Tribunal’s jurisdiction. I hope that teams of qualified investigators will be chosen to study in Vietnam the evidence of which we have witnessed only a small part. I should like to see the United States Government requested to present evidence in defence of its actions. The resistance of the National Liberation Front and of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam {58} must also be assessed and placed in its true relation to the civilization we choose to uphold. We have about five months of work before us, before the full hearings, which have been planned for Paris.

As I reflect on this work, I cannot help thinking of the events of my life, because of the crimes I have seen and the hopes I have nurtured. I have lived through the Dreyfus Case and been party to the investigation of the crimes committed by King Leopold in the Congo. I can recall many wars. Much injustice has been recorded quietly during these decades. In my own experience I cannot discover a situation quite comparable. I cannot recall a people so tormented, yet so devoid of the failings of their tormentors. I do not know any other conflict in which the disparity in physical power was so vast. I have no memory of any people so enduring, or of any nation with a spirit of resistance so unquenchable.

I will not conceal from you the profundity of my admiration and passion for the people of Vietnam. I cannot relinquish the duty to judge what has been done to them because I have such feelings. Our mandate is to uncover and tell all. My conviction is that no greater tribute can be provided than an offer of the truth, born of intense and unyielding inquiry.

May this Tribunal prevent the crime of silence.

1. From Autobiography (Allen & Unwin, 1969), vol. III, pp. 215-16.Back

Aims of the Tribunal agreed at the Constituting Session

Aims of the Tribunal agreed at the Constituting Session, London, 15 November 1966

We constitute ourselves a Tribunal which, even if it has not the power to impose sanctions, will have to answer, amongst others, the following questions:

1. Has the United States Government (and the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and South Korea) committed acts of aggression according to international law? {59}

2. Has the American army made use of or experimented with new weapons or weapons forbidden by the laws of war?

3. Has there been bombardment of targets of a purely civilian character, for example hospitals, schools, sanatoria, dams, etc., and on what scale has this occurred?

4. Have Vietnamese prisoners been subjected to inhuman treatment forbidden by the laws of war and, in particular, to torture or mutilation? Have there been unjustified reprisals against the civilian population, in particular, execution of hostages?

5. Have forced labour camps been created, has there been deportation of the population or other acts tending to the extermination of the population and which can be characterized juridically as acts of genocide?

This Tribunal will examine all the evidence that may be placed before it by any source or party. The evidence may be oral, or in the form of documents. No evidence relevant to our purposes will be refused attention. No witness competent to testify about the events with which our inquiry is concerned will be denied a hearing. The National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam have assured us of their willingness to cooperate, to provide the necessary information, and to help us in checking the accuracy and reliability of the information. The Cambodian Head of State, Prince Sihanouk, has similarly offered to help by the production of evidence. We trust that they will honour this pledge and we shall gratefully accept their help, without prejudice to our own views or attitudes. We renew, as a Tribunal, the appeal which Bertrand Russell has addressed in his name to the Government of the United States. We invite the Government of the United States to present evidence or cause it to be presented, and to instruct its officials or representatives to appear and state their case. Our purpose is to establish, without fear or favour, the full truth about this war. We sincerely hope that our efforts will contribute to the world’s justice, to the re-establishment of peace and the liberation of oppressed peoples.

International War Crimes Tribunal

1. A list of the members of the Tribunal can be found on p. 369. {60}{61}{62}

JEAN-PAUL SARTRE Inaugural Statement


Inaugural Statement

Our Tribunal was formed, on the initiative of Lord Bertrand Russell, to decide whether the accusations of ‘war crimes’ levelled against the government of the United States as well as against those of South Korea, New Zealand and Australia, during the conflict in Vietnam, are justified.

During this inaugural session, the origin, function, aims and limits of the Tribunal must be clarified: the Tribunal means to explain itself, without sidetracking, on the question of what has been called its ‘legitimacy’.

In 1945, something absolutely new in history appeared at Nuremberg with the first international Tribunal formed to pass judgement on crimes committed by a belligerent power. Until then there had been a few international agreements, for instance the Briand-Kellogg pact, which were aimed at limiting the jus ad bellum; but as no other body had been created to implement them, the relations between the powers continued to operate under the law of the jungle. It could not be otherwise: the nations which had built their wealth upon the conquest of great colonial empires would not have tolerated being judged upon their actions in Africa or Asia.

From 1939, the Hitlerian furies had endangered the world to such an extent that the horrified Allies decided, since they were to be the victors, to judge and condemn the wars of aggression and conquest, the maltreatment of prisoners and the tortures, as well as the racist practices known as ‘genocide’, unaware that they were condemning themselves, in this way, for their own actions in the colonies.

For this reason, that is to say because they were recognizing the Nazi crimes, and because, in the more universal sense, they were opening the way to a real jurisdiction for the denunciation and {63} condemnation of war crimes wherever committed, and whoever the culprits, the Tribunal of Nuremberg is still the manifestation of a change of capital importance: the substitution of jus ad bellum by jus contra bellum.

Unfortunately, as is wont to happen whenever a new force is created by historical exigencies, this Tribunal was not free from serious faults. It has been said that it was a diktat of the victors to the vanquished and, which comes to the same thing, that it was not really being international: one group of nations was judging another. Would it have been more worthwhile to have taken the judges from neutral countries? I cannot say. What is certain, however, is that, although the decisions were perfectly just by ethical standards, they did not convince all Germans. The legitimacy of the magistrates and their sentences is contested to this day. Also, it has been declared that, if the fortunes of war had been otherwise, a tribunal of the Axis could have condemned the Allies for the bombing of Dresden or for that of Hiroshima.

Such a body would not have been difficult to set up. It would have sufficed that the body created for the judgement of the Nazis had continued after its original task, or that the United Nations, considering all the consequences of what had just been achieved, would, by a vote of the General Assembly, have consolidated it into a permanent tribunal, empowered to investigate and to judge all accusations of war crimes, even if the accused should be one of the countries that had been responsible for the sentencing at Nuremberg. In this way, the implicit universality of the original intention would have been clearly defined. However, we know what did happen: hardly had the last guilty German been sentenced than the Tribunal vanished and no one ever heard of it again.

Are we therefore so pure? Have there been no war crimes since 1945? Have we never had further resort to violence or to aggression? Have there been no more ‘genocides’? Has no large country ever tried to break by force the sovereignty of a smaller one? Has there never been reason for denouncing more Oradours or Auschwitzes?

You know the truth: in the last twenty years, the great historical act has been the struggle of the underdeveloped nations for their freedom. The colonial empires have crumbled, and in {64} their place independent nations have grown or have reclaimed ancient and traditional independence which had been eliminated by colonialism. All this has happened in suffering, sweat and blood. A tribunal such as that of Nuremberg has become a permanent necessity. I have already said that, before the Nazi trials, war was lawless. The Nuremberg Tribunal, an ambiguous reality, was created from the highest legal principles no doubt but, at the same time, it created a precedent, the embryo of a tradition. Nobody can go back, stop what has already existed, nor, when a small and poor country is the object of aggression, prevent one from thinking back to those trials and saying to oneself: it is this very same thing that was condemned then. In this way, the hasty and incomplete measures taken and then abandoned by the Allies in 1945 have created a real gap in international affairs. We sadly lack an organization which has been created and affirmed in its permanency and universality and which has irreversibly defined its rights and duties. It is a gap which must be filled and yet which no one will fill.

There are, in fact, two sources of power for such a body. The first is the state and its institutions. However, in this period of violence most governments, if they took such an initiative, would fear that it might one day be used against them and that they would find themselves in the dock with the accused.

And then, for many, the United States is a powerful ally: who would dare ask for the resurrection of a tribunal whose first action would be to demand an inquiry on the Vietnam conflict? The other source is the people, in a revolutionary period, when institutions are changing. But, although the struggle is implacable, how could the masses, divided by frontiers, unite and impose on the various governments an institution which would be a true Court of the People?

The Russell Tribunal was born of this doubly contradictory conclusion: the judgement of Nuremberg had necessitated the existence of an institution to inquire into war crimes and, if necessary, to sit in judgement; today neither governments nor the masses are capable of forming one. We are perfectly aware that we have not been given a mandate by anyone; but we took the initiative to meet, and we also know that nobody could have given us a mandate. It is true that our Tribunal is not an institution. But, {65} it is not a substitute for any institution already in existence: it is, on the contrary, formed out of a void and for a real need. We were not recruited or invested with real powers by governments: but, as we have just seen, the investiture at Nuremberg was not enough to give the jurists unquestioned legality. . . . The Russell Tribunal believes, on the contrary, that its legality comes from both its absolute powerlessness and its universality.

We are powerless: that is the guarantee of our independence. There is nothing to help us except for the participation of the supporting committees which are, like ourselves, meetings of private individuals. As we do not represent any government or party, we cannot receive orders. We will examine the facts ‘in our souls and our consciences’, as we say, or, if one prefers, in the full liberty of our spirits. None of us can state, today, how the discussions will turn out and whether we answer yes or no to the accusations, or whether we will come to a conclusion at all, perhaps deciding that the evidence, though real, is insufficiently proven. What is certain, in any case, is that our weakness, even if we are convinced by the proof brought before us, would not enable us to condemn. What can even the lightest sentence mean if we do not have the means to put it into effect? We will therefore limit ourselves, should this arise, to declaring that this or that act does in fact fall under the jurisdiction of Nuremberg, and that it is therefore a war crime and that, if the law were applied, it would be appropriate for this or that sentence to be carried out. In this case, if possible, we will name the guilty. Thus, the Russell Tribunal will have no other function in this inquiry and its conclusions, but to make everybody understand the necessity for international jurisdiction – which it has neither the means nor the ambition to replace and the essence of which would be to resuscitate the jus contra bellum, stillborn at Nuremberg, and to substitute legal, ethical laws for the law of the jungle.

From the very fact that we are simple citizens, we have been able, in coopting ourselves from all over the world, to give our Tribunal a more universal structure than that which prevailed at Nuremberg. I do not only mean that a larger number of countries is represented; from this point of view there are still many gaps. But, most of all, whilst in 1945 the Germans were represented only in the dock, or sometimes as witnesses, here {66} several members of the jury are from the USA. This means that they come from the country whose very policy is our subject and that they have, therefore, their own ways of understanding it. Whatever may be their conclusions, the intimate relation with their own country and its institutions and traditions will necessarily be reflected in this Tribunal’s conclusions.

Whatever may be our wishes for impartiality and universality, we are very conscious that this does not legitimize our undertaking. What we would really like is that our legitimation would be in retrospect, or a posteriori. In fact we do not work for ourselves nor for our own edification, and we do not presume to impose our conclusions like a thunderbolt. In truth, we would wish, with press collaboration, to maintain constant contact between ourselves and the masses all over the world who are painfully watching the tragedy in Vietnam. We hope that they will be learning while we learn, that they will watch and understand, and come to their own conclusions. These conclusions, whatever they may be, we would wish to be reached individually and independently of those we come to ourselves. This session is a communal undertaking for which the final term should be, as a philosopher said, ‘une verité devenue’. If the masses agree with our judgement, it will become truth, and we, at the very moment when we step back so that they will become the guardians and powerful supporters of that truth, will then know that we have been legitimized. When the people show their agreement they will also show a greater need: that a real ‘War Crimes Tribunal’ be created on a permanent basis, that these crimes may be denounced and not sanctioned anywhere and at any time.

These last remarks reply to a critical comment made, without ill-feeling, in a Paris newspaper: ‘What a strange Tribunal: jurymen but no judge!’ It is true, we are only jurymen, we have no power to condemn, nor to acquit anyone. Therefore, we are not prosecutors. There will not even be a real accusation. Maître Matarasso, President of the Legal Commission, will read you a statement of the charges registered. The jurists, at the end of the session, will have to pronounce on these statements: are they justified or not? But judges exist everywhere. It is for the peoples of the world and, in particular, the American people that we are working. {67}

LEON MATARASSO Outline of the General Introductory Report


Outline of the General Introductory Report

After a brief introduction recalling the origins, the composition, the competence and the procedures of the Tribunal, the report contains two parts:

1. The rules of law which apply.
2. The crimes charged.

Part 1. The rules of law which apply

Crimes against the peace and wars of aggression

(a) Definition. Crimes against the peace are thus defined by article 6 of the Nuremberg statutes: ‘planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing’.

(b) The illegality of recourse to war in international relations has been stated in numerous texts, of which the most important is the Paris Pact of 27 August 1928 (the Briand-Kellogg Pact), bearing the signature of the President of the United States of America. This is the text which was invoked at the greatest length by the Nuremberg judgements condemning the wars of aggression charged to Germany.

(c) Other international texts condemning recourse to war and bearing the signature of the United States of America will also be cited.

(d) Recourse to war is also unlawful according to the terms of article 2, paragraphs 3 and 4, of the United Nations Charter.

(e) But recourse to war is not only an unlawful act; it is also a criminal act. The discussion which arose at Nuremberg on this {68} point no longer presents any more than a theoretical character, the Nuremberg verdict and the United Nations resolution of 11 December 1946 having hallowed, in positive international law, the criminal character of recourse to war.

(f) Independently of the violation of the fundamental international rule condemning recourse to war in international relations, a war can furthermore constitute a more precise violation of the specific obligations resulting from such and such a treaty. it is in this sense that the Nuremberg judgement enumerated twenty-six agreements violated by Germany.

(g) It should be emphasized that since Nuremberg the notion of war of aggression has undergone a certain evolution. The United Nations Charter mentions in two different paragraphs the necessity to have recourse to peaceful means in order to resolve international disputes on the one hand, and the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of a State on the other. For its part, the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 14 December 1960 proclaimed the necessity to permit all peoples ‘to peacefully and freely exercise their rights to complete independence and integrity of their national territory’. Therefore it seems that a difference must henceforth be made between a war waged in order to resolve an international dispute, and a war waged in order to attack the national existence of a state. In the latter case, one is certainly confronted with an international crime of greater seriousness, and one can even wonder if it is not a question of a crime of aggression of a particular nature, distinct from the crimes of aggression previously described.

War crimes

(a) War crimes are thus defined by the Nuremberg statutes:
‘violations of the laws and customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.’

(b) The fundamental text concerning the rights and practices of {69} war is constituted by the fourth Convention of The Hague of 18 October 1907, and the ruling which is annexed to it. Article 25 of said ruling hallowed the fundamental principle of positive international law according to which ‘belligerents do not have an unlimited right concerning the choice of means of doing harm to the enemy’. Other articles decree the principal prohibitions.

(c) Concerning the treatment of prisoners of war, of the wounded and the sick, and the protection of civilians in time of war, the basic texts in force are the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which went into effect on 21 October 1950.

(d) As for gases and analogous substances, the basic text is the Geneva Protocol of 1925. This protocol was not ratified by the United States, but it is commonly admitted that its provisions express a customary law of universal applicability.

(e) The entirety of the rules, recognized by the United States of America as binding, is contained in an official manual (‘Department of the Army field manual’) entitled The Law of Land Warfare, published by the United States Department of Defense in 1956 (reference number: FM 27-10). There is a companion volume of the treaties and Conventions which the American army is required to respect. We shall frequently have occasion, in the course of the Tribunal’s discussions, to refer to these two documents, which can in no way be contested by the United States government.

Crimes against humanity

(a) They are thus defined by the Nuremberg statutes: ‘murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connexion with any crimes within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated’.

(b) Discussion of crimes against humanity committed outside of a state of war and those which could be committed in the course of war – discussion which was taken up before the Nuremberg Tribunal – is of no interest to the debates which will take place before our Tribunal. {70}

(c) Crimes against humanity are characterized especially by the extent of the affected populations, and by the motives for these crimes.
In certain cases, the same facts can simultaneously constitute a crime against humanity and a war crime.


(a) Genocide, as it is denounced by the International Convention of 9 December 1948, consists of the destruction or the persecution of human groups conceived of as national, ethnic, racial or religious entities.

(b) The crime can be committed by the following acts: murder of members of the group, serious attack on the physical or mental integrity of members of the group, intentional submission of the group to conditions of existence which, by their very nature, will lead to its partial or total physical destruction, measures designed to prevent births within the group, and finally, forced transference of children from the group to another group.

Part 2. The crimes charged

General comment

The enunciation of the principal crimes condemned under inter national penal law, and with which the United States of America is charged, as this enunciation will be briefly made in this introductory report, can only constitute, at this stage of the debates, a statement of grievances, for which there is not yet any supporting evidence.
Each category of crimes will be dealt with in detailed reports, which will be accompanied, in each case, by supporting evidence.At the end of the discussions, and before the deliberation, a statement will be made, which will sum up all the facts established in the course of the hearings. {71}

Crimes against the peace and wars of aggression

(a) When the Geneva Accords were signed in 1954, a legal settlement governing Vietnam was created. This legal settlement was accepted by all the interested parties, and by the general body of these nations.

(b) By using armed force to modify this legal settlement, the United States has replaced a state of peace with an armed conflict. Therefore, it bears the responsibility for the transition from the state of peace to the state of war, and it has consequently committed what is considered in international law to be a war of aggression, a crime against the peace.

(c) The nature of the Geneva Accords of July 1954 will be briefly recalled, that is, an agreement on the cessation of hostilities signed by the commander-in-chief of the People’s Army of Vietnam and by the commander-in-chief of the forces of the French Union, followed by two declarations, the final declaration made by the various participants, and a declaration made by the United States representative.

(d) A brief summary will be made of the main provisions of the Geneva Accords, in particular those relating to the independence, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Vietnam, and also those stressing the temporary nature of the demarcation line, and the impossibility of its being interpreted as constituting a political and territorial boundary.

There will also be reference to certain essential provisions of the Geneva Accords, namely the prohibition of any persecution arising from activities which took place during the preceding war, the prohibition on introducing new troops, military personnel, weapons and munitions, as well as the installation of military bases.

Finally, mention will be made of the elections scheduled for July 1956, and the obligation to begin preparing them by undertaking contacts in July 1955.

(e) The foregoing provisions will be compared with the behaviour of the United States of America, and it will be pointed out that, beginning even before 1954, a certain number of actions already testified to the intention of the United States to seize Vietnam. In this connexion will be recalled the conditions under {72} which the United States set up the Diem government in Saigon a few weeks before the Geneva Accords.

This confrontation will enable us to realize the progressive character of the American aggression, and of the successive violations of the Geneva Accords (persecution of former members of the resistance, refusal to hold the elections scheduled for 1956, introduction on a large scale of weapons and personnel, introduction of paid men).

(f) In the face of this aggression, the struggle of the people of South Vietnam until 1959 assumed the character of a national struggle against foreign intrusion, by taking the form only of a political struggle.

It is only from 1959 on, and in face of the development of American aggression, that the struggle in the South took the form of an armed conflict, which was led, from 1960 on, by the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam.

(g) Finally, we will deal with the conditions in which American aggression against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam took place, and also with the so-called politics of escalation, underlining the concomitant threat to peace in south-east Asia and throughout the world.

We will stress the weakness of the arguments invoked by the United States in order to justify its activities, particularly as they are presented in the ‘juridical memorandum on the legality of United States participation in the defence of Vietnam’ dated 4 March 1966, presented before the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate.

(h) The conclusion will be that the United States seems to have committed a crime against the peace, that is to say, it has waged a war of aggression in violation of both general and particular treaties, with the additional factor that, in this case, recourse to force is directed against the territorial integrity and political independence of a state – Vietnam – whose integrity and independence are recognized by the Geneva Accords.
It is not only a question of a war of aggression which, like every war that sets out to settle an international dispute by force, is unlawful and criminal, but also a war of aggression conducted against the right to live of the Vietnamese people.
The Nuremberg judgement rightly declared that a war of {73} aggression is the supreme international crime, since it contains within it all the other crimes. It is this crime that has been committed by the United States in Vietnam, but we Will see that it has been accompanied by numerous other crimes.

War crimes properly so called

(a) In this introductory report, we do not set out to recall in detail all the war crimes imputed to the American armed forces in the execution of its military operations.

(b) Massive, systematic and intentional bombing of the civilian population and of civilian objectives (hospitals, schools, churches, pagodas, etc …). All information will be brought before the Tribunal dealing with the extraordinary extent of these bombings – which are regularly preceded by reconnaissance flights – and also with the quantity, nature and diversity of the devices employed. Among the witnesses who will give evidence on this question will be, in first place, the members of the investigating commissions who went to North Vietnam on behalf of the Tribunal.

(c) Policy of destruction, persecution and massacre in South Vietnam, in contempt of international rules on the treatment of civilian populations in occupied territories.

(d) Murders. tortures or harmful treatment inflicted upon prisoners of war in contempt of the provisions of the International Conventions of Geneva of 1949.

(e) Besides the use of certain weapons or devices in unlawful conditions allowing the commission of the above-mentioned crimes, the use of new weapons of a patently ‘anti-personnel’ nature, directed against civilian populations. In this regard, very special attention will be given to the so-called fragmentation bombs, which the Tribunal will be asked to declare to be prohibited weapons.

(f) Massive deportation of populations, and concentration in special camps created for this purpose. A detailed study of these camps (sometimes called ‘strategic hamlets’) will be made, and they will be compared to the concentration camps organized by Germany during the last World War, and which were the object of the judgement at Nuremberg.

(g) A detailed study of the gases and toxic products employed {74} by the United States army will be made, including not only a scientific analysis of these products, but also the particular conditions under which they are used.

Crimes against humanity

(a) As we have recalled, crimes against humanity are distinguished, in fact, from war crimes only by their scope and by the intention to exterminate which inspires them.

(b) We believe that we can demonstrate to the Tribunal that the crimes we have just listed have had far-reaching consequences for the populations affected, and that they have been perpetrated with the obvious objective of exterminating one part of the population of Vietnam in order to force the other part into surrendering.


The International Convention on genocide esteems that this crime is committed when a group of human beings. considered to be a national, ethnic or religious entity, is massacred or persecuted.

If all the crimes we have just listed (crimes against the peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity) are taken as a whole, one can say that, if one gives the most restricted interpretation to the text on genocide, one is nevertheless dealing with such a crime.
This crime, which is the culmination of the war of aggression, and which includes all crimes perpetrated in conducting the war, constitutes an attempt to exterminate an entire nation.


The war being waged by the United States in Vietnam, both in principle and in the way it is being executed, is criminal according to Positive International Law.
It has culminated in the crime of genocide, which has already been, and is still being, committed.

To have some idea of the contempt with which United States {75} representatives treat the question of the legality of their intervention in Vietnam, one has only to quote an interview given by Mr Henry Cabot Lodge, at that time United States Ambassador in Saigon. In the course of this interview, he replied as follows:

Question: Questions have recently been raised on the legal aspect of what we are doing in Vietnam. In what way are we justified by International Law?

Answer: As far as I’m concerned, the legal aspect of this affair is of no significance. ….1

1. US News and World Report, 15 February 1965.

GABRIEL KOLKO The United States in Vietnam 1944-66: Origins and Objectives of an Intervention


The United States in Vietnam 1944-66: Origins and Objectives of an Intervention

The intervention of the United States in Vietnam is the most important single embodiment of the power and purposes of American foreign policy since the Second World War, and no other crisis reveals so much of the basic motivating forces and objectives – and weaknesses – of American global politics. A theory of the origins and meaning of the war also discloses the origins of an American malaise that is global in its reaches, impinging on this nation’s conduct everywhere. To understand Vietnam is also to comprehend not just the present purposes of American action but also to anticipate its thrust and direction in the future.

Vietnam illustrates, as well, the nature of the American internal political process and decision-making structure when it exceeds the views of a major sector of the people, for no other event of our generation has turned such a large proportion of the nation against its government’s policy or so profoundly alienated its {76} youth. And at no time has the government conceded so little to democratic sentiment, pursuing as it has a policy of escalation that reveals that its policy is formulated not with an eye to democratic sanctions and compromises but rather the attainment of specific interests and goals scarcely shared by the vast majority of the nation.

The inability of the United States to apply its vast material and economic power to compensate for the ideological and human superiority of revolutionary and guerrilla movements throughout the world has been the core of its frustration in Vietnam. From a purely economic viewpoint, the United States cannot maintain its existing vital dominating relationship to much of the Third World unless it can keep the poor nations from moving too far towards the Left and the Cuban or Vietnamese path. A widespread leftward movement would critically affect its supply of raw materials and have profound long-term repercussions. It is the American view of the need for relative internal stability within the poorer nations that has resulted in a long list of United States interventions since 1946 into the affairs of numerous nations, from Greece to Guatemala, of which Vietnam is only the consummate example – but in principle no different from numerous others. The accuracy of the ‘domino’ theory, with its projection of the eventual loss of whole regions to American direction and access, explains the direct continuity between the larger United States global strategy and Vietnam.

Yet, ironically, while the United States struggles in Vietnam and the Third World to retain its own mastery, or to continue that once held by the former colonial powers, it simultaneously weakens itself in its deepening economic conflict with Europe, revealing the limits of America’s power to attain its ambition to define the preconditions and direction of global economic and political developments. Vietnam is essentially an American intervention against a nationalist, revolutionary agrarian movement which embodies social elements in incipient and similar forms of development in numerous other Third World nations. It is in no sense a civil war, with the United States supporting one local faction against another, but an effort to preserve a mode of traditional colonialism via a minute, historically opportunistic comprador class in Saigon. For the United States to fail in Vietnam {77} would be to make the point that even the massive intervention of the most powerful nation in the history of the world was insufficient to stem profoundly popular social and national revolutions throughout the world. Such a revelation of American weaknesses would be tantamount to a demotion of the United States from its present role as the world’s dominant super-power.

Given the scope of United States ambitions in relation to the Third World, and the sheer physical limits on the successful implementation of such a policy, Vietnam also reveals the passivity of the American military establishment in formulating global objectives that are intrinsically economic and geopolitical in character. Civilians, above all, have calculated the applications of American power in Vietnam and their strategies have prompted each military escalation according to their definitions of American interests. Even in conditions of consistent military impotence and defeat, Vietnam has fully revealed the tractable character of the American military when confronted with civilian authority, and their continuous willingness to obey civilian orders loyally.

It is in this broader framework of the roots of United States foreign policy since 1945 that we must comprehend the history and causes of the war in Vietnam and relate it to the larger setting of the goals of America’s leaders and the function of United States power in the modern world.

Throughout the Second World War the leaders of the United States scarcely considered the future of Indochina, but during 1943 President Roosevelt suggested that Indochina become a four-power trusteeship after the war, proposing that the eventual independence of the Indochinese might follow in twenty to thirty years. No one speculated whether such a policy would require American troops, but it was clear that the removal of French power was motivated by a desire to penalize French collaboration with Germany and Japan, or de Gaulle’s annoying independence, rather than a belief in the intrinsic value of freedom for the Vietnamese. Yet what was critical in the very first American position was that ultimate independence would not be something that {78} the Vietnamese might take themselves, but a blessing the other Great Powers might grant at their own convenience. Implicit in this attitude was the seed of opposition to the independence movement that already existed in Vietnam. Indeed, all factors being equal, the policy towards European colonialism would depend on the extent to which the involved European nations accepted American objectives elsewhere, but also on the nature of the local opposition. If the Left led the independence movements, as in the Philippines, Korea or Indochina, then the United States sustained collaborationist alternatives, if possible, or endorsed colonialism.

Although Roosevelt at Yalta repeated his desire for a trusteeship, during March 1945 he considered the possibility of French restoration in return for their pledge eventually to grant independence. But by May 1945 there was no written, affirmative directive on United States political policy in Indochina. The gap was in part due to the low priority assigned the issue, but also reflected growing apprehension as to what the future of those countries as independent states might hold.1

At the Potsdam Conference of July 1945, and again in the General Order Number 1 the United States unilaterally issued several weeks later, the remaining equivocation on Indochina was resolved by authorizing the British takeover of the nation south of the 16th parallel and Chinese occupation north of it, and this definitely meant the restoration of the French whom the British had loyally supported since 1943. One cannot exaggerate the importance of these steps, since it made the United States responsible for the French return at a time when Washington might have dictated the independence of that nation. By this time everyone understood what the British were going to do.

Given the alternative, United States support for the return of France to Indochina was logical as a means of stopping the triumph of the Left, a question not only in that nation but throughout the Far East. Moreover, by mid-August French officials were hinting that they would grant the United States and England equal economic access to Indochina. Both in action and thought the United States government now chose the reimposition of {79} French colonialism. At the end of August de Gaulle was in Washington, and the President now told the French leader that the United States favoured the return of France to Indochina. The decision would shape the course of world history for decades.2

The OSS worked with the Viet Minh, a coalition of Left and moderate resistance forces led by Ho Chi Minh, during the final months of the war to the extent of giving them petty quantities of arms in exchange for information and assistance with downed pilots, and they soon came to know Ho and many of the Viet Minh leaders. Despite the almost paranoid belief of the French representatives that the OSS was working against France, the OSS only helped consolidate Washington’s support for the French.3 They and other American military men who arrived in Hanoi during the first heady days of freedom were unanimous in believing that Ho ‘… is an old revolutionist … a product of Moscow, a communist’.4 The OSS understood the nationalist ingredient in the Vietnamese revolution, but they emphasized the communist in their reports to Washington.5

During September the first British troops began arriving in the Indochinese zone which the Americans assigned them and imposed their control over half of a nation largely Viet Minh-controlled with the backing of the vast majority of the people. The British arranged to bring in French troops as quickly as they might be found, and employed Japanese troops in the Saigon region and elsewhere. ‘[On] 23 September,’ the British commander later reported to his superiors, ‘Major-General Gracey {80} had agreed with the French that they should carry out a coup d’état; and with his permission, they seized control of the administration of Saigon and the French Government was installed.’6 The State Department’s representative who visited Hanoi the following month found the references of the Vietnamese to classic democratic rhetoric mawkish, and ‘perhaps naïvely, and without consideration of the conflicting postwar interests of the “Big” nations themselves, the new government believed that by complying with the conditions of the wartime United Nations conferences it could invoke the benefits of these conferences in favour of its own independence.’7 From this viewpoint, even in 1945 the United States regarded Indochina almost exclusively as the object of Great Power diplomacy and conflict. By the end of the Second World War the Vietnamese were already in violent conflict with the representatives not only of France, but also of England and the United States, a conflict in which they could turn the wartime political rhetoric against the governments that had casually written it. But at no time did the desires of the Vietnamese themselves assume a role in the shaping of United States policy.

1946-9: United States inaction and the genesis of a firm policy

It is sufficient to note that by early 1947 the American doctrine of containment of communism obligated the United States to think also of the dangers Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh posed, a movement the United States analysed as a monolith directed from Moscow. It is also essential to remain aware of the fact that the global perspective of the United States between 1946 and 1949 stressed the decisive importance of Europe to the future of world power. When the United States looked at Indochina they saw France, and through it Europe, and a weak France would open the door to communism in Europe. But for no other reason, this {81} meant a tolerant attitude towards the bloody French policy in Vietnam, one the French insisted was essential to the maintenance of their empire and prosperity, and the political stability of the nation. Washington saw Vietnamese nationalism as a tool of the communists.

In February 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall publicly declared he wished ‘a pacific basis of adjustment of the difficulties could be found’,8 but he offered no means towards that end. Given the greater fear of communism, such mild American criticisms of French policy as were made should not obscure the much more significant backing of basic French policy in Washington. By early 1949 Washington had shown its full commitment to the larger assumptions of French policy and goals, and when Bao Dai, the former head of the Japanese puppet regime, signed an agreement with the French in March 1949 to bring Vietnam into the French Union, the State Department welcomed the new arrangement as ‘… the basis for the progressive realization of the legitimate aspirations of the Vietnamese people’.9 Such words belied the reality, for the course of affairs in Asia worried Washington anew.

The catalysis for a reconsideration of the significance of Vietnam to the United States was the final victory of the communists in China. In July 1949 the State Department authorized a secret reassessment of American policy in Asia in the light of the defeat of the Kuomintang, and appointed Ambassador-at-Large Philip Jessup chairman of a special committee. On 18 July Dean Acheson sent Jessup a memo defining the limits of the inquiry: ‘You will please take as your assumption that it is a fundamental decision of American policy that the United States does not intend to permit further extension of Communist domination on the continent of Asia or in the southeast Asia area… ’10 At the end of 1949 the State Department was still convinced the future of world power remained in Europe, but, as was soon to become evident, this involved the necessity of French victory in Vietnam. {82}

Most significant about the Jessup Committee’s views was the belief that, as a State Department official put it, ‘In respect to south-east Asia we are on the fringes of crisis’, one that, he added, might involve all of Asia following China.11 It appears to have been the consensus that Bao Dai, despite American wishes for his success, had only the slimmest chance for creating an effective alternative to Ho in Vietnam. The Committee compared French prospects to those of Chiang Kai-shek two years earlier, and since they acknowledged that the Viet Minh captured most of their arms from the French, the likelihood of stemming the tide seemed dismal.

There were two dimensions to the Vietnam problem from the United States’ viewpoint at the end of 1949. First, it was determined to stop the sweep of revolution in Asia along the fringes of China, and by that time Vietnam was the most likely outlet for any United States action. Second, it was believed that small colonial wars were draining France, and therefore Europe, of its power. Yet a Western victory had to terminate these struggles in order to fortify Europe, the central arena of the Cold War. ‘I found all the French troops of any quality were out in Indochina,’ Marshall complained to the Jessup Committee, …. and the one place they were not was in Western Europe. So it left us in an extraordinarily weak position there. …’12 Massive American intervention in Vietnam was now inevitable.

1950-53: America escalates the war in Indochina

The significance of the struggle in Vietnam for the United States always remained a global one, and for this reason Vietnam after 1950 became the most sustained and important single issue confronting Washington. The imminent crisis in Asia that the Jessup Committee had predicted was one John Foster Dulles, even then one of the key architects of United States diplomacy, also anticipated. Dulles, however, thought it a mistake to place the main emphasis on American policy in Europe, and he, like everyone else in Washington, was not in the least impressed by the future of {83} the Associated States of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia which the United States recognized on 7 February 1950, with a flurry of noble references to independence and democracy. A ‘series of disasters can be prevented,’ Dulles advised in May 1950, ‘if at some doubtful point we quickly take a dramatic and strong stand that shows our confidence and resolution. Probably this series of disasters cannot be prevented in any other way.’ It would be necessary, he believed, even to ‘risk war’.13

The official position of the Truman Administration at this time was to insist on regarding Vietnam as essentially an extension of a European affair. As Charles E. Bohlen of the State Department explained it in a top-secret briefing in April:

As to Indochina, if the current war there continues for two or three years, we will get very little of sound military development in France. On the other hand, if we can help France to get out of the existing stalemate in Indochina, France can do something effective in Western Europe. The need in Indochina is to develop a local force which can maintain order in the areas theoretically pacified…

It is important, in order to maintain the French effort in Indochina, that any assistance we give be presented as defence of the French Union, as the French soldiers there would have little enthusiasm for sacrificing themselves to fight for a completely free Indochina in which France would have no part.14

Suffice it to say, the French were hard pressed economically, and they needed United States aid on any terms, and in May 1950 direct United States economic aid was begun to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Immediately after the Korean affair Truman pledged greater support to the French and the Bao Dai regime.15

During mid-October 1950, shortly after some serious military reverses, Jules Moch, the French Minister of National Defence, arrived in Washington to attempt to obtain even greater United States military aid. By this time, despite earlier reticence, the French had come to realize that the key to their colonial war was in Washington. {84}

The aggregate military aid the United States contributed to the French effort in Vietnam is a difficult matter of book-keeping, but total direct military aid to France in 1950-53 was $2,956 million, plus $684 million in 1954. United States claims suggest that $1.54 billion in aid was given to Indochina before the Geneva Accords, and in fact Truman’s statement in January 1953 that the United States paid for as much as half of the war seems accurate enough, and aid rose every year to 1954.16 The manner in which this aid was disbursed is more significant.

The United States paid but did not appreciate French political direction, though no serious political pressure was put on the French until 1954. Dulles, for one, was aware of Bao Dai’s political unreliability and inability to create an alternative to the Viet Minh, and he regretted it. ‘It seems,’ he wrote a friend in October 1950, ‘as is often the case, it is necessary as a practical matter to choose the lesser of two evils because the theoretically ideal solution is not possible for many reasons – the French policy being only one. As a matter of fact, the French policy has considerably changed for the better.’17 It was Dulles, in the middle of 1951, who discovered in Bao Dai’s former premier under the Japanese, Ngo Dinh Diem, the political solution for Indochina. At the end of 1950 he was willing to content himself with the belief that the expansion of communism in Asia must be stopped. The French might serve that role, at least for a time.

In developing a rationale for United States aid, three major arguments were advanced, only one of which was later to disappear as a major source of the conduct of United States policy in Vietnam. First of all, the United States wished to bring France back to Europe via victory in Vietnam: ‘The sooner they bring it to a successful conclusion,’ Henry Cabot Lodge explained in early 1951, ‘the better it would be for NATO because they could move their forces here and increase their building of their army in Europe… ’18 The French insistence until 1954 on blocking {85} German rearmament and the European Defence Community until they could exist on the continent with military superiority over the Germans, a condition that was impossible until the war in Vietnam ended, gave this even more persuasive consideration special urgency. From this viewpoint, Vietnam was the indirect key to Germany. In the meantime, as Ambassador to France David Bruce explained it, ‘I think it would be a disaster if the French did not continue their effort in Indochina.’19

Victory rather than a political settlement was necessary because of the two other basic and more permanent factors guiding United States policy. The United States was always convinced that the ‘domino’ theory would operate should Vietnam remain with the Vietnamese people. ‘There is no question,’ Bruce told a Senate committee, ‘that if Indochina went, the fall of Burma and the fall of Thailand would be absolutely inevitable. No one can convince me, for what it is worth, that Malaya wouldn’t follow shortly thereafter, and India … would … also find the Communists making infiltrations. ..’20 The political character of the regime in Vietnam was less consequential than the larger United States design for the area, and the seeds of future United States policy were already forecast when Bruce suggested that ‘… the Indochinese – and I am speaking now of the… anti-Communist group – will have to show a far greater ability to live up to the obligations of nationhood before it will be safe to withdraw, whether it be French Union forces or any other foreign forces, from that country’.21 If the French left, someone would have to replace them.

Should Vietnam, and through it Asia, fall to the Viet Minh, the last major American fear would be realized. ‘[Of] all the prizes Russia could bite off in the east,’ Bruce also suggested, ‘the possession of Indochina would be the most valuable and in the long run would be the most crucial one from the standpoint of the West in the east. That would be true not because of the flow of rice, rubber, and so forth… but because it is the only place where any war is now being conducted to try to suppress the overtaking of the whole area of south-east Asia by the Communists.’22 {86}

Eisenhower and Nixon put this assumption rather differently, with greater emphasis on the value of raw materials, but it has been a constant basis of United States policy in Vietnam since 1951. ‘Why is the United States spending hundreds of millions of dollars supporting the forces of the French Union in the fight against communism?’ Vice President Richard Nixon asked in December 1953. ‘If Indochina falls, Thailand is put in an almost impossible position. The same is true of Malaya with its rubber and tin. The same is true of Indonesia. If this whole part of south-east Asia goes under Communist domination or Communist influence, Japan, who trades and must trade with this area in order to exist, must inevitably be oriented towards the Communist regime.’23

The loss of all Vietnam [Eisenhower wrote in his memoir], together with Laos on the west and Cambodia on the southwest, would have meant the surrender to Communist enslavement of millions. On the material side, it would have spelled the loss of valuable deposits of tin and prodigious supplies of rubber and rice. It would have meant that Thailand, enjoying buffer territory between itself and Red China, would be exposed on its entire eastern border to infiltration or attack. And if Indochina fell, not only Thailand but Burma and Malaya would be threatened, with added risks to East Pakistan and South Asia as well as to all Indonesia.24

Given this larger American conception of the importance of the Vietnam war to its self-interest, which impelled the United States to support it financially, the future of the war no longer depended largely on whether the French would fight or meet the demands of the Vietnamese for independence. Already in early 1952 Secretary of State Dean Acheson told Foreign Minister Anthony Eden, as recorded in the latter’s memoir, ‘… of the United States’ determination to do everything possible to strengthen the French hand in Indochina. On the wider question of the possibility of a Chinese invasion, the United States Government considered that it would be disastrous to the position of the Western powers if south-east Asia were lost without a struggle.’25 If Acheson promised prudence {87} by merely greatly increasing arms aid to the French, he also talked of blockading China. The war, even by 1952, was being internationalized with America assuming ever greater initiative for its control. When Eisenhower came to the Presidency in January 1953, Acheson presented Vietnam to him as ‘an urgent matter on which the new administration must be prepared to act’.26 Given Dulles’s experience and views on the question, Acheson’s words were not to be wasted.

By spring 1953 the United States government was fully aware of the largely tangential role of the French in its larger global strategy, and it was widely believed in Congress that if the French pulled out the United States would not permit Vietnam to fall. The United States was increasingly irritated with the French direction of affairs. The economic aid sent to Vietnam resulted merely in the creation of a speculative market for piastres and dollars which helped the local compradors enrich themselves while debilitating the economy. ‘Failure of important elements of the local population to give a full measure of support to the war effort remained one of the chief negative factors,’ the State Department confided to Eisenhower.27 ‘[It] was almost impossible,’ Eisenhower later wrote, ‘to make the average Vietnamese peasant realize that the French, under whose rule his people had lived for some eighty years, were really fighting in the cause of freedom, while the Viet Minh, people of their own ethnic origins, were fighting on the side of slavery.’28 Bao Dai, whom the United States had always mistrusted, now disturbed the Americans because, Eisenhower recalls, he ‘… chose to spend the bulk of his time in the spas of Europe…’29

The French, for their part, were now divided on the proper response the massive American intervention into the war demanded. But during July 1953 Bidault and Dulles conferred and Dulles promised all the French desired, also admonishing them not to seek a negotiated end to the war. In September the United States agreed to give the French a special grant of $385 million to {88} implement the Navarre Plan, a scheme to build French and puppet troops to a level permitting them to destroy the regular Viet Minh forces by the end of 1955. By this time the essential strategy of the war supplanted a strict concern for bringing France back to NATO, and the Americans increasingly determined to make Vietnam a testing ground for a larger global strategy of which the French would be the instrument. Critical to that strategy was military victory.

The difficulty for the United States undertaking was that, as General LeClerc had suggested several years earlier, there was…. no military solution for Vietnam’.30 The major foreign policy crisis of late 1953 and early 1954, involving Dulles’s confusing ‘massive retaliation’ speech of 12 January 1954, was the first immediate consequence of the failure of the Navarre Plan and the obvious French march towards defeat. The vital problem for the United States was how it might apply its vast military power in a manner that avoided a land war in the jungles, one which Dulles always opposed in Asia and which the Americans too might lose. At the end of December 1953 Dulles publicly alluded to the possibility that in the event of a Chinese invasion of Vietnam the Americans might respond by attacking China, which several weeks later was expressed again in the ambiguous threat of the American need ‘… to be willing and able to respond vigorously at places and with means of its own choosing’.31 Every critical assumption on which the United States based its foreign and military policy they were now testing in Vietnam.

1954: the Geneva Conference

Given the larger regional, even global, context of the question of Vietnam for the United States, a peaceful settlement would have undermined the vital promise of Washington since 1947 that one could not negotiate with communism but only contain it via military expenditures, bases and power. In February 1954, as Eden records, ‘… our Ambassador was told at the State Department {89} that the United States government was perturbed by the fact that the French were aiming not to win the war, but to get into a position from which they could negotiate’.32 The United States was hostile to any political concessions and to an end to the war. To the French, many of whom still wished to fight, the essential question was whether the United States government would share the burden of combat as well as the expense. The French would make this the test of their ultimate policy.

At the end of March the French sought to obtain some hint of the direction of United States commitments, and posed the hypothetical question of what United States policy would be if the Chinese used their aircraft to attack French positions. Dulles refused to answer the question, but he did state that if the United States entered the war with its own manpower, it would demand a much greater share of the political and executive direction of the future of the area.33

It is probable that the United States government in the weeks before Geneva had yet to define a firm policy for itself save on one issue: the desire not to lose any part of Vietnam by negotiations and to treat the existing military realities of the war as the final determining reality. Eden’s memory was correct when he noted that in April the Under Secretary of State, Walter Bedell Smith, informed the British government …. that the United States had carefully studied the partition solution, but had decided that it would only be a temporary palliative and would lead to Communist domination of south-east Asia’.34

During these tense days words from the United States were extremely belligerent, but it ultimately avoided equivalent actions, and laid the basis for later intervention. On 9 March Dulles excoriated Ho and the Viet Minh and all who ‘… whip up the spirit of nationalism so that it becomes violent’. He again reiterated the critical value of Vietnam as a source of raw materials and its strategic value in the area, and now blamed China for the continuation of the war. After detailing the alleged history of broken Soviet treaties, Dulles made it clear that the United States would go to Geneva so that ‘… any Indochina discussion {90} will serve to bring the Chinese Communists to see the danger of their apparent design for the conquest of south-east Asia, so that they will cease and desist’.35 Vice-President Richard Nixon on 16 April was rather more blunt in a press conference: Geneva would become an instrument of action and not a forum for a settlement. ‘[The] United States must go to Geneva and take a positive stand for united action by the free world. Otherwise it will have to take on the problem alone and try to sell it to others. … This country is the only nation politically strong enough at home to take a position that will save Asia. … Negotiations with the Communists to divide the territory would result in Communist domination of a vital new area.’36

The fact the United States focused on, Chinese ‘responsibility’ for a war of liberation from the French that began in 1945, years before the Chinese communists were near the south, was not only poor propaganda but totally irrelevant as a basis of military action. There was at this time no effective means for United States entry into the war, and such power as the Americans had would not be useful in what ultimately had to be a land war if they could hope for victory. War hawks aside, the Pentagon maintained a realistic assessment of the problem of joining the war at this time from a weak and fast-crumbling base, and for this reason the United States never implemented the much publicized schemes for entering the war via air power. The United States government was, willy nilly, grasping at a new course, one that had no place for Geneva and its very partial recognition of realities in Vietnam.

On 4 April Eisenhower proposed to Churchill that the three major NATO allies, the Associated States, the ANZUS countries, Thailand and the Philippines form a coalition to take a firm stand on Indochina, by using naval and air power against the Chinese coast and intervening in Vietnam itself. The British were instantly cool to the amorphous notion, and they were to insist that first the diplomats do their best at Geneva to save the French from their disastrous position. Only the idea of a regional military alliance appealed to them.37 Despite much scurrying and bluster, {91} Dulles could not keep the British and French from going to Geneva open to offers, concessions and a détente.

On 7 May, the day before the Geneva Conference turned to the question of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Dien Bien Phu fell to the victorious Vietnamese. Psychologically, though not militarily, the United States saw this as a major defeat in Vietnam. Militarily, about three quarters of Vietnam belonged to the Vietnamese and imminent French defeat promised to liberate the remainder. That same evening Dulles went on the radio to denounce Ho as a ‘Communist … trained in Moscow’ who would ‘deprive Japan of important foreign markets and sources of food and raw materials’.38 Vietnam, Dulles went on, could not fall ‘into hostile hands’, for then ‘the Communists could move into all of south-east Asia’.39 Nevertheless, ‘The present conditions there do not provide a suitable basis for the United States to participate with its armed forces’, and so the hard-pressed French might wish an armistice. ‘But we would be gravely concerned if an armistice or cease-fire were reached at Geneva which would provide a road to a Communist takeover and further aggression.’40

The United States position meant an explicit denial of the logic of the military realities, for negotiations to deprive the Viet Minh of all of their triumphs was, in effect, a request for surrender. Even before the Conference turned to the subject, the United States rejected – on behalf of a larger global view which was to make Vietnam bear the brunt of future interventions – the implications of a negotiated settlement.

The Geneva Agreement

Others have authoritatively documented the United States’ role during the Geneva Conference discussions of 8 May-21 July – the indecision, vacillation and American refusal to acknowledge the military and political realities of the time. The British, for their part, hoped for partition, the Russians and the Chinese for peace {92} – increasingly at any price – and the Vietnamese for Vietnam and the political rewards of their near-military triumph over a powerful nation. The American position, as the New York Times described it during these weeks, was …. driving the US deeper into diplomatic isolation on south-east Asian questions’, and ‘Though the US opposes … these agreements, there appears to be little the US can do to stop them’ 41

To the Vietnamese delegation led by Pham Van Dong, the question was how to avoid being deprived of the political concomitant of their military triumph, and they were the first to quickly insist on national elections in Vietnam at an early date – elections they were certain to win. As the Conference proceeded, and the Russians and then the Chinese applied pressure for Vietnamese concessions on a wide spectrum of issues – the most important being the provisional zonal demarcation along the 17th parallel – the importance of this election provision became ever greater to the Viet Minh.

To both the Vietnamese and the United States, partition as a permanent solution was out of the question, and Pham Van Dong made it perfectly explicit that zonal regroupments were only a temporary measure to enforce a cease-fire. Had the Viet Minh felt it was to be permanent, they unquestionably would not have agreed to the Agreements. When Mendès-France conceded a specific date for an election, the world correctly interpreted it as a major concession to Vietnamese independence. By the end of June, the Vietnamese were ready to grant much in the hope that an election would be held. During these very same days, Eden finally convinced the United States that a partition of Vietnam was all they might hope for, and on 29 June Eden and Dulles issued a statement which agreed to respect an armistice that ‘does not contain political provisions which would risk loss of the retained area to Communist control’.42 Since that loss was now inevitable, it ambiguously suggested that the United States might look askance at elections, or the entire Agreement itself. When the time came formally to join the other nations at Geneva in endorsing the Conference resolutions, the United States would not consent to do so. {93}

The final terms of the Agreements are too well known to need more than a resume here. The ‘Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities’ that the French and Vietnamese signed on 20 July explicitly described as ‘provisional’ the demarcation line at the 17th parallel. Until general elections, the Vietnamese and French respectively were to exercise civil authority above and below the demarcation line, and it was France alone that had responsibility for assuring conformity to its terms on a political level. Militarily, an International Control Commission was to enforce the terms. Arms could not be increased beyond existing levels. Article 18 stipulated ‘… the establishment of new military bases is prohibited throughout Vietnam territory’, and Article 19 that ‘the two parties shall ensure that the zones assigned to them do not adhere to any military alliance’, which meant that Vietnam could not join the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization the United States was beginning to organize.43 The Final Declaration issued on 21 July ‘takes note’ of these military agreements, and ‘… that the essential purpose of the agreement relating to Vietnam is to settle military questions with a view to ending hostilities and that the military demarcation line is provisional and should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary’.44 Vietnam was one nation in this view, and at no place did the documents refer to ‘North’ or ‘South’. To achieve political unity, ‘… general elections shall be held in July 1956, under the supervision of an international control commission’, and ‘consultations will be held on this subject between the competent representative authorities of the two zones from 20 July 1955 onwards’. 45

To the United States it was inconceivable that the French and their Vietnamese allies could implement the election proviso without risk of total disaster. It is worth quoting Eisenhower’s two references to this assumption in his memoir: ‘It was generally conceded that had an election been held, Ho Chi Minh would have been elected Premier.’46 ‘I have never talked or corresponded {94} with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai.’47

The United States therefore could not join in voting for the Conference resolution of 21 July, and a careful reading of the two United States statements issued unilaterally the same day indicates it is quite erroneous to suggest that the United States was ready to recognize the outcome of a Conference and negotiated settlement which it had bitterly opposed at every phase. Eisenhower’s statement begrudgingly welcomed an end to the fighting, but then made it quite plain that ‘… the United States has not itself been a party to or bound by the decisions taken by the Conference, but it is our hope that it will lead to the establishment of peace consistent with the rights and needs of the countries concerned. The agreement contains features which we do not like, but a great deal depends on how they work in practice.’48 The ‘United States will not use force to disturb the settlement We also say that any renewal of Communist aggression would be viewed by us as a matter of grave concern.’49 Walter Bedell Smith’s formal statement at Geneva made the same points, but explicitly refused to endorse the 13th article of the Agreement requiring consultation by the members of the Conference to consider questions submitted to them by the ICC,‘… to ensure that the agreements on the cessation of hostilities in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are respected’.50

1955-9: the aftermath of Geneva: the US entrenchment

The United States attached such grave reservations because it never had any intention of implementing the Geneva Agreements, and this was clear from all the initial public statements. The Wall {95} Street Journal was entirely correct when on 23 July it reported that ‘the US is in no hurry for elections to unite Vietnam; we fear Red leader Ho Chi Minh would win. So Dulles plans first to make the southern half a showpiece – with American aid’.51

While various United States missions began moving into the area Diem controlled, Dulles addressed himself to the task of creating a SEAT 0 organization which, as Eisenhower informed the Senate, was …. for defence against both open armed attack and internal subversion’.52 To Dulles from this time onwards, the SEATO treaty would cover Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, even though they failed to sign the Treaty and in fact the Geneva Agreement forbade them to do so. Article IV of the SEATO treaty extended beyond the signatories and threatened intervention by the organization in case of aggression ‘against any State or territory’ in the region, or if there was a threat to the ‘political independence … of any other State or territory’.53 Under such an umbrella the United States might rationalize almost any intervention for any reason.

The general pattern of United States economic and material aid to the Diem regime between 1955 and 1959, which was $2.92 billion in that period, indicates the magnitude of the American commitment, $1.71 billion of which was advanced under military programmes, including well over a half billion dollars before the final Geneva-scheduled election date.

That elections would never be held was a foregone conclusion, despite the efforts of the North Vietnamese, who on 1 January 1955 reminded the French of their obligation to see the provision respected. Given the internecine conduct of the local opposition and its own vast strength among the people, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam had every reason to comply with the Geneva provisos on elections. During February 1955 Hanoi proposed establishing normal relations between the two zones preparatory to elections, and Pham Van Dong in April issued a joint statement with Nehru urging elections to reunify the country. By this time {96} Diem was busy repressing and liquidating internal opposition of every political hue, and when it received no positive answer to its 6 June pleas for elections, the DRV again formally reiterated its opposition to the partition of one nation and the need to hold elections on schedule. During June the world turned its attention to Diem’s and Dulles’s response prior to the 20 July deadline for consultations. Diem’s response was painfully vague, and the first real statement came from Dulles on 28 June when he stated that neither the United States nor the regime in the south had signed the Agreement at Geneva or was bound to it, a point that Washington often repeated and which was, in the case of the south, patently false. Nevertheless, Dulles admitted that in principle the United States favoured ‘… the unification of countries which have a historic unity’, the myth of two Vietnams and two nations not yet being a part of the American case. ‘The Communists have never yet won any free election. I don’t think they ever will. Therefore, we are not afraid at all of elections, provided they are held under conditions of genuine freedom which the Geneva armistice agreement calls for.’54 But the United States, it was clear from this statement, was not bound to call for the implementation of the agreement via prior consultations which Diem and Washington had refused until that time, nor did Dulles say he would now urge Diem to take such a course.

Diem at the end of April 1955 announced he would hold a national referendum in the south to convoke a new national assembly and on 16 July he categorically rejected truly national elections under the terms of Geneva until ‘.. . proof is … given that they put the superior interests of the national community above those of Communism’.55 ‘We certainly agree,’ Dulles stated shortly thereafter, ‘that conditions are not ripe for free elections.’56 The response of the DRV was as it had always been:

Geneva obligated the Conference members to assume responsibility for its implementation including consultations preparatory to actual elections, and in this regard Diem was by no means the responsible party. But the British favoured partition, {97} and the French were not about to thwart the United States government. The fraudulent referendum of 23 October which Diem organized in the south gave Diem ninety-eight per cent of the votes for the Presidency of the new ‘Government of Vietnam’. Three days later Washington replied to the news by recognizing the legitimacy of the regime.

In reality, using a regime almost entirely financed with its funds, and incapable of surviving without its aid, the United States partitioned Vietnam.

To the DRV, the United States and the Diem Administration’s refusal to conform to the Geneva Agreements was a question for the members of the Geneva Conference and the ICC to confront, and while it had often made such demands – during June and again in November 1955, and directly to Diem on 19 July – in September and again on 17 November 1955 Pham and Ho publicly elaborated their ideas on the structure of an election along entirely democratic lines. All citizens above eighteen could vote and all above twenty-one could run for office. They proposed free campaigning in both zones and secret and direct balloting. The ICC could supervise. On 25 February 1956, Ho again reiterated this position.

On 14 February 1956, Pham Van Dong directed a letter to the Geneva co-chairmen
pointing to the repression in the south, its de facto involvement in an alliance with the United States, and the French responsibility for rectifying the situation. He now proposed that the Geneva Conference reconvene to settle peacefully the problem of Vietnam. The British refused, and again on 6 April the Diem government announced that ‘it does not consider itself bound by their provisions ’.57 On 8 May the Geneva co-chairmen sent to the north and south, as well as to the French, a demand to open consultations on elections with a view to unifying the country under the Geneva Agreements. Three days later the DRV expressed readiness to begin direct talks in early June at a time set by the Diem authorities. Diem refused. The DRV continued to demand consultations to organize elections, submitting notes to this effect to the Geneva co-chairmen and the Diem government in June and July 1957, March and December 1958, July 1959 and July 1960, and later, for arms reduction, resumption {98} of trade and other steps necessary to end the artificial partition of Vietnam. These proposals failed, for neither Diem nor the United States could survive their successful implementation.58

Washington’s policy during this period was clear and publicly stated. On 1 June 1956, after visiting Diem with Dulles the prior March, Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary of State, attacked the Geneva Accords, which ‘… partitioned [Vietnam] by fiat of the great powers against the will of the Vietnamese people’. He lauded Diem’s rigged ‘free election of last March’ and stated the American determination ‘to support a friendly non-Communist government in Vietnam and to help it diminish and eventually eradicate Communist subversion and influence…. Our efforts are directed first of all towards helping to sustain the internal security forces consisting of a regular army of about 150,000 men, a mobile civil guard of some 45,000, and local defence units. … We are also helping to organize, train and equip the Vietnamese police force.’59 Such policies were, of course, in violation of the Geneva Agreements forbidding military expansion. The term ‘eradicate’ was an apt description of the policy which the United States urged upon the more-than-willing Diem, who persecuted former Viet Minh supporters, dissident religious sects and others. An estimated 40,000 Vietnamese were in jail for political reasons by the end of 1958, almost four times that number by the end of 1961. Such policies were possible because the United States financed over seventy per cent of Diem’s budget, and the main United States emphasis was on the use of force and repression. There were an estimated minimum of 16,600 political liquidations between 1955 and 1959, perhaps much higher. Suffice it to say, every objective observer has accepted Life magazine’s description in May 1957 as a fair estimate:

Behind a facade of photographs, flags and slogans there is a grim structure of decrees, ‘re-education centres’, secret police. Presidential ‘Ordinance No. 6’ signed and issued by Diem in January 1956 provides that ‘individuals considered dangerous to national defence and common security may be confined on executive order’ in a ‘concentration camp’. … Only known or suspected Communists … are {99} supposed to be arrested and ‘re-educated’ under these decrees. But many non-Communists have also been detained. … The whole machinery of security has been used to discourage active opposition of any kind from any source.60

The International Control Commission’s teams complained of these violations in the south, and in the north they claimed that the only significant group to have its civil liberties infringed was the Catholic minority, approximately one tenth of the nation. The cooperation of the DRV with the ICC was a critical index of its intentions, and an example of its naive persistence in the belief Geneva had not in reality deprived it of its hard-fought victory. The vast military build-up in the south made real cooperation with the ICC impossible, and its complaints, especially in regard to the airfields and reprisals against civilians, were very common. In certain cases the Diem regime permitted ICC teams to move in the south, but it imposed time limits, especially after 1959. Although there is no precise way of taking a count of what figures both Diem and the United States were attempting to hide, by July 1958 the DRV’s estimate that Diem had 450,000 men under arms was probably correct in light of Robertson’s earlier estimate of United States plans and the $1.7 billion in military expenditures for Diem through 1959.61

Although the large bulk of American aid to Diem went to military purposes, the section devoted to economic ends further routed an entirely dependent regime to the United States. That economic aid was a total disaster, exacerbated a moribund economy, ripped apart the urban society already tottering from the first decade of war, and enriched Diem, his family and clique. Yet certain germane aspects of the condition of the southern economy are essential to understand the next phase of the revolution in Vietnam and further American intervention, a revolution the Americans had frozen for a time but could not stop.

The Viet Minh controlled well over half the land south of the 17th parallel prior to the Geneva Conference, and since 1941 they {100} had managed to introduce far-reaching land reform into an agrarian economy of grossly inequitable holdings. When Diem took over this area, with the advice of United States experts he introduced a ‘land reform’ programme which in fact was a regressive ‘modernization’ of the concentrated land control system that had already been wiped out in many regions. Saigon reduced rents by as much as fifty per cent from pre-Viet Minh times, but in fact it represented a reimposition of tolls that had ceased to exist in wide areas. In cases of outright expropriation, landlords received compensation for property that they had already lost. In brief, the Diem regime’s return to power meant a reimposition of a new form of the prewar 1940 land distribution system in which seventy-two per cent of the population owned thirteen per cent of the land and two thirds of the agricultural population consisted of tenants ground down by high rents and exorbitant interest rates. For this reason, it was the landlords rather than the peasantry who supported ‘agrarian reform’.

Various plans for resettling peasants in former Viet Minh strongholds, abortive steps which finally culminated in the strategic hamlet movement of 1962, simply helped to keep the countryside in seething discontent. These agrovilles uprooted traditional villages and became famous as sources of discontent against the regime, one which was ripping apart the existing social structure. In brief, Diem and the United States never established control over the larger part of south Vietnam and the Viet Minh’s impregnable peasant base, and given the decentralization and the corruption of Diem’s authority, there was no effective basis for their doing so. The repression Diem exercised only rekindled resistance.62

In the cities the dislocations in the urban population, constantly augmented by a flow of Catholic refugees from the north, led to a conservative estimate in 1956 of 413,000 unemployed out of the Saigon population of two million. The $1.2 billion in non-military aid given to the Diem regime during 1955-9 went in large part to pay for its vast import deficit which permitted vast quantities of American-made luxury goods to be brought into the country’s {101} inflationary economy for the use of the new comprador Class and Diem’s bureaucracy.

The United States endorsed and encouraged the military buildup and repression, but it did not like the strange mélange of mandarin anti-capitalism and Catholic feudalism which Diem jumbled together in his philosophy of personalism. Diem was a puppet, but a not perfectly tractable one. The United States did not appreciate the high margin of personal graft, nor did it like Diem’s hostility towards accelerated economic development, nor his belief in state-owned companies. Ngo Dinh Nhu, his brother, regarded economic aid as a cynical means of dumping American surpluses, and the United States had to fight, though successfully, for the relaxation of restrictions on foreign investments and protection against the threat of nationalization. Ultimately Diem was content to complain and to hoard aid funds for purposes the United States thought dubious.

The US thought of Vietnam as a capitalist state in south-east Asia. This course condemned it to failure, but in April 1959, when Eisenhower publicly discussed Vietnam, ‘… a country divided into two parts, and not two distinct nations’, he stressed Vietnam’s need to develop economically, and the way ‘… to get the necessary capital is through private investments from the outside and through government loans’, the latter, in so far as the United States was concerned, going to local capitalists.63

1959-64: the resistance is rekindled

Every credible historical account of the origins of the armed struggle south of the 17th parallel treats it as if it were on a continuum from the war with the French of 1945-54, and as the effect rather than the cause of the Diem regime’s frightful repression and accumulated internal economic and social problems. The resistance to Diem’s officials had begun among the peasantry in a spontaneous manner, by growing numbers of persecuted political figures of every persuasion, augmented by Buddhists and Viet {102} Minh who returned to the villages to escape, and, like every successful guerrilla movement, it was based on the support of the peasantry for its erratic but ultimately irresistible momentum. On 6 May 1959, Diem passed his famous Law 10-59 which applied the sentence of death to anyone committing murder, destroying to any extent houses, farms or buildings of any kind, or means of transport, and a whole list of similar offences. ‘Whoever belongs to an organization designed to help to prepare or perpetrate crimes … or takes pledges to do so, will be subject to the sentences provided.’64

The regime especially persecuted former members of the Viet Minh, but all opposition came under the sweeping authority of Diem’s new law, and between 1958 and the end of 1961 the number of political prisoners quadrupled. The resistance that spread did not originate from the north, and former Viet Minh members joined the spontaneous local resistance groups well before the DRV indicated any support for them. Only in 1960 did significant fighting spread throughout the country.

At the end of 1960 the United States claimed to have only 773 troops stationed there. By December 1965 there were at least fourteen major United States airbases in Vietnam, 166,000 troops, and the manpower was to more than double over the following year.65 This build-up violated the Geneva Accords, but that infraction is a fine point in light of the fact that the United States always had utter contempt for that agreement. In reality, the United States was now compelled to save what little it controlled of the south of Vietnam from the inevitable failure of its own policies.

It is largely pointless to deal with the subsequent events in the same detail, for they were merely a logical extension of the global policies of the United States before 1960. One has merely to juxtapose {103} the newspaper accounts in the United States press against the official rationalizations cited in Washington to realize how very distant from the truth Washington was willing to wander to seek justification for a barbaric war against a small nation quite unprecedented in the history of modern times. To understand this war one must always place it in its contextual relationship and recall that the issues in Vietnam were really those of the future of United States power not only in south-east Asia but throughout the entire developing world. In Vietnam the United States government has vainly attempted to make vast power relevant to international social and political realities that had bypassed the functional conservatism of a nation seeking to save an old order with liberal rhetoric and, above all, with every form of military power available in its non-nuclear arsenal.

By 1960 it was apparent that Diem would not survive very long, a point that an abortive palace revolt of his own paratroop battalions emphasized on 11 November. When Kennedy came to office amidst great debates over military credibility and the need to build a limited-war capability, Vietnam inevitably became the central challenge to the intellectual strategists he brought to Washington. In May 1961, Kennedy and Dean Rusk denounced what they called DRV responsibility for the growth of guerrilla activity in the south, a decision Rusk claimed the Communist Party of the DRV made in May 1959 and reaffirmed in September of the following year. This tendentious reasoning, of course, ignored the fact that the prior September, Pham Van Dong had again urged negotiations on the basis of reciprocal concessions in order to achieve unity without recourse to ‘war and force’.66 By the fall two missions headed by Eugene Staley and the leading limited-war theorist, General Maxwell Taylor, went to Vietnam to study the situation. On 18 October Diem declared a state of emergency, and on 16 November Kennedy pledged a sharp increase in aid to the regime, which newspapers predicted would also involve large United States troop increases. During November the Wall Street Journal, for example, admitted that aid would be going to a regime characterized by ‘corruption and favouritism’, and described {104} the ‘authoritarian nature of the country’ which allowed the National Liberation Front, formed at the end of December 1960, to build up a mass base among ‘the farmers who welcome an alternative to corrupt and ineffective appointees of the regime’.67

The United States government could hardly admit that the problem in southern Vietnam was the people’s revolt against the corruption of an oppressive regime that survived only with American guns and dollars, and not very well at that, and so it was necessary, while once again violating the Geneva Accords, to build up the myth of intervention from the DRV. At this time, the United States government effected a curious shift in its attitude towards the Geneva Accords, from denouncing or ignoring it to insisting that it bound the other side and, implicitly, that the United States had endorsed it. When asked about how a vast increase in United States military aid affected the agreement, Washington from this time on insisted, in Rusk’s words, that ‘the primary question about the Geneva Accords is not how those Accords relate to, say, our military assistance programme to south Vietnam. They relate to the specific, persistent, substantial, and openly proclaimed violations of those Accords by the north Vietnamese. … The first question is, what does the north do about those Accords?’68 ‘If the North Vietnamese bring themselves into full compliance with the Geneva Accords,’ Rusk stated on 8 December as he released the so-called White Paper, ‘there will be no problem on the part of South Vietnam or any one supporting South Vietnam.’69 Only the prior month Ho publicly called for the peaceful reunification of the country via the terms of Geneva.70 Not surprisingly, Rusk never referred to the question of elections.

The United States White Paper of December 1961 was inept, and an excellent source of information for disproving nearly all the American claims of the time. It consisted of a melange of data, case histories and quotes from DRV statements, most obviously {105} out of context. As for China or Russia supplying the NLF with arms, the White Paper admitted, ‘The weapons of the VC are largely French- or US-made, or handmade on primitive forges in the jungle.’71 Evidence ranged from South Vietnamese interrogation records to reproductions of human anatomy from a Chinese text book to photos of medical equipment made in China and the cover of a private diary. The White Paper exhibited no military equipment and the long extracts from various DRV congresses and publications revealed merely that the DRV was officially committed to ‘… struggle tenaciously for the implementation of the Geneva Agreements’ and ‘peaceful reunification of the fatherland’.72 The State Department’s incompetent case was less consequential than the renewed and frank exposition of the ‘domino’ theory: if all of Vietnam chose the leadership of Ho and his party, the rest of Asia would ‘fall’. Above all, as the American press acknowledged, if the United States did not intervene the shabby Diem regime would collapse without anything acceptable replacing it.’73

During early 1962 the United States announced and began the Staley Plan – Operation Sunrise – for razing existing villages and regrouping entire populations against their will, and in February created a formal command in Vietnam. Officially, to meet ICC complaints, the United States reported 685 American soldiers were in Vietnam, but in fact reporters described the truth more accurately, and Washington intensified a long pattern of official deception of the American public. Yet the United States position was unenviable, for on 27 February Diem’s own planes bombed his palace. This phase of the story need not be surveyed here – more pliable and equally corrupt men were to replace Diem. One American officer in April 1962 reported of growing NLF power, ‘When I arrived last September, the Viet Cong were rarely encountered in groups exceeding four or five. Now they are frequently met in bands of forty to sixty.’74

On 1 March, while alleging DRV responsibility for the war, {106} Rusk declared it ‘all in gross violation of the Geneva Accords’. The problem, he argued over the following years, came from the north. As for the DRV’s appeal that the Geneva Conference be reconvened, he suggested, ‘There is no problem in South Vietnam if the other side would stay its hand…. I don’t at the moment envisage any particular form of discussion… ’75 No later than March, American forces in Vietnam were actively locked in combat.

Despite propaganda of the lowest calibre which the State Department and White House issued, more authoritative statements from various government agencies indicated reluctance to base planning on the fiction that the DRV started the war in Vietnam. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report of January 1963 admitted that the NLF ‘is equipped largely with primitive, antiquated, and captured weapons’.76 Despite the weakness of the NLF in this regard against a regular army of well over 150,000, plus police, etc., ‘by 1961 it was apparent that the prospects for a total collapse in South Vietnam had begun to come dangerously close’.77 American intervention had stayed that event. Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee in early March, General David Shoup, Commandant of the Marine Corps, freely admitted there was no correlation between the size of the NLF and the alleged infiltrators from the north: ‘I don’t agree that they come in there in the numbers that are down there….’78

Not until July 1963 did the United States publicly and unequivocally claim that, for the first time, it had captured NLF arms manufactured in Communist countries after 1954.

By the summer of 1963 it was obvious that the American government and its ally Diem were headed towards military defeat in Vietnam and new and unprecedented political resistance at home. Diem’s oppression of all political elements, his active persecution of the Buddhists, the failure of the strategic hamlet programme, the utter incompetence of his drafted troops against {107} far weaker NLF forces, the American press described in detail. At the beginning of September Washington was apparently bent on pressuring Diem but preserving him against mounting Buddhist protests, but as Kennedy admitted on 9 September as audible stirrings from senators were heard for the first time, ‘What I am concerned about is that Americans will get impatient and say, because they don’t like events in south-east Asia or they don’t like the government in Saigon, that we should withdraw.’79 Quite simply, he stated four days later, ‘If it helps to win the war, we support it. What interferes with the war effort we oppose.’80 The Americans would not sink with Diem.

On 21 October, after some weeks of similar actions on forms of economic aid, the United States Embassy in Saigon announced that it would terminate the pay for Diem’s own special political army unless they went into the field. On 30 October this private guard was sent out of Saigon. The next day a military coup brought Diem’s long rule to an end.81

The United States recognized the new Minh coup on 4 November, amid disturbing reports of continued squabbling within its ranks. On the 8th Rusk confirmed that the mood in Washington was now tending towards winning military victory by rejecting a neutralist solution for Vietnam south of the 17th parallel, linking it to ‘far-reaching changes in North Vietnam’, again insisting that the north was responsible for aggression. ‘The other side was fully committed – fully committed in the original Geneva settlement of 1954 to the arrangements which provided for South Vietnam as an independent entity, and we see no reason to modify those in the direction of a larger influence of North Vietnam or Hanoi in South Vietnam.’82 The creation of this deliberate fiction of two Vietnams – North and South – as being the result of the Geneva Accords now indicated that the United States government would seek military victory. {108}

The new regimes were as unsatisfactory as the old one, and by mid-December the American press reported dissatisfaction in Washington over the dismal drift of the war. In his important dispatches in the New York Times at the end of 1963, David Halberstam described the failure of the strategic hamlet programme, the corruption of Diem, the paralysis of Minh in these terms:

The outlook is that the situation will deteriorate unless the Government can wrest the initiative from the guerrillas. Unless it can, there appear to be only two likely alternatives. One is a neutralist settlement. The other is the use of United States combat troops to prop up the Government.83

The drift towards a neutralist solution at the beginning of 1964 was so great that Washington sought to nip it in the bud. In his New Year’s Message to the Minh regime, President Johnson made it clear that ‘neutralization of South Vietnam would only be another name for a Communist takeover. Peace will return to your country just as soon as the authorities in Hanoi cease and desist from their terrorist aggression’.84 Peace would be acceptable to the Americans after total victory. To alter their losing course, they would escalate.

At the end of January, as the Khanh coup took over, one of the new ruler’s grievances against his former allies was that some had surreptitiously used the French government to seek a neutral political solution. During February, the New York Times reported that Washington was planning an attack on the north, with divided counsels on its extent or even its relevance to internal political-economic problems. The United States preferred air bombing and/or a blockade, because as Hanson Baldwin wrote on 6 March, ‘The waging of guerrilla war by the South Vietnamese in North Vietnam has, in fact, been tried on a small scale, but so far it has been completely ineffective.’85

On 15 March Johnson again endorsed the ‘domino’ theory and {109} avowed his resolution not to tolerate defeat. On 26 March McNamara in a major address stressed the ‘great strategic significance’ of the issue, and Vietnam as ‘… a major test case of communism’s new strategy’ of local revolution, one that might extend to all the world unless foiled in Vietnam. Behind the DRV, the Secretary of Defense alleged, stood China. The Americans rejected neutralism for Vietnam, reaffirmed aid to the Khanh regime, and darkly hinted at escalation towards the north.86 During these same days, for the first time in two decades key members of the Senate voiced significant opposition to a major foreign policy. It had become a tradition in the Cold War for Presidents to marshal support from Congress by creating crises, thereby defining the tone of American foreign policy via a sequence of sudden challenges which, at least to some, vindicated their diabolical explanations. A ‘crisis’ was in the making.

All of the dangers of the Vietnamese internal situation persisted throughout spring 1964. On 24 July the New York Times reported that Khanh was exerting tremendous pressures on the United States to take the war to the north, even by ‘liberating’ it. During these same days both the French, Soviet and NLF leaders joined U Thant in a new diplomatic drive to seek an end to the war by negotiations. Washington, for its part, resisted these pacific solutions.

On 4 August Johnson announced that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had wantonly attacked the US destroyer Maddox in the Bay of Tonkin and in international waters, and as a result of repeated skirmishes since the 2nd he had ordered the bombardment of North Vietnamese installations supporting the boats. The following day he asked Congress to pass a resolution authorizing him to take all action necessary ‘to protect our Armed Forces’.87 It was maudlin, fictional and successful.

It was known – and immediately documented in Le Monde – that the United States had been sending espionage missions to the north since 1957 – as Baldwin had implied the prior February – and that on 30 July South Vietnamese and United States ships had raided and bombarded DRV islands. It was too far-fetched that {110} DRV torpedo boats would have searched out on the high seas the ships of the most powerful fleet in the world, without scoring any hits which the United States might show the sceptical world. On 5 August the press asked McNamara for his explanation of the events. ‘I can’t explain them. They were unprovoked … our vessels were clearly in international waters … roughly 60 miles off the North Vietnamese coast.’ When asked whether reports of South Vietnamese attacks in the area during the prior days were relevant, McNamara demurred: ‘No, to the best of my knowledge, there were no operations during the period ….’88 In testimony before the Senate during the same days it emerged that United States warships were not sixty miles but three to eleven miles off DRV territory, even though, like many states, the DRV claimed a twelve-mile territorial limit. Over subsequent days more and more information leaked out so that the essential points of the DRV case were confirmed, the long history of raids on the north revealed. By the end of September the entire fantasy was so implausible that the New York Times reported that the Defense Department was sending a team to Vietnam to deal with what were euphemistically described as ‘contradictory reports’. They did not subsequently provide further details, for ‘contributing to the Defense Department’s reticence was the secret mission of the two destroyers’, a mission the New York Times described as espionage of various sorts.89

The United States escalated in the hope that it could mobilize a Congress at home and sustain the Khanh regime in Vietnam, which nevertheless fell the following month. During these days the United States government admitted that the war was now grinding to a total halt as the Vietnamese politicians in the south devoted all their energy to Byzantine intrigues. With or without war against the DRV, the United States was even further from victory. In assessing the condition in the south a year after the downfall of Diem, the New York Times reported from Saigon that three years after the massive increase of the American commitment, and a {111} year after Diem’s demise, ‘the weakness of the Government [has] … once again brought the country to the brink of collapse.

… Once again many American and Vietnamese officials are thinking of new, enlarged commitments – this time to carry the conflict beyond the frontier of South Vietnam’.90

The bombing of the DRV

On 20 December 1964, there was yet another coup in Saigon, and during the subsequent weeks the difficulties for the United States resulting from the court manoeuvres among generals who refused to fight were compounded by the growing militancy of the Buddhist forces. By January of 1965 the desertion rate within the South Vietnamese army reached thirty per cent among draftees within six weeks of induction, and a very large proportion of the remainder would not fight. It was perfectly apparent that if anyone was to continue the war the United States would have to supply not only money, arms, and 23,000 supporting troops as of the end of 1964, but fight the entire war itself. During January, as well, a Soviet-led effort to end the war through negotiations was gathering momentum, and at the beginning of February Soviet Premier Kosygin, amidst American press reports that Washington in its pessimism was planning decisive new military moves, arrived in Hanoi.

On the morning of 7 February, while Kosygin was in Hanoi, American aircraft bombed the DRV, allegedly in response to a NLF mortar attack on the Pleiku base in the south which cost eight American lives. There was nothing unusual in the NLF attack, and every serious observer immediately rejected the official United States explanation, for the government refused to state that the DRV ordered the Pleiku action, but only claimed the DRV was generally responsible for the war. The United States attack had been prepared in advance, Arthur Krock revealed on 10 February, and the New York Times reported that Washington had told several governments of the planned escalation before the 7th. The action was political, not military in purpose, a response to growing {112} dissatisfaction at home and pressures abroad. It was already known that de Gaulle was contemplating a move to reconvene the Geneva Conference – which he attempted on the 10th, after DRV urgings – and during the subsequent weeks, as the United States threatened additional air strikes against the DRV, both Kosygin and U Thant vainly attempted to drag the United States government to the peace table. In response, the Americans now prepared for vast new troop commitments.91

On 26 February, the day before the State Department released its second White Paper, Rusk indicated willingness to consider negotiations only if the DRV agreed to stop the war in the south for which he held it responsible. Hence there was no possibility of negotiating on premises which so cynically distorted the facts, and which even Washington understood to be false. ‘[They] doubt that Hanoi would be able to call off the guerrilla war,’ the New York Times reported of dominant opinion in Washington barely a week before the Rusk statement.92 The DRV could not negotiate a war it did not start nor was in a position to end. The United States determined to intervene to save a condition in the south on the verge of utter collapse.

In its own perverse manner, the new White Paper made precisely these points. It ascribed the origins of the war, the ‘hard core’ of the NLF, ‘many’ of the weapons to the DRV. The actual evidence the Paper gave showed that 179 weapons, or less than three per cent of the total captured from the NLF in three years, were not definitely French, American or homemade in origin and modification. Of the small number of actual case studies of captured NLF members offered, the large majority were born south of the 17th parallel and had gone to the north after Geneva, a point that was readily admitted, and which disproved even a case based on the fiction – by now a permanent American premise – that Vietnam was two countries and that those north of an arbitrarily imposed line had no right to define the destiny of one nation.93 The tendentious case only proved total American {113} responsibility for the vast new increase in the aggression. Despite the growing pressure for negotiations from many sources, and because of them, by March the United States decided to implement the so-called ‘McNamara-Bundy Plan’ to bring about an ‘honourable’ peace by increasing the war. On 2 March air strikes against the DRV were initiated once more, but this time they were sustained down to this very day. There were incredulously received rumours of vast increases in troop commitments to as high as 350,000. Washington made an accurate assessment in March 1965 when it realized it could not expect to save Vietnam for its sphere of influence, and that peace was incompatible with its larger global objectives of stopping guerrilla and revolutionary upheavals everywhere in the world. Both McNamara and Taylor during March harked back to the constant theme that the United States was fighting in Vietnam ‘to halt Communist expansion in Asia’.94 Peace would come, Johnson stated on 13 March, when ‘Hanoi is prepared or willing or ready to stop doing what it is doing to its neighbours’.95 Twelve days later the President expressed willingness to grant a vast development plan to the region – which soon turned out to be Eugene Black’s formula for increasingly specialized raw-materials output for the use of the industrialized world – should the Vietnamese be ready to accept the fiction of DRV responsibility for the war.

It made no difference to the United States government that on 22 March the NLF, and on 8 April the DRV, again called for negotiations on terms which in fact were within the spirit of the Geneva Accords the United States had always rejected. It was less consequential that on 6 April the official Japanese Matsumoto Mission mustered sufficient courage to reject formally the thesis of DRV responsibility for the war in the south and its ability, therefore, to stop the Vietnamese there from resisting the United States and its intriguing puppets. More significant was the fact that, as it announced 2 April, the Administration had finally decided to send as many as 350,000 troops to Vietnam to attain for the United States what the armies of Diem, Khanh, and others could not – victory. The official position called for ‘peace’, but in his famous Johns Hopkins speech on 7 April Johnson made it {114} clear that ‘we will not withdraw, either openly or under the cloak of a meaningless agreement’. Though he agreed to ‘unconditional discussions’, he made it explicit that these would exclude the NLF and would be with an end to securing ‘an independent South Vietnam’, which is to say permanent partition and a violation of the Geneva Accords.96 From this time onwards the United States persisted in distorting the negotiating position of the DRV’s four-point declaration and effectively ignored the demand of the NLF for ‘an independent state, democratic, peaceful and neutral’. It refused, and has to this day, a voice for the NLF in any negotiations, and insisted that the NLF and DRV had attached certain preconditions to negotiations which in fact did not exist and which on 3 August the NLF again attempted to clarify – to no avail.

Experience over subsequent years has shown again and again that the words ‘peace’ and ‘negotiations’ from official United States sources were from 1964 onwards always preludes to new and more intensive military escalation.97

To the United States government the point of Vietnam is not peace but victory, not just in Vietnam but for a global strategy which it has expressed first of all in Vietnam but at various times on every other continent as well. Johnson’s own words in July 1965 stressed this global perspective while attributing the origins of the war to the DRV and, ultimately, China.

Its goal is to conquer the south, to defeat American power and to extend the Asiatic dominion of Communism.
And there are great stakes in the balance…
Our power, therefore, is a very vital shield. If we are driven from the field in Vietnam, then no nation can ever again have the same confidence in American promise or American protection. … We did not choose to be the guardians at the gate, but there is no one else.98

One does not have to approve of this vision to accept it as an accurate explanation of why the United States government is willing to violate every norm of civilized behaviour to sustain the successive corrupt puppet governments in the south. But any {115} careful reading of the declarations of Rusk and McNamara in the months preceding and following this statement reveals that it was not the Geneva Accords but rather SEATO and, more critically, the survival of United States power in a world it can less and less control that has defined the basis of United States policy in Vietnam. This official policy, as Rusk expounded it again in March 1966, is that Vietnam is ‘the testing ground’ for wars of liberation that, if successful in one place, can spread throughout the world.99 When, as in January 1966, Under Secretary of State George Ball explained that Vietnam ‘is part of a continuing struggle to prevent the communists from upsetting the fragile balance of power through force or the threat of force’, in effect he meant the ability of the United States to contain revolutionary nationalist movements, communist and noncommunist alike, unwilling to accept United States hegemony and dedicated to writing their own history for their own people.100

Any objective and carefully prepared account of the history of Vietnam must conclude with the fact that the United States must bear the responsibility for the torture of an entire nation since the end of the Second World War. The return of France to Vietnam, and its ability to fight for the restoration of a colony, was due to critical political decisions made in Washington in 1945, and the later repression depended on financial and military aid given to France by the United States. First as a passive senior partner, and then as the primary party, the United States made Vietnam an international arena for the Cold War, and it is a serious error to regard the war in Vietnam as a civil conflict, or even secondarily as a by-product of one for in that form it would hardly have lasted very long against a national and radical movement that the vast majority of the Vietnamese people always have sustained.

The United States government responded to its chronic inability to find a viable internal alternative to the Viet Minh and the NLF by escalating the war against virtually the entire nation. To escape certain defeat time and time again, it violated formal {116} and customary international law by increasing the scale of military activity. The United States met each overture to negotiate, whether it came from the Vietnamese, the French or the Russians, by accelerated warfare in the hope of attaining its unique ends through military means rather than diplomacy.

Ultimately, the United States has fought in Vietnam with increasing intensity to extend its hegemony over the world community and to stop every form of revolutionary movement which refuses to accept the predominant role of the United States in the direction of the affairs of its nation or region. Repeatedly defeated in Vietnam in the attainment of its impossible objective, the United States government, having alienated most of its European allies and a growing sector of its own nation, is attempting to prove to itself and the world that it remains indeed strong enough to define the course of global politics despite the opposition of a small poor nation of peasants. On the outcome of this epic contest rests the future of peace and social progress in the world for the remainder of the twentieth century, not just for those who struggle to overcome the legacy of colonialism and oppression to build new lives, but for the people of the United States themselves.

1. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: The Conference of Berlin (Washington, 1969), I, p.920.Back
2. Charles de Gaulle, Memoirs de Guerre: Le Salut, 1944-6 (Paris, 1964), pp. 467-8. See also Marcel Vigneras, Rearming the French (Washington, 1957), p. 398.Back
3. General G. Sabathier, Le Destin de L’Indochine (Paris, 1952), pp. 336-8. During October 1945 Major Patti of the OSS approached DRV officials with the offer to trade aid in building an infrastructure for certain economic rights for American interests. The offer was declined, but it is most questionable if Patti spoke with official authority or whether this was a means for obtaining information.Back
4. General Philip Gallagher to General R. B. McClure, 20 September 1945 (Department of State Report, Gallagher Papers).Back
5. Department of State, Research and Intelligence Service, Biographical Information on Prominent Nationalist Leaders in French Indochina, 25 October 1945.Back
6. UK Documents Relating to British Involvement in the Indo-China Conflict, 1945-65, Cmd 2834 (London, 1965), p.50. See also F. S. V. Donnison, British Military Administration in the Far East 1943-6 (London, 1956), pp. 404-8.Back
7. Department of State Report, Gallagher Papers, p.10.Back
8. New York Times, 8 February 1947. See also Bernard Fall, Two Viet Nams (New York, 1963), pp. 75-6.Back
9. William C. Bullitt, ‘The Saddest War’, Life, 29 December 1947, p.69.Back
10. US Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings: Nomination of Philip C. Jessup (Washington, 1951), p. 603.Back
11. Department of State, Conference on Problems of United States Policy in China, 6-8 October 1949, p.207; see also pp. 99 ff.Back
12. ibid., pp. 222-5.Back
13. ibid., p.405.Back
14. ‘Statement of Charles E. Bohlen Before the Voorkeers Group, 3 April 1950’, Joseph Dodge Papers, Detroit Public Library.Back
15. Ellen J. Hammer, The Struggle for Indochina (Oxford University Press, 1954), pp. 270-72.Back
16. US Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, 14 January 1965 (Washington, 1965), p. 137; US AID, Obligation and Loan Authorization (Washington, 1962), p.12; Harry S. Truman, Memoirs New English Library, 1965), II, p.519.Back
17. Dulles to Frank C. Laubach, 31 October 1950, Dulles Papers.Back
18. US Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings (Washington, 1951), p.207.Back
19. ibid.Back
20. ibid., p.208.Back
21. ibid.Back
22. ibid., p.211.Back
23. Allan B. Cole (ed.), Conflict in Indo-China and International Repercussions: A Documentary History, 1945-55 (Ithaca, 1956), p.171.Back
24. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mandate for Change (Heinemann, 1963), p. 333.Back
25. Anthony Eden, Full Circle (London, 1960), p.92.Back
26. Truman, op cit., II, p.519.Back
27. Eisenhower, op. cit., p.168.Back
28. ibid., p.337.Back
29. ibid., p.338.Back
30. Quoted in Alexander Werth, ‘Showdown in Viet Nam’, New Statesman, 8 April 1950, p.397.Back
31. Department of State Press Release, No. 8, p.4. {89}Back
32. Eden, op. cit., p.100.Back
33. Eisenhower, op. cit., p.345.Back
34. Eden, op. cit., p. 102.Back
35. Department of State, American Foreign Policy, 1950-55 (Washington, 1957), II, pp. 2374 ff.Back
36. Cole, op. cit.; p.174.Back
37. UK Documents Relating to British Involvement, pp. 66-7.Back
38. American Foreign Policy, II, p.2385.Back
39. ibid., p. 2386.Back
40. ibid., pp. 2389-90.Back
41. New York Times, 27 June 1954.Back
42. Eden, op. cit., p. 149.Back
43. US Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Background Information, p. 35, pp. 28-42.Back
44. ibid., pp. 58-9.Back
45. Eisenhower, op. cit., pp. 337-8.Back
46. loc. cit.Back
47. ibid., p.372.Back
48. Background Information, p.60.Back
49. ibid.Back
50. ibid., pp. 60-61.Back
51. Wall Street Journal, 23 July 1954.Back
52. US Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings (Washington, 1954), p.1.Back
53. Background Information, p.63.Back
54. American Foreign Policy, II, p. 2404.Back
55. Cole, op. cit., pp. 226-7.Back
56. Quoted in F. B. Weinstein, Vietnam’s Unheld Election (Ithaca, 1966), p.33.Back
57. UK Documents Relating to British Involvement, p.95.Back
58. Weinstein, op. cit., p.53.Back
59. American Foreign Policy: Current Documents (Washington, 1959). p.861.Back
60. Quoted in Robert Scheer, How the United States Got Involved in Vietnam (Santa Barbara, 1965), p.40. See also Nguyen Kien, Le Sud-Vietnam Depuis Dien Bien Phu (Paris, 1963), p.109; Jean Lacouture, Le Vietnam Entre Deux Paix (Paris, 1965), p.46.Back
61. DRV, Imperial Schemes (Hanoi, 1958), pp. 30 ff.Back
62. Jean Lacouture and Philippe Devillers, La Fin d’une Guerre: Indochine 1954 (Paris, 1960), pp. 301-2; Kien, op. cit., pp. 122-30; Lê Châu, La Révolution Paysanne du Sud-Vietnam (Paris, 1966), pp. 16-24, 54-79.Back
63. Background Information, p.75. See also Kien, op. cit., p.131; John D. Montgomery, The Politics of Foreign Aid (Pall Mall, 1963). pp. 67-94; Fall, op. cit., pp. 303-6.Back
64. Marvin E. Gettleman (ed.), Vietnam: History, Documents and Opinions on a Major World Crisis (New York, 1965; Penguin Books 1966), p.79. See also Fall, op. cit., p.344; Devillers in Gettleman, op. cit., pp. 210 ff.; Lacouture, op. cit., pp. 34 ff.; Z, ‘The War in Vietnam’, pp. 216; James Alexander, ‘Deadlock in Vietnam’, Progressive, September 1962, pp. 20-24; and especially George McT. Kahin and John W. Lewis, The United States in Vietnam (New York, 1967), Chapter V.Back
65. Background Information, p.137; New York Times, 1 December 1965; New York Herald Tribune, 17 October 1966.Back
66. DRV, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Memorandum (Hanoi, 1962), p.33; see also Background Information, pp. 76-8.Back
67. Wall Street Journal, 8 November 1961.Back
68. Background In formation, p.81; New York Times, 13 December 1961.Back
69. Background In formation, p. 83.Back
70. Lacouture, op. cit., pp. 56-7.Back
71. Department of State, A Threat to the Peace: North Viet-Nam’s Effort to Conquer South Viet-Nam (Washington, 1961), I, p.9.Back
72. ibid., II, p.5.Back
73. ibid., I, p.52; New York Times, 27 November 1961.Back
74. New York Times, 19 April 1962.Back
75. Background Information, pp. 88-9.Back
76. US Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Viet Nam and Southeast Asia (Washington, 1963), p.5.Back
77. ibid.Back
78. US Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Hearings: Military Procurement Authorization, 1964 (Washington, 1963), p.707.Back
79. Background Information, p.101; New York Times, 27 April, 23 July, 9, 21 September 1963.Back
80. New York Times, 13 September 1963.Back
81. Franz Schurmann et al., The Politics of Escalation in Vietnam (New York, 1966), pp. 23-5; New York Times, 3 October 1963; Background Information, p. 102.Back
82. New York Times, 9 November 1963.Back
83. ibid., 23 December 1963; 29 November, 10, 14, 15, 20 December 1963.Back
84. Background Information, pp. 106-7.Back
85. New York Times, 6 March 1964; 23 February 1964; Schurmann et al., op. cit., pp. 27-34.Back
86. Background Information, pp. 111-17.Back
87. ibid., p. 124.Back
88. New York Times, 6 August 1964; Le Monde, 6-12 August 1964.Back
89. New York Times, 11, 14 August, 25 September 1964; Schurmann et al., op. cit., pp. 35-43; DRV, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Memorandum, August 1964 (Hanoi, 1964); US Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings: The Gulf of Tonkin (Washington, 1968).Back
90. New York Times, 2 November 1964; 25, 27, 28 August, 4 September 1964.Back
91. ibid., 19 January, 3, 8, 10, 12, 13 February 1965; Schurmann et al., op. cit., pp. 44-61.Back
92. New York Times, 18 February 1965; 26 February 1965.Back
93. Text in Gettleman, op. cit., pp. 284-316; answer by I. F. Stone, ibid., pp. 317-23.Back
94. New York Times, 12 March 1965; 1, 3, 28 March 1965.Back
95. ibid., 8 April 1965.Back
96. ibid., 8 April 1965; 26 March, 3,7 April 1965.Back
97. Schurmann et al., op. cit.Back
98. New York Times, 29 July 1965.Back
99. Department of State, The Heart of the Problem … (Washington, 1966), pp. 12-13; Why Vietnam? (Washington, 1965), pp. 9ff.Back
100. George W. Ball, The Issue in Viet-Nam (Washington, 1966), p 18.Back

JEAN-PIERRE VIGIER Technical Aspects of Fragmentation Bombs


Technical Aspects of Fragmentation Bombs

In Vietnam the Americans are utilizing a new type of anti-personnel arm based on the following principle: a hollow metallic envelope into which are cast certain projectiles such as ball-bearing-like pellets, needles, etc., numbering into the hundreds. These explode on the ground or in the air to fire the projectiles in a sunburst pattern for many metres. The effects of the projectiles are insignificant on fixed installations. Two types of these weapons are principally in use in Vietnam. The ‘pineapple’ bomb with {117} cylindrically symmetrical explosion: this weapon consists of a hollow metallic envelope made of an alloy of copper and iron with traces of zinc, having a total weight of 800 grammes and a thickness of 7 millimetres. Into the envelope, which resembles the shape of a pineapple, are cast 300 pellets of steel 6.3 millimetres in diameter. On the top of the bomblet are placed six ‘wings’ which are folded when the bomb is at rest and which snap up in flight by means of a spring at their base. These fins stabilize the fall of the bomb in the same manner as the feathers do a badminton shuttlecock. The lower part of the bomblet is closed with a metallic plate pierced by a hole through which penetrates the point of a spring-loaded firing pin. Upon impact – if the bomblet falls vertically, as it is supposed to – the spring releases and the percussive force causes the explosion of 160 grammes of Cyclotol A3 which is composed of 91 per cent hexogene trimethylene-trinitramine and 9 per cent wax, an explosive three times more powerful than TNT. The explosion projects the pellets in a sun-burst pattern at an angle of about 20° with the horizontal to a distance of 15 metres; the pieces of the casing are propelled about 50 metres. Craters from these bomblets are small: 30 to 40 centimetres maximum diameter in loose soil and with a depth of 10 to 20 centimetres; their damage to structures is insignificant.

Method of employment: a pod containing 19 cylindrical tubes of a diameter slightly larger than the bomblets is fixed beneath an aircraft’s wings and parallel to them. Each tube contains 20 bomblets with the fins folded back. The aeroplane flies horizontally at an altitude of about 800 metres and fires the pineapples from the tubes by means of a directed explosion of several grammes of powder. The bomblets disperse in the same manner as a ‘stick’ of parachutists over an elliptical zone about 500 metres long by 250 metres wide. This weapon was first used, to the best of our knowledge, on 8 February 1965 against Le Thuy, in the province of Quang Binh.

From a purely military point of view, these weapons had two drawbacks: 1. there were numerous ‘duds’ as the bomblet did not always fall vertically as was necessary for proper detonation; 2. the horizontal, straight-and-level flight of the aircraft at the low level – no more than 1,000 metres – necessary to assure maximum effective dispersal of the pineapple bomblets rendered the attacking {118} aircraft extremely vulnerable to ground-fire. For these reasons the pineapple anti-personnel weapon seems to have been largely superseded by the ‘guava’ bomb with spherically symmetrical explosion. This weapon is round, resembling a conventional hand grenade, and has a total weight of 400 grammes. Like the pineapple, it consists of a hollow envelope 7 millimetres thick of the same alloy and is filled with 50 grammes of Cyclotol A3. Into the casing are cast 260 to 300 steel balls 5.56 millimetres in diameter. Also cast into the casing in meridional direction are 4 small fins or ‘wings’ which catch the wind and by friction set up a spinning motion along the polar axis. In the centre of the explosive filling a new type of detonator is located which operates by centrifugal force. This detonator consists of three small hammers which are cocked by the spinning of the bomblet and which are spring-loaded. If the spinning stops for any reason, the hammers fall, exploding the bomblet, and firing the steel pellets into an isotropic distribution in a sun-burst pattern for a distance of about 15 metres.

It is the nature of the bomb that when it touches the ground or even if, while in flight, it glances off a roof, a wall, or a branch of a tree, thereby interrupting or changing the axis of rotation away from the original polar axis, or, as shown by blast studies in Japan, if the axis changes spontaneously or the rate of spinning slows, the bomblet explodes. Like the pineapple, the craters produced are small and the effect of the bomblet on structures is insignificant. Method of employment: these bomblets are packed into a hollow ‘mother’ bomb casing about 2.1 metres long by 40 centimetres in diameter which holds roughly 640 guava bomblets. The mother bombs have a timing device which separates the container casing at an altitude of about 800 metres. The 640 guava bomblets are flung out and follow a parabolic trajectory and are distributed over the objective in an elliptical pattern about one kilometre long by about 500 metres wide.

This weapon was used for the first time on about 18 April 1966, on the village of Moc Chan in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Because of the spherical symmetry of the explosion and the tendency for a percentage of the bomblets to explode as air-bursts, traditional trenches and open individual shelters are rendered ineffective for cover; these weapons are therefore extremely {119} dangerous. They are usually employed in a three-stage raid: first comes observation, then bombardment with high explosives and/or napalm and then by CBUs (container bomb units) containing the guava steel pellet bombs.

MALCOLM CALDWELL Report from North Vietnam


Report from North Vietnam

I arrived in Hanoi on the evening of 30 December 1966. The following afternoon I inspected bomb damage in Hanoi. This was the result of raids on 2, 13 and 14 December 1966. We were informed that some 450 bombs had been dropped altogether in the course of these attacks. The 2 December raid hit a doctor’s house near the centre of Hanoi by missile, injuring the doctor himself and severing the foot of a child. The 14 December raid damaged the Chinese Embassy, among others; it was possible to see the damage from outside the gates, but we had no opportunity to inspect at closer quarters. In the attack of 13 December an area of working-class housing in Hanoi was bombed: the area looked like a battlefield, and we were told 300-plus dwellings had been completely destroyed – certainly there was little that was habitable left standing, and the area was pitted with craters. We interviewed a number of local inhabitants and ascertained the nature of the raid; they said there had been four deaths and ten injuries, and that the bombs had exploded in the air before actually striking the ground.1

On 1 January 1967, we drove south, starting at an early hour, to inspect bomb damage in outlying population centres. The first step was Phu Ly, about sixty kilometres from Hanoi, and not far {120} south from road and rail bridges that have been frequently bombed. Once a thriving town, it is now almost completely destroyed, having suffered eight raids up to the time of my visit. The main street and market were smashed flat, and among destroyed buildings I made out a church, a school and a pagoda. The water-control dam had obviously been bombed, and craters, as yet unfilled, were obvious near by. We were told that total casualties in Phu Ly were eleven dead and twenty-nine wounded.

Next stop was Nam Dinh, formerly an important textile city of some 93,000 inhabitants. Repeated bombing had, however, led to mass evacuation and dispersal of industry. US bombing had commenced on 22 May 1965, and up to the end of November 1966 there had been, we were told, 641 air raids, using some 4,930 bombs of various kinds. We inspected the damage, which included new workers’ flats, kindergarten and schools. We agreed that much of the damage to wood and brickwork was consistent with the use of fragmentation bombs. We looked at Hang Thao Street, which had been subjected to a sudden and savage surprise attack on 14 April 1966, killing forty-nine people and wounding over 100. It had been the busiest street in town, but had been largely evacuated. We interviewed a thirty-three-year-old mother, Tram Ahi Mai, three of whose six children had been killed in the 14 April raid – one of them a babe in arms. While we were in Nam Dinh there was a ten-minute air-raid alert, from about 9.55 A.M. till about 10.5 A.M. Note that this was during the New Year truce.2 Planes approached but then veered off. We were told that they had not been reconnaissance planes. We scrambled over the rubble of what had been busy commercial streets. I noticed a good many rats among the ruins; this, one presumes, is something of a public health menace.

Since we were in the vicinity of Nam Phong village, and it had been bombed the previous day (31 December 1966) at 5.10 A.M. – just fifty minutes before the truce came into effect – we proceeded to it. It looked as if the dikes had been the target here. The local people interviewed claimed that there had been ‘many’ (some said twelve) raids on the dikes. Appreciating the dangers of breached {121} or weakened dikes the people – everybody in the village it appeared – were toiling to make good the damage. We saw the corpse of an eighteen-year-old boy whose head had been sliced open by a bomb fragment. Three others had been killed – the husband and two children of a family of whom mother and baby remained. We also interviewed an orphan who had been living with his grandmother, also killed in this raid. Much damage had been inflicted upon the flimsy wood and thatch huts and outbuildings of the village. There wasn’t a possible military target within miles, as far as we could see. There were, as always and everywhere in North Vietnam, bridges, but in the immediate neighbourhood of Nam Phong none but flimsy bamboo pontoon-type constructions, obviously unsuited to military traffic. The only conclusion open to me is that the target here in Nam Phong was the dikes, with the intention of weakening and/or breaching them so that when the rains come later in the year serious flooding and inundation of the crops will occur.

After lunching at Nam Dinh, we pressed on south to Phat Diem in Ninh Binh province. All the way from Hanoi we had been able to observe the extent of damage to communications systems, and my conclusion was that attacks on bridges, roads and railways had had their military purpose frustrated completely by the initiative and improvisations of the Vietnamese. This might conceivably account for the apparent extension of bombing bit by bit to more and more blatantly civilian targets – including targets well off the main north-south communications routes – such as Phat Diem.

Phat Diem has been described by some US reports as a ‘naval base’. It is clear on the ground that it is nothing of the sort, and it must unquestionably be clear as well, that it is not from the air. The town is in the heart of a Roman Catholic area, as is clear from the large number of spires which decorate the landscape. It seemed to me that Phat Diem had been subjected to a pretty systematic attempt to flatten all modern-looking stone and brick buildings. This seemed to be the pattern of the bomb runs, along the line of the main street. We inspected a number of churches. The first had been attacked and badly damaged in a raid on 10 July 1966. Across the river another had been completely smashed flat, so that the grounds seemed to me to be just a pattern of {122} water-filled craters. It was interesting to see that attempts were being made to make the best of a bad job by growing vegetables on bomb sites (and on the roofs of air-raid shelters). This second church was said to have taken something like forty-eight bombs in all. The third church, the biggest of the ones we saw, had been badly damaged as far as we could see examining its exterior façade: Mass was in progress, and we did not enter. My conclusions about Phat Diem are roughly as follows. There are no local military targets (if one excludes the fishing boats and the bridges). No main road runs through Phat Diem, and the road which does go through the town runs east-west not north-south. There is no railway and no industry in the region. It is a fairly prosperous agricultural town, which used to be well-known for its handicrafts, especially basket-work. The main access bridge looked to me too flimsy for heavy military traffic. Bombing, therefore, would seem to have no reason but terrorism of the population. This is a comparatively densely populated area, with 5,700 people in two square kilometres. What had prevented much heavier casualties was obviously the intensive shelter-building programme, combined with strict discipline associated with taking shelter as soon as the alert sounded. We were informed that total fatal casualties in more than fifty raids on Phat Diem had been in the region of 100. But seventy-two of these had been suffered during the course of one sneak raid on the fourth church we visited; this raid, on 24 April 1966, had caught a congregation on the point of leaving after a service, and it had been the first raid of the long series.

On 3 January, I spent the day considering evidence of the bombing of hospitals, the use of fragmentation bombs, and the nature of civilian casualties. The morning was spent at the Department of Health building, where we heard testimony and interviewed doctors and others who had been eye-witnesses of American raids on hospitals and sanatoria. We interviewed Dr Oai, who witnessed the repeated bombing of Quynh Lap leprosorium. The first raid occurred at 8 P.M. on 12 June 1965, the planes flying over and then returning to drop twenty-four bombs and fire missiles. A night nurse was wounded. The following morning, all patients had been evacuated, but at 1.45 P.M. on 13 June 1965, when some of the patients had returned, large numbers of US planes came over {123} and bombed and strafed the hospital in turn. The centre was demolished completely. In the following few days, the Americans returned again and again until the sanatorium had been completely destroyed. The raids of 12-21 June 1965 were reported to have killed 140 patients in all. Dr Oai was moved to another hospital, while the remaining patients were dispersed to a variety of institutions. We also interviewed three other eye-witnesses – a man Hoang-Sinh, who had been wounded in one of the raids, Duong Thi Lien and Vu Thanh Mui, two women. These corroborated the testimony of Dr Oai in respect of the most important details – i.e. the height of the planes, the fact that the bombs were followed up by strafing of the patients and staff as they sought shelter. Dr Oai, in response to questions, asserted that there had been ‘at least seven’ low-flying reconnaissance flights before the first bombings. The implication is, of course, that the Americans must have known what the target at Quynh Lap was.

We also interviewed a patient at the time of the June raids, Nguyen Van Ang. whose testimony again corroborated the evidence of the others. I asked the North Vietnamese present whether they had any admissions from captured American airmen that they had actually been briefed to bomb Quynh Lap, knowing it to be a leprosorium. They said they would inquire about this, but I never heard any more about it. It seemed to me that some such evidence from the US side would absolutely clinch the argument. As it is, I am sure the weight of evidence now available affords strong grounds for indicting the Americans of deliberate bombing of hospitals. The point about what the US pilots were told in their briefing meetings is, however, an important point upon which, I hope, further evidence will become available.

In the afternoon of 3 January 1967, we visited St Paul’s Surgical Hospital, Hanoi. The surgeon-in-charge introduced the hospital, and said we would be seeing victims of US bombing of Hanoi and neighbourhood. Many wounded, he explained, had been evacuated, but the worst injured had to be kept there for expert attention. He and two other doctors took us through the details of a number of cases, showed us X-rays, showed us some victims nearing discharge, and finally showed us round some of the patients in bed. I quote from my notebook: {124}

Victims of the raid of 13 December 1966 [presumably on Hanoi – M.C.], a girl of six years – Vu Thi Hanh – and her brother – Vu Hong Nguyen – of four years. The mother had been killed in a raid on the south of North Vietnam. The girl had suffered a skull fracture, but had been cured and evacuated; the boy had had an arm fracture.

A baby of ten months, Le Dinh Lap, injured on the same day at the same place. Feet injuries. Also a splinter entered just below the eyebrow and lodged in the skull. Has been operated upon, and is considered satisfactory, despite a remaining fragment. Found beside his dead mother. The father was absent at the time. Older siblings had fortunately been evacuated.

Ngo Van Phu – fragment caused bleeding in the brain, operated upon, and now in good health.

Nguyen Thi Thanh – another case of fragment injury. Also operated on and saved (ten months old).

Nguyen Thuan – pellets from an anti-personnel fragmentation bomb in the skull – hit fifty kms. north of Hanoi – at Vinh Phuc.

Nguyen Quang, a school-boy of twelve years, also at Vinh Phuc. Fragment entered the temple region and produced severe damage to the eyes – yet another fragmentation bomb victim.

The surgeon-in-chief interrupted at this point to speak more generally about fragmentation bombs. He stressed that the fragments are particularly dangerous lodging in the skull, menacing not only the life but also the intelligence of the children if they survive. They continually threaten abscesses. They violate the Geneva Conventions. Victims are horribly mutilated. The objectives of US bombing, he said, are the populated areas, and mothers and children are the most frequent victims. These tiny fragments from fragmentation bombs, he said, cause permanent mutilation. The seriousness of the injuries is caused by the force of the explosion of each container (300 in each ‘mother’ bomb) and by the smallness of the fragments.

Dr Dang Hung Khanh, a traumatologist, took over, and took us through a number of cases of bad burning and more fragmentation-bomb victims. He had several cases of fragmentation bomb damage from Gia Lam province, near Hanoi, and from Van Dien, about ten kilometres south of Hanoi. He stressed in general that the fragments are dangerous because they travel very low, so that even those who throw themselves on the ground can be badly hit. {125}

I am not a medical doctor, and so must leave evaluation of the cases from that point of view to others better qualified. But the sheer number of fragmentation bomb victims we saw at the St Paul’s Surgical Hospital, Hanoi, fits in with the impression we had from other evidence about the frequency of their employment by the Americans in North Vietnam. One can corroborate in various ways, all of which we did. First, one can inspect bombed buildings for characteristic marks. Second, one can interview local eye-witnesses of raids. Third, one can examine fragments of bomb-casing and unexploded or recovered bombs in situ. The impression that builds up is unmistakable and unavoidable in its implications – namely that the United States is deliberately, consistently and methodically employing fragmentation bombs – a specifically anti-personnel weapon – throughout North Vietnam.

We inspected some of the patients and confirmed on inspection what had been said about them as cases. We heard their own stories of how they had been injured. I quote one typical interview from my notebook:

We interview another patient, Nguyen thi Thanh (ten months), through the mother Ngo thi Ky (29), Hoang Hanh Street, Hanoi, 1/2 km. from Hanoi central market. ‘At noon on the 13th [December -M.C.] I went to work. At 3 P.M. there was bombing and I hastened to rejoin my household, but everything was destroyed; but baby had been sent to hospital, and the baby was wounded [burned?]. I went to the hospital; the baby’s brain was sticking out of his head. I thank the doctors very much who looked after my baby. Our house was completely burned down, and the neighbouring house all [too]. When the bombs fell, I was at the small lake.’ ‘Did you see the planes?’ ‘I took shelter, but saw the planes come in. When I am at work, neighbours look after the baby – in the raid they were lightly wounded. It was doctors and nurses who removed the child to hospital.’ The doctor commented that a fragment in the head originally caused left-sided paralysis, but that this had gone.

Afterwards, we toured one or two wards, and I was appalled at some of the terrible injuries to patients from fragmentation bombs. The only limitation on our compilation of cases was obviously the amount of time at our disposal. In the hospital were cases of fragmentation-bomb damage to people living both in Hanoi, and the north, south, east and west of it. In other words, it {126} would appear that these weapons are used regularly throughout North Vietnam.

On Wednesday, 4 January, we visited the Hanoi War Crimes Investigating Committee, to be briefed on the American raids on Hanoi and suburbs. An interesting point to which I would draw attention, in connexion with what I had to say about the hospital evidence, is that the Hanoi Committee estimated that so far fragmentation bombs had outnumbered other types of bombs in a ratio of greater than 6:1. We inspected fragments of recovered bombs and other visible and tangible evidence of this from the Hanoi area.

We went on to visit Tu Ky hamlet in the village of Hoang Liet, in the suburbs of Hanoi. We interviewed Nguyen Thi San, an elderly woman of fifty-seven; she described the 2 December 1966 raid, explaining how the US planes ‘dive-bombed and strafed’. The school here is a ruin, the ground pitted with many bomb craters. All round this agricultural hamlet the ground is ploughed up with water-filled bomb craters, like a miniature Ypres or Passchendaele. There is no military target in sight. The Tu Ky pagoda also badly damaged.

We then visited Phu Xa, in the suburbs again of Hanoi. It was completely destroyed in the course of a raid on 13 August 1966. It has since been rebuilt. The hamlet grows mulberry for silk. There are now deep trenches and shelters everywhere, because many people died (twenty-four) and many others were wounded (twenty-three) during the first attack, in which fragmentation bombs predominated. We saw a large fragment of bomb case, clearly stamped ‘Loading date 7/66’ and marked with its weight ‘139 lbs.’ There is a village memorial, with many relics and artefacts of the raid. Besides human casualties, the people of the village have recorded the destruction caused to crops, farm animals, etc.

On Friday, 6 January, we attended the press conference of the visiting Japanese delegation, whose report will be submitted independently to the International War Crimes Tribunal. This was interrupted by an air-raid alert lasting about fifteen minutes. (I had twice before this, and once more subsequently, to take shelter during alerts; the last one, later this day, was accompanied by fairly heavy anti-aircraft fire, but I did not record any bombs {127} falling. The Japanese had been bombed, and had brought back some interesting evidence of the use of napalm, etc.

Early on Saturday, 7 January, I left Hanoi by plane for Phnom Penh.

1. The raid of 14 December 1966 badly damaged a trade-union school and nearby workers’ housing, only completed a few years ago. This is a site about four kilometres from the mile-long bridge spanning the Red River. Here we were told there had been two deaths and seven wounded.Back
2. We were told that Ninh Binh town had been bombed at 10 A.M. on 31 December 1966 – in contradiction of the New Year cease-fire. Twenty people were reported killed and wounded.Back

LAWRENCE DALY American Bombing in North Vietnam


American Bombing in North Vietnam

The Second Investigation Team of the International War Crimes Tribunal was in North Vietnam from 24 January 1967 until 17 February 1967. We were welcomed on the evening of 24 January by representatives of the North Vietnamese government and, on the morning of 25 January, we discussed our programme with Mr Pham Van Bach of the DRV War Crimes Commission.

On 27 January we met religious leaders and heard details from them of the attacks on churches and pagodas by the US planes. In the afternoon we inspected areas of Hanoi that had been bombed in attacks which had occurred on 2, 13 and 14 December 1966.

In the Van Dien district, high explosive bombs, rockets and pressure bombs had been dropped. We saw huge craters and destroyed and damaged houses. The Senior High School (named in honour of Vietnam-Polish friendship) had been destroyed. We met two pupils and one teacher (all females) who had been wounded during the attacks. The girls were Miss Hong Thi Ly and Miss Nguyen Thi Giang. The teacher was Miss Nguyen Thi An.

In the Tu Ky quarter of Van Dien, two children were killed in the raid on 2 December 1966. The Tu Ky pagoda had also been destroyed. Most of the 600 pupils had been evacuated and only a class of forty-four pupils was in the school when the alert sounded. But for this fact and the nearby deep shelters, the casualties would have been much greater.

We visited the Trade Union Cadres Training School in the {128} Dong Da quarter of Hanoi which had been bombed on 14 December 1966. One student was killed and six were wounded. A large part of the three-storey building was wrecked, as was the students’ hostel. Many houses near by – in Tay Son Street – had been ruined and four people were killed and five wounded. Rockets and high explosive bombs were used.

On the evening of 27 January, Dr Tolentino and I left Hanoi for the north…. We travelled at night by jeeps to the city of Viet Tri and were welcomed by provincial officials in a jungle headquarters outside the city.

Viet Tri is an industrial town with a population of 40,000. US planes had made reconnaissance flights over the city on 12, 13 and 14 January 1967 and had then attacked on 15 January at 3.5 P.M. with twelve F-105 planes which dropped twenty-eight explosive bombs and four container bomb units (CBUS) (1,200 steel pellet bombs). The attacks were concentrated on Thuan Luong commune and especially Phuc Theun village and Dong Luc cooperative. Two people were killed (one man, one woman). Eleven people were wounded (four male and seven female) including five children. Those killed were the victims of steel pellet bombs. Twenty-two houses had been destroyed or damaged.

On 18 January, at 7 A.M., eighteen F-105s had attacked with high explosive bombs, pressure bombs, time bombs and CBUs. They struck the Roman Catholic commune of Tien Cat and also the commune of Minh Dong, including the hamlets of Gia Vuong and Minh Tan. Twenty people were killed (seven male and thirteen female), including eight children. Sixty-one were wounded (twenty-eight male and twenty-three female) including fifteen children. One hundred and twenty-nine houses were demolished and eight were burned down. The school, the hospital and the kindergarten were bombed. Dikes and sluices had also been attacked.

In the hamlet of Doan Det, the church had been demolished and five people had been killed. Mr Nguyen Van Tho, a peasant, had lost his thirty-nine-year-old wife and his two sons, aged fifteen and two years. They were killed by a direct hit on their shelter. Mr La Quing Toai and his wife lost two children, six years and six months old, and both he and his wife coughed blood due to the effects of the pressure bombs. {129}

The state-owned bakery shop in Dong Tien had been bombed. One woman was killed (Miss Do Thi San, aged fifty-three years) and four other women were wounded. Miss La Thi Mo, twenty-one years, was hit between the eyes by steel pellets. Mrs Dao Thi Tri, sixty-three years of age, was also wounded by steel pellets. There was no time to detail all the injuries of all the victims.

We then left our headquarters to visit the bombed areas. The Roman Catholic church at Doan Ket was badly damaged, as was the school at Minh Dong. Fortunately, children were not at school when the raid took place. There were huge craters and there was an unexploded bomb near what had been the state-owned bakery. We spoke to a Mr Tay whose wife and two children had been killed. We visited the hospital which had been transferred from the city centre, where it had been attacked twice previously. Many steel pellet bombs had been dropped on it and the rice fields beyond were covered with small craters left by the guava bombs. We saw many houses that had been destroyed by explosive bombs and others on or near which steel pellet anti-personnel bombs had been dropped. It was explained to us that the normal pattern of attack was to drop explosive bombs first and then to drop steel pellet bombs while people were trying to help the victims of the first attack.

In the afternoon we returned to our headquarters and interviewed the following victims: (1) Mr Nguyen Van Tho, whose wife and two children were killed on 18 January. He described his tragic experience in detail and then answered our questions. His house and property were destroyed. He had another five children, all of whom were now suffering from the effects of pressure bombs. The two dead children included his young son, aged two years. (2) Mr Nguyen Van Tho of Doan Ket hamlet, aged fifty years. His wife and son, aged seven years, had been killed. He had four children left. His house and property were destroyed. In answer to our questions he said, as had the previous witness, that there was no military target within the vicinity. (3) Mrs Do Thi Duyen, sixty-six years of age, worked in the Dong Thien bakery. She described how Mrs San, aged fifty years, had been killed by a pressure bomb and others were seriously wounded. Her left arm was broken and her left knee was injured. She was a widow and {130} had no children. (4) Mr La Qang Toai, forty-three years of age, from Minh Tan hamlet, was vice-chairman of the agriculture cooperative. He described how his wife and two children (one of them five months old) had died. They were crushed as the sides of their shelter squeezed together due to the blast of a pressure bomb.

While we were interviewing Mr La Qang Toai, the alert went about 3.40 P.M. and we took shelter. Shortly afterwards, we felt the impact of a missile that struck the hamlet of Hoa Phong only 500 metres away. After these interviews, we visited Viet Tri city hospital and saw victims who were still receiving treatment. Dr Tolentino examined these victims, who included: (1) La Quang Chung, three-year-old son of Mr Le Ngoc Dang. He was wounded in the right leg and shoulder by steel pellets and he bled heavily.

(2) A five-year-old boy, also named Le Quang Chung. He was wounded by steel pellets in the head and right leg. (3) Mrs Nguyen Thi Luong, aged forty-five years, a peasant’s wife from Tan Hong commune in the province of Ha Tay. She had travelled to Viet Tri for shopping on 18 January and during the raid she received wounds in the stomach and had been stunned by the bombing. Her legs were paralysed and her bowels were damaged. A bomb fragment was lodged in the spine. She also had an injury to her left arm. (4) Mr Nguyen Van Binh, aged fifty-one years, a peasant from Gia Vuong hamlet in Minh Dong commune. He had head injuries from a bomb fragment. One of his two children had also been wounded.

After leaving the hospital we went to Hoa Phong hamlet which had been attacked while we were taking refuge earlier that afternoon. It had been struck by a ‘Bull Pup’ incendiary missile. Three houses were destroyed. One old woman and two children had been wounded and some animals had been killed.

Next morning, Sunday, 29 January, we received a report on the attacks on Phu Tho province. The province has a population of 640,000 and the city of Phu Tho has a population of 14,000 reduced by evacuation to 6,700. Repeated attacks on the city had been made since October 1965. Pilotless planes had been used for US reconnaissance flights. On 22 November, starting at 2.15 A.M., thirty-one sorties were flown over the city. Ninety-five explosive bombs, some weighing 1,000 lbs., were dropped. These made {131} craters as big as thirteen metres deep and thirty-seven metres in diameter. Rockets, missiles and CBUS were also used. Thirty-three people were killed (fourteen male and nineteen female) including one old person and six children. 282 houses were burned down or demolished. A school, a Buddhist temple, a hospital and a medical school had all been bombed. The worst damage was done in the area of Coa Bang and Hoa Binh Streets.

On 4 March 1966, twelve planes had attacked dropping thirty-six bombs weighing up to 750 lbs. Thirty-eight people were killed (eighteen male and twenty female) including six old people and sixteen children, and twenty-four people were wounded (nine male and fifteen female). Ninety-one houses were burned down or damaged; forty-six were completely destroyed. One hundred and thirty metres of dikes were damaged; the Roman Catholic church was severely damaged. Five thousand three hundred kilos of paddy were burned; eleven buffaloes and fifteen pigs were killed. Over 1,000 banana trees were destroyed.

On 11 October 1966, twelve planes had again attacked. The bombs dropped included six CBUs – 1,800 guava bombs each containing 300 steel pellets. These fell chiefly on Phu Hong cooperative and on the second degree school. Sixteen people were killed (seven male and nine female), including seven old people and four children. Thirty-eight houses were burned down. Animals and rice supplies were destroyed. One thousand five hundred steel pellet bombs fell on the rice fields which were ready for harvesting. One pupil at the school was killed.

On 27 July 1965, two F-105s dropped ten napalm bombs on Co Tiet commune. A sixty-two-year-old peasant, Mr Ngo Van Huong, had been wounded. Twelve houses were burned down and 2,400 kilos of paddy destroyed. Twenty-nine planes had been shot down in this province, including the 400th to be brought down over North Vietnam. Other planes had been damaged and two pilots had been captured alive.

A local exhibition of war crimes evidence included a piece of cloth carried by US pilots in which an appeal for help was printed in thirteen languages. The English version ran:

I am a citizen of the USA. I do not speak your language. Misfortune forces me to seek your assistance in obtaining food, shelter {132} and protection. Please take me to someone who will provide for my safety and see I am returned to my people. My Government will reward you …

TARIQ ALI Report from Cambodia and North Vietnam


Report from Cambodia and North Vietnam

We spent the first few days in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, speaking to government leaders…. Then we went to Svay Rieng where, after meeting with the provincial governor, we were taken to the border at Bave – this is the border with South Vietnam. It was interesting to see that in Bave there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the South Vietnamese puppet border guards to create an incident with the Cambodian officers accompanying us. At one stage, when a Cambodian photographer tried to photograph the border, the South Vietnamese puppet officers came to our side of the border with pistols cocked and threatened military action unless the film was handed back to them. Fortunately an incident was prevented only by the tact displayed by the Cambodian officers on the Cambodian side of the border.

We were told that there was a Special Forces camp just across the border and that the Americans flew in with helicopters, strafed Cambodian villages, and then took away villagers for interrogation. In the village of Soc Noc I spoke to a villager named Muy Tith, twenty-nine years old, who had been captured by the United States Special Forces. He told me that he was tortured and beaten by the South Vietnamese Special Forces and also by the Americans, who then asked him whether there were any Viet Cong in his village. As the man could not speak any Vietnamese, he kept saying, ‘No, no, no!’ until finally, after tying him up for two hours and beating him consistently, they released him and let him go back to his village. We were also told that others had not been so lucky, and while we were in the village of Soc Noc there were {133} twelve villagers who had not been returned: no one knew what had happened to them…

After we had seen the villages which had been bombed by the United States, after we had seen the destruction which had been caused by these attacks, and after we had met the victims of these attacks, we went back to Phnom Penh. After two days of talks with officials there, we went on the so-called Sihanouk and Ho Chi Minh Trails, which were long journeys. It was absolutely clear to us from the trails we visited that it would have been impossible for any large force, whether it belonged to the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam or whether, as the United States claimed, it belonged to North Vietnamese divisions, to use those trails. It was impossible for any heavy trucks to go on those trails, and further on the river could not be bridged. We saw the area where the United States said that there was an airport which landed North Vietnamese and NLF battalions when they were coming back or going to the South. It was very clear to us that this was in a clearing, but the rough nature of the ground and the fact that there had been bushes growing on it for over the last two years, would have made it impossible for any plane to land. We also saw near the site of the so-called airport a lot of diamond mining going on, and they had large bamboo sticks sticking up into the sky, which the United States claimed were antennae for an underground radio station.

In any event, there was no doubt in our minds that neither the Sihanouk nor the Ho Chi Minh Trails could be used by the North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front forces, and that the United States was merely using this as an excuse to bomb and strafe Cambodian border villages. This becomes increasingly significant when one learns that at the recent conference in Guam, it was suggested to President Johnson by Westmoreland and other military leaders that two Cambodian provinces be occupied and the war extended to Cambodia to stop the infiltration of North Vietnamese troops. In Cambodia we found (and any other investigation teams that go to Cambodia will find the same) that there was no evidence whatsoever that there had been infiltration by the North Vietnamese forces.

Continuing our journey into the southern districts of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, we visited Ninh Binh province {134} and spoke to the Roman Catholics there and saw for ourselves the churches which had been bombed. The churches were mainly isolated, with a couple of mud huts next to them.

But the most traumatic experience was in the province of Thanh Hoa. It was 29 January 1967…. We were told that at 2.30 P.M. that afternoon we would be taken to the hospital in Thanh Hoa to meet and interview some of the victims of the air raids. But the same day, while we were having lunch, we heard the planes roaring overhead and making their way towards the town. Then we heard the bombing and the thuds which have become a feature of life in North Vietnam today. We were told that the trip was off. A major said that they were bombing Thanh Hoa.

At 4.00 P.M. we visited the hospital, the first place on our itinerary. This was the hospital where we should have been at 2.30. At 3.00 P.M. it had been bombed and some of the patients killed. While they were being removed from the hospital and taken to the first-aid station, there was another attack and the first-aid station had been completely destroyed. Incendiary bombs had been used and some houses were still burning. When we visited Thanh Hoa, it was on fire. There were embers and flames everywhere. We saw a large crater caused by an American rocket. Anti-personnel weapons had been used.

Mrs Nguyen Thi Dinh had rushed out of her house just in time to save herself, but she saw her house and its contents burned to the ground. When I spoke to her, she was weeping silently. She said, ‘Do you think I will ever forgive them for what they are doing to us? Never! Never! They must be made to pay for their crimes.’

Two hundred homes had been damaged or destroyed, and 125 families were homeless.

A hospital with Red Cross markings and a first-aid station had been singled out and destroyed. If the shelters provided by the authorities had not been so effective, the casualties would no doubt have been higher. Half of Thanh Hoa had been evacuated in advance as well, and this too was fortunate. I looked around for anything which could conceivably have been a military target in the town itself. There was no sign of any military object.

The part of the province which had been bombed almost without respite was Dinh Gia district, at its southern extremity. The {135} bombing was so heavy that no one had been taken there before for fear of casualties. We travelled there during the night, crossed a few bridges, and reached Dinh Gia safely. The next day was the most depressing day I spent in Vietnam. I saw bombed schools and hospitals. They had been direct hits. There could be no doubt whatsoever that this was deliberate. In the village of Hai Nan, a coastal village not far from the 7th Fleet, almost every house had been destroyed. The attack which had destroyed the village had taken place four days earlier. The destruction was obviously fresh.

I spoke to Nguyen Thi Tuyen, a twelve-year-old girl who had lost a leg. She told me her story in the following words:

I had just returned from school and was about to have a bath when the aircraft came from the direction of the sea. They dived down and dropped lots of bombs. I grabbed my younger brother and rushed to the shelter, but it was too late. A bomb fragment hit my brother in the stomach and killed him. Another fragment cut my leg off, as you can see for yourself. Our house was burned down. My uncle could not put the flames out in time. Now I live with some relatives. Will you please tell me why they are bombing us? …

This was the story in almost every village I visited. These were no military targets, and the United States could not but be aware of this fact. The schools in the district had been dispersed to avoid casualties. Some of them were in shelters. Hospitals had been dispersed. Hospitals which had been bombed previously were now under the ground. At this stage I think it is fair to point out that the Vietnamese doctors are the most impressive group of people I have met anywhere. They are dedicated, and they have seen more suffering than anyone else, but it has not affected their morale in the least. {136}

MARTIN BIRNSTINGL Report from North Vietnam


Report from North Vietnam


I visited North Vietnam from 17 March to 31 March 1967 with Lynn, Cobb and Lester, the arrival of the rest of the fourth investigating team being delayed.

After arriving in Hanoi we visited several bombed areas in the city and in the outskirts of the city. These were in populated areas and we saw no military or strategic targets near by.

On 26 March we visited the neighbourhood of Thanh Hoa where we spent three days. We interviewed a number of provincial officials and representatives of medical services, teachers, militia, village and cooperative leaders and other people.

On 27 March we visited Dan Loi village, Thieu Son district (Thanh Hoa). This appeared to be an isolated village with no evidence of military, defensive or strategic targets near by. The village had been raided on 13 March 1967 using pineapple anti-personnel bombs. Nine villagers had been killed including three women and six children. Four villagers had been injured. Twelve houses had been destroyed, together with animals and agricultural implements. We interviewed several villagers who had lost relatives in this attack.

On 26 March we visited a monastery for Jesuit nuns close to Thanh Hoa city. This had been recently bombed with demolition (HE) bombs which had partly destroyed the monastery and damaged the vegetable gardens, where there were very large craters. We also visited a nearby pagoda, probably eighteenth-century, which had been completely wrecked by bombing. Such buildings are part of the historical heritage of the DRV and were civilian targets without military value.

On 26 March we also visited Thanh Hoa city and saw the devastation of the whole neighbourhood. Every solid-built structure appeared severely damaged, most were roofless and only a {137} few were still in use. A few families were still living in the city. We saw evidence that both demolition and anti-personnel bombs had been used in the attacks, which had been made on many occasions and were continuing. We visited the large (600 bed) anti-tuberculosis hospital and centre. This had been a large complex of buildings extending over an area of some acres, built by the DRV and completed 1957. As well as providing in-patient treatment of tuberculosis, the centre had carried out much out-patient and dispensary work in Thanh Hoa province. It had been a most valuable contribution to the health services of the region and a costly tribute to the enterprise of the DRV. The hospital had been bombed on 1 July, 14 July and 21 August 1965, regardless of the fact that the complex of buildings was clearly of a medical nature. Heavy demolition bombs had been used and all the buildings rendered useless, so that it had been abandoned.

On 27 March we visited an emergency surgical post under the medical charge of Dr Doan Le Dan. This was at Dong Thinh, Dong Son district (Thanh Hoa) and was part of the dispersed Thanh Hoa Provincial Hospital, the latter having been destroyed by bombing on 1 June and 25 September 1965. At the surgical post we examined four civilians seriously injured during recent raids: M. aged eleven, injury to right arm; M. aged thirty-eight, compound fracture right tibia and fibula, penetrating head wound (steel pellet); M. aged twenty-four, amputation through right arm; F. aged thirty-seven, perforating wound right colon and right kidney, due to injury by a single steel pellet. . . . As a surgeon it was clear to me that these victims had received the highest standards of surgical care and that it is probable that the life of every one of them was saved by timely and skilled surgery. This particular surgical team was very well organized and continued to carry out efficient modern surgery under very difficult and dangerous conditions.

On 28 March we visited Thuong Phuc hamlet, Thuy Thuong village (Thanh Hoa). Two days previously, on 26 March, three planes had arrived from the south-east and flown over the place after which they had returned from north-west and dropped twelve demolition bombs, probably 1,000 lbs., on an irrigation dike and surrounding rice fields. The sluice had now been closed so that the dike was dry, but there was a main dike and channel {138} about 150 metres away which remained undamaged. The large craters were scattered about an area of about 100 metres square and we were told that four hectares of rice had been damaged by the explosion and by considerable flung mud. One villager had been killed and twelve wounded, whilst walking on the dike and in the fields.

The damage to the dike and to the rice fields was already in course of repair. We could see no military target in the region and this attack seemed to have been made with the sole intention of interfering with the water supply to the rice crop.

The main dam on the Chu river system is Bai Thuong dam, first bombed 22 April 1965. This system has since had many attacks including twenty-four during the last summer. On 26 March we heard explosions which we were told came from further bombing of Bai Thuong.

On 28 March we also visited Don Xuan cooperative, Tho Xuan district (Thanh Hoa). The village had been raided on 23 April 1966 and 1 June 1966, killing a total of fifty-two villagers and wounding eighty-three. We interviewed several survivors, who described their tragic losses from amongst their nearest relatives. The attacks had been made with HE bombs and with rockets. In the second attack, villagers had been killed by strafing with cannon fire from the aircraft and we were shown several 20 mm cannon shells, used in the attack.


During our visit to Thanh Hoa Province we saw incontrovertible evidence of attacks on civilian targets including a provincial city, a hospital, religious establishments, villages and irrigation dikes. Witnesses told us of attacks with aircraft cannon, rockets and anti-personnel bombing whilst working in the fields and returning from work.

Civilian casualties

I examined a number of casualties in Dong Thing Emergency Hospital, Viet Duc Hospital, Hanoi, St Paul Hospital, Hanoi and the Ophthalmology Hospital, Hanoi. {139}

The injuries were due to various causes but nine were certainly due to steel pellet anti-personnel bombs. Three or four more were probably due to this cause. These patients were having specialized surgical treatment and probably do not give a true indication of their frequency since very many casualties are treated in the regional hospitals.

A professor of surgery told me that he had treated about sixty thoracic wounds due to steel pellets and Professor Nguyen had treated twenty ocular injuries due to the same cause.

During a number of visits to Hanoi hospitals I was constantly impressed by the high medical standards and human concern for the relief of suffering.

HENRICK FORSS Examinations of Victims of US Bombs


Examinations of Victims of US Bombs

This is a simple report. It covers only a very small part of a subject of immense proportions: victims from bombings in North Vietnam.

In the province of Ha Nam, I was able to see a few victims from recent bombings. One was Nguyen Thi Nam, a twenty-four-year-old woman from Nam Dinh. By the time of the air raid, of 23 June 1967, she had been evacuated to the nearby village of Vuot, commune of Loc Ha. She was pregnant in her ninth month. Fragments of the CBU penetrated the intestines and the uterus, killing the foetus which had to be removed surgically. Forty centimetres of the intestine had to be removed at the same time. I was able to examine the patient two weeks after the operation. She was then still physically weak, pale and tired. It is uncertain whether she can have any more children.

Tran Thi Hieu, an eighteen-year-old girl from the village of Kenh, commune of Loc Vuong, was wounded by CBU bombs on the same date. Fragments of the bomb perforated the stomach, her {140} left ear and both arms and legs. On examination I found four scars on the right hand and fourteen scars and marks on the left lower limb. One small fragment was still in her body. The patient was anaemic and told me she suffered from insomnia, loss of memory, headache and vertigo. The case of an eight-year-old girl, Tran Thi Thanh, is very tragic. Her parents and brother were killed during bombings of Nam Dinh in April 1966. The girl was then evacuated outside the town. On 23 June 1967 she was hit by a CBU fragment in her left arm. Examining the girl, I found that after-effects consisted mainly of psychic disturbances: she was suffering from crises of stupor. I was told, however, that her schoolwork was nearly at normal level. I examined a nineteen-year-old electrician, Tran Ngoc Hai, who was working in spite of the fact that he was carrying a CBU fragment in his neck. He had been wounded on 21 June 1967 at midnight. The fragment penetrated the region of the left jaw and ear and was later found to be impossible to localize. He is at present suffering from occasional pains in the neck and loss of appetite.

Near Nam Dinh I also examined Pham Van Luan, thirty-eight years old, a chemical and textile products worker. His wife was killed during an air raid on 25 May 1967. At the same time their boy, aged five years, was hit by a fragment of a bomb in his left ankle. Examining the boy, I found a scar five centimetres in length. However, after-effects are not only measured by the length of a scar. The loss of a mother means more.

In the province of Ninh Binh the bombing of the commune of Yen Lam in Yen Mo district is another example of attacks on the civil population. On 26 June 1967, Ngo Thi Dieu, a thirty-six-year-old woman, lost her home during an incendiary and high explosive bomb raid. She suffered severe burns; I was able to examine her 6 August 1967. She was then still in a very critical condition and I speculated on whether she would recover at all. She showed large second- and third-degree burns on both arms and her head. She was breathing fast, looked extremely exhausted and was not able to answer questions. At the place of the same bombing I met a twenty-two-year-old woman, Mai Thi Mien. She indicated the place where her hut had been. She herself showed a partly healed second-degree burn on her left leg, from knee to foot. {141}

Her general condition was poor and she may later have difficulties in walking.

In Hanoi, the capital and its surroundings were the target of several heavy bombings during the month of August. These following few examples will reveal, I hope, some of the cruel effects of this air war. On 15 August 1967, I examined an eighteen-year-old girl in the district hospital of Hoan Kiem. Six days later this hospital was to be nearly totally destroyed. Mademoiselle Dinh’s house was near the Long Bien bridge. The very day the bridge was damaged she fell victim to the same attack: she was severely wounded. Her left lower leg had to be amputated below the knee because of a complicated open fracture. Her recovery so far is good, but she will be handicapped for the rest of her life.

The Hoan Kiem hospital I mentioned was badly hit by a rocket on 21 August 1967. My colleague, Dr Doan Tri Cuong, thirty-six years old, was killed on the spot while on duty. A nurse was also killed and another died later from his wounds. Two more of the staff of this small hospital were wounded. We were able to see them in the Viet Duc hospital the same day. Le Quan Dan, a male assistant physician, was hit by bomb fragments in his arm and in the neck near the carotid artery. At the time we saw him he was weak, but his condition was not critical thanks to immediate treatment. A female nurse, Le Thi Hao, suffered several superficial wounds in her chest, head and left leg. She will probably recover completely.

In Hanoi I was also shown eight victims from bombings earlier this year. Four of these victims were children. All suffered from the after-effects of wounds and scars caused by fire and antipersonnel bombs. Three patients showed extensive areas of thick keloid scar tissue from second- and third-degree burns. They were undergoing plastic surgery treatment. In their case this is a long and painful procedure and it is doubtful that complete recovery will ever be achieved. In addition three patients had to be operated on for removal of bomb fragments in the abdominal region.

My last impressions are from a district in the centre of Hanoi. This region was hit by several heavy bombs on 22 August 1967, the day of our departure. I did not see any wounded, just corpses being carried away from the ruins. {142}

DO VAN NGOC Testimony



My name is Do Van Ngoc, I am nine years old, from the village of Vinh Tuy, hamlet of Vinh Minh, district of Quang Binh, province of Quang Binh [North Vietnam]. I am the son of Mr Do Oj and Mrs Ha Thi Giee; both my parents are rice-growers.

On the afternoon of 16 June 1966, I was looking after the oxen with my two friends, named Ha Khec and Do Van Giau, when three American planes appeared from over the sea and dropped bombs on the place where we were. The bombs exploded and the flames reached the bodies of all three of us, causing us very serious burns. Since we could no longer bear the heat, we jumped into a flooded rice field; then the flames were put out and the heat lessened, but when we emerged from the water the flames broke out again on our bodies.

We asked for help. Then we were sent to a hospital for medical treatment. Then I felt a tremendous pain. Now the burns are scarred, but I still have itching and burning sensations. On my right hand, the thumb is stuck to the other fingers; large scars remain on my stomach and my thighs.

That day the American bombs still set fire to the homes of our family and our neighbours. To my knowledge, apart from the three of us, Mr Du’s family, while having their meal, lost six of its eight members, burned by bombs. {143}

NGO THI NGA Testimony



My name is Ngo Thi Nga, I am Vietnamese, born on 23 June 1944 in the village of An Lac, Dinh Hoa district, Bac Thai province: I am a fourth-form instructor for the school of general studies of the first degree of the town of Cam Pha, Quang Yen province [North Vietnam]; I am the daughter of Mr Ngo Van Thieu, fifty-four years old and of Mrs Ngeyem Thi Thin, fifty-one years old; both of them are rice-growers and are still alive.

Since August 1964, because of the numerous raids of the American air force against Cam Pha, my school had to be evacuated to the village of Quang Linh, an agricultural village which is densely populated. The older pupils lived in the homes of the villagers, and the younger ones in the school building itself, together with the instructors.

On 22 October 1966, around midnight, at the very moment when fifteen boarding students, a school worker and myself were sleeping, American planes came very quickly. Some bombs exploded, and a burning smell came forth, causing us very unpleasant sensations. I jumped out of bed, and began to lead my pupils towards shelters, but it was already too late. The children cried, while shouting: ‘Mademoiselle! Papa! Mama! Save us! Save us!’

At that moment, my colleagues from the neighbouring houses rushed to the place where we were staying. When the bombing stopped, I saw little Luu Thi Hoa writhing in pain on her bed – her neck covered with blood. At that moment, I felt a shivering in the nape of my neck. Putting my hand there, I saw blood but, involved in rescuing my pupils, I paid no attention to my wound. And when I had finished leading my pupils to the shelters, I felt a shock in my head, and I fainted. People started to dress the wounds of two of the pupils and my own, and then had us taken to a hospital two kilometres from the school. My head ached more and more. I couldn’t sleep, and I vomited all that I was given to eat. From the hospital’s diagnosis, I was wounded by a steel pellet {144} in the head: the X-ray showed that the pellet was still there. Considering the seriousness of my injury, the regional hospital decided to send me for treatment to the surgery section of Viet Duc hospital in Hanoi. Little Luu Thi Hoa, six years old and a kindergarten pupil, and Vo Thi Binh, nine years old and a pupil in the second form, both of them very good pupils, died due to the gravity of their wounds.

On 17 November, I was told that I had to have head surgery. Some days after the operation, the wound was healing, but the steel pellet of the American aggressor was still deeply lodged in my head, causing me innumerable pains. My sight was failing and I couldn’t see anything from certain angles. When there is a change in temperature, I have a tremendous pain in the head, and I am unable to do anything. I am longing to be able to return to my school very soon with my pupils, but till now the steel pellet of the American aggressor forces me to continue treatment.




My name is Hoang Tan Hung. I am forty-five years old, of Vietnamese nationality, and I am a native of the village of Tan My, in the commune of Pho Minh, which is in the province of Quang Ngai in South Vietnam. I am a rice-grower and merchant. My father, Hoang Tan Cong, and my mother, Nguyen Thi Trinh, are both rice-growers.

On 10 May 1965, I was on my way to buy goods in the village in the province of Quang Ngai. It is a densely populated sugar-producing region. A wave of American jets appeared and began to drop rockets and bombs indiscriminately. I heard a tremendous explosion behind me, and was immediately covered with flames. The heat was unbearable. I ran around screaming. Houses caught fire, and the village was hidden by clouds of smoke. Women and children were screaming. I managed to run a little, then I slumped to the ground and lost consciousness. {145}

When I regained consciousness, I realized that I was in the hospital. My wounds were bandaged. I was in a state of semiconsciousness. When the bandages were changed, I saw that my flesh was burned, and there was a yellowish pus oozing from the wounds. I could scarcely see with my left eye. My left eardrum was burned and mutilated. I was in pain and often in a state of coma. This prevented me from sleeping, and even from resting. When I regained consciousness, the nurses told me what had happened. When I slumped down to the ground, the inhabitants of the village came and put out the flames, and took me to a hospital. An hour later, white smoke, like burning tobacco, was still rising from the burns on the nape of my neck and on my back. I was in agonizing pain. Ten days later I was transferred from the village to a provincial hospital. The road was long, the means of transport precarious, it was raining and my wounds became infected with insect larvae. After six weeks of hospital treatment I was still in terrible pain; I had fever and burning sensations. I suffered from insomnia and anorexia. Often, when my wounds were being dressed, my flesh would come off in pieces, giving off an unpleasant odour. My wounds healed after six months of treatment. but the whole of my left arm remains attached to my body. Keloid scars appeared on my skin. The wounds on my neck became infected again. The keloids on my neck and back made it difficult for me to move.

A few months later, I was taken to the hospital of Duc Pho district to continue the treatment. Two years have now passed, but the wounds on the back of my neck have not yet completely healed. The keloids cause me discomfort. Today I denounce before the Tribunal the barbaric crimes of the American imperialist aggressors, who have brought so much suffering to me and to my country. {146}

NGUYEN VAN DONG Testimony for the NLF of South Vietnam


Testimony for the NLF of South Vietnam

We will try to present a general outline of the concentration of fourteen million inhabitants in 17,000 concentration camps called strategic hamlets.

Within the framework of the operation which was called Sunrise, and which took place in March 1962 in a certain number of provinces, Tay Ninh, To Dal Mot and Bien Hoa, etc., the American aggressors and their agents burned more than 3,000 homes, they pillaged 500 tons of paddy, they devastated 1,500 hectares of fruit trees, they killed or wounded 300 persons, and they locked up more than 70,000 in strategic hamlets.

The New York Times, on 28 March 1962, in an article from their correspondent who was visiting one of the regions concerned in this operation, described it in the following way. ‘One thousand two hundred families have been obliged to leave their villages to go and live in strategic hamlets. Their homes have been entirely destroyed. Some of them were able to save a bed or a table before their house was destroyed. Others could take nothing else with them except the clothes which they were wearing. A woman next to me,’ says the correspondent, ‘with wild eyes was thinking perhaps of the two tons of paddy which was the reserve of her family and which had just been burnt by the American soldiers.’

In the district of Thanh Fou in the province of Ben Tri, from 2 to 16 April 1962, the American aggressors mobilized millions of soldiers so as to go through these villages, destroy them and take the populations to the strategic hamlets. In Than Cat and Rat Cu, 209 out of a total number of 250 were burnt to cinders. In Jao Tan and An Yon, more than 1,000 others were razed. All along both sides of the road from Tan Cat to Guiong Ba Tim, which is twenty kilometres long, houses were burned or entirely razed. Pagodas and churches were also burned or destroyed. Cattle were killed, paddy burned, trees cut and water pots broken. This was again the report of the American correspondent. As a consequence of these {147} barbarian acts the Americans boasted at the end of September 1962 that 7,276,000 people had been put in the strategic hamlets, according to Radio Saigon, October 1962. And by 25 June 1963, that figure was at 8,737,463 people or 61.9 per cent of the South Vietnamese population (according to Time of Vietnam published in Saigon on 4 July 1963).

In the province of Vin Binh, tip to September 1962, they concentrated 356,459 people, or 67 per cent of the population of the province. These again are figures given by Radio Saigon, 12 September 1962.

Of course these figures are exaggerated because of the psychological war. But they are quite enough to show that millions of persons have been placed in this network of camouflaged concentration camps after a violent operation.

Up to 1965, twenty-six out of forty-three provinces in South Vietnam have been submitted to raids which used toxic chemicals. Seven hundred thousand hectares of fields and forests have been devastated, 146,274 persons have been poisoned. This is thirteen times more than in 1964 and eighty times more than in 1961. In Bin La’ap, Bin Yap and Bin Yin, in the commune district of Long Tien, the province of Can Tut, the raids using toxic chemicals took place on 14, 17, 21 and 22 December 1964. This caused the death of fourteen persons, one old man, three women and ten children, and poisoned almost 8,000 persons. This means almost all the population of the three hamlets which was 9,000 inhabitants. The province of Ben Tre was hardest hit: thirty-one times in four and a half years. The province of Ka Mao was hit twenty-five times, the province of Quong Tri twenty-four times, the province of Long Nam twenty-two times. In the province of Ben Tre, out of 195,000 hectares of fertile ground, thousands of cocoa trees are drying up because of these toxic chemicals. In the district of Long Quan 200 hectares of coconut trees have been destroyed as well as 1,500 hectares of fruit trees and 30,000 hectares of rice paddy. Thirty per cent of the rice plants of the province have become sterile. Hundreds of thousands of inhabitants have been poisoned and have different types of illnesses, headaches, fever, difficulties in breathing, and among these 46,000 women and children are in very serious shape.

Among the victims of toxic chemicals, thousands have become {148} blind, invalid or are slowly dying. According to statistics which are not yet complete and which were set up by the Public Health Commission, under the authority of the Central Committee of the NLF and the Red Cross for Liberation, after the inquiries undertaken in a certain number of regions, the number of persons killed has increased by thirty per cent, or rather fifty per cent of these people have stomach trouble, seventy per cent have bronchitis. Women who were feeding their children suddenly had no more milk and very often children are stillborn: eight cases, for instance, in the province of Canton.

So as to be as efficient as possible in this matter, the aggressors have also used other chemical weapons such as gas, napalm and phosphorus bombs. In the village of Fu Lak, province of Fu Yan, on 25, 26 and 27 January 1965, the American air force dropped massively gas bombs, explosive bombs and napalm bombs. Eighteen people were killed and hundreds of people were seriously poisoned. Most of them were old people, women and children. On 8 September 1965, the American soldiers threw toxic gas grenades in the shelters, where the population of Ba Lang An was, in the province of Quong Gai. They killed seventy-eight civilians in one raid.

Since 1961, the American aggressors and their agents have dropped napalm bombs on more than a thousand villages in South Vietnam. In the school of Lin Fung, the district of Ngon Chon, province of Bin Trai, forty-five school children were burnt, on 8 July 1964. In the school of Mong Huang, forty-five school children were burnt. On 1 July 1966, napalm bombs and explosive bombs were dropped on the market of Thanh Guien. One hundred and sixty people were killed and wounded. Forty-four of them were school children.

On 2 August 1965, more than a hundred American jet planes dropped explosive bombs and napalm bombs on the southern region of the district of Mor Van, and on the northern region of the district of Dien Banh, province of Quang Nam. At the same time the warships were shelling these regions. During this time 6,000 American Marines, supported by sixty M-113s, arrived in the hamlets of Chal Sung, Kam Lai, Nyen Har, An Dien and almost 4,000 homes were destroyed or burnt to cinders by tanks or flame-throwers. The American soldiers again committed barbarian {149} acts. They even raped old women, pregnant women and little girls of ten to twelve years old. Among the dead there were seventy-nine old men, women and children. A correspondent of the American agency Associated Press who took part in this operation wrote: ‘There were GIs who were running all over and shouting, “Today I’m a killer. Kill them all. Don’t let a single one escape.”’ On 26 February 1966, four battalions of mercenary troops from Pang Dung Mi went to the commune of Bin Nan province of Bin Dinh and committed extremely barbaric acts. Two hundred and eighty-eight people were killed, 137 of them were women and seventy-six were children. They took a little child from his mother’s arms and threw him against a tree, killing him, and then threw his body in the flames. Many women were knifed and ripped open, including pregnant women. Many inhabitants were locked up in a house which was then set fire to. More than 2,000 homes, with all the reserves of paddy and the production tools, were burnt to cinders.

On 24 March 1966, during Operation Texas, three battalions of American Marines who had come from Tu Lai, which is an air base, completely wiped out the village of Hong Dinh in the district of Song Tin in the province of Quang Nai. In the press release of 26 March 1966, UP stated: ‘The American troops fired 6,700 shells of 105, 155, 203 mm. on the village of Fung Dinh. There is not one person who has survived among the 167 inhabitants of the village.’

When he spoke of pacifying, the French journalist, Jacques Decornoy, in Le Monde on 5 November 1965, stated that, according to a soldier of the Special Forces in the US, massacre comes before psychological and political war.

I would now like to mention the case of Cu Chi, a district of the province of Gia Dinh, which is thirty kilometres to the north-west of Saigon. There are more than 60,000 inhabitants in eighteen villages of this district. In the past years, and particularly since the arrival of the second brigade of the American 25th Division, at the beginning of 1966, this district has several times been attacked. Day and night. It is attacked by American air force and artillery. A target is anything that moves. A shadow, a little smoke, a shadow of an animal or of a man, a bush swaying in the wind. Today in the district of Cu Chi, there is not one house which is left standing, nor {150} a pagoda nor a single church. According to the press agency, AFP, from 18 to 28 January 1966 the population of the district of Cu Chi was fired on with 180,000 shells by the first battalion of the American 25th Division. In other words, an average of 4,500 shells per day, and three shells per person.

Such acts are an illustration of the policy which is ‘burn all, destroy all, kill all’. I cannot give all these examples in this report. It is obvious that in South Vietnam the American imperialists in their cruelty have done more than the Hitlerite fascists. They are the aggressors who commit the greatest war crime of our times. They are trying to make the population of South Vietnam submit by bombing them, gassing them, using toxic chemicals, without taking the slightest account of international law nor the protests of peoples who want peace and justice in the whole world.

The South Vietnamese population wants peace, but they want a real peace and a real peace means real freedom. We require that the United States should abide by the Geneva Agreements of 1954 on Vietnam. They must stop their aggression against our country. They must withdraw their troops and weapons as well as satellite troops and weapons from South Vietnam. They must recognize that the NLF is the only real representative of the South Vietnamese population, and they must let that population decide on its own affairs without any foreign intervention.

JOHN TAKMAN and AXEL HÖJER Bombardment of Civilians in North Vietnam


Bombardment of Civilians in North Vietnam

The attack on Xa Viet Hong village

On 15 March 1967 we visited Xa Viet Hong village in Phu Tho province, which had been bombed three days earlier. According to the authorities, it had a population of 5,423. Nothing contradicted the information we got that it is a purely agricultural {151} area, far from military targets and remote from communication lines. Prior to the bombing, reconnaissance planes had several times flown over the village. On 12 March at twelve o’clock six planes came from the north-east, two of them flying at low altitude and four at higher altitude. The first planes dropped four CBUS with ‘loading date’ November 1966 and January 1967. Thirteen persons were killed and thirty-one wounded. Twenty-five houses caught fire and were completely destroyed together with clothes, cooking utensils, farming equipment and other property; thirteen water buffaloes and twenty poultry were killed.

Mr Bui Van Hguong, fifty-nine, spontaneously came to show us a quilt and some clothes, all that was left of his home and property after the raid. At the site of a destroyed home a number of men had cleared the ground and were erecting a new house. The owner, Mr Nguyen Khac Dan, thirty, told us that his wife, twenty-seven, had been killed by steel pellets, leaving him with their three small children. We tape-recorded his detailed description of the raid.

A few houses from there we met Mr Nguyen Van Hua, also with three small children. His wife had been running for the shelter when she was hit by a global-shaped CBU bomb which exploded on her head, killing her instantly. A few metres from the spot where she was killed there was one half of a CBU canister with the following inscription:

FSN1323 – 7/?/29-839H/?/E
Dispenser and Bomb
Aircraft CBU – 24/B
AF Drawing No 65E10875
Cyclotol 122 lbs
Loading Date 1-67
LOT PA-20-82-SERIE… [illegible]

We also interviewed Mrs Bu Thi Sung, forty-nine. She had had six children. Evidently she had not heard the alert. She was boiling water in the kitchen when she heard the planes coming. A moment later a CBU bomb exploded on the thatched roof of their house. Her son, Ban, five, was killed by a steel pellet through his head and her son, Chich, seven, by a pellet in his neck. A third son, fourteen, was wounded by a steel pellet in one wrist. Having told us this she said: ‘The US aircraft have come to kill my children. I’ll always carry the hatred of the aggressors in my heart.’ {152}

The bombing of Dan Ly village

In Dan Ly village, Trieu Son district, about fifteen kilometres west of Thanh Hoa city, two hamlets, ‘Number Five’ and ‘Number Nine’ were bombed with pineapple-shaped CBU bombs on 1 3 March 1967. These bombs were first used against targets in North Vietnam in January 1965, we were told by military experts in Hanoi. They are now replaced by global-shaped CBU bombs. The material is the same in both types, steel pellets cast into a shell of hard, brittle metal. But the pineapple-shaped bombs are loaded in tubes, eighteen to twenty-five bombs in each tube; and nineteen tubes in each container (canister). As distinguished from the canisters of the global-shaped bombs, which are dropped in toto and can be found in all bombed hamlets, the pineapple-shaped bombs are spread directly from the planes: the tubes and canisters are evidently brought back or dumped somewhere else after the bombing.

We went to Dan Ly village on 19 March, a Sunday. The house closest to the entrance of hamlet ‘Number Five’ was burned down. We heard sobs and moans and in the twilight saw an old man sitting barefoot in the carbonized ruins of his garden. He had been living alone. He had lost everything, including his buffaloes, in the raid. According to the testimonies, two planes came at noon on 13 March, and circled the hamlet for a short time. Nothing happened; it was a fine sunny day. At 5.30 P.M., the same day, four planes came which dived and dropped many pineapple CBU bombs.

In hamlet ‘Number Five’ there were 127 houses of which twelve were completely destroyed by fire caused by high explosive bombs. The raid took place at a time when the children had returned from school and the adults were returning from their work in the fields. Six persons were killed, among them two old women, and seven were wounded. Three of the wounded, all children, later died in the hospital.

The hamlet is in a flat delta landscape and surrounded by immense rice fields. The only military targets to be seen were the rifles which the peasants carry with them to the fields. Only pineapple-shaped CBU bombs had been dropped on this hamlet. The craters had not been counted when we came there. As one plane {153} usually carries four canisters and four planes had taken part in the attack, the total number of small bombs was probably 6,000 to 8,000 against this single hamlet. Each small bomb contains 240 to 250 steel pellets. The total number of pellets against the population of hamlet ‘Number Five’ was between 1.5 and 2 million. The casings break up into sharp, crystal-form fragments of different sizes. One can safely conclude that the number of fragments from these bombs is probably as great as the number of pellets. We talked with some who had lost family members in the raid. Mr Tran Van Xuan came with his five children, carrying the smallest of them. His house was burned down. His old mother and his forty-year-old wile had been killed instantly.

The inhabitants of hamlet ‘Number Nine’ gave similar information. The planes circled the hamlet on 13 March 1967 at noon. At 5.30 P.M. the same day, one plane attacked the hamlet with pineapple CBU bombs, destroying three houses, killing seven villagers and wounding four. The bombs were dropped from an altitude of 500 metres. Mr Tran Hoan lost two of his three children, a seven-year-old girl and a fourteen-month-old boy. ‘When the planes came the children were playing in the garden; their grandmother was working in the kitchen and did not find them,’ he told us.

Mr Tran Van Binh, thirty-three, lost his mother, his younger brother and an eleven-month-old daughter. He had five children. His mother was carrying his little girl to the shelter when they were hit by pellets. His brother, too, was killed a moment before he would have reached the shelter. In both these hamlets, ‘Number Five’ and ‘Number Nine’, the inhabitants are Catholics.

The shelling of Ca Lap Village

Ca Lap village is situated on the coast near Sam Son. This small area has been shelled four times by the 7th Fleet, the last time on 5 March 1967. On the shore we saw the ruins of Ngo Hun Ky’s brick house which was destroyed during the last shelling. He himself was killed by shells on 26 January 1967, while on his way to work in the field. He was thirty-five. Everywhere around these ruins and in the fields we saw heavy double-edged slivers from the shells. Tran Chi Thuyen, fifty-five, was killed and his brick house {154} destroyed on 5 March 1967. His wife and two of his six children were wounded by shell slivers which penetrated their mud shelter. At our visit, Mr Vu Dinh Buong, forty-nine, was preparing dinner in the remnants of his brick house, now under a temporary thatched roof. His wife, Ngo Thi Canh, was killed and the house destroyed by three shells on 26 February 1967. He is a fisherman and was working on the sea when the shelling took place. He has four children; fifteen, eleven, five, and a four-month-old baby. Ca Lap was originally a fishing village but is also a successful producer of sweet potatoes. Its potato fields, now pockmarked with craters from 127 mm. shells, stretch for several hundred metres in a wide band along the shore. In a modest administrative building Mr Nguyen Viet Kieu, president of the Village Administrative Committee, briefed us on the situation in the presence of some fifty villagers.

On 26 February 1967, at 9.45 A.M., the village was shelled from the sea, receiving 102 shells. Three persons were killed on the spot, and one died later from wounds. Another three persons were wounded and several houses were destroyed or damaged. Two hectares of potatoes were destroyed. Seven oxen and buffaloes were killed.

On 5 March, at eight o’clock in the morning, three US warships approached the coast and shelled Ca Lap village from a distance of ten kilometres. Many shells burst in the air with a blue-black smoke; in all, 397 shells exploded into the ground. We walked through the potato field over a narrow pathway. On each side we counted about forty craters; at a distance of about a hundred metres they merged into each other, and certainly the total number given by Mr Kieu was not exaggerated. Nine cooperatives in this village were affected by the last shelling. Three persons were killed and four wounded. Seven houses were destroyed completely, four heavily damaged and another fifteen less seriously damaged. Four oxen were killed. The shells were of the 127 mm. type.

Examination of victims

We examined forty-three victims of bombings and shellings; the majority of them (18 cases) were victims of pellets and/or fragments {155} from CBU bombs. Most of these victims were examined by us in the hospitals after we had investigated the bombings in which they had been wounded. As the Tribunal has the hospital records, photos, etc., it suffices for us to repeat what we have said in our statement of 31 March 1967:

We have visited many hospitals, functioning in extremely modest houses in the villages, mostly under thatched roofs, since their permanent buildings have been destroyed. At the Quoc Oai district hospital we were impressed, as we have been at all the other hospitals, by the excellent organization of the emergency services and the high standard of the surgery performed. It is to us obvious that the rapidly expanding public health system of the DRV, the highly qualified training of the physicians, the devotion of the physicians and the medical personnel to their patients and their work and the outstanding emergency organizations have played a great role in holding down the fatality rate due to the bombings and shellings and in reducing the rate of chronic disabilities among those who have been wounded.

All records we have seen have been exemplary, nearly always supplemented with X-rays and drawings and with the extracted pellets or fragments attached to the records in plastic envelopes. We have also examined victims from earlier raids, who had been brought to the hospitals in a state of shock with many pellet holes in their intestines, bones shattered, soft tissue pierced and who are now fully recovered…

ABRAHAM BEHAR Summary Report on the Bombing of the Civil Population of the North


Summary Report on the Bombing of the Civil Population of the North

All four of the Commissions of Inquiry sent by the International War Crimes Tribunal investigated the subject of bombing; but the second team in particular concentrated on this problem. The general method of working was as follows: comparison of, on the {156} one hand, documents from the United States press mentioning objectives in North Vietnam actually destroyed, such as railroad yards, ports, large factories, hydro-electric dams, etc., etc., and, on the other hand, documents from the DRV Commission for Investigation of War Crimes, which has meticulously listed attacks and destruction of civilian targets. The findings of this DRV Commission are judicially valid according to the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, Article 21, which reads:

The Tribunal will not require proof of facts which are common knowledge, but will take them for granted. It will also consider as valid proof official documents and reports of United Nations governments, including those drawn up by the Commissions established in the various allied countries to investigate war crimes, as well as the minutes of hearings and the decisions of military or other courts of any United Nations country.

The Tribunal’s Commissions of Inquiry have verified data on the spot and gathered testimony which confirms a number of the bombings documented by the DRV Commission. In general, comparisons between the destruction reports of the United States and what the Tribunal’s Inquiry Commissions actually saw on the spot do not correspond.

For example, on 31 December 1966, on the US aircraft carrier Enterprise, Commodore Barry, who had just bombed the city of Nam Dinh, stated that ‘he had scored a direct hit on his target, an important railroad junction, and there was not a single victim’. But, on that same 31 December, Roger Pic, of our Inquiry Commission, who was in the same city reported: ‘Not a single bomb hit the railroad junction; in fact, they all struck the dam which protects the city from floods of the Black River, and a score of straw huts.’ Other examples of this type are numerous. It was one of the tasks of the Commission to establish, province by province, city by city, the comparison of results announced by the American forces with our own on-the-spot observations.

A second comparison is also made in the course of this investigation. It is the verification of the reports of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam Commission for Investigation of War Crimes by means of actual observations made by the various {157} Commissions of the International War Crimes Tribunal. Each of our Commissions has itself been subject to bombing attacks and can therefore testify to their reality. We [Dr Behar’s teams] personally witnessed the bombing of the city of Thanh Hoa, on 20 January 1967, and in this particular case we personally contributed testimony. While we were in Thanh Hoa, a group of five to eight aeroplanes attacked at noon. From our shelters we watched the bombing which lasted about ten minutes, then we saw a second smaller wave of planes return five to ten minutes later and bomb for about the same length of time. We were able to reach the spot only a few hours later – this time lapse being due to security measures – and were therefore able to ascertain the real nature of the target. This bombing was aimed solely against a district of Thanh Hoa located about five miles from the Ham Rong bridge, the only possible strategic target in this area. We saw the entire area in flames and completely destroyed; and we also saw the little district hospital demolished by incendiary bombs. On the very spot we saw the craters made by missiles and rockets. By questioning the witnesses we learned the function of the second wave of planes: this second wave machine-gunned the rescue teams and the wounded who were being evacuated from the burning hospital.

Testimony of this type – of which this is only one example – can be provided by every Inquiry Commission. Such testimony and others make it possible to state that from 1965 to the present, in the various regions of North Vietnam, there have been and still are daily bombings of civilian targets.

The Fourth Inquiry Commission contributed direct testimony confirming the following:

1. It witnessed the bombing of Vinh, on 5 April 1967, at 11.30 A.M. On the spot, at 3 P.M., it observed that fifteen 500 lb. bombs had been dropped in the centre of a residential area 300 yards from the cathedral. It recorded the characteristics and US ordnance markings on an unexploded bomb.

2. On 9 April 1967, the village of Hai Nham, in Thanh Hoa province, was subjected to naval shelling from 9.40 to 10 A.M. About fifteen rounds were fired; the closest fell less than 200 yards from the Commission team, which reached the spot immediately. The rounds had been fired into the village, amidst the straw huts, {158} and into the surrounding ricefields. There was no military target in sight. A six-year-old girl was killed.

Hospitals and medical establishments

Our method here is to give a general statement and evidence concerning attacks against hospitals, dispensaries, sanatoria and similar health establishments based on figures supplied by the Commission of Inquiry of the DRV and then we will give comparative statistics between institutions declared destroyed by the North Vietnamese Commission and our own findings on the same institutions.

The general destruction of health institutions up until February 1967 affected ninety-five, with nearly all the technical equipment also damaged or destroyed. There were eighty-seven administrators, nurses and doctors killed and thirty-five wounded. Of the patients, 262 were killed, 246 wounded, and sixty-five civilians in the near vicinity were also killed.

We can give the details of these attacks and we can cite certain characteristic examples, for instance, that of the leprosorium of Quynh Lap, the largest centre for the research and treatment of leprosy in the DRV; its construction was begun in July 1956, and was completed in 1959. This leprosorium was situated far from all inhabited areas. This is easily understandable on medical grounds, since one must gather those suffering from leprosy, including the contagious patients, in an area far from any town inhabited by non-infected persons. The leprosorium of Quynh Lap was for this reason in an isolated coastal area in the district of Quynh Lap in the province of Nghe An. It consisted of 160 buildings and could care for up to 2,600 patients. In the last five years, more than 5,000 lepers had been cared for, and more than 1,000 of them had been sent home as cured.

The first attack was 12 June 1965, at 8 P.M. Numerous American planes flew over and dropped hundreds of bombs and rockets on the leprosorium; they came back several times to drop more bombs. In these raids, 139 patients were killed, 9 doctors and members of the staff were killed and 100 other persons were wounded.

As far back as 14 July 1965, the DRV Ministry of Public Health {159} had made a public statement drawing attention to this destruction, and to the nature of Quynh Lap as a place set aside for the treatment of leprosy and for research into this illness. In spite of this notice the air raids have continued and even intensified. On 6 May 1966, planes attacked new buildings of the leprosorium of Quynh Lap which had been relocated to a place close to the commune of Quynh Lap. This raid resulted in thirty-four dead and thirty wounded, ten of them seriously.

The Ministry of Public Health published on 16 May 1966, another statement pointing out that these buildings constituted a leprosorium. Between 1965 and 1966, the leprosorium of Quynh Lap has undergone thirty-nine attacks. We are emphatic that this leprosorium is situated in a completely isolated area, far from strategic routes, town, industrial centre, or military or so-called military targets. The Quynh Lap leprosorium, we must also point out to the Tribunal, is internationally known among the medical fraternity who practise in tropical diseases, and it was well and prominently marked with the sign of the Red Cross.

Other examples can be given of the destruction of provincial hospitals, notably the main hospital of Thanh Hoa whose condition we have ascertained for ourselves. This hospital has been attacked several times. It is almost completely demolished. Even so, on 20 January 1967, bombs were again dropped on what was left of the buildings. All the main hospitals of the province have been bombed and we can cite those of: Vinh Linh, Quang Binh, Ha Dinh, Nghe An, Son La, Yen Bay, Nam Ha, Fu Li, Bac Thai, Fu Tho, Hoa Binh. We will later give the list of hospitals actually visited by the Tribunal’s Commissions of Inquiry confirming the destruction of these centres.

We state furthermore that the attacks on health institutions are not due to target errors or to imprecision on the part of the American planes. Rather, it seems to the contrary, that the hospitals themselves have been the principal objects of attacks. Let us cite, for example, the hospital of Bac Thai attacked on 22 June 1966. Located in a hill-country province, it was completely destroyed by bombs and rockets. Nine patients were killed, one a woman in confinement. This hospital is outside the town, relatively isolated, and its civilian nature could not be doubted.

We will now state, province by province, the provincial and {160} district hospitals destroyed, from a list supplied by the Commission of Inquiry of the DRV. We will then see that the findings of different Commissions of Inquiry of the Tribunal corroborate and confirm these data.

Of the ninety-five health institutions indicated ‘destroyed’ by the Vietnamese Commission, thirty-four have been personally checked by the Commissions of Inquiry of the Tribunal. This is to say about thirty-six per cent. The random samples were widely scattered; the thirty-four hospitals checked correspond to eight provinces out of twelve exposed to air raids. This sampling seems to us statistically significant because of the scattered nature of the population and because of the proportion examined.

Attacks against educational establishments

Attacks began on 5 August 1964, with the bombing of the primary school of Suag Giang, in the province of Ha Tinh. In the afternoon a second air raid was directed against the secondary school of Hon Gai situated on a hill top. It is important to be aware that these air raids which began on the above date have taken place in a country where since 1954 the effort to stamp out illiteracy and build schools has been remarkable. In the ten years between 1954 and 1964, ninety-five per cent of North Vietnam’s population has become literate. The number of students in schools of general studies reached 3,000,000, with 60,000 in secondary school where the lower- and middle-grade professional workers are educated. On the university level, the number of students rose from 500 in 1954 to 50,000 now, in 1967.

In North Vietnam, the school system is organized in the following way: first, nurseries and kindergartens; then schools of the first degree, corresponding to our [French] primary schools; schools of the second degree, corresponding to the first part of our secondary school; schools of the third degree which correspond to the last part of our secondary school up to the university entrance level, and the university itself.

According to the Commission of Inquiry of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam there have been a total of 391 schools destroyed in North Vietnam. The schools attacked and bombed are {161} to be found in nearly every part and province of North Vietnam. They are to be found especially in the former Fourth Zone, along the route from Vinh Linh to Thanh Hoa. Vietnamese sources show that practically every weapon of destruction has been used against students and school buildings; including fragmentation bombs, rockets, missiles, incendiary bombs, phosphorus bombs and napalm.

Let us cite a few examples. Two day-nurseries inspected by the Fourth Inquiry Commission, the first at Vinh, had been razed to the ground and only the steps remained. As it had been evacuated, there were no victims. The nursery of the cooperative of Hong Lac, commune of Vinh An, district of Vinh Loe, in the province of Thanh Hoa, had been bombed to the ground on 29 January 1967. Nine of the ten children who were living there and three of the staff were killed.

Other examples must be emphasized; in particular, the bombing of the secondary school at Hong Phue in the province of Ha Tinh on 9 February 1966, at precisely 4.30 P.M. The children rushed to get to the slit trenches but the bombs fell directly on them, hollowed out large craters and caused a heavy death toll: thirty-three children perished as a result of this attack.

The DRV War Crimes Commission has pointed out that a certain number of air raids have taken place during school hours. For example, the secondary school of Van Son in the province of Thanh Hoa was attacked at 8 P.M. at the end of December 1965. This was during the sixth class in which there were forty-two pupils, girls from 12-14 years old. The children hastily tried to get to the shelters through the communicating trench; but others rushed out towards the rice fields because the trenches became blocked by the bombings. Mud from the flooded fields filled in nearly all the trenches, suffocating nine of the children. Three children from the first class from seven to eight years old were buried alive on the school path, they were found only the next day.

We also have examples of attacks on children coming out of school – such as the 11 A.M. strike on seventeen pupils of a class in the commune of Hop Thuanh, also in the province of Thanh Hoa. For reasons of safety, they had divided themselves up into small groups – the ‘normal’ practice among the Vietnamese. When they reached the road, they were attacked by rockets from American {162} planes. Some of the children threw themselves on to the ground beside the road, but six others ran for the ditch shelters. The planes released nine bombs killing six of these children, while another was very severely wounded.

The various Commissions of Inquiry of the Tribunal have all documented destruction of schools in the different provinces. We have ourselves in each town visited, sometimes even in each village, found examples of such destruction. In a number of cases the school was only a part of a more widespread destruction. But there are more cases which make me think that there have been specific attacks against schools. It is important to realize that in villages made of bamboo or straw the school is one of the few modern buildings, and therefore perfectly visible from the air. Testimony given by the First Commission of Inquiry that we have since verified on the spot, helps one to understand why we believe schools are specifically targeted. On 20 January 1967, while we were in North Vietnam, the school of Tan Thanh in the province of Ninh Binh was attacked from the air at 12.45 P.M. A single plane flying in from the sea released an ‘air-to-ground’ missile. This missile came right into the classroom killing the teacher while he was actually writing on the blackboard. Another teacher and five children who were on a bench near the school and twelve students six to eight years old were killed and seven others were wounded. The Second Commission of Inquiry verified the destruction of this school and found torn books, blood stains, demolished school benches. The manner of this school attack – hit under such circumstances – makes one think that the objective which this plane was aiming for was specifically that school. Often establishments of higher and secondary education are large visible buildings standing apart from the others and clearly distinguishable from the surrounding buildings. Such is the case in the town of Thanh Hoa and in the town of Nam Dinh. In Hanoi, on 13 December 1966, the college for trade union administrators (a very large building) was destroyed in a more systematic fashion than the surrounding houses.

The First Commission of Inquiry saw a whole range of schools attacked in the provinces around Nam Dinh and Nam Ha. The Second Commission of Inquiry has also seen numerous schools destroyed in the provinces of Ninh Binh and Thanh Hoa. {163}

Part of the Second Commission of Inquiry saw a number of demolished schools in the villages of Viet Tri and Thai Nguyen. Finally, Dr Krivine who went down to the 17th parallel and crossed several provinces also saw numerous school establishments destroyed. He specifically pointed out the overall nature of the damage in Nghe An province: ninety-two schools damaged, first, second and third degree colleges, fourteen professional schools and twenty-five general schools were completely destroyed – notably at Nam Dan, Vinh and Thang Giang. In the province of Ha Tinh, thirty-four schools were attacked – nine of the second degree, five of the third degree, and the second degree school of the commune of Hong Phuc.

In the accompanying dossiers, clarification will be given to the Tribunal on the schools actually inspected by the Commissions of Inquiry. Upon consideration of the Vietnamese documents and of the findings of the Commissions of Inquiry (especially since the recent bombings) one can conclude that educational establishments in the heart of the civilian areas have been a chosen objective of the air attacks.

Places of worship destroyed by American bombing

Since 1965, according to Vietnamese sources, there have been more than eighty churches and thirty pagodas attacked and destroyed from the air. Priests and monks were killed in these attacks. The majority of attacks against places of worship, especially churches, have taken place in the two main Catholic provinces of North Vietnam, Ninh Binh and Thanh Hoa. The Second Commission of Inquiry visited several of these places of worship, about ten churches in all.

A specific example: the church of Kien Trung, situated near Phat Diem, was attacked on 14 April 1966 at 6.20 P.M., precisely at the time of Sunday Vespers. The church was full of worshippers and the result was catastrophic: seventy-two dead, thirty-six males and thirty-six females of whom thirty-four were children. There were forty-six wounded.

Near the church, the school and a dispensary were also destroyed. We collected direct evidence from eye-witnesses and we examined the wounded at this site. In particular, we saw the family {164} of Mr Trong whose father and four children were killed. We saw the family of Mr Loi, of which two parents and four children were killed and there remains only a daughter, who at the time of the attack was in the market place. We saw a child who was wounded on the way to the church: she has had both legs amputated as a result. We saw a Mr Tunc, of whose large family ten were killed and two were wounded. Only the father is still alive. The family of Mr Phong now consists of only one child of eight years old; two parents and two children were killed. Finally we saw young Thang, who now has only one arm: he is five years old and his mother died in the attack on the church.

We also examined the destruction of pagodas in Hanoi itself in raids on 11 and 13 December 1966. The main pagoda of Thanh Hoa was destroyed and re-bombed again in several raids at the beginning of this year [1967].

A convent of nuns at the town of Thanh Hoa was attacked at the beginning of this year and the main building was destroyed by heavy bombing. Another example is the seminary of Bo Lang. This seminary, situated in the district of Tinh Gia on the edge of the Gulf of Tonkin, is a very large building several storeys high, completely isolated on the coast with numerous crosses which enable it to be easily identified. Since 1964 the seminary has been attacked from the air nineteen times. In the area we found numerous craters caused by heavy bombs of more than a ton. These craters measure up to thirty metres in diameter. The buildings are almost completely destroyed. There is only one wall left standing which continues to be hit periodically by batteries of the 7th Fleet which constantly patrols the adjoining waters. This seminary is completely isolated and very far from even a village. There is no objective near the seminary which could be remotely considered military. In this particular case, the recurrence of the raids seems to prove that the objective of the planes was the seminary itself.

The numerous churches which we have visited had been usually built in Western style, perfectly visible, with the bell towers very high, standing out clearly from the neighbouring houses which are low and built of bamboo. The frequent attacks on these buildings also seem to indicate that the objective was the place of worship itself. Our opinion is that there is no doubt that the objectives of these bombing attacks were civilian. {165}

The fourth and last Commission visited religious buildings destroyed at Vinh: the church of the hamlet Quan Hoa (eight dead); the Buddhist pagoda three kilometres from the town and 500 to 1,000 metres from the sanatorium, also razed to the ground. Thanh Hoa: as well as the main pagoda already mentioned, the pagoda of the Two Elephants was destroyed in a raid 4 February 1967 (after the visit of the First Commission of Inquiry); Thina Son (village district of Do Lung): the place of worship has been demolished.

Raids on heavily populated areas

There remains the question of raids taking place on towns, villages and cooperatives; these are very widespread and do not correspond with any military objective.

We visited the towns of Nim Dinh, Phat Diem, Thanh Hoa, Tinh Gia. The other part of the Commission visited the towns of Viet Tri and Thai Nguyen. The First Commission had visited Haiphong and Nam Dinh. Dr Krivine visited a number of towns in the South, of which the town of Vinh in particular is very important. The town of Thanh Hoa has suffered nearly seventy attacks so far and this town is situated eight kilometres, as the crow flies, as we said at the start of this report, from the only military objective in the region which is the bridge at Ham Rong. Furthermore, this town has been bombed and bombed again. Also, the town of Nam Dinh has been bombed several times in succession without it being clear what military objective could possibly be there.

Concerning the attacks on these towns, and certainly the most recent attacks which date from 16 January, several considerations must be borne in mind, because the sorts of weapons used pose special problems. For the town of Thai Nguyen in particular, in the course of the last attack on 15 and 18 January, there were dropped eight high-explosive bombs of 250 and 450 kilos, and ten ‘mother’ fragmentation bombs.

In the town of Viet Tri, on 15 January, at 3.05 P.M., twenty-eight high-explosive bombs and eight ‘mother’ fragmentation bombs were dropped; and on Thursday, 18 January, at 7.05 A.M., eighteen high-explosive bombs and six ‘mother’ fragmentation bombs were dropped. Now, if it is a question of bombing ‘concrete and steel’, {166} that is to say, the industrial complex, one does not understand the use of fragmentation bombs whose only effect is against human beings and [which are] not at all effective against walls of concrete and steel. Neither does one understand why such a large proportion of fragmentation bombs have been dropped on these two towns.

Other examples can also be given of attacks on cooperatives. The Second Commission of Inquiry has seen an example completely characteristic of attacks on the isolated cooperatives far from the road and far from any military objective. For example, the cooperative of Dong Xuan, which is in the province of Thanh Hoa, is situated in the middle of a region completely remote from all roads and from any objective which could be considered military. This agricultural cooperative was attacked on 23 April 1966, by several planes which dropped numerous bombs. There were many wounded and killed in this cooperative and I would like to report to the Tribunal one particularly moving incident. It is that of Madame Le Thi Tanh who, in the course of the bombing, saw her two children burnt in their house and was not able to go to their aid because three other air raids prevented all assistance by the machine-gunning of the town. The Vietnamese wardens urged the poor woman to remain in the shelter with her two smaller children. She is plagued with the memory of the cries of her two children burning in their own house. For me, telling of this shocking affair is as difficult as anything in the course of the whole inquiry.

A short time after they had been attacked, the Fourth Commission visited the following zones: the village of Thinh Som (a district of Do Lung in the heart of the province of Nghe An), absolutely isolated in the middle of rice fields and meadows, which was hit on 24 March 1967 at 3 P.M. by twenty-four aerial bombs. There were ten deaths and sixteen wounded. The hamlet of Phong Sinh (commune of Hung Zung, province of Nghe An) near Vinh was bombarded on 4 March 1967 by US Marine artillery. One hundred and eighty-five 203 mm. shells fell on an area of two kilometres: there were seven deaths. The commune of Dinh Tan (district of Yen Dinh, in the province of Thanh Hoa) was bombarded on 29 January 1967, at 4.15 P.M. by fifty bombs. There were fifty-one deaths and fifty-three seriously wounded. {167}

In these last three examples, the Fourth Commission has duly verified the extreme isolation of these areas and the absence of any objective which could be characterized as strategic or military: it has heard witnesses and examined written evidence. There are thus in Vietnam a number of towns, villages and cooperatives which seem to have been bombed contrary to all logic and against all determinations of a military character. I would like to quote as an example the small fishing village of Hai Thanh in the district of Tinh Gia, which has suffered (this is a little fishing hamlet of about 10,000 inhabitants whose activity is partly agricultural but mainly concerned with fishing) since the beginning of the aerial bombardments on Vietnam some 152 attacks, of which twenty-one were specifically directed against the fishing boats.

This fishing village has endured 1,620 bombs, 650 rockets, twelve missiles, and forty-one machine-gun attacks. There have been 162 homes burnt and 644 bombed out, eighteen junks completely destroyed and seventy-six damaged. There have been ninety inhabitants killed, of whom seven were burnt, and fourteen villagers have disappeared at sea. There have been eleven children younger than ten years old killed and five new-born babies killed.

Now, this little hamlet with a Catholic majority is situated on the coast of the Gulf of Tonkin, completely off the main road, far from any objective which could be considered military. The Second Commission of Inquiry visiting this village saw the beach where the fishing boats are tied up. It could not in any case be considered a proper port, but only a simple beach where several junks were pulled up on the sand. It would be difficult to believe that this little fishing village could be confused with a proper port which could have any military activity. All along the coast of the Gulf of Tonkin we saw many small fishing villages that had suffered the same kind of attacks. {168}

FUJIO YAMAZAKI Significance of the Destruction of Dikes in North Vietnam


Significance of the Destruction of Dikes in North Vietnam

North Vietnam is an agrarian country. The main product of agriculture is paddy field rice which is grown on the alluvial flats of the Red River, Chu River, Ma River and Ca River. Of this, the Red River Delta – Tonkin Delta – comprises a major part.

The Tonkin Delta is an immense plain, measuring about 150 kilometres from Viet Tri, at the top of the Delta, to the mouth of the Red River and covering over 1,100,000 hectares. It is thirteen metres above sea level at the highest and 0.5 metres at the lowest with almost no slope. It is divided into many dike-encircled fields by tributaries and sub-tributary waters of the Red River. These dike-encircled paddy fields are surrounded by natural dikes made by the overflowing of the rivers and by man-made dikes constructed over many years by the peasants. Generally, the relative humidity is low in these dike-encircled paddy fields. The height of the Red River dikes in the vicinity of Hanoi is thirteen metres while that of lower land in Hanoi city is only four metres.

The height of ground near the seashore of the Delta is only 0.5 metres, as it is reclaimed land with dikes constructed on a tideland. The high tide level rises two metres in the Tonkin Gulf.

The government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam attached much importance to river dikes and seashore dikes and made great efforts to have them constructed, thereby extending the total length of such dikes to 4,000 kilometres in ten years.

The low ground of the Delta, including the seashore area, cannot be drained naturally and in the rainy season all the land is flooded, so that growing rice in such a season is impossible unless the land is drained mechanically. In contrast, the high ground of the Delta suffers from a water shortage in the dry season, and a rice crop without irrigation facilities is impossible in such a season.

During the days of French Indochina, irrigation facilities had {169} already been constructed over a considerable area. Since the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the facilities have been greatly and rapidly increased, and ninety per cent of cultivated land is now irrigated. The construction of drainage facilities was undertaken for the first time on a full scale by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and was marked by great progress in ten years. As a result of the strengthening of dikes and the completion of water facilities, twice-a-year cropping has been made possible over a considerable part of paddy fields in the Tonkin Delta, remarkably expanding the production of rice. This description of the Tonkin Delta can also be applied to the alluvial plain of the Ma River and the Chu River. Destruction of these dikes and water facilities by US shelling and bombing carries the following significance.

The case of river dikes

No explanation is necessary to imagine what the results would be should dikes be destroyed in the flood-water season when the river level is higher than the cultivated land and the urban area. In relation to food production, not only farm products would be damaged but the cultivated land itself would be put out of use by the accumulation of earth and sand and by water erosion. In regard to living, houses would either be carried away or destroyed. Damage suffered by the people in both aspects of production and living would be very serious.

The case of the destruction of seashore dikes

If tide-water control dikes along the seashore are destroyed, sea water would flood the land and the cultivated land would be put out of production by sea water, and the crops would die. Even if the dikes are repaired again, and sea water removed, the soil would be salted up and the following season’s crops badly affected. If the destruction of dikes should happen at the time of high water, the risk to homes and other buildings and facilities would be great, as they would be destroyed by the force of the inrush of sea water. {170}

The case of the destruction of irrigation facilities

Destruction of irrigation facilities – dams, water control gates, incidental construction of flumes, etc. – would either damage or make impossible the rice crop in the October dry season. Planting of young rice-plants in the transplanting season is impossible without water, and rice crops would suffer from drought if there is not sufficient water after transplantation. Where dams are high, their destruction would result in heavy damage to men and stock, buildings, and cultivated land.

The case of the destruction of drainage facilities

Destruction of drainage facilities – drain sites, overflow, etc. – would make rice cropping impossible in the rainy season in May in the rice areas. As is seen above, dikes and water facilities in North Vietnam have a very important meaning in production activity and living of all the people of North Vietnam, because North Vietnam is an agricultural country and rice crops are cultivated mainly in the Delta area. The destruction of these facilities by shelling and bombing therefore constitutes an impermissible war crime against the Vietnamese people.

MAKATO KANDACHI Some Facts on Bombing of Dikes


Some Facts on Bombing of Dikes

The results of the investigation made by the Second Japanese Investigation Team are given below:

1. On 13 August 1966, the Red River dike in the vicinity of Hanoi was bombed with a 1,350 kg. bomb, producing a bomb crater twelve metres in diameter and nine metres in depth. Although the water level of the Red River was at its highest at this time, it was quickly repaired and almost no damage was done.

2. From 2 October 1965 to 30 June 1967, the vicinity of Bac {171} Giang city, Ha Bac province, was bombed seventy-seven times; Bac Giang city was devastated. In the meantime, the dike in the Thuond River was attacked and destroyed by 100 bombs. Although the destroyed parts were quickly repaired, large-scale bombing continued even while repairs were going on. At about 1 P.M. on 7 September 1966, four ‘mother’ ball bombs were dropped.

3. Although the Red River dike that runs through the suburbs of Hai Duong city was destroyed for fifteen metres, it had already been repaired. The dike is located in the suburbs far away from Hai Duong city, with no military target at all in the vicinity, only a church. This fact leads to the conclusion that the bombing was for the sole purpose of destroying the dike.

4. On 13 July 1967, the dike of the Lai Vu River that runs by Ha Thach city, Lami Thau prefecture, Phu Tho province, was bombed by twelve planes. Four bombs hit the dike, and as a result 100 metres were destroyed. A bomb crater twelve metres in diameter and five metres in depth resulted. On 18 July the same year, Ha Mao was bombed. The investigations of the Japanese team on 21 July showed that there were bomb craters about fifteen metres in diameter and five metres in depth in twenty-two places. No bombs had directly hit the dike. It was explained that the height of the dike is about five metres and that the water level used to be up to the four-metre mark at high water. From this, it can easily be seen that the destruction of the dike at high water would bring about serious flood damage. It is also evident that, even if the dike itself is not destroyed, destruction in the vicinity of the dike would result in the destruction of the dike because of the nature of the soil in this area, which is light and weak in cohesion.

5. The case of Da Mai dam, Quang Binh province, as told by Mr Nguyen Hoan, Minister for Water Conservation, is as follows. The Second Japanese Investigation Team visited the ruins of this dam. The dam is situated in the upstream portion of the Zinh River, about a few score kilometres from the sea. Construction was begun in 1965 and was completed on 5 July. It supplies water to 2,000 hectares in Bo Truch prefecture. As soon as the water began to run in the channel, it was bombed. The bombing is being carried on sometimes even now.

Commenting on the denunciation of the Foreign Ministry and {172} the Water Conservancy Ministry of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam that ‘the US forces are carrying on the planned destruction of dikes, killing and wounding the inhabitants, and are trying to destroy food production and transportation’, a US Defense Department spokesman said that ‘this was done by accident by American pilots and should not in any way be interpreted as intentional’ (AP dispatch, 22 July). But according to our investigation, the bombing by the US is so accurate that it is inconceivable for places which have no target other than dikes to be bombed by chance. It should therefore be judged that the US forces have carried on bombing purposely to destroy dikes and kill and wound the people repairing them.

KIM-ENG KHOUROUDETH Report from Cambodia


Report from Cambodia

Neutral Cambodia is a daily victim of criminal aggression against its frontier posts and villages; of all kinds of violations of its territorial integrity; violations of its air space and of its land and sea territories. These violations are deliberately committed by the American, South Vietnamese and Thai forces.

The deliberate aggressions of the armed forces of Thailand have caused in the last two years alone, that is to say from 1965 to the end of March 1967, 108 killed and 277 wounded among the Khmer frontier population.

On 6 April 1966, units from the Cambodian army recaptured the Temple of Proah Vihear after serious resistance from Thai units. When they retired to their territory the Thai forces killed five prisoners and stayed in position 200 metres on the Cambodian side of the demarcation line. This was an aggression characteristic of the Thai armed forces and it was followed by occupation by force of a temple which, after an irrevocable verdict pronounced by the International Court of Justice on 15 June 1962, lay under Cambodian sovereignty. {173}

Parallel to their armed actions against the territory and people of Cambodia, the government of Thailand, in agreement with the American-South Vietnamese authorities, creates, supports and equips mercenaries called ‘Khmer Serei’, who are mobilized by force by the American-South Vietnamese authorities among the Cambodians in Cochin China.

From July 1965 to February 1967 we have observed more than eighty cases of Khmer Serei groups who have deserted and presented themselves to our authorities at different parts of our frontier with Thailand.

They were mobilized by force by thc American-South Vietnamese authorities, then sent to a military training camp situated at Chi-Hoa near Saigon on the site of a former prison. American and South Vietnamese officers were employed giving them military instruction.

The American-South Vietnamese armed forces have committed numerous criminal acts of aggression against our frontier villages causing death or injury to the inhabitants and considerable material destruction. To cite only losses of human life, the American-South Vietnamese aggressions have cost in Cambodia, from January 1965 to the end of March 1967, seventy-five killed and 198 wounded.

In serious cases the royal government of Cambodia invited the members of the International Control Commission, military attachés and the press and journalists to confirm the aggression. Foreign observers in the place where the aggressions occurred have been able to confirm for themselves that they had not the shadow of a justification, and that in fact it was a matter of deliberate provocation.

On 22 November 1966 our post of Peam Montea, district of Kompong Trabek, Prey Veng Province, was mortar bombed by American-South Vietnamese forces. This bombing, which occurred at 6.40 P.M. and continued until 11.30 P.M. caused ten innocent victims among the occupants of our post, namely five deaths (one provincial guard, two women and two children) and five seriously wounded, including three children of the post. The ICC, several military attachés and numerous journalists came to the spot to confirm this serious incident.

On 30 December a new, extremely serious aggression of the {174} American-South Vietnamese forces was committed against the village of Bathu, and conducted with forces transported by fifty helicopters, guided by four L-19 observation planes and supported by two jets. It killed four, including two children, and wounded two among the civilian population. Moreover, twelve inhabitants of the village were kidnapped by the aggressors and forcefully led into South Vietnamese territory. The village of Bathu has undergone serious material devastation and numerous domestic animals were killed in the course of this unqualified aggression.

The international Commission of Surveillance and Control, military and foreign press attachés and local international press correspondents, invited by the royal government, were able to confirm on the spot this odious aggression of American-South Vietnamese forces, as well as the victims and material destruction caused.

On 24 February 1967, at about 9.30 A.M., a large number of armed forces composed of Americans, South Vietnamese and South Koreans penetrated into Cambodian territory and fired shots in a sustained manner upon Khmer defenders of the village of Daun Roth which lies more than 200 metres on this side of the demarcation line in the commune of Rouong, district of Mimot, Kampong Cham Province. This attack caused one wounded among the inhabitants and material damage to the dwellings of the peasants of the area.

The same day, at about 12.45 in the afternoon, planes of the same armed forces violently bombed the Khmer village of Chrak Kranh, in the above-cited district and province, situated about 1,000 metres to the west of the village of Daun Roth. Chrak Kranh village was invaded and then set fire to by the American-South Vietnamese troops, transported in a dozen tanks and supported during the raid by artillery fire.

Until 3 March 1967, the Khmer village of Chrak Kranh was constantly occupied by American and South Vietnamese armed forces. The International Control Commission arrived in the area on 16 March to confirm this criminal violation of Khmer territory followed by the occupation of the Cambodian village of Chrak Kranh.

Finally, let us describe the appearance of new criminal acts against the peaceful and neutral Cambodian people. It was thus {175} that, on 20 March 1967, low-flying planes of the American-South Vietnamese forces violated Cambodian air space and dropped small canisters of explosives upon our territory in the vicinity of Veal-Seh and Veal-Kram, which lies about 2,800 metres beyond the Cambodian side of the demarcation line, in the commune of Cheam, district of Mimot, in Kampong Cham.

At about 11 A.M. on the same day, a village family of this region, while travelling, stepped on one of these small concealed weapons. It exploded, seriously wounding the wife in the foot, which had to be amputated, and slightly wounding the father and their three children.

After numerous international investigations, in which Americans such as the journalists Seymour Topping and Stanley Karnow and members of the ‘Americans Want to Know’ Mission participated, the team from the International War Crimes Tribunal carried out its own investigation of the fables persistently maintained by Washington, Saigon and Bangkok to justify in advance their new aggressive actions to extend the Vietnamese conflict to Cambodia. Such justifications included the supposed Ho Chi Minh Trail passing through Cambodia, the supposed Sihanouk Trail in the north of our country. North Vietnamese divisions allegedly stationed in Kattanakiri, and NLF camp and hospitals situated in Khmer territory.

The presence of more than 4,000 refugees in Cambodia, fleeing military operations and bombings in the bordering South Vietnamese regions, probably still serves as a pretext for the American imperialists and their lackeys to again slanderously accuse our country of serving as a sanctuary for the North Vietnamese popular forces.

Thus, as international observers and the ICC have been able to confirm, these are defenceless civilians including women and children, whom the royal government has, for humanitarian reasons, temporarily received, giving them shelter, food and medical care. It did this in spite of the heavy burdens due to the immigration of the Khmers from Krom who also escaped to their mother country following continuous and intolerable exactions by the Saigon authorities. These latter and the American government are in fact practising a veritable policy of genocide against the Cambodian community of 600,000 souls living in South Vietnam. {176} To escape from the systematic massacres and tortures, more than 15,000 people, including entire families and even monks, have come for refuge in Cambodia.

JEAN-PAUL SARTRE Summary and Verdict of the Stockholm Session


Summary and Verdict of the Stockholm Session

The International War Crimes Tribunal, during the session held at Stockholm from 2 to 10 May 1967, studied the two following questions included in its programme, adopted in London on 15 November 1966:

Has the United States Government (and the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and South Korea) committed acts of aggression according to international law?Has there been bombardment of targets of a purely civilian character, for example hospitals, schools, sanatoria, dams, etc., and on what scale has this occurred?

Having heard the qualified representatives of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and noted the official refusal of the government of the United States of America to make known its point of view, and this despite the various appeals addressed to it;

Having heard the various reporters, the experts, numerous witnesses, including members of the investigating teams which it had itself sent to Vietnam, as well as Vietnamese victims of the war;

Having examined several written, photographic and cinematographic documents, together with numerous exhibits… considers itself able to take the following decisions.

On the first question:

Resort to force in international relations has been prohibited by {177} numerous international agreements, the chief of which is the 1928 Pact of Paris, known as the Briand-Kellogg Pact.

In its Article 2, the United Nations Charter solemnly recalled the said principle immediately after the Second World War.

Article 6 of the Statute of Nuremberg qualified as crimes against peace ‘the conduct of, preparation for, starting or pursuit of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, pledges or agreements, or participation in a concerted plan, or plot for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing acts’.

Finally, it must be recalled, as in the United Nations resolution of December 1960, that all peoples have fundamental rights to national independence, to sovereignty, to respect of the integrity of their territory, and that breaches of these fundamental rights may be regarded as crimes against the national existence of a people.

The accession to independence and to national existence of the people of Vietnam dates back to 2 September 1945. This independence was called in question by the old colonial power. The war of national liberation then embarked upon ended with the victory of the Vietnam army.

The Geneva Agreements of 20 and 21 July 1954, intended to put an end to the previous conflict, created in Vietnam a state of law, the respect of which was incumbent on all, and particularly on the United States. These Agreements recognized the guarantees, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Vietnam (Articles 6 and 7 of the final Declaration). Although a line of demarcation divided the country into two parts on a level with the 17th parallel, it was expressly stipulated that as the essential aim of this division was to settle military questions, it was of a provisional nature ‘and could in no way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary’ (Article 6 of the Final Declaration).

The Geneva Agreements stipulated that general elections should take place over the whole of the country in July 1956 under the supervision of an international commission, and that consultations on this subject were to take place between the competent representatives of the two zones as from July 1955.

The Agreements specifically excluded all reprisals or discrimination against persons and organizations by reason of their {178} activities during the previous hostilities (Article 14 of the Armistice Agreement). They formally prohibited the introduction of fresh troops, of military personnel, fresh arms and munitions, as well as the installation of military bases (Article 16 of the Armistice Agreement) and the inclusion of Vietnam in military alliances, this applying to the two zones (Article 9 of the Final Declaration).

This state of law, intended to create a peaceful situation in Vietnam, was replaced by a state of war in consequence of successive violations and the responsibility for the passage to a state of war lies with the government of the United States of America.

It transpires from the information of a historical and diplomatic nature that has been brought to the knowledge of the Tribunal:

that numerous proofs exist of the American intention prior to 1954 to dominate Vietnam;
that the Diem government was set up in Saigon by American agents several weeks before the conclusion of the Geneva Agreements;
that the Saigon authorities, subservient to the United States, systematically violated the provisions of the Geneva Agreements which prohibited reprisals, as has been established on several occasions by the International Control Commission;
that in defiance of the Geneva Agreements, the United States has, since 1954, introduced into Vietnam increasing quantities of military equipment and personnel and has set up bases there.

The elections that were fixed for July 1956 and which were to be the subject of consultations in July 1955 did not take place, in spite of numerous diplomatic notes from the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam calling for the said consultations. Information from United States sources makes it possible to ascribe to the USA the refusal by Saigon of the most essential provisions of the Geneva Agreements.

In this manner there was created in South Vietnam a situation of foreign intrusion by force against which the people of Vietnam had to launch a struggle of national liberation in a political form until 1959 and in the form of an armed struggle since that date, a {179} struggle led by the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam since 1960, which has succeeded in controlling vastly greater territories than those controlled by the United States.

This attack against the South was followed by an attack against the North, begun in 1964, and intensified since 1965 in the form of aerial bombardments and naval and land shellings in circumstances which form the subject of the second question studied by the Tribunal. The United States has not ceased to increase the power of these attacks by practising what it has itself called a policy of escalation.

The Tribunal has made a point of examining scrupulously the arguments put forward in American official documents to justify the legality of their intervention in Vietnam. Special attention has been paid to the document entitled: ‘Juridical Memorandum on the Legality of the Participation of the United States in the Defence of Vietnam’, which document was submitted to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on 4 March 1966. The main argument formulated by this text consists in claiming that the American intervention in Vietnam merely constitutes aid to the Saigon government against aggression from the North. Such an argument is untenable both in law and in fact.

In law, it is hardly necessary to recall that Vietnam constitutes a single nation which cannot be seen as an aggressor against itself.

The fact is that no proof of this alleged aggression has ever been produced. The figures stated of infiltration of personnel from the North into the South, often contradictory, mixing up armed men and unarmed men, are thoroughly disputable and could in no case justify the plea of legitimate defence provided for in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, an Article, moreover, none of the other conditions of which is complied with.

From the foregoing it follows that the United States bears the responsibility for the use of force in Vietnam and that it has in consequence committed a crime of aggression against that country, a crime against peace.

It has therefore violated the provisions of International Law outlawing the use of force in international relations, in particular the Pact of Paris of 1928, the so-called Briand-Kellogg Pact, of which it was, however, the author, and the United Nations Charter {180} (Article 2, para. 4). This violation of the general principles has been accompanied by violation of the special agreements relating to the territory in question, Vietnam – that is to say, the Geneva Agreements of July 1954.

In acting thus, the United States has undeniably committed a crime against peace within the meaning of Article 6 of the Statute of Nuremberg, a provision sanctioned by international jurisprudence (Judgements of Nuremberg and Tokyo) and acknowledged as international law by the unanimous resolution of the United Nations of 11 December 1946.

The United States has furthermore committed a crime against the fundamental rights of the people of Vietnam.

It should be added that states such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, which have in one form or another provided aid to the American aggression, have rendered themselves accomplices.

The Tribunal has concerned itself with the situation in Cambodia. It has heard the report of the investigating teams which it sent to that country and the depositions of a qualified representative of the General Staff of the Cambodian army. It considers that the forces of the United States and those of the governments subordinate to it at Bangkok and Saigon are engaging in continuous and serious acts of aggression against the kingdom of Cambodia. This aggression constitutes not only an attack on Cambodian neutrality and independence but also an extremely serious threat to the peace in south-east Asia and in the world.

On the second question:

The Tribunal has been convinced that the aerial, naval and land bombardments of civil targets is of a massive, systematic and deliberate nature.

The massive nature of these bombardments is attested by innumerable reports from American sources on the tonnage of bombs dropped and the great number of American aerial sorties.

The systematic and deliberate bombardment of civil targets is established by extensive evidence to the effect that in the vast {181} majority of cases they are preceded by reconnaissance flights: according to a report of American origin, the aircraft stationed at a single base in Thailand alone utilize 300,000 metres of film every month to photograph Vietnam. If it is borne in mind on the one hand that most of the aircraft are equipped with automatic firing devices and, on the other hand, that the aircraft return persistently and furiously to the same targets, which are sometimes already almost completely destroyed, no doubt is possible as to the deliberate intention to strike the targets in question.

Besides the aerial bombardments, intense pounding by the artillery of the US 7th Fleet is progressively ravaging the coastal zones.

All of the witnesses heard, in particular the members of the investigating teams, have confirmed that the greater part of the civilian targets (hospitals, sanatoria, schools, churches, pagodas) are very obvious and very clearly distinguishable from the rest of the Vietnam countryside.

The extent of the bombardments is considerable and the Tribunal has had a close study made by its investigating teams of the results published by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Proceeding by the method of sampling, the investigating teams have been able to verify at places of their choice the information received. Thus, for example, so far as hospitals are concerned, out of ninety-five establishments mentioned as destroyed by the Vietnamese Commission of Inquiry into War Crimes, thirty-four have been verified by the Tribunal’s investigating teams, i.e. thirty-six per cent. The great value of these samplings lies in their dispersion, since the thirty-four hospitals checked relate to eight provinces out of the twelve involved in the bombardments.

Apart from the extensive private evidence submitted to it, the Tribunal has heard general reports on the distribution of the various categories of civilian targets: hospitals, schools, places of worship (pagodas and churches) and dams, as well as of the bombardment of the civilian population of urban centres and in the countryside. It has also heard combined reports on the bombardments in the two provinces of Nghe An and Thanh Hoa. All of these reports were accompanied by documents, statements and material evidence.

The Tribunal ascertained the vital importance to the people of {182} Vietnam of the dams and other hydraulic works, and the grave danger of famine to which the civilian populations were exposed by the attempted destruction by the American forces.

The Tribunal has received all necessary information in the diversity and power of the engines of war employed against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the circumstances of their utilization (high-explosive bombs, napalm, phosphorus and fragmentation bombs, etc.). Seriously injured victims of napalm bombs have appeared before it and medical reports on these mutilated people have been provided. Its attention in particular has been drawn to the massive use of various kinds of anti-personnel bombs of the fragmentation type, also called in American parlance, CBU, and in Vietnamese parlance, pellet bombs. These devices, obviously intended to strike defenceless populations, have the following characteristics.

Containers, called by the Vietnamese the ‘mother bombs’, release hundreds of small oblong or spherical bombs (pineapple or guava bombs) which in turn release hundreds of small pellets. A single mother bomb can therefore cause the dispersion of nearly 100,000 pellets; these pellets can cause no serious damage to buildings or plant or to protected military personnel (for example, civil-defence workers behind their sandbags). They are therefore intended solely to reach the greatest number of persons in the civilian population.

The Tribunal has had medical experts study the consequences of attacks with these pellets. The path of the particles through the body is long and irregular and produces, apart from cases of death, multiple and various internal injuries.

The Hague Convention No. 4 of 18 October 1907 laid down the principle that belligerents may not have unlimited choice so far as the means of injuring an enemy are concerned (Article 22); the said Convention specially prohibits the use of arms, projectiles and material deliberately destined to cause pointless suffering (Article 23); attacks on or bombardments by any means whatsoever of town, villages, dwellings or undefended buildings are prohibited (Article 25). During bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, so far as possible, buildings devoted to religion, art, science or charitable purposes, historical monuments, hospitals or places where sick and injured persons are {183} assembled, provided that these places are not used for military purposes (Article 27).

Article 6 of the Statutes of the Tribunal of Nuremberg has qualified as war crimes the destruction without reason of towns and villages or devastation not justified by military requirements.

The Geneva Convention of 2 August 1949 also laid down the principle of absolute prohibition of attack on civilian hospitals (Article 18) and private and collective property not rendered absolutely necessary by the conduct of the operations (Article 53).

The government of the United States cannot override such Treaties, to which it has subscribed, whilst its own constitution (Article 6, para. 2) gives them preeminence over domestic law. Furthermore, the Official Manual entitled The Law of Land Warfare refers to all of the foregoing provisions as being obligatory for all members of the American army.

In consequence, the Tribunal considers that in subjecting the civilian population and civilian targets of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to intensive and systematic bombardment, the United States of America has committed a war crime.

Apart from condemnation of this war crime, the Tribunal makes a point of declaring that fragmentation bombs of the CBU type, which have no other purpose than to injure to the maximum the civilian population, must be regarded as arms prohibited by the laws and customs of war.

Meeting with the resistance of a people who intended to ‘exercise peacefully and freely its right to full independence and to the integrity of its territory’ (United Nations resolution of 14 December 1960), the government of the United States of America has given these war crimes, through their extent and frequency, the character of crimes against humanity (Article 6 of the Statute of Nuremberg).

These crimes cannot be regarded merely as a consequence of a war of aggression, whose prosecution is determined by them.

Because of their systematic employment with the object of destroying the fundamental rights of the people of Vietnam, their unity and their wish for peace, the crimes against humanity of which the government of the United States of America has rendered itself guilty, become a fundamental constituent part of the {184} crime of aggression, a supreme crime which embraces all the others according to the Nuremberg verdict.

Verdict of the Tribunal

1. Has the Government of the United States committed acts of aggression against Vietnam under the terms of international law?
Yes (unanimously).

2. Has there been, and if so, on what scale, bombardment of purely civilian targets, for example, hospitals, schools, medical establishments, dams, etc?
Yes (unanimously).

We find the government and armed forces of the United States are guilty of the deliberate, systematic and large-scale bombardment of civilian targets, including civilian populations, dwellings, villages, dams, dikes, medical establishments, leper colonies, schools, churches, pagodas, historical and cultural monuments.

We also find unanimously, with one abstention, that the government of the United States of America is guilty of repeated violations of the sovereignty, neutrality and territorial integrity of Cambodia, that it is guilty of attacks against the civilian population of a certain number of Cambodian towns and villages.

3. Have the governments of Australia, New Zealand and South Korea been accomplices of the United States in the aggression against Vietnam in violation of international law?
Yes (unanimously).

The question also arises as to whether or not the governments of Thailand and other countries have become accomplices to acts of aggression or other crimes against Vietnam and its populations. We have not been able to study this question during the present session. We intend to examine at the next session legal aspects of the problem and to seek proofs of any incriminating facts.

Endorsed ne variatur
The President of the Tribunal
Jean-Paul Sartre
Stockholm, 10 May 1967

BERTRAND RUSSELL Closing Address to the Stockholm Session


Closing Address to the Stockholm Session

The International War Crimes Tribunal has been subject to abuse from people who have much to hide. It has been said that the conclusions of this Tribunal were known in advance. The conclusions of our Tribunal are built out of the evidence. The evidence is abundant. It is precisely because the knowledge of crime is a cause for inquiry that we are holding this session. When the evidence on aggression and the systematic bombardment of the entire population of Vietnam becomes known to the public, we are in no doubt that all men of integrity who examine this evidence will be compelled to reach the same conclusions.

During recent days the United States has been bombing residential quarters of Hanoi and Haiphong with steel pellet bombs. These facts are reported in newspapers throughout the world. These actions are criminal. They must be investigated because of the evidence that they are occurring and because of their criminality. Those who are prepared to investigate these new crimes against the people of Vietnam will be men of sufficient public spirit, moral concern and personal integrity to be prepared to consider the crimes in Vietnam cause to abandon private work, endure public abuse and risk personal harm.

We have heard evidence for many days on the sustained aggression by a great power against a small, heroic people. A large power has occupied an impoverished nation to subdue a popular movement seeking land, independence and social advance. It is not the evil which is new; nor is it the crisis which has changed. We have celebrated in history the struggles waged by oppressed people against large, cruel and powerful invaders. The sense of identity with the small victim of a cruel and large tormenter touches our deepest impulses and is part of our mythology, religion and literature. The concern for the weak struggling after long suffering against the strong for their simplest rights is the source of our ethics and the great moments in our common history. {186} David and Goliath, the Greeks at Salamis, the Vietnamese and Genghis Khan – the partisans of Vietnam and the United States air force and mechanized army – are part of a continuous tradition.

The International War Crimes Tribunal defies the powerful rulers who bully and butcher with abandon. Who would compare the 100,000 tons of napalm with a peasant holding a rifle? Who can fail to distinguish the power which destroys the hospitals and schools of an entire people from the defenders who attack the aeroplanes carrying napalm and steel fragmentation bombs? The difference between the victims and the criminals who oppress them is part of the evidence before us compelling honest men to speak loudly and to risk much.

The United States is using fascist states to facilitate its plans for new levels of crime. Each day bombers leave Thailand to saturate Vietnam in steel pellets and liquid fire. Has one American city been attacked? Are Canada and Mexico bases for the destruction of America by a power on the other side of the world? If one American city suffered two hours of bombing such as has been inflicted for two years on Vietnam the world press would inform us rather fully. This imbalance is a clear indication of the great injustice we are investigating. The difference in power is matched by the indifference of the powerful and those who serve them or depend on their favour.

During the 1930s, when millions of people could see the nature of Adolf Hitler and Nazism, there was too little understanding and insufficient will to act in time. In Germany there were no great strikes or mass demonstrations. The large political parties opposed only in words but did not mobilize their large support. Even now the great political parties fail to act and the nominal opponents of the aggressive violence of the United States satisfy themselves with pious complaint in institutions dominated by the aggressor.

Nazism emerged from a nation unable to stabilize itself and degenerated to unforeseen limits of depravity. The policy of aggression in Washington has brought a comparable degree of scientific extermination and moral degeneracy. The International War Crimes Tribunal must do for the peoples of Vietnam, Asia, Africa and Latin America what no tribunal did while Nazi crimes {187} were committed and plotted. The napalm and pellet bombs, the systematic destruction of a heroic people are a barbarous rehearsal. The starving and the suffering will no longer die in silence. We must discredit the arrogant demand that they protect our comfort with their quiet agony. Our social institutions, impregnated with racism, must be reconstructed. The Tribunal must begin a new morality in the West, in which cold mechanical slaughter will be automatically condemned. The Tribunal must inspire a new understanding that the heroic are the oppressed and the hateful are the arrogant rulers who would bleed them for generations or bomb them into the Stone Age. The Tribunal must warn of the impending horror in many lands, the new atrocities prepared now in Vietnam and of the global struggle between the poor and the powerful rich. These are themes as old as humanity. The long arduous struggle for decency and for liberation is unending. A Tribunal such as ours will be necessary until the last starving man is fed and a way of life is created which ends exploitation of the many by the few. Vietnam struggles so others may survive. The truths we must declare are simple truths. Great violence menaces our cultural achievements. Starvation and disease cannot be tolerated. Resistance at risk of life is noble. But we know this. Western Europe and North America are drenched in the blood of struggle for social change. Feudalism, the reduction of men to starving hulks, the purchase of their minds, the eradication of their spirit – these are blights on human culture. These are vicious forms of aggression at once more fundamental and more pervasive than the crossing of frontiers by foot soldiers. Wherever men struggle against suffering we must be their voice. Whenever they are cruelly attacked for their self-sacrifice we must find our voices. It is easy to pay lip-service to these ideals. We will be judged not by our reputations or our pretences but by our will to act. Against this standard we too will be judged by better men. {188}{189}{190}

GILBERT DREYFUS Napalm and its Effects on Human Beings


Napalm and its Effects on Human Beings

The word ‘napalm’ is derived from the two words ‘naphthene’ and ‘palmitate’. Napalm itself is a jelly obtained from the salts of aluminium, palmitic or other fatty acids, and naphthenic acids. These acids give a viscous consistency to gasoline so that an incendiary jelly results. We have developed the habit of calling ‘napalm’, not only the napalm itself, but also the material resulting when it is mixed with gasoline to form the incendiary weapon.

The generic precursors of this weapon go back to the flame-throwers first used in the First World War. These flame-throwers had a limited effective range because of the fluidity of the liquids. Therefore an attempt was made to diminish fluidity and render the liquids more adherent. An example of primitive success in this area is the early Molotov cocktail in which a simple fragment of cotton was added to adhere to a tank and to render the combustion of the gasoline more effective.

The first napalm was developed by American technicians of the Chemical Corps during the Second World War. They observed that latex mixed with gasoline took on a viscous consistency which gave good results. But as the sources of latex were blocked after Pearl Harbor, they had to find a synthetic. They sought a jelly which could be prepared at low temperatures, which was easily handled, stable and not too costly. A soap-like aluminium mixture – aluminium salts with fatty acids – met these requirements, especially the acids having from ten to sixteen carbons, like palmitic acid and oleic and other unsaturated acids. Napalm comes in the form of a grey-white powder resembling soap powder; it can be made effective by mixing it with gasoline on the battlefield.

The use of fire as a weapon by soldiers is very ancient, but the {191} technology in modern terms really began, in a rudimentary way, during the First World War and became generalized during the Second World War. Napalm conferred on a flammable substance the properties necessary for extended use and the aeroplane furnished an efficient delivery system.

Until the beginning of the Second World War, magnesium was the incendiary substance most frequently employed by all belligerents. But from 1942 on, it was recognized that magnesium was expensive and in too short supply for massive use. Therefore, as napalm was developed, it became the prime material in the manufacture of incendiary bombs. The first model in service, the M-69 bomb weighing six and a half pounds, was used in great quantities against Japan. The models which followed were developed too late to use against Japan, but they were used during the Korean War and then by the French in Indochina and Algeria.

To utilize napalm effectively, large target areas are preferable. Flame-throwing aircraft have proved ineffective because conventional aircraft fly too fast to be accurate. On the other hand, excellent results are obtained by dropping fire bombs made from launchable drums filled with gasoline jellied with napalm. The napalm drums have exterior ignition devices consisting of small incendiary bombs or phosphorous grenades.

There are a number of different containers for napalm. Those most frequently used contain nearly 500 litres of gasoline, jellied by an addition of napalm varying from six to thirteen per cent – six per cent seems more often used. Such a bomb will cover with flames a surface 75 feet wide by 270 feet long. To obtain the best results, the bomb should fall as rapidly as possible, giving, by momentum, a greater length to the surface covered. Therefore the best means of delivery is not to drop the bomb vertically, but to launch it from low altitude – about 100 feet – from a ‘hedge-hopping’ aircraft.

The Americans use two types of napalm and several different means of delivery. The two napalms are ‘ordinary’, which produces a temperature of 800-1,200°C [1,472-2,152°F] and ‘super-napalm’, enriched with polystyrene, sodium, magnesium or phosphorus, with which the temperatures reach 1,500-2,000°C [2,732-3,632°F]. These two napalms are principally used in {192} drums of from 60 to 630 litres capacity and in bombs weighing from 100 to 200 kilos [220-440 lbs.]; the US 7th Fleet also uses napalm missiles.

Since napalm is essentially an incendiary product, it sets fire to any combustible matter with which it comes in contact. A human being in the open cannot protect himself against it. Napalm acts not only by burning but has an equally devastating effect which consists of a complicated process whereby shock, absorption of oxygen from the air [deoxygenation], smoke and noxious gases become lethal. The Surgeon-General of the French Army has described the massive poisoning by carbon monoxide after a napalm attack and points out that none of those burned in the central strike area survives because of this phenomenon. Only those who have been on the periphery of the strike zone can survive the massive deoxygenation.

An examination of some of the methods of execution practised during the Middle Ages sheds some light on these effects. In executions by burning at the stake, when large fires were used, the victim died rapidly from carbon monoxide poisoning before being actually burned by the flames; when small fires were used, a longer and much crueller death by flame resulted. (From this has come the popular French expression for being on tenterhooks: brûler à petit feu, to roast over a slow fire.)

During the Second World War, troops found Japanese shelters which had been struck by napalm bombs in which all the occupants were dead without having been burned at all. These soldiers had died, apparently without pain, and with an expression of fright and surprise frozen on to their faces; they had been instantaneously and massively poisoned by carbon monoxide. The only way to escape the asphyxiating effects of napalm is to flee into the open air – where the direct destruction by burning from flaming splashes is greatest. In a strike zone it is almost impossible to escape the effects of napalm by taking shelter, for one cannot hold one’s breath for the time it takes napalm to burn off. The carbon monoxide poisoning itself paralyses the will and robs the victim of the ability to move.

From the above it can be seen that a napalm bombardment has two principal effects: fire and asphyxiation. When napalm strikes human beings the resulting burns are distinguishable from ordinary {193} burns by the fact that they are covered with a viscous black magma resembling tar. The depth of the burn is always considerable. The extensive fires caused by the combustion of flammable structures in contact with napalm prolong the effect of the primary burning.

The asphyxiating effect of napalm is due to the incomplete combustion of the compound, which produces carbon monoxide. This phenomenon has been reported in areas ravaged by the fire storms caused by bombardment of cities with conventional bombs during the Second World War. The lethality of carbon monoxide is well known and it was tried by the Nazis as a destructive gas for the mass execution of civilians. The source of this gas was the exhaust of diesel motors which was either directed into an enclosure built on to a truck or into a gas chamber. The method was too primitive and was abandoned in favour of cyanide derivatives.

We now turn to the poison-and-burn pathology of napalm. Carbon monoxide poisoning is most effective. Carbon monoxide dissolves rapidly into blood plasmas. Combined with haemoglobin, it imparts to the red corpuscles a very stable combination of carboxy-haemoglobin, which is more stable than the combination with oxygen. The combining with haemoglobin is powerful and rapid, occurring within a few hundredths of a second. It is 250 times more rapid and powerful than the reaction with oxygen. The elimination of carbon monoxide, on the other hand, is much more slow and difficult. Once combined with haemoglobin, carbon monoxide suppresses the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood pigment, thereby inhibiting the function of haemoglobin in supplying oxygen to the tissues. Carbon monoxide also seems to have an effect on the iron-containing cells and combines readily with the respiratory enzymes, bringing about direct disturbances of cellular respiration in addition to those caused by the lack of oxygen.

The chemical effects of carbon monoxide depend on its concentration in the surrounding air. With as little as one per cent, it is toxic. With higher concentrations, ideation is disturbed and there are hallucinations. Concurrently there occur motor disturbances and paralysis which prevent walking and all desire to escape. Beginning with a saturation of fifteen to forty per cent of {194} the haemoglobin, encephalic disturbances, cardio-respiratory failure and fatal coma appear. Survivors of poisoning who have received emergency treatment exhibit permanent neurological after-effects which range from mild to very severe. Prognosis for coma depends in large part on the therapeutic facilities. The immediate use of oxygen therapy is called for since the symptoms are reversible with a forced intake of oxygen. Modern resuscitation equipment is imperative. One can imagine the unavailability of such equipment in a target area in Vietnam.

The second and most evident effect of napalm is the burn. The explosion of a 200-litre napalm incendiary bomb precipitates massive destruction by flames in a circle about 240 feet in diameter. In that zone the heat is from 1,800-3,600°F and the carbon monoxide release is massive; within this zone, there will be no survivors. Outside this zone unsheltered individuals will suffer burns from flaming splashes of napalm of a gravity in proportion to the amount of cutaneous surface affected. Parts not protected by clothing – face, hands, often the upper and lower members will be burned. The fire affects the clothing also, which can contribute to localized burning, rendering the effect worse.

After bombardment of a group of people by napalm, the wounded – in need of immediate treatment if they are to survive – will be found around the periphery of the strike zone. The possibility of treatment is a function of the gravity of the burn. Besides the extent and depth of burning, age is a determining factor since the effects are more severe on children and the old. Also, burns on the face and neck are more serious for a child than for an adult. Gravity is expressed in terms of percentage of the body surface affected. Any adult burned on more than ten per cent of the body, or any child burned on more than eight per cent, is considered critically burned.

Doctors also distinguish between superficial burns – first and second degree burns where the thermal lesion involves only the epidermis – and third degree burns, where the destruction of all skin, epidermis and dermis, renders any spontaneous healing impossible. Burning which goes as deep as the tissues (third degree) develops scabs which, when they fall off, leave an open wound susceptible to infection. A third-degree burn will never heal aseptically. Because of napalm’s adhesive quality, the burns it {195} causes are almost always of the third degree. It is estimated that a napalm burn affecting as little as five per cent of the body surface is grave.

A serious burn progresses through successive stages: first of shock and poisoning; second of infection; and third of healing. Any grave burn becomes a generalized illness due to the loss of body fluid and the breakdown of the body’s mechanism for fluid balance. Immediately after burning there is shock due to pain and fear. Towards the sixth hour and for three or four days thereafter, true physiological shock due to the leakage of liquid plasma from the burned areas sets m. The amount of this fluid loss is proportional to the amount of burned surface. Some loss occurs at the exterior but mostly in the subcutaneous tissues, causing oedema which is sometimes considerable. The direct consequence of the plasma leakage is a haemoconcentration from diminution of the blood mass. The diminution of the blood mass leads to a circulatory slowing and often to cardiovascular collapse, which in turn compromise the oxygenation of the tissues and cause multiple metabolic disturbances.

Beginning with the third and fourth days, a reverse phenomenon of reabsorption of the exuded liquids takes place. The tissues and red corpuscles release their liquids into the circulatory system bringing about a haemodilution causing anaemia and hypertension with crises of cerebral and pulmonary oedema. Also around the third day, the consequences of liver and kidney damage appear. This is an anoxia of the tissues due to the build-up of toxic products coming from the reabsorption into the blood stream of the destroyed tissues. Later, nutritional disturbances appear which are a result of the nitrogen loss following nitrogen destruction. Thus within ten days such a burned person loses about eleven pounds from fluid loss alone.

In addition every profound burn is a wound that is susceptible to infection. This is especially true since the initial inadequacy of general resistance facilitates the multiplication of microbes. Once established, this infection further inhibits nutrition and blocks healing. Thus a vicious, often irreversible circle is created which is responsible for more than fifty per cent of the secondary deaths from burns. Such deaths can often appear months after the trauma.

Finally, the healing process develops with elimination of the {196} necrotic tissues. A second-degree burn heals in a few weeks. By contrast, in a deep burn, the epidermatization [growth of new skin] can only start from the periphery of the wound, if one has been unable to make a graft, to build a fragile scar tissue. This tendency to heal from the periphery causes granular, sclerotic tissue to form on the wound, further inhibiting healing.

In napalm burns, a final element is of great importance; this is the gravity of facial burning. Eye burns can lead to loss of one or both eyes. Nasal and ear passages involved develop extended suppuration and necrosis which abscess with unbearable pain to the patient. The face becomes hideous with psychological trauma of formidable proportions. There are other lingering damages: lesions of the bone, which do not show up on X-rays, and appearance of cysts of certain joints and bones of the hand – for instance, the metacarpus – which persist for many years after the initial burning.

The treatment of the burned is directed at those symptoms we have just enumerated. It is simple and generic, but requires that treatment be undertaken immediately, that it should be prolonged and attentive and that it should be given by a very advanced medical organization. At the bombardment site, extreme care must be taken not to increase the risk of infection. The patient should be wrapped in a sheet and given pain-killing injections, and antibiotic injections and anti-tetanus serum to combat infection. If possible, an infusion of glucose or saline solution should be given and the victim evacuated immediately to a medical facility of the ‘general hospital’ level. Every burn victim should be treated as an incipient shock case and should receive emergency treatment without delay. This is of extreme urgency; if shock is not prevented it will establish itself and become irreversible. If so treated, the burned person will pass the crisis in from six to ten days. It can be seen that in countries with good medical organization it is possible to reduce the mortality from severe burning. In underdeveloped areas, or during great cataclysms such as war, this is another matter.

In medical summation, then, treatment consists of compensation for liquid loss by blood transfusion, plasma, substitutes, saline solutions (especially at the time of haemodilution), prevention of infection by antibiotics, oxygenation under pressure {197} and high-calorie intake. After these emergency treatments follow long-term care, dressing, antiseptic cleaning of the wounds, excision of necrotic tissue and, if possible, grafting. Grafting requires good general health, clean wounds and the availability of skin from unburned parts of the body. The present state of medical science does not allow us to take grafts from any donor other than the recipient himself. It is evident that the treatment of a burn victim is difficult, even with specialized personnel and the most modern equipment. Even with this, the suffering of the patient is intense and onerous.

It is obvious that under repeated bombardments which destroy structures which might be used for evacuation – when medical personnel are overworked and subject to lethal attacks themselves – these ideal conditions we have described are impossible. There is no resemblance between conditions prevailing when treating accident victims during peacetime and victims of deliberate attacks. The emergency treatment of a mass of burn victims in areas remote from medical centres and without adequate means of evacuation presents insuperable problems. It is therefore inadvisable in such conditions to try to save the worst case, who will, no matter what is done, die within a week. One ought to concentrate efforts upon the less gravely burned with between ten and twenty per cent of the body surface affected and without impairment of the digestive tract.

In Vietnam, a limited number of gravely burned persons can be treated in a general hospital, especially those in Hanoi, but the majority of victims are treated in the village maternity infirmaries and the district hospitals where skin grafting is not possible. Instead of grafting, wounds are left to heal by slow skin extension from the wound periphery.

I do not have definitive statistics, but it seems that only about thirty per cent of those wounded by napalm and not killed outright can be saved. If the victim does survive, the dermatological consequences of napalm burns are especially serious. After the surgery there is a great risk of superinfections. Poor grafting also leaves serious after-effects. Retractile skin and contraction of scars form huge welts which will need further treatment. Keloid and hypertrophic scars will form to limit and inhibit the normal elasticity of the skin, which in turn inhibits the normal movement {198} of the member. These scars are prone to pyodermic and microdermic infections. The new skin is extremely fragile, and scleroatrophied skin will always be susceptible to minor infections that a normal skin would easily combat.

Lastly, concerning the medical effects of napalm recovery, there is the spectre of secondary cancers. Old burn scars show a frequency of skin cancer out of proportion to such appearance in normal skin. This cancer consists of a spino-cellular epithelioma with a negative prognosis because of the rapid invasion by the malignant cells of the related ganglion areas.

Napalm, to conclude, whether it is used strategically on the battlefield or in the bombardment of urban areas or village collectives, is a means of extensive undiscriminating destruction. It affects primarily human beings, livestock, crops and light inflammable structures such as houses. Its use in heavily populated areas will produce immense loss of life from burning and asphyxiation. In survivors, corporal injuries of the greatest gravity with functional sequels which prevent the resumption of normal life are the rule.

Though some of the victims may partially recuperate after long and costly treatment, nothing much can be done for the majority of napalm-burned persons.



The Napalm Bomb

The kinds of napalm bomb and the characteristics of burns Napalm bombs are classified by type as NP1, NP2 (super-napalm and NP3. NP1 was the kind used in the Korean War and the Algerian War. In combustion, it develops a temperature ranging from 900-1,300°C and burns for approximately three to fifteen minutes. There is a variation of the NP1, mixed with thermite, magnesium, sodium and phosphorus, which produces far greater heat to 1,500-2,000°C. This is the NP2, or super-napalm. {199}

Other kinds now in use include what is called the thermite bomb, developing the great heat of 2,500-3,000°C, and the magnesium bomb which reaches 3,500°C. These are all combustion bombs.

Napalm bombs are in extensive use in South Vietnam, as well as North Vietnam, notably in Quang Binh province and Vinh Linh district. The injuries from napalm are not limited to burns. We give here the record of napalm bombs from a medical point of view by Mr Le The, a specialist of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The testimony is based on approximately 150 cases of napalm bomb victims he has examined and treated.

The first damaging effect of a napalm bomb is, of course, a burn. Due to its strong power of adhesion to a man’s skin, the napalm never lets him off with a slight burn. Whenever it burns, it causes a medium to serious burn. The doctor says that it has been demonstrated that the heat of a man’s hypodermal tissues continues above normal for five or six minutes after the fire is quenched. Burns from napalm affect not only the skin surface but also the muscles, and the bones, depending on location.

Pain from the burns is terrible. It is horrible to see a victim suffering the acute pain of napalm that may well cause his death. In terms of degree, our Vietnamese colleagues classify these burns into the following:

first degree: outer skin only
second degree: to inner layer of the outer skin
third degree: the inner layer of the inner skin
fourth degree: the deepest hypodermic tissues
fifth degree: the muscles

Napalm burns are so deep that they are never first degree. Second- and third-degree burns represent fifteen per cent. Fourth-degree seventy-five per cent. Fifth-degree ten per cent. In other words, three quarters of all napalm victims are burned through the hypodermic tissues to the muscles.

Two thirds of the victims have burns covering twenty to twenty-five per cent of the whole body surface. All those burned up to 100 per cent of the surface of course die. What is the degree of fatal burns? The Vietnamese doctor gave the following reply. If burns cover fifty per cent of a victim’s outer skin and twenty per {200} cent of this is fourth or fifth degree, through the hypodermic tissues to the muscles, death is almost certain, or at least a year or more is needed for healing. If fourth- or fifth-degree burns extend over five per cent of the victim, he can be saved.

If he lives he will be covered with keloids. Keloid scars not only look hideous, but bring about motor disturbances, depending on cases, one of the frightful characteristics of the napalm bomb.

Poisoning and other injuriesThe second effect of napalm bombs is carbon monoxide poisoning. A great amount of carbon monoxide is produced right after the explosion of a napalm bomb. It makes it hard for people to breathe and they collapse, and get burned to death. Even if lucky enough to escape death, they have serious burns and suffer the drawn-out after-effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. For example, lassitude of the whole body, notably weakness in the legs, dull senses, low temperature, insomnia and other disturbances in the nervous system are common.

These symptoms are developed by twenty to forty per cent of victims under medical treatment, and five per cent of those whose treatment is over still complain of weak memory, being poor at figures and other mental disorders as well as nervous prostration.

The third effect of napalm bombs is a burn in the upper part of the windpipe. A victim takes in a breath of heat fumes which burn his windpipe.

The fourth is shock. There are frequent occasions when victims suffer shock from the intensity and extent of the burns they receive.

One survey by a Vietnamese doctor shows that a burn victim with leakage and exudation of 173 millilitres of blood plasma will lose 1,730 millilitres if the burn extends over ten per cent of his total skin.

Changes arising in the formation of serum protein when affected by a napalm burn are different from other burns, such as from hot water or a heated stone: a napalm burn shows a decline in the total volume of serum protein (3.5-4.9 per cent) and in {201} albumin (34.9-62 per cent). Globulin will show an increase in d1 (6.6-13.5 per cent) and an increase in d2 (5.6-13.4 per cent, a remarkable figure). There will also be an increase in d (17-25 per cent). The A/G ratio, therefore, is on the decline (0.53-1.63 per cent).

The fifth is an effect on the blood and internal organs. Napalm victims on the whole are likely to develop anaemia. One case was of a victim who had a red blood corpuscle count of 4,600,000 and an Hb reading of ninety-nine per cent the day he was affected, but the next day they were reduced to 1,010,000, thirty per cent, and he died. There was another victim who had a count of 4,300,000 red blood corpuscles and a sixty-nine per cent Hb the day he was affected, and he died on the second day. At the same time, the number of white blood corpuscles increases. Along with anaemia, many victims complain of kidney trouble, suffering haematuria and albuminuria beginning right after the moment of injury.

The sixth is a change in the bones. There is a phenomenon of bone-ashes dropping away and burnt bones fusing together or disappearing. X-ray examination reveals that most change is seen close to the bone joints.

This is the outline of the changes that are caused by napalm in the human body. We definitely affirm that the napalm bomb is an extremely brutal weapon in that it not only burns people to death but leaves anyone who survives with after-effects of hideous keloids, general disorders and carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as disturbances in the nervous system.

What is more, it is reported that not only napalm bombs, but also other combustion bombs, such as thermite and magnesium bombs, are being used in North Vietnam. No medical reports are available on these bomb victims, because such intense heat is generated that victims may be burnt to ashes. We observed part of the stomach that was left of a woman who was burned to death by the explosion of what seemed to be a magnesium bomb. {202}

EDGAR LEDERER Report on Chemical Warfare in Vietnam


Report on Chemical Warfare in Vietnam

Combat gases in Vietnam

What is the real effect of gas on those who have had to suffer from it? A well-known case is the death of Corporal Botwell.

The National Guardian of 22 January 1966 reported that in an incident that might revive the world-wide outcry against US gas warfare in the Vietnam war, ‘non-lethal’ gas killed Australian Corporal Robert William Botwell, twenty-four, of Casula, New South Wales, during ‘Operation Crimp’ in Haunghia Province. Botwell was killed by a combination of gas and smoke despite the protection of a gas mask. The Brisbane Courier Mail (13 January) reported that Botwell ‘died of asphyxiation’ when he became trapped in a tunnel into which the Australian forces had thrown ‘tear-gas’ grenades and smoke bombs in an effort to destroy NLF guerrillas.

Two other Australian soldiers were overcome by the gas when they attempted to rescue Botwell and were rushed to a hospital; four Australian engineers were overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning during the same operation. Army dogs brought in to help in the tunnel were also overcome.

Le Monde (14 January 1966) reported operations with Marines (AP, Peter Arnett):

Trung Lap, 13 January 1966. It was a long and bloody kilometre we covered on Wednesday. Gas filtered down from the trees and burned our skin. The wounded writhed in the sun, looking like monsters with their grotesque gas masks. Then came helicopters dropping gas on Liberation Front positions. When the Commander saw the strike coming towards us, the order was ‘gas masks on’…

The Commander called to the medics ‘keep the wounded covered, get them dressed, the gas will burn them’. In any case, the gas was catching bare arms and the exposed neck area, leaving men with the same pain as when burned.

The New York Times of 24 March 1965 commented as follows {203} upon the three types of gas which the United States admit having employed: ‘Even this kind of gas can be fatal to the very young, the very old and those ill with heart and lung ailments.’
The New York Times of 26 March 1965 published a letter to the Editor from David Hilding, MD, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, written on 23 March 1965:

Can anyone imagine any greater bitterness than that of the parents of little children choking away their last few moments of life after being poisoned by ‘humane nauseating’ gas spread by our military leaders?
The weakest, young and old, will be the ones unable to withstand the shock of this supposedly humane weapon. They will writhe in horrible cramps until their babies’ strength is unequal to the stress and they turn blue and black and die. This may be a more humane weapon than shells and napalm, but its legacy of bitterness will be even more lasting.
It seems that Vietnam has been a problem too great for even the finest of our military thinkers to solve, and they have resorted to tactics devoid of any hope for anything but hatred. The same revulsion which many of us felt towards Senator Goldwater’s belligerent attitude has suddenly been earned by the actions of the Administration.
Horrible drugs, such as these that we are turning over to the Vietnamese Air Force to spray from helicopters wherever they decide, probably produce the designed effect in a few persons of the proper weight, height and general condition; but the dosage for others will be wrong. Those of us with experience with these dangerous substances know that lethal consequences result from haphazard administration.
There is absolutely no possibility that everyone sprayed with the poison gas in the civilian villages of Vietnam escaped permanent harm. Even the smog of Los Angeles affects a few of the helpless.

Defoliation and crop destruction

As an article published in Le Monde on 10 November 1965 pointed out, no one can possibly ignore the use made of chemical agents in Vietnam for the purpose of destroying forest, jungle and food crops, a use which has been frequently and vigorously denounced {204} by American scientists. Although confirmation of the aerial dispersal of toxic compounds in Vietnam can hardly be said to have provoked a unanimous outcry in the United States, a considerable number of petitions have been addressed both to President Johnson and to the Administration, in an attempt to put an end to this new form of warfare which ‘of all war crimes, constitutes the most cruel and the most inhuman’.1

Following an article by Charles Mohr, published in the New York Times on 21 December 1965, ‘US Spray Destroys Rice in Vietcong Territory’, twenty-nine scientists from Harvard University, MIT and other Massachusetts institutions signed a declaration urging President Johnson to prohibit the use of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) by the American army and to oppose their use by the South Vietnamese and their allies.2

At roughly the same time, the Rev. Peter J. Riga sent a letter, published on 27 December 1965, to the Editor of the New York Times, stating:

There are certain actions which are so criminal in intent and execution that one simply cannot remain a Christian and not protest with one’s whole soul. The spraying of the rice crops by United States planes is exactly one of these crimes….
… It is an indiscriminate act of total war….
… It is not ‘by accident’ that food is destroyed, with the result that thousands of the innocent must suffer and die…
… Far better a prison where we can live with our Christian consciences than the silence of Christian betrayal.3

R. B. Fosdick also wrote to the Editor of the New York Times on 25 December 1965, saying that the article on CBW was the saddest Christmas story he had ever read, and deeply ironical, since these military operations were being carried out in the name of peace.

Early in 1967 (on 18 February), 5,000 scientists, including {205} seventeen Nobel Prize-winners, sent a letter to President Johnson, asking for a public declaration about the government’s policy with regard to CBW and its control. They draw particular attention to the relatively low cost of this type of warfare, consequently accessible to the nations which do not possess nuclear arms. They also pointed out that federal expenditure on CBW was now seven times higher than in the late 1950s.4

An article published in Scientific Research reported an acute shortage of defoliants.5 The army alone could make use of four times as much as was available at that moment. President Johnson therefore issued an order to his ‘Office of Emergency Planning’ to ensure that the military orders for 2,4,5,T were fully met. At the same time, he said that he appreciated the petitioners’ concern and was deeply impressed by their prestige and knowledge. Meanwhile, the Pentagon decided to intensify the defoliation of Vietnamese jungles. The military increased the dose of herbicides to be used during that fiscal year to five million gallons (costing $32 million), and announced6 their intention of spending $57,690,000 more for that purpose during the fiscal year beginning 1 July 1967 (for the fiscal year 1966, the bill amounted to $10 million). The following companies: Dow Chemical, Diamond Alkali, Uniroyal Chemical, Thompson Chemical, Hercules, Monsanto, Ahsul and Thompson Hayward, agreed to provide the required defoliants.

This intensification of crop-destroying by CBW is to take place during the year in which the ‘civilized’ nations have decided to launch the ‘Freedom from Hunger Campaign’. A great many authorities concerned by this campaign have pointed out the far-reaching and inevitable effects of defoliation.

The purpose of this report is to summarize the articles already published on CBW, adding more recent information when necessary.{206}

The following are the recognized aims of defoliation

1. Guarantee the safety of the zones in the vicinity of roads, and prevent Viet Cong movements from central to South Vietnam;
2. Prevent the Viet Cong from using foliage as cover;
3. Reduce the Viet Cong (guerrillas and friendly civilians) to starvation – what is termed the ‘food denial programme’.

Defoliation carried out by the American army is therefore openly recognized by the government,7 and certain officers, for example Brigadier-General J. H. Rothschild, go so far as to recommend it.8

The results of this defoliation programme aroused such animosity that Truong Dihn Dzu, the civilian candidate for the South Vietnam presidency, who gathered the most votes, thought of including in his electoral programme a promise that he would intercede in favour of the interruption of American defoliation missions.

Organization of research aiming at the intensification of CBW

In 1964, the author of Tomorrow’s Weapons stated8 that a number of the chemical agents available at that period required too much time to produce results, and were unsatisfactory from a tactical standpoint. Moreover, certain agents proved ill-adapted for use in tropical regions. Brigadier-General Rothschild went on to say that an energetic research programme could provide anti-guerrilla forces with a number of defoliants which would be effective, regardless of climate conditions. The government, with this aim in view, proposed subjects for research (classified research) which many American and foreign laboratories under contract to the government found themselves compelled to accept. As the results achieved are not made public, it is difficult to discover what exactly these research programmes consisted of. American scientific circles only became aware of the existence of {207} these programmes when the suspicion of several people was sufficiently aroused to lead them to ask a few indiscreet questions.9 When it was no longer possible to harbour any doubts about what these programmes were aiming at, conflicts broke out between university administrations and certain perspicacious members of various faculties. Early in September 1966, the President of Pennsylvania University, G. P. Harnwell, announced that an advisory committee would be set up to help the university steer clear of future contracts (for which a grant of a million dollars a year is provided) in which there would be a ban on publishing research results. Twenty-four hours later, Professors G. Kolko (History), R. Rutman (Chemistry), E. S. Herman (Finance) and A. S. Milvan (Medicine) announced that the following principle had to be discussed: should universities be involved in research, whether classified or not, concerned with the development of CBW.

Several other universities raised the same problem. Cornell University (Ithaca), a sub-contractor to Pennsylvania University for the ‘Summit’ (contract with the Army) and ‘Spicerack’ (contract with the air force) projects, carried out under the control of the Institute for Cooperative Research, found themselves faced with the decision of whether or not to publish the results. While both Professor Kolko and President 0. P. Harnwell himself hold that the results may be published, Dr Knut Krieger, in charge of those projects, begs to differ: ‘My findings are not of general interest, they are highly specialized. And, in the second place, I don’t think it’s the kind of work that ought to be published. It’s a matter of national security.’ It should be added that Dr Krieger receives information directly from Vietnam, and can therefore test the efficiency of new defoliants very quickly.

As the CBW programme had acquired a bad name for Pennsylvania University, and been the occasion of dissension between the various faculties, students and the Administration, the latter attempted to have the laboratories working under government control transferred to another Philadelphia research centre, where there would be sufficient room to house them (University City Science Center). The trouble was that the Quaker members of this {208} group of colleges refused to have anything to do with the CBW programme.

The decision to encourage research on CBW was taken in late 195010 and research under contract has been going on now for about twelve years. In addition to determining the most efficient manner of carrying out CBW on subsistence crops, including rice, these programmes study the repercussions of CBW on the economy of developing countries, and on the political and social climate in Asia. A large-scale CBW research centre has been built for this purpose at Fort Detrick providing, as the reporters said, excellent working conditions for research into herbicides and defoliants. This research centre, situated in Utah, and occupying a surface greater than that of Rhode Island, employs more than 900 scientists. In the United States, the budget for CBW rose from $36.3 million in 1959 to $170 million in 1964 (Le Monde, March 1967).

In addition to specialized American research groups, foreign laboratories are also actively involved in CBW, probably on behalf of the Department of Defense. An article in Le Monde, published on 27 April 1966, reported a resolution adopted by the Japanese Council of Sciences calling upon all the Academies of Sciences throughout the world to oppose the use of Japanese defoliants in Vietnam. Dr Funazaki energetically denounced the collusion existing between the Japanese and American governments.

At the present moment, there is good reason to believe that the herbicides used in Vietnam are rapidly effective in all seasons, even if the results obtained are not quite as spectacular as those hoped for. The doses of defoliant spray for an acre are much stronger than that recommended by the herbicide manufacturers.11 The most recent information provided by the Pentagon reveals that, in 1966, more than 500,000 acres of jungle and bush land and more than 150,000 acres of harvest were ‘treated with herbicides’ (New York Times, 25 July 1966). The Pentagon considers, however, that this represents only a negligible fraction of Vietnam’s arable land, and that the scope of the programme should be tripled.12 {209}

The type of agents used

Chemical agents are frequently used to keep fields clear of weeds, provoke the fall of cotton leaves, rendering a harvest by mechanical means possible, or again, to destroy old or contaminated crops.

At the beginning of the century, the only agents known were Bordeaux mixture and sulphuric acid. But when the problem of the selective destruction of the broad-leaved plants (dicotyledons), which grow among cereals, arose, it became necessary to use dinitrophenols.

During the Second World War, the United States and Great Britain set out to discover agents which would destroy the Japanese rice-plantations and thus reduce the population to starvation, but the A-bomb put an end to the research on chemical agents just when the laboratories had succeeded in producing substances with very high biological efficacy. A large budget was granted for the first synthesis in the USA of 2,4D (2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid). MCPA (2 methyl, 4 chlorophenoxyacetic acid) was prepared in England under similar conditions.

The number of herbicides then increased with great rapidity. Herbicides are of mineral or organic origin. The mineral substances penetrate the plant, mainly during the period of active vegetation (this is probably one of the reasons which led Brigadier-General Rothschild to believe that herbicides cease to be effective during the dry season). Organic herbicides of the 2.4D, MCPA, or 2,4,5T (2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacetic acid) type, have taken the place of the aforementioned without, however, eliminating them. Research carried out both in the United States and in Great Britain has made it possible to provide synthetic substances with the properties of naturally occurring hormones13 found in plants – the auxins – the most important of which is IAA (indol 3 acetic acid). Auxins which normally exist in plants at minute concentration promote cell division and elongation, and partly control cell differentiation. An infinitesimal dose of auxins prevents leaf fall. But synthetic substances which imitate the effect of auxins become harmful because they are employed at higher concentrations. {210}

They then produce leaf fall. To give an example, at the concentration 10-8 to 10-6 M, the 2,4D stimulates the cell-division of vegetable tissue cultures. At the concentration 10-4 M, it becomes highly toxic. Herbicides are generally used in a solution at 0.1 per cent, and 2,000 litres are required per acre.

Certain herbicides are absorbed by the roots; for example, carbamates, triazines and substituted ureas. Others only become effective after absorption by the foliage and translation with the assimilated stream. In this case, spraying may take place after dissolving the herbicide in water, gas or mineral oil, with or without a detergent agent. Spraying can also be carried out without previously diluting the volatile esters. The defoliants absorbed by the leaves do not result in the total intoxication of the plant, since they are not translocated. Growth may continue, if the recommended dosage is respected. The plant suffers, since defoliation prevents it from achieving the synthesis of its reserve substances. The aerial structures are destroyed, but the rhizome plants begin to grow again after a variable length of time. The most commonly used are the dipyridyl compounds (diquat and paraquat provoke the defoliation of lucerne before the grain harvest, and endothol, the defoliation of cotton before mechanical picking). Other substances such as the natural hormone, whose circulation eliminates the effect of auxins, provoke leaf fall (abscission). The production of abscisin (or dormin) is also antagonistic to the action of the hormones which stimulate flowering in plants. Certain synthetic abscisins are being tested at the present moment.

At the period when the American army began to spray herbicides over Vietnam in accordance with the Stayley-Taylor plan, i.e. in 1961, a long list of effective agents had already been established, as we can gather from the one to be found at the end of this paper.14 Considering the well-known activity and efficiency of American laboratories, there can be no doubt that the present list of herbicides is rapidly becoming longer and longer.15 Although the authors will restrict the possibility of their being widely used, it is unlikely that the Joint Chiefs of Staff would refuse on this {211} ground to try out any one of the agents considered more ‘completely successful’ than those employed until now. A considerable number of new agents are being tested daily in control laboratories. Not all of them; basamid, herban, benzomarc, methoxymarc, cotoran, carbetamide, casoron, amethyne, norfamquat, tordon (4 amino, 3,5,6 trichloropicolinic acid, which is ten times more effective than 2,4D) are put on the agricultural market, but certain have already been tested in Vietnam.

What becomes of herbicides when they are sprayed on plants

Certain herbicides applied in a given molecular form become active in another chemical form. Others are absorbed, translocated and accumulated in the same molecular form.16 Most of these substances are translocated,17 and rapidly metabolized, and this process transforms a relatively harmless molecule into a herbicidally active molecule. Certain herbicides accumulate in the leaves and inhibit photosynthesis. The plant dies of starvation, since it is no longer able to fix carbonic anhydride.18 Some compounds move with the stream provoked by photosynthesis and assimilation; they therefore become widely distributed throughout the plant and generally accumulate in young expanding tissues. In that case their toxicity could be caused by the synthesis of another volatile hormone, ethylene, which provokes a considerable increase in respiration.19

Effectiveness and tonnage of the agents sprayed

Herbicides do not always produce immediate results. In some cases, the characteristic distortions are only visible the following year.20 The arsenites, arsenates, dinitrophenol, dinitrocresol and all the other chemical agents which are translocated, cause leaf fall because they kill the plants.21 {212}

The presence of active agents has been found to continue to exist in soil where plants have been treated. If the variety of crops grown is changed, the new variety may well have a more violent reaction to the agents, and this sometimes results in considerable damage.22

In spite of the tons of herbicides sprayed over Vietnam by squadrons of B-52s or C-123s, defoliation of the jungle continues to be a problem. Certain plants are affected by the defoliants, but others resist. Although it would appear that the military have not achieved their acknowledged aim, the haphazard spraying of toxic substances which are not entirely destroyed by micro-organisms undoubtedly contributes largely to the destruction of subsistence crops, even if this is not the primary aim of defoliation missions. Toxic agents, carried by running water, poison crops situated at a certain distance from where the spraying actually takes place. The wind scatters volatile defoliants and makes them effective at more than six miles from the point of spraying. From January to September 1966, the 12th Air Command Squadron defoliated 1,000 square miles (UPI, Newhaven Register, 18 December 1966). Early in 1967, the 309th Air Command Squadron carried out operations in the demilitarized zone of the 17th parallel, and on the borders of Laos and Cambodia. Each plane carried roughly 1,000 gallons of herbicide, spraying approximately three gallons per acre. The spraying took place very early in the morning (National Observer, 28 February 1966). The target was sprayed for about five minutes. If it proved necessary, the 1,000 gallons stored in the tanks could be sprayed in thirty seconds. According to the New York Times of 10 September 1966, there were in:

1961: sixty defoliation missions (rice, sugar-cane and vegetables were included in the spraying);
1962: 107 missions to defoliate canals and rice plantations in the Mekong Delta and in the Central Highlands;
1966: 1,324,430 gallons of herbicide were sprayed on half a million acres.
1967: it is recommended that missions should be carried out by eighteen planes; the targets are chosen by American and Vietnamese officers. {213}
From Vietnamese sources 320,000 acres of crops are said to have been destroyed in 1953, 500,000 acres in 1964 and 700,000 in 1965.

Sometimes F-100 planes drop down until they are just above the trees (at a height of 150 feet). Their speed is then 110 miles per hour. The tail of the plane releases a fine blue mist which has a strange smell reminding one of hospitals (ether). This spraying seems too slight to cause serious harm to the vegetation, but if one flies over the treated region a week after the spraying, one can observe the first changes, and the first signs of an autumn artificially produced.

Three months later, there is nothing left of the country but a dried up stretch of land, which is to all intents and purposes lost. Each plane only requires four minutes to destroy 300 acres of forest.

The herbicides are contained in barrels painted dark red, and the planes which carry them are nicknamed ‘Purple Hearts’. Each member of the crew who has been shot at from the ground is decorated with the order of the ‘Purple People Eater’ – a medal which is worn with great pride.

A series of reports of USOM Agriculture23 and of the South Vietnamese Administration concerning the defoliation situation in the Bien Hoa area has shown that, when the damage done to the farmers is officially estimated, compensation has to be paid. It is, however, difficult to appreciate the damage in a serious way because the farmers are afraid to sow and because they harvest before maturation for fear of indiscriminate sprayings. The compensation procedure is long and complicated and often, especially for rapidly growing crops, estimates are quite impossible.

Defoliation of the hevea plantations

After repeated requests from planters, worried because they had noticed that the appearance of hevea foliage had been abnormal for some time, a survey was carried out in order to define the scale and the initial causes of this phenomenon. It is possible to draw the following conclusions.

The occurrence of foliage poisoning is exceptionally serious, {214} affecting a rectangular band running north-west to south-east of more than 130 by 40 kilometres and involving more than 25,000 hectares of heveas. The latex plants (heveas, jacquiers, kainitiers and papayas) are the most seriously affected, as they react more violently to the defoliant than forest species. The toxic activity of the substances could be manifest on every tree, although it does not appear in a spectacular manner on all leaves. This could explain the considerable drop in production observed during 1965-6 which cannot be accounted for by mere defoliation.

For a while it was thought that the problem was an especially heavy attack of the oidium on the hevea. Yet this disease is seen in general on adult or ageing trees; and the symptoms described by the Vietnamese concerned not only the latter but above all the young trees, one or two years old, which are often completely defoliated. If it were a question of cryptogamic disease, the symptoms described would not be noticeable; the petiole would stay on the terminal stem and, moreover, new leaves would appear after two or three weeks…

At the present moment, it is necessary to leave the defoliated trees alone until they recover. However, the renewed application of defoliants will in all likelihood threaten the very existence of hevea culture in Vietnam.

After spraying, harmful substances are taken by the wind and contaminate plantings far away from the originally sprayed zone (ten kilometres in some cases). This is, probably, the result of pulverization of a mixture of paraquat, in a concentration five times higher than that recommended for the destruction of weeds, and of 2,4D plus 2,4,5T. In this case, defoliation is almost complete. The defoliant is translocated rapidly bringing on latex coagulation on a belt 4.5 to fifteen feet high, always on the prevailing winds. Latex trees are hit the hardest when the defoliation is diffuse, whereas bamboos, coffee and tea plants are hit later.

The defoliation of hevea plantings creates economic and social problems. For the period from April to June 1967, the latex production decreased by about thirty per cent, and the drop of rubber production affects a population of around 100,000 people (including workers and families). Even if the planters continued to pay half salary and half rice to the personnel, it would be necessary {215} to exact compensation for the loss in earnings that the workers had suffered.

The equilibrium of the human environment destroyed

Our attention has frequently been drawn to the fact that woodland has a regulating influence on the pedological and hydrographical equilibrium of human environment, and Dr M. Sakka states that ‘in a given region one cannot modify without danger one element of nature without serious consequences for the other elements which live there.’24

Professor G. Lhoste25 gave several examples of the modification of flora. When herbicides are employed to clear rivers, the immediate results are positive, but, generally, the following year, another type of flora appears, and eventually completely blocks the river.

Crop destruction: nutritional and social aspects. Repercussions of a state of famine

In a series of articles which have appeared recently26 Dr Jean Mayer, Professor of Nutrition at Harvard University, and Dr Victor W. Sidel, chief of the preventive medicine unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, point out that the destruction of crops began in the spring of 1966 (spraying of 2,4,D and 2,4,5T). The spraying operations were carried out from C- 123 transport planes ironically called ‘Providers’. The soldiers discovered that rice is one of the most maddeningly difficult substances to destroy; using thermite metal grenades it is almost impossible to make it burn and, even if one succeeds in scattering the rice, this does not stop it being harvested by patient men. And so it is easier to use herbicides since defoliation before the rice is ripe means a 60-90 per cent loss of the harvest (New York Times, {216} 21 December 1965). And yet it would appear that even these substances are not the ideal solution, for recently they have started drowning the rice harvest in the rivers. New methods are being employed to bring about the rapid destruction of subsistence crops. The spraying of toxic substances now consists in dropping barrels of herbicides which empty themselves into the water of the rice paddies (this was first observed in the province of Vinh Long in December 1966). This type of attack is quite different from the spraying of forests. The air force also drops something in the form of a coloured bladder on subsistence crops. On reaching the ground, this bursts and releases the herbicides (Can Tho province, December 1966).

Without debating the moral issues of using chemical products in time of war, it seems obvious that the present situation in Vietnam caused by the destruction of crops and food supplies poses a very real human problem. The aim is to starve the Viet Cong by destroying the fields which provide food for the guerrillas. As a nutritionist who has studied the effects of famine on three continents, Professor Jean Mayer states flatly that there has never been a famine which has not first and foremost affected small children and old people. Pregnant women abort and lactating mothers can no longer feed their babies. children under five years are the most vulnerable and in Vietnam are always on the verge of kwashiorkor (a protein deficiency syndrome) or marasmus (a combination of deficiency of calories and of protein). Another result of famine is that people leave home and go in search of food elsewhere. Families are split up, children are lost and in all probability die. Adolescents fall ill with tuberculosis but none the less go on to form marauding bands, which only add to the general state of disruption. It is difficult to eradicate a habit of banditry. Adults have been more resistant to famine, although its effects on them can also be very spectacular. The first noticeable effect is the wasting away of adipose tissues, then internal organs are affected: the size of the liver diminishes, the intestinal lining becomes thin and ineffective, food is absorbed with ever-increasing difficulty and diarrhoea results. Starvation is a self-accelerating process (especially in children). In extreme cases diarrhoea does not respond to medical treatment, cardiovascular collapse occurs and infections set in. {217}

Plague and malaria are endemic in south-east Asia but these diseases seem to have been on the increase recently. Moreover, a new form of malaria which does not respond readily to traditional drugs has appeared. cholera and smallpox have always followed in the wake of Asian famines, as have influenza and relapsing fever.

In time of famine the fighting forces consider that they have a perfect right to seize whatever food remains in order to continue the struggle. The destruction of foodstuffs has never hampered military operations but it does victimize great numbers of children.27 And Professor Mayer is extremely alarmed at what must be a steadily developing famine in Vietnam since the efforts towards crop destruction are being increased.

Toxicity of herbicides for man, livestock, game, fish, insects and micro-organisms

According to the State Department (9 March 1965) the herbicides are not toxic, especially since the ‘innocent’ populations are warned before spraying takes place. They are advised to leave the district encouraged by promises of food in plenty if they agree to regroup themselves in refugee villages (New York Times, 21 December 1965). Without querying the very definition of the term, one cannot but wonder how innocent persons can be effectively warned before the spraying of herbicides in regions where there are neither telephones, newspapers, radio nor television, and, even if such warning were possible, one wonders where these peasants, whose only means of subsistence has been this one piece of land, could possibly go?28

Moreover, the chemical substances poured over Vietnam are far from being harmless.29 A glance at the instructions for the use of weed-killers sold by the Dow chemical Company is enough to convince one. The suppliers warn potential users of Esteron 245 GS (2,4,5T):

… even small quantities of 2,4,5T can cause serious damage to plants which are to be preserved, both in dormant periods and periods of growth. {218}
… in hot water the product volatilises and can contaminate neighbouring plants.
… care must be taken not to contaminate drinking water or irrigation ditches.
… keep out of the reach of children; the agent can cause skin or eye irritation.

The speciality sold under the name of Formula 40 (2,4D) has such a high toxicity that one is advised not to go on wearing shoes contaminated by the product.

When it is known that cacodylic acid (dimethylarsenic acid) has fifty-four per cent arsenic in it and when one reads in the New York Times (10 September 1966) that this product is being used on elephant grass and rice it becomes evident that there may be serious risks of toxicity. In 1953 the Stationery Office published for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries a recapitulative table showing the residues of herbicides present in plants.30 The concentration of 2,4D can be considerable in cereal straw, especially in maize and sorgho,31 and when this fodder is given to cattle there is a risk of 2,4D being secreted in the milk.

Numerous experiments have been carried out on laboratory animals to determine the toxicity of herbicides. Thus32 the LD5O (dose necessary to kill fifty per cent of the experimental batch) of 2,4D is:

375 mg./kg. for mice,
666 mg./kg. for rats,
800 mg./kg. for rabbits,
1000 mg./kg. for guinea pigs,
100 mg./kg. for dogs.

The doses then vary with the species and also with the herbicides. Professor R. Truhaut33 stresses the mitotic poison characteristic of maleic hydrazide (dihydro 1,2 pyridazinedione 3,6) with the risk of chromosomic aberrations. ATA (3 amino, 12,2,4 triazole) {219} is a thyroid inhibitor;34 it is secreted slowly from the organism where it persists as long as two days after ingestion.35 Dipyridil compounds are easily absorbed by soils to maximum CAF (capacity absorption force).

Micro-organisms apparently destroy diquat and paraquat completely. It would appear that not the slightest accumulation of these products has ever been discovered in any alimentary canal.36 However, the toxicity of paraquat has been well described.37 For the laboratory rat the dose of paraquat is lethal at a level of 0.25 per cent in the diet. At necropsy, pulmonary lesions are found to exist with cellular proliferation. Such a proliferative process has been observed after an administration of carcinogenic hydrocarbons.38 Similarly in human poisoning by the accidental ingestion of paraquat (the lethal dose is probably some several mg. per kilo), one can observe all the symptoms of the condition of ‘fibrosing pneumonitis’ described in dogs.39

The effects of paraquat after daily application to the skin of the rabbit are the secretion of a brownish saliva, and loss of appetite followed by death in a state of cachexia with pulmonary lesions. Applied to the skin paraquat forms a reservoir for oral contamination of the animal through grooming, hence the symptoms observed, since a dose of 286 ppm. (parts per million) of the substance makes drinking water poisonous.

There have been many known cases of poisoning from herbicides (suicides or accidents). The following table shows that synthetic hormones are extremely poisonous.40 The symptoms described are an acute and extremely rapid ataxia, neuromuscular irritations, convulsions and renal and hepatic damage. No

Substance Approx. dose mg. /kg. Age Sex Approx. time between ingestion and death (hrs.)
Ethyl,1,2,4D 500 49 F 54
MCPA 400 32 M 20
(verdone) 250 65 M 20
2,4D(herbatox) 80 23 M found dead

{220} antidote exists. Hydrocortisone can have a comparatively beneficial effect. The carcinogenic properties of maleic hydrazide have been described many times. Quite recently41 a series of experiments on mice has clearly shown that this herbicide provokes a high incidence of hepatomas as well as various other tumours. A simple calculation of the amount of herbicide ingested per annum from potatoes suggests that ‘normal’ human ingestion of maleic hydrazide is quite comparable to that which is carcinogenic for mice.

The Swiss National Committee for Aid to Vietnam asked four doctors to collect documents about CBW. They state that the effects of certain weapons in authorized use are the irremediable destruction of plants and the poisoning of animals. If man is exposed to these substances he runs the risk of pulmonary oedema and digestive disturbances. Chemical substances used in agriculture which, unlike medicines and products for veterinary use, are not subject to a strict sanitary control, sometimes possess an acute toxicity. Further proof of this has been provided after the accident in France which cost several technicians their lives (from inhaling hexafluorodichlorobutene because they had been wearing inadequate masks). The autopsy revealed pulmonary lesions similar to those described previously (Le Monde, 19 September 1967).

Faced with such a picture, it is not surprising that the Commission on War Crimes has issued a list of damage suffered in 1965 in South Vietnam by the local populations and their livestock after the spraying of chemical products.42 And the Vietnamese {221} newspaper Sang Kum must be congratulated for having thought of publishing (August 1967) a set of rules to be observed in case of contamination by the defoliants. Doctors Tran Ky and Keo Sang Kim recommend urgent treatment in such cases.

Herbicides are not only dangerous to man and his surroundings but also to livestock (Le Monde, 23 April 1966, reports that 50-60 per cent of bovines are affected), sheep,43 game, fish, insects and micro-organisms.

Dr R. Verheyen44 points out that certain birds abandon their eggs if contaminated by phytohormones. The hatching rate is, incidentally, considerably reduced since herbicides are poisonous to the embryo in infinitesimal doses (5-7.5 mg. per hen’s egg). Paraquat would appear to be the most dangerous of all the herbicides tested45 since it causes the death of the embryo when injected into the egg at concentration lower than 0.15 ppm.

The effects of herbicides on fish cannot be deduced from their effects on animals. Monuron, for example, is mildly toxic for rats LD5O=3,500); whereas it is dangerous for fish in dilutions weaker than 1.2 ppm.46 After being exposed for thirty days to the effects of dipyridyle compounds or of sodium arsenite the herbicide residues to be found in freshwater fish are as follows:

Species Herbicide Locality Amount in water ppm. Amount of residue in animal, ppm.
Rainbow trout Paraquat Denver (Col.) 1 0.11
Green sunfish 1 0.05
Bluegill 1 1.21
Channel catfish 1 0.37
Bluegill Na arsenic La Crosse (Wis.) 0.23 0.40
Bluegill Diquat 1 0.09

The effects of 2,4D on fish are the following: hepatic glycogen is no longer to be found. Brain vessels are congested. Embolisms occur, and lesions in the liver and testicles are noted. In four {222} days casoron causes intense vascular disturbances around the gills; and fusion of the lamellae occurs.47

The toxicity of herbicides for daphnia, small freshwater crustacea on which fish feed, is higher than one would think, according to experiments on laboratory specimens.48

All insects are affected by herbicides.49 Fortunately, bees have a strong repulsion for these substances and usually stop gathering honey from flowers in fields which have been treated. Their ‘pastures’ are thus reduced.50 Direct contact kills them more or less rapidly. The symptoms are not always evident immediately after returning to the hive and sometimes a whole week goes by before death occurs.51 During the 1950 summer season in Denmark and Sweden the poisoning by herbicides of an important bee population was noted after dandelions and mustard had been treated.52

Normally the destruction of chlorophenoxyacetic derivatives by micro-organisms takes approximately two to fifteen weeks for one application of herbicide although some derivatives persist for more than one year (2,4,5T is more resistant than 2,4D). Phenolic compounds poisonous both to plants and micro-organisms of the soil are to be found as end products of this process. Now, the activity of micro-organisms is of primary importance for the preservation of tropical soils. Moreover, the toxicity of herbicides is much higher in tropical temperatures than in temperate climates; according to Cope53 it is approximately 130 times higher at 29°C than at 7°C. {223}


So, despite the denials of General J. P. O’Connel, Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, in Washington on 3 February last, before the Senate, there can be no doubt that defoliation of the forests, the jungle and the bush is already having dangerous repercussions on the human environment. In fact in Vietnam, it is a question of something much more pernicious than defoliation in the strict sense of the term, since the chemical substances which merely cause the leaves to fall without damaging the rest of the vegetative cycle are still at an experimental stage at the present time. This term, therefore, cannot be applied to operations which consist in pouring tons of herbicides and arboricides over forests and crops. ‘Defoliation’ is but a euphemism for destruction of the vegetation.

Although the Political Committee of the UN has refused to condemn the United States, the use of chemical weapons is liable to provoke, in the very near future, biological effects that are wholly unpredictable.

In the absence of information about the repercussions on civilians (Dean Rusk assures Senator Pell that it is not possible to assess them at the moment), Dr Mayer, Professor at Harvard, recalls the effects of earlier famines: ‘My point is not just that innocent bystanders are hurt by such measures. My point is that only bystanders will be hurt. The primary US aim – to disable the Viet Cong – is not achieved. Our proclaimed secondary aim – to win over the civilian population – is made a hollow mockery.’54

At the present time the Pentagon no longer knows how many times, nor for what reason, the air force has carried out this kind of operation. It denies the danger of escalation in the field of food destruction. And yet what was once unthinkable sometimes becomes policy.55 It can now be feared that bacteriological agents may be directed against the vegetation in Vietnam if such is not already the case.

To quote Professor Mayer once more,56 ‘If crop destruction efforts are successful, they constitute a war measure primarily, if {224} not exclusively, directed at children, the elderly, and pregnant and lactating women. …’ The rice crop destruction programme is a blot on our national honour and should be stopped immediately. Those who destroy forests calm their conscience when they get back to the USA by collecting money in certain parishes in order to buy fruit trees which are then sent to South Vietnamese villages. The results of this ‘Programme of Civic Action’ are, according to the Air Force Public Relations Office, very positive, since fruit trees rapidly became a source of profit to the civilian population and replace the jungle. Commander Dennis (from Yakima, Wash.) expresses satisfaction at the fact that ‘defoliation’ is not an entirely destructive process. ‘I like to feel,’ he said, ‘that someday, we will have made farm land out of what once was jungle..

Even now there are some benefits; in some places they’ve started a charcoal industry using the trees we’ve killed.’

According to Mike McGrady, ‘defoliation is just one small aspect of this dirty war. Whether people are killed directly or simply starved off their farm, whether animals are slaughtered or simply forced to leave their natural habitat – the final results are roughly the same. … We can buy $492 worth of fruit trees, but that’s not even down payment on conscience money. We can hang up signs that say “Remember, only you can prevent forests”, but the joke is a bad one.’57

1. Le Monde, 23 April 1966; Agence France Presse, Hanoi, 22 March 1966.Back
2. Petition printed in Science, 21 January 1966, p.309.Back
3. Protest of Rev. Peter J. Riga, Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, Indiana; New York Times, letter to Editor, 21 December 1965.Back
4. Petition of 5,000 Scientists, United Press International, Washington, 18 February 1967.Back
5. Scientific Research, 2, 39, 1967.Back
6. Washington, 11 July 1967; Le Monde, 12 July 1967; Science, 1967.Back
7. Dixon Donnelly, Assistant Secretary, Department of State, 28 September 1966.Back
8. Brig.-Gen. J. H. Rothschild, Tomorrow’s Weapons (McGraw-Hill, 1964).Back
9. Scientific Research, 1, 11 and 17, 1966; Science, 155, 1967, 174, 177,299.Back
10. Science, 155, 1967, 174.Back
11. W. Pruden, Jr., National Observer, 28 February 1966.Back
12. Science, 155, 1967, 299.Back
13. A. C. Leopold, Plant Growth and Development (McGraw-Hill, 1965).Back
14. P. E. Pilet, Les Phytohormones de Croissance (Masson, 1961).Back
15. D. E. Morland, American Review of Plant Physiology, 1967, 18.Back
16. J. L. Hilton and L. L. Jansen, American Review of Plant Physiology, 14, 353, 1964.Back
17. M. H. M. Goldsmith, Science, 1156,661, 1967.Back
18. E. A. Davis, Weeds, 14, 10,1966.Back
19. S. P. Burg and E. A. Burg, Proc. Nat. Acad. Science, 55, 262, 1966.Back
20. Morland, op. cit.Back
21. Heller, La Défoliation et ses Conséquences, Colloquium, Association Amitié Franco-Vietnamienne, 19 November 1966.Back
22. Morland, op. cit.Back
23. 14 April 1965, 4 May 1965, 15 January 1966.Back
24. M. Sakka, Vietnam, Guerre Chimique et Biologique (Paris, Éditions Sociales, 1967).Back
25. G. Lhoste, 30ème Sem. Sociale Universitaire (Université Libre, Bruxelles, 1963), p.78.Back
26. J. Mayer, Science, 15 April 1966; J. Mayer and V. W. Sidel, The Christian Century, 20 June 1966; J. Mayer, Ramparts, 5-10 and 50, 1967.Back
27. Madeleine Riffaud, Dans les Maquis du Vietcong (Paris, 1965).Back
28. Mayer and Sidel, op. cit.Back
29. R. Truhaut, ‘Journee Inf. Subst. Croiss., Fed. Nle. Group Project’, Culture, Paris, 30 May 1967.Back
30. ‘Toxic Chemicals in Agriculture’ (London, 1953).Back
31. A. Bevenue, G. Zweig and N. L. Nash, Journal American Oils and Chemical Society, 1962, 42, 99.Back
32. V. A. Drill and T. Hirastzka (?), Arch. Industr. Hyg., 1953, 7, 61.Back
33. R. Fabre and R. Truhaut, Toxicité des Produits Phytopharmaceutiques (Paris, 1954).Back
34. T. H. Jukes and C. B. Shaffer, Science, 132, 4322, 1960.Back
35. S. C. Fang, S. Khanna and A. V. Rao, Agr. Food Chem., 14, 262, 1966.Back
36. W. R. Boon, Endeavour, 1967, p.27.Back
37. D. G. Clark, T. F. McElligott and E. W. Hurst, British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1966, 23, 126.Back
38. L. V. Ackerman and J. A. Regato, Cancer, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, 2nd edition (St Louis, 1954).Back
39. C. M. Bullivant, Brit. Med. Journal, 1967, 1,1272; C. Almog and E. Tal, Brit. Med. Journal, 2,721.Back
40. D. I. R. Jones, A. G. Knight and A. J. Smith, Arch. Environ. Health, 1967, 14, 363.Back
41. S. S. Epstein, J. Andrea, H. Jaffee, S. Joshi, H. Falk and N. Mantel, Nature, 1967,215,1388.Back
42. US Imperialists’ Crimes in South Vietnam; incomplete Data About the US Use of Noxious Chemicals and Poison Gas in 1965, Hanoi, 1966.Back
43. J. B. Jackson, Amer. Journal Veterinary Research, 1966, 27 (118) 82.Back
44. La Presse Médicale, Paris, 1957,65, 1352.Back
45. J. F. Dunachie and W. W. Fletcher, Nature, 1967, 215, 1406.Back
46. G. Lhoste, Phytoma, 1959, 11,13.Back
47. O. B. Cope, Journal of Applied Ecology, 196.Back
48. D. G. Crosby and K. R. Tucker, Science, 1966, 154, 289.Back
49. A. Gall and J. R. Dogger, Journal of Economic Entomology, 1967, 60.Back
50. T. Palmer-Jones and I. W. Forster, New Zealand Journal Agri. Res., 1958, 1, 620; T. Palmer-Jones, New Zealand Journal Agri. Res., 1960, 3, 485.Back
51. C. C. King, Gleanings in Bee Culture, 1964, 92,230.Back
52. E. E. Leppik, American Bee Journal, 1951, 91,462.Back
53. O. B. Cope, Proc. 18th Ann. Meeting Southern Weed Conference, 1965, 439.Back
54. Mayer, Science, 15 April 1966.Back
55. Science, 155, 1967, 299.Back
56. Mayer, Science, 15 April 1966.Back
57. M. McGrady, San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, 30 July 1967.Back




It was on 21 March 1966, at about 4 P.M. I was cooking the meal. Then the American planes came. They were jets. I heard explosions. I ran to the shelter. But when I got to the door of the shelter, a napalm bomb exploded close to me. It burned my face, {225} my hands and my legs, and the napalm bomb also burnt my house. I was very hot and I cried out: I cried ‘Help’. Then I fainted. Thirteen days later I woke up again and then I was told that I was in a hospital of the NLF and the doctors told me what had happened. They said that for the first five days I was terribly thirsty. I had been given a lot to drink but I was only able to urinate twice. During these thirteen days I was not conscious, and then I had delirium and I was saying all sorts of things and I moved my arms and legs around.

Thirteen days after the cure, my wounds began to heal and I was getting better, but then keloids appeared. Keloids appeared on my neck, and it felt very painful when I swallowed. There were also keloids on my hands and therefore I couldn’t move my fingers and my hands were crippled. My fingers were bent back. I also had keloids on both legs and every time I walk my wounds become whitish and the scars get hard, and I can’t sit down again. When it is cold my scars harden and become purplish. In the summer, holes appear in the scars and therefore I can’t perspire because of these holes, and there’s pus and every time I try to sleep the scars scratch. I feel as if I wanted to scratch because the scars are itchy. That’s all, Mr President.

PHAM THI YEN Imprisonment and Torture of a Political Prisoner


Imprisonment and Torture of a Political Prisoner

On 18 April 1960 at 8 P.M., right in the streets of Saigon, the US-Diemist security police arrested me because of my patriotic activities. I was taken to the Commando Post Number One, the Ba Hoa Post at Cho Lon. The commandant himself directed the interrogation, which started immediately after my arrest. He asked questions about my activities with the patriots. I did not answer these questions, so they started to torture me. Smelling of alcohol, the ‘commandos’ as the Vietnamese call them, started beating me, {226} shouting with rage. The commandos are a sort of Vietnamese Gestapo.

They tied my two arms behind my back, then pulled me up to the ceiling by strong cords tied to my wrists. They beat me with sticks, stopping only when I fainted. Then they let me down, throwing cold water on my face. Gradually I recovered consciousness. More questions. Silence. Furious, they hung me up again. This was repeated I don’t know how many times. They called this operation: ‘ride in a Dakota’.

My body was covered with wounds and was most painfully swollen. I suffered atrociously the slightest movement and I thought I would faint with pain.

After a moment’s rest, they applied the ‘ride in a submarine’. They undressed me and tied me, face upwards, to a plank. A towel was used to tie my head to the plank; a rubber tube led from a 200-litre barrel, fixed to a stand. The water fell drop by drop on to the towel, soon flooding my face. To breathe, I sucked in water through my nose and mouth. I was suffocating, my stomach started to swell like a balloon. I could no longer breathe and I fainted. When I regained consciousness, I suffered unimaginable pains. I opened my eyes and saw two commandos called Duc and Danh, and nicknamed the ‘Grey Tigers’ because of their bloodcurdling exploits, stamping on my chest and stomach to get the water out of me. I vomited through my mouth and nose, water mixed with blood pouring out. This was repeated several times. I suffered atrociously in my chest and in my stomach; it was as if someone was twisting my entrails.

‘Serve him another dish,’ the commander said to his agents. The latter formed a square and, with myself in the centre, they beat me with sticks. They pushed me from one to another as if I were a ping-pong ball, shouting and hurling insults at me. I was seriously wounded in the head, blood trickled down. They stopped beating me and started to shave my head, to bandage it.

They started to lull me with doubtful promises mixed with threats:
Talk, and you can rejoin your children. If not, you will die and your children will be orphans.
Talk, and you can keep your pharmacy, your possessions. Otherwise we will ruin you. {227} Talk, or we will torture you to death and even if you survive you’ll be useless, without strength to brush a fly away.

Neither their sickening promises nor their threats had any effect. Screaming with rage, they threw me face down on the floor, a huge brute squatting on my back, two others holding my feet with the soles turned upwards. Using police truncheons they beat the soles of my feet with all their strength. My feet and legs swelled up visibly as they struck. I felt as if my skin was going to burst.

Afterwards they hung me by my wrists, this time attached to the iron bars of a window with handcuffs, my arms crossed and at a height at which I could only stand on the tips of my toes. My arms and legs hurt terribly. They started to hammer my arms against the bars. My arms became numb. Seeing this had no effect, they untied me and kicked me on to the floor again. They started to kick me. Blood was running all over the place. I fainted.

Again there were promises, threats and insults. Tired themselves, they called other prisoners and tried to force them to beat me. They all refused, so the prisoners were furiously beaten. In that place there was no room for any human sentiments at all.

Just before dawn they said they would serve me a ‘sensational dish’. They attached me to a kaki tree in the garden near a cage where two tigers were ferociously roaring. In South Vietnam, kaki trees, which produce very sweet fruit, are always covered with yellow ants. If a single ant stings you, you’ll yell with pain. And the spot where you are stung will swell up immediately with the effect of the poison. This tree was just of this species – its branches full of yellow ants. …

The tigers continued roaring, the torturers were shouting with rage. It was a frightful and at the same time terribly sinister experience. But all this also had no effect. My feelings were entirely concentrated on the little ants, their stings were so painful.

The torturers threatened me: ‘If you don’t talk, your children will be tortured in front of your eyes; your parents, your brothers and sisters will be imprisoned. Your family will be destroyed, your pharmacy seized…’

At six o’clock in the morning, after ten hours of torture, they threw me into a cell. I could hardly stand up, I had to lie down on the cold floor… {228}

NGUYEN THI THO Conditions in Diem’s Prisons


Conditions in Diem’s Prisons

In March 1957, I was transferred from Thu Dau Mot prison to that of Gia Dinh and the following month I was sent to Paulo Condore. There were 400 prisoners on our boat, including twenty-four women, of whom two were over sixty, and two babies of one year and six months. The total number of prisoners on the island while I was there ranged from 4,000 to 8,000 including common-law offenders, about 100 women and four children under one year.

At the time I arrived in Paulo Condore, prisoners were gradually being killed off. They were not being killed outright, but the treatment was so terrible, with not enough food or water, not even enough air because of the frightful overcrowding in the cells, and with no medical care at all, prisoners were just dying of exhaustion and disease.

For the first two days after my arrival, I was detained in a fairly large room with enough food and water. On the third day, Captain Nam, deputy head at Paulo Condore, explained the prison regime. He said:

In Paulo Condore, the number killed equals the number of bricks used in building the prison. This island is far from the mainland, far from your friends. There’s nobody here to protect you. Paulo Condore prison applies US policy to gradually kill all those who refuse to denounce Communism, who refuse to respect President Ngo Dinh Diem, who refuse to learn how to denounce Communists and who oppose US presence in South Vietnam. There are thousands of sick, already dying, prisoners here. I advise you not to follow their road.

That evening Captain Nam gave each of us a prepared statement of our willingness to break with Communism and tried to compel us to sign them. We refused and were beaten up and then taken to our cells, four to each cell. These latter were built by the French colonialists to hold one person each in solitary confinement. On three sides are stone-and-concrete walls about eighteen inches thick with a concrete roof. There was a two-and-a{229}half-inch-thick door with a small air hole in it of about an inch in diameter. Above the door was another hole about two feet long and a foot wide, covered with an iron grille, hermetically closed when we arrived. There was another small hole connecting the cell to an outside latrine. The cell itself was about six feet square with a bench five feet long and a little over one foot wide, where one person could lie down. There was no lighting at all and all ventilation was blocked except for the hole leading to the outside latrine. The warders brought in a two-gallon latrine bucket which was emptied once a week.

After fifteen minutes in the cell, it was impossible to breathe. The fetid stench from the latrine was stifling. Drops of water stood out on the black stone walls. The heat was terrible, sweat poured down our bodies. We soon had to take off our clothes and cut our long hair, but even so the heat was unendurable.

At first we were four in our cell, then eight and finally twelve in this same tiny cell. There were many cases of asphyxiation. We waged a struggle for more air, shouting and screaming until the warders had to open the door. Within three minutes those that had fainted came to again.

Our daily ration was two bowls of rice, of which about a third was unhusked, two spoonfuls of salted water and just under half a pint of drinking water. There was no water at all for washing.

In front of the door passed a foul-smelling canal leading from the latrine. The rice was set down alongside this canal before being given to us, and we watched the flies and blowflies crawling over it before we had to eat it. We never once saw real white rice. It was impossible not to vomit after getting it down. There were cases of cholera and dysentery.

For four months we were never allowed to wash or bathe. We were filthy. During menstruation we could only stand against the wall and let the blood flow out, sometimes collapsing into our own blood.

We suffered like this in the cell for ten months. Everybody became weak and exhausted, our skins grew pallid. Some of the women could not move their legs, we were suffering from intestinal and nervous ailments, from malarian ulcers, inflammation of the uterus… we looked like skeletons. Some of us were at death’s door when people on the mainland started a campaign protesting {230} the detention of women in Paulo Condore, demanding that the US-Diem clique bring us back to the mainland. As a result we were transferred to a building known as ‘Death Prison’ where we were given better food for two months and then shipped back to the mainland.

As far as the regular prisoners at Paulo Condore are concerned, about 200 are detained in one room which was so cramped that for every four inmates there was an average of ten square feet in which to sit or lie down. Prisoners were detained for years on end under such conditions. Food and water supply was the same as I mentioned above. Usually after one year of this, prisoners die from exhaustion, malnutrition and disease. Once a year they are allowed to bathe in the sea, most of them so weak when they move out that they looked like skeletons, hardly able to drag themselves along …

PHAM NGOC THACH Testimony from North Vietnam


Testimony from North Vietnam

In pursuing its neo-colonialist war of aggression against Vietnam, with the complicity of the governments of Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, the US government has employed the most modern arms and, with the exception of nuclear weapons, has made use of the most highly perfected and murderous weapons in its arsenal. The experts in their reports have described these weapons and war material and the cruel and murderous effects which are suffered by our people. It is sufficient to mention that over 10,000 sorties of the Flying Super-Fortresses, the B-52s of the US Strategic Air Command, have been carried out over South and North Vietnam, each plane capable of dropping over thirty tons of bombs; that the number of bombs dropped monthly by American planes exceeds that dropped by US planes in the European and Mediterranean theatres in the Second World War. {231}

The total artillery shells fired by US troops in South Vietnam in 1966 exceeds those fired by the US forces during the whole of the Second World War. The Americans are employing in great profusion CBU (container bomb unit) bombs, which are exclusively anti-personnel and of which we know that one container can hold 550 to 640 pellet bombs, each bomb releasing 300 such pellets. An F-105 fighter-bomber can carry four containers, thus scattering 640 x 4 x 300, that is 768,000 pellets, capable of killing or wounding every living creature within an area of one square kilometre. I will not speak further here about the toxic chemical products, so-called defoliants that the ‘Ranch’ operations spread over hundreds of thousands of hectares of cultivated land; the toxic, so-called ‘tear’ gases which American troops throw into shelters and underground tunnels where women and children hide from bombs and shells. Such a quantity of bombs, shells, toxic substances used against a country of which the total area, from North to South, is less than that of France, indicates to you the odious character of these crimes.

In South Vietnam, for years past, the American policy of ‘kill all, burn all, destroy all’ of which the present ‘search and destroy’ strategy and the so-called ‘pacification’ mark the highest state, has turned the southern part of our country into a land ravaged by chemical products, scorched by napalm bombs and other types of incendiary bombs.

[As a result] our country which, during French colonization, exported every year 1,500,000 tons of rice had to import 1,000,000 tons in 1967, to feed only those areas occupied by the enemy. According to American estimates (the Pepper Report) there have been 250,000 children killed, 750,000 wounded and invalided for life in a South Vietnam of 14,000,000 inhabitants. Senator Edward Kennedy estimated the number of civilians wounded each month in South Vietnam at 150,000 (International Rescue Committee, New York, 31 October 1967). Accounts and articles in the American press, widely diffused in the newspapers and on the television networks of many countries, suffice in themselves to prove to the whole world the horrors of the crime of genocide committed by the US for years on end in its neo-colonialist war of aggression against the people of South Vietnam. {232}

In North Vietnam, the country’s six main cities have been bombed, some of them have been partly or entirely razed to the ground, such as Haiphong, Vinh, Nam Dinh, Viet Tri and Thai Nguyen. Against Hanoi, capital of the Republic, they have dropped countless numbers of pellet bombs even in the centre of the city and the most densely populated parts of the city. Of the third provincial cities, twenty-five have been bombed of which six have been completely razed. The city of Dong Hoi, covering an area of 3.2 sq. kilometres and with 16,000 inhabitants, has been bombed 396 times, including 160 night attacks (according to figures available up to 3 1 December 1966). Of the 110 district centres, seventy-two have been bombed, twelve of them are now nothing more than a mass of brick and tile rubble, twenty-seven have been almost completely destroyed.

The working-class town of Ha Tu in the coal mine area, covering 1.2 sq. kilometres with a population of 6,000, was attacked twenty-one times during 1965-6. Villages have been attacked in all provinces and every village in the five provinces of Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Vinh Linh, north of the 17th parallel, has been bombed. In the area immediately north of the demilitarized zone on 13 and 26 July 1967, several waves of B-52 Flying Super-Fortresses attacked the villages of Vinh Son, Vinh Thuy, and Vinh Lam, extending over an area of six kilometres long by three or four kilometres wide. Dropped in close-pattern bombing, the bombs caused craters so close to one another that not a house or tree was left standing.

One of the important targets aimed at by the American pirate planes is the medical network – up to 31 August 1967, they have destroyed 127 hospitals and clinics. In Hanoi, during a raid on 21 August 1967, US planes fired an aerosol missile against a hospital situated in the heart of the city right alongside the city’s big cathedral, and during a raid on 17 November 1967 the Bach Mai central hospital, with 1,000 beds, the biggest in the country, was hit with two 750-lb. bombs and a large quantity of pellet bombs. The centre for the treatment and study of leprosy at Quynh Lap, situated on a beach, far away from any other populated area, has been attacked thirty-nine times; the Quang Binh provincial hospital thirteen times and that of Ha Tinh, seventeen times. . . {233}

All provinces with irrigation networks have been bombed. The seventeen provinces with dike systems have also all been bombed. During April 1967, the number of attacks against the dikes tripled in comparison with April 1966.

In the provinces of Quang Binh and Vinh Linh, just north of the 17th parallel, all the agricultural cooperatives have been bombed; that of Quyet Thang (Vinh Linh) has been attacked 1,616 times up to 31 March 1967 either by planes or by warships of the 7th Fleet.

In Quang Binh province, every village cooperative has been attacked, on the average, 160 times during the first six months of 1967. During these attacks against the agricultural infrastructure of our country, thousands of our peasants have been killed and wounded and thousands of buffalo and oxen, essential draught animals in our countryside, were killed.

In the provinces bordering the coast, American planes and warships have tried to wipe out our fishing cooperatives. In Nghe An province alone, 802 attacks were made along the coast from 1965 to March 1967. In Quang Binh province, the small fishing commune of Ngu Thuy with less than 3,000 inhabitants (visited by several Japanese and French investigation teams) has been attacked over 1,150 times in two years. Every rock, the foundation stone of every house, every tree still standing bear the indelible traces of napalm dropped by these barbarians.

American planes have tried to destroy all industrial enterprises in our country. During ten years of peace, the DRV, with the help of other socialist countries, had started to build up an industrial base. Almost all the big factories have been attacked. New industrial cities like Viet Tri and Thai Nguyen, built at the cost of great effort and sacrifice, have been razed to the ground. During 1965-6 over 11,000 bombs were dropped on the mining area of Quang Ninh, not counting innumerable CBUs and rockets.

The network of means of communication, an infrastructure of the economy, was the first target to be attacked. Attacks have been continuously repeated against any roads and bridges of importance, such as the Ham Rong (Thanh Hoa) bridge which has been attacked hundreds of times. But even small by-ways and paths, mountain tracks and bamboo bridges in the villages which could not carry any motor vehicle, have not been spared. {234}

The government of the US in its crime of genocide has not only tried to wipe out all human life, to destroy the country’s whole economic base, but it has also tried to undermine the cultural, religious social and political superstructure of the DRV. Five hundred and sixty-one schools have been bombed, 170 of them during the first six months of this year; 230 churches, three seminaries and twenty-three pagodas have been destroyed up to 30 June 1967. On 27 September 1967 at 7.30 A.M., the day after classes reopened following the summer recess, while the children were happily bent over their first lessons, four US jets, swooping in from the sea, fired rockets and dropped four CBUS (about 2,400 pellet bombs) on the first and second degree schools of Ha Fu (Ha Trung district of Thanh Hoa province) killing thirty-three pupils from eight to twelve years and wounding thirty more, including two teachers.

The US government has never sought to respect the Geneva Agreement of 1954. The recent interview given by General James Gavin to Newsweek reveals that the US government had already prepared a plan for the invasion of North Vietnam in 1956, with troops landing at Haiphong, in the Delta, as well as at Hanoi itself; this plan was to have been carried out by an expeditionary corps of eight divisions of commandos, thirty-five battalions of engineering and logistics. The Secretary of Defense of the time, Charles Wilson, had given his full approval, and it was only internal opposition to so ambitious a project that prevented its realization (Newsweek, 16 October 1967). But since 1957 the US has sent a steady stream of guerrilla and spy commandos into the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, all of whom have failed miserably.

North Vietnam has held out, in spite of the destructive war: the people and the armed forces have shot down over 2,500 US planes! The building of socialism continues under war conditions; the education, the cultural life, the public health service develops despite the crimes of the enemy.

‘Nothing is more valuable than independence and liberty’; these words by our President Ho Chi Minh become more living every day in the actions and feelings of every Vietnamese. {235}

DAVID KENNETH TUCK Testimony and Questioning


Testimony and Questioning

Vladimir Dedijer: And you were in the US Army in Vietnam? In which unit were you?

I was part of the 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division. My smaller unit was A Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment.

Dedijer: And when did you go to Vietnam?

I was in Vietnam from 8 January 1966 to 9 February 1967.

Gisele Halimi: I would like you to tell me about your having witnessed, one day in the month of October 1966, how American soldiers killed South Vietnamese prisoners with machetes. Is it possible that you can confirm this to me before the Tribunal?

Yes, I can confirm this. But the only thing inaccurate as to this question that you asked me was the date. This did not happen in October of 1966. It happened 2 March 1966 at a place about fifty miles north of Ban Me Thuot, near a Special Forces camp – Ham Brain. On this date, in the 3rd Brigade of the 25th we had our first casualties. We lost eleven men that day and the enemy lost 100 men. After the battle was over there were several wounded North Vietnamese, you know, laying around on the ground, see, so everyone was angry because this was our first battle and we had lost a lot of our friends, see. So one Japanese-American, his name was Sergeant Takahatchi, I believe he was a staff sergeant, he took his machete and beheaded this wounded soldier. The soldier was wounded in the chest but he was still alive. So after he beheaded the man, he threw his head down the hill to serve as warning to other NVA elements, if they were still in the area, that we meant business. And I was standing near by when this occurred.

Halimi: Can you witness about other cases that are analogous about war prisoners or civilians that were killed by the American forces or by the South Vietnamese in the presence of American forces?

Yes, I could also testify to other incidents of mistreatment of {236} prisoners by US and South Vietnamese forces. Shortly afterwards, after we got over there in February 1966, I happened to be on a work detail to a place called Camp Hollaway which is right outside the town of Pleiku, and while I was there I saw a VC being tortured by the South Vietnamese under the direction of US forces. When I got there they had the man tied on the ground; he was spreadeagled. They were using a knife to sort of pry under his toenails and the soles of his feet. When this got no results they went on to other more sensitive parts of the body. Well, this still got no results, because evidently this man was, as we say in America, a tough nut to crack. So then after that they put the knife under his eyeball in another endeavour to make him talk, and he still would not talk. So then what they did, they put him in a barbed-wire cage in which he was on his hands and knees. And if he made any moves the barbs of the barbed wire would press into his flesh, so they kept him there for two days. And I had to go back on another detail, and when I got back the man was gone. I assume that they had turned him over to the South Vietnamese to execute him. Now all of this torturing was done by the South Vietnamese, because there were very few US forces who were able to speak Vietnamese, so a US officer, I believe it was a captain at that time, he was giving orders to the Vietnamese interpreter and he was relaying them on to the man who was doing the actual torturing. It is common procedure over there to turn over all prisoners to the South Vietnamese for later disposal and I believe invariably they execute them after they get the information that they receive. Other acts of mistreatment of prisoners that I saw was in November 1966. We were operating in an area near Plei Jrirang Special Forces camp. Now it was the practice of our outfit to rotate men back and forth to base camp to give them a few days’ rest. So on that day, I believe it was about at 1400 hours, on that day I boarded a ‘Huey’ helicopter. On this helicopter there was the pilot, the co-pilot, the machine-gunner, myself. There were also two dead American soldiers and two North Vietnamese prisoners. Well, while we were on there, one of the North Vietnamese pointed to one of the US dead and started to laugh about it, see. So the shotgunner, he saw this, and he told the pilot about that, and the pilot said: ‘Throw that SOB out.’ So he picked up the man, the man was tied anyway, bound, and threw him out of the {237} helicopter. Well, immediately after, the other North Vietnamese soldier kept quiet.

So then when we got back to base camp, you know, such a thing is an everyday thing. You know, we did not think too much about it. Another time was near the Cambodian border. It was called Duc Co. We had surrounded this village and we noticed that there was this one woman that had not lined up with the others, see. So, this officer who was with me said that this woman looked suspicious. So he went up to the woman and said something to her, and she reached into a pile of wood. We did not know what she was reaching for, so then he ordered me to shoot her, which I did. I am very sorry that I had to do this, but I was acting under orders.

Halimi: I would like to return to your testimony about the helicopter… I would like to know if the officer responsible had to make a report on the missing prisoner?

Well, yes, it is true that he would have to write a report saying that one of the prisoners had disappeared. But, you could always get around this by saying that the man attempted to escape and we had to shoot him or the man was suicidal and he jumped out of the helicopter. Even if one prisoner was missing, it would not have mattered all that much because, unless the prisoner was an officer or something like this, no one would really have cared anyway. It was standard policy in my outfit not to take any prisoners. We were told by the officers that we had better not take any prisoners unless it was a North Vietnamese officer.

Halimi: Can you specify for the Tribunal the orders that you had? Did you have orders to shoot prisoners when they became obnoxious?

No! We were ordered to shoot, to take no prisoners just as a matter of standard operating policy, especially wounded prisoners anyway, because a lot of our officers were sort of fanatical on this. They believed that the only good Vietnamese was a dead Vietnamese, and so forth. And a wounded man stood very little chance of being evacuated to medical aid anyway.

Halimi: I would like to inform the Tribunal that in the testimony of the witness Campbell, whose deposition you have, he speaks of similar actions – that is, the ejection of prisoners from his helicopters. I hope you will be able to hear Mr Campbell’s deposition on these actions, if you follow up these questions.{238}

The ears of Vietnamese, for certain Montagnard tribes, are reputed to be valuable. Can you confirm instances of American bounties paid for Vietnamese ears?

Well, ah, as far as the cutting off of the ears, when I was over there it was a practice for a while of the 173rd Airborne Brigade to, after the battle was over, to cut the ears off of dead Vietnamese and to use them as a souvenir. Also this was a practice of the 1st and 14th of the 3rd Brigade of 25th. This was more or less a passing fad. The person who had the most ears was considered the number one VC killer, and also when we would get back to base camp the one who had the most ears would get all the free beer and whisky that they could drink. But it was more or less the passing fad, but they did cut the ears off of dead VC to show as souvenirs.

Halimi: Mr Tuck, you have told me of seeing refugee camps. Can you specify for the Tribunal the conditions of life inside them?

Most of the refugee camps that I saw were invariably near a Special Forces camp. From what I could see from these people they looked just like they were starving; they were in rags. Shortly after we got over there I was on a work detail to dump some garbage into a sump, which is a hole dug in the ground for that purpose. As soon as we had dumped this these refugees – a whole lot, a horde of children, it seemed – literally jumped into this sump and fought like animals for the garbage. The refugees – I got the impression from what I saw – were left to eke out their own living. They also had to be in their refugee camps at a certain time, because if they showed up outside our perimeter or outside the South Vietnamese perimeter they were liable to be shot as VC. A lot of the women in the refugee camp had to turn to prostitution to earn a living.

Halimi: Mr Tuck, do you know how they separated the population? That is, how did you decide who was Viet Cong, who was a civilian, and so on, and what did you do after you had distinguished them?

It was standard operating policy when in what we call VC country, that is, areas which were under control of the VC, to surround a village and to go in and assemble the inhabitants in a bunch in the centre of the village. All young men who looked like {239} they were able to bear arms we sent them away in helicopters to be interrogated by the South Vietnamese. The women and the children we sent to a refugee camp. Also it was common practice that if we received any shots from a village to have what we call a ‘mad minute’. This means that for one minute everybody would cut loose tanks, machine guns and everything that they had into this village, because the way we had assumed that until proven otherwise every Vietnamese was a VC.

Halimi: Mr Tuck, you have spoken of helping American troops spray gas into tunnels. Can you specify what you mean?

It was frequently when we were on an operation we would find a whole lot of tunnels, and a lot of times we did not know whether there were VC in there or not. My outfit did not have such men as they have farther south as they call the ‘tunnel rats’. So what we would have to do, we would have to use tear gas to bring them out. A lot of times it would be women and children besides the VC in there. But most but then again a lot of times it would only be women and children. The tear gas does not kill anyone as long as they can get out to the fresh air, it just irritates them. Uh – as far as I know, tear gas was the only chemical agent being used to bring these people out of the tunnels.

Halimi: You are black, and I would like you to tell the Tribunal if you sensed, during operations, a segregation – a discrimination between yourself and the white soldiers in the American army.

I would say that while there was not any segregation, if anything it was overintegrated. What a lot of people do not realize is that most of the soldiers fighting in the infantry over there are black soldiers. In my particular outfit it was 117 out of 156 were black soldiers. It is a common practice to put the people whom they consider expendable in the infantry. This is the black soldier, the Puerto Ricans and the hillbillies. The reasoning behind this I believe is that if these people are killed no one is going to miss them, because after all black people are always complaining, so if they complain about being used in the infantry, no one in the US is going to listen to them. The war is very popular in the United States and if the Johnson administration use the middle-class white people, then the parents of these people when they sustain casualties would be complaining about this and would demand that the war be over with. So, therefore, they put the expendables, {240} the black people, the Puerto Ricans and our poor rural whites that we call ‘hillbillies’. They put the expendables in the infantry, but I noticed that when I came back from the war and saw on TV, I saw very few black soldiers. It always seems to be mostly white, but I know with my own eyes this is not true.

But other than that, there was not any segregation. There was discrimination as far as lining up men to be the point man. The point man is the man who always goes some yards ahead of everyone else. He leads the way and is always on the look-out. He is usually the man who first gets killed. And invariably it seems like the soul brothers – or the Negroes – were the ones who were on the point. And so that is one way in which they discriminate.

Halimi: Can you say if, before battle, your officers’ words indicated that they wished you to fight a purely defensive war, or that they wished you to exterminate the Vietnamese people?

My outfit was stationed in Hawaii before we went to Vietnam. Shortly after we heard we were going to Vietnam, we were given orientation – little pamphlets saying that we were fighting to save the Vietnamese from Communism. We should always treat the Vietnamese as our equals. When it came time to giving them the right of way we should always give the Vietnamese the right of way. Everyone went along with this, but then when we got to Vietnam it was a different story. All at once the officers referred to the Vietnamese as ‘gooks’. When we got there, we were told not to associate with the Vietnamese, whereas before we got over there we were told to make friends because unless we win the hearts and minds of the people we will lose the war. But, once we got over there our officers told us otherwise: that the only good Vietnamese was a dead Vietnamese, that they were not good, that they would not fight. So, on 23 March, when we first went into our first really combat operation, the commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Saul A. Jackson, gave us what he considered an inspiring speech. He said, ‘I want you to keep these Vietnamese on the run so much, so hard that I want to see Vietnamese blood flowing upon the earth.’ Everyone was surprised because before then we thought we should distinguish between Vietnamese and Viet Cong. After all, we were supposed to be saving the Vietnamese people from the Viet Cong. So, everyone remarked on how bloodthirsty that man was. The officers referred to them as {241} ‘gooks’, and we were told to consider all of them no good, and the only good one was a dead one. I was very shocked because I had assumed we were fighting to save these people from Communism, and now all at once it came to me that perhaps these people were going to practise genocide after all, because here we are lumping all Vietnamese together. I thought we were only to fight the Viet Cong, who were supposedly preventing the South Vietnamese from having their freedom.

Dave Dellinger: You spoke about a ‘mad minute’, that is, after there were shots from a Vietnamese village, everybody would let loose with everything that they had. I wondered if, for example, how many shots it took to provoke such a ‘mad minute’. I mean, if there was an isolated shot from a village, could this happen?

Well, no. It would have to be more than one shot. If we got a series of rounds fired at us and if the bullets came close to someone or they hit somebody, we would do this more or less as an act of revenge. Then, after the ‘mad minute’ we would move into the village and see how much damage we had done and whether we had gotten anybody. But usually in most cases the VC was gone anyway. So we never caught them.

Dellinger: Was there any attempt to find out if there were women or children?

We knew there were civilians in the village, but as I say, we did not give a damn. We just intended to show them that we were not playing.

Peter Weiss: Mr Tuck, referring to the incident when the prisoner was thrown out of the helicopter. You say this was an ‘everyday incident’, and it could happen often, and nobody was really seriously concerned about that. And the person who threw this prisoner out of the plane would not be punished and perhaps he would not even be asked about what happened. Could you from your experience tell the Tribunal an approximate figure of incidents of the same kind that you have witnessed? Other cases where prisoners were just sort of killed, or left to a certain death, with nobody caring for them?

Well, in the first place I would like to say that the enemy prisoners were never left to die by themselves, they were always executed, but they were never left to die of their wounds. I have {242} also seen other cases in which a wounded prisoner was laying there supposedly waiting for an evacuation helicopter, and I have seen several GIs just go over and shoot him in the head just to be done with it.

Weiss: Without any special order?

No, well, in some cases they had orders, and in other cases, since it was the standard policy in my outfit not to take any prisoners, that is what we did. Occasionally, if we had a wounded officer and there was an American officer around, then he would tell us, do not kill the man, but to send him on a Medevac, to be later interrogated. But if the man was not an officer and he was wounded, we just got rid of him.

Weiss: And this happened several times?

This happened all the time in Vietnam, it is a common thing.

Weiss: Is it a rule?


Weiss: Mr Tuck, you were speaking about the villages. When it was lust a wild shooting, afterwards what happened to the villages? Were they torn down by bulldozers, or what happened to the villages when you landed, when the troops landed in the village, the population was sent away? Could you tell us a bit more specifically what happened around this event?

Immediately after a ‘mad minute’ we would surround a village and then we would send a party in. We would always have a Vietnamese interpreter with us. He was assigned to our outfit. And then we would line the villagers up and interrogate them, and depending on the battalion commander, we would have to radio back in for instructions whether to turn in all the villagers, whether to destroy or just warn the villagers about such activities. In some cases we would send for helicopters to evacuate these people and send them to a refugee camp and we would burn the village.

Weiss: Have you seen people from a village being sent to a refugee camp?

Yes, I have.

Weiss: Could you describe the refugee camps?

Well, the refugee camp as I said before is usually located near a Special Forces camp. You have a lot of wooden and tin huts, you know, just built together haphazardly. Usually the ground is {243} bare: no vegetation or anything, no trees. So there is also a barbed-wire fence surrounding them, and only one entrance. And as I said before, at night they have to be in before dark, you know, before about 1800 hours anyway. And they eke out their living as best as they can.

Weiss: They lie on the ground, they have no beds?

No, no, I am not saying that. They have beds, but what I mean is, the ground around, in the little village, is usually the poorest type of ground. It is just mud; in other words, all the grass and vegetation has been worn away. In other words, the soil is not fit for farming and so forth.

Weiss: How do they get their food?

Well, like I said, they have to beg from the US troops. In other words, they have to eat a lot of the food that we throw away: our garbage and so forth.

Weiss: So there are not immediately afterwards coming special troops with supplies, with food, to help the people who are being driven away from their villages?

Not that I know of. If they get any food, they certainly do not show it, because all the ones that I have seen they looked like they were starving, and they were dressed in rags.

Weiss: So it is the American soldiers who might give them food if they want to, but it is not necessarily done?

No, it is not necessarily done.

Weiss: May I ask one more question?

Dedijer: Yes, please.

Weiss: Mr Tuck, you spoke about the speech which a General Jackson – a fiery speech – which he gave to the troops before entering into the battle. Have you witnessed other speeches like that by other officers?

Right, I would like to say that these speeches … usually we were getting them when we were going on a combat operation. And after a while, such things sink into the minds of the men, because then I noticed that a lot of my fellow GIs started referring to the Vietnamese people as ‘gooks’. This a derogatory term.

Laurent Schwartz: Mr Tuck, you have said that you had the order to shoot prisoners and that you could not oppose it. Now, the American soldiers who are sent to Vietnam – do they know about the judgements of the Nuremberg Trials; that is, that they {244} have the right – or even the duty – to resist inhuman orders? Do you know of any soldiers who have been punished for committing war crimes?

Well, I would like to say I have never heard of any GIs who were punished because they committed acts of war. Most of us had heard of the Geneva Convention of war. We knew that we were not supposed to do certain things. On the other hand, we realized that we had to be realistic, because if you disobey an order, sooner or later they will get rid of you. I mean, what I am saying is, like for instance if I had decided to refuse to fight the Viet Cong, my friends, my own friends, and the officers would get rid of me. I mean, they would have killed me – there is no doubt about that. Therefore you go along with the programme.

Schwartz: You have told us about eating conditions in the refugee camps. Have you seen people who died of starvation in these camps? Have you seen sick people who were refused medical care? What were the medical and sanitary conditions in these camps?

I would say that the medical and sanitary conditions are very primitive. I mean by anyone’s standards. I could not say that I ever saw anyone die of starvation, but I saw people who looked as though they were about to die of starvation. People who looked like they were on their last legs, and every now and then the US forces were sent, the S-5 section, this is the section which is involved in civil affairs. We would send a medic to give out pills and shots and so forth. But this only occurred about once a month anyway. Most of the time our S-5 section was in the field anyway.

Schwartz: There could have been regular medical visits, but there were not?

As far as I know, no.

Schwartz: You just told us that most of the time, or quite often, that you gave prisoners to the South Vietnamese for interrogation. But on the other hand, Mr Martinsen told us yesterday that there was usually an American interrogator along with a South Vietnamese [interpreter]. In your opinion, did the Americans do most of the torturing, or the South Vietnamese?

Well, I cannot dispute what Mr Martinsen says, I am only going on what I saw. In the case that I saw it was an American who gave {245} the orders, who asked the questions. He passed it on to a South Vietnamese interpreter and then he was the one who interrogated the man, but the actual torture that I saw was being done by people in the South Vietnamese army.

Gunther Anders: Repeatedly you quoted the sentence, ‘the only good Vietnamese is a dead Vietnamese’. Did you vary the famous words, ‘the only good Indian is a dead Indian’, or was this sentence generally known, was it like an order given to you by the officers?

Well, I mean, this was a statement which the order, which the officers gave to us, and a lot of the men, as I said before, this indoctrination sank in. They also believed this because after all most Americans have heard that saying, you know, ‘the only good Indian is a dead Indian’.

Anders: Yes. The same applies to, ‘Don’t take prisoners’. Was this an order or was it an anonymous custom everybody knew, that this had to be applied, or did you ever hear the command, the order, ‘Never take prisoners’?

Well, I would like to say this. The order was ‘Never take prisoners’ as well as ‘Don’t take prisoners’, because there had to be exceptions if there was an enemy officer – because we considered the officers more important than the enlisted men. Therefore there had to be exceptions. This was not a written order. This was an order, but it was a spoken order; it was not a written order.

Anders: Yes, that is just what I wanted to know. And I have a third question. You spoke about this terrible collection of ears, and there I would like to know if you would say that this is a crime which everybody would recognize as a crime. Was there anyone among the American soldiers who objected to this crime or who refused to cooperate in this sad sport to collect ears?

Well, I am quite sure that there were individuals who did not go along with it. If they did not want to take any ears they were not under any pressure to do so. This was something dreamed up by the brass to inspire the men, to help the morale.

Mahmud Ali Kasuri: You have referred to a distinct change in indoctrination while you were in Hawaii and after you reached Vietnam. Would you say that its object was that people in the USA should not know what the American forces in Vietnam were {246} doing, and that is why in Hawaii the ordinary practice was being taught and in Vietnam the actualities were being brought before the troops?

I would say that this was precisely the case.

Kasuri: Now, you referred to this ‘mad minute’. In how many cases while you were present in Vietnam was this practice indulged in? Three, four, five, twenty?

Well, I would like to say that this practice was indulged in so many times that you might say it’s numerous, you know. This is a common practice. You know, everyone starts firing for one minute – approximately one minute.

Kasuri: So it is not an unusual thing to which you are referring, this is the ordinary thing?

Yes, this is an ordinary thing.

Kasuri: This is the ordinary thing. Now you said many times that ‘the good Vietnamese were the dead Vietnamese’, and on another occasion you said this sentiment had evolved out of a sentiment that the Vietnamese were not good soldiers. Then do I take it that, in killing, some discrimination was made between men and women or children and adults?

Well, I would like to put it this way: a lot of times when you have to assault a village you shoot at the first thing that moves. In some cases, inevitably, it was women and children that got killed…

Kasuri: Would it then be right to assume that in the US casualties the majority would be black?

That is correct to assume.

Kasuri: Now, would it be right to assume that the things you are referring to: namely, that the Vietnamese should be shot, that the only good Vietnamese was a dead Vietnamese, or that it was common to cut the ears off the killed Vietnamese or that the practice of the ‘mad minute’ existed – is within the knowledge of the higher military officers of the US Army?

There is no doubt that it is within the knowledge of the higher US authorities.

Kasuri: Thank you.

Carl Oglesby: On the question of the executing of prisoners I’d just like to follow a little more Anders’s line of questioning on the way in which you knew that it was standard practice to execute {247} prisoners. Did you find out that that was standard practice to execute prisoners? Did you find out that that was standard practice from speeches made to your unit by your superior officers, or was it more of a matter of word-of-mouth circulation among the soldiers?

Well, it was circulated among the soldiers but it was also what our company commander told us, you know. He didn’t put it in writing, of course, but he told us this. He said, ‘You better not take prisoners.’ You see, that’s the way he said it, in that spirit.

Oglesby: What would happen if an American officer, a veteran of Vietnam, would come and testify to this Tribunal that he knew nothing about this? Would there be any way to settle an argument between …?

Well, it depended upon what type of outfit the officer’s was, what his experiences were. You know, I couldn’t say yes or no. If he was in an infantry outfit I would say and he denied it – I would say the man was lying.

Oglesby: How did you first find out that it was standard practice to take no prisoners?

Well, you see, shortly after we got over there we heard from these other outfits, the 1st Air Cavalry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne, they told us the same thing and then our officers, they told us that would be our policy. That we weren’t going to take any prisoners unless we happened to capture an officer and then there was an American officer there to decide that he should be saved: otherwise we were to get rid of him.

Kinju Morikawa: I have information from a press correspondent that if there happens to be an explosion of a mine, the American soldiers usually kill almost all villagers that could be seen near by. Is that true or not?

Yes, yes, this a common practice, but I would like to say that all the time they wouldn’t kill all the people, but they would go into the village shooting, better say this, and if any innocent people got killed, well, the attitude was, ‘That’s war.’

Weiss: Mr Tuck, you said that if you disobeyed an order they will get rid of you. You mean, have you seen any cases where American soldiers were shot because they disobeyed orders?

Well, you would be surprised at the number of people who are killed by their own troops. Now, I know two sergeants who happened {248} to get drunk while they were out in the field, see, so they set these men farther out with the artillery outfit that had just been hard hit, see, hoping that they would get knocked off. And when they came back alive the brass were unhappy about it, see.

Weiss: This was deliberately done?

Right, and also in my own case I was sent to a line outfit for punishment anyway. When I first came to Vietnam I was the battalion mail clerk, but myself and a sergeant-major did not get along so they sent me out with the infantry as an RTO, hoping that I would get killed of course. That is the way they punish you in a lot of cases.

PETER MARTINSEN Testimony and Questioning


Testimony and Questioning

Gisele Halimi: Mr Martinsen, please tell to the Tribunal your role in the army: your grade, your branch of service, the date of your enlistment – I believe you were a volunteer – and afterwards we will speak about Vietnam.

I enlisted in the army in June 1963 and was trained initially as a cook. However, I was then sent to a foreign language school, where I learned Italian, and from there I was sent to the US Army Intelligence School in Fort Holabird, Maryland, where I was trained as a prisoner-of-war interrogator. The Vietnam build-up began, and I was assigned to a unit, the 541st Military Intelligence Detachment, which was to go to Vietnam. The 541st Military Intelligence Detachment was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. We left for Vietnam in the middle of August 1966 and arrived in September. I was in Vietnam from September 1966 to June 1967, as a prisoner-of-war interrogator.

Halimi: Did you, in 1965, go to a training school, called USAINTS, and could you please indicate to the Tribunal what you learned there?

The USAINTS, or ‘U-saints’ as it is called in the army, is the {249} US army’s intelligence school. There were several curricula there, and I was trained to interrogate prisoners of war. This training involves certain classified things, which are not really relevant, and a mass of techniques taught at the school which are not in any way illegal.

Halimi: Did you receive any decorations?

Yes, I have several decorations. Should I present them?

Halimi: No. No, just specify which ones you have got.

I have the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Expeditionary Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal and several marksmanship medals.

Halimi: Mr Martinsen, you are here to testify about two series of facts. I am well aware that it must be very difficult for you to say exactly what you yourself did while interrogating prisoners. But you understand that we need to get your direct testimony. You told me (because you remembered this particularly) that the first time you had interrogated and tortured a Vietnamese was in Lon Giao camp. It was on your arrival in Vietnam in November 1966. I wish you to please repeat to the Tribunal the account you already gave me.

This was some time after I arrived in Vietnam. We established our base camp in Lon Giao, which is in Long Kien, twelve kilometres south of Xuan Loc, and during this time we were receiving quite a few prisoners. The troops were very nervous and arresting just about everyone in sight, and we were interrogating these prisoners. While we were moving our base camp to this area, one of the men of the detachment was killed in an ambush. Later on, we received a group of prisoners, eight or nine I believe, I don’t remember exactly. I interrogated one and I had no data on where he was captured or what he was doing. He was just presented to me. I started to question him and he kept saying that he was not a Viet Cong, that he didn’t know where the Viet Cong was, etc. I was quite sure that he was lying. I was not certain if he belonged to the Viet Cong, but I was quite sure he was lying about not knowing where they were. I decided to beat him. This did not help. I struck him with my hand. This did not produce anything except a long string of ‘I don’t knows’ … and then – as was often the case – another interrogator took my place, an interrogation officer. I told the {250} officer, a lieutenant, that I couldn’t get anything out of the prisoner. The lieutenant proceeded to do the same thing as I had been doing, finally beating the prisoner, and this did not work. The lieutenant had an Army field telephone, which runs on batteries and generator. You crank it and it gives a nasty shock, a very nasty shock, quite painful. The interrogation commenced with the prisoner being tortured by field telephone. The telephones were first placed on his hands and then the field telephone wires were placed on his sexual organs. I left, I could not watch it.

Halimi: Later on, you witnessed torture done by an American lieutenant on a captain from the Viet Cong – particularly electrical tortures and torture consisting of inserting bamboo splinters under his nails. Could you please explain this to the Tribunal?

Yes. This particular case occurred on Operation Cedar Falls. This was a very big allied operation in the so-called ‘Iron Triangle’ to the north of Saigon. A North Vietnamese army captain was captured. He admitted he belonged to the North Vietnamese army. He was not a Viet Cong. I was to interrogate him and they kept telling me: ‘You must get information now. Now.’ While I interrogated him, my section leader, who was another enlisted man, was torturing him with a field telephone. When I could not get anything out of the prisoner they replaced me by another lieutenant. The lieutenant kept interrogating him with the field telephones. Finally he became quite frustrated; he then inserted bamboo splinters under the man’s fingernails.

This produced some criticism on the part of the commander of our unit, because the prisoner had been scarred. The electrical torture generally does not leave scars, and beating generally does not leave scars, but the use of bamboo was forbidden, because it left marks and there was blood. After that, the use of extreme forms of electrical torture became less frequent. But it was understood that, if we did not leave scars, we could do exactly as we pleased.

We had absolute power over our prisoners – absolute power. We had the power of life and death over the prisoners. I never did this, but it is quite possible that a prisoner could be killed in anger or out of carelessness or for a special reason – perhaps to intimidate other prisoners. On the other hand, it was possible that {251} nothing might ever happen to them.

Halimi: Mr Martinsen, you told me that one day you saw a Vietnamese die after torture. You said that you were not yourself present during the torturing, but that you saw the Vietnamese enter the neighbouring tent, where he was interrogated by an American captain. I should like you to indicate to the Tribunal who did the interrogation, and that afterwards the American captain came out of the tent saying: ‘He is dead.’ You also told me that you saw yourself the dead body of this man in the same place where he had been tortured. Could you add other details to the Tribunal in order to complete this declaration?

Yes. The case referred to occurred during Operation Cedar Falls, when I witnessed more torture than I had seen on any special operation in Vietnam. We were cooperating with the 172nd Military Intelligence Detachment, which is attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. We received a large group of prisoners, and we had a ‘Chieu Hoi’. A Chieu Hoi is a deserter from the Viet Cong. He is generally used as an informer to give information about his former comrades. A certain prisoner was pointed out by the Chieu Hoi as being some sort of local cadre in the Iron Triangle – and this also goes for Ben Suc by the way; this was during the same operation that included Ben Suc. The prisoner was taken into the tent in the afternoon. Our unit stopped interrogation in the evenings because our tents were so full of holes from bullets and other things that our light seeped out and attracted enemy fire. Anyway, another unit continued to interrogate at night and all of a sudden an enlisted man from that unit came over and said: ‘We just lost a prisoner.’ I said, ‘What?’ I couldn’t believe it. And he said, ‘We have. The captain was wiring him, and he just fell over and died.’ The captain came over a little later and said: ‘Yes, I was wiring him. He was about to break. He was just on the verge of telling me something when he died.’

There are certain papers which must be kept in regard to the prisoners. It is a very informal thing but you have to fill in the disposition of the prisoner. In this case the prisoner was dead, so a doctor was called, a brigade surgeon, as I recall, in the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He diagnosed the cause of death of the prisoner as being heart failure, which is logical. The man had been electrically tortured to death. He probably bad a weak heart. {252}

Halimi: Could you indicate whether the man in charge of the interrogation was an American captain? And that South Vietnamese translators were present?

In 100 per cent of the interrogations performed in our unit and in other units I watched, there was always a Vietnamese interpreter present, because Americans do not speak the language well enough to conduct a complicated interrogation. This creates much difficulty and a lot of misinterpretation during the interrogations. It probably provokes the use of torture, because one becomes angry with the interpreter and the prisoner. Yes, there was a Vietnamese interpreter present. There had to be and there always is. The captain couldn’t speak Vietnamese. I can say that I did not personally see which interpreting sergeant was there but I know that one was there. The captain was, I believe, a section leader of either the counter-intelligence section or of the interrogation section of the 172nd Military Intelligence Detachment. I don’t recall who he was. The captain said he had ‘wired’ the prisoner and we were waiting for information from the prisoner that would implicate other prisoners. There were more prisoners – and this was documented by press reports – taken during Operation Cedar Falls than in any other, literally thousands of people.

Halimi: After the death of this prisoner, did the officer give a report?

There was no formal report concerning the death except for an informal log kept by the military police who guard the prisoners. The disposition of a prisoner can involve one of several things. For example, he can be recommended for further interrogation. In that case you go on to another unit, a higher unit in the echelon – at that time it was the 1st Infantry Division. A prisoner can also be recommended to be a civil defendant, meaning he is guilty of a civil crime and that you don’t believe him to be a Viet Cong. A civil crime can be not having an ID card or travelling without travel papers, or anything you want. He can be an innocent civilian which is not often the case or his can be a doubtful case. In the latter event, he is interrogated further, and the doubtfulness of his case is marked under ‘disposition’ in the record book. In this case, disposition was ‘death due to heart failure’ – and very simple! No one ever reviews it. No one cares. The International Red Cross is not there. I don’t know where they are, in fact. They were {253} not on any operation except for their recreational girls. They were not present at any operation I was on, and I was on every major operation in III Corps Tactical Zone during that time that I was there.

Halimi: You also told me about an interrogation which you conducted yourself a few kilometres from a Michelin plantation, when you were given a prisoner who you took to be a Viet Cong cadre. Would you please tell me, repeat for the Tribunal, the methods you used to make him talk?

That was during Operation Manhattan which was in May of this year. We were carrying out a village ‘sweep’. The village was surrounded, all the people were herded into one area and screened. The people we thought should be interrogated were interrogated. A certain prisoner had been found hiding in a drainage ditch with a weapon, so immediately I knew he was a Viet Cong. There was still the question of determining his rank; second, if he was important or not. We were about four kilometres south of the Michelin plantation of Yan Tieng. I started the interrogation. My interpreter was beating this man with a wooden mallet that he had found in the house we were working in. He beat the man on the kneecaps and the shoulder blades and I did not stop the interpreter. This didn’t yield much information. We were being watched by my commanding officer and I got very frustrated. I decided to try out a new idea.

I had the man dig his own grave with a gun at his head, and he dug his grave until I counted off the minutes that he had to live. I counted them off in Vietnamese so that he knew I wasn’t kidding. He broke down and cried. This is the absolute power the interrogator has. The prisoner was quite certain he was going to die. I described what death he was going to have. He had a rifle or an M-79 grenade launcher being pointed at him the whole time. The interpreter occasionally beat him while he was digging his grave. He was quite certain he was going to die. This is what is known as ‘breaking the prisoner’. After he was ‘broken’, to keep him broken I just kept reminding him, in Vietnamese, that he was not yet dead.

I have read the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war. Coercion is quite illegal. It is a war crime. It is specifically stated that prisoners must not be harassed or coerced. {254}

Halimi: Mr Martinsen, in the brief time that we spoke together, you enumerated a number of cases of torture in which you and other Americans participated. I also remember that you declared, ‘If I am going to be questioned seriously and for a long time I could speak of many cases, many hundreds of cases, of torture.’ Would you confirm it?

This is quite true. Electrical torture was very common for a while in Vietnam but was not common towards the end of our assignment. Beatings were extremely common. An interrogator came to me and said, ‘My hands are getting tired from hitting this man in the mouth.’ It was something that occurred in almost every interrogation and it was tacitly condoned by the officers. The commanding officer of the unit stated for the record that there must be no torturing or the use of force during an interrogation. However, he allowed it to continue and watched it. He knew of it. The commanding officer, the section commander, knew of it.

Halimi: I would like to ask you to give some details concerning that young girl of seventeen who was not tortured but who was gassed. You remember that you said to me that the Americans threw tear gas into a tunnel ten kilometres long that you believe was occupied by the Viet Con g. You said that there were many wounded, including several young girls. You said you were a witness to the case of a young girl of seventeen who was badly wounded and who was not given medical aid in time because they wanted to get information from her. You said her condition worsened and the doctor was called. She died while you were there. Would you please confirm this for the Tribunal?

This was a particularly odious thing. I heard that it involved several girls. I was not there when the people were captured but there are ‘capture circumstances’ tags that each prisoner has. There were some people in a tunnel, and the Americans found the tunnel entrance. They looked inside the tunnel and found it was occupied. They immediately gassed the tunnel with tear gas. It might have been ‘antiriot’ gas. Then they proceeded to chase the people from the tunnel. The tunnel was so long they chased the people for twenty-four hours, until the people came out the other end of the tunnel very badly gassed and coughing. All of them sounded as if they had serious damage to their lungs. The prisoners {255} were brought into us, and I only looked once. Four or five of the prisoners were girls between the ages of sixteen and twenty. They were nurses and labourers. The girls were brought to us in very bad physical condition. They were coughing, wheezing and gasping, as if they had bad – very bad – asthmatic attacks. I took one look and called the doctor. The doctor gave them all injections and dosages of adrenalin. The prisoner compound was nothing but a tent with barbed wire around it. The prisoners were not segregated by sex as the Geneva Convention calls for. The prisoners were not given proper bedding. The girls were lying on the ground, which was rather damp, and one girl grew more ill. It was the policy that all prisoners must be interrogated. I kept calling the doctor to say ‘Doctor, she has pneumonia.’ I knew that because I have had pneumonia. The doctor kept saying: ‘No, No. She’ll get better,’ and she kept getting worse. She was finally evacuated to Lai Khe, to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division field hospital, where I hear she died. I denounced the stupidity of the doctors and the stupidity of the commanders for trying to keep her there to interrogate her, and I almost got court-martialled for it. That was one of the most odious things I saw there.

Halimi: Mr President, I have finished asking my questions about the torture. You can ask Mr Martinsen directly about the use of weapons such as white phosphorus, the M-16 rifle, tear gas and anti-personnel weapons like canister and beehive, which are fragmentation weapons. I think it would be better now to ask the witness questions directly concerned with the question of torture.

Vladimir Dedijer: Thank you very much. In accordance with our rules the questions posed by the President will come last. Members of the Tribunal are invited to present their questions to Mr Martinsen.

Peter Weiss: Mr Martinsen, you said during your experiences in Vietnam you became acquainted with the Geneva Conventions about the treatment of prisoners of war. When you went through your military schooling, did the officers speak to you and to your comrades about the Geneva laws?

Yes, it was stressed in the school that torture was not permitted in the army but that was before the Vietnam war got very large. That was in July and August of 1965, I forget exactly when {256} Johnson made his speech for the escalation but it was at that time. Our troops did not arrive until after large amounts of interrogations had been completed. After I went to school, they may have changed policy, but I doubt it. They didn’t teach us about the Geneva Conventions. They taught that war crimes must not be committed, that prisoners must not be tortured nor mishandled, nor harassed, coerced or forced into doing anything. The instructors say privately, ‘Yes, I know they do it in Vietnam, but we don’t officially admit it.’

Weiss: When you came to Vietnam, is it true you found that in practice the prisoners were tortured? Was it a sort of rule? Was it quite common that the prisoners went through this procedure?

It was a pattern of the interrogations. The army had classified field manuals on interrogation. Several different techniques are discussed but, without saying anything classified, I would say you begin by being nice to the prisoner. If you start out by torturing the prisoner where do you go from there? It’s only logical. You must start out by being nice to the prisoner. Afterwards it depends upon the information that you get. I cannot think of an interrogation that I saw in Vietnam during which a war crime, as defined by the Geneva Conventions, was not committed. I cannot think of one without harassment or coercion. Even where force was not used, coercion, such as beating, torturing and harassment (such as screaming and yelling), was used. This was coercion, and it was specifically stated that one ought not to do this. The army has a field manual called The Law of Land Warfare, I forget the number, and it’s the entire 1949 Geneva Convention. This field manual is easily obtained but no one ever reads it. I read parts of it, but it was not required that it be read.

Weiss: Mr Martinsen, I think you must have gone through a tremendous moral development when you came to Vietnam. When you changed your views, you went through a lot of experiences and you have a different view on these experiences now, to when you came to Vietnam?

When I went to Vietnam, I was for the Vietnam war. I thought it was an open case of Communist aggression and that the majority of the Vietnamese people wanted us in Vietnam. I received a short course in the Vietnamese language before I went. Then I always tried to speak to my interpreters as much as possible, and I {257} speak to the people as much as possible. I developed a small knowledge of Vietnamese, and I understood that the government in Vietnam, which states that it supports the Vietnamese people, does not really. If this government wants us there, the people don’t. I know this and the Vietnamese people have told me this. This is the major absurdity of the war, not the fact that the war crimes are committed. War crimes are committed in every war. War has war crimes, by definition.

Weiss: Were you taught that the Vietnamese people were of less value than the Americans, for example, or the people of Western nations?

The general viewpoint of the American troops was that the Vietnamese were apathetic, ignorant, dirty and were really not worthy of our efforts to be there. That was the general feeling, and the general feeling was, ‘Well, we might as well be here and show them the right way, clean them up, build them suburbia houses, and put two cars in every garage.’ That’s the American dream for Vietnam.

Weiss: Mr Martinsen, could you tell a little about the development you went through? How did it happen that you changed your attitude?

My development came about with a number of things. It has partly to do with seeing all the little things in a war. If you’ve read Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, you think it is pure fiction, but that such things don’t really happen. Then you see things happen constantly. If you encounter a man who likes to shoot water buffaloes, you may ask him, ‘Why do you like to shoot water buffaloes?’ and he says, ‘Because I like to shoot water buffaloes.’ It’s so absurd. I remember a man who was a helicopter door-gunner and he likes to kill people on the ground, but only after playing with them like a cat plays with a mouse with his machine gun, chasing them around, etc. I saw rice captured from the Viet Cong, in American bags, and you don’t really know if the rice is American rice but the bags are American bags. They have ‘US NATO rice’ written on them. It’s all these ten thousand things. It’s also the torture, the torture that shouldn’t really happen. Then you realize, because everybody participates in the torture – unless we have a special group of sadists working as interrogators, which I don’t believe; I believe they are just normal people – you realize {258} that there is an innate capability to do harm to your fellow-man in proper circumstances, and these circumstances are provided by the war in Vietnam. It’s so horrifying to recall an interrogation where you beat the fellow to get an effect, and then you beat him out of anger, and then you beat him out of pleasure. That is what is horrible to say.

Weiss: Have there been others of your comrades who had the same experience as you did?

I don’t think they talk about it. A lot of the men are still in the army and if there is ever any kind of trial they’ll be subpoenaed of course. This would affect their careers. So I won’t name any names. I will not ruin careers, but someone has to say that Americans believe that an American doesn’t commit any war crimes, simply because he is an American. They must understand that it does not take a Nazi to commit a war crime, it does not take a Nazi to kill six million Jews. They must understand this and no one is willing to speak because there is quite a bit of pressure. In my case it was mainly family pressure, dragging the family name through the mud or losing my inheritance, etc. – and the fact there probably is going to be a lot of pressure on my family from the press, etc. But even they don’t think Americans do wrong. Even they misunderstood what is happening. Even they say, ‘My country right or wrong.’ In this case it’s wrong, and I can’t accept it if it’s wrong, and they still say, ‘My country right or wrong.’ That’s the way they think and this manner of thinking must be changed.

Weiss: One final question. You mentioned an expression used by an officer who tortured a prisoner, the prisoner who was killed. He said, ‘I was “wiring” him.’ Later on it was stated that the cause of death was heart failure. If one has studied the German concentration camps, there were methods of killing people by phenol, by gas and other means, and the death certificate used the same phrases. I suppose you were too young to remember what happened during the Second World War, but did you, before you left the States or perhaps when you returned and were more concerned with this problem, did you know anything about the Germans? About the killings by the Nazis during the Second World War?

Yes, I came across some of it while doing research. But I don’t {259} see what inference you’re trying to draw. I’m quite aware of what the Nazis did.

Weiss: I am referring to the terminology: ‘I was wiring him’, and then: ‘death by heart failure’. This phrase I was wiring him’ was exactly the same term the Germans used, ‘Ich hab ihn eingespritst.’

This is true. The common term is ‘wiring’ or ‘phoning him up’, one or the other – and at least the Germans used a death certificate. This man, no one knows he died. No one even knows if he was ever alive. He probably didn’t have a birth certificate and he certainly didn’t have a death certificate.

Dave Dellinger: As you’ll probably be able to tell from my accent, I’m an American too. And even before you mentioned the pressures that your family was subjected to, I just wanted to congratulate you for your courage. Although I know there will be many pressures I think the day will come when not only many Americans, who will do it today, but all of the American people will hail you as a hero and thank you for helping their country to get its better self back. Now on this question of pressures, you mentioned that after the girl was not given medical treatment, and after several girls were brought in coughing and gasping and put into interrogation, you considered this odious and you complained about it, and almost got court-martialled. Could you tell us a little bit about the circumstances of that? What kinds of pressure were brought on you? What makes you say that you almost got court-martialled?

Well, you see, I was being insubordinate. It doesn’t matter what you’re being insubordinate about. If you’re insubordinate, you’re insubordinate. I called it foolish. I called it stupid. It was so obvious to me that the girl was very ill, that there was no reason for her to die. When I heard that she died, the evening that she died, I just got so angry that I went around telling every officer in the place what I thought of him, what I thought of his personal stupidity for keeping the girl there while there was a possibility of her dying.

Dellinger: Did you file a complaint, or did you simply mention it?

Would that I had had the courage to file a complaint or to go to jail for my beliefs then. {260}

Dellinger: I believe that in all the instances you talked about, or at least the majority of them, the American was either doing the torturing or the beating or supervising the interrogation. in the United States, when instances of torture have been revealed, the explanation usually given is that it is the Vietnamese committing it and that the Americans either couldn’t stop them or weren’t even there. You mentioned there is always a Vietnamese present. Is it possible that, in these reported instances, the Vietnamese acted as the interpreter and the American was conducting the torture?

It could very well be. At every interrogation there has to be an interpreter and there are many hundreds of interrogators in the country.

Dellinger: Many hundreds of American interrogators?

Yes, and each one of the American interrogators has a ‘pool’ of interpreters to choose from. All of our interrogators had participated in actual torture.

Dellinger: They had all participated?

They had all participated at one time or another. It is foolishness and lies to say that only the Vietnamese torture. I never saw an interrogation conducted by Vietnamese. I don’t know what they do when they interrogate. I assume they do exactly what we do, but I don’t think they have any compunctions about leaving marks.

Dellinger: Did you hear of any cases, among the hundreds of interrogators, where people insisted on interrogating without beating or torture? Did you hear of cases where people refused to do this, and if so do you know what happened to these people?

No, I don’t know of a single case. I almost refused, but unfortunately I was too cowardly to actually refuse. I don’t know any percentages, but what is torture? Is torture electrical torture or is torture beating? I don’t know. Personally, I had a lot of success when I learned to speak Vietnamese. I had a lot of success with pure coercion, because I’m a fairly large person. I was able to intimidate the rather small Vietnamese, specially when I learned to speak their language. I was able to tell them ‘I know you’re lying’, and in their language.

Dellinger: I want to ask another question. One of the soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, who refused to go to Vietnam and who is now serving a sentence in the penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, {261} testified at his court martial that in his training in the United States he was told that it was his duty ‘to kill the little brown Asians’. According to Gisele Halimi’s summary report this morning, one of the people who has testified, I think on tape, said that he was told, ‘You can kill anyone with slanted eyes.’ Concerning this whole question of interrogation, were there any instructions or indoctrination or common talk that would have implied that to use torture wasn’t so serious because of race, because of Asian qualities?

The common American GI term for a Vietnamese was either a ‘gook’ or a ‘slant’. Our unit was not a typical unit; it was a military intelligence unit. The people were more intelligent, and the unit was small. It was more or less a family, and I spent most of my time with the unit. Concerning the line troops, during Operation Cedar Falls, I was in the Iron Triangle. I had a prisoner who had volunteered to lead us to tunnels. I had to use force on him: I didn’t beat him but I interrogated him for eighteen hours. I finally broke his resistance. We took him to find the tunnels in the 173rd Airborne’s territory, and we found them. The men there told me they weren’t taking prisoners. They said, ‘We aren’t taking prisoners because one of our platoon leaders was killed three days before.’ One fellow, eighteen years old, I think he was, said to me with a grin, ‘You should’ve seen the girl I shot yesterday.’ This is the absurdity of war: an eighteen-year-old telling me about killing a girl. They wired the dead with explosives so when the Viet Cong came to get their dead, they were blown up.

Dellinger: As I understand it, the Vietnamese place a particular significance upon a proper burial and keeping the graves of their ancestors. Is that common knowledge among those who wire the bodies with explosives?

I don’t think so. Normally the soldiers going over there are given a short orientation on things you should and shouldn’t do in Vietnam. You know, don’t pat people on the back and things like that. But the soldiers generally ignore this, because to the soldiers the Vietnamese people are whores to sleep with, servants to supply the cold beer and the Coca-Cola. They’re the people who make the beds and sweep the floors and shine the boots. But they aren’t thought of as real people. Their status is that of a Negro in the United States in, say, 1850. {262}

Dellinger: Did you find that the Vietnamese in the American-occupied areas did not like the Americans much?

You can only say an area is American-occupied if the Americans have placed a barbed-wire fence around it. But in areas where the American control is more strong, you can say that the Vietnamese don’t like us for several reasons. First of all is the indiscriminate shooting and bombing. The Americans have a policy of ‘free-fire zones’, where the Vietnamese provincial chief sets off an area and says it’s a free-fire zone. Then he tries to tell all his people not to go into that area – then of course the logic being that he’ll tell the people on the right side not to go in there. But, invariably, innocent people do get killed. I heard this in a report. Two peasants were riding in an ox cart, it was spotted in a free-fire zone and they called for permission to fire on an ox cart loaded with rice, as they later found out. They fired and killed the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese hate us also because the whole thing is turning into a big brothel. Fulbright was right. Saigon is a large whorehouse. It is. I was there. I saw it. Bien Hoa is, too. Xuan Loc is, too. You can still see the French heritage there in Vietnam where, I understand, the French used Sudanese soldiers, so you can see mixed Negro-Oriental babies – no longer babies now, but children, and, in another three or four years you’re going to see a tremendous amount of mixed Caucasians with the Vietnamese. A tremendous amount. We’re corrupting the whole country. The money a prostitute in Vietnam can make is $300 a day, whereas the average wage I believe is $30-40 a month. How would you feel if your daughters or your sister became a prostitute?

Dellinger: I visited both Saigon and Hanoi and it was my impression, my experience, that the Vietnamese in Saigon felt more hostility to the Americans than the Vietnamese in Hanoi, because they experienced the unconscious arrogance that we Americans too often display, and the race prejudice and the things of that kind, directly and personally.

Well, it’s not only the race prejudice. There’s nothing more obnoxious than a drunk GI. And there are thousands of drunk GIs in that country, whistling at the pretty schoolgirls – and the Vietnamese women are really pretty. And the students, the high-school students, wearing an ao-dai, are really a very charming {263} sight. An American GI when he arrives there, and probably even when he leaves there, thinks that the woman is a prostitute. He’ll proposition her, lay his hands on her, and expect the Vietnamese to like it.

Mahmud Ali Kasuri: Mr Martinsen, please forgive me for asking some questions which may appear to you to be very ordinary but I want some basic facts. May I know if you were in many camps, or only in one camp?

We had a base camp which was in Lon Giao…. . This is where the unit was headquartered, but every time they had a major operation the unit was attached to a larger unit – one of the infantry divisions – for support. You see, we were an armoured unit. We had tanks and armoured ears – armoured personnel carriers actually. And these were excellent weapons for shock value – tremendous fire-power, etc. So we were attached to an infantry unit to provide convoy support, to spearhead attacks, etc. If you’re in any way familiar with the operation there – Operation Attleboro and Operation Cedar Falls, Operation Junction City and Operation Manhattan – all very big operations involving forty, fifty, sixty thousand troops in the III Tactical Corps Area, Second Field Force Area. And these were all over the area. I was in Bien Hoa, I believe it is, where they just had that recent battle. Loc Ninh – I was very close to Loc Ninh. I was throughout. I was every place in the III Corps Zone where you could take a tank.

Kasuri: … What were the names of the four major operations you were in?

Operation Attleboro, Operation Cedar Falls, Operation Junction City, Operation Manhattan – which carried on into early June of this year.

Kasuri: And apart from these four major operations, you were in a number of smaller operations?


Kasuri: Smaller. And would it be right to understand that what you have testified about in a number of cases was the common practice in all the places you were in?

It was the common practice in every operation except Junction City. In Junction City we did no interrogation. We had no prisoners. We were there, but there were no prisoners in Junction {264} City, in our area. There were prisoners in other areas, but in the area that we were in, we had no prisoners. And from what I observed and from the other units that I worked with, the 172nd Military Detachment – I worked with them – the 4th Military Intelligence Detachment, which is attached to the 4th Infantry Division (I worked with them on Operation Manhattan, and I know they torture, well … they said they did … I’d have to say it’s hearsay). . . . They said, ‘Why don’t you wire him up a little?’ They had a special field-phone apparatus, as a matter of fact, that they showed me, for placing wires on.

Kasuri: What about Operation Cedar Falls?

During that operation we were just outside Ben Cat. We were working closely with the 173rd Airborne Division. It was during that operation that the Iron Triangle was taken. Thousands of people were moved out of the Iron Triangle. Thousands upon thousands. My task was to ‘screen’ people, to select individuals for questioning from among the refugees. This is a tremendous power to be given one man. The Iron Triangle is bordered by the Saigon River and another river whose name I forget. It has been a VC area for years and it is heavily fortified by the VC. They even have concrete bunkers. The population was ‘evacuated’. We had helicopters and psychological warfare specialists. We took some Chieu Hois, that is deserters from the Viet Cong, and they flew over the villages, and we said, ‘Come out. Lay down your arms and come over to our side.’ This was quite effective. We got quite a number of Chieu Hois during Operation Cedar Falls. There were also several hundred people running around who didn’t want to leave the Iron Triangle. These people were shot on sight.

Kasuri: You said that during Operation Attleboro there were not many people captured by your unit. Were there many people captured by other units?

Both Time and Newsweek reported that a tremendous number of prisoners were taken during that operation. Reports of interrogations are not always made if it is unimportant and we decide to release the prisoner, but during Operation Cedar Falls our detachment made over 100 reports of interrogations. There were also hundreds and hundreds of ‘screenings’ which took place. Sometimes, during ‘screening’ you just look at a person and you say, ‘You, come with me.’ The refugees were kept in a {265} barbed-wire enclosure and they were passed in front of me, an interpreter, maybe a few interpreters. The Vietnamese national police were there. Anyone could be selected for interrogation. The thousands of refugees had their belongings with them, their oxen, chickens, pigs and all they could carry. The people were sent on army flat-bed trucks to Phu Loi. Afterwards, according to Life, they were placed in a refugee camp, which was just another concentration camp, with barbed-wire fences and guards.

I was in the battle zone in the Triangle on two occasions. At the time there was little fighting. Many of the domestic animals – livestock like water buffaloes, oxen, as well as chickens – were running around free. The villages were being demolished. I watched Ben Sue being demolished. I saw the remains of the villages. The bulldozers just came through and tore everything down. Livestock and personal possessions were left behind. There may have been people in tunnels beneath the houses. ‘Tankdozers’ – a tank with a bulldozer blade – were also used. On both sides of the road crossing the Iron Triangle, army engineers cleared the area back to 400 metres off the road, to decrease the chances of ambush. The area was pockmarked with bombs. A thousand-pound bomb makes a huge crater up to fifty feet across and forty feet deep. You can hear a B-52 raid from a distance of twenty or thirty miles. It sounds like distant thunder. You wonder what the hell they were bombing.

Our unit had something called a ‘Zippo’, named after the American lighter. It was a flame-throwing armoured personnel carrier. We used it to burn away the foliage. I don’t know if it was ever used in combat but it was a very destructive machine. It can fire napalm for a distance of almost 100 metres. It fires a thick spray of napalm, which clings to everything and burns rapidly. I saw napalm being dropped from planes. I saw it at a distance, and I don’t know what it was being used against.

Kasuri: Were you also in Operation Junction City?

Yes, I was there during phase two, but not during the first phase.

Kasuri: In that operation did the unit you were operating with capture many prisoners?

This time we were again assigned to road reconnaissance security. I and an interpreter worked as an interrogation team. In Vietnam, interrogators do not exhibit their ranks, as they normally {266} should on their arms. If the prisoner has a higher rank than the interrogator, it is harder to interrogate him. We wore the ‘US’ collar insignia which has no rank significance and represents quite a bit of power of intimidation. For example, I might be a captain. I had complete freedom and I conducted the interrogation as I wanted to. They arrested seven rubber workers for not having identification, but I released them very quickly. It was obvious that they knew something, but it wasn’t worth going after.

There were no regiments where we were, about ten kilometres from the Cambodian border, at a small plantation called Xa Cat. We had seen some action in War Zone C, but at Xa Cat there was no action at all. There was no sniping and there were no mortar attacks. The captain who had rounded up the prisoners said he had just become bored and threw them in the tank and delivered them to me. It was obvious they were rubber-plantation workers. If they were also Viet Cong I could not determine. You never can know that. So I just released them. They had been brought to me for interrogation because they didn’t have ID cards, and many people were arrested for that reason. In Operation Junction City there were many prisoners, but not many in our area. In Operation Manhattan, there were again many prisoners. This time our unit, because of increasing experience, also took many prisoners. Many of them had been classified Viet Cong and admitted to being Viet Cong. This was when I had the prisoner dig his own grave. There was no ‘wiring’ done on this operation, but there was quite a lot of beating. It was then that I heard the remark, ‘My hand is getting tired from beating this prisoner.’ We had perhaps fifty or sixty interrogations.

Kasuri: This was during Operation Manhattan?

Yes. I am just speaking about our unit, of course. Our unit was the smallest unit on a low combat echelon, and I had a great amount of freedom. I could do anything I wanted to do. I knew that if a prisoner happened to die, then there would be no formal report and nothing would ever happen to me. There would be perhaps an explanation such as, ‘shot trying to escape’ or ‘died of heart failure’. My unit never killed a prisoner under torture, but if it had happened, there would have been no official action.

Kasuri: Were there any superior officers higher than captain {267} present who performed interrogation?

Perhaps. I don’t know. Our unit had a major as a commanding officer and a captain as section leader. The other officers performed some of the most brutal interrogations I witnessed. The only time I saw electrical torture applied to the sex organs it was an officer who was doing the torturing. The only time I saw bamboo placed under fingernails was by an officer.

Kasuri: Would it be correct to say that the superior officers are cognizant of what occurs during interrogation?


Kasuri: Why do you say no?

They aren’t. The interrogator’s job is to obtain information. The superior officers do not care how the information is obtained. I don’t know if the command in Saigon knows about the torture, but the commanding officers of lower echelon units do know and they condone it tacitly. It is not expressly forbidden. General Westmoreland might have gotten a hint that torture was being used to get information, because he sent out a directive reaffirming the Geneva Conventions of 1949 concerning the treatment of prisoners of war. So in Vietnam they know it, this is at MACV level. But I don’t know if the officers in the Pentagon know about it and that is why I’m here.

Kasuri: I was not concerned with the officers in the Pentagon. I wanted to know if officers with a rank much higher than captain or major know that torture is used during interrogation.

Lieutenant-colonels know about it.

Kasuri: Do they know about it for sure?

They know about it because they are the squadron commanders, and occasionally they witnessed interrogations in which beatings occurred. I can’t speak for our regimental commander. I don’t remember him ever witnessing an interrogation. Interrogations are private affairs. You don’t have officers looking over your shoulder. You have complete control and you don’t want people distracting you.

Kasuri: Do you know any officer or soldier of the United States who has been punished for using torture?


Carl Oglesby: Were you selected for training as an interrogator {268} or did you volunteer?

I volunteered for the language school, and after I finished my language training I was sent to the intelligence school. I wanted to get into counter-intelligence training, which is not exactly like James Bond. Instead I was placed in interrogation training; after that I was not used because I had a useless training. I was trained to interrogate prisoners of war, and at that time there wasn’t a big war. I was also trained to speak Italian and the army has very few persons in Italy. So I was not used.

Oglesby: Did the army direct you into interrogation training?


Oglesby: Was this training generalized or was it intended for interrogation in Vietnam?

While I was there they were changing the curriculum to include Vietnamese-style interrogation. The training had formerly concentrated on Soviet interrogation; we had to memorize Soviet terminology’ and so on.

Oglesby: When they began to train you for Vietnamese interrogation did you notice whether or not any new attitudes appeared? Was there any kind of racialist cast to the training for Vietnamese interrogation?

I can’t say: I believe that there were four hours devoted to Vietnamese interrogation and that was all.

Oglesby: What kind of person, generally speaking, found himself in this sort of school? Was it a more-than-average intelligent soldier?

Yes. Military intelligence is correlated with tested intelligence. In the army tests you have to have a score of 110 with 100 being the average, to get into the intelligence school.

Oglesby: Do most of the people have college education?

The officers did. But most of the people did not have a college education; I think 100 per cent had high school education. Some, like me, had some college education; but I can’t think of anybody in interrogation training with a college degree. In counter-intelligence training there were many people with college educations.

Oglesby: So far as you know, how many Negroes were doing interrogation work in Vietnam?


Oglesby: You never saw any Negroes interrogating? {269}


Oglesby: Do you know of any Negroes doing that kind of work?

I have to change what I just said. A Negro captain in the 172nd Military Intelligence Detachment was working as an interrogation officer, although I never saw him interrogate. I believe we also had a Negro in our interrogation class; I don’t know if he went to Vietnam or not.

Jean-Paul Sartre: Have you come here to be a witness for your conscience’s sake or because you think it is in the interest of your country and in accordance with the principles of your country’s constitution?

By coming here I want to show several things. But the main thing I want to do is to show that an American isn’t necessarily good because he’s an American. If I told the average American that I committed war crimes, he would say it was horrible; but it doesn’t reach any level of consciousness. To the average American a war crime is something incomprehensible. To him, it is inconceivable that Americans commit war crimes. Frankly, I’m the stereotype of an American college student; I want to show that it’s not perhaps some long-haired freak from Berkeley campus with a beard who commits war crimes, but it’s perhaps Mrs Jones’s son down the street. I’m hoping to develop that consciousness. I’m hoping to get someone to honestly consider that war causes war crimes and that all wars are bad because they cause war crimes.

Halimi: I would like to supplement what Mr Martinsen has said by explaining the circumstances in which he agreed to come. He wanted to know about the Tribunal and its orientation. He indicated that he did not wish to serve any political line, and more particularly he said that he did not want to serve the Communist line. I told him that he would be able to speak quite freely and that he would be able to express any opinion he held. I said that we would only question him on the facts. I would like Mr Martinsen to confirm this.

This is quite true. Everything you have said is true. You see, Americans try to find Communists under every rock they pick up. Of course, the Tribunal will be used for Communist propaganda. Personally, I do not embrace Communism as an ideology. I don’t like Communism and what it does. But neither do I like war. But {270} this is an anti-war issue that may be used for Communist propaganda. That it is anti-war is the important thing. It’s not necessarily important that it may be used for Communist propaganda.

DONALD DUNCAN Testimony and Questioning


Testimony and Questioning

Vladimir Dedijer: You served in Vietnam. How long, when did you go?

I went to Vietnam in March of 1964 and returned from Vietnam in September of 1965.

Dedijer: In which unit did you serve?

I was in the United States Army Special Forces, sometimes referred to as the Green Berets. I essentially had four different jobs while I was in Vietnam which took me from the northern provinces south of the 17th parallel to the Ca Mau peninsula.

Gisele Halimi: Mr President, I would like to ask you, to finish identifying the witness, to read to the Tribunal and the audience this piece of testimony. It is a letter of congratulation addressed to Sergeant Donald Duncan, which comes from the Headquarters of the 5th Special Forces Group of the US Army, because this will finish the witness’s identification.

Dedijer: I will read it. This is from the Headquarters 5th Special Forces Group Airborne, First Special Forces, APO US Forces 96240, 22 July 1965. Subject: Letter of Appreciation, to M-Sgt Donald W. Duncan, Headquarters, 5th Special Forces Group, ABM, First Special Forces, APO US Forces 96240: 1. I wish to express my appreciation for your outstanding presentation of facts and information of Special Forces activities to the Honorable Robert C. McNamara on 19 July 1965. 2. Throughout the entire presentation your knowledge of Special Forces activities and lucid oral expression employed were exceptional. 3. The salient points which you so aptly presented to the Secretary of Defense may have significant results on future support of Special Forces in {271} the Republic of Vietnam. You are to be congratulated for a job well done. This letter will be made a permanent part of your military 201 file. William A. MacKean, Col. Infantry Commander.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, I may warn you that I will ask you a series of questions which will be numerous in connexion with your experiences in the army because as an instructor your competence will allow the Tribunal to grasp the principal points that went into that instruction. I would like to ask you first if you are in fact the author of the book, The New Legions, and if this book, the résumé of which I gave to the Tribunal yesterday, is, as you say, the hard truth on Vietnam, on the military practice there and on the foreign policy which has made more enemies than friends for the Americans.

Yes, the facts presented in the book are just that, facts. It is not a work of fiction. There are parts of it, as you know, that are, perhaps, polemic, in other words, opinion, when I’m talking about politics per se, but the actions, the specifics of any action in there is as it did occur.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, another preliminary question. I met Mr Robin Moore in New York, who is the author of two books, The Green Berets and A Country Team, and I asked him if he would come and testify before our Tribunal. He told me, after having accepted, that a publishing contract committed him to stay in the States. The important thing is that we have his book here, that we know that this book is not a work of imagination, that it cites methods employed by American parachutists in Vietnam, and I know, because I read it, that you wrote a review of this book in Ramparts. Do you have any objection to being questioned on the methods which are described by Mr Robin Moore in his book, and at the same time verify them?

Yes, I will testify to that.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, I would like to start with the first part of your military career when you were an instructor at Fort Bragg. You described in your book [The New Legions] … how an effort was made to depersonalize and psychologically break down the recruits to prepare them for anti-guerrilla fighting, teach them interrogation methods, torture and the manner in which to get rid of prisoners. Would you indicate briefly to the Tribunal what were the methods used from the moment the recruits arrived until {272} the time when they were sent to Vietnam?

These methods which you discuss are not something peculiar to Special Forces. This is the standard method of training all young soldiers. I don’t even believe it’s peculiar to the United States army; it’s essentially a method of depersonalization, isolation, the changing of a value system, the disorganization of an individual, a reorganization of an individual – and finally with a new value system he does become a soldier. This is in his first, let’s say, eight weeks of army life. When he goes on to such places as the United States Army Special Forces or an airborne battalion, the training, of course, becomes much more severe, and essentially it’s an extension of what’s taught in basic training, just more emphasis, more physical. The main purpose, of course, is to take a man from civilian life, to give him a new set of values, to make him amenable to do things which normally he would not allow himself to do or would not be willing to do. In other words, it’s a means of giving him a different rationale or a philosophy. This is all, of course, psychological; it’s a method used not only in the army. It’s a method used in prisons. It’s a method used in insane asylums.

Halimi: I would like to ask you… how you, yourself, instructed the recruits on the methods to be used in anti-guerrilla warfare and, in particular, methods of interrogating a prisoner.

Fine. Now we’re getting into a different area… into specialized training and the area to which you refer is at the United States Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the Special Forces school. … I was an instructor at this school for a year and a half and I was teaching intelligence training, both conventional and unconventional, as well as interrogation techniques. There was such things as clandestine communications, the organization of guerrilla nets, escape and evasion routes, and so on and so forth…. They were trying to teach not only the methods, but an appreciation for the psychological methods of interrogation. By this I mean the non-physical methods of interrogation, an appreciation for how this type of interrogation produces the most valuable intelligence, the more accurate information. Essentially it follows the training, for instance, of a lawyer – a trial lawyer – through communication, using the tools of entrapment and so on for soliciting certain information. . . . You can appreciate . .. that {273} in … classes of thirty or more people … over a period of one week, it would be impossible to make each and every one of the students an expert in psychological interrogation techniques. He would know the methods, but he would not himself be a trained psychological interrogator. The specific purpose for teaching this is so the student in turn, once he is put in another country, can teach these methods to what we refer to as an ‘indigenous counterpart’, somebody indigenous to the country. And he in turn then would become the interrogator.

Very realistically, they admit that there are going to be those times and conditions when it will be impossible to conduct psychological methods of interrogation and … also … that it’s very difficult to train any number of people in these techniques to the point where they are effective. Right after this block of instruction, there is another course taught as a sub-course which was the counter-measures to hostile interrogation. One of the references used in this particular course was the NKVD manual, the manual used by the secret police in Russia, where are detailed quite specifically any number of methods of torture. … When I was a student . .. it seemed a little unnecessary to use this as a reference source, except to perpetuate the myth that the other people do this but we don’t. … In any event, throughout this course it becomes very apparent that, in fact, given a determined interrogator, given the methods of interrogation – that there are no real counter-measures to interrogation. … In fact, we used to teach that the only person who could resist interrogation would be a fanatic, religious type or whatever – someone who would rather die, and his brain actually cuts off his senses so they don’t feel the pain. . . . Having convinced us now that there were no real counter-measures to interrogation, it became the question then, well, why is the course being taught? This is a very highly classified class. By this I mean it has a security. There are guards on the doors, and strangers aren’t allowed to walk in and hear this, and all the reference material to it is classified. Still and all, they cannot tell you that you are supposed to do this…. If I had only been a student, I would say, well, perhaps I just got something from the class that I was not supposed to get. However, I in turn became an instructor in this course, and this was what I was trying to teach, because this is what I was told to teach, and this {274} was how to imply it. Leave no doubt in anybody’s mind that there are those times when you will have to use ‘other’ … methods of interrogation. Other methods, of course, are discussed beyond the NKVD manual, but again, you know, it’s always the other person supposed to be doing it. Now there’s a very important reason for this – why they have to be so careful even in their own classrooms. This is possibly more true of Special Forces than other elements of the army. They are very conscious, first of all, of the Rules of Land Warfare. And very conscious that they can be brought to task for these things. So they bend over backwards to at least give the outward appearance of legality and adherence to such things as the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the laws of land warfare.

The army itself spies on itself. We used to make a joke of it at Fort Bragg: who is the CIA agent in the classroom? Or who is the man from Army Security Agency that could be pretending to be a student, but was, in fact, there to take notes to make sure what is taught. This carries over into our radio communications, and later on I will testify to an occasion in Vietnam where certain words are used on the radio that in fact mean something entirely different because our own Army Security Agency is monitoring these calls, and if there’s a legal proceeding the man can say: ‘Well, I didn’t say that, I said this’, and they can check the record and yes, that’s what he said; but the words, in fact, mean something else …

Halimi: You have indicated that the young recruits did not understand very well those methods of interrogation taught to them, and the methods were justified to them by telling them that that is exactly what would happen to them if the Communists would take them prisoner in Vietnam. Would you like to confirm that?

No, I won’t confirm that. They were not trying to justify it. That’s what they were saying for the official record. But in fact it was presented in such a way that it left no doubt in anybody’s mind that, if you need the information, these are other methods and you certainly can use them. In other words, they were not trying to justify to the troops. For the official record, if somebody said: ‘You’re teaching methods of torture’, they say, ‘No, no, no, no, all we’re teaching is what the enemy does’. Again, it’s for the official record. There’s no doubt left in the student’s minds. When {275} you say, ‘young soldiers’, the people in this class were not all that young. First of all, there was an age limit at that time to get into Special Forces. You had to be a Regular Army soldier, and you had to pass certain mental qualifying tests and a physical test to get into Special Forces, and you had to have a minimum rank of sergeant to attend that class. So these were not naive eighteen-year-old boys that were sitting in this class as students. These are mature men, in years at least.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, in your book on pages 158 and 159 you write a dialogue between a recruit and his sergeant instructor, Sergeant Lacy, and this young recruit doesn’t understand something. He says, ‘You are teaching me about counter-measures, but at the same time you tell me that there are none. Why don’t you tell it like it is and say that we could actually use those methods?’ And you indicate that the sergeant answers with a sarcastic air, ‘Yes, but we can’t tell you directly because the mothers of America wouldn’t approve.’ Is this true or did you just make up the dialogue?

I have reconstructed that dialogue as accurately as I possibly could; the actual quote, ‘we cannot teach you that because the mothers of America would not approve’, is a word-for-word quote. It is accurate; in fact it became almost a classic catch-all throughout training in discussing other things. It became a common phrase. It was used in the book to point out the … cynical way in which these subjects were taught.

Halimi: Now, Mr Duncan, will you tell us very specifically which methods were taught at Fort Bragg to those who would have the job of interrogating or teaching interrogation methods to their indigenous counterparts in Vietnam?

Speaking just specifically of the NKVD teaching such things as the squashing of the male genitals, putting buckets over people’s heads and beating them (they had various names for all these things which escape me right now); suspending a man from a chain or a rope with a wide belt around the waist and spinning him around. Also, complementing this manual there were certain other references which we were encouraged to read, detailing … interrogation techniques used in such Communist countries as Hungary … the isolation, the hot-and-cold treatment, the confusing of the man’s mind, making it impossible for him to relate {276} time, for instance when is night and when is day… and how you break the person down. We were encouraged to read these things, and as a matter of fact, we were, in a way, interrogated or tested on these subjects. Of course, other methods that were discussed were such things as the use of electricity, field expedient methods such as using the double E-A telephone, just a standard Army field set – battery operated – attaching the lead wires to the genitals, or genital areas, for shock, and so on. And, of course, because we were an unconventional organization, we were encouraged to use our imagination. The specific thing was always suggested that you do not mark a person. In other words, don’t leave physical evidence on his body. Use those types of interrogation where if somebody were to see the prisoner immediately afterwards you couldn’t tell that he had been abused.

Now, I think that for the record I should state something more about the training. The training in Special Forces breaks down into two categories: there is the guerrilla warfare category and the counter-insurgency category. The methods of interrogation as taught, were taught within the guerrilla warfare section of the training. I ask the indulgence of the court here – perhaps not too many people are familiar with the specific mission of Special Forces in a guerrilla war. So, I would like to explain that, perhaps we’ll put it into some sort of context then. There was a theory back in the 1950s that attack from the Eastern European countries, Russia specifically, was somewhat imminent. It was realistically posited that, given an attack by the Eastern countries, we could not hope to hold them much short of the Atlantic Ocean. In other words, there would have to be a gradual pull-back until reinforcements could arrive and so on. To complement this pull. back, then, Special Forces were trained, as we used to say, to be used as soon as the balloon goes up, so that they would jump in behind the advancing enemy, into these Eastern countries. These would be twelve-man teams, essentially. The theory was that since these are Communist countries, everybody is unhappy, so it’s a very ripe ground to start a guerrilla war. In other words, the people would flock to you, and you’re automatically in business. To go on with that, of course, these teams are trained in area studies: each team has a particular area right down to and including the town and the village that he will be in or {277} near, and they’re studying the habits of the people on the ground in those countries. So the idea would be that this twelve-man team, two officers and ten enlisted men, would go in. And these subjects that are being taught, such as interrogation, such as the organization of guerrilla units, assassination teams, sabotage teams, and the like, would be taught in turn to the people in this country, and they in turn would do the actual fighting. So the methods of interrogation were taught specifically with the idea that they would be used in a guerrilla context. As stated in the Special Forces Manual, one of the missions of Special Forces is to subvert foreign governments unfriendly to the United States. It’s a stated admission. I have a copy of that manual here if you care to see it. Quite obviously, now, when we talk about Vietnam, we’re talking about an entirely different thing. We are now talking about counter-insurgency, as it is called. We were talking about the guerrilla warfare aspect as compared to the counter-insurgency aspect. Now I just completed saying that our purpose was to go in and organize people against a government. Quite obviously, the rule is somewhat reversed in Vietnam. We’re helping a government, the Saigon regime. So the whole structure had to change, quite obviously. We worked through the government. So, interrogations for the most part were done by the Vietnamese, the Saigon government troops, if you will. Now, we did, starting back in the fifties, train these people. We helped set up their police, we helped train their Rangers, we helped train their own Special Forces or the Luc-Luong Dac-Biet as they are called in ARVN, that’s the Army of the Republic of Vietnam…

The specifics of interrogation techniques sort of backfired on us, inasmuch as we were getting very bad information. It became very difficult to motivate these people into using psychological methods of interrogation, because they were not interested in using them, they weren’t properly motivated to use them, they were tremendously unsuccessful using them, and… they reverted to the physical methods of interrogation. And of course, we got very bad information as a result of this. It became, I think, a runaway situation, to the point where the information was getting so bad that it was hurting us. However, I don’t even know if we were really interested in stopping it. Because we found out that even when we sent our own interrogators who spoke Vietnamese {278} to carry on psychological methods of interrogation, they were relatively unsuccessful also. So everything sort of degenerated on that thing. We started using or developing our own means of gathering intelligence directly, instead of trying to get it through interrogation methods. The interrogation methods, I don’t mean to imply, were stopped. You always keep hoping that something will turn up…. My specific job in Vietnam was gathering intelligence. We had to form a special unit to gather it, because we no longer could depend on Vietnamese intelligence sources for any accurate information. This was called Project Delta.

Halimi: What were the roles of Special Forces units in Vietnam when you were there? I read in your book and in your testimony during the Levy trial that there were three kinds of team: A-Teams, B-Teams, and Robin Moore, author of The Green Berets, speaks particularly of the achievements of C-Teams at Nha Trang. Can you explain these categories?

Yes, the A-Team, that’s the team I’ve talked about, is a team of twelve men. Special Forces do not first of all, let me precede my remarks by saying that they would never commit a Special Forces company as a company – they’re always deployed in small teams; one team in this area, and so on. The twelve-man team is composed of a captain, a lieutenant, and ten enlisted men. There’s one operations sergeant, an intelligence sergeant, but in fact they do the same job, each one is trained in operations and intelligence. Two weapons men, two demolitions men, two radio men, and two medics. It’s so designed that the team can be split down the middle. In other words, you can send six men, and the skills are compatible. Each man in turn is, theoretically at least, supposed to be trained in two other skills than his own. In my own particular case, I was a demolitionist, a radio operator and weapons specialist in addition to my primary speciality of operations and intelligence. The B-Team is an enlargement of the A-Team. Essentially they are supposed to do the same things as the A-Team. But they have additional personnel and it is commanded by a major, rather than a captain, and the major in turn has four captains under him, where they set up what we call the S-1, S-2, S-3 and S-4 sections – Administration, Personnel, Intelligence and Operations, and Logistics. The idea would be that for every three A-Teams in the field, you would then commit a B-Team for operational control {279} and coordination of the three A-Teams. But also within that B-Team, they would have an A-Team. In other words, there would be about nineteen people on a B-Team rather than twelve. The other’s for operational control. And then for each two B-Teams you would have a C-Team. Again an enlargement of the B-Team. To make this specific for Vietnam, each of the camps that we had in Vietnam had one A-Team. And then back farther, away from the border, towards the larger urban areas, you had a B-Team. For instance, we had a B-Team at Quan Tho which directed the operations of the A-Teams along the Cambodian border and in the Delta. Their headquarters, in turn, was in Nha Trang to control the four B-Teams in the country. The potential of an A-Team, again theoretically, is that they have the capability of directing, controlling, equipping, training either guerrillas or counter-guerrilla units of regimental size. Each twelve men can supposedly control one thousand men.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, can you explain what you and Robin Moore call ‘CIDGs’ [Civil Irregular Defence Groups]? And will you also tell us whether there was a direct liaison among these teams, and explain the workings of the information network between them and A- and B-Teams?

The primary job of Special Forces, up to the summer of 1964, was the field-implementing arm of the CIDG programme. This programme was started back in 1961, I believe, as a means of organizing ethnic groups within Vietnam, such as the various Montagnard tribes, and eventually it came to include the Hoa Hao and Cao Dai and some people of Cambodian extraction within Vietnam. The main purpose of this was, starting with the Montagnards, to neutralize their struggle against the Saigon regime. There have always been problems between the Montagnards, and the ethnic Vietnamese and the Saigon government. Hopefully, the idea was to build them into self-defence units, for village self-defence. It had the added advantage (I happen to have read this in an official report) of being one way of circumventing the Geneva Agreements of 1954. The Geneva Agreements of 1954 prohibited the establishment of new military bases within the southern zone of Vietnam. So, by calling these things village-defence units, or self-defence units, they in fact circumvented that provision of the agreement. Of course, the camps that they set up {280} are not in the village.

They are invariably set up next to the village, isolated from it by mine fields, punji stakes, barbed wire, etc. In fact, in many areas the villagers are not allowed into the camp for security reasons, meaning they don’t trust the people in the village that they’re defending. And in many cases the strike force, the combat group of the civilian community-defence effort, was not even from the village itself. In other words, they were imported from other areas of the country. To give a specific example, I remember the Special Forces camp at Tan Phu, which is in the Delta. We could not recruit any what we call ‘strike force’ from the local area, so we had to bring them from another area in there. The camp lasted for about six months. It became an untenable position and they moved out. Again, I say, this was the primary job, not the biggest, not necessarily, but the biggest that the Special Forces had up to 1964. In addition to their role with the CIDG programme, they also had other functions within Vietnam forming special little units. They had Project Delta, Project Omega, people were sent off with what was known as SOG, and they trained the MAAG forces, and they’re also on detached duty for various purposes. The one thing we haven’t mentioned, I don’t know whether you want to go into it or not, is the origin of this programme called CIDG, originally it was, and it remained so up until 1964, a CIA programme. The CIA having come up with the idea, of course, did not have the field personnel to conduct the programme in the field. Special Forces, then, were made available to the CIA for this purpose, of running it in the field. All the funds, the money for the programme, came from CIA sources, directly or indirectly. Another purpose of the CIDG programme was to try to set up intelligence nets throughout the countryside emanating from these camps. Again the funds, the money for the agents, came from CIA sources.

Halimi: Mr Robin Moore said, in his testimony during the Levy trial, and reconfirmed it when he spoke to me, that there existed ‘assassination teams’. He told me that Americans trained and paid Vietnamese for them. He said, for example, that the assassination teams passed out black cards with white eyes on them, designed to frighten the enemy. Can you tell the Tribunal first, exactly what the assassination teams were; and second, what was their relationship {281} to the American forces and especially the CIA .. and third, the methods used by these teams?

The assassination teams, as they were called, grew out of Project Delta, which was the programme I helped start over there. Men who had worked with Delta were detached, and helped to train these assassination teams under the auspices of the CIA. They are organized as part of the overall organization – what they call the Rural Revolutionary Development Team, part of the pacification programme in the southern zone. In 1965 it was decided that something had to be done to break up the infrastructure within the villages in the southern zone. In other words, defeating the armed forces of the National Liberation Front on the battlefield, essentially, was not going to accomplish too much if in fact all they did was retreat back in the villages and consolidate its infrastructure. Possibly for the first time there was tacit admission of the success of the National Liberation Front within the villages, because it was declared, at the time, that the way to work in the village was to use the same methods that we claimed the National Liberation Front was using.

In other words, to use the same instruments. It was realized, of course, that Americans themselves could not implement this programme. It would have to be Vietnamese. So Americans were detached from Special Forces Units to train the Revolutionary Development Cadres. After encircling a village, and making it secure from outside influence, they would go in there, and use psychological methods, and re-educate the people. It was realized, even in the planning stages, that there would be intransigence on the part of the people and there would be those within each village, very determined to see this plan not work. The idea was to find out who these people were and try to remove them from the village and imprison them, or, if that was not possible to do without upsetting the village (in other words, they might be respected members of the village and people would rebel if you took them out) there was always the method of removal by assassination. Provisions were made to train assassination teams. The methods they used are unlimited. There are a large number of ways to kill people. The training, the support, the transport and the weaponry of these teams are controlled by Americans. There are Vietnamese counterparts involved. When it was first announced that {282} we were going to use these new methods, we talked about the Revolutionary Village Development Cadre. The American military didn’t speak about the assassination teams. It was said at the time it was run by the CIA. It was in our own newspapers. The rationale for this – why the CIA and not some branches of the military was in charge – was that the CIA had men in the field, on the place, and that they had the organization ready to go. As a matter of fact, this is much like the CIDG programme when it first started. The fact is that with the CIA there is no accounting for what they do, or the money they spend or where they get their money.

So it can be a rather clandestine operation. Had it been just the Revolutionary Development Cadre going in to re-educate people, there would have been no need for clandestine methods. Since the assassination teams were part of this, the CIA was brought in. The white card that you referred to was a form of psychological warfare. In the initial stages, each time somebody was assassinated, a calling card would be left which varied from area to area. One of these calling cards was a card with a white eye on it. The plan was that in the future you wouldn’t have to assassinate the people, leaving a card would be sufficient to stop them from trying to do what they were trying to do. Variations of this are used in other countries where Special Forces operate, in Guatemala specifically. In Guatemala, they use a black hand. You leave it as a little calling card to warn the people not to help the guerrillas.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, I believe your official title was ‘operations and intelligence officer’, and that you changed your role … and your operations thereafter were other than those in the first period. In the third period, the last one, I think it is important to emphasize that you especially and officially wrote a history of the Green Berets, the Special Forces. As a result, you had access to documents and secret information. I think it is very important that you specify your duties in Vietnam, to allow us to ask questions about the actions of American forces in Vietnam. So, can you be specific about the role of the Special Forces in Vietnam, and especially about your three different roles during your service there?

Yes, it can be divided into three phases, with one sub-division in the second phase. The first assignment I had in Vietnam was {283} with the Headquarters 5th Special Forces, as one of the three area specialists for III and IV Corps tactical areas. This would be characterized as the southern half of the southern zone of Vietnam. Specifically, there were two captains and myself. We were responsible for the briefing of teams coming into the country and the briefing of teams going out of the country. We were the coordinator between the various camps in this area. Of course, we were also in charge of the briefings for visiting dignitaries, VIPs and so on, and as part of this job it was our duty to go to the various camps and in my case to actually take part in patrols and combat actions, in order to evaluate the worthiness or the unworthiness of the various companies. These are again the CIDG camps, the strike forces. In the second phase, which is sub-divided, I was operations and intelligence officer in a group called Project Delta. In fact, I helped form this project from scratch. This project was initiated originally for the specific purpose of infiltrating teams into Laos. Later on, the programme was enlarged, and in addition to being an operations and intelligence specialist I was also a team leader, actually going with the teams. These are eight-man teams, consisting usually of two Americans and six Vietnamese, essentially started out as an intelligence-gathering agency and later developed into something that was given the name ‘hunter-killer team’. In other words, you went out and you hunted information but you also got involved in commando-type raid tactics. As I became more and more involved in the field and the operational end of that, I did less of the office work, and although I was still in an advisory capacity, that particular function was taken over by a major. And in the final phases I was assigned for the purpose – this is in the last six to eight weeks in Vietnam – of writing the official history for Special Forces in Vietnam, in addition to which I was also doing staff study papers, analysing various field situations, and submitting solutions to problems for study…

Mahmud Ah Kasuri: Would you, Mr Duncan, give us the dates to which these three periods are related?

The first period was sometime in the middle of March 1964, in fact, from the day I arrived… and that period ended on 24 May 1964. It was one month and a half. And then from 24 May 1964 through August, I was with Project Delta. I never was really {284} officially separated from Project Delta. In other words, I was still – after I was writing this history – I was still in an advisory capacity to the project; although I was no longer taking part in the field operations after August of 1965. And my service in Vietnam terminated somewhere around 15 September 1965.

Halimi: I would like to ask you a question about prisoner treatment in Vietnam. Almost all the witnesses agree on this point: the instructions that were given, after the capture of prisoners, to the Americans was to kill them if they became bothersome. You said it in your book, The New Legions … Peter Bourne said the same thing at Captain Levy’s trial. Also, Robin Moore in his book, The Green Berets, confirmed very forcibly that there were formal instructions to kill prisoners that were definitely considered dangerous – or Viet Cong, in most cases. Can you answer this first point?

Yes. I think, in the interest of brevity, I may be improper here on procedure. You have mentioned the Levy trial. The problem as I see it here, is to show pattern and practice in the treatment of prisoners, in other words, to separate pattern and practice from isolated, individual incidents. Perhaps I can clarify this by saying that between Peter Bourne, Robin Moore and myself, we have visited and been in at least seventy-five per cent of Special Forces camps that existed in Vietnam at that time. I myself have been at perhaps twenty-five such camps. Of course, I could not see all of these things myself. I will talk about things I actually have seen myself, but of course in my capacity of reading the intelligence reports, the after-action reports that came from these camps that was part of my duty, I have knowledge that, in fact, these are the practices throughout the country at Special Forces camps. Now, in the book, I related two incidents in some detail – one, in which a prisoner was disembowelled with a knife under interrogation, and another event, where civilians were picked up along the route of march and abused. Both these incidents took place in Tay Ninh Sul, which is a camp, an old French fort, as a matter of fact, just outside the city of Tay Ninh. This particular company was composed primarily from an ethnic minority group, the Cao Dai. The company leader was given the normal rank of lieutenant. His name was Dam. I understood that he was a former major in the now-defunct Cao Dai army. The strike force, like all strike forces, {285} brings in another problem – who controls these teams? And if I may, I’d like to digress here, just for a moment.

It was contended by the US Army at the Levy trial that, in fact, these strike forces are under the command and control of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the Saigon government. At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, it is taught as doctrine, that either in guerrilla warfare or counter-guerrilla warfare, when you are working with indigenous groups of people, you control these people by controlling the money, by controlling the supplies and by controlling the communications. At all of these camps, without exception, the money is supplied by the United States; the strike forces are paid by the United States through Special Forces; in fact, the supply base at that time was Nha Trang, and it was either funnelled through the B-Team to the A-Teams, or directly from Nha Trang to the A-Teams.

The communications, both equipment and the operators, are controlled by the Americans. So, in fact, to say that the Vietnamese Special Forces are running these camps is an evasion of the grandest order; yet is a convenience that when something goes wrong it works conveniently both ways. The Vietnamese can say: we can do nothing, it was the Americans who are in charge. The Americans can say: we can’t do anything because we don’t have control. One hand rubs the other…. I have a specific example on by whom and how these camps are controlled. In the case of this story and this disembowellment, both of these patrols… were led by this Mr Dam.

Both cases, the Special Forces people were there. A captain, excuse me, a first lieutenant – American – and two American NCOs. There was one Vietnamese Special Forces present, a sergeant. He was just there for whatever reason, more like an observer; he did not give orders. The orders were given through the interpreter, or indirectly from the lieutenant or one of the American sergeants to this Mr Dam. These acts were performed from this particular camp. In fact, the American Special Forces were able in the space of two months to have three camp commanders relieved. The one camp commander was relieved because he tried to put Mr Dam in jail. This is the Vietnamese camp commander, his official title. He tried to put Mr Dam in jail, and as a result of that – and I have personal knowledge of this because I happened {286} to be there for the changing of the guard ceremony when one was relieved – the new commander came in. They try not to interfere, in other words, as long as everything is going the way the Americans want it to go. Then, of course, the Vietnamese are given great sway as to how they conduct the camp. As soon as it does not meet with American approval, the pressure is put on and the man is relieved. As a matter of fact, United States Special Forces themselves were instrumental in getting the commander – the overall commander of the Vietnamese Special Forces – not only relieved but sent out of the country, which was Colonel Lamson, who I understand right now is in Laos, Vientiane.

As for the specific incidents referred to in the book, in both cases Americans were present. All the instructions were: get the information. They knew what methods would be used to extract that information, and the thing is, then the Americans would turn their backs, light a cigarette, you know, until the nastiness was over. Now, this type of thing is very common throughout. Special Forces, perhaps more so than other organizations within the United States Army, are very sensitive about the ethnic differences. For instance, in training, you are told that you should never torture a prisoner; let your counterpart do it. You should never kill a prisoner; let your counterpart do it. This is the indigenous counterpart; in Vietnam, of course, that would be the Vietnamese. Now, there is no morality; this doctrine is not put forth on a moral issue, but a very pragmatic issue.

The idea being that, since you are an American, it could be resented – your torturing or killing these people. In other words, you don’t want the charge of prejudice or racism thrown at you.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, I would like to ask you about torture of prisoners by the South Vietnamese, in the presence of Americans. I would like to ask you about blanket orders given to the troops to get rid of prisoners. I ask this because in your book, in the testimony of Peter Bourne, in the testimony of Robin Moore which the Tribunal has, and in the deposition of Marine Campbell which the Tribunal will hear – we find references that indicate there were orders to execute prisoners. Can you say whether you know if there are general orders of this kind given to American forces?

I personally have never heard a blanket order of this type {287} given. However, such orders are given to individuals in specific circumstances, and I will relate a personal one.

This was in the An Lao valley in 1965. We went into this area again, a team of eight men – this was an area that had been controlled for some time by the National Liberation Front. As a matter of fact, there hadn’t been government troops in that area in a couple of years at least.

Our mission was to last five days in this area, to put the valley under surveillance or whatever, and hopefully, on the way out, to pick up prisoners, if we could, for interrogation. As these things do happen when you are working in somebody else’s territory, we inadvertently had to take prisoners. In other words we were in a position where we had to take prisoners for our own safety because they had walked in upon us. We would try to let them go by, but it just didn’t work that way. However, we were faced with the problem: we were in this valley; we have four prisoners, there are only eight of us. Quite obviously, we can’t carry these people around with us, we can’t let them go. I radioed back to base, informed them of the situation, and my instructions over the radio were to ‘get rid of them’. I asked for a repeat on that, they said, ‘get rid of them’. I pretended to ignore – not ignore – pretended that I didn’t understand the communication (of course, I fully understood the communication) and effected a helicopter transport out of there. When I got back to our base camp, the people were very angry, and when I say people, I am talking now about the commander of the project at that time, because I had brought the prisoners back and had not stayed in this area for four or five days. He made it very plain to me that what he meant by ‘getting rid of them’, of course, as I well knew, was that they were to be murdered, and to carry on with the mission. I think that two other people were present at the time when that conversation took place. It would have been the standard practice in a situation like that to get rid of the prisoners, and the only way to get rid of them is, of course, by murder.

This comes back again to something I said this morning. The captain that gave the order would not in all good sense ever say directly over the radio, to ‘kill the prisoners’. Because again, these radios are monitored, and if there should be some legal ramification later he could always deny that he ever gave them {288} such an order. It would be considered an illegal communication, in the Army, to say such a thing.

Halimi: I would like to ask you – I think that you have your text in English – what you wanted to say in your book on page 161, when you say: ‘There is a time to take prisoners and a time to dispose of them …’ and so on. You have the page. Could you explain what you wanted to say?

This particular page, I assume you mean where it starts: ‘This means of course, that you have a disposal problem. Prisoners who have not learned too much, can be turned back to their own, as propaganda weapons’ and so on and so forth. Again, you are referring to this portion where I am talking about getting rid of prisoners. First of all, to put it in context, I have tried to reconstruct as closely as I could, an actual class at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

It was very easy for me to reconstruct this because this is the same class I taught; in fact, I helped make up the lesson plans for it. This is in the context of a guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgency operation. In all of these things, one is perhaps applicable to the other. It in fact means that if you were in a guerrilla warfare area, for instance, if these teams were operating – let us say, in North Vietnam – and you took prisoners – quite obviously you could not set up a prisoner-of-war camp in North Vietnam. So, what do you do with the prisoners? Of course, you would have to dispose of them somehow, for security. It’s a problem all guerrilla units have. Their existence is dependent upon mobility and it’s very hard to be mobile when you’re pinned down with a prisoner-of-war camp. So it is in that context that that information is given.

Halimi: But Mr Robin Moore as well as Captain Bourne and as well as the Marine, Campbell, speak only about the war in South Vietnam and say that their instructions in South Vietnam, not in counter-guerrilla operations, were to get rid of prisoners if they became burdensome.

Yes. Now we are referring to a combat operation. In the process of a combat operation you’re on, maybe, a one-week patrol and you pick up a prisoner here, or a prisoner there, and it is pretty well decided that he is ‘hard-core’ – the expression that is used there – ‘hard-core VC’ – that of course, the man is jeopardizing {289} the security of the patrol. There is nothing else to do, if he is inconveniencing the patrol, then of course, the thing to do would be to dispose of those prisoners, which, of course, would mean killing. Perhaps I should add that the Americans, like any other army, are well aware of the value of prisoners as a source of information, and, if possible, they would bring them back to camp for interrogation – proper, thorough, interrogation. The exigencies of battle do not always allow that, of course. That would mean, that they would be in the middle of a battle, but they would be on a military operation and there would be no convenient method of sending these prisoners back. So, in that sense, they would have to get rid of them.

Halimi: Mr Duncan: you, Robin Moore, as well as Captain Bourne, Carl Campbell and Jones, whose testimonies will be heard on tape, said that it was in fact the Americans who taught the South Vietnamese the interrogation techniques they practise. Could you verify this? And then could you talk about the two incidents of torture that yourself saw that are described in your book?

Yes, it was the practice, at least certainly the time I was there, when you did have prisoners, after a rather superficial interrogation – and by this I mean a direct in-the-field type interrogation of a prisoner – that they were turned over to the Vietnamese (I’m talking now of the Saigon elements) for interrogation. Sometimes they were turned over at the camp level, sometimes at the – what they call – the province, or district, level. In any event, the type of treatment that they would receive in the process of interrogation and incarceration, was well known to the Americans; there is report after report of such things in the files in Saigon. There have sometimes been remonstrations against it, again not on moral grounds, but due to the fact it wasn’t eliciting very good information.. As far as I know, it generally still is the practice, although we do now have our own interrogators. Specifically, it was done for two reasons: one, contrary to popular myth, very few of the Special Forces people in Vietnam spoke Vietnamese, of which I’m no exception. The other reason was that it helped to perpetuate the myth that in fact the Vietnamese were in charge of the operations. Interrogating anybody through an interpreter is a very awkward method of interrogation and … it takes a very highly {290} trained interrogator to ever get any good information this way. So they were turned over to the Vietnamese with full knowledge of the treatment they would receive. More often than not, or – let me correct that – quite often the prisoner did not survive the interrogation.

To answer specifically the second part of your question, which is an elaboration of these two incidents in Tay Ninh province, the one took place after a battle; there was … what we call a fire fight – both sides shooting – the strike force was pinned down in a rather open area; aeroplanes were called in. You couldn’t actually call this a hamlet – it was maybe a collection of twenty huts, twenty-five huts perhaps, many of which were destroyed; it was recognized that there would be many civilians in that village … (we get a relative value problem here: who is it better to have killed, a few civilians that we don’t know, or us?)

After the fire fight stopped … the strike force went on into the village. Those houses that were still left standing were searched; all material taken out of them that had any value at all, souvenirs mostly, and then the houses were put to the torch. In the process of this, of course, as you might fully understand, the people who owned the houses weren’t too happy to see their houses burned, and in a couple of cases they protested to the soldiers and were beaten, and, in fact, one woman was shot by one of the soldiers. And, finally, one prisoner was brought forward with a broken leg. He was tied with what we call communication wire. It’s a very thin wire with a plastic coating and with a steel core in it and it bites very deeply into the flesh. His arms were tied twice; once at the biceps and once at the wrists, behind his back. He was dragged into the centre of the village.

First of all he was interrogated by what would be called the executive officer of the strike force, without any results. When I say interrogated, I mean that questions were shouted and screamed at him, while simultaneously one of the other soldiers was kicking the broken leg to the point where the bone finally was pushed through the flesh. During this interrogation a lieutenant had a knife in his hand – a type of knife called a Kabar, an item that is issued to the United States Marines, very popular with Special Forces in Vietnam and a treasured item amongst strike forces and he was teasing the prisoner with this knife: drawing – not {291} actually cutting – but scraping with the point, tracing marks on his chest and stomach. As time went on, of course, the prisoner was not speaking and finally the prisoner was literally pinned to the ground with this Kabar knife. A Kabar knife has a blade on it about nine inches long. It’s like what we would call a hunting knife. The knife was pushed straight through his stomach. Then another platoon leader jumped on the prisoner, who was now almost in a state of shock, and he proceeded again to attack him with a knife, only this time ripping the stomach cavity open and going into the cavity and extracting the gall-bladder, which he treasured as a trophy. As a matter of fact some three weeks later he was still wearing the gall bladder around his neck in a little plastic bag as a good-luck token. I have been told – I have no way of verifying this – that he would probably eventually sell that gall bladder to a Chinese, to make some Chinese medicine, evidently valued for some reason.

The other situation: again it was the same company, in Tay Ninh province. Different advisers this time – different Americans with them. We were not involved in a battle initially, but on the second morning we were out, as we progressed along the route of march – going generally east, towards a village called Suoi Da – we started picking up civilians. These were unarmed people, working in the fields with their water buffaloes, or with their little carts, going off somewhere. A couple of them were, I guess, of military age. But the others were older – older men. In fact, one man was almost the stereotype of the venerable elder, with a long beard, and so on. When I asked why they were being picked up, I was told, ‘because they are suspected Viet Cong’.

Whether they were sympathizers with the NLF or not, who can say? The fact that they were living in peace in that particular area indicates that at least they were somewhat sympathetic to the National Liberation Front, but if you picked up everybody in South Vietnam who felt that way, you really would have a lot of people. In any event, during the next three days, as we picked up more and more people, the civilians were pressed into service as ammunition-bearers. They had one carrying a machine-gun, another one carrying the ammunition and another man carrying what is called a Browning automatic rifle, not of course to use but as a convenience for the soldiers. And eventually, on perhaps the {292} third morning, perhaps the fourth morning (I’m not sure which now), we did engage in an attack on a suspected village and these people were passed into the battle along with the soldiers. They had no weapons to use, they were just carrying other supplies along, sharing the same exposure to the shooting as the soldiers. And certain of the soldiers were detailed to keep pushing them in with the other soldiers. Shortly after the battle was over the patrol also was considered over. By this time these people were many miles from home. And having been picked up as Viet Cong sympathizers or suspects, they were then turned loose to make their own way back home. Also, during this period some of these people were treated very badly. One was beaten with a rifle butt, the old man was thrown to the ground and beaten again by this Mr Dam. I think that the significant thing about this is that this was considered one of the finest companies that we had operating at that time amongst the strike forces. And it was hoped that we could bring every company up to the standards of this company…

Halimi: Before passing to questions on the treatment of the civilian population, I would like to ask you to finish your testimony on the torturing of prisoners by confirming what you have already mentioned in your report – that these are not isolated incidents which you describe but occur on a large scale in order that the Tribunal be convinced that this is in fact established practice.

Yes, I will confirm this. It was brought out at the Levy trial. Captain Peter Bourne, Robin Moore and myself have discussed similar things in at least seventy-five per cent of the camps that existed at that time. It’s interesting to note here, too, with Robin Moore, Peter Bourne and myself, when you put our times in Vietnam together, cover about a three-year period of time. So this is not something that went on one month but not the next month. It was consistent for at least three years.

Halimi: Would you describe to the Tribunal how you proceeded to arrest civilians during an operation, how they were screened and classified, and how they were put into camps…

Well, first of all there was no arrest in the proper sense of the word. The people were just forcibly taken away from whatever they were doing and there was an initial interrogation at that {293} point. For example, ‘Are you a member of the National Liberation Front?’ or, ‘Are you a Viet Cong?’ As you might suspect not too many people admit to that, under those circumstances. And then the following question would be, ‘Do you know where they are?’ or, ‘Do you know who is?’ And more often than not this is accompanied by violence, especially if you’re operating in an area of contention of a known National Liberation Front stronghold or controlled area. The people are eventually broken down roughly into the categories of suspected hard-core VC, sympathizers to the National Liberation Front, or possibly innocent.

Halimi: I see, that’s what you call innocent civilians?

Yes, innocent civilians.

Halimi: During the Levy trial, you were questioned on the existence of, and the conditions in, the refugee camps. You have said that these camps are ‘garbage pits’. Could you explain this and tell the Tribunal how many camps you have seen and what has led you to make this judgement?

I have seen three or four such camps. I used the word ‘garbage pit’ for lack of a better euphemism, I suppose. The conditions under which these people are forced to live are, by any standards, appalling. There is usually a grave shortage of water, perhaps one water point for 200 people. In other cases water has to be brought in, if there is any water at all. They are fortunate to have enough water for cooking and drinking, leaving very little over for sanitary purposes. The latrine facilities, if they exist at all, are of the worst order. There is very little for these people to do, no form of creative work. It’s simply a matter of sitting around and letting time pass by. I didn’t, myself, see any evidence of physical abuse, in the sense of people going in there and just systematically beating up refugees, but there was overcrowding, in the number of people living in one cubicle, for instance, in the provisions made for beds, which are usually nonexistent. You could usually smell these camps long before you came to them, because of the lack of sanitation facilities.

Halimi: You have in your book, on page 95, alluded to a form of racism which exists even within the Special Forces, in their recruiting as well as in the destruction they carry out. And you have said that this racism took definite forms: for instance, your {294} officers told you not to recruit any Negroes, and that you must find some excuse for rejecting them. Could you give us an explanation of these racial prejudices?

Within the United States Army, and Special Forces is no exception, officially there is no such thing as prejudice for whatever reason. However, individuals within the service bring the prejudices from civilian life with them and, as I stated in the book many times, people with these prejudices get in rather high or official positions. Possibly (this is opinion) the ones that very emphatically and quite honestly state that they have these prejudices or racist attitudes perhaps are more honest than many of those that deny it. One is just a little bit more obvious. It is a fact that at the time I was sent out recruiting for Special Forces, the captain directly in charge of that programme made it quite clear and he used the term ‘Don’t send any niggers.’ He quite definitely did not want any Negroes at all, any surplus of Negroes, in the Special Forces. Again, this is not an official policy, but the prejudice does exist and it exists throughout the army. It shows up in peculiar ways. I’ve seen it with the American army in Germany, I’ve seen it with the American army at home, and I’ve seen it with the American army in Vietnam, too. One white and one black worked together, perhaps fixing a truck or as aeroplane mechanics. But at five o’clock the duty day is over, the white man goes to a white bar and the black man goes to a black bar. Now, in Vietnam. … It’s a strange phenomena. … I just assume it still exists, it existed when I was there. Now these bars are not segregated by the Vietnamese. They are segregated, unofficially, by the American soldiers. A black man walking into a white bar is made to feel very unwelcome, and in a few cases I have actually seen them thrown out of the bar. Now, two men from the same unit, if two men sharing combat hazards, one white and one black, were to go to town and go in to the same bar, of course, nothing would be said. But a stranger, let’s say a black man from a strange unit, coming into the bar, it could cause trouble. At least it did while I was there. Now this manifests itself in a very strange way in the relative value put on life in Vietnam. One rifle shot from a village is an excuse to wipe out a village. The idea being, to use the words that they would use, ‘There isn’t one of those slopes, there isn’t a hundred of those slopes, worth the life of one of my men. So {295} better to shell the village rather than risk getting one man shot.’ And of course, they believe… it’s a commonly held opinion, that most of these people are VC anyway, so what the hell.

Halimi: While working for our Tribunal, I heard strange revelations, and most of these deal with the penetration of the CIA into the Special Forces. I must say that the principal source of information is Captain Peter Bourne, who, as far as I know, is an apolitical doctor. He has explained objectively the role the CiA plays in the Special Forces in Vietnam, and it was especially the CIA who decided the location of the refugee camps, not according to military or to strategic criteria, but solely according to political criteria. On the other hand, Mr Robin Moore, who defended this viewpoint, answered very peremptorily that the CIA was in the Special Forces. That throughout the world where Special Forces are found, it (CIA) takes men from the Special Forces, uses them, and puts them back into uniform. Questioned on the extent of this penetration, Robin Moore said (I think this is his exact phrase), ‘They are all over the world.’ He even gave details of the penetration of the Army of Peru, of the Tenth Group of Special Forces at Battols in Germany, and I believe that the only exception he agreed to make was Mexico. He said, ‘I am not sure whether we have this form of organization in Mexico.’ So the question I would like to ask you, and this is my last question, could you explain to the Tribunal what are the official ties between the CiA and the Special Forces? Would you first describe the connexions between the CIA and the Special Forces in Vietnam?

Yes, I testified, I believe it was this morning, that the whole CIDG programme from the time of conception was a CIA operation, and Special Forces was the operation arm of the CIA in running the CIDG camps. This is one aspect. This would be an overt operation. Within Vietnam, and this is especially true when Special Forces first went there, many of the Special Forces men travelled in civilian clothes, out of uniform. They entered the country on civilian passports and were working directly with and for the Agency. However, they were still in Special Forces, still being paid by Special Forces. This would be a covert operation within Special Forces itself. This was a means of again circumventing the Geneva Agreements. At that time the number of {296} American soldiers in Vietnam was restricted by the Agreements and this was a way to have them in the country doing the job and being able to say they were not soldiers.

Now in the operation I was on, Project Delta, we worked very closely with the CIA. We coordinated operations. We exchanged equipment: communications equipment, radio equipment. Project Delta … was initiated for the initial purpose of infiltrating Laos, and of course we would have to cooperate or coordinate with the Central Intelligence Agency, essentially because they already had people in Laos and were we to go in there without coordination we might have compromised their operation. In other words, we could have jumped people in on top of their people. Their teams were called ‘Hardnose’ teams at that time in Laos. There is another operation called SOG [Special Operations Groups]. Its main base is at Bien Hoa, and they have forward operational bases at Kai Sanh [Khe Sanh], Da Nang and a new camp just south of Da Nang. … This particular operation, in 1964, was for the purpose of infiltrating teams into North Vietnam, north of the 17th Parallel. This was more or less a continuation of a programme started quite a while back by Colonel Lansdale, who was the head of the CIA at that time in Vietnam. The training, the direct training of the people on these teams, was done by Special Forces personnel, who were put on detached duty to the CIA for that purpose.

The Project Delta itself branched out and had a satellite organization called Project Omega – again both a combined military and CIA operation. Project Omega was formed and its primary duties are to infiltrate teams into Cambodia. Complementary with that they have a similar operation in Thailand for infiltrating Cambodia from that border. They also infiltrated people into Laos from Thailand, again a combined CIA and military operation. Most of the funds for these operations came from CIA … And I have already discussed the strike force operation and the assassination teams. Now this is a little different. The man is taken out of Special Forces, and it would amount essentially to a reassignment within the government. He would no longer be drawing his pay from Special Forces, he would be drawing it directly from the Agency. Special Forces then are both in covert and overt {297} operations with the CIA, but still within Special Forces, and they are detached and reassigned directly to CIA, and then often after that particular mission is completed they will come back to Special Forces. Training for the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba was done this way. The men were taken from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and sent to Latin America for training the Cuban invaders, and when that operation was over these people came back to Special Forces.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, do you know if the Combat Studies Group has given orders to the CIA to place teams in Vietnam?

CSG is just one of the names used for the CIA there, sometimes they are called ‘embassy officials’ too, but CSG, CAS and SOG are all CIA of various echelons. The CSG was in control of the CIDG programme and, in fact, as you asked earlier, were responsible for the actual location of many of the CIDG camps. The location of them was not always picked out by the CIA, but in many instances and especially in the earlier stages they were. If I may anticipate your next question, why they were placed in certain positions, in many cases it was for political reasons. In fact many times these camps were placed, from a strictly military point of view, in incredible and very untenable places. I could name for instance the camp of Ban Sar Pa, which is directly west of Ban Methuot, very close to the Cambodian border, and which was sitting at the base of a hill with trees, large trees and dense foliage growing right up to one edge of the camp. In other words, no field of fire for gunners, and somebody wanting to attack the camp could virtually crawl right up to the wire without being seen. Of course the reason for the location of this camp which was in a Montagnard area, was that they wanted those people at least pacified, to stop them from harassing the government or stop the government from harassing them.

You may recall this is a camp that went out of existence in 1964. This is one of the camps where the Montagnards’ revolt took place against the South Vietnamese government. The camp was destroyed by the South Vietnamese Rangers, a company attached to Project Delta at that time.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, do you have any more to say to the Tribunal regarding the penetration of Laos, Cambodia or other countries? {298}

As a matter of fact, we did remove the overt element of Special Forces from Laos at the time of the Geneva Agreements, but we left the covert there and, of course, have put additional people in since that time. Again in Laos, even when they were initially in the relatively overt operation, they travelled on civilian passports and for the most part wore civilian clothes. Of course, this is a pattern of Special Forces. It was repeated again in the Dominican Republic. Long before the American Marines landed in the Dominican Republic there had been Special Forces teams there. They had been recruited from Spanish-American people within the United States, in other words people that could blend very well with the people of the countryside, and they were there to pick up intelligence, and, to use the expression, ‘win the hearts and minds of the people’ in the countryside. This first came to my attention when a couple of people from the Peace Corps complained that Special Forces was also trying to enlist or recruit people from within the Peace Corps to supply them with information. These individuals took exception to that. The same was true in Guatemala. Special Forces are in Guatemala and have been for some time. Like any other type of military personnel, American military personnel in Guatemala, at least when they are in Guatemala City or any of the larger towns, do not wear uniforms. This is also true of the Air Force there. Of course, they are in Panama, in the Canal Zone, where we have our own school called the School of the Americas, where we take people from these countries, such as Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela and so on, and we send them to that school for training by Special Forces. All of these things are very closely coordinated, of course, with CIA.

Jean-Paul Sartre: In the International Herald Tribune 23 November 1967, General Westmoreland stated that the Vietnam war’s major objective was to show the world that guerrilla war did not pay. Consequently there is a current military doctrine of anti-guerrilla war in the USA. Could you tell us what it is, and, more precisely, how it raises the problem of repression of the people supporting the guerrillas?

The doctrine – perhaps I would prefer to use the word policy – I think, has been stated many times by Mr Rusk, President Johnson, Mr McNamara and other officials in our country: that they’re determined to make sure that wars of national liberation {299} will not work, will not succeed. And, of course, the whole counterinsurgency programme of the United States is set up to follow through with that programme, that John F. Kennedy set up, for special warfare: the School of the Americas in Panama and so on. It works, as so often happens, from what I consider a false premise. For instance, we have never admitted officially that the guerrillas, or the National Liberation Front in Vietnam, for instance, are anything other than just a very tiny minority of the population of South Vietnam. We justify our actions by saying, in fact, given a free choice the people would support us or support the government that we are backing at any given time. The ironic part of this policy is that it is tied in very closely with the economic systems in these other countries, what is to our economic and political advantage in these countries. I think if you will make a study of it, that in every country in Latin America where we are involved and certainly in South Vietnam, it becomes readily apparent to even a casual visitor that these people are in grave need, long overdue need, for some type of social-political-economic revolution. Invariably they are being run by oligarchies, dictatorships or juntas of one sort or another. Instead of going into these countries and giving these people a revolution, by dealing directly with the people, the policy always is to go in and help the government; in other words, to help the people through existing government. The rationale for this is, of course, that the government we’re helping is anti-communist. And so we are willing to overlook many of the imbalances, injustices, in many cases the corruption, of these governments, and in fact, I ought to use an American colloquialism, it becomes a policy of ‘eating soup with a fork’. Because, in fact, what you are doing is helping the very people that are responsible for the very conditions that exist and that made it necessary for you to get involved in the first place. We are determined to say that wars of national liberation will not work. We realize on the other hand that they are indigenous but we claim that they are directed from outside the country and this is the rationale for that. Does this answer your question completely?

Sartre: Do you think that these methods used in this war were unavoidable, or that they are inevitably linked to this type of war wherein there is, on the one hand, a guerrilla, and, on the other hand, the bulk of the population which sympathizes with guerrilla {300} forces? Do you think that torture inevitably appears in those cases, as well as the extermination of an important part of the population, and a war related to genocide?

The methods could be avoided. They could have been avoided from the beginning. You get a cause-and-effect relationship. The excuse for many of the things done by the United States’ military personnel or by those people under their charge or control is usually, ‘Look what the National Liberation Front does, look at the terrible things they do.’ Again, I think there’s a cause-and-effect here. The methods that first started this displacing of the population, things like the ‘strategic hamlet’ programmes, perhaps might have had some validity in Malaya, given an entirely different political situation, given ethnic groupings and, of course, a different people, different terrain and so forth. Certainly it was a tragedy in Vietnam and one of the things that led to the situation that exists in Vietnam today. In other words, a self-defeating thing. It’s common when you’re dealing with Regular Army people or with military people that they always think in terms of the last war, the one that preceded this one, and you make all the mistakes and then you try to learn something. And in this case they made many mistakes and now, in my own opinion, it’s impossible to rectify them. And to answer your question directly again, no, I don’t think these methods were necessary, because I don’t think it was ever necessary for the United States Army to be there in the first place.

WILFRED BURCHETT The United States and Laos


The United States and Laos

At a little-publicized three-power foreign ministers’ meeting in Paris, on 13 July 1954, John Foster Dulles made a last-minute effort to avoid a ceasefire. He urged Mendès-France and Anthony Eden of Great Britain to set up a South-east Asia Treaty Organization for which he had the draft in his briefcase – immediately, {301} and he demanded international intervention instead of talk about a ceasefire. Mendès-France refused and was strongly supported by Eden. But the price the latter two paid was to agree to set up SEATO immediately after a ceasefire.

As the clock ticked towards midnight on 20 July at Geneva, new difficulties suddenly arose. Details for a ceasefire in Vietnam had been agreed upon – but the Laotian delegation refused to sign the agreement on Laos. Eventually, at the very last minute, one member of the Laotian delegation did sign.

Just two months later, on 18 September 1954, Kou Voravong, the Laotian Minister of Defence who had signed in Geneva, was shot in the back as he sat at a dinner table in Vientiane, the Laotian capital. His host at dinner was Phoui Sananikone, the other delegate at Geneva, then Minister of Foreign Affairs. Just nine days prior to this murder, Kou Voravong had revealed in the National Assembly that the sum of $1 million had been paid into a Swiss bank for the account of Phoui Sananikone, the fee he received not to sign the Geneva Agreements.

The other ‘imprudence’ committed by Voravong was that he had arranged, and taken part in, the first meeting for many years between the half-brother princes, Souvanna Phouma, then Prime Minister of the royal government, and Souphanouvong, head of the Pathet Lao. This meeting was aimed at starting political negotiations between the government and the Pathet Lao as provided for under the Geneva Agreements. The murder set the tone for things to come. The crisis it provoked led to Souvanna Phouma’s government being replaced by one headed by a pro-American, Katay Don Sasorith. The latter, within a few days of a visit to Laos by John Foster Dulles, repudiated the Geneva Agreements and launched an all-out military attack against the Pathet Lao forces in flagrant violation of the Agreements.

It took two years and many humiliating defeats on the battlefield before Katay’s government fell and was replaced by another under Prince Souvanna Phouma, which was ready to meet again with the head of the Pathet Lao. If ever there was a chance for lasting peace and national unity in Laos, this lay in an agreement between the Neutralist forces, at that stage represented by Souvanna Phouma, and the patriotic forces of the Pathet Lao which had borne the brunt of the armed struggle against the {302} French. But such a meeting and its implications was not to the liking of Washington, as I soon found out.

Early in 1956, I had interviewed Souvanna Phouma, and as Prince Sihanouk had done for Cambodia, Souvanna Phouma said that Laos had neither sought nor accepted the ‘protection’ that the SEATO powers decided at the first meeting should be accorded Laos and Cambodia. I had also seen Souphanouvong and quickly realized that there were no problems which could not easily be solved in direct negotiations.

In January 1957, I visited Vientiane again with a valid visa for a two-week stay. At the airport I met an American journalist and we agreed to have lunch next day. Next day, he turned up for a moment to cancel the lunch, explaining that he ‘could not be seen talking’ with me, that the US Embassy was furious about my being in Vientiane and that I was held responsible ‘for having brought the two princes together again’. Shortly afterwards, I was visited by a Laotian police official who cancelled my visa and told me that a police escort would take me to the airport and put me on the next plane – to Saigon.

When I protested, he explained that this was not a Laotian decision but one imposed by the American ‘advisers’. It was only by the intervention of the International Control Commission that I was able to postpone my departure by one day and leave – without a police escort – for Hanoi. The incident was proof enough for me – and for the International Control Commission – that the last thing Washington wanted was ‘peace and stability’ for Laos, as they so often proclaimed.

There are witnesses here far more competent than myself to relate what happened in all those years from 1954 onwards. The essence was a gradual process from US gross intervention in Laotian affairs, to indirect aggression and finally outright aggression against the Laotian people. There were occasional temporary retreats when the various ‘strong men’ like Katay, Sananikone, Nosavan and others with their US-equipped forces were defeated and temporary accommodations with the various shades of Neutralist governments made.

Typical is what happened in mid-1960. On 15 August 1960, following a revolt by one of America’s most trusted army units, the King of Laos invited Souvanna Phouma to form a government {303} again. With CIA backing, a rival government was set up in the south, at Svannakhet, under a Prince Boun Oum, but in fact dominated by General Nosavan, a sort of Laotian Nguyen Cao Ky. Within ten days, Nosavan had launched military operations to recapture Vientiane, thus starting all-out civil war again, which was in fact a war of indirect aggression by the United States, with US supplies poured in from Thailand and eventually US ‘advisers’ as well. Nosavan’s forces, however, were successfully opposed by those of the Pathet Lao and Neutralist forces, then under Kong Le.

Eventually, on the initiative of Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia, a new Geneva Conference on Laos was set up on 16 May 1961, but it was only six weeks later – after more battlefield defeats – that Nosavan agreed to send a delegation. It was headed – ominously – by Phoui Sananikone, the same who on American instructions had refused to sign the first Geneva Agreements.

Talks dragged on intermittently for months while Nosavan, with stepped-up US aid, tried to rebuild his army which had been shattered by repeated defeats at the hands of the Pathet Lao and Neutralist forces. Ceasefire agreements were drafted, some even signed, but they were broken within weeks by Nosavan offensives. A report in The Times from its Washington correspondent on 24 May 1962 summed up one aspect of US interference. Under the banner line: ‘CIA IS BLAMED FOR LAOS CRISIS’, The Times story read as follows:

The Administration is now convinced that the Central Intelligence Agency has been up to its old devices again and must share a large part of the responsibility for the situation in Laos…. Apparently the evidence shows that swarms of CIA agents deliberately oppose the official American objective of trying to establish a neutral government. They are believed to have encouraged General Phoumi Nosavan in the concentration of troops that brought about the swift and disastrous response from the Pathet Lao …

The ‘swift and disastrous response’ referred to was the destruction of Nosavan’s army in the battle of Nam Tha, a veritable Dien Bien Phu for his ‘made in US’ army. After this defeat, the US government suddenly showed great enthusiasm for a quick conclusion of the Geneva Agreements, agreeing to the setting up of a coalition government, pledged to follow a neutral policy. The {304} attempt to take power by a frontal attack using military force having failed miserably, US tactics changed to a taking power from within. This entailed splitting the Neutralist forces and the physical liquidation of forceful elements within Neutralist ranks which could not be bought.

The coalition government, on which such hopes were placed, never really worked, nor could it work. Pathet Lao and progressive Neutralist members soon found that the government was physically a prisoner of Nosavan, whose forces surrounded and policed Vientiane where the government was supposed to function. Proposals for joint security forces drawn from Nosavan, Neutralist and Pathet Lao units were rejected. Although Neutralist and Pathet Lao ministers took up their posts, the ministries themselves were staffed with Nosavan’s men.

On 1 April 1963, Quinim Pholsena, Foreign Minister and head of the ‘Peace and Neutrality’ party, a man of outstanding intelligence, integrity and courage and the real leader of the Neutralist forces, was shot to death as he walked up the steps of his Vientiane home after attending a royal reception. His wife, also badly wounded by bullets from the same machine-gun, told me a few days later that she had no doubt the murderer had acted on US orders. She said the Americans were furious with her husband because he had rejected a huge bribe offered a few months before when Pholsena was in Washington. The murder of the Foreign Minister was the signal for the real coup and an attempt to seize the stragetic Plain of Jarres by force. A Nosavan commando group was sent to capture or kill Colonel Deuane, another progressive neutral and second-in-command to Kong Le of the Neutralist armed forces. In a battle that lasted two days, Colonel Deuane’s men beat off the attackers. After that the Neutralist forces split, one part under Kong Le eventually throwing in its lot with Nosavan, another under Deuane remaining true to the alliance with the Pathet Lao. Pathet Lao cabinet ministers escaped from Vientiane to territory under their own control immediately after the murder of Pholsena; the armed struggle started up again with the United States moving into it ever more openly.

Members of the various investigation teams who passed through Vientiane on their way to and from Hanoi, could see US bombers taking off from the Vientiane civil airstrip. Also in plain {305} sight were the supply aircraft of the CIA’s private airlines ‘Air America’ and ‘Air Continental’ loading up for air supply missions to the US-trained commando units operating in Pathet Lao-controlled areas.

ERICH WULFF Testimony from South Vietnam


Testimony from South Vietnam

I have just arrived from South Vietnam. I decided to come here before this Tribunal for two main reasons. One, because in the six years I spent in Vietnam, I saw a certain number of things which revolted me; and when the opportunity occurred to come here, I seized it immediately. Secondly, because a number of my Vietnamese friends, who are rendered silent at the present time, asked me to come here and speak in their stead. It is particularly difficult now to continue after this film that you have just seen, which illustrates to you much better than I could do, what is happening at the present time in South Vietnam. I was not able to bring much photographic evidence: the export of this kind of thing from South Vietnam is difficult. I have not so much seen the actual events, as the effects that these have produced. I shall begin by giving a general and rather superficial view of South Vietnam at the present time, especially, to show you the present reality of South Vietnam. It is recognizable to everyone, without the necessity for a great intellectual effort. You have just seen the South Vietnamese landscape; you have seen the bomb craters. Everyone who flies over South Vietnam now can see that the landscape resembles a human skin that suffers from smallpox. There are eruptions everywhere caused by bomb craters which are especially close to isolated habitations, little hamlets, little valleys. Everyone who flies over the land can see it and can draw his own conclusions. k flying over the country, also, you see vast areas which are destroyed and devastated by chemical products. It is a grave landscape – a landscape of ashes. You see, especially in the coastal {306} region, in the province of Quang Nam, close by Phou Yon, chains of villages, habitations and rice fields, that have been abandoned a blanket of death – a landscape of death. One need not be an expert to draw conclusions.

In the towns controlled by the Saigon administration and the Americans, you see whole artificial forests of barbed wire. The American troops, the province heads and the district heads have surrounded the house of every person who collaborates with the Americans with a hedge of barbed wire. The isolation of the Americans and the South Vietnamese officials from the population is immediately visible. There is a desolate chasm between the populated streets and the habitations of the Americans, of the American officers and the South Vietnamese civil servants. For anyone who knows how to look, this already gives a rather clear picture of what is happening in Vietnam. When one goes a little more deeply into events and into the techniques used by the Americans, one can distinguish several main ways by which the war is conducted. The most standard technique is ‘search and destroy’ operations. That is what you have seen just now on the screen. What happens is that a number of helicopters will land in a village. The soldiers enter the houses, they take a certain number of people who live there, especially young ones and women. They arrest them on the pretext that they are suspected Viet Cong and they take them to interrogation centres. The rest of the population has endured this ceaselessly. It is a nightmare of the thirty-year war. After a time the helicopters fly off, and the population remains, stricken with terror and fear.

Now what happens to these prisoners? I have had occasion while working at the Central Hospital of Hue to see about fifty prisoners from the neighbouring prisons who were sent to the hospital in extremely serious condition, sometimes just before they died. I can testify to a certain amount of medical data on these prisoners and especially relate material from dossiers which concern their stories and the manner in which they became prisoners. Many Vietnamese medical students helped me – as much as they could – to establish these files. I shall read to you two examples from these original dossiers that I have before me. I shall not publicly name the prisoners because they are still in prison, and I don’t want to risk their further suffering. But the {307} names will be in the file I will submit to the Tribunal.

Mr ‘X’, a farmer of thirty years, is living in Pen Dim, in the province of Quang Dien. He has been an orphan since childhood. He is married with two children. Condition: poor. He had been in prison three years before being sent to the hospital with a condition of beri-beri. The man had been arrested in a raiding operation without any evidence of his guilt. He was suspected of being a Viet Cong. He was tortured by kicks on his chest, head, his belly, and then by electric wires wound around the forefinger. After this, he preferred to sign the confession that was presented to him already written. Penalty: four years of prison. After this he was evacuated to the prison of Hue, where he was imprisoned.

The second example, a young girl of twenty, living in Top Ku, in the province of Tun Tang, a farmer’s daughter, unmarried, living with her parents in a large family. She had been in prison for two years. The arrest was quite identical with the first case – she had been arrested in the course of a raiding operation as a Viet Cong suspect. She was tortured, beaten with sticks and given the electric torture. She was made to drink soapy water. The result was that she signed an avowal and was convicted to two years in prison. These are typical cases, and I shall submit them to the Tribunal. There are a few others. There are also, of course, some men and women who do not confess and their stories are much worse. They are tortured for a much longer time. No judgement by a court is usually pronounced, and they remain in prison or in a prisoners’ camp for an indefinite time. This, in a few words, constitutes the raiding operations, the so-called ‘search and destroy’ operations by the Americans. This is what happens to the people when they are caught up in them. I am convinced therefore – I convinced myself, rather – when I spoke with these unfortunates among the poor fifty, that I could suspect that perhaps at least two or three of them had participated in the fighting. But most of them were simple peasants who lived quietly at home, and whose only wrong was of not having fled in time.

The success of these raiding operations from the American point of view has been very limited. In the last two years, the year 1967 especially, another method has been invented. This other process has as its objective to destroy all potential bases for the Liberation troops in such a way that certain areas or districts are {308} stripped of all the inhabitants who happen to live there. This process is especially used in regions where raiding operations have had no lasting effect. In the minds of the Americans, then, the only alternate solution is to remove the entire population. To settle them elsewhere, and during this process of resettlement, to try to find the people who were collaborating with the Liberation Front and put them into prison, into so-called refugee camps which are well-controlled and distributed in groups and within which a confidence man is placed. But one cannot succeed in eliminating a whole population from an area; the people won’t go of their own volition. They are attached to their rice fields, to their villages. The mass worship of ancestors plays an important role in the Vietnamese culture. Every peasant Vietnamese wants to live, to marry, to have his children, to die, in the place where he was born – in his own village. So people do not leave. To make them leave they have to be driven, they have to be forced to become refugees. To do this, the Americans use various procedures. According to a relatively recent vocabulary, all this is called to ‘generate refugees’. This expression is used by most of the American civil service; it is, of course, not used at press conferences.

How does one generate refugees? First, one declares a certain region to be a ‘free fire zone’, or a ‘free strike zone’, or a ‘free target zone’, which are the technical terms for this. The Americans then send over planes; the planes drop leaflets in which the population is warned to go to the district headquarters or the chief town. Then, because of a ‘military necessity’, real or imaginary, on the part of the Americans, there will be napalm bombing and machine-gunning at will in such a zone, which explains the official designation ‘free fire zone’. Despite all this, only some of the inhabitants leave. If the bombings become intensified, after a few weeks of increased bombing, two thirds of the population can no longer endure life in such a ‘free fire zone’; they then come to these urban centres. But some still stubbornly remain and the third procedure is forced evacuation. Forced evacuation is not possible everywhere; there are regions where the forces of liberation are too strong for the helicopters to land, but none the less the Americans try. Two provinces where forced evacuation has been practised are Quong Sin and Pu Yen in central Vietnam. There, more than half the population was turned into refugees. {309}

The planes and the helicopters take these people at the point of a gun. They have no possibility of taking their possessions with them. This is a kind of punishment because they did not accept the invitation of the Americans initially. In these provinces massacres occurred. In these two provinces the South Korean divisions the Americans brought in are operating. I base this testimony not on my own experience, but on the experience of an American friend, who has lived for two years in these provinces and who was a witness to all this. I cannot mention his name because he is still in Vietnam. Several times there were cases, when, in the course of a raiding operation, an NLF soldier fired on a Korean and total massacre of the village was the response. There have been new ‘Ouradours and Lidices’ in these two provinces on several occasions. To give you some figures on the extent of this technique, in the province of Binh Dinh, an American told me that in the month of February 1967 there were 173 evacuated towns, in other words, about half the population of this province. The same is true of the province of Phou Yen. In all, one can count about 2,000,000 refugees in South Vietnam, and I need no longer explain what the term refugee means. Other estimations go as high as 4,000,000. Before, eighty per cent of the population lived in the country, now only fifty-five per cent.

Now I would like to speak of some of the psychological and material effects of this process. In a rural culture, when the people leave their homes, the cohesion of village life is broken; the people no longer have their rice fields. They are settled around the great American bases; they have to be settled there, because these are the only places where at least a few of these unfortunates can find work. These unfortunates, almost all of whom had land – albeit small plots – in central Vietnam, now have to work as coolies, as boys, this for the men. And the women work as bar hostesses and prostitutes.

Very often the children begin careers as thieves, pickpockets and as procurers for their mothers and sisters. The uprooting that such a situation leads to, when it is prolonged over a period of years, is altogether obvious. The effects are obvious, but in addition, the Americans can achieve two other aims. They produce the necessary manpower for the maintenance and building of their bases. And secondly, they can create an almost complete economic {310} dependency in these people. For their existence they’re dependent on the American camp. The mode of life of these people has been everlastingly destroyed; how can they begin again? They are bound for their subsistence to the existence of the American bases. This, of course, as the Americans see it, is not without psychological effects. There is created around the American bases the kind of lumpen proletariat that is anarchic, dependent, but which presents certain advantages for the Americans as compared to an integrated peasant population which is too readily revolutionary. These are the new plans which have been executed particularly since the arrival of Robert Komer who is responsible for ‘pacification’ in South Vietnam.

But this undertaking has not really succeeded. In the province of Phu Yen, theoretically one of the most effectively ‘pacified’ provinces by this process, after six months in the refugee camp, a new revolutionary organization has been rebuilt because the people had nothing: the promises were not kept. Because their relatives had been killed, this organization reconstituted itself and what is happening now is that the Americans have to re-raid these so-called refugee villages. In Vietnam at the present time we have refugee villages of the second and third power, the people having had to leave the village that they had been brought to time and again.

I want to accentuate this – what was the American reaction to these successive failures? First of all, a total Americanization of the war and of the civil administration in South Vietnam. For six months, the Americans have centralized their civil services in each province, giving to these services a name which, though often changed, finally ended by practically reconstructing the French Annamite Protectorate of the old days. More and more the Americans have taken civil administration directly into their own hands. Secondly, these excessive failures and the humiliation that they have led to have had a psychological effect. There has been a change in attitude that can be observed in the American soldiers, generally at the end of the third or fourth month of their stay in Vietnam. When they arrive, they are very often full of goodwill; their brain is still fresh with sentences they have been taught. They believe they came here to ‘protect the Vietnamese population from Communist take-over’, but at the end of the time they realize {311} that they have no friends, that apart from a thin layer of collaborators and profiteers nobody wants them. No one has responded to this abstract love with which they came; and so the paternalism, the protectionism with which they wanted to surround the Vietnamese, transforms itself into a kind of aggressive racism. By the end of this time they have become accustomed to calling each Vietnamese a ‘gook’ or ‘slant’. These are people with slant eyes, and are words of insult which the Americans fling at every Vietnamese without distinction. So what has happened is a kind of crumbling of the edifice of theoretical justification which the Americans had erected for themselves. This results in acts of blind fury; they shoot down prisoners in anger – as you saw on the screen. Another technique which was not on the screen but which the Americans themselves have bragged about in my presence is to throw prisoners alive from helicopters – without parachutes, of course. They also practise torture; but a certain distinction must be made. The Americans, with their hygienic spirit, have an obsession with not getting their hands dirty. So they use the South Vietnamese police and the South Vietnamese so-called élite troops to carry out the tortures – you saw this in the motion pictures a moment ago. As you saw, in eighty per cent of the cases, the tortures are executed by the South Vietnamese troops while the Americans remain to the side with the tape recorders: they record what the people say. The Americans hypocritically say, ‘These are cruel people. One can do nothing about Asiatic cruelty.’ These tapes go into calculating machines, and they give statistics: statistics are assimilable to the quiet conscience of the Americans. This was, for me, one of the most disgusting aspects of American behaviour in Vietnam as was their blind bombings of villages.

I would like to relate to you an anecdote – there are a certain number of German nurses who served on the hospital boat, Helgoland. During the first month of their stay in Saigon they were invited by Americans to go in helicopters on a man-hunt as a diversion. I have this information from a man who is now the Director of the Helgoland. A man who has been a witness to this type of cruelty, more and more of which is occurring.

I want to take advantage of this opportunity to speak to you of a little village in South Vietnam called Phu Loc which is in the {312} province of Quang Nam near Da Nang. The thing of which I speak happened in the month of September 1967. The village of Phu Loc was already a village for refugees built just a year ago. The village is close to the American logistic base a few kilometres from the great city of Da Nang. One day, some Liberation Front soldiers came into this village which is a Catholic village, mainly anti-Communist. They came into this village and attacked the American base with mortar fire. The Americans answered with artillery fire on the village. The next day the priest of the village went to the Americans, imploring them not to use drastic means, and he proposed to help them plan an ambush so that they could capture the ones who were guilty. The Americans refused this; the following day the same thing happened, there was an NLF mortar attack. But the next morning a company of Americans came and ordered the inhabitants of the village to leave their houses. They then levelled the entire village, thereby humiliating this priest who at the outset was as anti-Communist as the other villagers. The result was that all the inhabitants fled into the Liberated Zone which fortunately was not very far away. I have a few slides of the village of Phu Loc which I owe to a young American who also worked in Vietnam, who, knowing that I was coming here, gave them to me. They show the effects of American shelling and I will leave them with the Tribunal. In the last few years it has become obvious to almost everyone that what is happening has never been a civil war between Vietnamese, but that it is a war of invasion that the Americans are waging in Vietnam. It is not that this is a new event, but it is only that with the presence of 500,000 Americans this has become visible and undeniable for everyone. Many simple people don’t think too much, but they see what is before their eyes. Especially among the young people we find a growing awareness that the Liberation Front has become the only body existing in Vietnam which has the support of the vast majority of Vietnamese. This consciousness is relatively new in its magnitude. The government of Thieu and Ky struck down the Buddhist revolt. For a long time it was hoped that the Buddhists might constitute a kind of third force between the Front and the Americans. This hope has been destroyed and no longer exists.

The result therefore is that many youths who first belonged to the Buddhist movement, became members of the Front of National {313} Liberation. What is happening is not only that the Americans are producing refugees, but they are producing more and more conscious Vietnamese nationalists who are ready to fight against them.

CHARLES FOURNIAU Summary Report on the Complicity of Thailand and the Philippines


Summary Report on the Complicity of Thailand and the Philippines

The Philippines

The Philippines plays an important role in American strategy because it constitutes the nerve-centre for the American maintenance system in south-east Asia. As early as 1947, through the United States-Philippines military treaties, the US was given for a period of ninety-nine years twenty-three large areas in the Philippines to build military bases. In 1966, the time was shortened to forty-four years.These bases service aircraft and naval craft. Subic Base is the main centre for ships of the 7th Fleet. Exclusive of aircraft carriers, the fleet numbers 175 ships. The importance of the base to the Vietnam war is obvious. But, in addition, Subic is a home port for American atomic submarines. Sangley Point is one of the bases of the 7th Fleet and is of great importance for servicing the submarine fleet of the Pacific.The biggest American facility in the Philippines is Clark Air Force Base, north of Manila. It is an enormous military complex covering 540 square kilometres. Headquarters of the US 13th Air Force is stationed there. It provides for the logistics maintenance of American bases in Thailand. Clark’s other main function is to provide a link between the United States and Vietnam. The Sunday Times, on 13 July 1967, noted that ‘all Air Force personnel on the way to south-east Asia have to pass through Clark Field’. The base also receives wounded, and delivers urgent transports {314} of ammunition and equipment. Clark Field also sustains enormous hospital establishments. The number of patients increased from 2,340 in September 1965 to 4,054 in March 1966 and has probably grown considerably since then. Recently the United States obtained the Mactan Base through an agreement that was signed on 2 June 1967, by President Marcos and the American Ambassador. It is at the disposal of the United States as long as the Vietnam war lasts and ‘the security’ of the two countries so requires.The total number of American forces in the Philippines is about 48,000 men. That bases are of vital importance to the USA is a fact that former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, expressed before the Senate Committee for Armed Services on 23 January 1967:

As long as the war in Vietnam lasts, the Philippines hold an exceptional strategic position. The bases and the means that are at the disposal of the United States in the Philippines have great importance. On this level the Philippines are very cooperative. Because our military needs in Vietnam are growing, the strategic position and the cooperation of the Philippines is becoming more important to us.

The Philippine government has been represented since 1964 in a symbolic way at the side of the American forces in Vietnam through a ‘Civil Actions Group’. In 1966 more than 2,000 troops were sent to Vietnam under the command of General Tobias. As a consequence of the opposition this raised in the Philippine Congress and among the public, the troops were presented as only an expansion of the Civil Actions Group.The Philippine government is thus an accessory to the American aggression against Vietnam by giving the United States diplomatic support; by granting air and naval bases of vital importance to American forces in Vietnam on Philippine territory; and by sending troops who directly take part in the fighting. Even if this participation is a result of the neo-colonial pressures that the United States exerts on the Philippines, the Philippine government none the less bears full responsibility for this complicity in the American aggression against Vietnam. {315}


Thailand has become an American fortress in Asia. The military expansion of the United States in Thailand has been taking place parallel with the escalation of the war in Vietnam. As early as 1950, American troops were installed in Thailand, although on a relatively restricted scale. After the founding of SEATO, in which Thailand plays an important role, most of the military manoeuvres of the treaty members were held in Thai territory. In 1962, the US Army’s Military Assistance Command, created in Saigon, extended its area of coverage to embrace all of Indochina, the troops in Thailand and the bases at their disposal. During 1963 and 1964, a series of agreements made it possible to further expand the networks of bases. At the time the bombings of North Vietnam began, the United States was able to send aircraft to Thailand to augment those which were already at this early period taking part in the air raids against North Vietnam.In 1965 American forces in Thailand numbered 10,000 men. Now they total about 40,000 men, of which 30,000 are in the air force.Four bases for fighters, bombers and fighter-bombers of the types F-105, F-4C are at Takhli, Korat, Udon, Ubon. Three helicopter bases are at Nakjon-Phanom, Udon, Ubon. Utapao is the base for B-52 strategic bombers and air-to-air tankers. Another B-52 base is being built at Khon Kaen. One naval base, Sattahip, located south-east of Bangkok, was inaugurated on 18 August 1967, and cost $43 million. There is also one Special Forces base at Lop Buri and one centre for transport and military air maintenance at Don Muang, near Bangkok.It is from these bases that most of the bombing raids against Vietnam and Laos depart. American officials, however, did not acknowledge this until 18 January 1967. It was not until 9 March that the Thai authorities also acknowledged this fact. An estimated eighty per cent of the raids against North Vietnam start from the Thailand bases. North Vietnam can be so intensively attacked because the United States does have these bases in Thailand. The bombings in South Vietnam are likewise facilitated because B-52s now come from Utapao rather than Guam. Instead of flying 7,000 kilometres, they now have only to fly 2,000 kilometres. {316} In addition, Thailand takes a part directly in military operations. In September 1967, there were 3,000 Thai troops in South Vietnam. Thailand further receives military aid of $60 million annually from the United States to maintain an army of 80,000 troops.By granting air and naval bases for use by the United States, Thailand made possible the American escalation of the war which has developed since 1965. Thailand is a direct accessory to the crimes that are committed by the American air force in North and South Vietnam, as well as in Laos. Because of the presence of Thai troops in South Vietnam, that country is a direct accessory to the American aggression against Vietnam.

Report of the Japanese Commission on the Complicity of Japan

14. Report of the Japanese Commission on the Complicity of Japan


In November 1959, the Japanese Government committed an illegal act by concluding a reparations agreement with the puppet regime of South Vietnam, as though it represented the whole of the Vietnamese people. By so doing, the Japanese Government violated the Geneva Agreements and gave support to the US policy of dividing Vietnam, which was an infringement of the national sovereignty of the Vietnamese.

At the time this reparations agreement was concluded, the resistance struggle of the South Vietnamese people against the US and Ngo Dinh Diem was beginning to expand throughout the South. The resistance had hardened as a result of the massacre of the Phou Loi concentration camp in December 1958 and the promulgation of Law No. 10 in 1959. By concluding the {317} reparations agreement with the Ngo Dinh Diem regime, the Japanese government and monopoly capitalists paid war reparations that should have gone to all the Vietnamese people to only South Vietnam. The conclusion of this reparations agreement also meant Japan’s active participation in US neo-colonialism and denied the existence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, even though it had been internationally recognized as a sovereign state by the Geneva Conference. Japan’s action contributed to perpetuating the provisional military demarcation line as a permanent border line. After the agreement, Japan cooperated in the construction of military bases of an offensive nature directed against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and even built electric power stations to supply electricity to US military bases in South Vietnam. For this, the Japanese government spent the Japanese people’s taxes amounting to twenty billion yen (approximately $55 million).

Granting of military bases for aggression in Vietnam

US military bases in Japan have been established in 264 places; made up from 147 in mainland Japan and 117 in Okinawa. With regard to functions, these bases can be classified into four types. The first are combat bases, the second logistic, supply and repair bases, the third are recuperation and recreation bases, and the fourth are intelligence and training bases. Some bases have dual functions and some cannot be classified into any of these types.

Combat bases are such direct striking bases as Kadena base in Okinawa, Yokota base in Tokyo, Iwakuni base in Yamaguchi Prefecture (the largest attack base in western Japan) and Yokosuka and Sasebo bases of the 7th Fleet. Communications bases can also be classified with these combat bases, and include Wakkanai radar base in Hokkaido, RORAN C base at Tokachi in Hokkaido, the US Navy Signal Corps Station at Kamiseya in Yokohama, and the US Navy Signal Corps at Isami in Aichi Prefecture.

The second type, logistic, supply and repair bases, include Tachikawa base which is a terminal for US war planes in Asia and the Pacific; Yokosuka naval base; the US Army General Supply Depot at Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture; military {318} facilities at Yokohama and Kobe (ports for loading and unloading of war materials) and fuelling depots and explosive magazines at Azumashima in Yokosuka port, Akizuki in Hiroshima, Yamada in Fukuoka and Zushi-Ikego in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Recreation and recuperation bases include US army field hospitals at Asaka in Saitama Prefecture, Kamijujo in Tokyo, Kishine in Yokohama, Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture and the US Naval Hospital at Yokosuka base. In addition there are other medical treatment facilities, hotels and other facilities for recreation of the US forces scattered throughout Tokyo, Atami and other places in Japan.

The fourth type, intelligence and training bases, include the US Army Bureau for Study and Development of the Far East in Sagamihara city and the US Army Printing Office at Kawasaki city in Kanagawa Prefecture, Mito shooting and bombing range, Misawa anti-surface missile and bombing range, Kita Fuji practice range, US training centre at Numazu in Shizuoka Prefecture, anti-surface missile and bombing range in Torishima island. Attention should also be given to the fact that, in order to create naval practice grounds, wide areas of the open sea have been closed to normal trade and shipping.

Okinawa – the largest base of aggression against Vietnam

Okinawa, which is now ruled by the US forces, was one of the more than forty Prefectures of pre-war Japan. It consists of a chain of small islands, situated at the southern tip of the Japanese archipelago, about 600 kilometres from Kagoshima, Kyushu Island, in mainland Japan. Its capital city is Naha, with a population of 230,000, where the High Commissioner of the US ‘Civil Government’ (actually military government) is stationed. The total population of Okinawa is about 960,000 Japanese people from ancient times. They have been, for the more than twenty years since the Second World War, under the rule of the US military administration. The US government has stated that Okinawa is the most important keystone in the US strategic bridge in the Far East. The distance from Okinawa to Hanoi is 2,418 kilometres; {319} to Peking 1,793 kilometres; to Pyongyang, Korea, 1,334; to Khavarovsk and Vladivostok of the Soviet Union 2,502 and 1,876 kilometres respectively.

Okinawa is an advantageous base, an ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’, as it were, as a supply, sortie and nuclear base for the US aggression against Vietnam, and a place from which to dominate Asian countries of the Far East. It was in Okinawa waters that warships of Japan’s maritime ‘Self-Defence’ Forces several times carried out joint exercises with the US forces. Here, also, troops of Thailand, the Philippines, the ‘Republic of Korea’, and the South Vietnam regime are conducting military training under command of the US forces.

Below are quotations from the testimonies given by US government officials in regard to the military role of Okinawa:

Admiral Sharp, Commander of the US Pacific Joint Forces, writing in the Morning Star, official organ of the US Forces, dated 10 December 1965, said (retranslated): ‘Without Okinawa, we cannot carry on the Vietnam war.’ In an interview with a correspondent of Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, 20 July 1967, he said:

Preservation of the US military facilities in Okinawa will be indispensable for the future security of the free world, including Japan…. To provide for any unexpected state of affairs in south-east Asia, Okinawa remains a very important transit and logistic base, and an important communication centre for the US army and air force.

Assistant Under Secretary of the Army Holt said (retranslated): ‘Unanimity of opinion is reached among broad circles that, from its strategic position, Okinawa is the most important base for the defence of the free world. The sole reason for the US retaining administrative rights over Okinawa is to be found in the military importance of Okinawa and in the fact that tensions still persist in the Far East.’ (Testimony at the 3rd Subcommittee Hearing of the US House Military Affairs Committee on 13 April 1967.)

Manpower supplied by the Japanese government

Of all the LST ships (landing ships tanks) participating in military transport for the US war of aggression in Vietnam, twenty-eight {320} are operated by Japanese; all crew members, including captains, are Japanese.

Transport for the war in Vietnam is accomplished by both air and marine transport units. The LST ships manned by Japanese are incorporated into the US Military Sea Transport Service – or MSTS-Far East.

As of 31 January 1967, the number of Japanese crew members on MSTS LSTs was 1,368. The US classifies these vessels as ‘naval’, indicating that LST crews are members of a kind of US military, in this case forming a kind of ‘foreign legion’. There have already been cases of deaths and wounds, which should obviously be called ‘war deaths and war wounds’, among these Japanese crews. Continuation of such action against Vietnam on board LSTs flying the Stars and Stripes should be regarded precisely as the ‘dispatch of troops’ by Japan. Such transportation by maritime units constitutes a part of the overall war action, by any definition.

Economic cooperation in the war by the Japanese government

Economic journalists point out that to grasp the real extent of special procurement in Japan is extremely difficult because the Japanese government is not empowered even to survey the full picture. The only information available is from data provided by courtesy of the US Embassy. Because the capitalists are trying not to publicize the facts for fear of being criticized as ‘merchants of death’, all such contracts are semi-clandestine.

Up to 1959 the US Embassy provided the Japanese government with data on ordering of goods and services under direct special procurement. This data included products, names of companies and amounts of money involved, details which the Japanese government then released to the public. But since 1960, the year of public outcry against the Japan-US Security Treaty, even this has not been done. Although, under the Japan-US Security Treaty and the agreement on the status of the US forces in Japan, the Japanese government is not empowered to make a survey of such matters, the Minister of International Trade and Industry {321} (MITI) has this to say in explanation: ‘The Japanese government is trying to obtain as accurate statistics as possible by asking for reports from trade companies, summing them up and by making contact with the US.’ In reality, however, the Japanese government is cooperating with US imperialism, and will not make known to the Japanese people the nature and full extent of special procurement for Vietnam.

Nonetheless, from the very limited data officially approved by the US Embassy and published by MITI, we can obtain the following information on special procurement. It testifies to the cooperation and participation in the Vietnam war by the Japanese government and monopoly capitalists.

Special procurements in the first half of 1967 increased fourteen per cent compared with the same period of 1966. Exports to the countries related to the Vietnam war in the first half of 1967 increased by forty-one per cent, i.e. $550 million more compared with the same period of the previous year.

Japan’s exports to the US increased by 19.8 per cent in 1965, but increased by 34.5 per cent in 1966. This figure represents an 80 per cent increase in Japan’s exports in 1966. The situation is such that even MITI cannot neglect the relationship between these figures and the Vietnam war. MITI estimates that direct and indirect procurements resulting from the Vietnam war have reached about $600 million, while the estimate by the Foreign Ministry comes to a far greater amount – $900 or $1,100 million. Even the minimum estimation confirms that this quantity of goods and services from Japan for the US is being used for killing and wounding the people of Vietnam and for building US rule in south-east Asia. Japanese sales to the military procurement arms of the US indicate a tendency to increase with the escalation of the war, and Japanese capitalists are competing with each other for more orders.

Names of products admitted by the Japanese government to be supplied to the US military include sandbags to be used in combat (produced by Japan Jute Bags and Tokyo Rayon), jungle boots (Kokoku Chemicals, Tsukiboshi Rubber, Nihon Rubber), military caps, helmets and parachutes.

Materials for the construction of positions and bases include barbed wire, timber, steel road and landing mats, cement, steel for {322} construction, generators, insect netting, cranes, water purification apparatus, etc. Cement is supplied to the US forces by Sumitomo Cement, Aso Industry, Mitsubishi Cement; road mats by Yahata Iron Manufacturing and Yahata Metal Manufacturing, and generators by Nishishiba Electric Co.

Materials for communication and transport supplied include wireless and telephone facilities, military trucks, jeeps, automobile parts, vehicles and diesel engines for small vessels. Military trucks are produced by Toyota, Fuji Vehicles, jeeps by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, automobile parts by Toyota and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Japan also furnishes materials and techniques for the construction of harbours. The Vietnam war is a war of supplies, and ports and harbours are decisive for the aggression. Bottlenecks of ports and harbours in Vietnam were disastrous to the US forces. The availability of Japanese materials and techniques, as in the construction of Cam Ranh Bay, is a major support to the war.

Services of Japanese origin include repairs to planes, helicopters, warships and vessels, including LSTs. Nihon Aircraft, Shinmeiwa Industry, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Aircraft are all taking increased repair contracts including carrier-based planes and helicopters of the US 7th Fleet. Contracts for repair in 1966 were 1.46 times greater than in 1965; since 1966, plane parts are furnished by these makers. Repair of warships, cargo vessels and LSTs have been undertaken by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ishikawajima Harima Shipbuilding Co., Hitachi Shipbuilding, and Uraga Heavy Industry. Their repair contracts with the US forces in 1966 were 3.78 times greater than in 1965. Chairman Stennis of the Armed Services Sub-Committee of the Senate Military Committee made a statement highly valuing the role played by Japan’s shipbuilding industry in the aggressive war. He said (retranslated): ‘The US navy sailing for the Vietnam war is relying greatly on the repair facilities for warships and other vessels in Japan and Taiwan. Without Yokosuka and Sasebo in particular, operations in south-east Asia would encounter serious difficulties.’ In repair of aeroplanes for dropping napalm bombs, spraying poisons and killing Vietnamese, servicing of warships for bombardment and of LSTS for transporting weapons, is nothing if {323} not cooperation in the aggression and intervention in the war. We add that oil for the 7th Fleet is sold to the Americans by the petroleum capitalists.

More brutally, chemical gas and high pressure gas are Japanese-supplied. These include nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, which is manufactured by the iron and chemical industries. There are really too many items to enumerate them all. Specialists have revealed that production of the oil raw material for napalm by Nihon Oils and Fats is an open secret.

The Itohchu Co. tendered a sub-contract proposal for the manufacture of fins for napalm bombs to the Mikajiri Industry, but it was turned down as a result of an opposition struggle by the trade union. It is ominous that napalm used to be manufactured in Japan at the time of the Korean war. Apart from the components of napalm, a rapid increase is seen in the export to the US of methanol, an explosive raw material, of benzene, which is raw material for napalm, and polystyrene, used in super napalm.

It is undeniable that Japanese monopoly capitalists are cooperating in the production of weapons of mass destruction to be used against the Vietnamese people. The offer of ammunition and services has been made with the approval of the Japanese government to one side only in the conflict, while at the request of the US government, the Japanese government has prohibited the export of 20,000 kilometres of vinyl-covered copper wire to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. We can conclude, therefore, from an economic standpoint, that the Japanese government and Japan’s financial circles are the greatest cooperators with and participants in the US aggression in Vietnam.

LELIO BASSO Summing-up of the Second Session


Summing-up of the Second Session

We have come to the end of our labours and I should like to begin {324} this summing-up with a retrospective view of the role which we have played. At the beginning of the session in Stockholm, our President, Jean-Paul Sartre, opened with a speech which is still in our memory, wherein he confirmed that the legitimacy of our existence and of our judgements would be a posteriori.

If we compare the reception we had in the press a year ago at our formation in London, with the reception we have had during our work, we must note that there is a rising interest. Our serious work, the evidence we have accumulated, the testimonies which we have brought to the knowledge of the public, the search for the truth which we have together pursued, has, in the eyes of public opinion, legitimized our existence. The American ex-soldiers have sought to present their testimonies to us and several states have asked us to express ourselves on various problems. Even if we decide not to take up other questions, the authority of the institutions which have addressed us confirms the validity of our initiative. But, above all, the awakening of conscience to what is going on in Vietnam, and the increasing pressure of the masses of the whole world against this aggressive war proves that the wish expressed by our President at Stockholm has been realized.

Our initiative is even more necessary because the aggressive war in Vietnam poses a series of new problems which international organizations are unable to solve. They cannot be solved because of the dominant presence of the Americans who are able to manipulate too many governments.

But, while new aggression, new weapons, new techniques of destruction, make necessary an evolution of the international penal code, the competent organs are paralysed. The American government, therefore, is able to continue to commit crimes and to augment them by escalating with a certitude that the United Nations will never have the necessary majority to pronounce a clear condemnation.

In anticipation of our conclusions, I should like to underline now the new aspects presented by the war in Vietnam. This will help us to understand all the acts which we will take under consideration. This war of extermination is the natural fruit and necessity of American imperialism. It is not a case of extraordinary ferocity which almost accidentally adds itself to a conventional war. We cannot imagine that this war is different from {325} all the others where both parties commit a few crimes, as is usual throughout the history of wars. Here everything fits: everything reflects the same systematizing. The aggression with complicity of other government, the genocidal crimes – everything is explained by the omnipotent imperialism of the United States, which will dominate the world, which will refuse the people’s right to autonomy. The imposition of neo-colonialism as a way of life on all populations on the road towards development is an essential part of this imperialist system. Against a people which will not subordinate itself, ‘special war’, total war, torture, concentration camps and genocide are essential elements of world-wide neocolonialist wars.

From an analysis of the results of our debates and the information given to us, I would like to make some preliminary observations which I deem necessary. First, some juridical considerations: our experts of the Legal Commission have raised the question of how we should treat certain material on the violation of various international Conventions. It has been pointed out that the American government has objected to the existence of some Convention obligations. In some cases a Convention has been left unsigned or unratified by the United States, or Conventions have not, for other reasons, been implemented. In other cases there are Conventions in force that are applicable even if one party has not signed them, as is the case with the DRV and the NLF. I should like to point out to members of the Tribunal who are not jurists that rules of international law do not spring from signed and ratified Conventions alone. Besides these rules there also exists a body of general law based on custom which is pre-existent to these Conventions. Conventions do not create new codes of conduct, but merely make regulations confirming codes of conduct already existing. New crimes, therefore, depend on the pre-existing general laws of custom for condemnation – it is precisely such crimes which now occupy us.

You have already been informed of the Clause Martens contained in the preamble to the Hague Convention of 28 July 1899, and repeated in the Hague Convention of 18 October 1907. These two Conventions were signed by the United States on 9 April, and ratified on 27 November 1909. This preamble confirms that: ‘Civilians and the armed forces remain protected and regulated by {326} the principles of international law, such as has been the result of common practice amongst the civilized nations, the laws of humanity, and the demands of public conscience.’

These principles were confirmed at the Nuremberg Trial, which in its decree, as recalled by Maître Jouffa, stated:

Independent of the treaties, the laws of warfare stand out, with usages and customs, progressively and universally recognized, from the doctrine of jurists and jurisprudence of military courts. This Law is never immoveable; it adjusts itself incessantly to the needs of a world under transition. Ordinarily, the treaties do no more than to specify the principles of laws that are already in force.

The judges at Nuremberg could not think otherwise because they were judging international crimes that were unknown in written law at the time. This principle of retroaction was also utilized by the judges at Tokyo in judging Japanese war criminals.

The Allies dictated this retroactive principle and it was commonly recognized, because it did not really constitute ‘retroactive law’. The war crimes were already ‘recognized as such by common, public demand, and by the existing laws of humanity’. These crimes were already illicit in the sense that Professor Rousseau has given this expression: ‘thus, the illegality is manifest, independent of the existence or non-existence of a prohibition’.

In his report, Professor Chesneaux has pointed out that the American President of the Tokyo Court, in his decree during the ‘High Command’ case, expressed the same opinion, stating:

The fact of crimes does not arise by the presence of a prohibition, but because the act is criminal by itself, and is a breach of the principles of the laws of humanity, such as these [principles] are recognized by the civilized nations.

We, then, shall pass our judgement on the basis of the very principles used in the judgement by the United States of the Japanese war criminals. First, although we have already covered it at Stockholm, because of the massive escalation which has been confirmed by our witnesses recently returned from North Vietnam – we must again address ourselves to the indiscriminate bombings.

It is enough to recall that general rules exist prohibiting the bombing of hospitals, schools, religious buildings, the civil population, {327} etc., to clearly see that such rules have been repeatedly violated. The US has violated the Convention of the Hague. the Nuremberg Judgements, the Geneva Convention of 1954, all of which have been accepted by the collective conscience of the peoples of the world. Such actions have recently also been solemnly condemned by the Vatican Council. In the face of testimony by our numerous witnesses and by American correspondents. the US authorities flatly deny the facts – simply because they know that these acts are criminal.

Let us recall the words of President Johnson that the Americans aim only to destroy ‘concrete and steel’. Let us also recall that the use of ball-bombs was admitted by the Americans only after our Stockholm session had supplied a mass of evidence to prove the fact. Likewise, the use of poison gas was at first denied by them, but later admitted, though they claimed it to be only ‘tear gas’. Let us recall that torture was attributed by them to the puppet government; that the concentration camps are called ‘new life hamlets’ .. . etc. Yes, as by our work we have proved, there is a great gap between the truth and that which is said by the US authorities. It seems to me that lies are proof of guilt.

As Maître Jouffa has shown, laws against the use of illegal weapons have been in existence for at least a century. In general terms, such prohibitions are in the Declaration of St Petersburg of 1868, and in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. As for edicts against the use of asphyxiant or toxic gas, there exists the Convention of Washington of 6 February 1922, and the Protocol of Geneva of 17 June 1925. The fact that, for several technical reasons, these articles cannot be applied, does not invalidate them, for their intent contains a general affirmation of existing rules. Apart from fascist Italy in Ethiopia, and the United States in Vietnam, no power has dared use gas since the end of the First World War, not even Nazi Germany or Japan during the Second World War.

The use in time of war of poison gas and all other liquids or materials of like effect has been justly condemned by universal opinion of the civilized world and an indictment of such usage has been formulated in numerous treaties signed by the majority of civilized nations. The signatory powers, having as their aim the {328} universal proscription of such inhumanities as part of the Rights of Man, want to impose this opinion upon the conscience of the nations.

Specifically, with respect to the United States, I should like to remind you that President Roosevelt stated on 8 June 1943, that:

the use of toxic or noxious gases, and all other inhuman weapons of war … has been put outside the law by the general opinion of all civilized people, and that our country has renounced that use … we shall not, in any case put gas to use, except in the case when our enemies first start.

The work done here at the Tribunal by our Scientific Commission has shown us to what extent the US has violated these rules in Vietnam. This Committee’s report compiled by Professors Behar, Minkowsky, Kahn and others is of a high technical and scientific order. Permit me to repeat the conclusion of the Scientific Commission’s report: ‘Poison gas has been and is being used in Vietnam by US forces.’ And ‘… they have continuously used the gases CN, CS, and PM repeatedly and massively’, and finally:

we solemnly declare that in spite of official American denials of the fact, the Commission consider it satisfactorily proved [beyond doubt] that under the conditions where gases actually are in use, these so-called ‘harassing’ gases are actually mortal – lethal and thus come under the prohibitions of international law as poison gas.

It is the same with defoliation of large tracts of land: the report submitted to us by Lederer concluded: ‘the use of chemical weapons is liable to provoke, in the very near future, biological effects that are wholly unpredictable’, and these weapons are prohibited under international law. Lastly, the indiscriminate use of napalm against the civilian population has been attested to by doctors who have treated victims, by victims themselves who have appeared before the Tribunal, by numerous witnesses, and by the Scientific Commission. The witness, Donald Duncan, has told us that the majority of US troops use the M-16 rifle in violation of international law against dum-dum bullets. Thus, the Tribunal can assuredly reply in the affirmative to the question relating to the use of prohibited weapons.

And what of the question concerning the treatment of prisoners {329} of war? Rules for the treatment of pows have been internationally accepted since their formulation in the nineteenth century. Since then, there have been specified strict limits to the use of violence against those who have laid down their arms and can no longer fight. The general rules states that Pows shall be treated humanely and beside this general rule there are international laws agreed to by a majority of countries. The 1864 Geneva Convention, the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions, and again the Geneva Conventions of 1929 and 1949 together form a complete code for treatment of Pows to which all nations, signatory or not, can adhere. Let us note here that during the Korean War, the four powers that were most directly implicated, the US, China, and North and South Korea, all appealed for the respect of these Conventions even though none had ratified them.

It is not necessary to go into the details here to learn that the US violates every rule of humane treatment of Pows. The American soldier’s testimony to the Tribunal is definite and crushing. David Tuck has told how orders were given to kill all prisoners who were not officers, especially the wounded. The wounded never died by themselves, but were killed off for the sake of convenience. Duncan confirmed that instructions are given to kill prisoners and has told of a specific case:

One day we took a lot of prisoners; too many for our group to cope with. So I telephoned back to ask for instructions and was told, ‘get rid of them’. I played dumb and pretended I didn’t understand and took them along in the helicopter back to the base. But I got bawled out; I was supposed to have killed them off – but they would not say that on the radio.

As to tortures, we have heard unequivocal testimony. Martinsen, Tuck and Duncan, all three, have told us of tortures they have witnessed or taken part in themselves. Apart from these specific cases there is also a general affirmation. Martinsen has said: ‘As long as the torture left no marks it was OK to do it.’ And Duncan said: ‘They encouraged us to use our imagination, only insisted that whatever we did should not leave traces.’

These testimonies coming from American combatants who have themselves participated in the acts they tell about, who have come here in obedience to their own consciences, are sufficient to {330} answer ‘yes’ on this point. But, besides this, the American newspapers do not deny that torture is practised. But they do claim that torture is used by Special Forces, or others for whom only Saigon is responsible, and who are always present, at least as interpreters, at the interrogation of prisoners of war. From our witnesses we know positively that American officers always lead and direct these interrogations and that torture is also used by the Americans themselves. In any case, the United States is responsible for the prisoners it takes and for the treatment they receive: it is a serious violation of international law to turn POWS over to others.

And now we come to the most painful chapter in this war – the treatment of the civilian population. The provisions of the Hague and Geneva Conventions of 1899 and 1907, where rules were laid down as existent general opinion, is the same for the rights and treatment of civilians as for the other matters. Civilians must be protected against ill-treatment. Especially, because the US has signed and ratified these Conventions; still more because the proper behaviour of troops towards the civilians is laid down in the US army’s own manual, The Law of Land Warfare. This manual contains direct citations and references to applicable international laws and Conventions. No officer in the US army can be ignorant of his obligations: the Americans are responsible. The authorities at Saigon are completely dependent on the massive presence of American troops and are directly in the pay of the US. The Saigon army is under the command of the US Headquarters, therefore whatever part of this crime is committed by Saigon is either accepted or ordered by the United States.

In addressing ourselves to this question of genocide, we must pass from the laws of warfare to ‘crimes against humanity’ in the sense expressed by the Nuremberg Judgements. I will refrain from giving a résumé of the testimony we have heard here in the course of the past few days: there are no words strong enough to express the feeling of tragedy and horror…

The term ‘genocide’ has only been in use since the Nuremberg Trial after the Second World War. The extermination of Jews was included among the ‘crimes against humanity’ – a term that encompasses crimes other than genocide – in the statutes and judgement of that trial. Crimes that have as their object the destruction, {331} partially or totally, of a group defined as ‘national’, ‘ethnic’, ‘racial’ or ‘religious’, are today called genocide. Our legal experts have explained to us that the United States has not ratified the Convention concerning genocide.1 But the default of ratification does not permit the US to commit the crime. The crime is named and defined before the deed, and has, even before that, been recognized as a crime ‘in all civilized countries’.

Let us look closer. David Tuck has told us that ‘anything that moves is shot at’, and since the men are usually away, this means women and children. We have been told of the ‘free strike zones’ where it is permitted to kill anyone left in them. We are told that thousands of women and children have been gassed in the bomb-shelters, or have been burnt in their huts and villages, or have been killed by pellet bombs dropped on civilian targets. We have heard the words of Colonel Jackson as quoted by Tuck, ‘I want to see Vietnamese blood cover the ground.’ Jean Bertolino has told us, ‘A village was surrounded, attacked and ignited without a soldier taking the trouble of seeing if there was anyone in the thatched huts. Afterwards the paratroopers told me that several women were indeed burned alive.’ The same fate, Doctor Wulff told us, struck the village of Da Phuc. Roger Pic has given us impressive statistics on the single village of Cong Doan in the country of Binh Hoa Bac, where an average of eight bombs per inhabitant and four grenades per square metre have been dropped. And that is only one village among thousands. The Director of Mercy College Child Institute, William Pepper, stated in the January 1967 Ramparts the results of an investigation in which he estimates that more than 250,000 children have been killed and at least 750,000 wounded in South Vietnam alone. Since then, a whole year of extermination by aggression has passed and the number of victims has risen accordingly.

If one takes the whole fourteen million population of South Vietnam into account, these figures take on a very serious significance. People are victimized regardless of their personal views; death strikes any and all South Vietnamese. How can we deny that what we have before us is indeed a ‘partial destruction {332} of a national group’, which is, as has been said, genocide.

But there is another aspect – the concentration camps. In its ‘criminal methods’, the Convention includes the submission of persons to conditions that are likely to endanger their personal integrity, or to voluntarily submit such persons to living conditions that threaten their physical existence, partially or in full. The inhuman conditions in a concentration camp are one of the criminal practices specifically covered by this definition.

Duncan has explained to us that, according to his information, a third of the South Vietnamese population is interned in camps and that these camps are ‘garbage heaps’ where the conditions are incredible. Martinsen and Tuck have explained that the inmates are famished, ragged, and must fight between themselves for scraps of food from the American garbage. Jean Bertolino has told us of one camp where 6,500 persons huddle in tents surrounded by barbed wire as in any concentration camp. Doctor Wulff tells us of the provinces of Binh Dinh and Fu Yen where half the population is interned.

Torn from their villages, from their rice paddies, from their belongings, with sons taken away from families, with little chance of ever reuniting, the South Vietnamese are subjected to treatment and conditions that certainly gravely endanger their very existence. The separation of families is, in Vietnam, more than an attack upon the social institution, for the majority of the people are farmers and the family unit is essential to survival. History has many examples of populations becoming exterminated by the mere forcible displacement from their habitual environment. For the people to survive under these conditions, we have been told, some villages have been turned into immense brothels and the young women are forced to turn to prostitution to keep their families alive.

In the same category of crime comes the wilful destruction by fire or chemicals of the food stocks and harvest of the population. This systematic destruction is explained by the Americans as an attempt to deprive the enemy of food. It has been carried out on a scale that threatens to starve the entire population and make malnutrition and starvation a constant spectre for the future.

It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the crime of genocide is daily committed in Vietnam. It is useless for the US to {333} claim that the victims have only to comply with American conditions to have a better life. Each people has its own rights and among these is the right to choose its own way of life. It is plainly criminal to attempt to force any people to change or modify their chosen culture or to put them to such trials as these as an alternative to submitting to any repression whatever. It is clearly an abuse of the Convention on the Rights of Man and a violation of international law to make any person or group of people choose between submission to the domination of an unwanted foreign power and slavery or death in a concentration camp.

We must hand down our decision in this context. In spite of the fearsome connotations and emotion attached to the word ‘genocide’, it must be said that genocide is only part of the crimes against humanity committed by the Americans in Vietnam. Some crimes are simply not as yet included in the definition of genocide, albeit they are recognized as crimes. I mean things such as the persecution of political opponents, arbitrary arrests, torture of civilians – things such as the witness Pham Thi Yen has testified to.2

In torturing, the US has retrogressed to before Louis IX of France who by decree outlawed torture. These crimes, I believe, do not come under the heading of genocide, however horrible they be.

I have made plain that the war against the Vietnamese is an imperialist war and as such has a tendency to expand. On one hand, the American imperialists aim to draw their satellite states into battle on their side and, on the other hand, they attempt to strike a blow against those who will not submit to their domination. Let us examine the aggression against the neighbours of Vietnam.

We have already confirmed the aggression against Cambodia at our Stockholm session, and now we have received further proof. Our own Commission of Inquiry, as well as Commandant {334} Khouroudeth, Jean Bertolino, Wilfred Burchett, Bernard Couret and others have given testimony which confirms the US disregard for Cambodian neutrality. The US claims, as an excuse, that Cambodia aids and abets the NLF, but these accusations remain unproved. In effect, as imperialists always do, the US considers itself above the law. In this connexion, the Tribunal has been requested to treat the persecution of the Cambodian minority living in South Vietnam as a case of genocide committed by the Saigon regime. While there is no doubt about the gravity of this persecution, which may be a cultural genocide as defined but not incorporated into the Convention of 1948, we have not, as yet, gone into the matter.

However, the situation in Laos merits close attention for it closely resembles that of Vietnam, with a puppet government obedient to the US and with a permanent US aggression against the liberated zones in that country. Methods in use there are as illegal as those in Vietnam and I believe that we must make a judgement on the question.

In this Copenhagen session we must also consider the matter of accomplices such as Thailand, the Philippines and Japan. In its aggression the US has been able to procure a vast and numerous array of accomplices, helpers and followers who have given a ready hand. Practically every country in the Orient has been somehow induced into this accomplice role. So has Great Britain, which also furnished the concentration camp model from its own experience in Malaysia. But complicity is a difficult thing to prove by juridical methods from the corpus of existing international law. As for Thailand, the participation of its expeditionary corps in the fighting amply proves its complicity. This is also true of the Philippines, although the Philippine government has not officially admitted to the fact. The facts concerning Japan have been documented by Professor Hirano and other members of the Japanese Committee.3

Our President, Jean-Paul Sartre, has said that it is impossible for {335} us to restrict ourselves to a mere analysis of the facts and deeds; that it is impossible to give a mere juridical appraisal, but that it is necessary to go further and deeper in order to understand the political mechanism that can explain the crimes. This observation is very important. The people of the Western world are unable to understand the reasons for this war and are reluctant to admit that the United States is capable of committing crimes that can be compared with Nazi war crimes. The myth of the US as a democracy is long-lived and slow to die. It dates back to the Declaration of Independence, from which, incidentally, the opening of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam is copied. The intervention by the US in two world wars on the side of the democracies, the traditional attitude of the Americans against classic colonialism, and lastly, clever propaganda have maintained this myth.

In Stockholm I dwelt briefly on political aspects; I return to these because the Tribunal must attempt to illuminate beyond the mere determination of irrefutable facts, but must also explain the reasons and causes behind these facts. Thus, the Nuremberg Sentence began with an analysis of the Nazi regime, then went on to judge the crimes of the regime.

We must always make a distinction between the American people and those in the United States who control them, whether this control is political, economic or intellectual. The ordinary public of the United States lets itself be controlled. They are convinced that this is the incarnation of democratic ideals and have been taught to so believe. They are quite certain that the American way of life is an ideal model which deserves to be exported so that the whole world may partake of its joys. This ‘way of life’ depends on ‘free enterprise’ or, in other words, capitalism and private profits. This belief is quasi-mystical and is not incompatible with a well-developed sense of humane conduct. At the ‘controlling level’, however, everything is clearer; pragmatism and vested interests are shrouded in a language that appeals to the humanist sentiments of the people and is expressed as a mixture of idealism, hypocrisy and cynicism typical of American life.

If we try to understand the policies of the US managers at the level where decisions are made, we can say that such policies are characterized by the necessity for continued expansion. The war {336} of 1812-14 against England was followed by and allowed a westward expansion beyond the Mississippi. Some years later the Monroe Doctrine solidified the supremacy of the United States over the whole American continent. Though, before the end of the nineteenth century, the westward movement had reached the Pacific Ocean, even this did not satisfy US expansionism. With regard to Latin America, Richard Olney, the Secretary of State under President Cleveland, could declare: ‘Today the US is practically sovereign on this continent and its will is law wherever we intervene.’ The thesis expressed by the historian Frederick Jackson Turner was also representative of the American attitude towards the eventual limits of its frontiers. Turner believed that the democracy and wealth of the United States was a result of the previous thirty years of expansion, and he stated: ‘The needs of the USA are a vigorous foreign policy, an inter-oceanic canal, an awakening of our naval power and the extension of our influence to encompass faraway islands as well as countries closer to us, in order to show clearly that we are on the move, that we continue to expand.’

At the very time this was written, the US was in transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy. The westward drive now was not for new lands to till, but to buy raw materials and to sell finished products, to find new natural resources and new markets. This need for new markets was essential to what had at the turn of the century become ‘big business’, which foresaw and feared a crisis of overproduction. This new expansion – of markets – was later replaced by an economic influence on and expansion in foreign countries. If need be in certain countries, there was also a territorial expansion. From then on, American movement was an imperialistic movement which most often used a policy of indirect political domination, reinforced when necessary with armed intervention whenever a population threatened US interests.

As a result of two currents of thought – that wealth was the result of expansion and that democracy was a result of expansion, as had been the case within the continent – in the historian William Appleman Williams’s words, expansionism became the motivating force in US foreign policy. To a great extent, the same was true of American business expansion into overseas markets, since the managers explained economic crisis in terms of inadequate {337} domestic markets. Implied or expressed, Williams writes, this idea had the aim of preserving democracy and restoring prosperity.

‘We must have the Chinese market, or we shall have a revolution,’ stated Senator Frye. And Brooks Adams concluded that the US would have stagnated if she had not consolidated her position in Latin America and had not made the Far East into an economic colony. Fifty years prior, Quincy Adams had used Christian principles in the expression of the same thing:

The moral obligation upon which commercial relations are based is, exclusively and entirely, the Christian proverb ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’, but [he went on], the Chinese are not Christian, they do not consider that they should love their neighbours as themselves. They have a system that is hostile and anti-social…. The principle of the Chinese Empire is anti-commercial, it does not believe in having any relations with other countries. … It is high time that this outrage against human rights, against human decency is ceased.

Samoa and the Hawaiian Islands were the first stages of American expansion en route to Asia. ‘To retain our commercial supremacy in the Pacific,’ said Cabot Lodge in 1895, ‘we must control the Hawaiian Islands and stay on Samoa.’ The Declaration of War against Spain – for Cuba – was a favourable occasion to snatch up the Philippines in the name of a crusade to civilize. As President McKinley then said: ‘The Lord had said that the US had the duty of educating and elevating the Philippines in the Christian civilization and, by the grace of God, to do all that we can for our brother nation, for whom Christ also died.’ But in the same breath he added, ‘The Philippines are ours forever – and right behind them there is the immense Chinese market. We shall not leave either one.’

Shortly after, in 1899, under the same President McKinley, the principle of the ‘Open Door’ was proclaimed. This opened to the US a commercial beachhead into China and denied the exclusivity of the spheres of influence of the other powers. The Press of Philadelphia commented then: ‘This Declaration is as important as the Monroe Doctrine was for the Americas in the last years. It protects the present and the future.’ From this time on, the principle of the Open Door, of American expansionist capitalism and free enterprise, has been a dogma of the US. This dogma, to which {338} other ideas are linked, is the ideology of American imperialism – free enterprise as a foundation for freedom and liberty. Integral to this dogma is the belief that the unlimited expansion of the American economy and the ‘American way of life’ are necessary for prosperity in the US, that there exists an historic mission to export this way of life to all other peoples, and that those who live this way of life are superior. This is a doctrine of superiority; it is a sentiment that generates racism.

Who has not heard expressed the common opinion that God has chosen the USA to improve the world? A curious mixture of Christianity, evolutionism and racism leads to the consideration of other races as inferior and created solely to prepare the way for the American race. Referring to the American Indians, Josiah Strong said, …. it seems as if these tribes were simply created as the forerunners of a superior race – as the voices that cry in the desert – “Make way for the Lord”.’

The Fate of America, according to President Wilson, was ‘to be the most just, the most progressive, the most honourable, the most enlightened of all the nations of the entire world’, and that its mission is to ‘make the world safe for democracy’ – but we know that ‘democracy’ translates to ‘free enterprise’. ‘If,’ said Wilson in 1912, ‘America had not had free enterprise, it would not have any sort of liberty at all.’ Later in the same year: ‘Our industry has developed to the point where it collapses unless it finds a free opening on the world market. Our home market is insufficient, we must have a foreign trade.’ In 1924, Herbert Hoover stated: ‘Foreign markets will be more important for us, to assure a stable and normal function of our industry…. It is of an importance that is greater than the percentage of export in relation to home consumption.’ The Great Depression from 1929 to 1932 gave added impetus to this search for foreign markets and new forms of domination, and the Second World War gave the US an historical occasion to assume world leadership, or at least to have a try at it. Between the two World Wars the American government sought to implement its pursuit of Asian markets by collaborating first with the Japanese and later with Chiang Kai-shek, the motivation always being the imposition upon the non-socialist world of the American way of life and economic domination. Different methods were used in Europe {339} from those used on other continents where the neo-colonial policy of ‘granting independence’ or obtaining an Open Door established the mechanism for economic dominance.

I do not believe I wander if I quote some leading Americans in order to precisely define the design for American hegemony – now dubbed ‘globalism’ – which is merely another name for super-imperialism on a global scale. In 1898, Senator Beveridge said in a speech:

American industrial production has surpassed the needs of the American population. The American production of foodstuffs is above and beyond our own consumption. Destiny has thus indicated our future policy. World trade must be dominated by the USA and it will be. We can learn how from our mother country, England. We must establish a world-wide system of trade centres from which our products can be distributed. Our merchant marine must dominate the oceans. Around these trade centres will cluster vast self-governing colonies, flying our flag and trading with us. Our institutions will follow in the wake of our trade. American law and order, American civilization, will settle on the shores that, until then, are steeped in darkness and bloody strife, and by their work as divine tools, these shores will come into a future beauty.

Forty-two years later, the President of the National Industrial Conference Board, Virgil Jordan, took up the same idea and said on 10 December 1940:

Whatever the outcome of the war may be, America has taken the road towards imperialism on an economic plane, as on all other planes of life. Some fear this word ‘imperialism’, so menacing and well known. Most people prefer, in the American way, to mask the fact under a more vague expression, such as defence of the Western hemisphere. But consciously or not, America is destined by her temperament, by her capacity, by her resources, and by the course of world affairs, not alone those of the last few years, but since 1900, destined to follow this road. Truly we have no choice. We have but to continue on the road that we have been going along for a quarter of a century and which began with the annexation of Cuba and the Philippines, etc.

Later in the same speech: ‘This Empire is seeing its possibilities for expansion on the southern part of this hemisphere and west – {340} in the Pacific – disappearing. The sceptre falls in the hands of the USA.’

But the Pacific is not enough. Since 1941, Henry Luce talked of ‘the American Century’ and invited the American people enthusiastically ‘to accept the duty and mission of the most vigorous, the most powerful nation in all the world’, and ‘to make noticeable that full weight of our influence, wherever we find reason therefor, and always with the methods that we find most opportune’. In his speech at Baylor University, President Truman reaffirmed the principle: ‘The American system can only survive in America itself if it become global’, and that thus ‘the entire world should adopt the American system’. The Truman doctrines on Greece and Turkey, the Eisenhower doctrine on the Near East, the interventions in Latin America are all manifestations of this policy. The facts confirm that everywhere a reactionary regime will always find support forthcoming from the United States. Everywhere, and above all where there is anti-imperialism – Arbenz in Guatemala, Jagan in Guyana, Castro in Cuba, Lumumba in the Congo – the American government is ever ready to foment or support plots, subversion, espionage, coups and invasions. To a lesser degree, but just as inevitably, the reformers, the lukewarm friends – such as Bosch in Santo Domingo, Prince Norodom Sihanouk in Cambodia, Goulart in Brazil and Papandreou in Greece, feel the pressure of the US.

The doctrine of ‘globalism’ is a doctrine to justify American intervention in every part of the world. It is the theory held by a whole school of foreign-policy-makers. The result has been that it is not the now petrified apparatus of the United Nations, but the unilateral decision of the US that decides if, where and how the US should intervene without concern for the will of the interested parties. Walt Whitman Rostow has defined the aim, which is to establish everywhere a world-wide ‘community of order’.

But in this world-wide community of order which the US is to dominate, all doors must remain open to ‘free [American] enterprise’. All people must submit to American leadership and assume the role of subjects. To integrate into such a world economic imperialism is clearly to integrate into an American-dominated economy which automatically means that other economic systems are reduced to inferior positions. For the world’s {341} peoples, the loss of an independent economy means the loss of political independence, as well as the loss of their own cultural personality.

It is in the light of all this that we should examine American aggression in Vietnam. The policy of the Open Door to American capitalism all over the world cannot fail to have as its number one enemy, the socialist countries. Socialist countries must, by definition, close this door to ‘free enterprise’ and construct a solid barrier to capitalist domination. Given this fact, the main object of American policy must be to prevent extension of the socialist zone. If the 1956 elections had been held in Vietnam, doubtless Ho Chi Minh would have been victorious: but the immediate and imperative aim for the US there was to establish a satellite state on the lines of Taiwan and South Korea. In other words, the US had to choose between two alternatives, a socialist government in South Vietnam or another puppet state. Their choice surprised no one. But the puppets could not subdue the resistance of the people; the neo-colonialists could not thwart the Vietnamese will to be free and independent. And during the years 1963-4 a new dilemma arose: the puppet regime was collapsing under the people’s pressure, the war between the puppets and the people was being won by the people. The next choice for the Americans was an acceptance of the facts or an all-out American war. Again no one was surprised, the choice was inevitable.

As I have already said at Stockholm, the underlying deeper reasons for this choice are not directly economic in the sense that the US has invested capital in that country that could justify intervention. Nor is it, in my view, a strategic concern which merits this colossal expenditure. Even though the US pushes its military bases close to China, South Vietnam is not indispensable to them.

The American choice of intervention and war was and is grounded on the fact that they are faced with a general revolt against American domination in the three continents where the people are rising in defence of their objective and true self-interests. The US could not avoid this show-down in South Vietnam and must win any guerrilla war.

But are they winning? Not merely is there no proof of this, there are signs of the opposite. In spite of the enormous disproportion {342} between means, in spite of a concentration of firepower hitherto unknown in warfare, in spite of an incredible technological development of weapons of mass destruction, the American imperialists have suffered constant defeat. They have been defeated because the NLF and the DRV have retained the total support of the Vietnamese. Apart from the few mercenaries and collaborators, the overwhelming majority of the people support the struggle against the United States. Doctor Wulff, who has lived for years in Vietnam, and the American press substantiate this; there is no other explanation for the course of the war.

And now the Americans have another dilemma – defeat or genocide. And since the most haughty imperialist of the world cannot face defeat, with cynicism and indifference they choose genocide. And for this choice there is a historical precedent. When the American Indians failed to conform to the design, they, too, were exterminated.

The United States is still moving westward and the frontier is being pushed on, over the Pacific, towards and into Asia – until the whole is transformed into an American colony. Those who resist are, in the imperialist’s eyes, in the same obstructionist position as was the Indian: they oppose the will of God. They are of an inferior lesser race which stands in the way of the exalted. They must, then, be exterminated.

It is in this way that American expansionism has made them become aggressors, arrayed against other races and peoples. And it is the final solution of ‘escalation’ which brings the genocide on the people that refuse to submit. This is the political logic of the American government, and it is against this logic that we must unite the people. Not only in the cause of humanity, not only in solidarity with the people of Vietnam, but in common defence of the common good, in affirmation of the right freely to choose a way of life in accordance with one’s own conscience; a right which the NLF has inscribed upon its banner; a right for which they and the heroic Vietnamese people are fighting and dying every day. {343}

1. The United Nations Convention of 1948, which defines genocide, in part, as: ‘the voluntary extermination of persons who by chance belong to a national, racial, ethnical or religious group’.Back
2. Mrs Pham Thi Yen, a political opponent to the US-supported Diem dictatorship, was imprisoned in the infamous Paulo Condore Prison on the island of that name off the coast of South Vietnam. She testified to tortures inflicted upon political prisoners among which were insertion of field telephone generator electrodes and broken bottles into the vaginas of women prisoners, water and electric torture, starvation and executions.Back
3. Professor Yoshitaro Hirano, Doctor of Jurisprudence, presented to the Tribunal the findings of the Tokyo Tribunal of 1967, which examined US conduct in the Vietnam war and Japan’s supporting role. Japan was found guilty of complicity with the US.Back

Summary of the Second Session

16. Summary of the Second Session

FIRST, on the complicity of Japan, Thailand and the Philippines:

1. The American army, in utilizing the land, naval and air bases of Okinawa, in disposing of all Japan for the movement of its troops, in taking advantage of Japan’s highly developed technical capacity and abundant equipment for the repair of its war and merchant fleets and planes and for all kinds of supplies and equipment, has made Japan, with the complicity of its government, one of the essential elements of its strategic system in its struggle against Vietnam. As Mr Stennis, chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee of the US Senate, has declared, without the help of Japan, ‘operations in south-east Asia would encounter serious difficulties’. Already, during the Stockholm session, the Tribunal condemned the complicity of Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. Concerning this last country, the Tribunal received precise evidence that it was not only an accomplice to the crime of aggression, but that its army had committed war crimes. The Tribunal has not received information on this point as to the armed forces of the other accomplice powers.

2. From the reports and documents furnished to the Tribunal, it is clear that the government of Thailand has afforded the United States diplomatic help, that it has offered it the possibility of setting up bases on its territory from which are launched the most murderous American air attacks against Vietnam. These bases are extremely valuable to the USA because they make it possible to bombard Vietnam under infinitely easier and more economical conditions, and with lesser risks for the pilots. Finally, the Thai government has completed its complicity by sending to South Vietnam an expeditionary corps, fighting directly by the side of the American armies. The complicity of the Thai government {344} is likewise direct, as concerns the acts of aggression against Cambodia and Laos of which we shall speak later.

3. The government of the Philippines, whose policies are almost totally aligned with the policy of the United States, affords the latter the use of the bases which it has kept on the territory of the Philippines, after the accession of that country to a purely formal independence. It is rightly that the Philippines have been qualified as a typical example of a state under the neo-colonial domination of the United States. In addition, the government of the Philippines has sent troops to South Vietnam; this contingent is at the present time 2,000 men strong and it will undoubtedly be augmented.

SECOND, on the use of prohibited weapons and products:

The Tribunal wishes to recall the uncontested principles of the law of nations, as well as those which were set down in The Hague in 1907, and with respect to which the legality of a weapon must be appraised: the principle of the immunity of the civilian population, the prohibition on the use of toxic products, the prohibition of weapons that may cause superfluous harm. It has attached a special importance to the Martens clause, which appears in the preamble of the Hague Conventions of 1907, and according to which the law of war depends on the principles of the law of nations resulting from the usages established between the civilized nations, the laws of humanity and the requirements of the human conscience. It is in the application of these principles that the official manual of the American army (Department of the Army field manual) entitled The Law of Land Warfare, published in July 1956 under the reference FM 27-10, by the Department of the Army, makes it an obligation for campaigning armies not to use any kind and degree of violence not really necessary for military objectives and aims.

The Tribunal has already condemned in Stockholm the use of fragmentation bombs (CBU bombs and pellet bombs), which are by definition intended to strike civilian populations, being inoperative against installations or protected military men. It has been informed that the use of these weapons has become intensified {345} and that they have been perfected in the form of delayed-action bombs.

The Tribunal wants today to condemn:

The wholesale and indiscriminate use of napalm, which has been abundantly demonstrated before the Tribunal.

The use of phosphorus, the burns of which are even more painful and prolonged and have, in addition, the effects of a poison on the organism.

As for the use of gases, the Tribunal considers that the failure of the United States to ratify the Geneva Protocol of 17 June 1925, concerning the prohibition of the use in war of toxic or similar asphyxiating gases, is without effect, as a result of the voting by the General Assembly of the United Nations (a vote joined in by the United States) on the resolution of 5 December 1966, inviting all states to conform to the principles and objectives of the said Protocol, and condemning all acts contrary to these objectives.

The scientific reports of the most qualified experts, which have been submitted to the Tribunal, demonstrate that the gases used in Vietnam, in particular CS, CN and DM, are used under conditions which make them always toxic and often deadly, especially when they are blown into the hideouts, shelters and underground tunnels where a large part of the Vietnamese population is forced to live. It is impossible to classify them as simple incapacitating gases; they must be classified as combat gases.

The Tribunal has studied the current practice of the American army consisting of spraying defoliating or herbicidal products over entire regions in Vietnam. It has noted that the American manual on the law of war already cited forbids destroying, in particular by chemical agents – even those theoretically non-harmful to man – any crops that are not intended to be used exclusively for the food of the armed forces.

It has found that the reports of the investigative commissions confirmed the information, from both Vietnamese and American sources, according to which considerable areas of cultivated land are sprayed by these defoliating and herbicidal products. At least 700,000 hectares [about 1,750,000 acres] of ground were affected in 1966. {346}

THIRD, on the treatment of prisoners of war:

The Tribunal recalls that prisoners of war must receive humane treatment, under conditions which are defined by the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which the United States has signed, and the terms of which it has incorporated in its own manual of the law of war. Tortures, mutilations and serious physical and mental coercion are not only prohibited but must be punished. The prisoner is entitled to life and to the medical aid that his state requires.

Numerous testimonies, both Vietnamese and American, were heard (among the American witnesses was a former soldier whose function for ten months had been to question prisoners from the time of their capture), and it was established that these principles are a dead letter for the Americans in Vietnam. The finishing off of the wounded on the battlefield and summary executions are frequent. Prisoners are thrown into the air from helicopters. Torture in all forms, by electricity, water, burns and blows, is practised daily. All the witnesses have confirmed that these practices always occur in the presence and under the direction of American soldiers, even when they do not themselves participate. These tortures are aimed at obtaining information or confessions. Medical care is systematically refused to the wounded and ill who refuse to speak.

Finally, in contempt of the provisions of the Geneva Convention, the prisoners held by the United States, which is the detaining power within the meaning of this Convention, are handed over to the authorities of the so-called Saigon government, which engages in a dreadful repression accompanied by acts of torture, numerous examples of which have been furnished, including those in which women are frightfully tortured.

FOURTH, on the treatment of civilian populations:

The Convention of the Hague of 1907, the Nuremberg and Tokyo judgements, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 4th Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, lay down the undeniable principle of the protection of civilian persons in time of war. The manual of the law of war of the American army includes {347} as one of its parts the entire 4th Convention of Geneva, the binding character of which is undeniable.

The Tribunal heard: the testimony of three American veterans, the report of the interrogations undertaken by its investigative mission in the United States, some Vietnamese victims, the report to the investigating mission of the Tribunal in the areas controlled by the NLF (which has collected 317 depositions, the minutes of which have been put into its files) and an important witness, a citizen of the German Federal Republic, who has lived several years in South Vietnam. It considers that the following facts are established:

First, in the course of raiding operations which take place both systematically and permanently, thousands of inhabitants are massacred. According to serious information from American sources, 250,000 children have been killed since the beginning of this war, and 750,000 wounded and mutilated for life. Senator [Edward] Kennedy’s report, 31 October 1967, points out that 150,000 wounded can be found every month. Villages are entirely levelled, fields are devastated, livestock destroyed; in particular, the testimony of the American journalist Jonathan Schell describes in a startling way the extermination by the American forces of the population of the Vietnamese village of Ben Suc and its complete destruction. Precise testimony and documents that have been put before the Tribunal have reported the existence of free-fire zones, where everything that moves is considered hostile which amounts to saying that the entire population is taken as a target.

Second, one third of the population of Vietnam has been displaced according to the very terms of the address of Senator Kennedy at the International Rescue Committee, and shut up in the strategic hamlets which are now baptized new life hamlets. The living conditions, according to published reports that have been brought to the Tribunal’s attention, are close to those of a concentration-camp life. The interned – women and children in most cases – are parked like cattle behind barbed-wire fences. Food and hygiene are almost entirely lacking, which often makes survival impossible. The social structures and traditional structures of the Vietnamese families are thus destroyed. One must also take account of the fact of the impressive number of prisoners held in the {348} jails of South Vietnam – 400,000 according to estimates that are worthy of attention. Arbitrary arrests, parodies of justice, interrogations accompanied by abominable tortures, are current practice. All the testimony agrees in establishing that inhuman and illegal methods are daily being used by the American armed forces and their satellites against the civilian populations, who are thus threatened with extermination.

FIFTH, on the extension of the war to Laos and Cambodia:

As a corollary to the American aggression in Vietnam, the security of the two neighbouring countries is seriously compromised.

1. The Laotian people are plunged into war by the direct extension on their territory of American aggression. On the one hand, the violation of the Geneva Agreements on Indochina of 1954, like those of the Geneva Agreements on Laos of 1962, and the support given by the governments of the United States and of Thailand to the local pro-American forces, constitute a blatant intervention in the domestic affairs of Laos, and have revived the war in Laotian territory. Moreover, military personnel of the United States and its satellites – South Vietnamese and Thai – have been introduced into Laos, transforming the part of the territory controlled by the Vientiane Administration into a military base in the service of American aggression, both against Vietnam and against the rest of Laos. Finally, American planes that leave from bases situated in Thailand regularly assault the Laotian population, accumulating deaths and ruin.

2. Cambodia, as the Tribunal has emphasized in its Stockholm judgement, is the victim of repeated violations of its frontiers perpetrated by the armed forces of Thailand and of the government of Saigon, in the pay of the United States. It is also the victim of repeated bombings, both aerial and artillery, from the American forces. The situation analysed in Stockholm has only become aggravated, and the heaviest menace hangs over the Kingdom of Cambodia, as its Chief of State has pointed out to the Tribunal.

SIXTH, on genocide:

The Tribunal adopted the following statement by Jean-Paul Sartre.




On Genocide

The word ‘genocide’ has not been in existence for very long: it was the jurist Lemkin who coined it between the two world wars. The thing itself is as old as humanity and there has never been a society whose structure has preserved it from committing this crime. All genocide is a product of history and it always carries the signs of the society from which it springs. The case which we have to judge concerns the largest contemporary capitalist power. It is as such that we must attempt to consider it; in other words, inasmuch as it expresses the economic structure, the political aims and the contradictions of that power.

In particular, we must try to understand whether there is an intention of genocide in the war that the American government is fighting against Vietnam. Article 2 of the Convention of 1948 defines genocide on the basis of intention. The Convention was tacitly referring to very recent history. Hitler had declared a deliberate plan to exterminate the Jews; he did not conceal the fact that he was using genocide as a political tactic. The Jew had to be put to death, wherever he came from, not because he had taken up arms or had joined a resistance movement, but just because he was a Jew. The American government, on the other hand, has made no such clear declarations. It even averred that it was going to the rescue of its allies, the South Vietnamese, who had been attacked by the Communists from the North. Is it possible for us, in objectively studying the facts, to unveil their hidden intention? And can we, after this examination, say that the armed forces of the USA are killing Vietnamese in Vietnam for the simple reason that they are Vietnamese?

This can only be established after a look at history: the structures of war change at the same time as those of society. From 1860 to this day, military motives and objectives have undergone a profound change and the end result of this metamorphosis is precisely the war of ‘example’ that the USA is waging in Vietnam. {350}

1856: Treaties for the preservation of the property of neutrals;
1864: At Geneva, an attempt to protect the wounded;
1899, 1907: At The Hague, two Conferences attempting to control conflicts.

It is no coincidence if jurists and governments have multiplied agreements to ‘humanize war’ on the eve of two of the most horrifying massacres that man has ever known. Vladimir Dedijer has shown very well in his book On Military Conventions that capitalist societies were all simultaneously creating this monster, total war, which expresses their real nature. This is because:

1. Competition between the industrialized nations fighting over new markets engenders a permanent hostility which is expressed, both in theory and in practice, by what is called ‘bourgeois nationalism’.

2. The development of industry, which is the source of these antagonisms, enables them to be resolved at the expense of one competitor, in the production of more and more massively lethal arms. The result of this evolution is that it becomes less and less possible to distinguish the rear from the front line, between the civilian population and the soldiers.

3. More military objectives appear, near to the cities. The factories, even if they are not working for the armies, do comprise the economic potential of a country. Therefore, the destruction of this potential becomes the aim of the war and the means by which it may be won.

4. For this reason, everybody is mobilized: the peasant fights at the front, the labourer is a soldier in the second line, the wives of the peasants replace the men in the fields. In the total effort of one country against another, the worker tends to become a fighter because, in the end, it is the strongest economic power that has the greatest chance of winning.

5. Finally, the democratic evolution of the bourgeois countries interests the masses in politics. The masses do not control the decisions of the state, but gradually gain a self-awareness. When a war comes, they no longer feel detached. Thus, reappraised and often deformed by propaganda, war becomes an ethical decision of the whole community. In every nation engaged in war manipulation {351} makes all, or nearly all, the citizens the enemies of the other nation. In this way war becomes total.

6. These same technologically advanced societies do not cease to enlarge upon the field of competition in multiplying the means of communication. The well-known ‘One World’ of the Americans already existed at the end of the nineteenth century when the wheat from Argentina managed to ruin the farmers in Britain. War is total not only because all the members of one community are at war against the members of another, but because its risk embraces the whole world.

Therefore the war of bourgeois nations – of which the conflict of 1914 is the first example, but which had been menacing Europe since 1900 – is not the invention of one man or one government, but the simple necessity since the beginning of the century for a totalitarian effort against those who wish to carry on their politics by other means or methods. In other words, the option is clear; no war or total war. It was total war that our fathers fought. And the governments – who could see it coming but did not have the intelligence or the courage to avoid it – tried vainly to humanize it.

However, in the First World War, intentions of genocide only appeared sporadically. The primary aim – as in the two centuries previously – was to destroy the military strength of a country, even if the more profound aim was to ruin its economy. But, although it was sometimes difficult to distinguish the civilians from the soldiers, it was rare, except during a few terroristic raids, for the population itself to be a target. Further, the two sides were developed nations, which implied from the outset a certain balance inasmuch as each side had a sufficient deterrent against the threat of extermination: the possibility for retaliation. This explains how, even in the midst of the massacre, a certain caution was observed.

However, since 1830 and throughout the last century, there have been many genocides outside Europe, some of which were the expression of authoritarian political structures, while the others – those which we need to know about to understand the growth of US imperialism and the nature of the war in Vietnam – found their origin in capitalistic democracies. To export goods and capital, the big powers, and in particular Great Britain and France, built themselves colonial empires. The name by which the {352} French called their conquests – ‘overseas possessions’ – clearly indicates that they could only have acquired them by wars of aggression, seeking out the foe in his own country, in Africa, in Asia and in the underdeveloped lands. Far from being ‘total wars’, which would indicate a certain initial reciprocity, such complete superiority of arms only required an Expeditionary Force. This easily conquered any regular armies that existed, but because such barefaced aggression provoked the hatred of the civilian populations, which is the reserve of manpower or soldiers, the colonial troops imposed themselves by the terror of constant massacres. These massacres had all the characteristics of genocide: they involved destruction of ‘one part of the group’ (ethnic, national, religious) to terrorize the rest and break down the indigenous social structure. When the French had made a bloodbath of Algeria during the last century, they imposed on this tribal society – where every community possessed its own indivisible lands – the Code Civile, which consists of bourgeois jurisdiction with regard to the division of inherited property. Thus, they systematically destroyed the economic structure of the country. The land soon passed from the peasant tribes into the hands of merchants who had come from France. In fact, colonialization is not just a simple conquest – as was the case in 1870 when Germany annexed Alsace-Lorraine – it is necessarily a cultural genocide. One cannot colonize without systematically destroying the particular character of the natives, at the same time denying them the right of integration with the mother country and of benefiting from its advantages. Colonialism is, in effect, a system: the colony sells raw materials and foodstuffs at a favourable price to the colonial power which then sells industrial goods back to them at world market prices. This peculiar method of exchange can only be established when the native labour is made to work for starvation wages. It naturally follows that the colonized lose their national personality, their culture, their customs, sometimes even their language, and live in misery like shadows constantly reminded of their own sub-humanity.

Yet their value as virtually free labour protects them to a certain extent from genocide. The Nuremberg Tribunal was fresh in the memory when the French, to make an example, massacred 45,000 Algerians at Sétif. This was such a common occurrence {353} that no one then thought of judging the French government as the Nazis had been judged. But this deliberate destruction of ‘one part of the national group’ could not be continued without proving to the disadvantage of the settlers. To have done so would have ruined them. It is because they were unable to liquidate the Algerian population, and because they did not integrate the country, that the French lost the war in Algeria.

These comments enable us to understand how the nature of colonial wars was transformed after the Second World War. It is at about this period, in fact, that the people in the colonies, enlightened by such conflict and its impact on the ‘empires’, and encouraged by Mao Tse-tung’s victory, determined to regain their national independence.

The characteristics of the struggle were clear from the beginning: the settlers were superior in arms, the colonized in numbers. Even in Algeria – a colony of settlers rather than of outside exploitation – the ratio of settlers to natives was 1:9. During the two world wars, many native peoples had learned the military arts and become well-seasoned soldiers. However, the scarcity and quality of weapons – at least at the beginning – limited the number of fighting units. These conditions dictated the nature of the fighting: terrorism, ambush, harassing the enemy, and the extreme mobility of the combat groups which had to strike unexpectedly and disappear immediately. This was not possible without the participation of the entire population. Hence the well-known. association of the forces of liberation with the masses: the former organizing agrarian reform, political bodies and education; the latter supporting, feeding and hiding the liberation army’s soldiers, and giving them their young to replace their losses.

It is not by mere chance that the ‘popular’ war, with its principles, its strategy, its tactics and its theoreticians, begins at the same time as the industrial powers brought total war to its ultimate stage with the harnessing of nuclear fission. Nor is it by chance that it resulted in the ruin of colonialism. The contradiction that gave victory to the FLN in Algeria was typical of the time; in fact, popular war eradicates classical war (as does the hydrogen bomb).

Against partisans backed by the entire population, colonial armies are helpless. They have only one way of escaping from the {354} harassment which demoralizes them and tends towards a Dien Bien Phu. This is to eliminate the civilian population. As it is the unity of a whole people that is containing the conventional army, the only anti-guerrilla strategy which will be effective is the destruction of that people, in other words, the civilians, women and children.

Torture and genocide were the colonialists’ answers to the uprising of the natives. And that answer, as we know, is useless if it is not definitive and total. A determined population, unified by its fierce and politicized partisan army, will not let itself be intimidated, as it was in the heyday of colonialism, by a massacre ‘as a lesson’. On the contrary, this will only increase its hatred. It is no longer a matter of arousing fear but of physically liquidating a people. And as this is not possible without at the same time eliminating the colonial economy and the colonial system; the settlers panic, the colonial powers grow tired of sinking manpower and money into a conflict with no solution, the masses at home end up opposing the continuation of barbaric wars and the colonies become independent states.

There do exist, however, cases where the genocidal solution to popular wars is not held back by innate contradictions. Total genocide then reveals itself as the foundation of anti-guerrilla strategy. And, under certain circumstances, it would even present itself as the ultimate objective, either immediately or gradually. This is exactly what has happened in the war in Vietnam. This is a new aspect of the imperialist process, one usually called neocolonialism because it is defined as aggression against an old colonial country, which has already attained its independence, to subject it once again to colonial rule. At first, the neo-colonialists make sure – either by the financing of a putsch or by another underhand stroke – that the new rulers will not represent the interest of the masses but that of a small minority of the privileged classes and, thus, that of foreign capital. In Vietnam this took the form of Diem, imposed, maintained and armed by the US, and of the proclaimed decision to reject the Treaty of Geneva and to constitute the Vietnamese territory south of the 17th parallel as an independent state. The natural results of this were a police force and an army to hunt those who, frustrated in their victory, immediately and even before any effective resistance movement, {355} declared themselves to be the enemies of the new government. It was the reign of terror that provoked a new uprising in the South and re-ignited the popular war. Did the US ever think that Diem would quash the revolt at its outset? In any event, they did not delay in sending experts, then troops, until they were up to their necks in the conflict. And gradually we can retrace almost exactly the same war that Ho Chi Minh waged against the French, even though the American government declared at the beginning that they were sending their troops out of generosity and out of duty to an ally.

This is how it appears. But, fundamentally, these two successive conflicts do have a different nature: the United States, unlike the French, do not have any economic interests in Vietnam. A few private American companies have invested there, but they are not so large that they could not, if necessary, be sacrificed without really affecting the American economy or harming the monopolies. Because the US is not pursuing the war for direct economic reasons, it need not rule out putting an end to it by the ultimate strategy of genocide. This does not prove that America has thought of this solution, only that nothing bars it from such a strategy.

In fact, according to the Americans themselves, the war has two objectives. Recently, Dean Rusk declared: ‘We are defending ourselves.’ It is no longer Diem, the ally in danger, or Ky that they have come to rescue. It is the United States that is in danger in Saigon. This means that their first aim is military: it is to encircle Communist China, the major obstacle to their expansionism. Thus, they will not let south-east Asia escape. America has put men in power in Thailand, it controls part of Laos and threatens to invade Cambodia. But these conquests will be useless if the US has to face a free Vietnam with thirty-one million united people. That is why the military chiefs often talk of ‘key positions’. That is why Dean Rusk says, with unconscious humour, that the armed forces of the United States are fighting in Vietnam ‘to avoid a Third World War’. Either this phrase makes no sense at all, or it must be understood to mean ‘to win a Third World War’. In short, the first objective is governed by the necessity of establishing a Pacific Defence Line, which can only be imposed in the general political framework of imperialism. {356}

The second objective is economic. General Westmoreland defined it in these terms in October 1966: ‘We are making war in Vietnam to show that guerrilla warfare does not pay.’ To show whom? The Vietnamese? That would be very surprising. Is it necessary to spend so many human lives and so much money to convince a nation of poor peasants struggling thousands of miles from San Francisco? And, above all, what need was there to attack, to provoke to battle and then crush it so as to show the uselessness of the fight, when the interests of the large companies are so negligible? Westmoreland’s phrase – like that of Rusk quoted above – needs to be completed. It is to the others that they want to prove that guerrilla warfare does not pay: all the exploited and oppressed nations who may be tempted to free themselves from the Yankee yoke with a war for freedom, first of all against their own pseudo-governments and the compradores supported by a national army, then against the ‘Special Forces’ of the United States and finally against the GIs. In other words, it is an example for Latin America and the entire underdeveloped world. To Guevara, who used to say: ‘We need many Vietnams’, the American government replies: ‘They will all be crushed as we are crushing this one.’

In other words, this war is primarily a warning for three, and perhaps four, continents. After all, Greece is also a peasant nation and a dictatorship has just been established there. It is best to warn: submission or complete liquidation. So, this exemplary genocide is a warning to all humanity. It is with this warning that six per cent of mankind hope, without too much expense, to control the remaining ninety-four per cent.

At this point in our discussion, three facts emerge: (1) the US government wants a base and an example; (2) this can be achieved, without any greater obstacle than the resistance of the Vietnamese people themselves, by liquidating an entire people and establishing a Pax Americana on a Vietnamese desert; (3) to attain the second, the US must achieve, at least partially, this extermination.

The declarations of American statesmen are not as frank as those that Hitler made in his day. But honesty is not indispensable; the facts speak for themselves. The speeches that accompany them, ad usum internum, will only be believed by the {357} American people; the rest of the world understands only too well. Friendly governments keep silent. The others denounce the genocide, but the Americans reply to them that they are showing which side they are really on by their unproven accusations. In fact, say the American government. we have done nothing but offer the Vietnamese – North and South – this choice: either you stop your aggression or we break you. There is no longer any need to point out that this proposition is absurd since the aggression is American, so that only the Americans themselves can put an end to it. But this absurdity is not uncalculated: it is clever to formulate a demand which the Vietnamese cannot possibly satisfy. In this way, America remains the master of the decision to stop the fighting. But, one might read the alternatives as: declare yourselves conquered, or ‘we will take you back to the Stone Age’. It does not cancel out the second term of the alternative, which is genocide. They have said: genocide, yes, but only conditional genocide. Is this legally valid? Is it even conceivable?

If the argument had any legal meaning, the government of the United States would only just escape the accusation of genocide. But, as MaîTre Matarasso has remarked, the law, in distinguishing between intention and motive, does not leave room for this escape clause. Genocide, especially as it has been carried on for several years, may well have blackmail as a motive. One may declare that one will stop if the victim submits. Those are the motivations and the act does not cease to be genocide by intention. This is particularly so when, as in this case, part of the group has been annihilated to force the rest to submission.

But let us look more closely and see what the terms of the alternative are. In the South, this is the choice: the villages are burnt, the population has to endure massive and deliberately destructive bombardments, the cattle are shot at, the vegetation is ruined by defoliants, what does grow is ruined by toxic elements, machine guns are aimed haphazardly, and everywhere there is killing, rape and pillage. That is genocide in its most rigorous meaning of massive extermination. What is the other choice? What must the Vietnamese people do to escape this atrocious death? Join the American armed forces or those of Saigon, or let themselves be enclosed in strategic hamlets or in those ‘new life’ compounds, which are two names for concentration camps. {358}

We know about these camps from numerous witnesses. They are surrounded by barbed wire. The most elementary needs are ignored. There is under-nourishment and complete lack of sanitation. The prisoners are packed into tents or primitive huts where they stifle. The social structure is destroyed. Husbands are separated from wives, mothers from their children, family life – so respected by the Vietnamese – no longer exists. As the homes are broken up, the birth rate diminishes; all possibility of cultural or religious life is abolished. Even work that will improve the standard of living is denied them. These unfortunates are not even slaves (the servile condition of the American Negroes has not stifled their own deep culture); this group is reduced to the state of an appendage, to the worst of vegetative lives. Anyone who wants to escape can only make contact with other men shattered and ravaged by hate, who can only regroup clandestinely for political resistance. The enemy guesses this, so that the camps are raked over two or three times. Even there, security is never certain and the shattering forces are always at work. If by any chance a broken family, e.g. some children with an older sister or a young mother, are freed, they go to swell the proletariat in the towns. The elder sister or the young mother, without a breadwinner and with so many mouths to feed, sinks to the utmost degradation in prostitution to the enemy. This is the lot of one third of the population in the South, according to Mr Duncan’s evidence. It is the sort of genocide condemned by the Convention of 1948:

Grave damage to physical or mental health of members of the group;
Intentional submission of the group to such conditions of existence as result in total or partial physical damage;
Steps taken to prevent births within the group;
Forcible removal of children…

In other words, it is not true that the choice lies between death or submission. Submission, under these circumstances, amounts to genocide. Let us say that there is only a choice between immediate violent death and a slow death after mental and physical de gradation.

Is it any different in the North?

One choice is extermination: not only the daily risk of death {359} but also the systematic destruction of the economic system, from the irrigation ditches to the factories of which ‘there must not be a brick left upon another brick’; deliberate attacks on the civilian population, and in particular on the countryside; destruction of hospitals, schools, places of worship, consistent effort towards wiping out the achievements of twenty years of Socialism. Is this simply to terrorize the population? That can only be achieved by the daily extermination of an ever larger number of the group. This terrorism itself, in its psycho-social consequences, is genocide. Who knows if, with the children in particular, this will not result in mental disturbances which will affect them permanently?

The other choice is capitulation. This would mean acceptance from the North Vietnamese that their country should be divided in two and that the American dictatorship, either directly or through their puppets, should be imposed on their compatriots and on the members of their own families from whom the war has separated them. Would this intolerable humiliation put an end to the war? This is far from certain: the NLF and the DRV, although united, have different strategies and tactics because of their different stances in the war. If the NLF continued the struggle, American bombers would carry on, even if the DRV capitulated.

But should the war come to an end, we know – from official declarations – that the United States would be generously inclined to rebuild the DRV with mountains of dollars. This would mean that they would destroy, with their private investments or conditional loans, all the economic basis of socialism. That, too, is genocide: the cutting in two of a sovereign state; occupying one half with a reign of terror, effectively ruining the enterprise so dearly paid for by the other half with economic pressures and with calculated investments, to be held in a tight stranglehold. The national unit of ‘Vietnam’ would not be physically eliminated, but it would no longer exist economically, politically or culturally.

In the North, as in the South, there is a choice between two types of destruction: collective death or disintegration. Most significant is the fact that the American government has felt the measure of NLF and DRV resistance: it knows now that only total destruction will be effective. The Front is more powerful {360} than ever; North Vietnam is resolute. For this very reason, the calculated extermination of the Vietnamese people can only be intended to make them capitulate. The Americans offer them peace knowing that it wilt not be accepted. This spurious alternative hides the real imperialist intention, which is a gradual progress towards the ultimate escalation of total genocide.

The United States government could have achieved this immediately by a Vietnamese Blitzkrieg. But, apart from the fact that this extermination would have involved complicated preparations – for example, the construction and unrestricted use of air bases in Thailand, shortening the bombers’ journey by 5,000 kilometres – the essential aim of the ‘escalation’ was and still is, to this day, to prepare bourgeois opinion for genocide. From this point of view, the Americans have succeeded only too well. The repeated and systematic bombing of the densely populated areas of Haiphong and Hanoi, which two years ago would have given rise to violent protests, is carried on today in a sort of general indifference which is more like gangrene than apathy. The trick has worked: public opinion accepts a constant and imperceptible increase of pressure which is preparing their minds for the final genocide. Is this genocide possible? No. But only because of the Vietnamese, their courage and the admirable efficiency of their organizations. As for the US government, nobody can excuse their crime just because the intelligence and heroism of their victims limits its effects.

One can conclude that, in a ‘popular’ war (that product of our times, the answer to imperialist aggression and the claim to sovereignty of a people conscious of its own unity) only two attitudes are possible: either the aggressor gives way, makes peace and recognizes that a whole nation is opposing him; or else, realizing the ineffectiveness of classical strategy, if he can do so without damaging his own interests, he resorts to extermination pure and simple. There is no other choice; but, this choice, at least, is always possible.

While the armed forces of the USA are digging deeper into Vietnam, intensifying the massacres and bombings attempting to subject Laos and intending to invade Cambodia, there is no doubt that the government of the United States, despite all the hypocritical denials, has opted for genocide. {361}

The intention is obvious from the facts. And, as M. Aybar said, it can only be premeditated. It is possible that in the past genocide was committed suddenly, in a flash of passion, in the midst of tribal or feudal conflicts. Anti-guerrilla genocide, however, is a product of our times that necessarily entails organization, bases and, therefore, accomplices (from a distance) and the appropriate budget. It needs to be thought over and planned. Does this mean that those responsible are fully aware of their own intentions? It is difficult to decide: to do so one would have to probe the latent ill-will of puritanical motives.

Maybe some people in the State Department are so used to lying that they still manage to believe that they only want the best for Vietnam. But, after the most recent declarations of their spokesmen, one can presume that there are fewer of these innocents. ‘We are defending ourselves: even if the Saigon government asked us to, we would not leave Vietnam’, etc. In any case, we do not have to worry about this psychological hide-and-seek. The truth is to be found on the field, in the racialism of the American troops. Naturally, this racialism – anti-black, anti-Asiatic, anti-Mexican – is a fundamental characteristic which has deep-rooted origins and which existed, latent or apparent, long before the Vietnam war. The proof lies in the United States government’s refusal to ratify the Geneva Convention on genocide. This does not mean that ever since 1948 the Americans have intended to exterminate whole peoples but that, according to their own declaration, the Convention would have conflicted with the internal legislation of many of the American States. In other words, the present leaders consider themselves unshackled in Vietnam today thanks to their predecessors who had wanted to respect the anti-Negro racialism of the South. In any case, ever since 1965, the racialism of the Yankee soldiers from Saigon to the 17th parallel has increased. The young Americans torture without repugnance, shooting at unarmed women for the pleasure of completing a hat-trick: they kick the wounded Vietnamese in the testicles; they cut off the ears of the dead for trophies. The officers are worst: a general was boasting in front of a Frenchman who testified at the Tribunal of hunting the VC from his helicopter and shooting them down in the rice fields. They were, of course, not NLF fighters, who know how to protect themselves, but peasants working in their rice {362} fields. In these confused American minds the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese tend to become more and more indistinguishable. A common saying is ‘The only good Vietnamese is a dead one’, or, what comes to the same thing, ‘Every dead Vietnamese is a Viet Cong.’

The peasants get ready to harvest the rice south of the 17th parallel. American soldiers come and burn their houses and want to transfer them to a strategic hamlet. The peasants protest. What else can they do bare-handed against these Martians? They say ‘The rice is so good; we would like to stay to eat our rice.’ No more, but that is enough to exasperate the young Americans: ‘It is the Viet Cong who have put this into your heads. It is they who have taught you to resist.’ These soldiers are so muddled that they consider as ‘subversive’ violence the feeble protests that their own violence has provoked. Originally, they were probably disappointed: they came to save Vietnam from Communist aggressors. They soon saw that the Vietnamese actually disliked them. Instead of the attractive role of the liberator they found themselves the occupiers. It was the beginning of self-appraisal: ‘They do not want us, we have no business here.’ But their protest goes no further: they become angry and simply tell themselves that a Vietnamese is, by definition, a suspect.

There is not a single Vietnamese who is not really a Communist: the proof is their hatred of the Yankees. Here, in the shadowy and robot-like souls of the soldiers, we find the truth about the war in Vietnam: it matches all of Hitler’s declarations. He killed the Jews because they were Jews. The armed forces of the United States torture and kill men, women and children in Vietnam because they are Vietnamese. Whatever the lies or nervous hedging of the government, the spirit of genocide is in the soldiers’ minds. This is their way of enduring the genocidal situation in which their government has put them. The witness Peter Martinsen, a young student of twenty-three who had ‘interrogated’ prisoners for six months and could not bear his memories, told us: ‘I am an average American, I am like any other student, and here I am a war criminal.’ And he was right to add: ‘Anyone in my place would have acted as I did.’

His only error was to attribute these degrading crimes to the influence of war in general. No: it is not war in the abstract, but {363} war waged by the largest power against a people of poor peasants, and war lived by those who wage it as the only possible relationship between an overdeveloped nation and an underdeveloped one, that is to say genocide expressed through racialism. The only possible relationship, apart from stopping short and leaving.

Total war implies a certain equilibrium of strength, a certain reciprocity. The colonial wars were waged without reciprocity, but colonial interests limited genocide. This present genocide, the latest development of the unequal progress of societies, is total war waged to the end by one side and with not one particle of reciprocity.

The American government is not guilty of having invented modern genocide, nor even of having chosen it from other possible answers to the guerrilla. It is not guilty – for example – of having preferred it on the grounds of strategy or economy. In effect, genocide presents itself as the only possible reaction to the insurrection of a whole people against its oppressors. The American government is guilty of having preferred a policy of war and aggression aimed at total genocide to a policy of peace, the only other alternative, because it would have implied a necessary reconsideration of the principal objectives imposed by the big imperialist companies by means of pressure groups. America is guilty of following through and intensifying the war, although each of its leaders daily understands even better, from the reports of the military chiefs, that the only way to win is to rid Vietnam of all the Vietnamese.

It is guilty of being deceitful, evasive, of lying, and lying to itself, embroiling itself every minute a little more, despite the lessons that this unique and unbearable experience has taught, on a path along which there can be no return. It is guilty, by its own admission, of knowingly conducting this war of ‘example’ to make genocide a challenge and a threat to all peoples. When a peasant dies in his rice field, cut down by a machine-gun, we are all hit. Therefore, the Vietnamese are fighting for all men and the American forces are fighting all of us. Not just in theory or in the abstract. And not only because genocide is a crime universally condemned by the rights of man. But because, little by little, this genocidal blackmail is spreading to all humanity, adding to the blackmail of atomic war. This crime is perpetrated {364} under our eyes every day, making accomplices out of those who do not denounce it.

In this context, the imperialist genocide can become more serious. For the group that the Americans are trying to destroy by means of the Vietnamese nation is the whole of humanity.

Verdict of the Second Session

18. Verdict of the Second Session

The International War Crimes Tribunal does as a result of deliberations render its verdict as follows:

Is the Government of Thailand guilty of complicity in the aggression committed by the United States Government against Vietnam?
Yes (unanimously).

Is the Government of the Philippines guilty of complicity in the aggression committed by the United States Government against Vietnam?
Yes (unanimously).

Is the Government of Japan guilty of complicity in the aggression committed by the United States Government against Vietnam?
Yes, by 8 Votes to 3.
(The three Tribunal members who voted against agree that the Japanese Government gives considerable aid to the Government of the United States, but do not agree on its complicity in the crime of aggression.)

Has the United States Government committed aggression against the people of Laos, according to the definition provided by international law?
Yes (unanimously).

Have the armed forces of the United States used or experimented with weapons prohibited by the laws of war?
Yes (unanimously). {365}

Have prisoners of war captured by the armed forces of the United States been subjected to treatment prohibited by the laws of war?
Yes (unanimously).

Have the armed forces of the United States subjected the civilian population to inhuman treatment prohibited by international law?
Yes (unanimously).

Is the United States Government guilty of genocide against the people of Vietnam?
Yes (unanimously).

DAVE DELLINGER An Appeal to American and World Opinion


An Appeal to American and World Opinion

Unlike the Nuremberg Tribunal, which met after the crimes had been committed, the International War Crimes Tribunal is meeting and rendering its judgements at the very moment when the crimes are taking place and even being escalated. The Nuremberg Tribunal asked for and secured the punishment of individuals. The International War Crimes Tribunal is asking the peoples of the world, the masses, to take action to stop the crimes. At Nuremberg the accused rested safely in jail, and the main focus was on the past; our Tribunal is quite different. Unless the masses act, and act successfully, we stand only at the beginning of war crimes and genocide – genocide that could bring down the cities and destroy the populations of the world.

No matter how horrible the evidence presented here, we stand at the threshold of even more horrible and extensive crimes, unless the peoples of the world act. Let us remind you that the history of the war in Vietnam is a history of continuous escalation. When the United States has found out that it cannot defeat the enemy of the moment at the level of warfare of the moment, it continually redefines the enemy and expands the form of its aggression. {366}

I will not go into the history of this expansion, but I will remind you that it began with diplomatic warfare at Geneva and elsewhere; it went through the stages of political infiltration, the training of puppets, the organizing of counter-insurgency, the training and leading of massive Saigon troops, and finally, the commitment of masses of United States troops.

As the United States loses in its battle with one enemy, it takes on new enemies. And as it escalates its enemies, it escalates the weapons. As the American GIs, David Tuck, Peter Martinsen and Donald Duncan, testified, they went to Vietnam to fight Communists, and they were disillusioned when they found out that they were fighting Vietnamese; that they were there to kill anybody from the population. Already as the United States is losing at the present level of warfare and claims that as a ‘great power’ it cannot admit defeat and cannot withdraw from this criminal enterprise, Secretary Rusk is raising fears of the ‘yellow peril’ in China. The state of mind that affirms napalm and pellet bombs and poison gases as weapons, is the state of mind that can affirm nuclear warfare.

Many people in the countries of the world, especially the Western countries, are watching from the sidelines, as they watched Hitler. In the time of Hitler they said, ‘It can’t happen here.’ And in the time of the United States aggression in Vietnam, they are saying, ‘It can’t happen to our cities; it can’t happen to our populations.’ But already their countries are subjected to the diplomatic warfare that began the attack on Vietnam. They are subject to pressures on their governments and their economies. The United States Special Forces are scattered throughout the world. The Vietnamese know that they have no choice, except to resist. In many other countries, particularly the Western countries, people think that they have a choice still. But they have none; they must resist. Paradoxically, if Hitler announced his intention to wipe out the Jews, the photos and the reports of the atrocities did not appear in the daily newspapers or go into the living-rooms on television. And if the democratic façade in the United States has prevented the American generals and presidents from announcing their intentions, perhaps even from comprehending them in their full intensity themselves, the same democratic façade allows some of the reports and some of the photos to appear in the American {367} mass media. And the psychology becomes, ‘It’s all right to do these things, because we are a democratic country as shown by the fact that we tell about them in the press.’ And at a certain stage, the psychology becomes, ‘Because we admit that we are doing these things, we are not really doing them at all.’ In other words, they do not call these actions by their proper name, and they do not present them in their proper intensity.

But a democratic society can commit genocide, as is illustrated by the history of the United States. I need only remind you of what happened to the American Indians and the black people. If the people in the Western countries, in particular, underestimate the total and genocidal nature of the United States’ aggression, there is something else which they underestimate also. And that is the ability of the Vietnamese people to resist. If they underestimate the inhuman nature of the United States’ actions, they also underestimate the human nature of the Vietnamese resistance.

The legitimacy of the Tribunal has sometimes been questioned. Its legitimacy will be determined by the answer given to its findings by the peoples of the world. The peoples of the world must refuse to commit the crimes that have been documented here. They must refuse to be accomplices in these crimes. But it is not enough to stop there. In addition they must make positive acts to stop the crimes. The Tribunal appeals to the people of the United States to stop the monstrous aggression of the United States at its source. It appeals to the people of the United States to put an end to United States’ genocide. And, finally, the Tribunal appeals to all the peoples of the world to act in the name of humanity and the name of solidarity with our Vietnamese brothers and with all other peoples whose lives and honour and integrity are threatened. {368}

The International War Crimes Tribunal

The International War Crimes Tribunal

Bertrand Russell
Honorary President

Jean-Paul Sartre
Executive President

Vladimir Dedijer
Chairman and President of Sessions

Tribunal members

Wolfgang Abendroth
Doctor of Jurisprudence; Professor of Political Science, Marburg University

Gunther Anders
Writer and philosopher

Mehmet Ali Aybar
International lawyer; Member of Turkish Parliament; President, Turkish Workers’ Party

James Baldwin
Afro-American novelist and essayist

Lelio Basso
International lawyer; Deputy of Italian Parliament and Member of the Commission of Foreign Affairs; Professor, Rome University

Simone de Beauvoir
Writer and philosopher

Lazaro Cardenas
Former President of Mexico

Stokely Carmichael
Chairman, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee {369}

Lawrence Daly
General Secretary, National Union of Mineworkers

Vladimir Dedijer
M.A. Oxon., Doctor of Jurisprudence; historian

Dave Dellinger
American pacifist; Editor, Liberation; Chairman, Fifth Avenue Parade Committee

Isaac Deutscher

Haika Grossman
Jurist; liberation fighter

Gisele Halimi
Paris lawyer; attorney for Djamila Bouhired; author of works on French repression of Algeria

Amado Hernandez
Poet Laureate of the Philippines; Chairman, Democratic Labor Party; Acting President, National Organization of Philippine Writers

Melba Hernandez
Chairman, Cuban Committee for Solidarity with Vietnam

Mahmud Ali Kasuri
Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan

Sara Lidman

Kinju Morikawa
Attorney; Vice-Chairman, Japan Civil Liberties Union

Carl Oglesby
Past President, Students for a Democratic Society; playwright; political essayist

Shoichi Sakata
Professor of Physics

Laurent Schwartz
Professor of Mathematics, Paris University

Peter Weiss
Playwright {370}

Reporters and witnesses, in the order appearing in this book:

Part I

Leon Matarasso
Paris lawyer; President of the Juridical Commission of the Tribunal; member of French legal panel at Nuremberg

Gabriel Kolko
Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania

Jean-Pierre Vigier
Physicist; Director of Research at C N R S, Paris; former officer-in-charge of arms inspection under General Lattre de Tassigny

Malcolm Caldwell
Lecturer, School of Oriental and Asian Studies, University of London; Editor, Journal of Contemporary Asian Studies

Lawrence Daly
General Secretary, National Union of Mineworkers

Tariq Ali
Journalist; Editor, Red Mole

Dr Martin Birnstingl
Consultant Surgeon, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London

Henrick Forss
Doctor of Medicine, Finnish Institute for Hygiene in Work; consultant of UN World Health Organization

Do Van Ngoc
Schoolchild: witness from North Vietnam

Ngo Thi Nga
Teacher: witness from North Vietnam

Hoang Tan Hung
Rice-grower: witness from North Vietnam

Nguyen Van Dong
NLF Ambassador in Moscow: witness from South Vietnam

John Takman
Director, Child Welfare Board, Stockholm

Axel Höjer
Swedish delegate to UN World Health Organization

Abraham Behar
Assistant, Faculty of Medicine, Paris University

Fujio Yamazaki
Professor of Agriculture, Tokyo University {371}

Makato Kandachi
Member of the Japanese Commission for Investigation of War Crimes in Vietnam

Kim-Eng Khouroudeth
Major, Royal Cambodian Army

Part II

Gilbert Dreyfus
Professor of Biochemistry, Medical School, University of Paris

Masahiro Hashimoto
Doctor of Medicine; Head of the Japanese Commission for Investigation of War Crimes in Vietnam

Edgar Lederer
Professor, Faculty of Sciences, Paris-Orsay

Thai Binh Danh
Farmworker: witness from South Vietnam

Pham Thi Yen
Pharmacist: witness from Saigon

Nguyen Thi Tho
NLF activist: witness from South Vietnam

Pham Ngoc Thach
Minister in Government of DRV; Head of delegation of DRV to Tribunal

David Kenneth Tuck
Former specialist, 4th class, with US 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam

Peter Martinsen
Former interrogator of prisoners, with US 541st Military Intelligence Detachment in Vietnam

Donald Duncan
Former US ‘Green Beret’ in Vietnam

Wilfred Burchett
Australian journalist; author of numerous books on Vietnam

Erich Wulff
Former member of West German Medical Mission to Vietnam; taught medicine at Hue Hospital

Charles Fourniau
French historian and playwright {372}

Afterword from the Editors of the Swedish edition

Afterword from the Editors of the Swedish edition

To make available to readers as much material as can be contained in only one volume, we have refrained from an introductory presentation. The evidence in this book forms only a small part of the reports and statements of witnesses submitted to the Tribunal. We are convinced that a reading of this volume cannot fail to stir the reader. In preparing it, our insight into the way in which the Vietnam war affects our daily existence has become clearer and more profound.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Bertrand Russell and to the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation for their initiative in setting up the Tribunal and for the work they carried out. We are grateful to the members of the Tribunal’s investigation committees, who risked their lives while gathering material; to the witnesses who voluntarily gave evidence, particularly as this may mean a ruined career. The Tribunal would not have taken place in May 1967 without the courageous support of Stellan Arvidson and the Swedish Tribunal committee. We wish to extend our warm thanks to writers, intellectuals, workers, trade unions, actors, artists and scholars – not only for their financial support, but also for the solidarity they have shown; to volunteers from the following organizations: the United FNL Groups, Clarté, the Socialist Union and Young Philosophers for their generous participation; to Joachim Israel, Björner Torsson, John Takman, Christer Hogstedt, Hans Göran Franck, Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss and Erik Eriksson for the time they gave to the Tribunal; to the Danish Bertrand Russell Council for making the session at Roskilde possible.

We also wish to extend our thanks to the translators. Extracts from the witnesses’ statements were often made from tape recordings, and occasionally from interpreters’ translations, which {373} caused the transcription of Vietnamese proper names to be doubtful at times. We wish to thank John Duffet for providing the tape recordings. We have also received help from Arlette Elkaim, Russell Stetler Jr, Ulf Oldberg and Patricia Howard.

Peter Limqueco
Peter Weiss

… and of the English edition

This edition follows the Swedish version very closely. It therefore owes grateful acknowledgements to all the people named in the list already published by Peter Limqueco and Peter Weiss. But their Swedish text was published two years ago, before the exposure of such atrocities as those at My Lai, and before opinion in the West had largely turned to recognize the truth of the charges which had been upheld by the Russell Tribunal. We therefore felt it necessary to include some additional matter, notably some of Russell’s articles and appeals following upon the breaking of the ‘Pinkville’ scandal.

Bertrand Russell was preoccupied with the task of organizing opposition to the continued American presence in Vietnam right up to the moment of his death: and on his desk at the time he died were letters from Prince Sihanouk and the Indian Foreign Minister, both awaiting reply, and both concerning his appeal to U Thant for a UN investigation into American atrocities.

In addition to publishing some of these last appeals by Russell, we feature in this edition an introduction by Noam Chomsky, which brilliantly sets the context in which the Tribunal has been vindicated.

We owe especial thanks to Noam Chomsky for this material, and to Barry Feinberg and Janice Ogg, of Continuum One, who are preparing the Russell archives, for their help. We also thank Lawrence Daly and Tariq Ali for permission to publish material which was not included in the Swedish text, and Gabriel Kolko for permission to feature his testimony.

It would be appropriate, as well, to thank the small army of {374} British people who assisted the work of the Tribunal during times when it was regarded as an entirely subversive and discreditable enterprise by many good people who have since come to see it as an undertaking fully justified by events.

Ken Coates



After the Tribunal

Russell’s Writing on Vietnam, My Lai and War Crimes edited by Ken Coates

Heartened by the Tribunal, a group of American deserters in Stockholm wrote to Bertrand Russell in early 1968, asking for his support. This was the message he sent them (20 May 1968):

Deserters from the armed forces of the United States of America deserve the heartfelt and practical support of everyone who is appalled by the cruelty of the war in Vietnam. I hope that the Deserters’ Committee in Sweden will continue to be augmented by ex-servicemen who courageously refuse to have anything further to do with this ugly aggression. All of us in Western Europe who oppose American war aims have a duty to support those who are helping to bring this barbarism to an end. I send my warmest good wishes for the growth of the Committee.

During the whole of the year after the conclusion of the second session of the Tribunal, Russell tried to draw the attention of the European left to the need to campaign for a break with the North Atlantic Treaty, as a practical measure to express the growing revulsion against American policy. He appealed to the German Socialist Students, the Vietnam Protest Rally, and the CND Easter march in very similar terms. This is the text of his appeal to CND (10 April 1968):

When we in the West talk about the danger of the war in Vietnam becoming a wider conflagration, too often what we mean is that it may come to threaten us personally. For the Vietnamese, however, this has been total war for years, and it is for them that our immediate efforts should be directed. It is ludicrous to suggest that in this David-and-Goliath contest we should fail to distinguish between the imperial power and its victim. If we ignore the essential justice of the third world’s rejection of imperialism, we shall never be able to propose or {379} support a just peace. Unless the Vietnamese are granted the justice so long denied to them, this brutal war will continue or recommence at an early stage.

The most useful contribution that we could make to educating world opinion about the evil of America’s military adventures would be to promote a serious campaign to force our own leaders to abandon their alliances with the USA. Bodies such as NATO serve only to associate us with injustice.

The beginning of the Paris talks produced this response from Russell, in his message to an international conference on Vietnam, held in Sweden late in 1968:

The war in Vietnam has now reached a crucial stage which it is important for the anti-war movement throughout the world to recognize and interpret with understanding. The rulers of the United States of America have at last recognized that, despite all their technological superiority, they cannot defeat the Vietnamese people and they have utterly failed to buy the allegiance of any substantial section of the people in South Vietnam. As is usual in such colonial wars, the United States is now trying to find some political and diplomatic means to achieve what it has failed to win on the battlefield. Within this strategy, we may expect to see in the coming months the representatives of the National Liberation Front and of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam subjected to the most extraordinary pressures to abandon those demands which are legitimately theirs, the failure to satisfy which will inevitably involve years of protracted warfare.

All those, therefore, who recognize the justice of the Vietnamese demands for an ending to the fiendish war crimes committed against them in the course of counter-revolution must now re-double their efforts to require the expulsion of every single foreign soldier and military base from Vietnam. If we devote ourselves in 1969 to such work, we shall be making a small contribution to the struggle which the people of Vietnam have fought and endured for so many years with such heroism. Surely this is the least that we can do.

Immediately after the news of the My Lai massacre broke into the headlines in the United States and Great Britain, Mr George Brown gave an interview, on the BBC’s The World at One, in which, as a former Foreign Secretary, he defended the Americans and urged them to ‘finish the job’ in Vietnam.

Bertrand Russell wrote the following article in reply. It was {380} featured as a front page story in Tribune on 28 November 1969:

Perhaps Mr George Brown should be given the benefit of the doubt, and we should treat seriously his outburst on Vietnam last week on the BBC. I know that many Labour Party members share the view of Mr William Hamilton, the Party Vice-Chairman, that Mr Brown’s utterances are no longer paid any attention, but so long as he is Deputy Leader of the Party his enthusiasm for the American cause in Vietnam cannot be ignored so easily.

Mr Brown revealed all too clearly his attitude to the war:

1. The United States should continue its war effort and finish the job. (With Goldwater, Mr Brown asks: ‘Why not victory?’) Any interruption of this task is described as American ‘weeping’ and must be stopped.

2. A US defeat in Vietnam would be a threat to freedom’. Mr Brown wants a ‘free South Vietnam; free, I mean, to choose its own decisions’. How grotesque! The Saigon generals, ruling over a sea of napalm with CIA cash and dreading the day the people will be permitted ‘to choose its own decisions’, are the guardians of Mr Brown’s freedom.

3. The Labour Party should devote itself to contemplating the threat to freedom instead of ‘just looking for the atrocities that may be committed by the Americans’.

4. We should ‘think about the atrocities that are committed by the other side and the terrible damage to freedom if the other side were to win’. (What does he think Fleet Street has been doing all these years?)

5. Any American atrocities which may have been committed are justified by atrocities similarly committed in the past by other colonial powers such as Britain.

Mr Brown’s outburst comes at a particularly unfortunate time. Just as the American public serves notice on President Nixon that his period of grace is over, Mr Brown identifies himself with the discredited far Right of the Republican Party.

But the most dangerous aspect of Mr Brown’s utterances is that they bore every sign of reflecting faithfully deeply ingrained ways of thought: America equals freedom. Nobody hearing him for the first time would guess that he is a prominent spokesman for a political party with a long anti-imperial tradition. According to him, the atrocities committed by Britain in India, Kenya and Malaya are all the justification America needs today. It is not only Keir Hardie and George Lansbury who must turn in their graves. Until very recently such statements would have been intolerable to the Labour movement. {381} Today, after years of slaughter of the Vietnamese and five years of a Labour Government which has always taken pains to face several ways at once, our moral sense is so blunted that we are tempted to regard this as merely a George Brown extravaganza. A long tradition of instinctive sympathy with oppressed peasants has been virtually wiped out by the present government with its servility to bankers and Washington, its sale of weapons to barbarous regimes, its ‘responsible’ anti-communism and its NATO-dominated view of Britain’s place in the world.

Inadvertently, Mr Brown poses the crucial question for every British socialist in 1970: how in an election year can socialism be made the relevant issue when the most powerful figures in the Labour Party and Government are determined to repudiate and ridicule it? This is the discussion I should like to see preoccupy the Left, in the hope that we shall build something worthy of the founders of the movement. We can be confident that we shall not build much with the bricks dropped by Mr Brown.

The American radical movement was keenly interested in Russell’s views on the My Lai massacre. This is an article he wrote for Ramparts magazine, in December 1969:

Violence is not new to America. White men of European stock seized the lands of indigenous Indians with a ferocity which endured until our own times. The institution of slavery shaped the character of the nation and leaves its mark everywhere today. Countless ‘local’ wars were mounted throughout the twentieth century to protect commercial interests abroad. Finally, the United States emerged at Hiroshima as the arbiter of world affairs and self-appointed policeman of the globe.

What is new in 1969 is that for the first time many affluent Americans are learning a very little of this disconcerting picture.

The revelations of atrocities by US servicemen in Vietnam illustrate not isolated acts inadvertently committed by disciplined troops, but the general pattern of the war, for its character is genocidal. It has been fought from the air with napalm and fragmentation bombs, helicopter gunships and pellet bombs, the spraying of poisons on thousands of acres of crops and the use of enormous high-explosive weapons. Civilian areas have been declared ‘free fire zones’ and the policy has been one of mechanical slaughter. On the ground, ‘search and destroy’ missions have used gas in lethal quantities, the killing of prisoners and systematic interrogation under electrical and other tortures.

Senator Kennedy has released figures given to him as chairman of {382} the Senate Refugees Subcommittee. He says that there have been one million civilian casualties in South Vietnam alone since 1965, of which 300,000 have been killed. In the London Times of 3 December its Washington correspondent, Louis Heren, compares such slaughter to the Nazi record in Eastern Europe: ‘These are terrible figures, proportionally perhaps comparable to the losses suffered by the Soviet Union in the Second World War.’ Two days earlier, the same newspaper’s correspondent in Saigon, Fred Emery, reported: ‘What begins as a “firefight” in a hamlet continues compulsively long after opposing fire has been suppressed. With such appalling fire discipline among all units in Vietnam, it is only exhaustion of ammunition that brings engagements to an end.’

This is precisely the picture which emerged from the sessions of the International War Crimes Tribunal in Scandinavia in 1967. The Tribunal heard from former US servicemen of the dropping of Vietnamese prisoners from helicopters, the killing of prisoners under torture and the shooting on orders of those trying to be accepted as prisoners. All this and much more was known years ago to anyone concerned to learn the truth. It was certainly known to tens of thousands of troops in Vietnam. The London Times’s Saigon correspondent, describing the reactions to the recent revelations of Americans in Vietnam, commented: ‘There is a strong undercurrent of knowledge and fear that “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.’

This is why the prosecution of isolated junior officers is quite inadequate. They are to be made scapegoats. The more wicked war criminals are the highest ranking military and civilian leaders, the architects of the whole genocidal policy. Have we so soon forgotten the regular White House breakfasts at which, Johnson boasted openly, he and McNamara and their closest colleagues selected the targets for the coming week?

This in turn is why it is ludicrous to suggest that an inquiry should be mounted by anyone associated with the Government or Armed Forces. The whole establishment stands condemned, including those more moderate politicians whose every utterances are still dictated by caution and petty ambition. Goldberg’s call for a commission of ‘concerned patriotic Americans’ would be a sublime irrelevance were it not the very means whereby the full horror would be hidden. Only a Pentagon inquiry could do worse. Because I doubt whether any inquiry in the United States would be free from the most severe harassment, I have invited some fifteen heads of state around the world to press the UN Secretary General to establish an inquiry into war crimes in Vietnam.

Several American newspapers have observed that reaction to the {383} massacre revelations has been much more rapid and sharp in Western Europe than in the United States. This is highly alarming. The entire American people are now on trial. If there is not a massive moral revulsion at what is being done in their names to the people of Vietnam, there may be little hope for the future of America. Having lost the will to continue the slaughter is not enough; the people of Am erica must now repudiate their civil and military leaders.

Russell’s last message to his old friend U Thant was the following open letter, which was also referred to numerous heads of state in neutral nations. Replies were still coming in to his home in Merionethshire at the time he died:

Dear U Thant,

I am sending you this open letter at a time when the peoples of the western world are learning at last something of the barbarous character of the war against the people of Vietnam. Former members of the US forces in Vietnam are coming forward daily with new evidence of torture and genocide. It is clear that we have heard only the beginning of these reports. When they were investigated by the International War Crimes Tribunal in 1967, they were greeted with considerable ridicule or indifference, but the record of the Tribunal’s proceedings is today vindicated. Now the magnitude of the horror is unfolding, and a new duty presents itself.

It has been reported widely that the Pentagon is considering the establishment, with the support of the White House, of its own War Crimes Commission. The result of this would be a foregone conclusion. Scapegoats would be found whilst the greatest culprits, the architects of the policy, and the true scale of the crimes would be ignored. A narrow definition of war crimes would be adopted which overlooked the indiscriminate use of napalm and fragmentation bombs.

I am asking you, therefore, to use the full authority of your high office to propose the creation of an International War Crimes Commission to hear all the relevant evidence and to pronounce solemnly upon it. It is within your power to help stamp out war crimes, and I earnestly beg you to seize this opportunity on behalf of all mankind.

Yours very sincerely,

Bertrand Russell {384}