“On Wars of Liberation,” prepared by the Council of the War Resisters’ International at its meeting in Vienna, August 12-17, 1968, A J. Muste Memorial Institute Essay Series (pamphlet), pp. 7-8.
Jonathan Schell, “The Village of Ben Suc” (1968), in The Real War: The Classic Reporting on the Vietnam War with a New Essay (New York: Da Capo Press, 2000) p. 188.
Frank Baldwin and Diane and Michael Jones, America’s Rented Troops: South Koreans in Vietnam (Philadelphia: American Friends Service Committee, 1973), cited in Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, The Political Economy of Human Rights 1: The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (Boston: South End Press, 1979), p. 321.
Dropped into war zones, without knowledge of the Vietnamese language and with little, if any, understanding of local culture, U.S. soldiers had problems distinguishing enemy from neutral from friend. They often became frustrated when making no contact with enemy soldiers for long periods, then seemingly out of the blue were interrupted by violent surprise attacks. Daily treks through insect-filled jungles in the heat and humidity also took a toll on GI nerves. In numerous documented cases, their frustrations were taken out on civilians. The approved routine of burning of huts, destruction of villages, and terrorizing of residents could and did lead to unauthorized sexual assaults, random shootings, and even massacres such as that in My Lai. Heonik Kwon lists thirteen large-scale massacres, including some by South Korean troops; Nick Turse, in Kill Anything That Moves, documents more. Even in villages with decent relations with local U.S. forces, other mobile U.S. forces were known to violently intervene.
Many books of the Korean War would be written long after the war.
Vietnam was conceptualized within this geopolitical framework. President Truman did not want to “lose Vietnam.” In February 1950, five months before the Korean War broke out, the Truman administration substantially increased U.S. aid to the French in Vietnam. Over the next four years, U.S. aid rose from $150 million annually to over $1 billion. By 1954, U.S. aid constituted 80 percent of France’s war expenditures and the U.S. had more than 300 advisers in Vietnam.
This essay will cover how the Films relate to the Cold War.
For an excellent analysis of economic motives interwoven in the American quest for hegemonic power in Asia as well as ideological-driven rationales, see Noam Chomsky, At War with Asia: Essays on Indochina (New York: Vintage Books, 1970; republished, Chico, CA: AK Press, 2004).
Who Really Started the Korean War
Life magazine added urgency to the idea of withdrawal by publishing in its June 27 (1969) issue portrait photos of all 242 Americans killed in Vietnam during the previous week. “It is not the intention of this article to speak for the dead,” wrote the editors. “Yet in a time when the numbers of Americans killed in this war — 36,000 — though far less than the Vietnamese losses, have exceeded the dead in the Korean War, when the nation continues week after week to be numbed by a three-digit statistic which is translated to direct anguish in hundreds of homes all over the country, we must pause to look into the faces. More than we must know how many, we must know who.”