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The war in Vietnam as an atrocity producing conflict : an examination of actors and actions Newton, Stephen Joseph 1974

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THE WAR  IN VIETNAM AS AN ATROCITY PRODUCING CONFLICT: AN EXAMINATION OF ACTORS AND ACTIONS  by  Stephen Newton B.A., York U n i v e r s i t y , 1973  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE  REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  i n t h e Department of Political  We a c c e p t t h i s  this  Science  t h e s i s as conforming to  the r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d s  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 1974  In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s  in p a r t i a l  f u l f i l m e n t o f the requirements  an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t  freely available  for  I agree  thesis  f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department  of this thesis for written  financial  i s understood t h a t copying or gain shall  permission.  Department o f  Political  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Vancouver 8, Canada  Date  It  A u g u s t . 1974  Science Columbia  that  reference and study.  I f u r t h e r agree t h a t permission f o r e x t e n s i v e copying o f t h i s  by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s .  for  or  publication  not be allowed w i t h o u t my  ABSTRACT  T h i s t h e s i s seeks to e x p l a i n the commission o f a t r o c i t i e s of war i n Vietnam.  The paper b e g i n s w i t h a b r i e f review o f the n a t u r e  of the war and the l e g a l v e r i f i c a t i o n o f a t r o c i t i e s i n Vietnam.  The  t h e s i s advanced by t h i s paper i s t h a t t h e a t r o c i t i e s committed i n Vietnam were a d i r e c t r e s u l t o f the t e c h n o l o g i e s developed f o r and employed by the b e l l i g e r e n t s  to the c o n f l i c t ; and, the p s y c h o l o g i c a l  c o n d i t i o n i n g to which members of the w a r r i n g s i d e s were exposed b o t h p r i o r to and d u r i n g the c o n f l i c t .  The paper f u r t h e r suggests t h a t  these two elements c o n t r i b u t e d t o the a t r o c i t y - p r o d u c i n g i n Vietnam by means of an " a c t i o n - r e a c t i o n " p r o c e s s .  situation  This process  i s d i s c u s s e d throughout the paper i n terms o f the elements themselves, and the s t y l e s of w a r f a r e adopted by the w a r r i n g s i d e s .  The paper's  c o n c l u s i o n i s that w h i l e the a t r o c i t i e s were n o t the d i r e c t r e s u l t o f d e l i b e r a t e attempts to p e r p e t r a t e a t r o c i t i e s , the way i n which  they were the r e s u l t  the b e l l i g e r e n t s p r e p a r e d f o r t h a t war and the way  i n which they executed t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e s t r a t e g i e s i n response to a c t i o n s undertaken by the o t h e r .  i  TABLE OF CONTENTS Chap t e r  Page  I.  Introduction  1  II.  The Nature o f the C o n f l i c t  6  III.  A t r o c i t i e s and t h e Vietnam C o n f l i c t The Laws and R e g u l a t i o n s Governing the Conduct o f War The Laws o f War A p p l i c a b l e t o t h e Vietnam War  15  IV.  Insurgency Warfare i n Vietnam The E v o l u t i o n o f Insurgency i n Vietnam Terror: The Weapon o f Vietnamese Insurgency  34  V.  C o u n t e r i n s u r g e n c y Warfare i n Vietnam The American Approach t o Insurgency Technology and t h e S t r a t e g y o f A t t r i t i o n The C h a r a c t e r o f the American C o u n t e r i n s u r g e n c y  49  VI.  Vietnam A t r o c i t i e s Committed W i t h i n an A c t i o n Reaction Process . . • Vietnamese Insurgency: An E v o l u t i o n a r y U n d e r t a k i n g People's R e v o l u t i o n a r y War and t h e American Response  VII.  Atrocities  of War and t h e I n d i v i d u a l i n Vietnam  VIII. Conclusion  . . . .  73  88 97  ii  LIST OF TABLES Table  Page  I.  Atrocities  of the Vietnam War  II.  Vietnamese War S t a t i s t i c s .  iii  22 58  INTRODUCTION  As the war  i n Vietnam progressed through the 1960s and early  1970s, i t s rate of a t t r i t i o n continued  to soar s t e a d i l y , leaving i n  i t s wake innumerable dead and immeasurable destruction. phase i n the war —  to mount.  new  early terrorism, American mobilization, mobile  g u e r r i l l a warfare, mechanization, and Vietnamization — continued  With each  The new  technologies,  and the many "cause-and-effect"  the losses  the embittered  emotions,  relationships a l l worked towards the  creation of horrors seldom seen i n the past, but very c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the Vietnamese conf li.e:fr..  As the t i t l e of this paper indicates  the major area of concern w i l l be with those acts l a b e l l e d "atroci t i e s " of war.  The s p e c i f i c concern of this presentation w i l l be with  the degree to which those a t r o c i t i e s were the l o g i c a l r e s u l t of the war's prosecution. This paper advances the hypothesis that the a t r o c i t i e s were the product of two major aspects of the war: and employed by the b e l l i g e r e n t s ; and,  the technology developed for  the psychological conditioning  to which members of the warring sides were exposed both p r i o r to and during the c o n f l i c t .  For the purposes of t h i s paper, the word "atroc-  i t y " w i l l be used to r e f e r to acts of d i r e c t and deliberate violence against combatants and non-combatants that v i o l a t e the i n t e r n a t i o n a l laws governing the conduct of war.  Accordingly, i t w i l l be necessary  to v e r i f y the existence of a t r o c i t i e s and then to explain them i n terms of the two previously mentioned aspects of the  war.  The technological aspect w i l l be discussed i n terms of the use of  2  c e r t a i n t a c t i c s and s t r a t e g i e s ; t h e l o g i c a l r e s u l t o f employing  certain  weapon types; t h e weapons a v a i l a b l e to each s i d e a t the o u t s e t o f t h e war, and the need f o r m o d i f i c a t i o n and/or e l a b o r a t i o n as the war p r o g r e s s e d ; and t h e e v o l u t i o n o f -measurement i n d i c a t o r s c a p a b l e o f r e g i s t e r i n g each s i d e ' s successes and f a i l u r e s .  The p s y c h o l o g i c a l  a s p e c t w i l l be d i s c u s s e d i n terms o f the r e l a t i o n s h i p s  that existed  between combatants and non-combatants, as w e l l as between combatants; the p r o c e s s e s o f dehumanization p a r a t i o n s undertaken  by b o t h  and depersonalization;"'' the mental p r e -  t h e i n d i v i d u a l combatants and t h e g e n e r a l  m i l i t a r y system f o r t h e c o n f l i c t ;  the implications of personal f r u s t r a -  t i o n as w e l l as t h e f r u s t r a t i o n o f t h e m i l i t a r y system; the i m p l i c a t i o n s of impatience  and a g g r e s s i v e n e s s ; and the c o m p l i c a t i o n s r e s u l t i n g  from  the p u r s u i t o f m i l i t a r y over p o l i t i c a l o b j e c t i v e s , and/or the p u r s u i t of p o l i t i c a l over m i l i t a r y  objectives.  U n d e r l y i n g these two a s p e c t s i s an a l l encompassing p r o c e s s , the " a c t i o n - r e a c t i o n " phenomenon. operated  throughout  I n o r d e r to view t h i s p r o c e s s as i t  the Vietnamese c o n f l i c t i t w i l l be n e c e s s a r y to  p r e s e n t b o t h " t e c h n o l o g i c a l " and " p s y c h o l o g i c a l ) ! a s p e c t s i n terms o f 1  the b e l l i g e r e n t s ' s t y l e s o f w a r f a r e .  What t h i s i m p l i e s i s a d i s c u s -  s i o n of a t r o c i t i e s , and t h e i r p r o b a b l e o c c u r r e n c e , i n t h e c o n t e x t o f , first,  insurgency warfare;  second,  c o u n t e r i n s u r g e n c y w a r f a r e ; and  t h i r d , the " a c t i o n - r e a c t i o n " p r o c e s s i t s e l f .  T h i s approach r e q u i r e s ,  at the o u t s e t , a review o f t h e war, as a whole, from fare styles.  the a s p e c t o f war-  W r i t i n g on t h e crimes o f war from t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e o f the  whole, G a b r i e l Kolko has suggested  another  reason f o r r e v i e w i n g the war  3  i n t h i s way:  "We  can s c a r c e l y comprehend the war  t r a t i n g on s p e c i f i c weapons and  incidents....What  i n Vietnam by  concen-  i s i l l e g a l and  im-  moral, a crime a g a i n s t the Vietnamese and a g a i n s t c i v i l i z a t i o n as  we  2 t h i n k i t s h o u l d be, While not  i s the e n t i r e war  and  its intrinsic  character.  t y p i c a l of the m a t e r i a l s p e r t a i n i n g to the c o n f l i c t ,  passage does h i g h l i g h t one Despite  o f t h e major d i f f i c u l t i e s posed by  this the t o p i c .  the e x i s t e n c e o f numerous accounts and d e s c r i p t i o n s , the  m a j o r i t y o f these works on Vietnam p e r t a i n to the p r o s e c u t i o n of war  by  the c o u n t e r i n s u r g e n t s .  t a t e s over concern w i t h the c o u n t e r i n s u r g e n c y ,  the war  effort,  be,  and, The  o f the  d e s t r u c t i o n of  the  a c c o r d i n g l y , warrant a g r e a t e r amount of a t t e n t i o n . Vietnamese war,  w h i l e not a d i f f i c u l t researcher wishing  W h i l e the problem o f m a t e r i a l s has  t o p i c , does pose  to undertake i t s examina-  a l r e a d y been mentioned,  i s a l s o the r e l a t e d problem of b i a s i n p u b l i s h e d r e p o r t s and Realistically, possesses any  there  accounts.  i t i s to be expected t h a t v e r y l i t t l e work on the t o p i c t r u e o b j e c t i v i t y or freedom from b i a s .  tence of such s t r o n g and important.  counter-  i t would seem o n l y n a t u r a l t h a t t h e i r e f f o r t s would  s e v e r a l problems f o r any tion.  States.  i t i s not a d i s a s t r o u s  Given the overwhelming n a t u r e  be r e s p o n s i b l e f o r a l a r g e r share of the death and war,  the f o r c e s of  those o f the U n i t e d  as t h i s s i t u a t i o n may  consequence f o r t h i s paper.  t h i s imbalance n e c e s s i -  e f f o r t as undertaken by  and most n o t a b l y w i t h  However, as u n f o r t u n a t e  insurgency  Unfortunately,  the  emotional  a t t i t u d e s which makes t h i s i s s u e so  Many of the Americans who  i n an environment c h a r a c t e r i z e d by  I t i s the e x i s -  fought  i n Vietnam had been t r a i n e d  a p r e j u d i c e a g a i n s t the p e o p l e of  the  4  Orient.  So strong was this attitude that many eventually came to 2  regard the so-called western superiority as f a c t . ness was  A similar b i t t e r -  to develop on the part of the Indochinese fpr those forces 3  of the counterinsurgency who Throughout  represented western norms and b e l i e f s .  the course of the war more and more people came to  view the m i l i t a r y e f f o r t s of the counterinsurgents as extremely cruel 4 and somewhat genocidal.  Likewise, those who  defended the counterin-  surgents' claims of f i g h t i n g for democracy and freedom branded the i n surgents as ruthless criminals engaged i n the worst forms of populationcontrol.  However, i t would appear that both characterizations miss  the r e a l i t y of the s i t u a t i o n .  I can not f i n d any substantial support  for the b e l i e f that belligerent actions were the product of two sides engaged i n the w i l l f u l and systematic use of violence and cruelty. Rather, I must conclude from the available facts that the actions of the combatants were the unfortunate r e s u l t of a c o n f l i c t that l i k e l y had no other outcome. While a l l of the preceding factors were, no doubt, present and, to some extent, i n f l u e n t i a l , I can only conclude that they exacerbated an already d i f f i c u l t s i t u a t i o n i n which the outcome had long since been determined.  However, the purpose of this thesis i s not so much  to bear witness to the foregoing personal b e l i e f s as i t i s to substant i a t e the conclusion that, i n addition to other factors, an "actionreaction" dynamic, hard at work throughout the course of the war, had already made the war's cruelty, violence and destruction a probable r e s u l t .  5  REFERENCES "'"For the purposes o f t h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n the term "dehumanization" w i l l be used to r e f e r to t h a t c o n d i t i o n i n g p r o c e s s i n which the i n d i v i d u a l l o s e s a l l o r p a r t o f those v a l u e s , q u a l i t i e s and t r a i t s t h a t we, western man, i d e n t i f y w i t h t h e s t a t e o f b e i n g human. "Depersonalizat i o n " , on t h e o t h e r hand, w i l l be used to r e f e r to t h a t c o n d i t i o n i n g p r o c e s s i n which another member o f o u r s p e c i e s i s d e n i e d f u l l o r p a r t i a l a s s o c i a t i o n and, a c c o r d i n g l y , reduced t o a l e v e l , i n many c a s e s , o f subhuman i d e n t i f i c a t i o n . 2 G a b r i e l K o l k o , "War Crimes and t h e Nature o f the Vietnam War." In Crimes o f War, e d i t e d by R i c h a r d A. F a l k , G a b r i e l K o l k o , and Robert J. Lifton. New York: 1971, p. 414. 3 C i t i z e n s Commission o f I n q u i r y , Eds., The Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes i n Vietnam. New York: 1972, p. 38. 4 T h i c h Nhat Hanh, Vietnam: Lotiis i n a Sea o f F i r e . New York: 1967, p. 67.. ~*This a t t i t u d e o f i n c r e a s i n g concern over the p r o s e c u t i o n o f the war i s advanced i n the f o l l o w i n g : G a b r i e l K o l k o , "War Crimes and the Nature o f t h e Vietnam War;" Robert J . L i f t o n , "Beyond A t r o c i t y ; " and Jean P a u l S a r t r e , "On Genocide." I n Crimes o f War, e d i t e d by R.A. F a l k , G. K o l k o , and R.J. L i f t o n . New York: 1971, pp. 403-415, 17-27, 534-549.  6  THE NATURE OF THE CONFLICT It i s sometimes necessary to dismiss the vague and often times confusing accounts and reports which are products of events such as the war i n Vietnam. narratives —  Occasionally, we replace these characterizations with  the thoughts, ideas, and feelings of those who have par-  t i c i p a t e d i n the event.  At other times, we i n j e c t tables and charts  to i l l u s t r a t e the course of the.event.  Unfortunately, when attempting  to discuss the war i n Vietnam, or to characterize i t s nature, a l l of these forms of i l l u s t r a t i o n somehow f a i l to transmit i t s f u l l scope and complexity.  Needless to say, the following while i n d i c a t i v e of the  war, w i l l f a i l i n the same way as i t s predecessors have.  However, the  following characterization i s not designed to be as comprehensive as i t i s to be representative and i n d i c a t i v e . By the middle of 1968,  the war i n Vietnam was being fought by  540,000 American and 768,000 South Vietnamese troops.  They were op-  posed by 378,000 Vietcong and North Vietnamese regulars. of  By the end  1971 the war involved approximately 160,000 American and over one  m i l l i o n South Vietnamese troops.  Supporting the forces of the counter-  insurgency i n 1968 were nearly 5,500 a i r c r a f t , including over 2,500 helicopters, and 85 ships, 840 tanks, and 400 cannon.  Between 1965  and 1971, 6.3 m i l l i o n tons of a i r ordnance were dropped on Indochina with over 50 per cent delivered between 1969 and 1971.  The tonnage  dropped on South Vietnam between 1965 and 1971 t o t a l l e d 3.9 m i l l i o n tons.  Half of a l l the ordnance dropped by a i r was  delivered by B-52s.  During this same period, 7 m i l l i o n tons of a r t i l l e r y ordnance were  7  expended, of which 65 per cent was employed i n "harassment and i n t e r d i c t i o n " operations.  Between 1964 and 1965, 1.7 m i l l i o n helicopter  sorties were flown each year.  This was increased to an annual rate  of 2.3 m i l l i o n sorties between 1965 and 1968.  It has been estimated  that there were nearly 21 m i l l i o n bomb-craters created i n the South between 1965 and 1971.  This represents a displacement of 3.4 b i l l i o n  cubic yards of earth, or ten times the amount of earth excavated i n the  construction of the Suez and Panama Canals.  During the American  p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the war, 90,000 t.Ons of chemical warfare agents were employed i n Vietnam, of which 90 per cent were herbicides. While American combat deaths remained below the 500 figure per month throughout most of the war, they rose i n excess of 1,000 per month during the l a t t e r part of 1967 and remained high throughout 1968. By late June of 1968, over 25,000 Americans had been k i l l e d i n action. Three months l a t e r the t o t a l number of U.S. casualties had surpassed the  200,000 figure, or about 60,000 more than were k i l l e d , wounded, 2  or missing i n Korea.  South Vietnamese and other a l l i e d 3  totaledgabout 500 a month,  casualties  while North Vietnamese and Vietcong k i l l e d  i n action rose from 3,500 to 7,000 a month between late 1965 and the end of 1967.  Total Vietcong and North Vietnamese dead by  September,  1968, were estimated at 400,000 with an undetermined number of wounded. By 1971, 45,828 Americans had died i n combat with over 300,000 wounded. North Vietnamese and V.C. combat deaths "'have been placed at 870,000. Since 1965, c i v i l i a n casualties i n South Vietnam have been estimated at 400,000 dead, and 1.3 m i l l i o n wounded.  Between 1966 and 1971 there  8  were 26,367 assassination and 35,946 abduction operations reportedly undertaken by the Vietcong i n South Vietnam.  Estimates are that  c i v i l i a n deaths accounted for 90 per cent o? more of those k i l l e d i n 4 the war throughout Indochina.  In a l l , one-third of the people of  Indochina were estimated to be refugees by 1971:  6 m i l l i o n out of  17 m i l l i o n South Vietnamese; 900,000 out of 2.8 m i l l i o n Laotians; and 2 m i l l i o n out of 6.7 m i l l i o n Cambodians. These consequences of the c o n f l i c t i n Vietnam, however, provide a very incomplete picture of the war's effects upon the country and i t s people.  I t was not a war between armies engaged i n open b a t t l e  with each side intent upon capturing precious t e r r i t o r i e s .  I t was,  rather, a c o n f l i c t fought between armies and peasants i n jungles and forests, on h i l l s and p l a i n s , r i v e r s and swamps, and i n  and around  population centers which were, i t would now appear, the ultimate objectives of the warring sides. The people of South Vietnam were involved i n the war not only as members of the m i l i t i a s , the armed forces of the South or the Vietcong, but as c i v i l i a n s whose support was sought by both sides i n a peculiar mixture of p o l i t i c a l - m i l i t a r y and conventional-guerrilla warfare.  The involvement of the peasants increased throughout the  war not only as the  prize of the war but as i t s ultimate target."'  The South Vietnamese were a population whose very existence was constantly endangered by the t a c t i c s of the c o n f l i c t . . I t was a war i n which c i v i l i a n buildings and property were perfunctorily c l a s s i f i e d as enemy i n s t a l l a t i o n s and m i l i t a r y targets.  The aims of the major belligerents remained, throughout the war, varied and sometimes confusing. While the aim of Hanoi  was,  quite simply, the support of a People's Revolutionary War i n the South which sought the r e u n i f i c a t i o n of Vietnam, the aims of the United States were not so clear-cut.  In 1964, according to then  Assistant Secretary of Defense McNaughton, American aims were viewed as being:  the protection of the American reputation as a counter-^  subversion guarantor; the avoidance of Southeast Asia f a l l i n g into the Communist sphere of influence (the "Domino Theory"); and the American emergence from the c o n f l i c t without unacceptable t a i n t from the methods employed. Vietnam to be:  :  "70% —  In 1965, McNaughton declared American aims i n to avoid a humiliating U.S. defeat"; "20%  to keep SVN t e r r i t o r y from Chinese hands"; "10% — of SVN to enjoy a better, freer way of l i f e " .  —  to permit the people  "ALSO —  to emerge from  c r i s i s without unacceptable taint from methods used", and "NOT to help out a f r i e n d . . . . " ^ On one side of the c o n f l i c t there was the devastating and demoralizing firepower of the American m i l i t a r y technology which im8 proved body-counts  and area-denial programmes.  On the other hand,  there was a g u e r r i l l a strategy combined with the more conventional methods of the regular North Vietnamese  units.  The importance of both the body-counts grammes increased as the war progressed.  and the area-denial pro-  During the early years of  the war, counterinsurgency planners adopted those t a c t i c s and strategies acre.suitable to the weapons' systems at their immediate disposal.  Due  10  to the war's unconventional nature, as w e l l as the ever-present sense of f r u s t r a t i o n , the only means available f o r determining the war's progress were the t o t a l number of enemy dead and the t o t a l acreage of land denied to the enemy.  Regardless of the weapons employed the body-  counts and the area denied continued to provide some information as to the progress of the war.  Those m i l i t a r y tactics, as w e l l as those sug-  gestions f o r weapon improvement, which appeared  capable of maximizing  these indicators were usually adopted and welcomed with r e l i e f .  What  apparently began as simple indicators as to the war's progress eventually were turned into key objectives.  Thus, weapon procurement was  altered so that weapons s p e c i f i c a l l y designed to increase body-counts and areas denied the enemy became de rigueur as to production and use. Associated with the development of s p e c i f i c weapons f o r the purpose of indicator maximization i s the issue of strategy and t a c t i c alteration.  As new weapons became available, new t a c t i c s and s t r a t -  egies emerged from the war-rooms i n Washington and Saigon.  Commenting  on the development and evolution of strategies and t a c t i c s , Townsend Hoopes has noted: "The preferred doctrine dictated the strategy and the strategy determined the p o l i c y . Though not o f f i c i a l l y acknowledged, not even planned that way, m i l i t a r y victory became an end i n i t self." 9  When these two developmental processes (strategies and weapons) are viewed together, i t would appear that there existed no better m i l i t a r y measurement for combat results than body-counts and areas denied. The idea of not losing i n Vietnam appears to have been more than  11  just a simple m i l i t a r y concern.  President Johnson's comment —  "I am  not going to lose Vietnam....I am not going to be the President who saw Southeast Asia go the way of China""^ —  brings to mind the  infamous declaration of art American Army o f f i c e r following the o b l i t e r a t i o n of the town of Ben Tre during the American response to the Tet Offensive:  "We had to destroy i t i n order to save i t . " ^  Accordingly, i t would appear that the forces of the counterinsurgency regarded the accomplishment of m i l i t a r y victory as dependent upon the continual improvement of body-counts and area-denial programmes. weapons which served this function were given preferred status. this way  Any In  the Vietnamese war became an excellent testing ground f o r ex-  perimental weapons and s t r a t e g i c and t a c t i c a l innovations. Not only would the results be d i r e c t l y applicable to the war i n Indochina, but they would also be applicable i n the future should the United States find i t s e l f i n another unconventional c o n f l i c t . Vietnam was also a war i n which the laws governing the conduct of warfare exercised only minimal r e s t r a i n t , as noted by Bernard F a l l : "Another aspect of the progressive irrelevance of the human aspect of the Vietnam war i s the universally callous attitude taken by almost everybody toward the crass and constant v i o l a tions of the rules of war that have been taking place." 1 2  Even those members of the m i l i t a r y who were f a m i l i a r with the rules governing the conduct of war did not necessarily apply them, as noted by an American o f f i c i a l i n Saigon, apparently attempting to j u s t i f y prohibited conduct:  "People on the outside j u s t have no idea of what  12  this war i s a l l about or how i t i s fought. war. the  I t ' s a rough and b r u t a l  The Viet Cong has never heard of the Marquis of Queensbury or Geneva Conventions, and we can't afford to lose j u s t because we 13  have heard of them." Above a l l , the war i n Vietnam was characterized by the numbing b r u t a l i z a t i o n of men and the depersonalization of the enemy.  I t was  a war i n which the Vietcong, "these termites," did not l i v e i n places, they "infested areas"; where to "clean them out" required "sweep and clean" operations or the removal of peasants to relocation camps so that an area could be "sanitized.""'"^ surgents' agitation and propaganda  I t was a war i n which the i n -  ("agit-prop") teams dwelt on the  "inhuman" and "barbaric" a t r o c i t i e s committed by the Americans and their Southern "henchmen" —  the "rape", "murder", and "torture" of  innocent men, women, and children; where the "Vietnamese  traitors"  i n the South "fattened themselves" on the blood of the peasants. It was a war fought between "gooks" and " l a c k i e s " , "slopes" and "imperialist-dogs", and between "dinks" and "tyrants."  I t was a war  which could compel an American government o f f i c i a l i n Saigon to utter the  following:  "We're going to beat the communists at their own game,  use their methods, cut o f f t h e i r cocks and cut up the women and c h i l dren i f that's what i t takes, u n t i l we break the communist hold over these people.  We can stand i t .  germ-free as an operating room. of i t than the VC."  16  We're going to make this place as And we can afford to do a better job  13  REFERENCES "'"All of the following figures are taken from the following two sources: U.S. News & World Report, September 16, 1968; and, M i l t o n Leitenberg, "America i n Vietnam: S t a t i s t i c s of a War." Survival, v o l . 14, no. 6, November-December, 1972: 268-274. 2 A l l i e d forces p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the Vietnamese c o n f l i c t which came under the Free World M i l i t a r y Assistance Command were those from: A u s t r a l i a , South Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of China, South Vietnam, Spain, Thailand, and the United States. (Air War Study Group, Cornell University. General editors, R. Littauer, and N. Uphoff, A i r War i n Indochina, rev. ed. Boston: 1972, p. 267. 3 During l a t e 1967 and early 1968, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese regulars began the f i n a l stages of a strategy that was to culminate with the Tet Offensive. During this period, major c o n f l i c t s were i n i t i a t e d to draw attention away from t h e i r preparations. One example of this "smoke-screen" e f f o r t was the Vietcong and North Vietnamese attack on the Marine base at Khe Senh. With these large-scale engagements, American forces took the lead i n a l l * combat-offensives. The other forces of the counterinsurgency, most notably the forces of South Vietnam, were l e f t i n defensive positions around the major towns and the c i t i e s . Southern forces were also engaged, at this time, i n large r i o t s and demonstrations against the Southern government i n Hue, Da Nang and Saigon. 4 The 400,000 Southern c i v i l i a n casualties represent only those c i v i l i a n s who were found i n areas nominally under the control of the Saigon government. Other c i v i l i a n s found i n either V.C. areas or contested t e r r i t o r i e s were l a b e l l e d as enemy k i l l e d i n action. Where " f r i e n d l y " c i v i l i a n s were known to have been h i t , but, for whatever reason, were not found, rough estimates were made. With respect to the number of wounded, the 1.3 m i l l i o n figure represents only those who were admitted to either American or South Vietnamese hospitals for medical attention. Once admitted to h o s p i t a l , a wounded remained a "wounded" even i f he were eventually to die from h i s wounds. ~*B. Singh, and Ko-Wang Mei, Theory and Practice of Modern G u e r r i l l a . Bombay: 1971, p. 75. The Pentagon Papers, the New York Times Edition. p. 365. 7  I b i d . , p. 432.  * Counterinsurgency  New York:  1971,  14  g  "Body-counts" and " a r e a - d e n i a l " programmes were the two measurement i n d i c a t o r s employed by the f o r c e s o f the c o u n t e r i n s u r g e n c y i n a s s e s s i n g the p r o g r e s s of the war.  Q Townsend Hoopes, The L i m i t s of I n t e r v e n t i o n . p.  New  York:  1969,  62. 1 0  1972,  1972,  D a v i d Halberstam, The B e s t and the B r i g h t e s t . p. 364.  Greenwich,  "''"'"As c i t e d by Frances F i t z g e r a l d , F i r e i n the Lake. p. 393.  Conn.:  Boston:  12 Bernard F a l l , "Vietnam B l i t z : A Report on the Impersonal The New R e p u b l i c , v o l . 153, no. 15, October 9, 1965, p. 19. 13 Malcolm Browne, AP, March 25, 1965. 14  Frances F i t z g e r a l d , op. c i t . , p.  War."  368.  "^Stephen Hosmer, V i e t Cong R e p r e s s i o n and I t s I m p l i c a t i o n s f o r the F u t u r e . Santa Monica, C a l i f . . : 1970, pp. 25-26. 16 David Welsh, " P a c i f i c a t i o n i n Vietnam. I n Crimes o f War, e d i t e d by R i c h a r d A. F a l k , G a b r i e l K o l k o , and Robert J . L i f t o n . New York: 1971, p. 291. 11  15  ATROCITIES AND THE VIETNAM CONFLICT The Laws and Regulations Governing the Conduct of War When defining a t r o c i t i e s , i n i t i a l d i s t i n c t i o n s are sometimes made between c i v i l i a n and m i l i t a r y personnel.  There i s a tendency, expe-  c i a l l y among the technologically advanced nations, to l i m i t the concept to face-to-face assaults on c i v i l i a n s .  S i m i l a r l y , there i s a  tendency on the part of insurgent and g u e r r i l l a forces to regard the assault on c i v i l i a n and m i l i t a r y personnel as both p o l i t i c a l l y and m i l i t a r i l y expedient when undertaken i n support of some desirable or worthwhile objective.  Telford Taylor notes:  " G u e r r i l l a warfare i s  not i n t r i n s i c a l l y unlawful, but as waged by the Vietcong i t i s undeniably i n v i o l a t i o n of the t r a d i t i o n a l laws of war and the Geneva Conventions, based as they are on the d i s t i n c t i o n between combatants and non-combatants."^ Despite these tendencies and b e l i e f s , both sides to the Vietnamese c o n f l i c t have been accused of v i o l a t i n g the laws of war: "The United States has been charged with v i o l a t i n g the Geneva Convention on gas warfare because of i t s use of tear gas and herbicides; with ignoring the t r a d i t i o n a l immunities of non-combatants because of i t s " f r e e - f i r e " zones and bombing t a c t i c s ; and with ignoring the prisoner of war rules because of i t s not infrequent f a i l u r e to stop the torture of POWs....The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, too, have been charged with "war crimes" for their execution of c i v i l i a n s at Hue during the Tet offensive; for t h e i r practices of impressing c i v i l ians as supply-bearers; f o r their employment b f i n d b l i n d weapons ( i . e . , rockets) against urban noncombatants . "2 For the purposes of this paper, these actions w i l l be referred  16  to as a t r o c i t i e s .  The word a t r o c i t y w i l l be used to r e f e r to acts of  d i r e c t and deliberate violence against c i v i l i a n s .  This w i l l include  both face-to-face attacks on c i v i l i a n s and attacks i n f l i c t e d on them by impersonal methods that are certain to r e s u l t i n civilian;-casualties :  the l e v e l i n g of c i t i e s by heavy a r t i l l e r y ; s e r i a l bombardment  to dislodge a small number of enemy troops; or the indiscriminate mortaring or saturation bombing of c i v i l i a n s i t e s i n enemy-held ter9ritory.  A t r o c i t i e s w i l l also encompass acts against c i v i l i a n popu-  lations and/or enemy troops that v i o l a t e the laws of war,  as i n the  case of gas warfare, deliberate attacks on enemy medical i n s t a l l a t i o n s , or the torture and murder of prisoners of  war.  The laws of war are primarily composed of customary and treaty rules, m u l t i p a r t i t e agreements, national codes of warfare, and draft rules not adopted by states but having c e r t a i n persuasive authority. Since  their e a r l i e s t conception,  these laws of war have been grounded  i n three interconnected p r i n c i p l e s :  a b e l l i g e r e n t was  believed j u s t i -  f i e d i n employing any amount or kind of force to overcome his opposition; a p r i n c i p l e of humanity existed to r e s t r a i n this f i r s t p r i n c i p l e by demanding that the degree of force necessary to overcome the enemy not be exceeded; and a p r i n c i p l e of chivalry was  to be observed i n order 3  to introduce an element of fairness into the conduct of warfare.  The  central functions of the laws of war appear to have been the attempt to l i m i t war's destructiveness; the establishment  of a more humane  awareness regarding the conduct of h o s t i l i t i e s ; and the achievement of an understanding and common expectation that the savagery of war  17  must be restrained."'  Current controversy concerning  fare, which finds d i r e c t a p p l i c a t i o n to the war around the following four issues: g i c a l weapons; 2)  the laws of war-  i n Vietnam, revolves  £L) the use of chemical and b i o l o -  the strategies employed by counterinsurgents  which  are designed for separating g u e r r i l l a s from their popular bases and which r e l y on massive and indiscriminate firepower; 3) tion of the laws of war of the laws of war  to c i v i l c o n f l i c t s ; and 4)  the a p p l i c a -  the application  to insurgents.  The i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of those issues which have molded the laws of war  i s an obvious precondition to the study of the Vietnam war  current context.  i n the  One such issue requiring recognition i s the concept  of " m i l i t a r y necessity."  In their study of the laws of war,  and F e l i c i a n o i d e n t i f y t h i s as the "key concept."  McDougal  They note:  "This concept may be said to authorize such destruction and only such destruction, as i s necessary, relevant and proportionate to the prompt r e a l i z a t i o n of legitimate b e l l i g e r e n t objectives. ...The fundamental p o l i c y embraced i n this concept must be modestly expressed as the minimizing of unnecessary destruction of values. The fundamental dilemma of " m i l i t a r y necessity" always has been whether or not considerations of m i l i t a r y e f f i c i e n c y should exclusively determine the choice of means. Beyond the phethora of rules that form the main body of the laws of war,  one "master" and three supplementary p r i n c i p l e s enjoy wide  i n t e r n a t i o n a l acceptance.  As suggested by McDougal and F e l i c i a n o ,  this master p r i n c i p l e s i s "no Carthaginian peace."^  Operationally  this required avoiding the economy of means principles, i n a case where  18  the most economic means for subjugating indiscriminate weapons systems.  an opponent i s massive and  The supplementary p r i n c i p l e s , as  noted by the same authors, are: proportionality; the s e l e c t i o n of the less destructive or p a i n f u l means where economic advantage i s roiug;hly equal or, at l e a s t , uncertain; and,  the s e l e c t i o n of means  that discriminate between "legitimate" targets and the  "innocent."  7  Proportionality can r e f e r to the r e a l l o c a t i o n of force between destruction and m i l i t a r y advantage on either a case-by-case ( t a c t i c a l ) or cumulative (strategic) basis.  Instances of value destruction that  appear grossly disproportionate when viewed from a narrow t a c t i c a l perspective may  seem m i l i t a r i l y e s s e n t i a l and hence proportional when  examined i n l i g h t of broad s t r a t e g i c a l t e r n a t i v e s .  Accordingly, i n  g u e r r i l l a or insurgency warfare, the party opposing the g u e r r i l l a s may  pursue a strategy of area-devastation  where g u e r r i l l a s are re-  ported to be operating, regardless of their numbers. injury to land, livestock, crops, and people may  The r e s u l t i n g  exceed the injury  to the t o t a l number of g u e r r i l l a s by an enormous amount and fore appear disproportionate.  there-  However, i f such a p o l i c y i s pursued  r e l e n t l e s s l y i n every part of the t e r r i t o r y where the insurgents  are  known to operate, not only w i l l the casualties increase from the bombardment i t s e l f , but their e f f i c i e n c y w i l l also be reduced by the need to be constantly on the move i n order to avoid the incessantly probing bombs and s h e l l s .  Given c e r t a i n p o l i t i c a l constraints and other m i l i -  tary commitments, the only possible means of reducing problem to the dimension of a p o l i c e action may  the  insurgent  very w e l l be massive  19  bombing with i t s inherent consequence of wholesale devastation. w i l l be shown later i n this paper, t h i s was developed within counterinsurgency  As  p r e c i s e l y the view that  military circles.  The "master" p r i n c i p l e and i t s three supplementary p r i n c i p l e s derive t h e i r status of importance from a host of laws and the "Hague Convention No. IV" of 18 October 1907,  treaties:  respecting the laws  and customs of war on land, and the "Annex" thereto, embodying the regulations respecting the laws and customs of war  on land; the "Geneva  Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick i n Armed Forces i n the F i e l d , " of 12 August 1949;  the "Geneva Con-  vention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea," of 12 August 1949; "Geneva Convention Relative to Treatment of Prisoners of War," August 1949;  the of 12  the "Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of  C i v i l i a n Persons i n Time of War," l a r a t i o n " of 1907,  of 12 August 1949;  the "Hague Dec-  on expanding b u l l e t s , p r o j e c t i l e s and  explosives  launched from balbons, and p r o j e c t i l e s containing asphyxiating deleterious gases; the "Geneva Protocol" of 1925,  and  on the use of as-  phyxiating, poisonous, and other gases, and b a c t e r i o l o g i c a l warfare; the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights"-of 1948; Convention" of  1948.  The Laws of War  Applicable to the Vietnam  and the "Genocide  War  While a l l of these "declarations" f i n d some a p p l i c a t i o n to the Vietnamese war, application.  i t w i l l serve no purpose to enunciate every i n d i v i d u a l  However, several "rules" exist which -merit s p e c i a l mention:  20  - from the "Annex to the Hague Convention of 1907", respecting g the laws and customs of war on land: A r t i c l e 25 — the attack or bombardment, by whatever means, cf towns, v i l l a g e s , dwellings or buildings which are undefended i s prohibited. - the "General Assembly Resolution on Prohibiting the Use of Chemical and B i o l o g i c a l Methods of Warfare":  9  Declares as contrary to the generally recognized rules of i n t e r n a t i o n a l laws...any chemical agents of warfare — chemical substances, whether gaseous, l i q u i d or s o l i d — which might be employed on man, animals or plants. - from the "Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of C i v i l i a n Persons i n Time of War,  of 12 August 1949":"^  A r t i c l e 3 — In the case of armed c o n f l i c t not of an i n t e r n a t i o n a l character occurring i n the terr i t o r y of one of the High Contracting P a r t i e s , each Party to the c o n f l i c t s h a l l be bound to apply as a minimum, the following provisions: 1) Persons taking no active part i n h o s t i l i t i e s , including members of armed forces who have l a i d down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause, s h a l l i n a l l circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse d i s t i n c t i o n founded on race, colour, r e l i g i o n or f a i t h , sex, b i r t h or wealth, or any other s i m i l a r c r i t e r i a . To this end, the following acts are and s h a l l remain prohibited at any time and i n any place whatsoever with respect to the above mentioned persons : a) violence to l i f e and person, i n p a r t i c u l a r murder of a l l kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; b) taking of hostages; c) outrages upon personal dignity, i n p a r t i c u l a r humiliating and degrading treatment; d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording a l l the j u d i c i a l guarantees which are recognized as i n d i s pensable by c i v i l i z e d peoples; 2) The wounded and sick s h a l l be collected and cared f o r .  21  A r t i c l e 16 — T h e wounded and s i c k , as w e l l as the infirm, and expectant mothers, s h a l l be the object of p a r t i c u l a r protection and respect. As f a r as m i l i t a r y considerations allow, each Party to the c o n f l i c t s h a l l f a c i l i t a t e the steps taken to search for the k i l l e d or wounded, to a s s i s t the shipwrecked and other persons exposed to grave danger, and to protect them against p i l l a g e and i l l - t r e a t m e n t . A r t i c l e 42 — The internment or placing i n assigned residence of protected persons may be ordered only i f the security of the Detaining Power makes i t absolutely necessary. A r t i c l e 85 — The Detaining Power i s bound to take a l l necessary and possible measures to ensure that protected persons s h a l l , from the outset of t h e i r internment, be accommodated i n buildings or quarters which a f f o r d every possible safeguard as regards hygiene and health and provide e f f i c i e n t protection against the rigours of the climate and the e f f e c t s of the war. - from the "Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War,  of 12 August 1949":"'""'"  A r t i c l e 13 — Prisoners of war must at a l l times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war i n i t s custody i s prohibited.... In p a r t i c u l a r no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation.... Likewise, prisoners of war must at a l l times be protected, p a r t i c u l a r l y against acts of violence or intimidation and against i n s u l t s and p u b l i c c u r i o s i t y . Measures of r e p r i s a l against prisoners or war are prohibited. Rather than engaging i n a detailed and separate discussion of these laws of war  as they apply to the war  i n Vietnam, I have elected  to accomplish this task through the use of a table.  Table I provides  a l i s t of several types of actions which can and have been termed " a t r o c i t i e s " of war as committed during the course of the war Vietnam.  in  I t i l l u s t r a t e s the fact that acts, which v i o l a t e both the  22  TABLE I A t r o c i t i e s of the Vietnam War Description of A t r o c i t i e s  International Laws Violated  Number of A t r o c i t y Counterinsurgent Forces (2) (1)  Violations Insurgent Forces (3) (4)  n  Abductions Ambushes producing c i v i l ian deaths Assassinations Attacks on medical installations Burning of v i l l a g e s Denying quarter Indiscriminate use of firepower K i l l i n g children intentionally K i l l i n g c i v i l i a n s f o r sport K i l l i n g unarmed c i v i l i a n s K i l l i n g POWs and suspects K i l l i n g wounded c i v i l i a n s K i l l i n g wounded POWs Maltreatment of children Maltreatment of people for sport Maltreatment of POWs Napalming of c i v i l i a n s Needless destruction of property P o l l u t i o n of water supply Mutilation of bodies POWs thrown from helicopters in flight Racism i n medical care Terror-bombing and boobytrap c i v i l i a n deaths Torture of POWs and civilians Use of chemicals on POWs Use of fire-power on v i l l a g e s f o r sport Women raped  GC:  3:  lb  GC: 3: GC: . 3:  la la  -  -  GC: HR: GC:  18 25 3:  HR:  25  HC: GC: GC: GC: GC: GWS: GC:  3: 3: 3: 3: 3: 12 3:  la la la la la  GC: HR: GC:  3: 4 3:  lc  la  7 1  6  16  -  -  13 22  4 7 3  —  13  13  7 9 23 7 1 2 7  3 2 16 4  2 8 2  -  HR: 47 LLW: 5041 GPW: 13  22 1 12  20  GC: GC:  3: 16  la  GC:  3:  la  GWS: GAR: HR: GC:  lc  la  12 XXIV 25 27  -  2 1  8 6  6 2  -  -  11  30  4  -• 14  -  -  11 1 43 3 1 2  -  -  —  6  16  10  -  7  4 14  2 3  -  -  -  -  2  45  26 1  14 1  -  —  2 5  -  -  -  2 1  1  -  -  -  3  -  23  TABLE I (con't) Sources (1) (2) (3) (4)  Vietnam Veterans Against the War. (1972) The Citizens Commission of Inquiry. (1972) Alan Davidson. (1968) Doublas Pike. (1970)  International Laws GAR:  XXLV  General Assembly Resolution 2603 (XXIV) On Prohibiting the Use of Chemical and B i o l o g i c a l Methods of Warfare  GC:  Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of C i v i l i a n Persons i n Time of War of August 12, 1949  GPW:  Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949  GWS:  Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick i n Armed Forces i n the F i e l d , of August 12, 1949  HR:  Annex to the Hague Convention No. IV, 18 October, 1907, embodying the Regulations Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land  LLW:  United States Army F i e l d Manual on the Laws of Land Warfare  24  s p i r i t and the l e t t e r of the laws of war, have been committed by both sides of the war.  The table also provides one major i n t e r n a t i o n a l law  of war that was v i o l a t e d by the commission of each act l i s t e d . In gathering data f o r the table, I employed two sources f o r each of the c o l l e c t i v e b e l l i g e r e n t sides: and the forces of the insurgency.  the forces of the counterinsurgency,  Each of the four sources represents  accumulations of international law v i o l a t i o n s during the course of the war i n Vietnam.  Columns (1) and (2) represent those v i o l a t i o n s a t t r i -  butable to the South Vietnamese and Americans, while columns (3) and (4) represent v i o l a t i o n s attributable to the North Viatnamese and Vietcong.  The figures appearing below each column represent the t o t a l  number of separate incidents f a l l i n g into each a t r o c i t y description. While the a t r o c i t y descriptions i n the table do not exhaust the t o t a l references made i n the four sources, they do, nevertheless, provide a good i n d i c a t i o n of the types of i n t e r n a t i o n a l law v i o l a t i o n s perpetrated i n Vietnam.  The number of v i o l a t i o n s are included i n the table to show  that the commission of a t r o c i t i e s was neither the exception to the r u l e , nor limited to just a handful of s p e c i f i c acts.  Table I represents  both the scope and the depth of the v i o l a t i o n s of the laws of war as found i n the Vietnam experience. Many of the problems that plague the operation and the implementation df the laws of war a f f e c t the process of determining when and to whom the protection of these laws i s to be afforded.  To be war,  a  12 c o n f l i c t must be between states.  Hence, war between the de jure  government, assisted by a third-party state, and a body of armed  25  individuals i s not " t e c h n i c a l l y " a war law.  i n the language of i n t e r n a t i o n a l  However, i t has become p r a c t i c e that when a de facto p o l i t i c a l  organization has been established by the r e b e l l i o u s f a c t i o n and such organization evidence an a b i l i t y to maintain themselves and to conduct their operations  i n accordance with the laws of war  and, at the same  time, the parent states exercise b e l l i g e r e n t r i g h t s , the s i t u a t i o n i s recognized  as a "public war" which i s subject to i n t e r n a t i o n a l  regulation. Behind the rules of i n t e r n a t i o n a l law the fact remains that any nation-state can, almost at w i l l , grant or withhold belligerency according  the status of  to i t s judgement as to whether or not the i n -  surgent f a c t i o n has s a t i s f i e d the c r i t e r i a for such recognition.  The  facts which have to be proven before recognition must " l a w f u l l y " be extended include, according  to Gerhard von Glahn:  "...the existence of a c i v i l war beyond the scope of mere l o c a l r e v o l t ; occupation of a substantial part of the national t e r r i t o r y by the rebels, together with the existence of a degree of orderly and e f f e c t i v e administration Iby that group i n the areas under i t s control; observance of the rules of war by rebel forces acting under the command of some responsible and ascertainable authority; and f i n a l l y , the existence of a need on the part of other states to take a stand on the existence of the c i v i l war and to define and c l a s s i f y their attitudes and p o l i c i e s toward i t . " - ^ On the basis of i n t e r p r e t i n g the c r i t e r i a set out i n the above, third-party states and de jure governments may  extend or withhold b e l -  ligerent status from the r e b e l l i o u s f a c t i o n j u s t as their national interests s u i t them.  The protection of many of the rules of war must,  26  under i n t e r n a t i o n a l law, be extended to the r e b e l l i o u s f a c t i o n by the lawful government only after the former has attained this b e l l i g e r e n t status.  In addition to the problems surrounding extension of b e l l i g -  erent status to r e b e l l i o u s factions i n c i v i l or i n t e r n a t i o n a l c i v i l wars, the nature of the war adds many d i f f i c u l t i e s to the operation of the laws of war. Some of the most obvious differences between i n t e r n a t i o n a l war, war between states to which the laws of war automatically apply, and c i v i l or i n t e r n a t i o n a l c i v i l - w a r s , characterized by g u e r r i l l a operations, focus on the issue of i d e n t i t y of the combatants.  Deciding who  i s included i n the armed forces of a state i s a matter of domestic j u r i s d i c t i o n and not a question of i n t e r n a t i o n a l law.  Generally, non-  combatants as well as combatants of regular armed forces are to be treated as prisoners of war i f captured."'""' A war may also include the employment of i r r e g u l a r forces either authorized by a b e l l i g e r e n t power or operating thereof.  independently  Formerly, only "authorized" i r r e g u l a r s or g u e r r i l l a forces  were granted the p r i v i l e g e s normally extended to armed forces of b e l ligerents. tured.  Other i r r e g u l a r s could be shot as war criminals i f cap-  A r t i c l e 2 of the "Annex to the Hague ?Rules of Land Warfare  of 1907" determined that g u e r r i l l a a c t i v i t i e s remained criminal i f conducted within occupied  territory.  The "Geneva Conventions" of 1949,  however, agreed to recognize such a c t i v i t i e s within occupied  territory,  and allowed such individuals the status of prisoners of war provided that they s a t i s f i e d the four c r i t e r i a of b e l l i g e r e n t status:  27  "The laws, r i g h t s , and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to m i l i t i a and volunteer corps f u l f i l l i n g the following conditions: 1) To be commanded by a person responsible f o r h i s subordinates; 2) To have a fixed d i s t i n c t i v e emblem recognizable at a distance; 3) To carry arms openly; and 4) To conduct their operations i n accordance with the laws of war."16 While some scholars contend that such c r i t e r i a are fair,"*" i t 7  should be noted that because successful g u e r r i l l a warfare depends on s t e a l t h , hit-and-run attacks, and clandestine operations, obeying the specified conditions of b e l l i g e r e n t status, especially those r e l a t i n g to wearing of signs and carrying arms openly, would be tantamount to commiting s u i c i d e . While there i s some confusion over the l e g a l application of some of the laws of war to the Vietnam c o n f l i c t , there does appear to be a basis f o r contending that at least the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 do apply.  Throughout the c o n f l i c t , the International Committee of the  Red Cross sought to promote the f u l l compliance by a l l p a r t i e s to the c o n f l i c t with at least the minimum provisions of the Geneva Conventions. On June 11, 1965, the ICRC addressed a l e t t e r to the governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, and the United States, and to the National L i b e r a t i o n Front of South Vietnam. In part this l e t t e r read: "The h o s t i l i t i e s raging at the present time i n Viet-Nam — both North and South of the 17th p a r a l l e l — have assumed such proportions r e cently that there can be no doubt they constitute an armed c o n f l i c t to which the regulation of humanitarian law as a whole should be applied.  28  A l l parties to the c o n f l i c t , the Republic of "Viet-Nam, the Democratic Republic and the United States of America are bound by the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, f o r the protection of the victims of war, having r a t i f i e d them and having adhered thereto. The National L i b e r a t i o n Front i s bound by the undertakings signed by Vietnam. Pursuant to the common A r t i c l e 1 of the four Geneva Conventions, "The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention i n a l l circumstances." It i s likewise said i n A r t i c l e 2 that "The present Convention s h a l l apply to a l l cases of declared war or any other armed c o n f l i c t which may a r i s e between two or more of the Contracting P a r t i e s , even i f the state of war i s not recognized by one of them. In keeping with i t s humanitarian t r a d i t i o n , the International Committee of the Red Cross i n Geneva reminds the governments of the aforementioned countries and the National L i b e r a t i o n Front of their obligations pursuant to the Geneva Conventions. / P a r t i e s / to the c o n f l i c t s h a l l respect and protect c i v i l i a n s taking no part i n h o s t i l i t i e s , they s h a l l abstain from attack against such persons and subject them to hoeforms of violence. The ICRC conveys the present communication to the Governments of the three aforementioned countries and w i l l endeavour to d e l i v e r i t also to the National L i b e r a t i o n Front. I t would be pleased to know what measures are taken by the governments i n conformity with the duties devolving upon them pursuant to the Geneva Conventions." 1  Despite the p o s i t i o n of the ICRC, the major participants i n the war were not i n agreement as to the a p p l i c a b i l i t y of the Conventions. While a l l except the NLF have either r a t i f i e d or adhered to the  Con-  19 ventions  only the United States and South Vietnam o f f i c i a l l y sup-  ported the ICRC opinion.  The North Vietnamese and the NLF  considered  29  the Conventions  inapplicable to the Vietnam c o n f l i c t .  Secretary of State Rusk r e p l i e d to the ICRC on August 10,  1965.  In part his reply read: "/The/ United States has always abided by the humanitarian p r i n c i p l e s i n the Geneva Conventions and w i l l continue to do so. In regard to the h o s t i l i t i e s i n Vietnam, the United States Government i s applying the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and we expect the other parties to the c o n f l i c t to do likewise."20 A similar reply was received from the South Vietnamese Minister for Foreign A f f a i r s .  In part i t read:  "/The/ Government of the Republic of Vietnam i s f u l l y prepared to respect the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and to contribute a c t i v e l y to the e f f o r t s of the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure their application. I t i s to be hoped that f o r t h e i r part the Viet Cong w i l l show the same humanitarian concern. Appropriate measures have already been considered by our Government to accelerate the promulgation and dissemination of these conventions. I should further l i k e to inform you that the Geneva Conventions although not yet promulgated i n Viet Nam have, i n f a c t , always been applied. Viet Cong prisoners have always received the most humane treatment from our c i v i l i a n and m i l i t a r y authorities."21 A l e t t e r of August 31, 1965 from the North Vietnamese Minister of Foreign A f f a i r s did not reply d i r e c t l y to the ICRC request, but constituted, instead, an attack on the United States and the Government of South Vietnam.  In part the DRV  reply read:  "In order to compensate f o r i t s defeats i n the undeclared war of aggression i n South Vietnam, the United States Government has, without any j u s t i f i c a t i o n , given orders to i t s a i r and naval forces to make surprise attacks on the Democratic Republic of Vietnam i n flagrant v i o l a t i o n of the Geneva Agreements of 1954 on Viet Nam and of the  30  rules of i n t e r n a t i o n a l law. I t has employed napalm and phosphorous bombs, poisonous chemical products, and i t s a i r c r a f t and warships have i n discriminately bombed h o s p i t a l s , schools, road transport stations, markets, v i l l a g e s , f i s h i n g vessels, churches, pagodas, etc., massacring large numbers of innocent c i v i l i a n s and v i o l a t i n g the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 , f o r the protection of the victims of war, as w e l l as other rules of war."22 T  Although the NLF did not formerly reply to the ICRC request, they did give assurances, l i k e the DRV,  that, while they considered  the Conventions inapplicable, any prisoners they captured i n the 23 course of the c o n f l i c t were assured of humane treatment. Despite the ICRC-.request and the apparent respect shown by a l l parties involved to the p r i n c i p l e s of i n t e r n a t i o n a l law governing the conduct of war as embodied i n the four  Geneva Conventions of  1949,  the ICRC was compelled to issue the following press release on February 9, 1968, almost three years a f t e r t h e i r o r i g i n a l l e t t e r : "The ICRC reminds b e l l i g e r e n t s that i n a l l c i r cumstances they are bound to observe the elementary and universally recognized rules of humanity. These rules demand that the l i v e s of combatants who have been captured be spared, that the wounded, the sick, and those giving them medical care s h a l l not be subjected to attack from the a i r and l a s t l y , that summary executions, maltreatment or r e p r i s a l s s h a l l be prohibited. The ICRC has often made known to those taking part i n the h o s t i l i t i e s the obligations they must f u l f i l . I t ardently hopes that they w i l l shortly put an end to t h i s blood-stained conf l i c t and meanwhile urgently c a l l s upon them to observe the basic rules of humanity."2^ It would appear that we can now suggest that, i n addition to the  31  commission of acts bearing criminal s i m i l a r i t y , the parties to the c o n f l i c t should bear criminal r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r t h e i r respective actions.  These assertions w i l l assume greater v a l i d i t y i n the f o l -  lowing sections of the paper where additional documentation i s advanced i n support of t h e i r claims.  32  REFERENCES ''"Telford Taylor, Nuremberg and Vietnam.  New York:  1971, p.  136.  2 Milton Leitenberg, and Richard D. Burns, The Vietnam C o n f l i c t . Santa Barbara, C a l i f . : 1973, p. x x i . 3 Morris Greenspan, The Modern Law of Land Warfare. Los Angeles: 1959, p. 4. 4 For a detailed description of these functions see, Morris Greenspan, op. c i t . , p.4. 5 Myres McDougal, and Florentino F e l i c i a n o , Law and Minimum World Public Order. New Haven, Conn.: 1961, p. 72. ^Ibid., p. 43. A Carthaginian peace, as employed by McDougal and F e l i c i a n o , refers to the "comprehensive devastation of the lands and pepple of an enemy." (Ibid.) 7 Ibid., p. 43. g  James B. Scott, Ed., The Hague Conventions and Declarations of of 1899 and 1907. New York: 1918. 9 See Richard A. Falk, Gabriel Kolko, and Robert J . L i f t o n , Eds., Crimes of War. New York: 1971, pp. 60-61. ^ U n i t e d Nations Treaty Series, v o l . 75, no. 973,  1950.  U n i t e d Nations Treaty Series, v o l . 75, no. 972,  1950.  11  12 Hersh Lauterpacht, Ed., Oppenheim's International Law, 7th ed., v o l . 2, London: 1952, p. 202. 13 See Charles G. Fenwick, International Law, 4th ed. New York: 1965, p. 165. 14 Gerhard von Glahn, Law Among Nations. New York: 1965, p. 552. 15 A r t i c l e 13 of the "Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick i n Armed Forces i n the F i e l d , of 12 August 1949." United Nations: Treaty Series, v o l . 75, no. 970, 1950. 16 James B. Scott, Ed., op. c i t . , p. 107. "^Hersh Lauterpacht, op. c i t . , p. 18  215.  International Legal Materials, v o l . 4, 1965,  p.  1171.  33  "'""'Prior to the p a r t i t i o n of Vietnam i n 1954, Vietnam acceded to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (United Nations Treaty Series, v o l . 181, nos. 970-973, 1953, pp. 349-352). However, North Vietnam acceded separately i n 1957 (United Nations Treaty Series, v o l . 274, nos. 970973, 1957, pp. 335-341), and the United States r a t i f i e d the Conventions i n 1955 (United Nations Treaty Series, v o l . 213, nos. 970-973, 1955, pp. 378-386. 20 International Review of the Red Cross, v o l . V, no. 54, 1965, p. 477. 2 1  I b i d . , p. 478.  22 International Review of the Red Cross, v o l . V, no. 55, 1965, p. 527. International Review of the Red Cross, v o l . V, no. 57, 1965, p. 636. ICRC Press Release.  Geneva:  February 9, 1968.  34  INSURGENCY WARFARE IN VIETNAM The Evolution of Insurgency In Vietnam In May  of 1959,  the Central Committee of the Lao Dong Party,  meeting i n Hanoi, declared that the time had come to begin the task of l i b e r a t i n g the South."'"  In accordance with the basic orientation  of revolutionary strategy, the Lao Dong Party determined that this task would require a g u e r r i l l a war.  Accordingly, i t began to b u i l d 2  a p o l i t i c a l platform upon which the insurrection could be  sustained.  Basing i t s united front appeal on propaganda directed against  the  p o l i t i c s of the Diem regime, the Lao Dong Party created a united front organization, the National Liberation Front.  Shortly there-  after, the Lao Dong Party began to i n f i l t r a t e g u e r r i l l a cadres into the South who china War"  had gone North following the end of the " F i r s t Indo-  i n 1954.  They also began to mobilize the Viet Minh  remnants, l e f t behind i n the South after the war,  for the purpose of 4  organizing peasant v i l l a g e s into an insurgency i n f r a s t r u c t u r e .  Com-  menting on this organization i n the South, Dennis Duncanson notes that the v i l l a g e s were the key to insurgency planning: In organizing the masses for this all-important purpose, they (the Vietcong) have established four kinds of relationships with v i l l a g e s . . . . The f i r s t group are their o r i g i n a l 'popular bases', i n which they set up a rudimentary form of administration during the Japanese i n t e r regnum and from which they have never been d i s lodged. In a second group, as i n many of the towns, they have been content, for a time at l e a s t , with limited support i n contributions and with information from a few i n d i v i d u a l s . In the biggest group of v i l l a g e s , however, they have demanded, from everybody reasonable, regu l a r supplies of money, food and, l a t t e r l y , -;  35  conscripts to serve for fixed terms, "taxes" according to advertized scales, and percentages of any foreign aid handed out....It i s against this group of v i l l a g e s that repeated resort to violence has been necessary because the daily presence of government o f f i c i a l s and soldiers...has been a strong temptation to back-sliding on the part of the peasants. The l a s t category i s that of v i l l a g e s already closely dominated by some other organization, of which the most r e s i s t a n t has proved to be the Catholic Church. These have often been l e f t completely alone for long periods, but i n the end they too have nearly a l l been brought to heel, less by subversion from within than by direct onslaught from without, sometimes on the people's dwellings, more frequently on the garrison whose duty i s to protect them."^ ;  While the approach would appear to be very t y p i c a l of insurgency planning,  there was  a basic difference between i t and e a r l i e r Communist  and n a t i o n a l i s t planning.  Ten years of technological development, par-  t i c u l a r l y i n the area of a i r power and the use of helicopters, had made a purely m i l i t a r y undertaking seem hopelessly u n r e a l i s t i c .  The  French m i l i t a r y had proven i n Algeria that m i l i t a r y answers to Mao's strategy of g u e r r i l l a warfare could be developed and successfully implemented.  Moreover, the danger of an American intervention against  the insurgents was  c l e a r l y a factor that had to be acknowledged.  Accordingly, alternatives to a purely m i l i t a r y approach were sought.  "Contradictions" within the Saigon regime suggested that the  Vietcong could i s o l a t e i t p o l i t i c a l l y and demoralize or win over the army without actually being forced to reverse the  insurgent-counter-  insurgent m i l i t a r y imbalance and defeat the counterinsurgent a Maoist "third-stage" p o s i t i o n a l war.^  forces i n  Having defined the movement's  36  g o a l as p o l i t i c a l r a t h e r than m i l i t a r y v i c t o r y , make c r e d i b l e , b y means o f t e r r o r , ment t o govern.  the V i e t c o n g sought to  the i n a b i l i t y o f t h e Saigon govern-  I n response t o t h e growing involvement o f American  f o r c e s i n the e a r l y p a r t o f the 1960s, the NLF d e c i d e d t o i n c r e a s e i t s military  efforts.  While t h e r e i s no e v i d e n c e a v a i l a b l e to i n d i c a t e  that the NLF b e l i e v e d  they c o u l d d e f e a t the Americans  i n a military  c o n t e s t , t h e r e i s evidence which suggests t h a t p o l i t i c a l v i c t o r y was p o s s i b l e , as i n t h e Southern c a s e , through the e x p l o i t a t i o n o f "cont r a d i c t i o n s " w i t h i n t h e American  position.^  While the concept o f the " t h r e e - s t a g e s " was r e t a i n e d w i t h i n cong s t r a t e g y , the f i r s t  Viet-  two s t a g e s were r e o r i e n t e d away from s t e a d i l y  i n c r e a s i n g a t t r i t i o n and towards a p o l i t i c a l t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f the p e o p l e from e i t h e r an a n t i - r e v o l u t i o n a r y o r n e u t r a l i s t p o s i t i o n t o a p o s i t i o n f a v o u r i n g the NLF.  T h i s was attempted by means o f v i o l e n c e .  Douglas P i k e n o t e s : Not m i l i t a r y b u t s o c i o p s y c h o l o g i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s took precedence. M i l i t a r y a c t i v i t i e s and o t h e r forms o f v i o l e n c e were c o n c e i v e d as a means c o n t r i b u t i n g to the s o c i o p o l i t i c a l s t r u g g l e . The two hundred to f i v e hundred ' g u e r r i l l a i n c i dents' p e r week t h a t went on i n Vietnam week a f t e r week and month a f t e r month f o r f i v e y e a r s had no purpose i n themselves — a n d indeed when viewed i n themselves o f t e n made no sense — except t o p r e s e r v e t h e p o l i t i c a l - s t r u g g l e movement. Thus the primary purpose of the v i o l e n c e programme was to make p o s s i b l e the p o l i t i c a l - s t r u g g l e movement."^ While t h i s s e l e c t i v e t e r r o r i s m n o t o n l y s e r v e d to f r i g h t e n the p e o p l e , i t was a l s o employed t o f o r c e the peasants i n t o making  indi-  v i d u a l c h o i c e s as t o the r e l a t i v e c o s t s and b e n e f i t s o f choosing one  37  side over the other.  This process of " s e l e c t i v e terrorism" was  aimed  9 at the poorly protected and the poorly s o c i a l i z e d .  The  Vietcong  sought to l e g i t i m i z e their a c t i v i t i e s by playing on feelings toward national r e u n i f i c a t i o n , l o y a l t i e s , discontent, and the desires of the people for peace and s e c u r i t y . ^ I t has been suggested that i f the objectives of a movement can be stated i n such a way  as to appeal to both the people's patriotism  and their discontent, the insurgency's future w i l l be greatly enhanced." Such was nam,  the b e l i e f , at l e a s t , among the insurgency's leaders i n V i e t -  as i l l u s t r a t e d i n the following: "In expounding the "crimes" of government o f f i c i a l s , the V.C. agit-prop teams dwealt on the "inhuman" and "barbaric a t r o c i t i e s " committed by Americans and their GVN "henchmen", the wanton destruction of homes and property, and the "rape", "murder", and "torture" of innocent men, women and children. South V i e t namese o f f i c i a l s are characterized as "Vietnamese t r a i t o r s " who fatten their l i v e s on our b l o o d . " 12  This a b i l i t y to involve the people of South Vietnam emotionally greatly im t h e i r mobilization by the NLF.  aided  I t must be stressed that  above a l l else, the Vietnamese insurrection was  viewed as being a  " t o t a l " revolutionary war which involved, i n some capacity, everyone. General Giap has noted that "the protracted popular war demanded...appropriate forms of combat: nature of the war  i n Vietnam  appropriate f o r the revolutionary  i n r e l a t i o n to the balance of forces then showing a  clear enemy superiority....The form of combat adopted was  guerrilla  warfare.. ./with/ each inhabitant a s o l d i e r ; each v i l l a g e a f o r t r e s s . . . . The entire population participates i n the armed struggle, f i g h t i n g ,  38  according to the p r i n c i p l e s of g u e r r i l l a warfare....This  i s the  13 fundamental content of the war of people." Terror:  The Weapon of Vietnamese Insurgency  As noted e a r l i e r , the population and t h e i r resources were an important objective of the insurgents' o v e r a l l strategy.  It i s  therefore, usually considered to be i n the interest of the insurgents to u t i l i z e the population as e f f e c t i v e l y as possible. l a t i o n may  While a popu-  contribute to the cause of the insurgency, i t may  without ever making an i d e o l o g i c a l commitment.  I t was  do so  i n this re-  spect that behaviour and not attitudes became the c r u c i a l factor, at the outset, for the movement's operation: "Many r e c r u i t s had been made i n the v i l l a g e s , i n the days before i t occurred to anyone that active service might one day be required of them....Whatever the inducement by which the r e c r u i t was f i r s t subverted, he has been retained primarily by a studied combination of secrecy and of fear — secrecy which makes i t reasonably safe for him to carry on h i s designated a c t i v i t i e s under the noses of the authorities, and fear which makes i t certainly f a t a l for him even to dream of breaking with the organization and which he knows w i l l deter any neighbour from giving him away. I t i s the function oflideological i n d o c t r i n a t i o n to C O I I T vert him, as soon as he no longer has any escape, to the b e l i e f that this i s a l l for the best i n the end — that cruel violence i s ^ j u s t i f i e d by the higher good that i t serves." Accordingly i t would appear that the best measure of an  insurgency's  success i s the movement's a b i l i t y to e l i c i t from the populace the desired behaviour and the required resources. The o v e r a l l s t r a t e g i c objective of any insurgency i s to a l t e r ,  39  i n t h e i r f a v o u r , t h e c a p a b i l i t i e s between t h e i r f o r c e s and those o f the c o u n t e r i n s u r g e n t s . changing  The NLF's a l t e r a t i o n was attempted by  t h e c o u n t e r i n s u r g e n c y ' s i n p u t s and by c o n t i n u a l l y  escalating  the p r i c e o f v i c t o r y f o r t h e f o r c e s o f t h e Free World M i l i t a r y tance Command."*"^  Assis-  I t has been noted by P a r e t and Shy t h a t "the weak-  ness o f the g u e r r i l l a h i m s e l f and h i s consequent  need to g a i n and  m a i n t a i n s t r e n g t h among t h e c i v i l i a n p o p u l a t i o n l a r g e l y h i s techniques and objectives.""'"  determine  7  I t i s h e l p f u l i n the examination o f t e r r o r i n Vietnam the t h r e e o b j e c t i v e s o f t h e i n s u r g e n c y : of the p o p u l a t i o n ; 2) an improved  1) an improved  t o note  utilization  m i l i t a r y s i t u a t i o n ; and 3) t h e  18 s u r v i v a l o f t h e movement.  I n a t t e m p t i n g t o a c h i e v e these o b j e c t i v e s ,  the V i e t c o n g f o c u s s e d on t h r e e primary  targets:  t h e people who d i d  n o t s u p p o r t them, o r who were a t l e a s t i n d i f f e r e n t t o t h e movement; the c i v i l a d m i n i s t r a t i o n o f t h e Southern government; and the m i l i t a r y 19 establishment.  While  t h e aim o f t h e i n s u r g e n c y was t h e a c c o m p l i s h -  ment of i t s s p e c i f i e d g o a l s , i t s h o u l d be noted t h a t these c o u l d o n l y be accomplished  i f the movement c o n t i n u e d t o e x i s t .  s u r v i v a l was n o t , i n i t s e l f ,  Therefore, while  t h e u l t i m a t e o b j e c t i v e , i t was an i n -  d i s p e n s a b l e end f o r t h e NLF and,  a c c o r d i n g l y , i t was a c e n t r a l c o n d i -  t i o n to t h e i n s u r g e n t s ' d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g  environment.  To a c h i e v e i t s s t r a t e g i c o b j e c t i v e s and s t r i k e a g a i n s t the primary  t a r g e t s , the V i e t c o n g employed such  i n d i s c r i m i n a t e t e r r o r i s m , sabotage a c t i o n s may be viewed  t a c t i c s as s e l e c t i v e and  and ambush.  The t a r g e t s o f these  as t h e movement's more immediate  "tactical"  40  choices.  These ranged from the torture and murder of children f o r  the purpose of influencing parents, to the sabotage of m i l i t a r y ordnance destined f o r enemy m i l i t a r y use. In Vietnam, terror was an omnipresent phenomenon throughout the war.  On February 20, 1962, Vietcong g u e r r i l l a s threw four hand-  grenades into a crowded v i l l a g e theater near Can Tho.  A t o t a l of 108 20  persons were k i l l e d or injured, including 24 women and children. On September 12, 1963, Vo Thi Lo, 26, a school teacher i n An Phuoc v i l l a g e , Kien Hoa province, was found near her v i l l a g e with her throat 21 slit.  She had been kidnapped three days e a r l i e r .  On August 26,  1969, a nine-month-old baby was found shot i n the head by the Vietcong outside of Hoa Phat v i l l a g e i n Quang Nam province; also found dead were three children between the ages of s i x and ten, an elderly man and a middle-aged couple, a t o t a l of seven victims a l l shot at l e a s t 22 once i n the back of the head.  While such a c t i v i t i e s may,  appear to be the acts of desperate or even mad men, a closer  at f i r s t , examina-  tion of the Vietnamese insurgency reveals that such acts may possess 23 very r e a l m i l i t a r y or p o l i t i c a l motivations.  As a r e s u l t of this  interplay between p o l i t i c a l and m i l i t a r y factors, any attempt to sharply d i f f e r e n t i a t e between the two i s generally not too h e l p f u l : "Personnel that are m i l i t a r y or p o l i t i c a l (or both) can use techniques that are m i l i t a r y or p o l i t i c a l (or both) against targets that are m i l i t a r y or p o l i t i c a l (or both) i n the pursuit of objectives that are m i l i t a r y or p o l i t i c a l (or both) and produce consequences that are m i l i t a r y or p o l i t i c a l (or b o t h ) . " ^ Although insurgent behaviour towards the population was 2  41 normally Irreprochable and the insurgents' use of terror highly s e l e c t i v e , there were times i n Vietnam when terror was used i n d i s criminately to create a shock-effect on a community. was  A case i n point  the Vietcong attack on the v i l l a g e of Dak Son i n 1967, when flame-  throwers were used on the v i l l a g e ' s buildings and on i t s women and children sheltering i n the settlement's tunnels, bunkers, and fox25 holes.  I t would appear that there comes a time during the course  of a struggle for a population when the people need to be "informed" as to which group "deserves" popular l o y a l t y and support. and Hue served j u s t such a purpose.  Dak  Son  Douglas Pike has noted, i n this  regard, that one of the primary purposes behind Vietcong terror was 26 the d i s o r i e n t a t i o n and psychological i s o l a t i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l . A more subtle form of Vietcong terror was i t s i n d i r e c t use. Such a form, usually designed to put a v i l l a g e or town into a state of shock which can then be exploited, was  to induce the counterinsur-  gent forces into taking r e t a l i a t o r y action.  This p a r t i c u l a r form of  i n d i r e c t terror was a s p e c i a l feature of the Vietnamese war.  I t was  only necessary for the Vietcong to take some minor action —  firing  a few shots from within a v i l l a g e at passing enemy forces —  to i n -  duce a response from the counterinsurgents. Such a response usually accomplished the population-control work for them — and/or propaganda.  be i t punishment  An example of this response was provided during  the "Vietnam Veterans Against the War" study on war crimes i n Vietnam: "We'd received a b a t t a l i o n order at that time. ...If while sweeping on l i n e and passing by f r i e n d l y yillages...you received one round of any sort from a friendly v i l l a g e , the entire b a t t a l i o n was to turn on l i n e and l e v e l the  42  v i l l a g e . The exact wording was to k i l l every woman, c h i l d , dog and cat i n the village."27 Terror was  man,  thus employed by the insurgents as a means of undermining  the counterinsurgents' control over the people.  Accordingly, terror  can u s e f u l l y be viewed i n either a p o l i t i c a l or a m i l i t a r y capacity. In addition  to s t r i k i n g d i r e c t l y at the counterinsurgents' means  of population control —  the breakdown of counterinsurgent security  measures, the removal of l o c a l administration o f f i c i a l s , and the destruction of foreign aid schemes —  the insurgents also used the  people themselves against the control apparatus by organizing s t r i k e s , boycotts, popular demonstrations,  and r i o t s to embarrass and weaken the 28  government and force i t , once again, into taking excessive r e p r i s a l s . While the r a t i o n a l e for the use of terror was  that the enemy had  given the insurgents no a l t e r n a t i v e , the d o c t r i n a l motivations seem to 29 have been that terror i s required to accomplish  three basic goals:  1) to diminish the opposing forces, "both i n the sense of eliminating key individuals and i n reducing the t o t a l i t y of power which the other 30 side has accumulated"; 2) to sustain the "morale"  of the Vietcong  and, to some extent, the forces of North Vietnam f i g h t i n g i n the South; and 3) to disorient and psychologically i s o l a t e the i n d i v i d u a l . l a s t goal applied to peasants and enemy soldiers a l i k e .  This  In the case  of the former, peasants might lose their f a i t h i n the a b i l i t y of the counterinsurgents to provide protection and security, or have their respect for the insurgency increased.  In the case of the l a t t e r ,  enemy soldiers might become scared or nervous and, accordingly, overreact i n combat or p o t e n t i a l l y dangerous s i t u a t i o n s .  43  When attempting to employ terror as a m i l i t a r y t o o l , the V i e t cong' s most common approach was  to demoralize or "soften-up" enemy  troops and thus lower t h e i r effectiveness and professionalism i n the process.  The means at their disposal ranged from psychological tech-  niques to the use of d i r e c t terror.  When there were a large number of  isolated acts of harassment, such as sniping and ambushing i n d i v i d u a l s o l d i e r s , the counterinsurgents became very apprehensive. Repeated operations, such as those conducted by the Viet Minh along the "street 31 without joy",  made many American units nervous about passing through  combat zones; so much so that "shoot f i r s t " and "question l a t e r " 5  tactics became commonplace, as evidenced by the following: "...sometimes when we'd come to a v i l l a g e a Vietnamese would run~out of the bomb shelter for fear of being caught, so consequently this surprise would s t a r t l e any i n d i v i d u a l ^ and they would automatically turn and f i r e . " Once again, this over-reaction s i t u a t i o n — insurgents themselves —  induced i n part by the  helped to serve the movement's propagandiza-  tion and education programmes.  Thich Nhat Hanh has noted that "as the  destruction and the terror i n t e n s i f i e d , so too did the hatred of the v i l l a g e r s for  the Americans,  leaving the American s o l d i e r ,  who  believed he had come to help, caught i n a quicksand of hatred and frustration.""^ The greater the number of people i n the insurgents' control apparatus, the greater i t s control over the area populated by these people.  This, i n turn, provides the insurgents with a greater per-  centage of an area's resources.  In some cases, the Vietcong increased  44  t h e i r percentages of l a n d and r e s o u r c e s by " l i b e r a t i n g " v i l l a g e s through the r e d u c t i o n of South Vietnamese  and American m i l i t a r y  forces.  In o t h e r cases t h i s meant " e d u c a t i n g " the p e o p l e as to the t r u e n a t u r e of the Southern regime by means o f " t r i a l s " and the e l i m i n a t i o n of the "enemies" o f the p e o p l e : " E l i m i n a t i o n of t r a i t o r s and t y r a n t s to d i s i n t e g r a t e the enemy ranks i s important i n weak areas. T h i s m i s s i o n aims a t b r e a k i n g the enemy's c o n t r o l and weakening t h e i r p r e s t i g e and, i n add i t i o n , r a i s i n g our r e v o l u t i o n a r y p r e s t i g e . It a l s o encourages the people's movement to break '•: the enemy r u l i n g machine and g a i n the administ r a t i o n power i n v i l l a g e s and hamlets f o r the  people."35 In s t i l l Americans  o t h e r cases t h i s meant i s o l a t i n g and  the f o r c e s o f the Southern  the p e o p l e from the regime:  "A major o b j e c t o f V i e t c o n g t e r r o r bombing i s to i s o l a t e Americans and /government/ o f f i c i a l s from the Vietnamese by making Vietnamese a f r a i d to a s s o c i a t e / o r cooperate/ w i t h A m e r i c a n s . " ^ 3  A c c o r d i n g l y , we the p e o p l e and  can note t h a t when the i n s u r g e n t s d e s i r e d to use  t h e i r r e s o u r c e s , i n areas where the movement e x e r c i s e d  l i t t l e or no c o n t r o l ,  they f i r s t had  c o n t r o l mechanism over the p e o p l e .  to p r y l o o s e the c o u n t e r i n s u r g e n t s ' The NLF  regarded the enemy's popu-  l a t i o n c o n t r o l mechanism a s e b e i h g composed o f t h r e e elements: South Vietnamese  government s t r u c t u r e ; 2) the p o l i c e and  m i l i t a r y f o r c e s ; and 3) the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e b u r e a u c r a c y . those who  d i d not support the NLF were viewed  as opposing  ment and t h e r e f o r e s u b j e c t to d i s c i p l i n a r y measures. to reduce the g r i p o f these t h r e e elements n o t o n l y p e r m i s s i b l e but n e c e s s a r y .  1)  the  security/ In a d d i t i o n , the move-  To employ  over the p e o p l e was  terror  deemed  An i l l u s t r a t i o n of the b r o a d  45  spectrum of people encompassed by the three elements i s provided i n the following s e l e c t i o n taken from a National Liberation Front "secret d i r e c t i v e " of May, 1969: "Enemy p u b l i c personnel, i n t e l l i g e n c e personnel, m i l i t a r y security personnel, RVNAF personnel, psywar personnel and p a c i f i c a t i o n personnel, c i v i l - s e l f - d e f e n s e members, informers, those i n charge of appealing to our cadre members to surrender, "Phoenix spies", i n t e l l i g e n c e personnel working for both sides, and f a l s e defectors /from the GVN/." 37  \ i  46  REFERENCES "^George A. C a r v e r , J r . , " T h e F a c e l e s s V i e t Cong." A f f a i r s , v o l . 44, no. 3, A p r i l , 1966, pp. 359-360.  Foreign  2 I b i d . , p. 360. 3 M i l t o n L e i t e n b e r g , and R i c h a r d D. Burns, The Vietnam C o n f l i c t . Santa B a r b a r a , C a l i f . : 1973, p. x i i i . These a u t h o r s n o t e t h e e x i s t e n c e of t h r e e wars i n I n d o c h i n a : 1946-1954; 1961-1968; and 1969-1973. With r e s p e c t to the i s s u e o f i n f i l t r a t i o n , t h i s i s s u e i s d i s c u s s e d and f u l l y documented i n , U n i t e d S t a t e s Department of S t a t e , A g g r e s s i o n from the North. Washington, D.C.: 1965. 4 For d e t a i l s of the e a r l y days o f the i n s u r g e n c y , s e e : Douglas P i k e , V i e t Cong. Cambridge, Mass.: 1968; and, George McT. K a h i n , and John W . Lewis, The U n i t e d S t a t e s i n Vietnam. New York: 1967. ^Dennis J . Duncanson, "The V i t a l i t y o f t h e V i e t Cong." v o l . IX, no. 1, January, 1967, 1967, pp. 16-17. 6 Chalmers Johnson, " G u e r r i l l a Warfare i n A s i a . " X, no. 10, October, 1968, p. 324.  Survival,  Survival, v o l .  V o Nguyen Giap, "The P a r t y ' s M i l i t a r y L i n e i s t h e E v e r - V i c t o r i o u s Banner o f People's War i n Our Country." Viet-Nam: Documents and Research Notes, document no. 70, January, 1970, pp. 48-49. The " c o n t r a d i c t i o n s " t h a t t h e i n s u r g e n t s p e r c e i v e d i n the American p o s i t i o n were: 1) the f a l l i n g - o u t between t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s and s e v e r a l o f h e r a l l i e s over the p r o s e c u t i o n o f t h e war; 2) t h e i n a b i l i t y of t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s to match i t s e x t r a o r d i n a r y t e c h n i c a l s u p e r i o r i t y to V i e t c o n g manoeuvera b i l i t y and m i l i t a r y i n t e l l i g e n c e ; 3) t h e growing American a v e r s i o n to the war; 4) the " u n i n t e n d e d " consequences o f the war which r e s u l t e d from the American s t y l e o f l a r g e - s c a l e o p e r a t i o n s (Unintended consequences r e f e r r e d to those m i l i t a r y o p e r a t i o n s which r e s u l t e d i n the deaths o f many c i v i l i a n s and t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f t h e i r p r o p e r t y . My L a i can a l s o be r e g a r d e d as an " u n i n t e n d e d " consequence o f t h e war. I t i s worth n o t i n g t h a t t h e avoidance o f such consequences was one of the U.S. aims i n t h e war — see p. 1 0 . ) ; and 5) the g e n e r a t i o n o f a t r u e n a t i o n a l i s t ( a n t i - A m e r i c a n ) r e a c t i o n among the p e o p l e o f South Vietnam. M e l v i n Gurtov, Hanoi on War and Peace. Santa Monica, C a l i f . : 1967.) 7  g Douglas P i k e , op. c i t . , pp. 32, 99. l b i d . , p. 100. Chalmers Johnson, "The T h i r d G e n e r a t i o n o f G u e r r i l l a W a r f a r e . " A s i a n Survey, v o l . V I I I , no. 6, June, 1968, p. 445. 9  47  ''""''Andrew M. Scott, Donald P. Clark, John W. Salmon et a l . , Insurgency. Chapel H i l l , N.C.: 1970, p. 92. 12 Stephen Hosmer, Viet Cong Repression and i t s Implications for Future. Santa Monica, C a l i f . : 1970, pp. 25-26. 13 General Vo Nguyen Giap as cited i n Telford Taylor, Nuremberg and Vietnam. New York: 1971, p. 135. 14 the  Dennis J . Duncanson, op. c i t . , p. 16. 1 5  J.  Bowyer B e l l , The Myth of the G u e r r i l l a .  New York:  1971,  p. 57. 16  Nathan Leites, and Charles Wolf, J r . , Rebellion and Authority. Chicago: 1970, p. 76. P e t e r Paret, and John W. Shy, " G u e r r i l l a Warfare and U.S. M i l i t a r y P o l i c y . " In The Guerrilla-And How to Fight Him, edited by T.N. Greene. New York: 1962, p. 41. 1 7  18 A.M.  Scott et a l . , op. c i t . ,  p.93  19 Stephen Hosmer, op. c i t . , pp. 14-15. 20 Douglas Pike, The Viet Cong Strategy of Terror. 1971, p. 61. 21  Saigon:  Ibid., p. 62. i i l b i d . , p. 79. 23 George S. Patton, J r . , "Why They Fight." M i l i t a r y Review, 45, no. 12, December, 1965, p. 16. 24 A.M. Scott et a l . , op. c i t . , p. 90. 25 Lewis W. Walt, Strange War, Strange Strategy, New York: 1970, p. 22. 26 Douglas Pike, op. c i t . , p. 19. 27 Vietnam Veterans Against the War, The Winter Soldier I n v e s t i gation. Boston: 1972, p. 69. 28 Dennis J . Duncanson, op. c i t . , p. 16. 29 Douglas Pike, op. c i t . , pp. 18-20. 30 Terror was used to sustain and b o l s t e r insurgent "morale". vol.  48  Without v i c t o r i e s , combatants become d i s c o u r a g e d and sometimes d i s i l l u s i o n e d with t h e i r undertakings. T e r r o r p r o v i d e d immediate and h i g h l y v i s i b l e r e s u l t s of " v i c t o r y " . T e r r o r a l s o c o n t r i b u t e d to l a r g e - s c a l e m i l i t a r y v i c t o r i e s by unnerving enemy s o l d i e r s . By i t s use, f o r i n s t a n c e , as a means of p r e c i p i t a t i n g an enemy r e p r i s a l , t e r r o r a l s o s e r v e d to c o n f i r m c e r t a i n i d e o l o g i c a l and p o l i t i c a l p r e cepts of the i n s u r g e n c y . 31 Bernard 7.  chapter 32 3 3  B. F a l l ,  S t r e e t Without Joy.  Vietnam Veterans A g a i n s t the War,  I b i d . , pp.  H a r r i s b u r g , Pa.:  op. c i t . , p.  1963,  7.  160-161.  34 1967,  T h i c h Nhat Hanh, Vietnam: 67.  p. 35  Stephen Hosmer, op.  Lotus i n a Sea of F i r e .  c i t . , pp.  New  York:  18-19.  36 p.  191.  Malcolm Browne, The New  Face of War.  Stephen Hosmer, op. c i t . , pp.  14-15.  Indianapolis:  1968,  49  COUNTERINSURGENCY WARFARE IN VIETNAM The American Approach to Insurgency American opposition to g u e r r i l l a wars and i t s subsequent campaign to defeat insurgency  came about as a d i r e c t response to Soviet  intentions purporting to encourage and support "wars of n a t i o n a l liberation."  David Halsberstam has written:  "At almost the same moment that the Kennedy Administration was coming into o f f i c e , Krushchev had given a major speech giving legitimacy to wars of national l i b e r a t i o n . The Kennedy Administration immediately i n t e r preted this as a challenge...and suddenly the stopping of g u e r r i l l a warfare became a great fad." 1  The American response to the Soviet challenge was specialized counterinsurgency  the development of  t a c t i c s , s t r a t e g i e s , and weapon systems.  As a doctrine, the American counterinsurgency  strategy pur-  ported to recognize both the p o l i t i c a l and the m i l i t a r y dimensions of g u e r r i l l a warfare.  In order to deprive the insurgents of t h e i r po-  pular base of support,  the United States sought to offer the populace  physical security, a better programme of economic assistance, and s o c i a l reform.  When applied to Vietnam, the Americans also agreed to  cover the costs of the entire m i l i t a r y e f f o r t undertaken by a l l counterinsurgent forces.  However, the United States f e l t compelled to remain 2  i n the background i n order to avoid offending n a t i o n a l i s t s e n s i t i v i t i e s —  those veEy. same s e n s i t i v i t i e s that the Vietcong would l a t e r make use  of when the Americans f i n a l l y emerged from the background. In the eyes of President Kennedy and several of h i s key advisors, 3 Vietnam was the "acid t e s t " for h i s counterinsurgency strategy.  50 However, by the time of h i s death, the f a i l u r e of Kennedy's counterinsurgency strategy was most apparent.  Having realized that the insur-  gents were s t i l l i n possession of their population cover and that the more subtle means of warfare employed by the Kennedy Administration had f a i l e d , President Johnson turned toward the arsenal of weapons associated with limited and nuclear warfare, rather than those associated with "brush-fire" or unconventional warfare.^ The o v e r a l l American approach to counterinsurgency i s best viewed as a continuing process of compromise.  I t was an approach founded  on  conventional premises of, as w e l l as orientations and perspectives toward, national wars of l i b e r a t i o n . attempted  The American counterinsurgency  to incorporate a l l the i n t e r e s t , concerns, and personal ob-  j e c t i v e s of those involved i n i t s formulation and execution. out the war this was views as: of  Through-  to mean the amalgamation of such interests and  negative views of a l l "peoples' revolutions;"  employment  a "systems approach" to problem-solving; a preoccupation with sta-  t i s t i c s and quantity; a fascination with technology; a conspiracy theory which held the Communists responsible for the i l l s of the world; concern with the non-military problems of world hot-beds of c i v i l unrest, a b e l i e f that m i l i t a r y p r i o r i t i e s should take precedence  over a l l others.  This "conventional" approach to counterinsurgency evidenced a preference f o r conventional a i r and ground combat operations which employed large deployments of troops and involved such t a c t i c s as search and destroy, encirclement, a t t r i t i o n , and zonal bombardment. The advocates of this approach longed for set-piece battles i n which massive fire-power would be useful, and surprising or l u r i n g  51  g u e r r i l l a s into ambushes or conventional b a t t l e s .  The r e s u l t of a l l  this was massive and sustained a e r i a l bombardment of Indochina, i n vasion of enemy sanctuaries i n Laos and Cambodia, the use of GIs for "bait," lation  d e f o l i a t i o n of large tracts of land, and r e l o c a t i o n of popusettlements.  7  While we have been r e f e r r i n g to the general approach of American counterinsurgency,  i t i s worth noting that i t s implementation was  tempted i n two d i s t i n c t strategies. p r i o r to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. the North, and the U.S.  The f i r s t strategy was  at-  i n use  With the American bombing of  build-up of troops i n the South, the second  strategy came into operation.  This l a t t e r strategy remained i n force  throughout the balance of the American presence i n Vietnam. The f i r s t strategy, developed and implemented by the Kennedy Administration, was  characterized by the use of i r r e g u l a r t a c t i c s ,  small-unit m i l i t a r y teams (Special Forces units l i k e the Green Berets), e f f e c t i v e and ruthlessly executed punitive measures against those suspected of aiding the Vietcong  (Operation Phoenix), the use of terror  and counter-terror, murder of prisoners, and t o t a l control of the 9  people through what came to be known as " p a c i f i c a t i o n " programmes. While the " p a c i f i c a t i o n " programmes required the demonstration of kind and considerate treatment toward the people, this was always the practice. duals was  Distinguishing between f r i e n d l y and h o s t i l e i n d i v i -  easier said than done i n Vietnam.  environment which was  not  Wary s o l d i e r s i n an a l i e n  booby-trapped and unpredictable could only per-  ceive the c i v i l i a n s as enemies or p o t e n t i a l enemies:  52  " . . . i n the spectrum of war, that whole Vietnam thing i s based on fear. You're scared to death a l l the way over there. You're told continually that you're going to die i f you don't do t h i s , i f you don't do that. That every Vietnamese i s going to k i l l you; that booby-trapped babies are going to be sent against you and old grandmothers are going ©Dthrow bombs at you, which can be very, very true and i n many instances i s true." As the war dragged on and as p o s i t i v e results became fewer and fewer, the "Kennedy" strategy was  found to be lacking.  I t was  suggested  that where " q u a l i t y " had f a i l e d , perhaps "quantity" would prove to be what was  needed.  Indeed, at the outset of the Vietnamese war, many  American m i l i t a r y and p o l i t i c a l o f f i c i a l s had been d i s s a t i s f i e d with the q u a l i t a t i v e thinking that characterized the era. has  ]]  David  Halberstam  noted: "At an early intergovernmental meeting on the importance of psychological warfare, one of Harkins' key staff-men, Brigadier General Gerald Kelleher, quickly dismissed that theory. His job, he said, was to k i l l Vietcong. But the French, responded a p o l i t i c a l o f f i c e r named Douglas Pike, had k i l l e d a l o t of Vietcong and they had not won. "Didn't k i l l enough Vietcong," answered Kelleher. Such was the attitude of the American headquarters; despite a l l the faddishness of counterinsurgency i t was a l l very conventional, with a dominating b e l i e f that more and more force was what was r e a l l y needed." 1  Adopting this "more-is^-better" approach,  L  the American planners of  counterinsurgency developed what Eqbal Ahmad refers to as the "techn o l o g i c a l - a t t r i v i t i v e " approach, Nixon" strategy.  or what we might c a l l the "Johnson-  Professor Ahmad notes:  The increasing r e l i a n c e on the technologicala t t r i v i t i v e approach marked the s h i f t of the American counterinsurgency i n a genocidal d i r e c t i o n . When a people's revolutionary war M  53  has been lost...then a great power caught i n a war l i k e Vietnam i s l e f t only with alternatives. One i s t o n e g o t i a t e a withdrawal. The other i s to continue the war...at a cost acceptable to ^2 the people at home, but costly to the insurgents." This l a t t e r alternative was  the f i r s t choice of President Nixon.  It  was manifested by an increase i n the use of powerful and indiscriminate weapons. The object of Nixon's choice was  to make the war, as Ahmad has  r i g h t l y noted, acceptable at home while remaining unacceptable to the enemy.  In order to accomplish these twin goals i t was necessary to  decrease the war's f i n a n c i a l costs and i t s cost i n terms of American lives.  The f i r s t required a reduction i n the number of American  servicemen deployed i n Vietnam.  The second required the avoidance of  active combat between the enemy and American forces.  Both of these  goals were pursued by engaging more Southern Vietnamese units and by removing the American servicemen from the front, but not from the war altogether.  Massive fire-power proved to be the solution.  This enabled  U.S. m i l i t a r y forces to continue the f i g h t with a greatly reduced r i s k to their l i v e s while enabling enemy body-counts  to increase and thus  providing some evidence as to progress i n the war. Technology and the Strategy of A t t r i t i o n In the American e f f o r t to defeat the insurgents, great emphasis was placed on the development of suitable t a c t i c s and new technologies. Gabriel Kolko has noted: "While the United States has sought to discover and procure weapons uniquely designed f o r the centralized agrarian and jungle environment, i t has also attempted to u t i l i z e existing s t r a t e g i c  54  weapons f i r s t designed f o r such concentrated strategic targets as industry and a i r - m i s s i l e bases. This, by necessity, has required employing weapons, such as the B-52, o r i g i n a l l y constructed for intensive nuclear warfare against stationary targets. I t has adjusted f o r decent r a l i z e d mobile targets simply by dropping much greater quantities of explosives of immense y i e l d on vast., .regions with very few permanent i n s t a l l a tions. Among the tactics employed by the United States throughout the 14 course of the war, the following are noteworthy: - heavy use of airborne infantry; - use of herbicides against crops i n food denial programmes and forests i n "area-denial" programmes; - bulldozing of smaller land areas f o r "area-denial"; - designation of f r e e - f i r e and free-bomb zones f o r a r t i l l e r y and a i r - d e l i v e r e d ordnance, within which there were few d i s t i n c t i o n s made between " c i v i l i a n " and " m i l i t a r y " targets; - "harassment and i n t e r d i c t i o n " by f i r e , and the use of "unobserved  f i r e " by both a r t i l l e r y and a i r - d e l i v e r e d ordnance; - extensive use of a i r support for ground combat operations; - wide use of napalm; - carpet-bombing by B-52s; - use of CN (Chloroacetophenone),  (Dephenylchloroassine)  CS (tear gas) and DM  gases, as w e l l as the use of CS gas on the b a t t l e -  f i e l d i n coordination with conventional fire-power, as well as f o r area denial and for i n t e r d i c t i o n ; - meteorological warfare for the purposeful production of r a i n ; - "population r e l o c a t i o n " programmes;  55  - regular dispatch of s p e c i a l forces  (SEALS - Sea-Air-Land  Commandos) into North "Vietnam for purposes of Sabotage; and, - s e l e c t i v e k i l l i n g of members of the c i v i l i a n population with alleged  Communist a f f i l i a t i o n i n the South (Operation Phoenix).  With respect to the technologies employed and developed i n V i e t nam, the following are among the more "spectacular" and worthy of mention: - some t h i r t y delivery systems f o r CS gas, mostly for b a t t l e f i e l d use; - " l i g h t s h i p s : for night f i g h t i n g , and the development of  16 "gunships" capable of spewing out thousands of b u l l e t s per minute; - light-gathering based-anti-personnel target  and heat-gathering devices f o r "night-ground acquisition;"  - anti-personnel, a i r - d e l i v e r e d weapons (Cluster Bomb Units CBUs) such as flechettes, pellet-bombs, etc.; - "laser-guided" and television-guided  bombs;  - ground-based f i r e location sensors; - portable f i e l d radars for mortaring and enemy a r t i l l e r y location; - s p e c i a l a i r c r a f t for airborne t a c t i c a l a i r control and electronic counter-measures, largely over the China Sea and North Vietnam; - drone a i r c r a f t for photo reconnaissance and for electronic counter-measures; - ground-based sensort to detect personnel and motor t r a f f i c  56  movement behind enemy lines;" "' 1  - air-borne sensors capable of detecting tunnel net-works; - improved air-delivered anti-personnel mines; and, - improved anti-personnel land mines. An i l l u s t r a t i o n of the type of consequences sometimes r e s u l t i n g from the use of such weapons and t a c t i c s w i l l be afforded by a b r i e f r e f e r ence to the B-52  bombing operations.  During the years following the massive American intervention, large portions of the countryside which had a dispersed population were subjected to a e r i a l bombardment by formations was  of B-52s.  Their purpose  to i n h i b i t enemy i n f i l t r a t i o n into the South, i n t e r d i c t supplies  coming into the South,from North Vietnam, and to destroy enemy strongholds i n the South.  A i r strikes were usually made on the basis of i n -  t e l l i g e n c e information supplied by agents or "ground-based sensors" which indicated the presence of Vietcong or North Vietnamese forces. Unfortunately, due to a combination of faulty reporting,  over-anxious-  ness, the desire to surprise, and the i n a b i l i t y of e l e c t r o n i c devices to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, many of these raids did l i t t l e damage to the enemy, but did manage to r a i n down death and 18 destruction on innocent c i v i l i a n s l i v i n g i n these "target" areas. The following table attempts to provide some s t a t i s t i c a l information as to the results of American bombing operations.  As appears quite obvious,  few of the figures seem to follow any l o g i c a l progression when compared. However, I do believe that the refugee figures are noteworthy.  I t can  be noted that with the increase i n bombing missions during 1969  the  number of refugees increased by over f i f t y percent.  This fact, coupled  as i t i s with the way i n which casualties were calculated by the Amer19 leans,  would suggest that c i v i l i a n casualties did increase with the  heavy bombing missions.  I t i s also worth noting that the bombing  missions did not appear to s i g n i f i c a n t l y a l t e r large-scale insurgent m i l i t a r y operations. As previously stated, two major reasons for the of ..the  American bombing  North and border areas were the counterinsurgency' s general  f a i l u r e to h a l t large-scale i n f i l t r a t i o n from the North, and their 20 f a i l u r e to make noticeable headway i n the war.  Given the a v a i l a b i l i t y  of resources, the American use of a i r power was a. l o g i c a l outcome as well as a progressive process. When i t l a t e r became clear that i n f i l 21 t r a t i o n , f a r from having been reduced, had actually increased  there  were immediate complaints from the exponents of the bombing that the a i r attacks had come too l a t e and had been too l i t t l e . characterized this era into the Stone age."  was  that North Vietnam should be bombed "back  According to Brigadier General Glenn D. Walker:  "You don't f i g h t this fellow r i f l e to r i f l e . away.  The b e l i e f that  You locate him and back 22  Blow the h e l l out of him and then p o l i c e up." By early, 1966, nearly one-'quarter m i l l i o n American men were  deployed throughout the South.  The enemy offensive of the previous  year had been checked, and i t appeared to many i n Saigon and Waghington that the South had been saved from what appeared to have been imminent disaster.  Additionally, i t was believed that General Westmoreland had  come through with p o s i t i v e results when they were most needed.  The  58  TABLE II Vietnamese War S t a t i s t i c s 1967 July B-52 missions 100 Total a e r i a l bomb tonnage dropped (a) 80,035 Civilian hospitalizations from war (b) 3,058 Large-scale insurgent military-operations 197 Enemy casualties (c) 7,923 SVN refugees (d)  August  Sept.  October  November December  78  28  52  77  47  79,535  78,885  83,497  83,088  83,136  3,954  4,515  3,884  4,884  4,790  204 5,810  260 6,354  264 6,272  264 286 7,662 7,938 1.,723,509  /o  1968 January February  March  April  May  June  B-52 missions 104 291 311 265 231 293 Total a e r i a l bomb tonnage dropped (a) 90,036 103,000 123,672 124,660 127,942 125,159 Civilian hospitalizations from war (b) 5,919 19,662 9,043 6,483 9,044 7,197 Large-scale insurgent military-operations 409 570 558 391 588 288 Enemy casualties (c) 15,217 39,867 17,371 12,215 24,086 10,319 SVN refugees (d)  July  August  Sept.  Octdb;er November December  B-52 missions 240 300 291 272 207 217 Total a e r i a l bomb tonnage dropped (a) 128,407 126,379 117,569 122,233 114,925 127,672 Civilian hospitalizations from war (b) 5,630 5,589 6,335 5,811 4,333 5,236 Large-scale insurgent -military-operations 137 242 215 145 184 194 Enemy casualties (c) 6,653 15,478 12,543 8,168 9,632 9,600 SVN refugees (d) 2,702,077  59  TABLE II (Con't) Explanatory Notes a)  The bombing-tonnage figures represent the t o t a l amount dropped by a l l American planes. B-52  b)  There exists no separate figures for  missions.  C i v i l i a n h o s p i t a l i z a t i o n s from the war represent a l l those admitted to either American or South Vietnamese h o s p i t a l s . footnote 9,  c)  (see  p.14)  Enemy casualties r e f e r to both Vietcong and North Vietnamese military.  d)  Unfortunately, there exist no monthly figures for SVN  refugees.  Each figure represents the o f f i c i a l published figure put out at the end of each year. Source Air War  Study Group, Cornell University.  R. Littauer, and N. Uphoff. Boston:  1971, pp. 265-284.  The A i r War  General editors,  i n Indochina, rev. ed.  60  question that emerged following this period was "what was next?"; 23 a response was soon forthcoming —  "search-and-destroy":  "/Search and destroy/ had great appeal. I t o f fered prospects of quick r e s u l t s before the midterm elections i n November 1966. Moreover, at this time, the GVN was involved with the Buddhist c r i s i s i n Danang and Hue and could not be expected to play i t s f u l l part i n the war. Even so, i t i s doubtful i f these considerations would have made any difference. The temptation to bring to bear the enormous resources and fire-power of the American Army and A i r Force on Vietcong and North Vietnamese units contacted was too great. L.ar. Even B-52s could take on black pyjamas."24 25 Given this s i t u a t i o n i n Vietnam,  American forces were able  to conduct aggressive operations anywhere they desired; and i f every piece of available modern weaponry was brought to bear i n the war, many experts believed that the tide of the c o n f l i c t would change. Indeed, as has already been suggested, many believed that this  approach  would be tantamount to the adoption of a winning strategy: "A message of great importance to those concerned with armament technology i s i n great danger of being l o s t i n the quagmire of information that surrounds the war i n Vietnam. This message i s straight forward i n i t s text but far-reaching i n i t s implications: a government defending against well-armed g u e r r i l l a combat forces i n the f i e l d w i l l have l i t t l e prospect of winning unless i t i s prepared to use against i t s antagonists the f r u i t s of m i l i t a r y technology."26 t  It was almost a matter of f a i t h on the part of many m i l i t a r y and p o l i t i c a l planners that aggressiveness and technical superiority, coupled with a fast reaction a b i l i t y , constituted the i n i t i a t i v e and, accordingly, the way to achieve v i c t o r y i n Vietnam.  I t i s probably quite  accurate to suggest that without weapons l i k e the helicopter, the  61  Cluster Bomb Units, napalm, and B-52s, the American "harassment-and-interdiction, never have been possible.  11  "search-and-destroy,"  f r e e - f i r e and f r e e - s t r i k e missions would  I t i s these type of m i l i t a r y operations  which have been given the l a b e l "genocidal" because of their i n a b i l i t y to readily d i s t i n g u i s h between combatants and non-combatants.  In ad-  d i t i o n , many c r i t i c s of the American prosecution of the war have blamed this f a i l u r e to d i f f e r e n t i a t e on the weapons themselves. Gabriel Kolko, writing about the U.S. prosecution of the war has noted: "The U.S. has made South Vietnam a sea of f i r e as a matter of p o l i c y , turning an e n t i r e nation i n t o a target. This i s not accidental but i n t e n t i o n a l and i n t r i n s i c to the U.S.'s strategic and p o l i t i c a l Premises i n the Vietnam war. By necessity i t destroys v i l l a g e s , slaughters a l l who are i n the way, uproots f a m i l i e s , and shatters a whole society. While I do not believe one can categorically state that the American strategy was designed  to be atrocity-producingj I do believe i t i s  v a l i d to suggest that i t was a strategy which inevitably led to atrocities.  The counterinsurgents' use of weapons and t a c t i c s described  above could not do anything but produce the death and destruction so 28 c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the war. The Character of the American  Counterinsurgency  To comprehend the "character" of American p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n Vietnam i t i s necessary  to acknowledge the existence of the environment  i n which the counterinsurgency  was fostered and executed.  Part of this  environment i s the presence of three levels of American p a r t i c i p a t i o n . These levels represent at the highest pinnacle, the American p o l i t i c a l  62  leaders and other policy-makers.  Below this l e v e l are the policy  plementors and chief m i l i t a r y advisors and f i e l d o f f i c e r s . we have those who himself.  executed  the orders of war,  im-  Finally,  the i n d i v i d u a l  serviceman  This section w i l l attempt to describe the character of Amer-  ican counterinsurgency i n terms of the environment which w i l l allow for a blend of the three l e v e l s rather than a separate review of each. Apart from the weapons and t a c t i c s employed i n the war,  the i n d i -  vidual combatant and the policy-makers must share some r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the enormous death and destruction wrought on South Vietnam by counterinsurgent e f f o r t s .  While there appears l i t t l e i n the i n d i v i d u a l  ^29 complexion which i s capable of producing the horrors of a Son My,  ;  a  30 Quang Ngai or a Quang Tin,  or the purposeful beheading of a surren--  31 dering enemy s o l d i e r ; these men.  there i s i n the m i l i t a r y system which trained  Combat training and the mental preparation which accompanies  that process, deliberately sought, i n the American case, to infuse into the i n d i v i d u a l both a fear and a drive that would make him a c t i v e l y pursue v i c t o r y and ensure i t s r e a l i z a t i o n .  The U.S. m i l i t a r y and p o l i -  t i c a l planners had no other choice i n this matter.  Raymond Aron has  noted that whereas "insurgents have no need of decisive successes i n  32 order to win, /counterinsurgents/ need t o t a l v i c t o r y . "  By the very  nature of insurgency, g u e r r i l l a s can take their time; they can s i t out d i f f i c u l t situations and even feign catastrophe or c a p i t u l a t i o n .  Once  the counterinsurgents have l e f t , the insurgents can recommence t h e i r activities —  well-rested and with renewed vigour which the lay-off has  provided them.  The counterinsurgents, on the other hand, must  63  completely destroy the insurgents; i f not, they w i l l never achieve victory.  In this sense, the characterization of an insurgency as a  "cancer" i s quite accurate.  Only the complete removal of the cancer  w i l l cure the patient. Accordingly, m i l i t a r y and p o l i t i c a l perspectives of the course of the war, and the perception of v i c t o r y would be expected to greatly influence the prosecution of the war.  The f u l l - s c a l e American entry  into the war by 1965 was a d i r e c t acknowledgement of the f a i l u r e of the "Kennedy" strategy.  With this f a i l u r e came the admission by some  that the war could never be acceptably terminated even within the context of the "Johnson-Nixon" strategy of "controlled escalation:"  "The  pursuit of v i c t o r y i n Vietnam through the so-called strategy of e s c a l ation has conspired with a variety of other forces to l i t e r a l l y make 33 the war unwinable."  The massive mechanization of the war i n the  late 1960s and early 1970s was an admission by the counterinsurgents that v i c t o r y was not within reach.  Richard Nixon's "peace with honour" 34 was an admission that t o t a l victory could never be achieved. American government and m i l i t a r y leaders have always opted f o r 35 quick r e s u l t s with immediate inputs. This desire f o r quick r e s u l t s , coupled as i t was with impatience and f r u s t r a t i o n , l e d to the impulsive 36 nature of American problem solving i n Vietnam.  While the "try-any-  thing-once" approach can prove successful i n some instances, i t can also be very dangerous when l i t t l e or no thought i s given to the l i k e l y r e s u l t s of, or to the reasons f o r , using some "quick-result" scheme. The Vietnam war became a v e r i t a b l e "melting-pot" f o r half-developed,  64  spontaneous and novel ideas, a l l of which were t r i e d out i n " b a t t l e f i e l d conditions" and most of which proved disastrous for the peasants of Indochina.  When these new  combat techniques and t a c t i c s f a i l e d to  produce desirable m i l i t a r y r e s u l t s , some reason was usually found f o r trying them again.  I f , on the other hand, some idea proved successful  i n one instance i t was usually assumed to be universally applicable and always successful. Such would appear to have been the case with the use of anti-personnel weapons. When f i r s t employed these weapons were designed to hurt the enemy i n areas not safely penetrable by American forces, such as dense forests jungles, or heavily bunkered f o r t i f i c a t i o n s .  Due  to the enormous suc-  cess of these weapons, they were widely used i n most f i e l d operations. Napalm and CBUs were used p r i o r to most troop operations i n order to "soften-up" the enemy, and as preparations for the entry of counterinsurgent forces into enemy-held strongholds. "softened-up" were c i v i l i a n s .  Unfortunately, most of thos  Despite these c i v i l i a n casualties, the  anti-personnel weapons were s t i l l employed because they did manage to 37 disrupt some enemy operations, and k i l l some enemy forces. One aspect of the American counterinsurgency which added to i n dividual impatience and impulsiveness was Such a t r a i t was  the demand for aggressiveness.  continually manifested i n the U.S.  desire to surprise,  to " s h o o t - f i r s t , " and to possess a fast-reaction c a p a b i l i t y . orientation was,  often times, the confirmation of what was  within many Vietcong statements —  iThis  contained  the b r u t a l i t y directed towards South  Vietnamese c i v i l i a n s , the murder of unarmed c i v i l i a n s , and the needless  65  destruction of c i v i l i a n property.  The r e s u l t of a l l this was that  many American units found their e f f o r t s f r u s t r a t e d even further. This, i n turn, set the action-reaction cycle i n motion: "In revolutionary warfare professional armies trained f o r conventional combat follow a vicious l o g i c of escalation which derives from acute f r u s t r a t i o n over an elusive war that puts i n question not only their effectiveness, but the very v a l i d i t y of t h e i r t r a i n i n g . " - ^ It was p r e c i s e l y this type of response to enemy actions which prolonged the Vietnamese c o n f l i c t and resulted i n the needless loss of l i f e . Another disadvantage from which the counterinsurgents was their tremendous wealth.  suffered  In Vietnam, resources were continually  substituted f o r e f f i c i e n c y and organization.  In this sense the counter-  insurgents waged a war that was "material-intensive" while that of the insurgents was "labour-intensive".  When a solution to a problem  f a i l e d , r a r e l y did anyone question the solution i t s e l f or challenge the correctness of the p o l i c y .  Rather, i t was simply assumed that the  "resources" had been inadequate.  The constant remedy, then, was to  r e t a i n the same t a c t i c or approach but increase the amount of resources employed by i t .  This p o l i c y of "more i s better" led to a s i t u a t i o n where  "instead of p o l i c y a l o t t i n g the means and thereby d i c t a t i n g the strategy under which the means were applied, the strategy demanded more and more 39  and so dictated the p o l i c y . "  Given this preoccupation  with quantity,  Vietnam became a war i n which i t was possible to note that "almost any kind of m i l i t a r y error /_on the part of the counterinsurgents/, 40 matter how stupid, can be retrieved on the rebound."  no  66  These factors, together with the products emerging from combat training and psychological conditioning as provided for combatants i n the United States contributed to the f a i l u r e of both the m i l i t a r y and p o l i t i c a l leaders' f u l l comprehension of the nature of the war.  The  factors are important because they tended to obscure the true nature of the insurgency movement, and the combatants are an issue because they were often regarded as more the results of, rather than the causes for, some of the m i l i t a r y and p o l i t i c a l disasters experienced by the counterinsurgency.  In some instances i n d i v i d u a l ignorance or p l a i n  fear produced disastrous consequences for the United States Command i n Saigon —  the k i l l i n g of children and old people because they wore the  t r a d i t i o n a l black clothing of South Vietnamese when tending their paddies; the shooting of someone moving about i n the bushes of a f r e e - f i r e zone because theyccould not read the warning l e a f l e t s , or did not wish to vacate t r a d i t i o n a l family land f o r r e l i g i o u s reasons; of the r e s e t t l e ment of refugees into relocation camps whose building format v i o l a t e d ancient Vietnamese customs.  A l l of the consequences stemming from such  actions were usually blamed on the Vietcong because of the way  the i n -  surgents had compelled the Americans to f i g h t the war, and not on the system which trained the s o l d i e r to behave this way,  or on the i n d i v i -  dual and his instruments of war. Accordingly, we can suggest the existence of two prime causes for the disasters associated with the U.S.  counterinsurgency.  On the one  hand, "the American l i b e r a l t r a d i t i o n , ignorant of popular revolutionary warfare and untempered as i t was by experience of the Asian scene of  67  violence, l e d to some very f a n c i f u l and disastrous thinking." " ' 4  1  On  the other hand, the problem would seem to have rested with the lack of American m i l i t a r y preparation and planning i n accordance with the type of war that had developed.  American service men, unable to  respond to the s i t u a t i o n at hand, resorted to strategies that were only meaningful i n r e l i e v i n g their tension and f r u s t r a t i o n and which also appeared to reaffirm their b e l i e f i n the m i l i t a r y process.  Perhaps the  most graphic characterization of this m i l i t a r y s i t u a t i o n has been provided by Frances F i t z g e r a l d : "Like an Orwellian army, /the American servicemen/ knew everything about m i l i t a r y t a c t i c s , but nothing about where they were or who the enemy was. And they found themselves not attacking fixed positions but walking through the jungle or through villagesamong small yellow people, as strange and exposed among them as i f they were Martians. Their buddies were k i l l e d by land mines, sniper f i r e , and mortar attacks, but the enemy remained i n v i s i b l e , not only i n the jungle but among the people of the v i l l a g e s — an almost metaphysical enemy who i n f l i c t e d upon them heat, boredom, terror and death, and gave them nothing to show f o r i t — no t e r r i t o r y , no v i s i b l e ; sign of progress except the bodies of small yellow men. And they passed around s t o r i e s : you couldn't trust anyone i n this country, not the laundresses or the prostitutes or the boys of s i x years o l d . The enemy would not stand up and f i g h t , but he had agents everywhere, among the v i l l a g e r s , even among the ARVN o f f i c e r s . The Vietnamese soldiers were lazy and the o f f i c i a l s corrupt — they were a l l out to get you, one way or another. They were a l l "gooks" after a l l . " :  4 2  This was the attitude of many American forces before they went into combat; this was the attitude they had confirmed i n combat; and i t was this very attitude which predisposed them towards the commission of acts 43 of b r u t a l i t y and savagery.  I t now appears from many of the studies  68  made on returning Vietnam veterans that when a Gl's conscience did begin to trouble him, there was the b e l i e f that orders were merely being obeyed, that h i s superiors would not ask him to do something that was i l l e g a l .  When an i l l e g a l act was requested of a combatant,  the i n d i v i d u a l could always think i n terms of "gook" or "sub-human", 44 as well as the l i k e l y  reward f o r a job well-done.  69  REFERENCES "David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest. Greenwich, Conn.: 1972, p. 152. According to Halberstam, years l a t e r Soviet o f f i c i a l s told their counterparts i n the Kennedy Administration that i t was a l l an error, that the speech had not been aimed at the Americans, but at the Chinese. 2 For a review of these objectives and t h e i r importance as viewed by the Kennedy Administration, see: "Vietnam Program of Action by Kennedy's Task Force," document no. 18; and "White House Cable to /Ambassador/ Lodge on Pressure f o r Saigon Reform" document no. 45. The Pentagon Papers, The New York Times E d i t i o n . New York: 1971, pp. 119125; 206-208. 3 Walt Rostow, " G u e r r i l l a Warfare i n the Underdeveloped Areas." In World P o l i t i c s , edited by Arend Kijphart. Boston: 1968, pp. 207-214.  4  Gabriel Kolko, "War Crimes and the Nature of the Vietnam War." In Crimes of War, edited by Richard A. Falk, Gabriel Kolko, and Robert J . L i f t o n . New York: 1971, p. 410. ^Eqbal Ahmad, "Revolutionary War and Counterinsurgency." Journal of International A f f a i r s , v o l . XXV, no. 1, 1971, p. 16. [Professor Ahmad has termed the American counterinsurgency strategy as possessing one main characterization and two supplementary characterizations. The main characterization he labels as "conventional-establishment". The two supplementary characterizations are: " p u n i t i v e - m i l i t a r i s t " and "technological-attrivitive".] ^GIs were used as b a i t i n South Vietnam as lures to ambush enemy units, as i l l u s t r a t e d by such m i l i t a r y emplacements as Khe Sanh, and the use of the "night logger." Night loggers were night bases for large units of counterinsurgent forces sent out f o r the s p e c i f i c purpose of l u r i n g V.C. and North Vietnamese units into attacking these "vulnerable" positions. Once attacked, the counterinsurgents would c a l l i n massive a r t i l l e r y and night f i g h t e r s to destroy the enemy. (Citizens Commission of Inquiry, The Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes i n Vietnam. New York: 1972, p. 71. ^E. Ahmad, op. c i t . , p. 17. g Ibid., p. 16. 9 Ibid., p. 18. tion.  "^Vietnam Veterans Against the War, The Winter Soldier InvestigaBoston: 1972, p. 6. D. Halberstam, op. c i t . , p. 229.  70 1 E. Ahmad, op. c i t . , p. 19. See Professor Ahmad's Counterinsurgency description, reference no. 5, this section. 2  13 Gabriel Kolko, op. c i t . , p. 411. "^Milton Leitenberg, "America i n Vietnam: S t a t i s t i c s of a Survival, v o l . 14, no. 6, November-December, 1972, p. 268. 1 5  War."  I b i d . , p. 269  "^Multiple b a r r e l l e d machine guns capable of high rate of f i r e (6,000 rpm) of which as many as s i x were being carried by one plane, the C-47, were a deadly weapon when aimed down on V.C. and North V i e t namese staging areas. The C-47 was a f f e c t i o n a t e l y known by American GIs as "Puff the Magic Dragon." "'""The McNamara Line", which grew into project Igloo White, employed sensors which detected through various methods — seismic, thermal, etc., — movement and which then telemeter t h e i r information to c i r c l i n g a i r c r a f t or drones that pass i t on to ground-based computers, which c a l l for a i r c r a f t s t r i k e s . This was popularly referred to as the "electronic b a t t l e f i e l d . " 18 A i r War Study Group, Cornell University, General editors, R. Littauer, and N. Uphoff. The A i r War i n Indochina, rev. ed. Boston: 1971, pp. 161-166. 19 Ibid., p. 29. 20 See reference no. 9, p. 14. 21 "Further McNaughton Memo on Factors i n Bombing Decision." The Pentagon Papers, The New York Times Edition. New York: 1971, document no. 109, p. 491. 22 Air War Study Group, op. c i t . , p. 52. 23 Jay B. Durst, "Limited Conventional War — Can I t Be Successf u l ? " M i l i t a r y Review, v o l . 50, no. 1, January 1970, pp. 56-63. 24 Robert Thompson, No Exit From Vietnam. London: 1969, pp. 134-135. 25 This occurred with the preoccupation of Saigon o f f i c i a l s with the Buddhists, which allowed the Americans to conduct m i l i t a r y operations with only nominal consultation with their a l l i e s of the South. 26 D.R. Kirchner, " A n t i - g u e r r i l l a Armament." Ordnance, v o l . 56, no. 308, September-October, 1971, p. 127. 27 Gabriel Kolko, op. c i t . , p. 412.  71  28  Frances F i t z g e r a l d , F i r e i n t h e Lake.  Boston:  1972, p.  375.  29 For a d e t a i l e d a n a l y s i s o f t h e Son My massacres and t h e i n d i v i d u a l s who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n t h a t a c t i o n , see: Seymour M. H e r s h , My L a i 4 : A Report on t h e Massacre and I t s A f t e r m a t h . New Y o r k : 1970. 30 For a r e v i e w o f the m i l i t a r y o p e r a t i o n s u n d e r t a k e n i n these p r o v i n c e s , see: Jonathan S c h e l l , The M i l i t a r y H a l f : An Account o f D e s t r u c t i o n i n Quang Ngai and Quang T i n . New Y o r k : 1968. 31 Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, I n The Name of America. Annandale, V a . : 1968, p. 62. 32 Raymond A r o n , On War. New Y o r k : 1968, p. 69. 33 W i l l i a m Corson, The B e t r a y a l . New Y o r k : 1968, p. 6 1 . 34 T h i s s h o u l d n o t be t a k e n t o mean t h a t v i c t o r y was o u t o f t h e question. V i c t o r y , i n an a b s o l u t e sense, was always a t t a i n a b l e f o r the Americans. However, the means t o t h a t g o a l were never s e r i o u s l y c o n s i d e r e d as employable. To use n u c l e a r weapons i n Vietnam would have meant a s e r i o u s p o s s i b i l i t y o f n u c l e a r war w i t h the S o v i e t U n i o n , or the d i r e c t m i l i t a r y i n v o l v e m e n t o f t h e P e o p l e ' s R e p u b l i c o f China. 35 Robert Thompson, op. c i t . , p . 1 2 5 . 36 P e t e r G. Bourne, "From Boot Camp t o My L a i . " I n Crimes o f War, e d i t e d by R.A. F a l k , G. K o l k o , and R . J . L i f t o n . New Y o r k : 1 9 7 1 , pp. 466. 37 Y. I s h i j i m a , " N o n - M i l i t a r y Targets and Methods o f A t t a c k . " I n A g a i n s t t h e Crime o f S i l e n c e , e d i t e d by John D u f f e t t . New Y o r k : 1968, pp. 161-164. 38 Eqbal Ahmad, op. c i t . , p. 33. 39 Robert Thompson, op. c i t . , p. 127. 40 Bernard B. F a l l , "Vietnam B l i t z . " The New R e p u b l i c , v o l . 153, no. 15, O c t o b e r . 9 , 1965, p. 18. 41 E. Ahmad, op. c i t . , p. 33. 42 Frances F i t z g e r a l d , op. c i t . , p. 370. 43 I n many o f the accounts w h i c h a t t e m p t t o e x p l a i n t h e American a c t s o f needless b r u t a l i t y and senseless v i o l e n c e , t h i s c l a i m i s b o r n e o u t . 'For a r e v i e w o f s e v e r a l a c t s i n l i g h t o f t h i s c l a i m , s e e : Seymour Hersh, op. c i t . ; and Jonathan S c h e l l , op. c i t . For a g e n e r a l r e v i e w  72  of American a c t i v i t i e s i n Vietnam, see: Citizens Commission of Inquiry, op. c i t . ; Vietnam Veterans Against the War, op. c i t . ; and Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, op. c i t . 44 The "reward system" i s w e l l described i n the American Vietnam veterans accounts contained i n : Citizens Commission of Inquiry, op. c i t . ; and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, op. c i t .  73  VIETNAM ATROCITIES COMMITTED WITHIN AN ACTION-REACTION PROCESS Vietnamese Insurgency:  An Evolutionary Undertaking  While the basic facts of the war are not that controversial, the dispute concerning the c o n f l i c t would appear to revolve around the conclusions that may be drawn from them. tics —  Through the use of certain tac-  area bombardment; f r e e - s t r i k e and f r e e - f i r e zones; f o r c i b l e  relocation of c i v i l i a n s ; des-ruction of property; indiscriminate bombardment of v i l l a g e s suspected of harbouring members oftthe enemy forces; and a e r i a l machine-gunning Vietcong —  of peasants who were thought to be  the forces of the counterinsurgency maimed thousands of i n -  nocent c i v i l i a n s and created refugees out of many others —  many of  whom were compelled to exist i n camps and compounds of incredible f i l t h and horror."'" fare —  Similarly, by employing the methods of insurgency war-  p o l i t i c a l assissination; abduction; terror-bombing; ambushing;  "armed propaganda;" f o r c i b l e support; the a b i l i t y to compel t h e i r enemies to resort to r e p r i s a l s ; the a b i l i t y to intimidate and c a p i t a l i z e on enemy impatience and f r u s t r a t i o n —  the forces of the insurgency  d i r e c t l y and i n d i r e c t l y produced the conditions which resulted i n the deaths of many innocent peasants and city-dwellers throughout Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.  Many of the deaths r e s u l t i n g from the use of such  t a c t i c s and methods were the product of an action-reaction process which was one outcome of contact between the two types of warfare employed throughout the war. To understand this process better, i t i s necessary to view the 2 war as an evolutionary and developmental phenomenon.  There appears  74  to be several reasons for this phenomenon.  The desire on the part of  i n d i v i d u a l insurgents to survive, as well as the desire of the insurgency's leadership to maintain the movement's existence led to adaptation.  Wh en, i n the early 1960s, the enemy began to employ a i r c r a f t  for spotting and attack, the vietcong responded by operating i n smaller units, moving about at night, breaking  camp frequently, using natural  cover, storing materials and l i v i n g underground.  When trucks, jeeps  and armoured vehicles were employed against the insurgents, the V i e t cong responded by leaving the w e l l - t r a v e l l e d routes and the open areas and moving into those areas i n which such vehicles did not have an easy access, but which s t i l l afforded the Vietcong  sufficient  maneuverability. A second reason for insurgent adaptation was  their desire to  c a p i t a l i z e on the regular forces' v u l n e r a b i l i t y i n unconventional warfare s i t u a t i o n s .  As previously noted, U.S.  forces i n Vietnam were  generally unprepared for the situations they were often forced to experience.  This led, i n many instances, to t h e i r impatience, f r u s t r a t i o n ,  and aggressiveness.  Although the counterinsurgency did attempt to  adapt and modify their t a c t i c s and orientations to the r e a l i t i e s of the Vietnam experience, such counterinsurgent  developments usually led to a  corresponding change i n the approach to war Due  undertaken by the  insurgents.  to their need to r e t a i n the i n i t i a t i v e , the m i l i t a r y practices of an  insurgency change i n response to a l t e r a t i o n s i n technology and action by 3 counterinsurgents.  While the pressures  for adaptation and  innovation  are normally greater for the insurgent for this reason of retaining the  75  i n i t i a t i v e ; the behaviour of the counterinsurgents i s also l i k e l y to be very adaptive.  This was  especially true i n Vietnam, as noted  by Maxwell Taylor: "While J_the V.Cj_/ objectives remained remarkably constant over the years, each side repeatedly changed i t s strategy to meet new conditions. Usually these changes were made necessary either by actions of the adversary or by evidence of the inadequacy of the current strategy."^ The following pattern of change i l l u s t r a t e s this point quite well.  Regular forces, unable to achieve the immediate v i c t o r y they  are seeking, may  s t a r t the evolutionary and developmental  with the introduction of some new weapon or device.  phenomenon  The altered  behaviour on their part represents a challenge to the insurgents and they respond by taking actions s p e c i f i c a l l y designed to minimize the value of the counterinsurgent's altered behaviour and the of their own e f f o r t s . ^ tion was  maximization  In Vietnam, when the counterinsurgent innova-  the increased use of a better transportation system, the i n -  surgents responded by avoiding those areas i n which such a system offered an advantage.  The insurgents also responded to the challenge  by s t r i k i n g d i r e c t l y at the transportation system i t s e l f . response was viewed by the counterinsurgents as a new  This  challenge, which  led to attempts to minimize the response options available to the i n surgents.  When the insurgents reacted to the use of a i r c r a f t by d i s -  persion, concealment, and n i g h t - t r a v e l , the counterinsurgents responded by using night-vision techniques, infrared photography, d e f o l i a t i o n and heavy bombers.  7  Such developments represented a new  challenge to  the insurgents and helped to set o f f another round i n the challenge-  76  response cycle. People's Revolutionary War  arid the American Response  The war i n Vietnam has often times been referred to as a People's g Revolutionary War.  A People's Revolutionary War  nature, a civil-war of a very complicated  type.  i s , by i t s very It employs highly  refined techniques to seize power and to take over control of a country's r u l i n g mechanisms.  Its s i g n i f i c a n t feature i s i t s r e l a t i v e  immunity against the application of massive fire-power and large-scale force.  John Hoagland notes:  "...once the insurgents revert to guer-  r i l l a warfare or terrorism, i t i s often v i r t u a l l y impossible — the Vietnam experience shows —  as  for the incumbent government to stamp 9  out a l l evidence of their presence."  Quite obviously, the p o l i t i c a l  infrastructure i s r e l a t i v e l y immune to the massive application of force.  An insurgent c e l l located i n a school or church i s not l i k e l y  to be eliminated by B-52s unless the buildings, with a l l c e l l members inside, i s i n t e n t i o n a l l y bombed, k i l l i n g the inhabitants.  Equally, i n -  surgents, by their strategies and t a c t i c s and their a b i l i t y to accept or reject b a t t l e , are not l i k e l y to be defeated by conventional means. Normally a People's Revolutionary War tung' s three phases of "protracted war:" phase; the g u e r r i l l a war, or offensive phase.  goes through Mao  Tse-  the build-up, or defensive  or the equilibrium phase; and the  take-over,  Time i s not usually viewed as an important  for the completion of any one of these phases.  factor  Accordingly, time, or  perhaps patience, i s regarded as the greatest asset i n the arsenal of an insurgency, and i t is_ the key to the strategy of protracted war."^  The  77  value of patience i s enhanced when the counterinsurgents are themselves impatient because, as previously noted, impatience produces errors and further impatience which then perpetuates the "impatience-frustrationaggression" cycle."''"'"  In i t s broadest sense, time provides the insur-  gents with the opportunity to develop, experiment, evaluate, and innovate.  Time can only be preserved or increased when there i s s u f f i c i e n t  "space" to exchange for i t .  In this sense, "space" refers to both  actual t e r r i t o r y and people, as w e l l as their resources. When the " g u e r r i l l a war" phase was i n i t i a t e d , the aim was to gain space whichccould then be traded f o r time.  Control was established  over the remotest v i l l a g e s and then gradually extended inward i n accordance with the Maoist dictum of using the v i l l a g e s to e n c i r c l e the 12 towns, and the towns to encircle the c i t i e s . When the South Vietnamese forces were compelled to p u l l back i n defense of the main towns and c i t i e s i n 1965, the Vietcong had gained 13 the needed space to begin their war of mobility (the offensive phase). By gaining the needed space, the insurgents had ensured themselves the needed time.  I t was at this point i n the war that the Americans became  d i r e c t l y involved through bombing the North and large-scale of combat troops throughout the South. had a number of immediate e f f e c t s .  deployment  In terms of space, this action  I t spread the war into the North  and brought into play the people of North Vietnam.  Within the South  i t s e l f , the additional strength provided by the American forces meant that the space already secured by the Vietcong had to be retained and that the American e f f o r t would have to be neutralized i f further space  78  was  to be gained.  In e f f e c t , this meant that the war f o r control  of the South was divided into two major areas:  the p o l i t i c a l  war  for control of the people, and the m i l i t a r y war to n e u t r a l i z e the Americans.  This meant that Hanoi would have to become d i r e c t l y  involved i n the c o n f l i c t i f these two courses were to be a c t i v e l y pursued.  The bombing of the North provided Hanoi with the needed 14  excuse to involve h e r s e l f .  In short, escalation had to be met  by  counterescalation, and action had to be countered by r e a c t i o n . Due to the nature of i n s u r g e n c y warfare, the Vietcong and the forces of North Vietnam were e s s e n t i a l l y i n command of when and where battle would be undertaken. "^ This was stratagem of g u e r r i l l a warfare:  i n keeping with the Maoist  "Although the f l e x i b l e dispersal or c o n c e n t r a t i o n of forces according teDcircumstances i s the p r i n c i p a l method i n g u e r r i l l a warfare, we must also know how to shift...our forces f l e x i b l y . When the enemy feels seriously threatened by g u e r r i l l a s , he w i l l send troops to attack or suppress them. Hence the g u e r r i l l a units w i l l have to take stock of the s i t u a t i o n . If advisable, they should f i g h t where they are; i f not, they should lose no time i n s h i f t i n g elsewhere. Sometimes, i n order to crush the enemy units one by one, g u e r r i l l a units which have destroyed an enemy force i n one place may imm e d i a t e l y s h i f t to another so as to wipe out a second enemy force....If the enemy's forces i n a c e r t a i n place present a p a r t i c u l a r l y serious threat, the g u e r r i l l a units should not l i n g e r , but should move o f f with lightning speed. In general, s h i f t s of p o s i t i o n should be made with secrecy and speed. In order to mislead, decoy and confuse the enemy, there should be constant use of stratagems, such as making a f e i n t to the east but attacking, i n the west, appearing now i n the south and now i n ^ the north, hit-and-run attacks, and night actions." choice of strategy —  offensive, defensive, or maintaining the  79  status quo —  usually rested with the insurgents' m i l i t a r y leaders.  By maintaining the offensive and keeping the s t r a t e g i c i n i t i a t i v e , the V.C. and the Northern regulars presented the American m i l i t a r y , commanders with a constant and unsolvable dilemma:  choosing between  concentrating f o r offensive operations or dispersing for the defense of vulnerable targets.  According to General Westmoreland, this  dilemma was viewed as being the fundamental problem to the war's successful prosecution.  The solution he suggested, was  to increase the  number of American servicemen, thereby- providing s u f f i c i e n t manpower to operate successfully on both levels."*"  7  However, the dilemma was  to prove unsolvable for the Americans because of the nature of g u e r r i l l a warfare and Hanoi's d i r e c t involvement.  Whenever the Amer-  icans attempted to redress the balance of forces by increasing the size of their own troop commitment ( i t was believed that a proper balance was  ten counterinsurgents f o r one insurgent), Hanoi countered 18  by sending more troops down the " T r a i l " into the South.  The  ulti-  mate result of this counter-action was a s i t u a t i o n i n which American m i l i t a r y commanders came to r e l y less and less upon t h e i r ground combat troops, and more and more upon t h e i r a i r and a r t i l l e r y power.  fire-  The very fire-power which proved disastrous to. non-combatants  because of i t s i n a b i l i t y  to distinguish readily between combatant and  non-combatant, and because of the m i l i t a r y ' s over-eagerness  to "shoot-  f i r s t " and "question l a t e r . " Another effect of Hanoi's intervention and the insurgents' a b i l i t y to maintain the offensive was  the creation of a tendency on  80  the part of South Vietnamese troops to leave the d i f f i c u l t f i g h t i n g assignments to the Americans.  This tended to increase American d i s -  enchantment with South Vietnamese forces.  As w e l l , the sometimes  heavy American casualties which resulted from these combat situations i n t e n s i f i e d the Southern forces' d i s t a s t e f o r combat with the insurgents. To maintain the offensive meant, f o r the insurgents, a high cost i n manpower, massive bomb damage to the North, and, to some extent, a loss i n operational maneuverability.  However, given the rather prim-  i t i v e i n d u s t r i a l i z e d nature of the North's economy; the abundance of c i v i l i a n "volunteers" from China who could help repair the damage i n f l i c t e d by the bombing; the p e r s i s t e n t a b i l i t y to f i n d alternate means of transport; and the willingness of a l l i e s i n eastern Europe to come to their assistance, Hanoi's choice was to endure because nothing would prove f a t a l l y damaging to i t s e f f o r t s i n supporting the insurgency i n the South. Hanoi knew quite w e l l , as did many American p o l i t i c i a n s , that there was only one asset i n North Vietnam which was v i t a l to the war e f f o r t and that was the North's population.  I t was the one asset  that could be counted upon, and which did not appear subject to a t tack.  Unfortunately, because the people of North Vietnam were the  only r e a l targets which could successfully affect both the physical course of the war and Hanoi's prosecution of the c o n f l i c t , American leaders f e l t compelled to wage an a i r campaign against that resource base.  Given the lack of r e a l targets which could a f f e c t the c o n f l i c t ,  81  the people, i n the North as well as the South, were the l o g i c a l targets for  the American air-power. The a i r war i n Vietnam (North and South) was characterized by  zonal bombardment, area-denial, free-bomb zones, and anti-personnel weapons.  The zonal pattern of bombardment i n the war was designed  to devastate entire regions of the country.  Since there was no  p a r t i c u l a r target, injury to c i v i l i a n s located i n those areas subjected to bombardment was necessary and, plan was e f f e c t i v e l y executed.  indeed, i n e v i t a b l e i f the  Noam Chomsky has noted:  "It i s  important to understand that the massacre of the r u r a l population of Vietnam...is not an accidental by-product of the war.  Rather i t  20 i s of the very essence of American strategy." It i s unfortunate and somewhat i r o n i c that when examined c l o s e l y , the strategy of American counterinsurgency suggests, on the one hand, a p o l i c y of careful r e s t r a i n t against t r a d i t i o n a l l y accepted m i l i t a r y targets and, on the other, a widespread lack of r e s t r a i n t 21 against targets of a mo:Ee dubious m i l i t a r y nature.  There i s ample  evidence available to indicate that the United States A i r Force avoided many v i t a l targets i n the North as l a t e as August, 1967. A report issued by the United States Senate Preparedness Investigation Subcommittee on September 1, 1967, dealt with this subject: " I t was c l e a r l y implied by the Secretary of Defense that few, i f any, important m i l i t a r y targets remained unstruck. The great weight of the m i l i t a r y testimony was.to the contrary: General McConnell states: "There are many valuable targets remaining unstruck." General Wheeler stated that the 57 targets under  82  discussion /those remaining targets not yet author i z e d for bombing/ were worthwhile targets and said: "There are many l u c r a t i v e targets that have not yet been struck," and "that we consider important." As l a t e as Aug. 28 /196//, General Greene ^ s a i d : "The key targets have not even yet been h i t . " The sparing of authentic, fixed m i l i t a r y targets i n the North, coupled with the f a c t that the a i r raids above the 17th p a r a l l e l continued unabated prompts one to ask what was the nature of those targets being h i t .  This question takes on added s i g n i f i c a n c e i n  l i g h t of Secretary McNamara's testimony before the same Senate Subcommittee on October 11, 1967. Admitting  that he did not believe  the bombing had " i n any;significant way affected the war-making capability of North Vietnam," he noted:  " A l l of the evidence so f a r  i s that we have not been able to destroy a s u f f i c i e n t quantity of war material i n North Vietnam to l i m i t the a c t i v i t y i n the South 23 below the present l e v e l and I do not know that we can i n the future." Yet, despite his doubts, McNamara seemed to possess some j u s t i f i c a t i o n for continuing the raids when he noted that they were increasing the p r i c e of the North's aggression against the South.  One conclusion  that we can deduce from these statements i s that American air-power was being directed against targets of decreasingly l i t t l e or no m i l i t a r y value.  Under such conditions i t i s not surprising to note that c i v i l i a n  suffering increased as the war dragged on. The use of American air-power and a r t i l l e r y i n the South also raises serious questions about the conduct of the war. Numerous accounts of correspondents, v i s i t i n g scholars and others indicate that targets of secondary, t e r t i a r y , and, i n some instances,of no conceivable  83  m i l i t a r y value, had come under a i r and a r t i l l e r y bombardment through25 out Vietnam.  One explanation f o r the bombardment of such targets  i s that with so few targets of a conventional m i l i t a r y character, targets had to be found for the vast arsenal of American fire-power. In addition, two of the p r i n c i p a l reasons f o r l i m i t i n g the bombing of the North — the  negotiation and Chinese intervention —  were absent i n  South. Another explanation for the indiscriminate bombardment i n the  South may be found i n the area of targeting p o l i c i e s and r e s t r i c t i o n s . While there existed rather r i g i d guidelines for bombing operations i n the North, there were very few applied to the Southern theater of combat.  With a freer reign on a i r and a r t i l l e r y operations, there was  more room f o r carelessness and the carefree use of weapons. the reason for this reduction was not s t r i c t l y s t r a t e g i c .  However,  The freer  reign helped to diminish some of the h o s t i l i t y shown by m i l i t a r y personnel towards U.S. war p o l i c i e s by keeping m i l i t a r y commanders from turning completely sour on a war which, many f e l t , was being run by p o l i t i c i a n s i n Washington whose f i r s t concern appeared to be over26 r e s t r a i n t of m i l i t a r y forces.  I t has been suggested, however, that  the c i v i l i a n administrators had to pay a price for-their restraint; over p o l i c i e s r e l a t i n g to the North by giving i n to the m i l i t a r y on p o l i c i e s designed for the South.  Richard Barnet has noted:  "The Joint Chiefs  of Staff exacted a price from President Johnson for their agreement to support the cessation of bombing over North Vietnam.  They i n s i s t e d  upon taking the bombs they had counted on dropping on the North and  84  clumping them on the South and  Laos.^'  In 1963, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara told a United States Congressional committee: "We have a long way to go i n devising and implementing e f f e c t i v e counter-measures against the communist techniques. But this i s a challenge we must meet i f we are to defeat the communists i n this kind of war." 28  The United States was  to eventually meet this challenge by viewing the  conduct of the war i n terms of managerial and m i l i t a r y experimentation i n the areas of p a c i f i c a t i o n and combat practices.  On the issue of  "managerial" experimentation, Gabriel Kolko notes: "The U.S. e f f o r t i n Vietnam i s grounded on former Secretary of Defense MeNamara's concepts of cost effectiveness, which weighs fire-power and available resources against p o l i t i c a l - m i l i t a r y needs and obj e c t i v e s . To pay for such a vast undertaking, and r a t i o n a l i z e expenditures to Congress, violence i s c a r e f u l l y calculated and i t s intended outcome translated into m i l i t a r y and economic terms, with the r e l a t i v e "body-counts" becoming a v i t a l measure of r e s u l t s . Such mechanized, dehumanizing slaughter assures mass death, from the a i r , from a r t i l l e r y s h e l l s , i n f i e l d s and p r i s o n s . " ' 2  In 1969, General Westmoreland declared that Vietnam had i n f a c t been a valuable laboratory f o r testing new weapons and techniques; that the "lessons" and "devices" coming out of Vietnam are " r e v o l u t i o n i z i n g " the techniques of warfare; that having i n f l i c t e d i n Vietnam "over two-thirds of enemy casualties," long-ranged a r t i l l e r y and  air-power  had proved their capacity to " r a i n destruction anywhere on the b a t t l e f i e l d within minutes...whether f r i e n d l y troops are present or not;" that with new electronic devices the enemy could be mechanically  85  located, tracked, and targetted; and that technology would permit a "tremendous economy of man-power." ^ 3  The trouble with the tracking, targetting, and locating devices was  that they were even less capable of distinguishing between com-  batants and non-combatants than were the actual servicemen i n the field.  One conclusion to be derived from a l l this i s that when a  technologically advanced nation becomes committed to developing techniques against a People's Revolutionary War, and employing weapons of mass murder.  i t must end up producing  At least this i s the view of  Gabriel Kolko: " M i l i t a r i l y , the United States has fought the war with whatever decentralized-style weapons i t could develop as w e l l as the sheer quantity of fire-power which "conventional" weapons employ. The preeminent c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of both these approaches i s that they are i n t r i n s i c a l l y and u t t e r l y indiscriminate i n that they s t r i k e entire populations. And while such strategy violates a l l international law regarding warfare, and i s inherently genocidal, i t also adjusts to the p o l i t i c a l r e a l i t y i n South Vietnam that the NLF i s and can be anywhere and that v i r t u a l l y the entire people i s Washington's enemy."31  86 a  REFERENCES : "^For a review of the refugee problem i n Vietnam see the published reports of the United States Senate Sub-committee on Refugees and Escapees, Sen. Edward Kennedy chairman. Washington, D.C, Government Printing Office, 1970 Vo Nguyen Giap, "Inside the Viet Minh." In The G u e r r i l l a And How To Fight Him, edited by. T.N. Greene. New York: 1962, p. 150. 3 Vladimir D e d i j i r , "The Poor Man's Power." In Unless Peace Comes, edited by Nigel Calder, Harmondsworth: 1970, p. 41. 4 Maxwell Taylor, Swords and Plowshares. New York: 1972, p. 381. 3rd  ^Wilfred Burchett, Vietnam: Inside Story of the G u e r r i l l a War, ed. New York: 1968, pp. 84-90.  ^"Two Speeches by General Vo Nguyen Giap\" Viet-Nam: and Research Notes, document no. 68, November, 1969, p. 14. ,:  Documents  ^Grover Heiman, "Beep to Bang." Armed Forces Management, v o l . 16, no. 10, July, 1970, pp. 36-39. g Vo Nguyen Giap, "The Party's M i l i t a r y Line i s the EverVictorious Banner of People's War i n our Country." Viet-Nam Documents and Research Notes, document no. 70, January, 1970, pp. 1-82. 9  John Hoagland, "Changing Patterns of Insurgency and American Response." Journal of International A f f a i r s , v o l . XXV, no. 1, 1971, p. 123. "^M. Rejai, Ed., Mao Tse-Tung On Revolution and War. City, N.Y.: 1970, pp. 271-279.  Garden  ''"''"For a recapitulation of this point, see text oh pp.64r65. 12 Impact of the Sapper on the War i n Vietnam.  Saigon:  1969, pp. 4-6  Ibxd. 14 Although Hanoi has never " o f f i c i a l l y " acknowledged the presence of North Vietnamese troops i n the war i n the South, she has acknowledged the presence of "South" Vietnamese troops who have "returned to the South to a s s i s t i n the war-effort against the forces of the counterinsurgency. These troops were those Southerners who l e f t South Vietnam following the end of h o s t i l i t i e s against the French i n 1954. However, we how know that Northerners have engaged i n active combat i n the South from captured documents and confessions of PAVN (People's Army of V i e t Nam) troops. (See reference no. 48, p. 44.)  86 b  By the very nature of the war they wage, insurgents can usually choose when and where they wish to engage i n combat. This follows from Mao's teachings on g u e r r i l l a warfare: " . . . i t can be seen that i n their operations g u e r r i l l a units have to concentrate the maximum forces, act secretly and s w i f t l y , attack the enemy by surprise and bring battles to a quick decision.... the basic p r i n c i p l e of g u e r r i l l a warfare must be the offensive, and i t i s more offensive in i t s character than regular warfare." (Mao Tse-tung, Selected M i l i t a r y Writings, v o l . I I . Peking: 1963, p. 156.) Mao goes on to note that " i t i s p r e c i s e l y because the g u e r r i l l a units are small and weak that they can mysteriously appear and disappear i n their operations behind enemy l i n e s , without the enemy's being able to do anything about them, and thus enjoy a freedom of action such as massive regular, armies never can." (Ibid., p. 158.) "^Ibid., p. 161. " J o i n t Chiefs' A p r i l 20 /1967/ Report to McNamara on Troop Needs." The Pentagon Papers, The New York Times Editions. New York: 1971, document no. 124, pp. 565-567. 1 7  18 Vo Nguyen Giap, op. c i t . , pp. 47-49. 19 J.C. Donnell, and C.A. Joiner, "South Vietnam: Struggle, P o l i t i c s , and the Bigger War." Asian Survey, v o l . VII, no. 1, 1967, p. 61. 20 Noam Chomsky, "After P i n k v i l l e . " In Moral Aspects and the War i n Vietnam, edited by Paul Menzel. Nashville: 1971, p. 73. 21 George McT. Kahin, and John W. Lewis note that i n the early stages of the war against the North, U.S. air-power made the immediate destruction of the bulk of the North's war-making capability both poss i b l e and i l l o g i c a l . I t was i l l o g i c a l because of the a d v i s a b i l i t y of keeping up a steady bombing rate to promote negotiations while at the same time sparing certain targets (military and c i v i l i a n ) i n order to keep them as a bargaining t o o l i n such negotiations. Additional reasons for the American selective-bombing strategy may have been to keep China from d i r e c t l y intervening, and to enable North Vietnam to continue waging i t s more "conventional" s t y l e of war. (G. McT. Kahin, and J.W. Lewis, The United States i n Vietnam. New York: 1967, pp.183-194. 22 New York Times, September 1, 1967. 23 New York Times, October 11,  1967.  Ibid. 25 Y. Ishijima, "Non-Military Targets and Methods of Attack." In Against the Crime of Silence, edited by John Duffett. New York:  1971.  87  ^""Peter Bourne, "From Boot Camp t o My L a i . " I n Crimes o f War, e d i t e d by R.A. F a l k , G. K o l k o , and R . J . L i f t o n . New Y o r k : 1 9 7 1 , p. 466. 27 p.  82.  R i c h a r d J . B a r n e t , The Economy of Death.  New Y o r k :  1971,  28 U n i t e d S t a t e s House of R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s , Committee on Appropriations. Department o f Defense A p p r o p r i a t i o n s f o r 1963. Hearings, 8 7 t h Congress, 2nd S e s s i o n , p a r t 2. Washington, D . C : 1963, p p . 4 9 - 5 0 . 29 G a b r i e l K o l k o , "On The Avoidance o f R e a l i t y . " I n Crimes o f War, e d i t e d by R.A. F a l k , G. K o l k o , and R . J . L i f t o n . New Y o r k : 1 9 7 1 , p. 15. 30 New York Times, October 15, 1969. 31 G a b r i e l K o l k o , "War Crimes and t h e N a t u r e of t h e Vietnam W a r . " I n Crimes o f War, e d i t e d by R.A. F a l k , G. K o l k o , and R . J . L i f t o n . New York: 1 9 7 1 , p. 4 1 1 .  88  ATROCITIES OF WAR  AND  Although we have examined  THE INDIVIDUAL IN VIETNAM a number o f i s s u e s r e l a t i n g to the  commission of a t r o c i t i e s i n Vietnam, our focus on the r o l e o f . the i n d i v i d u a l combatant has o n l y been p e r i p h e r a l .  While t h i s has been  adequate i n e x p l a i n i n g the r o l e of t h e ' i n s u r g e n t i n a t r o c i t y - p r o d u c i n g s i t u a t i o n s , the same can n o t be s a i d o f the c o u n t e r i n s u r g e n t r e f e r e n c e s . A c c o r d i n g l y , t h i s p a r t o f the paper w i l l attempt t o c l a r i f y what has, u n t i l now,  been an i n t e n t i o n a l o v e r s i g h t ,  What i s r e q u i r e d i s a d i s -  c u s s i o n of the c o u n t e r i n s u r g e n t s m o t i v a t i o n a l - e n v i r o n m e n t . 1  A b r i e f review o f two s p e c i f i c i s s u e s w i l l prove h e l p f u l i n unders t a n d i n g p a r t of the m o t i v a t i o n a l - e n v i r o n m e n t i n which American s e r v i c e men  undertook the p r o s e c u t i o n of the war,  and which h e l p e d f o s t e r a  s i t u a t i o n v e r y conducive to the commission of a t r o c i t i e s .  This  dis-  cussion w i l l ,  o f n e c e s s i t y , be l i m i t e d to the American f o r c e s  i n Vietnam."'"  The two i s s u e s t h a t w i l l be d i s c u s s e d , and which may  w e l l be the two most i m p o r t a n t , a r e :  serving very  the "body-count," and the deper-  2 s o n a l i z a t i o n o f t h e enemy.  The f i r s t i s s u e r e p r e s e n t s the one measure  which the Americans viewed as c a p a b l e o f d e t e r m i n i n g t h e s u c c e s s or f a i l u r e o f t h e i r war e f f o r t . enabled the f i r s t  The second i s s u e was  to become such a v i a b l e  The body-count was  the f a c t o r which  measure.  c o n s i d e r e d by many to be the most, and perhaps  o n l y , important measure of the war's p r o g r e s s .  A l a r g e body-count f o r  example, would suggest the success o f some p a r t i c u l a r m i l i t a r y o p e r a tion.  I n a d d i t i o n to d e t e r m i n i n g the s u c c e s s o r f a i l u r e of a m i l i t a r y  o p e r a t i o n , body-counts were employed  i n the e v a l u a t i o n of a m i l i t a r y  89  commander's effectiveness i n the f i e l d , a weapon system or some new innovation to b a t t l e - f i e l d t a c t i c s ; and, above a l l else, i t was used i n the evaluation of the i n d i v i d u a l serviceman i n the eyes of h i s commanders, h i s friends, and h i s comrades-in-arm.  In a war where  few indicators existed f o r determining who the enemy was, where the lines of combat were drawn, what the mood of the population was towards the progress of the war, and how the enemy was doing, the body-count was a welcomed r e l i e f , f o r i t alone could t e l l American m i l i t a r y men how the war was going f o r them as w e l l as f o r the enemy.  With such an  importance attached to i t , the body-counts became the primary motivating force behind any m i l i t a r y undertaking.  This fact was to be continuously  impressed upon the American troops i n the f i e l d throughout the course 4  of the war.  The e f f e c t this had was so great that, i n one instance  where an American was t r i e d f o r the murder of a Vietnamese c i v i l i a n , the desire to achieve a high body-count was introduced i n defense of the defendant, L t . James Duffy: "Duffy's company commander, Capt. Howard Turner describes the p o l i c y which made the murder probable, i f not i n e v i t a b l e : - "The extreme stress i s on what we c a l l the k i l l r a t i o - how many US k i l l e d and how many enemy k i l l e d — or body count. Arid this has become the b i g thing. This i s what your e f f i c i e n c y report i s written on."^ Given their limited a b i l i t y i n determining what successes had been achieved, the U.S. m i l i t a r y leaders accepted the number of enemy dead as a good indicator.  Accordingly, a high body-count meant that the  enemy had suffered, which was i n d i c a t i v e of American gains; while a low body-count meant that the enemy did not suffer as much as he should  90  have, which was  i n d i c a t i v e of American losses.  Robert L i f t o n has noted  that a key to understanding the psychology of the war l i e s with the body-count.  He notes:  "Nothing else so w e l l epitomizes the war's absurdity and e v i l . Recording the enemy's losses i s a convention of war, but i n the absence of any •• other goals or c r i t e r i a f o r success, counting the enemy dead can become a malignant obsession. For the combat GI i n Vietnam k i l l i n g Vietnamese i s the entire mission, the number k i l l e d h i s and h i s unit's only standard of achievement. Given the i n a b i l i t y of the American forces to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, and the a b i l i t y of the Vietcong to s t r i k e suddenly and e f f e c t i v e l y by almost any means, the Americans found i t very easy to adopt a "shoot f i r s t and question l a t e r " approach to combat.  The only drawback to this approach,however, was  rarely were i n a s i t u a t i o n where questioning, could be  that the GIs undertaken.  This was partly due to the type of weapons employed, and the orders of combat issued (both d i r e c t and implied). The American combat r i f l e , the M-16,  was  such a powerful weapon  that when an insurgent was Struck by i t s b u l l e t , h i s chances were not very good f o r s u r v i v a l . weapon was developed.  7  This was p r e c i s e l y the purpose for which the We know that very few combat operations were  undertaken without the support of massive a i r and a r t i l l e r y Once the enemy was  support.  engaged, or just located, the fire-power was  called  8 upon to do the work of destroying the enemy.  I f the enemy was located  i n a heavily bunkered position, or tracked to a network of underground tunnels, napalm, phosphorous, dynamite or bulldozers would be employed to ensure his eradication. In many cases, a l l that was required of the  91  combat GI was his use i n c o l l e c t i n g the dead bodies, and engaging any snipers operating i n the v i c i n i t y .  If some of the insurgents  did somehow manage to survive the bombs, s h e l l s , napalm and phosphorous, and there was no d i r e c t request issued for prisoners, they were usually subjected to the whims of the countless one-man execution squads.  As one GI described the s i t u a t i o n :  "We  r e a l l y never  got an order to take prisoners and I think i t was a general attitude 9  of almost everybody over there not to take prisoners;" comment:  "There were no prisoners of war  or the following  taken by our company because  that diminishes the body-count.""'"^ Unfortunately, with such body-counts, there were numerous times when the figures were simply not believed. It became imperative among the lower echelons of command to devise some way  of v e r i f y i n g such body-counts.  The solution that f i n a l l y resolved  the problem proved to be the cutting o f f of ears from dead bodies: "They didn't believe our body counts.  So we had to cut o f f the right  ear of everr-ybio'dy we k i l l e d to prove our body count.""'""'"  In addition, 12  ct£fiere evolved a system of rewards f o r high body-counts  which spurred  the ground forces on to bigger and better body-count t o t a l s .  Unfortuna-  tely, because the Vietcong were elusive, and both the V.C. and the Northern forces were very adept at the recovery of f a l l e n comrades, "other" bodies had to be produced to f i l l the body-count columns. These proved to be c i v i l i a n s . s t a t i s t i c s was  The marvel of using c i v i l i a n s f o r enemy  that there was no way  of ever v e r i f y i n g this murderous  conduct, as noted by one American o f f i c i a l : because i t ' s dead.  " I f i t ' s dead, i t ' s V C v —  I f i t ' s dead, i t had to be VC.  And of course, a  92  corpse couldn't defend i t s e l f anyhow."  XJ  The "depersonalization" process was designed to make the American serviceman think of h i s enemy i n terms of something resemb l i n g a dreaded disease.  This process, begun on induction into the 14  service, helped serve the s i t u a t i o n described above.  The process  was designed to condition the serviceman to view h i s enemy as possessing no human c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s or q u a l i t i e s . quite permissible that such was  In this sense, then, i t was  .  to k i l l Vietnamese without any compunction provided  considered to be, at l e a s t nominally, within the bounds  of " m i l i t a r y necessity." Given the undefinable nature of the war, "military necessity" could (and usually was) be applied to almost every s i t u a t i o n the counterinsurgent found himself i n .  The  "deperson-  a l i z a t i o n " process, while never o f f i c i a l l y programmed as such, served the body-count objective most admirably. ing  In addition to depersonaliz-  the actual enemy, the process worked on depersonalizing those.the  American forces were i n Vietnam supposedly to protect — population of the South.  When U.S.  the c i v i l i a n  servicemen entered basic t r a i n i n g  they were constantly told that the Vietnamese were not people:  "You  are taught they are gooks and a l l you hear i s gook, gook, gook, gook.""''"' Basic t r a i n i n g , then, may be viewed as a process whereby the counterinsurgent was prepared for the facts of war that awaited him:  the enemy  was not human; the Vietnamese were not human; the enemycco.uld be anywhere and could be anyone; death was always lurking i n a shadow or around any corner; body-counts were very important; and, k i l l i n g would help serve the cause of personal safety as well as the body-count.  93  By depersonalizing the enemy (not to mention those men whom one i s supposedly f i g h t i n g for),  the U.S. servicemen l o s t h i s i n h i -  b i t i o n s about k i l l i n g and was psychologically prepared to commence his  job as soon as he landed: "On h i s a r r i v a l i n Vietnam the GI i s immediately thrust into an environment where k i l l i n g and the struggle f o r s u r v i v a l was a daily fact of l i f e . To stay a l i v e by any means possible f o r the next twenty-four hours becomes the motivating force, and to do so the GI has l i t t l e choice but to f a l l back on the training and resources the Army has provided him. The Army has already taught him to relinquish personal i n i t i a t i v e , and the more hazardous and frightening the environment the more he i s w i l l i n g to be dependent upon the orders of superiors, even at the expense of abandoning previous values, b e l i e f s , and independence." A t h i r d variable which played into this psychological s i t u a t i o n  was f r u s t r a t i o n .  The body-count and depersonalization enabled the  serviceman to r e l i e v e h i s frustrations by k i l l i n g the "enemy" because anyone he k i l l e d was, by h i s d e f i n i t i o n , an enemy.  Likewise, should  he mistakingly k i l l a non-enemy, he was always able to acknowledge that he was not k i l l i n g a human being because the Vietnamese were not considered human."'"  7  When a l l of these variables were combined, the f i n a l product created an environment i n which massive death was not only l i k e l y , but acceptable as well.  These three variables, then, worked together to  produce the indescribable horror that has since come to characterize the  war.  Given the mental perceptions of American forces, is. i t any  wonder that when the "super" weapons were introduced into combat they  94  were employed towards the ends of body-count, f r u s t r a t i o n - r e l i e f , and the negation of fear?  Given the s i t u a t i o n i n which the "impatience-  frustration-anger-aggressiveness" cycle operated, and the type of weapon-systems available f o r combat use, i s i t any wonder that "atroci t i e s " were committed despite attempts at minimizing the needless loss 18 of l i f e ?  These were the conditions which helped to transform Vietnam  into what might be regarded as a departure from the normal traditions of armed combat:  "The new war i s an American Marine setting f i r e to a hut  (a "Zippo Raid") because i t looks l i k e a Vietcong headquarters.  It i s  American paratroopers abusing a v i l l a g e chief because they don't have interpreters to explain his importance.  More than anything else, i t  i s the indiscriminate bombing operations because of faulty information 19 and because i t i s easier than sending men out."  95  REFERENCES ''"Unfortunately the area of "psychological" factors has not been w e l l researched or documented. The overwhelming majority of available materials pertains to the forces of the United States. I t i s only natural, therefore, that the focus i n this chapter w i l l r e l a t e to those factors pertaining to the American forces of the counterinsurgency . 2 For a review of this term, see reference no. 1, p. 6. 3 Citizens Commission of Inquiry, The Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes i n Vietnam. New York: 1972, p. 13. 4 Ibid., p. 70. "'"The Interrogation of Captain Howard Turner at the T r i a l of L t . James Duffy." In Crimes of War, edited by Richard A. Falk, Gabriel Kolko, arid Robert J . L i f t o n . New York: 1971, p. 239. ^Robert J . L i f t o n , Home from the War.  New York:  1973, p. 59.  ^Malcolm Browne, The New Face of War, rev. ed. Indianapolis: 1968, p. 54. g Charles Mohr, "Vast U.S. Firepower Arrayed i n Vietnam Against G u e r r i l l a s . " In Vietnam: Anatomy of a C o n f l i c t , edited by Wesley R. F i s h e l . Itasco, 111.: 1968, p. 461. 9 Vietnam Veterans Against the War, The Winter Soldier Investigation. Boston: 1972, p. 77. •^Citizens Commission of Inquiry, op. c i t . , p. 228. ''""'"Vietnam Veterans Against the War, op. c i t . , p. 9. 12 Ibid., p. 56. 13 Robert J . L i f t o n , "Beyond A t r o c i t y . " In Crimes of War, edited by R.A. Falk, Gabriel Kolko, and R.J. L i f t o n . New York: 1971, p. 25. 14 Vietnam Veterans Against the War, op. c i t . , pp. 44-45. "'"^Vietnam Veterans Against the War, op. c i t . , pp. 44-45. "^Peter G. Bourne, "From Boot Camp to My L a i . " In Crimes of War, edited by R.A. Falk, G. Kolko, and R.J. L i f t o n . New York: 1971, pp. 465-466. "^Vietnam Veterans Against the War, op. c i t . , p. 152.  96  " " G e n e r a l Abrams, when he took over command o f t h e w a r , i n t r o duced s t r i n g e n t g u i d e l i n e s f o r t h e c r e a t i o n o f f r e e - f i r e and f r e e s t r i k e zone; when and where p a t t e r n bombing, s e a r c h - a n d - d e s t r o y m i s s i o n s and harassment and i n t e r d i c t i o n o p e r a t i o n s would t a k e p l a c e . P r i o r t o h i s assumption o f command these d e c i s i o n s , w h i l e n o m i n a l l y i n t h e hands o f Saigon o f f i c i a l s , were l e f t up t o t h e d i s c r e t i o n o f f i e l d commanders. One o f t h e reasons f o r h i s d e c i s i o n was the needl e s s l o s s o f l i f e and d e s t r u c t i o n o f p r o p e r t y . (Peter Braestrup, "The Abrams S t r a t e g y i n V i e t n a m . " The New Leader, v o l . L I T , no. 1 1 , June 9, 1969, pp. 3 - 5 ) .  America.  Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, I n The Name o f Annandale, V a . : 1968, p. 175.  97  CONCLUSION Among the many commentaries which have attempted to depict the problems associated with counterinsurgency e f f o r t s , the following i s especially noteworthy: "Whereas at the outset we could be s a t i s f i e d with infantry units, the expansion and embitterment of the c o n f l i c t required a continually increasing use of a r t i l l e r y , mortars, tanks, flame-throwers and other technical expedients....The c r i p p l i n g sense of uncertainty and l i a b i l i t y to attack led to the development of a suitable defense against being ambushed. Instead of waiting to be shot at from a house we neutralized possible snipers by opening f i r e on the house or went on f i r i n g u n t i l the enemy was out of action....In view of the b r u t a l , indeed very often inhuman, behaviour of the bands, for one c r i t i c a l period I'.had to order drastic use of weapons to c u r t a i l the extraordinary casualties we were incurring from a c e r t a i n nonchalance and out-of-place mildness on the part of our s o l d i e r s . Unless one wanted to commit suicide the war involved a reversal of natural feelings, which i n i t s e l f concealed grave dangers." 1  While i n d i c a t i v e of the nature of the c o n f l i c t , this passage also suggests the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of war-crimes as necessitated by the a l i g n ment of certain counterinsurgency forces with p a r t i c u l a r strategies. However, given this apparent "necessity," this m i l i t a r y commander s t i l l f e l t uneasy with his conduct i n l i g h t of the laws of war: "As i t i s , because of the peculiar nature of insurgent or g u e r r i l l a warfare certain measures are permissible by international law which are a l i e n to the soldier at the front. Unfortunately the a r t i c l e s of the Hague Convention f o r Land Warfare are i n s u f f i c i e n t l y defined, the vague term "the custom of war" being partly used to cover this lack of precision. The questions that require c l a r i f i c a t i o n are: hostages and the k i l l i n g of hostages; r e p r i s a l s and their nature, extent and prop o r t i o n a l i t y ; c o l l e c t i v e measures and their pre-cond i t i o n s ; emergency decrees and j u d i c i a l procedure." 2  98  G i v e n t h i s one c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n o f g u e r r i l l a o r i n s u r g e n c y w a r f a r e , can we  suggest t h a t i t i s r e f l e c t i v e o f the war  i n Vietnam?  seem most u n l i k e l y t h a t these comments a c c u r a t e l y r e f l e c t  I t would  the Vietnamese  s i t u a t i o n because we have too many newspaper a c c o u n t s , t e l e v i s i o n  docu-  m e n t a r i e s , p e r s o n a l ' s t o r i e s , and f i n d i n g s o f i n t e r n a t i o n a l c o n f e r e n c e s which  tell  us d i f f e r e n t l y .  We  can a l s o note t h a t t h i s  characterization  does not conform to the r e a l i t i e s o f Vietnam because i t was from t h a t e x p e r i e n c e .  A l b e r t K e s s e l r i n g based h i s comments on h i s ex-  p e r i e n c e w i t h the I t a l i a n P a r t i s a n s d u r i n g the Second World N e v e r t h e l e s s , we  not drawn  War.  can suggest, from h i s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n o f g u e r r i l l a  w a r f a r e , t h a t such w a r f a r e has changed v e r y l i t t l e w i t h r e s p e c t to i t s p r o s e c u t i o n and i t s expected r e s u l t s . is  the a t t i t u d e taken towards  changed  the s u c c e s s f u l p r o s e c u t i o n o f c o u n t e r i n s u r -  gency e f f o r t s by m i l i t a r y commanders. of  What*does appear to have  K e s s e l r i n g n o t e d t h a t "as a matter  p r i n c i p l e " he a b s t a i n e d from u s i n g bombers, "because i n i n h a b i t e d  p l a c e s I c o u l d not take the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r i n j u r y to the c i v i l i a n population.  He f u r t h e r noted t h a t " i n the f u t u r e such s c r u p l e s  will  3 have to go by the board...  I t would appear t h a t G e n e r a l s Westmoreland  and Abrams took t h i s l a s t p i e c e o f a d v i c e to h e a r t and sought i t s p u r poseful execution. While the Vietnam c o n f l i c t may  be viewed from any one of s e v e r a l  vantage p o i n t s , t h i s paper has been concerned w i t h the war's apparent ability  to induce the commission o f a t r o c i t i e s and the r e l a t i o n s h i p s  e x i s t e n t between these a c t s and the weapons, t a c t i c s and adopted.  strategies  To deny the e x i s t e n c e of such a c t i o n s i s to remain  oblivious  99  to the r e a l i t i e s of the c o n f l i c t .  To suggest that although the "acts"  did occur they were not criminal i s to overlook a sizeable body of l e g a l documentation which tends to support j u s t the opposite conclusion.  I t should also be r e c a l l e d that both sides are c o l l e c t i v e l y  g u i l t y of war  crimes, and q u a l i t a t i v e l y should both be held responsible  for a larger portion of the death and destruction, i f only because they possessed  the weapons capable of such massive horror.  To single out any one cause for this i s to deny the extreme comp l e x i t y of the war i t s e l f .  However, there does appear to exist one  such explanation whichseems to r i s e above a l l the others —  the  "action-reaction" process. "The Vietnamese war had long been stamped by an unusual degree of cruelty from both sides, but the Vietcong's acts i f violence as such had u n t i l l a t e 1961 usually been directed against s p e c i f i c government forces...and l o c a l defense forces....The V i e t cong usually r e s t r i c t e d i t s terrorism to the achievement of p o l i t i c a l ends and endeavoured to r e s t r a i n i t s followers from resorting to mere acts of vengeance. But when the heavy i n f l u x of new weapons, especially the armed helicopters, caused communist deaths to soar i n 1962, the Vietcong loosed a wave of assassinations and kidnappings of Saigon supporters, presumably to offset the drastic effects of i t s staggering losses. 1,4  S i m i l a r l y , as the war progressed and as insurgent casualties mounted from the t e r r i f i c pounding to which they were constantly subjected by American B-52s, the need f o r r e c r u i t s and supplies increased insurgency coercion:  "Coercion, including induction v i a abduction, has become  more prominent i n NLF m i l i t a r y recruitment since 1964-65.  Mounting  casualty rates and f i n a n c i a l pressures, coupled with ever greater  100  r e c r u i t i n g quotas, have caused the cadres to resort to more d i r e c t , strong-arm methods of induction and taxation than the preferred methods of more gradual and informal persuasion and indoctrination of recruit-designates. Apart from such " u t i l i t a r i a n " purposes, the action-reaction phenomenon resulted from other factors as well.  Emotional factors  induced both sides into the commission of horrendous acts.  Such acts  of violence against the c i v i l i a n population by each side tended to confirm the other's view of them as something less than human: "A method of k i l l i n g i s often regarded as an a t r o c i t y by one side but not the other — Americans are outraged by the National Liberation Front's disembowelings and beheadings, while they i n turn r e f e r to napalm and crop-poisoning as "the most cruel and barbaric means of a n n i h i l a t i n g people." 6  Jerome Frank goes on to explain this action-reaction dynamic, which c l o s e l y resembles a " s e l f - f u l f i l l i n g prophecy," when he notes: "Playing up enemy a t r o c i t i e s , each side not only j u s t i f i e s i t s own c r u e l t i e s and dehumanizes the enemy, i t further arouses i t s own c i t i z e n s ' blood-lust. The f e r o c i t y of war i s both made possible and enhanced by the denial of humanity to the enemy: he becomes a s t a t i s t i c , an abstraction, and a beast, and the perception of him as subhuman reinforces the conviction that, l i k e an animal, he i s impervious to reason and w i l l respond only to punishment."1 Given this depersonalization of the war,  combatants would appear to  have sublimated t h e i r " m i l i t a r y " objectives into a combined and uniform purpose.  This s a t i s f i e d m i l i t a r y commands as well as whatever i n d i v i d u a l  needs existed at the time.  However, when such e f f o r t s were disrupted,  the  101  resulting sense of f r u s t r a t i o n was f a r more acute than would normally be experienced.  This, I believe, i s the key to the war's a b i l i t y to  create an i n e v i t a b l e atrocity-producing s i t u a t i o n .  In this sense, we  can suggest that such acts are usually committed by desperate and highly frustrated men.  Robert L i f t o n has noted that "an a t r o c i t y  i s a perverse quest for meaning;"  i t i s the "end r e s u l t of a spurious 8  sense of mission;" i t i s "the product of f a l s e witness." With respect to the American p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the war, we can advance the proposition that My Lai-type massacres were i n e v i t a b l e i n that those men who participated i n them were the victims of the war's many contradictions: "To say that American m i l i t a r y involvement i n Vietnatiu is i t s e l f a crime i s also to say that i t i s an atrocity-producing s i t u a t i o n . Or to put the matter another way, My L a i illuminates, F as nothing else- has, the e s s e n t i a l nature of this atrocity-producing situation.ialtu-includes an advanced i n d u s t r i a l nation engaged i n a counterinsurgency action i n an underdeveloped area against g u e r r i l l a s who merge with the people." ;  9  Among the many problems encountered  by the counterinsurgents was their  i n a b i l i t y to separate the people from the insurgents. Frances Fiuzgerald notes: "In many regions the Viet Cong were simply the v i l l a g e r s themselves; to -eliminate the Viet Cong" meant to eliminate the v i l l a g e s , i f not the v i l lagers themselves, an entire s o c i a l structure and a way of l i f e . " 1 0  The war crimes p o l i c i e s that existed i n Vietnam f o r the forces of c the counterinsurgency stemmed from the fact that they were t o t a l l y i n capable of distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants.  102  Given this inherent d i f f i c u l t y , the adoption of weapons such as B-52s and large a r t i l l e r y pieces only aggravated the problem by making d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n between combatants and non-combatants that much more d i f f i c u l t to accomplish.  This added a physical distance to the al-^:.  ready existing mental gulf which separated 'American forces from the Vietnamese peasants. With respect to the a t r o c i t i e s of the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese regulars, their explanation i s to be found i n the insurgents' need to control the people i n the face of an always growing counterinsurgent presence, and their i n a b i l i t y to counter e f f e c t i v e l y the massive mechanization of the counterinsurgency's e f f o r t s . though i t can be said that the only way  Al-  i n which an insurgency can  be defeated i s through the massive reduction i n popular p a r t i c i p a t i o n and support, there never appears to have been much doubt as to the assured continuation of the Vietnamese insurgency.  However, even with  such assurances one does become t i r e d and impatient without dramatic and highly v i s i b l e successes.  Accordingly, there existed a need on  the part of the insurgents to achieve m i l i t a r y and p o l i t i c a l successes. Given the d i s p a r i t y between the two sides, g u e r r i l l a t a c t i c s were the one means available to the insurgents.  As we have already noted, this  type of warfare produces a very h o s t i l e reaction on the part of conventionally trained"troops. The r e s u l t s , as shown by the Vietnam experience, were the slaughter of innocent people, the needless destruction of property, the torture of enemies and suspects, and the b r u t a l i z a t i o n of a l l combat p a r t i c i p a n t s .  103  The point of this paper has not been to characterize the p a r t i c i pants i n the war, and e s p e c i a l l y the Americans, as animals whose sole purpose was  the perpetration of deliberate cruelty and violence.  Rather, i t has been the point of this paper to r e l a t e these actions i n terms of an action-reaction process which found impetus i n the types of technology employed and the types of conditioning to which the combatants were subjected.  The counterinsurgents were drawn into an  atrocity-producing s i t u a t i o n by the weapons they employed, the type of enemy they encountered, and the emotional factors produced by the conflict.  The insurgents, i n order to r e t a i n existing gains, spread  the revolution by c o n t r o l l i n g the people and by attempting to negate the influence of the counterinsurgents by means of terror — t a c t i c they were f a m i l i a r with.  the one  Taken together, we can suggest that  because Vietnam was a war over people, any measure which employed the use of force was bound to produce the a t r o c i t y - f i l l e d s i t u a t i o n that came to symbolize the c o n f l i c t .  It i s i n this sense, then, that V i e t -  nam may be viewed as an i n e v i t a b l e atrocity-producing  conflict.  104  REFERENCES  York:  ''"Albert Kesselring, 1954, p. 274.  Kesselririg:  2  I b i d . , pp. 275-276.  3  I b i d . , p. 276.  A Soldier's Record.  New  4 George McT. Kahin, and John W. Lewis, The United States i n Vietnam. New York: 1967, p. 138. "\j.C. Donnel, "Understanding Revolution i n Vietnam." The Journal of Asian Studies, v o l . XXVIII, no. 4, August, 1969, p. 829. ^Jerome Frank, Sanity and Survival.  New York:  1967, p. 184.  I b i d . , p. 185. g Robert J . L i f t o n , "Beyond A t r o c i t y . " In Crimes of War, edited by R.A. Falk, G. Kolko, and R.J. L i f t o n , New York: 1971, p. 23. 7  9  I b i d . , p. 23.  "^Frances Fitzgerald, F i r e i n the Lake, Boston:  1972, p. 374.  105  BIBLIOGRAPHY "Ahead: An Acid Test f o r South Vietnam's Army." Report, February 21, 1972, p. 21.  U.S. News & World  Ahmad, Eqbal. "Revolutionary War and Counterinsurgency." Journal of International A f f a i r s , v o l . XXV, no. 1, 1971, pp. 1-47. A i r War Study Group, Cornell University, Raphael L i t t a u e r , and Normal Uphoff, Eds. The A i r War i n Indochina, rev. ed. Boston: Beacon Beacon Press, Inc., 1972. Almond, Gabriel. 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