Tuesday, December 19, 2006
From: GI Special
December 19, 2006
“Most Fraggings Were Aimed At Eliminating The Abusive Practices Of Individual Commanders” -
SOLDIERS IN REVOLT: THE QUASI-MUTINY
The majority of grunts in Vietnam had but one aim, to return home safely, and few were willing to risk their lives for a hopeless cause.
As violent and ruthless as it may have been, fragging was an essential tool of soldier democracy, the means by which men thrust into Vietnam against their wills were able to resist military authority.
It was the final manifestation of a breakdown in the U.S. mission in Vietnam and signaled an Army at war with itself.
On April 20, 1971, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield began the proceedings of Congress by dramatically introducing his colleagues and the nation to the most macabre development of the Vietnam War: fragging.
In a trembling voice, Mansfield grimly told of a young first lieutenant, a West Point graduate from Montana, who was murdered by his own men at Bien Hoa on March 15, just four weeks before his scheduled return to the States.
In the brief comments following Mansfield’s disclosure, Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland captured the shock and dismay of those present:
“In every war a new vocabulary springs up . . . but in all the lexicon of war there is not a more tragic word than ‘fragging’ with all that it implies of total failure of discipline and depression of morale, the complete sense of frustration and confusion and the loss of goals and hope itself.”
The Army began keeping records on assaults with explosive devices in 1969.
Through the end of 1970, over three hundred incidents had taken place, resulting in seventy-three deaths and injury to nearly five hundred people.
By July of 1972, as the last American troops were leaving Vietnam, the total number of incidents had reached 551, with eighty-six soldiers dead and over seven hundred injured.
In effect, these are the casualty figures for the Army’s “other war” in Vietnam, its battle with the insurgents in its own ranks.
As startling as these totals may be, fraggings were in fact more frequent than the Pentagon’s figures imply.
One quite obvious deficiency is that the statistics include only assaults with explosive devices and omit the vast number of shootings with firearms, which, given greater availability, probably occurred more often.
David Addlestone reports that Army lawyers with the 173rd Airborne told of periods during ,1970 and 1971 when violent attacks were almost a daily occurrence.
In fact, assaults against commanders during the Vietnam War probably reached into the thousands.
The Pentagon figures do indicate a sharp rise in the rate of fragging, with the number of incidents increasing each year from 1969 to 1971, despite troop withdrawals:
Calendar Year / Number of Assaults / Deaths
1969 / 96 / 39
1970 / 209 / 34
1971 (first 11 months only) / 215 / 12
Military spokesmen sometimes claim that many of these incidents involved attacks among low-ranking enlisted men, particularly blacks against whites, but the Pentagon’s own figures show that the great majority of fraggings were aimed at those in positions of authority.
Statistics supplied to the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee for the period January 1969 to August 1971 show that, of 43 identified fragging victims, approximately 80 per cent were officers and NCOs.
Fragging was the Gl’s ultimate means of resistance, a deadly and effective weapon against military authority and dangerous or oppressive policies.
A few examples will show the powerful impact of fragging.
In 1970, former Marine Sergeant Robert Parkinson of Sunland, California, appeared before a Congressional Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. A crippled man, the sergeant told how two years earlier, in Vietnam, he had attempted to crack down on widespread drug use within his unit; how he began to receive threats and eventually had to arm himself; and how on September 23, 1968, a fragmentation grenade exploded under his bunk, shattering his foot and causing severe internal injuries.
The sergeant’s tragic experience was not unique, even at this early stage of the war.
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Herbert told interviewers for Playboy magazine of similar attacks within his battalion of the 173rd Airborne before he took command in early 1969:
“There had been two attempts on the previous commander’s life. There had been quite a few fraggings in that battalion, of both officers and senior enlisted men.
“One man had both legs blown off; seven people had been wounded by a grenade, and a Claymore mine had been thrown right at the tactical-operations center—a mine to kill the staff, for Christ’s sake.”
Most fraggings were aimed at eliminating the abusive practices of individual commanders.
On November 9, 1970, an incendiary grenade was thrown into the quarters of several notoriously rigid NCOs of the 2nd Battalion/l7th Artillery at Nha Trang. The sergeants escaped unhurt, but presumably they got the message from the grunts to ease up.
A similar incident occurred several months later within the 538th Transportation Company at Long Binh. The unit seethed with discontent over the policies of the first sergeant, and talk of fagging was blatant. In April of 1971 the sergeant finally fell victim to an attack, later blamed on Sp/4’s Richard Buckingham, a member of VVAW [Vietnam Veterans Against The War], and Richard Strain.
Fraggings also took place under combat conditions.
In his January 1972 article in Saturday Review, Eugene Linden recounted an episode in an armored cavalry unit near Khe San in the spring of 1971.
After four months in the bush, the company was scheduled to return to Khe San, when the commander, at the last minute, volunteered his men to stay out on patrol. That night, three Claymore mines were stolen and placed under what was thought to be the commander’s armored track vehicle. The captain was elsewhere, though, and the explosion injured (apparently accidentally) four enlisted men sleeping nearby.
Linden also reported on a fragging involving black radicals at Camp Eagle during the Laotian invasion in March of 1971. The commander of a supply unit at the camp had attempted to discipline several militants for drug use, but after jailing one of the blacks, the captain was wounded in his sleep by a Claymore mine slipped under his bunk.
Similarly, in a 1972 article for Life magazine, John Saar wrote of a fragging in the fall of 1971 in which grunts attempted to blow up their overly zealous commander but accidentally killed the wrong officer. In an unannounced urinalysis test immediately after the slaying, 25 per cent of the men were detected as heroin users and removed from the unit.
The ultimate impact of fragging lay not with any one particular incident but with its general effect on the functioning of the Army. For every one of the more than five hundred reported assaults, there were many instances of intimidation and threats of fragging which often produced the same result.
The unexpected appearance of a grenade pin or the detonation of a harmless smoke grenade frequently convinced commanders to abandon expected military standards.
Once a commander was threatened by or became the actual target of a fragging, his effectiveness and that of the unit involved were severely hampered.
Indeed, as internal defiance spread within many units, no order could be issued without first considering the possibility of fragging.The ardent young West Point graduate, eager to succeed in combat and push his men to medal-winning heroics, was a doomed figure.
The majority of grunts in Vietnam had but one aim, to return home safely, and few were willing to risk their lives for a hopeless cause. As violent and ruthless as it may have been, fragging was an essential tool of soldier democracy, the means by which men thrust into Vietnam against their wills were able to resist military authority.
It was the final manifestation of a breakdown in the U.S. mission in Vietnam and signaled an Army at war with itself.
The plague of disaffection and defiance within the ranks, most dramatically evidenced in fragging, crippled the infantry and left the once-proud American Army helpless, more a liability than an asset to U.S. purposes.
This was perhaps best illustrated by the Army’s attempted solution to the problem of fragging.
By 1970, many commanders in Vietnam apparently felt that enlisted men could no longer be trusted with weapons and began a policy of restricting access to explosive devices and rifles.
Information from various separate sources and conversations with Vietnam veterans confirm that in many units grenades and firearms were taken from all but those on guard duty and on combat patrol.
Sp/5 William Fischer, then of the 440th Signal Battalion in Mannheim, related in June 1970 (at an anti-war gathering in London’s Lyceum Ballroom) how several months earlier in Vietnam a colonel refused to arm the men in his camp, despite an NLF attack, because he was “afraid of incidents.”
Similarly, in 1971, members of “Better Blacks United,” an anti-racist organization centered in Tuy Hoa, disclosed that commanders restricted the possession of arms among blacks and white radicals.
Correspondents for Time, the Washington Post, and other journals likewise observed instances of troops being denied access to weapons. Thus soldiers were stripped of the very weapons with which they had been sent to fight.
Limiting possession of weapons may have prevented some fraggings, but it also undermined the U.S. role in Vietnam.
An Army so utterly demoralized clearly was incapable of functioning as a credible military force.
Military officials and some journalists have asserted that the Army did not seriously fall apart until after extensive withdrawals began; that troops grew restless because they were taken out of combat and thus became bored.
Such arguments raise a “chicken and egg” dilemma: did resistance force the Pentagon to withdraw, or did withdrawal create dissent and unrest?
The actual process was no doubt a dialectic combination of the two, each process playing on the other to produce constantly deteriorating troop morale and an ever- increasing rate of withdrawal.
Nonetheless, too little attention has been directed to the question of just what influence the Army’s collapse in Vietnam had on Nixon-administration disengagement policies.
It’s hard to pinpoint a date when turbulence within the infantry reached a critical state, but my own guess would be that by early 1970 morale problems were already beginning to create grave difficulties.
Several combat refusals had already been reported, drug-use levels were approaching 50 per cent, and fraggings were spreading rapidly; black and whitetroops throughout the services were loudly clamoring for an end to the war and greater personal freedoms.
David Hackworth’s description of the 173rd Brigade at An Khe, even as early as 1969, suggests an Army rapidly approaching collapse:
“Pound for pound, the Brigade was garbage. Discipline was lax; the troops were slovenly, mentally as well as physically. It was obvious that in An Khe at least they were no match for either the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese regulars. As the sergeant had said, they preferred pot, two to one. But marijuana was only an expression of a deeper, more serious failure. . . .They called the hierarchy ‘motherfuckers’ and printed ‘fuck the Green Machine’ on their jackets and hats.”
There seems little doubt that troop withdrawals were in fact speeded up because of the GI revolt. Military officials were compelled to act in order to preserve the Army as an institution and prevent even further internal disintegration.
This was done not only because of fragging and mutiny in Vietnam itself but because of the generalized crisis throughout the armed forces at the time: the plummeting reenlistment rates, soaring desertions, and rising dissent which threatened to destroy the American military apparatus.
Against such a background, it’s not surprising that voices were raised to submit to the pressures for withdrawal. Stewart Alsop, a veteran journalist with reputed close connections to Pentagon officials, penned an extraordinary Newsweek editorial, in December 1970, reporting a “growing feeling among the Administration’s policymakers that it might be a good idea to accelerate the rate of withdrawal.”
The main reason cited for this view, according to Alsop, was “that discipline and morale in the American Army in Vietnam are deteriorating very seriously.”
Similar sentiments were attributed to Pentagon officials a few weeks later in a Time magazine article on Gl dissent:
“Officers from Chief of Staff William C. Westmoreland on clown are known to be arguing that they are not being pulled out fast enough.”
Washington Post reporters also found appeals for accelerated withdrawal rates among many leading officers who “believe that a continued presence provides little help for the Vietnamese but exacerbates the problems of drugs and disaffection.”
There were also reports in early 1971 that then Secretary of Defense Laird returned from an inspection tour of Vietnam “shocked and distressed by the high level of marijuana use and the low level of morale” and urged a more rapid reduction in ground troops.
The Nixon administration claimed and received great credit for withdrawing the Army from Vietnam, but in fact it was the rebellion of lowranking GIs that forced the government to abandon a hopeless and suicidal policy.
Vietnam GIs: They Helped Stop An Imperial War
From GI SPECIAL 4L16:
[Thanks to Katherine GY, Military Project, who sent this in.]
“Iraq Is Not Undergoing A Civil War”
“80% Of Attacks Are Against The Occupation Forces, Not Civilian Targets”
“The Country Is In The Throes Of An Anti-Occupation Struggle”
December 8, 2006 by Sarah Shields, CommonDreams. Sarah Shields teaches the history of the Middle East at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Calling the tragedy in Iraq a "civil war" is not only inaccurate. It is morally indefensible, laying the blame for the horrific violence and the destruction of a country and a society upon the victims of an illegal, aggressive war.
It allows pundits like Thomas Friedman to claim that the country has been dysfunctional for a millenium, ignoring a long historical context of international support for Iraq's brutal dictator, debilitating and murderous sanctions by the United Nations, and a catastrophic and unprovoked US-led invasion of a sovereign state.
More important, if Americans believe that Iraq is in "civil war," liberals would argue that the United States must remain in order to prevent an even worse outbreak of violence.
Iraq is not undergoing a civil war.
The country is in the throes of an anti-occupation struggle.
Having declared, with the installation of the current government, that Iraq is no longer occupied, the US government and media can hardly frame the current violence as a struggle against a continuing occupation.
Nonetheless, what is being cast as civil war is the latest example in a long line of peoples' fighting against occupation, struggles in which those groups who collaborate with an occupier are themselves targeted by those seeking to end an occupation.
Algerians fighting the French also attacked those indigenous forces who had allied themselves with France.
Moroccans targeted the goumiers, local troops who worked with the French in suppressing a rebellion against foreign control.
The Vietcong fought not only Americans, but also the Vietnamese who collaborated with the occupation.
Zulu Inkatha were targeted for working on behalf of South Africa's white government. Irish nationalists linked Protestants with the British occupiers.
The occupiers tried to present each as an example of the intrinsic and intractable violence of these societies, which provided yet another example of their continuing need for the benevolent protection of the occupation.
Framing the Iraq tragedy as civil war forces the US media to ignore the clear inconsistencies.
Shi'ite forces under Muqtada al-Sadr attack the forces of a Shi'ite-led government.
News reports day after day describe terrible attacks against civilian populations, with no coverage at all of violence against American forces.
Where are our mounting casualties coming from?
The BBC writes that eighty percent of attacks are against the occupation forces, not against civilian targets.
Iraqi targets are often people either directly collaborating or trying to collaborate with the occupation (local police and military recruits), and people whose continuing work allows the current government to function.
The apparent contradiction in which Iraqis would attack those who allow the hospitals, schools, and services to continue is comprehensible only in the context of an anti-occupation struggle where an insurgency tries to prevent the functioning of a government installed by an occupation army.
The United States exacerbated ethnic conflict in Iraq in order to refocus a growing anti-occupation insurgency, beginning with our arming Shi'ites to help us attack Sunni forces in Fallujah. Even then, some Shi'ites came to the aid of the Sunnis in a clear rejection of US efforts to divide the country.
The militias introduced into the Iraqi Interior Ministry during the era of John Negroponte (accused of eliciting the same behavior in 1980s Honduras) have unquestionably engaged in sectarian killings. It is impossible to argue that sectarian violence has no history in Iraq; nonetheless, despite Saddam Hussein's efforts to expel some Shi'ites during the 1980s, Sunnis and Shi'is continued to marry each other, to be members of the same tribes, and to live in the same neighborhoods.
Sectarian violence has increased dramatically during the United States occupation of Iraq. The occupation has only exacerbated the violence.
The reasons are consistent with countless historical examples.
Occupiers try to divide the country in order to keep their opposition weak.
And those who would resist occupation invariably attack those who would collaborate with the occupation.
Iraqis will only become more and more divided the longer the United States remains in their country. The notion that we could stabilize Iraq and leave a viable government is absurd when looked at historically.
Governments in power during occupation, collaborators with occupation forces, are most often overthrown when the occupiers leave.
Whenever US forces leave, Iraqis will have to struggle to create their own state. The sooner we leave, the fewer people will have been compromised by their connection with our occupation.
Had we ended our occupation at the end of 2003 before the siege of Fallujah, or had we left Iraq in February 2006 before the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraqis could have begun to reconstruct their own government and infrastructure without the horrific inter-communal violence that is now escalating daily.
Our occupation has hardly prevented chaos and civil war, and leaving today would not miraculously end the violence that has been building over the past three years.
But our immediate departure would allow Iraqis to get on with reconstruction without the polarizing presence of a continuing occupation.
If we insist on staying, we will preside over the remainder of the annihilation of the state we have worked, for decades, to destroy.
Attacks On Occupation Forces Up Sharply To 959 A Week
Dec 18 AP
According to the Pentagon report sent to Congress on Monday, attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops jumped sharply in recent months to the highest level since June 2004.
From mid-August to mid-November, the weekly average number of attacks increased 22 percent from the previous three months. The worst violence was in Baghdad and in the western province of Anbar, long the focus of activity by Sunni insurgents, the report said.
A bar chart in the Pentagon's report to Congress gave no exact numbers but indicated the weekly average had approached 1,000 in the latest period, compared with about 800 per week from the May-to-August period.
Statistics provided separately by the Pentagon said weekly attacks had averaged 959 in the latest period.
NEED SOME TRUTH? CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth - about the occupation or the criminals running the government in Washington - is the first reason for Traveling Soldier. But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers.
And join with Iraq War vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home now!
What do you think?
Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Write to The Military Project, Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657
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GI Special issues are archived at website
Monday, December 18, 2006
Christmas Travel Guide
By Nick ("Tongue Firmly in Cheek") Turse
Back in 2003, Tomdispatch offered you a list of "Hot as Depleted Uranium Toys for a New Imperial Age."
In 2004, we gave you the inside scoop on how to "Make It a Merry Military-Corporate Christmas."
And last year, it was all about timeless holiday values like militarism, jingoism, and barbarism, as Tomdispatch wished you an "All-American Christmas."
This year --instead of offering a buyers guide to Christmas favorites like the instantly classic T-shirt with Santa brandishing an automatic rifle, or the mouse pad featuring a B-52 bomber festooned with Christmas decorations, or even the children's "Peacekeepers" play set in which nearly all 100 accessories appear to be bazookas, rifles, pistols, mortars, grenades, mines, and other accoutrements we regularly associate with peace on Earth -- Tomdispatch will provide you with your own special holiday travel guide (with all the tips you need for that quick seasonal getaway).
So find your passport, pack your bags, and let us transport you with a holiday travel guide so complete it can't be beat.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
From Wilfred Gluud
Danish Vietnamese Association
- Friendship and Development
I am currently writing an article in danish about Vietnam joining the WTO. Therefore I have collected the most interesting articles in english, and you can see the list on our website: www.davifo.dk/Nyheder2006.htm
Please also note my Agent Orange webpage, which I keep updated with latest news: www.davifo.dk/Agent_orange.htm
And if you need more links about Vietnam, try: www.davifo.dk/VNlinks.htm
Also Laos and Cambodia: www.davifo.dk/Laos_cambodia.htm
Selected books in English on Vietnam from Amazon(UK): www.davifo.dk/Amazon_vietnam.htm
Len Aldis/Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society has a new website: www.lenaldis.co.uk
Danish Vietnamese Association
- Friendship and Development
Monday, November 13, 2006
A huge wave of change is sweeping the United States. George Bush's Republican Party has lost control of both houses of the US Congress. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a worldwide symbol of the administration's catastrophic failure in Iraq, has resigned. President Bush's Iraq policy now clings by a thread - discredited and rejected at home and abroad.
So what now for Australia?
The American people have finally forced the Bush administration to face its failure in Iraq. But the Australian Government appears to have no Iraq policy at all, other than to blindly support Bush's sinking ship.
Tell John Howard it's time for an independent Australian foreign policy plan in Iraq, including a clearly defined exit strategy.
As the months and years tick by, the Iraq war looks more like a never-ending nightmare. Independent reports estimate more than 500,000 Iraqis have been killed; millions are refugees. Experts warn civil war could soon pass the point of no return, while last month was one of the deadliest for Coalition troops since the war began.
As Australians, we have an obligation to do more than just wait for leadership from afar. Our Government must reclaim its independent foreign policy and moral responsibility for taking us to war in the first place, and John Howard must make it clear how much longer he plans keep Australian soldiers fighting George Bush's war without a workable plan for peace.
Help seize this critical moment in the global debate on Iraq to demand our Government think for itself, and give us real leadership. Tell John Howard he must no longer delay in setting out a plan for a new way forward, including a clearly defined exit strategy - and has until December 4, when Parliament concludes for the year, to deliver.
Blind support has led us down a failed path. With America's future in Iraq open to debate like never before, Australians want an honest conversation with our Government, so we can find an honourable path forward - and home.
Thanks for taking action,
The GetUp team
Thursday, November 09, 2006
By Mike Whitney
This is a dark day for Americans and Iraqis alike.
Killing Saddam Hussein isn’t justice; its vengeance.
Only Bush believes the two are the same. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15525.htm
This was a guilty verdict on America as well
By Robert Fisk
So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world.
America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day for Iraq". http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15520.htm
Iraq-Gate: The Secret History of How the United States Illegally Armed
Conversation with the journalist who broke the Iraq-gate scandal that involved President George Bush, James Baker and Donald Rumsfeld . This is a must listen
Is Bush Next?
Paul Craig Roberts
The show trial of Saddam Hussein was drawn out until two days before the midterm US elections.
The death sentence imposed on the former Iraqi president may help the deluded band of Bush supporters find victory in the defeat that Bush has met in Iraq and motivate them to support the beleaguered Republicans on November 7. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15524.htm
Saddam Was Key in early CIA plot
While many have thought that Saddam first became involved with U.S. intelligence agencies at the start of the September 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts with U.S. officials date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim.
Secret Message From James Baker to Tariq Aziz: Baker informs Aziz, whose government 13 months previously had gassed Kurdish villages, that "the United States seeks a broadened and deepened relationship with Iraq."
Iraq-Gate: The United States actively supported the Iraqi war effort by supplying the Iraqis with billions of dollars of credits, by providing U.S. military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure that Iraq had the military weaponry required.
A Brief History: US-Iraq 1980s
Iraq uses US-supplied military intelligence “to calibrate attacks with mustard gas on Iranian ground troops....” http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=us_iraq_80s
America helped make a monster:
It is hard to believe that, during most of the 1980s, America knowingly permitted the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission to import bacterial cultures that might be used to build biological weapons.
But it happened.
How 6 million People Were killed in CIA secret wars.
By John Stockwell, former CIA Station Chief in Angola.
He is a very compelling speaker and the highest level CIA officer to testify to the Congress about his actions.
He estimates that over 6 million people have died in CIA covert actions, and this was in the late 1980's.
Friday, October 20, 2006
dioxin war legacy
By Grant McCool
Tuesday, October 3, 2006; 8:09 AM
BIEN HOA, Vietnam (Reuters) - Doctors warn people living near the Bien Hoa military airport not to drink the water, eat the fish or grow fruit and vegetables because of wartime dioxin poisoning.
Brain-damaged babies and children with shortened limbs and other physical deformities are still being brought to hospitals for specialized care, four decades after the United States sprayed Vietnam with the highly toxic defoliant.
In recent months, Vietnam and the United States have started to overcome years of frustration in both governments about how to deal with environmental and health effects of the poison code-named "agent orange."
Americans and Vietnamese say they are perhaps just months from planning environmental clean-up and containment of dioxin, beginning at the former U.S. air base in the central city of Danang.
"Assisting Vietnam with this issue will help clear the conscience of the U.S. government," said Le Ke Son, director of "The Committee 33" working on impacts of an estimated 70 million litres of toxic chemicals used from 1961 to 1971 by the U.S. military and the South Vietnam government it supported.
The war ended on April 30, 1975......Hanoi and Washington restored diplomatic ties in 1995 and they are now cementing a friendship founded on growing trade and business ties as Vietnam introduces market reforms.
But the consequences of the toxic war remain a painful sore in the relationship that both governments and non-governmental organizations dearly wish to repair.
"There has been a lot of work on the issue," said Michael Marine, U.S. ambassador to Hanoi . "The question is very complex. What you do is in part driven by how you intend to use the site, the land, the cost for the clean-up."
Scientists identify coastal Danang , Vietnam 's fourth largest city with about 1 million people, the south-central town of Phu Cat in Binh Dinh province and Bien Hoa in the southern province of Dong Nai as "hot spots," wartime bases where the chemicals were stored and spilled.
Bien Hoa is a bustling city of 500,000 people about 40 km (25 miles) north of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam 's industrial heart. It is a typical Vietnamese city, teeming with motorbikes, construction sites and Internet cafes alongside displays of communist hammer and sickle symbols and party slogans. But its military airport and surrounding lakes, ponds and land are toxic. The Vietnam military plans to clean up the site.
A study by Vietnamese and Canadian scientists of Hatfield environmental consultants in West Vancouver, British Columbia, measured dioxin levels in the soil that are hundreds of times higher than is acceptable in other countries.
"My dream is to conclude work on these hot spots in the next five years," said Son, a scientist at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment who serves on a joint Vietnam-U.S. panel of technical experts who met for the first time in June.
Washington has ruled out paying compensation but is willing to share technical advice with Vietnamese counterparts.
The non-governmental Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation provides expertise and the Ford Foundation, a U.S. philanthropic group, has made grants for environmental and health research.
"Part of the reason we are making these grants is so that they can develop a more accurate view of the nature of the threat," says Charles Bailey, Ford Foundation representative in Vietnam .
The subject could come up when President Bush visits in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum summit.
But the issue is also legally sensitive because a Vietnamese victims group is suing 37 American chemical companies in a U.S. federal court. The class action lawsuit was thrown out in March 2005 and the group is appealing the ruling.
Americans, Australians, New Zealanders and South Koreans who served in the war were also exposed to dioxin. They have all had some success in obtaining services and care for themselves.
It is only with increasing economic prosperity that poor, under-developed Vietnam has sought to improve assistance to Vietnamese victims and to try to find out how many there are.
Children of people exposed to dioxin during the war have also been sickened or deformed, but researchers say no one can yet accurately quantify the total number of victims. The National Academy of Sciences in the United States found that up to 4.8 million people "would have been present" during spraying.
In another recent development, the United Nations has become involved for the first time.
The United Nations Development Programme in Hanoi proposes the establishment of a transparently governed trust fund where international donors, companies and governments could put money for dioxin-related environmental and health work.
"The stars really are aligned. I think we are getting there," says Koos Neefjes, senior advisor at UNDP in Vietnam .
DOCTORS AND VICTIMS
The doctors who work daily with the victims or live with environmental and health impacts welcome the progress being made toward reducing contamination and eventually ridding the country of dioxin.
"I don't hold any grudges or anger and I am of a view of letting the past go and if we can do something now then we should do what we can to help," said Nguyen Thi Phuong Tan, head of the " Peace Village " for the disabled in Ho Chi Minh City , one of 12 nationwide.
Every day, Tan and her staff of doctors and nurses provide care to 339 patients from infancy to 25 years old. They include children with enlarged heads or shortened limbs and one with skin covering the face where there should be eyes.
Some of the patients lie in a vegetative state in cots, others are teenagers reading and writing and wrestling playfully with students who come to visit the hospital.
The doctor's "let bygones be bygones" attitude is typical of Vietnamese, who are known for being pragmatic.
Even in Bien Hoa, where toxicity levels are highest and health authorities say there are 465 people with dioxin-related disabilities or illnesses such as cancer, a doctor speaks in a matter-of-fact way about the calamity.
"We have a few solutions, including warning residents against using the water from ponds and lakes near the airport," said Tu Thanh Chuong, director of Dong Nai province health department.
"We told people not to eat fish from this area and we banned the production of fruit and vegetables in the contaminated land."
(Additional reporting by Nguyen Nhat Lam and Nguyen Van Vinh)
© 2006 Reuters
IN NEW YORK
Letter from Len Aldis
Secretary Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society
3rd October 2006
The Honourable Judges of the
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
40 Centre Street
New York, New York 10007USA
Ref: Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin
Et al. V. Dow Chemical Co., et al,. Docket No 05-1953-cv
I am neither a scientist, nor a man of medicine. I do not have any medical experience or knowledge at all but write to you as a person who has travelled to Vietnam on many occasions, and visited many of its provinces. It is because of my visits and what I have seen that I write and ask to make a submission to the Court in favour of the plaintiffs in the appeal before you.
One of the weapons used by American forces in the war on Vietnam was chemicals. It has been established from research carried out by a team from Columbia University led by Jeanne Mager Stellman and Steven D. Stellman - published in Nature Magazine of April 2003 – of the logbooks of the pilots that 82 million litres of chemicals were sprayed over a vast area of South Vietnam. Many scientists from a number of countries have also carried out research on the effects of the use of these chemicals.
However, I wish to draw the attention of the Court to the visits I have made to Vietnam, the first in 1989, and each year since. My travels within the country have taken me to many of the provinces north, south, east and west. In the seventeen years I have been able to meet and speak to many hundreds of people, young and elderly, suffering from various illnesses and disabilities as a result of the chemicals. I have met the people affected at clinics, in schools, hospitals and in their homes. In many cases it has not been easy for me to see the terrible disabilities suffered by young adults, teenagers, and in particular children.
You will know that the War on Vietnam ended in 1975, but the use of the chemicals that included Agent Orange/Dioxin over a period from 1961 – 1972 has affected millions, many thousands of whom were born long after the war ended.
To see, as I have, seen a child of six years born with no eyes, slowly making his way around a room by touch. A young girl of eight, her body twisted by Spina Bifida, sitting at her school desk writing her times table. Youngsters minus limbs, be they an arm or a leg, for some minus either legs, or both arms. Hundreds of thousands died in the womb of their mothers, some shortly after their birth. These too I have seen in the special room at Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
Born in 1930, I know of no war in my lifetime that has left such a legacy to those born after its end.
International scientists have carried out tests, have investigated the soil and forests on which the chemical were used. You will no doubt have seen the evidence presented to you from people on whom the chemical was sprayed, and are ill or disabled, or from young adults whose parents served in the Vietnamese forces during the war and were born with disabilities.
I should point out that due to the nature and severity of their illnesses and/or disabilities many of the Vietnamese affected by the chemicals would not able to travel even within their own town, city, country, let alone travel to New York to present their case before you. Documentary films have been produced showing many of these tragic victims. I would hope that the Court before coming to its decision would have seen these.
Your Honours, you will be aware that members of the U.S. forces who served in Vietnam have also been affected by the same illnesses and disabilities transmitted to their children as have occurred on the Vietnamese. Further, in a lawsuit brought by these veterans in 1984 against some of the same companies before you in this appeal, you will know that it was settled out of court for a sum of $184m.
Veterans from Australia and New Zealand are suffering from the effects of the chemicals. In a settlement announced by a high Court in South Korea, the chemical companies that included Monsanto, were told to pay compensation.
At an international conference on Agent Orange held in Hanoi earlier this year, I was pleased to meet a number of veterans from Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Vietnam and the United States. I listened with great interest to their speeches recalling their time served in Vietnam and the part that some played in spraying the chemicals. It was very moving to hear an American speak of the death of his young son in his arms when his life support was turned off. His death was undoubtedly due to his father’s experiences in Vietnam.
His story can be repeated many thousands of times by the Vietnamese who went through the same tragic experience and who, today, are witnessing their children suffering from the consequences of chemicals used over thirty years ago.
The youngsters I see in my visits are those of the third generation, how many more generations will be born remains to be seen.
In Mid-December I will be in Ho Chi Minh City having been invited to the wedding of Nguyen Duc - a victim along with his brother Viet of the chemical - both were born conjoined in 1981, ten years after the spraying ended. They were separated in 1988 and I first saw them in 1989. Viet unfortunately remains very ill and requires constant medical attention.
The best wedding present that Duc and his fiancée Thanh Tuyen can receive is for the court to rule in favour of the Vietnamese victims.
Let Justice be done.
Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society
Flat 2, 26 Tomlins Grove
London E3 4NX.
Telephone: 0208 980 7146
Intl: 44+ 208 980 7146
Friday, August 25, 2006
AGAINST BUSH REGIME SABOTAGE!
From: Student Friends of Venezuela
Since the election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela has undergone enormous positive change. Chavez' policies and a new constitution guaranteeing social and political rights, have been repeatedly endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan people in ten national elections.
Alongside this expansion of democracy, Venezuela's rich oil wealth is being directed into providing for the vast majority of Venezuelans for the first time.
Free healthcare has been extended to the majority of Venezuelans, tens of thousands have had their eyesight restored through Operation Miracle, and subsidised food is guaranteeing nutrition to the eight in ten Venezuelans who previously lived in poverty.
Social equality is also at the heart of the changes taking place. A Women's Development Bank is improving women's employment opportunities; homophobia is being challenged with the pro-government Mayor of Caracas working to make the capital city a 'homophobia free zone'. The Black, indigenous, and mixed race Venezuelan majority are benefiting from strong anti-racist measures.
In the field of education alone the achievements are formidable. Illiteracy, which previously afflicted 2 million adults, has been declared by UNESCO to be eradicated. Millions of adults have returned to education, from which they were previously excluded by fees and poverty, as free education - including up to university level - is now enshrined as a constitutional right. As a result seven in ten Venezuelans are now involved in some form of education.
To put this into practice, education spending has increased threefold to over 7% of GDP - a greater proportion than in Britain - providing for the refurbishing of 8,750 schools, the building of 700 new schools, and opening up free higher education to more than 400,000 new students.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration has responded to these measures with a campaign to isolate Venezuela - showing it has no concern for either democracy or the welfare of Venezuelans. There is evidence of US involvement in the failed attempt to undemocratically remove Chavez through a military coup in 2002.
There is deep concern that further interventions and sabotage will take place ahead of December's Presidential elections, where Hugo Chavez is extremely likely to be re-elected.
Now is a critical time to show solidarity.
Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and pass this letter on to anyone else who might be interested.
We look forward to hearing from you,
Secretary, Venezuela Information Centre
The reality now appears to be quite different: that U.S. President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signed off on the war almost two months earlier and then sought a pretext.
By Noam Chomsky
The standard Western version is that the July 2006 invasion was justified by legitimate outrage over capture of two Israeli soldiers at the border. The posture is cynical fraud.
- Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, in his opening statement to the tribunal.
Crime Against Peace: A basic provision of the Charter is that to plan, prepare, initiate or wage a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, and assurances, or to conspire or participate in a common plan to do so is a crime.
- Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson
"It would be some time before I fully realized that the United States sees little need for diplomacy. Power is enough. Only the weak rely on diplomacy ... The Roman Empire had no need for diplomacy. Nor does the United States."
- Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Sec.-Gen. of the United Nations.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Official documents show troops who reported abuse in Vietnam were discredited even as the military was finding evidence of worse.
Now, declassified records show that while the Army was working energetically to discredit Herbert, a US soldier who had exposed war crimes, military investigators were uncovering torture and mistreatment that went well beyond what he had described.
The abuses were not made public, and few of the wrongdoers were punished.
Investigators identified 29 members of the 173rd Airborne as suspects in confirmed cases of torture. Fifteen of them admitted the acts. Yet only three were punished, records show. They received fines or reductions in rank. None served any prison time.
The accounts of torture and the Army's effort to discredit Herbert emerged from a review of a once-secret Pentagon archive.
The collection — about 9,000 pages — was compiled in the early 1970s by an Army task force that monitored war crimes investigations. The files, examined recently by the Los Angeles Times, include memos, case summaries, investigative reports and sworn witness statements.
Those and related records detail 141 instances of detainee and prisoner abuse in Vietnam, including 127 involving the 173rd Airborne.
The Army task force, created after journalist Seymour Hersh exposed the 1968 My Lai massacre, served to give military brass and the White House early warning about potentially damaging revelations.
The war crimes records were declassified in 1994 and moved to the National Archives in College Park, Md., where they went largely unnoticed.
The Times examined most of the files before officials removed them from the public shelves, saying they contained personal information that was exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
Retired Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, 78, a Vietnam veteran who served on the task force, said the files provided important lessons for dealing with the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq:
"If we rationalize it as isolated acts, as we did in Vietnam and as we're doing with Abu Ghraib and similar atrocities, we'll never correct the problem."
Read the full story!Los Angeles Times
Sunday August 20, 2006.
A Tortured Past (and the sidebar article by Nick Turse.)
These are explosive pieces!
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Wednesday 19 July 2006
The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza.
An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press.
The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner - and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis - there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.
That this "kidnapping" was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources - most particularly that of water - by the Israeli Defence (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land alloted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.
Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones. The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called Justice. Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment?
Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.
This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognised for what it is and resisted.
New Zealand troops who served in the Vietnam War suffered significant genetic damage from exposure to Agent Orange, a study suggests.
By Stephen Lendman
The fate of the corrupted neoliberal model may be what's now at stake.
That model is already unraveling in Latin America where Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is proving his alternate Bolivarian participatory democracy is overwhelmingly popular and working.
It's based on a government serving the people by providing essential social services, especially to the poor and desperate ones most in need of it.
The Recurring Horror of U.S. War and Occupation
On November 19, 2005, U.S. Marines stormed into the village of Haditha and murdered 24 people in cold blood.
It started at 7:15 a.m. Nine-year-old Eman Waleed was at home with her family when she heard explosions. An IED (improvised explosive device) had just exploded nearby and killed a U.S. Marine. She then heard gunshots: the Marines had started a rampage of revenge by killing four people who had been nearby the spot where the roadside bomb went off.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
from citizen Ted Craill
Email Edward H Craill at: email@example.com
From: E. H. Craill
41 Minkie Avenue
GPO Box 36 Mitchell Park. SA
To: The Prime Minister of Australia
The Hon. J.W. Howard
Dear Prime Minister.
On the evening news, broadcast on ABC Channel 2, on July 22, you claimed the right of Israel to defend against those whom you choose to label ‘terrorist’.
The issues here are; the capturing of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian forces and the capturing of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. Leaders of both Palestinian and Hezbollah forces have offered to release their prisoners in exchange for release of prisoners held by Israel.
Such an exchange could have averted the bloodshed and suffering heaped on the Palestinian and Lebanese people by Israel and that which Hezbollah now inflicts on Israel.
Your condemnation of Palestinian and Hezbollah forces for taking prisoners contrasts with your lack of protest to Israel for taking and holding Palestinian prisoners. This is a blatant and unacceptable double standard.
On the matter of terrorism; it seems you have a capacity to ignore the thousands of Palestinians driven from their homes and land by Israel. The ongoing atrocities by Israel against Palestinians are testimony to who are the real terrorists in the Middle East.
While your rhetoric suggests Palestinians and their allies are terrorists the facts are far more eloquent in describing the true situation. Your double standard and your blinkered view on terrorism disgrace Australia.
Recently I produced and published an article ‘The Moses Legacy’. This I have sent to all members of the House of Representatives who had e-mail addresses. While some have acknowledged receipt of the work, none have challenged the argument that I put forward that Israel represents a continuation of terrorism that extends back to the time of Moses. I enclose a copy of the work and look forward to receiving your comments.
A further matter that also troubles me is your claim that getting rid of Saddam Hussein justified the invasion of Iraq even though Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, had no links with terrorist organisations or had anything to do with the 9/11 attack on America.
The Hussein regime had to deal with Kurdish and Shiite Militias loyal to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. Furthermore, the ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq were a factor that could undermine the integrity of the country.
The potential for violence, which we witness in Iraq today, was held in check by the Hussein regime. Any future Iraqi administration faced with the responsibility of maintaining order in Iraq will, no doubt, need to impose discipline no less rigorous than that of the Hussein regime.
E. H. Craill
The Moses Legacy
By Ted Craill
A reading of the fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy, tells how peace-loving Jews were set on a course of murderous terrorism that has persisted down through the ages. According to Moses, God ordered the Jewish people to wage war against Sihon, the Amorite King of Heshbon, and his people. Fearful of the consequences of war, the Jewish people refused to do battle. This, according to Moses, angered God.
Faced with the problem of peace-loving Jews, Moses had to wait for their generation to die out, during which time he indoctrinated the succeeding generation with a theist ideology directed to psychological preparation for war. Moses describes the urging and battle that followed as if he were God’s voice.
“Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite King of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle. This day I will begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who will hear report of thee, and tremble, and be in anguish because of thee. (Bible: the fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy, 2. 24, 25.
Moses continues; “But Sihon King of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land. Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. And the Lord thy God delivered him before us, and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain: only the cattle we took for prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities that we took. (Deuteronomy 2. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35.).
Triumphant, Moses then used the winning formula of god-inspired aggression against King Og, who ruled the people of Bashan. According to Moses, God demanded… “and thou shall do unto him (King Og) as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites” The slaughter of the people of Bashan followed, the men, the women and the little ones, all were utterly destroyed and, as with the sacking of Heshbon, Jews enriched themselves with plundered cattle and other spoils of war.
Jews, however, found there was no absolute guarantee of ongoing victories in their rampage of genocide and plunder. Instead of instilling dread into “all nations that are under the whole heaven”, they became more despised than feared. Above all, the fortunes gained from god-inspired war ultimately proved to be rather thin. Instead of Jews ruling over lands supposedly promised by God, they found themselves subjects of the Roman Empire. While some Jews realised the benefits from trade and security within the Roman Empire, others, the zealots, rankled that they, whom God has chosen to cleanse the world of inferior races, were held in check by pagan Rome.
Zealots were members of a Jewish sect noted for its uncompromising opposition to polytheist Rome and the pagan religion it espoused. From Encyclopaedia Britannica; “The Zealots were an aggressive political party whose concern for the national and religious life of the Jewish people led them to despise even Jews who sought peace and reconciliation with the Roman authorities”. “Extremists among the Zealots turned to terrorism and assassination and became known as Sicarii (dagger men). They frequented public places with hidden daggers to strike down persons friendly to Rome”. Zealot’s fanaticism and terrorism led to war with Rome which ended in defeat of the Jews at Masada and the loss of a homeland. This setback to Jewish aspirations for conquest and plunder was addressed late in the 19th century with the formation of the Zionist movement.
Zionists proclaimed the goal of creating a Jewish state in Palestine, the ancient homeland lost through Jewish religious bigotry and terrorism. The Jewish Diaspora out of Palestine did not end the adherence of Jews to a belief that a god favoured them above all races. In order to thrive in lands where they were often not welcome, Jews would draw more heavily on the human potential to succeed than would their non-Jewish contemporaries. The hostility of non Jews and the administrations of Jewish religious leaders ensured a fertile recruiting environment for Zionists. Jews who work hard to succeed in the advancement of their adopted country are worthy of sincere appreciation. Jews who pay allegiance to Zionism before allegiance to their adopted country are otherwise considered.
Zionists have exploited every avenue in pursuit of their objective. Through Jewish control of information media they are able to influence political life in many advanced industrialised countries. American Jewish scholar and writer, Murray Friedman, draws attention to the role of Jewish-controlled media in America and the part it played in the conversion of American Jewish Communists to the extreme right wing position in American politics. They are the Neoconservatives. Friedman unashamedly credits pro-Israeli, Jewish neocons for successfully urging American President, George W. Bush, to invade Iraq. Iraqis now pay dearly for their support of the Palestinians in their struggle to reclaim land expropriated by the Israelis. (Murray Friedman: The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy).
With the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, the race-supremacist ideology of Moses again manifested its power to incite aggression and terrorism. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the massacre and rape of unarmed civilian refugees at Sabra and Shatila in September, 1982, by forces under the command of Ariel Sharon, is testimony to the dehumanised nature of hardline Zionist Jews. The legacy of Moses is genocide; the bloodshed and suffering of innocents in war, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians forced of their land and into the misery of life in refugee camps. Through a lapse in their vigilance, this legacy bestows on American people the costs of arming Zionists, fighting their wars and suffering the burden of ignominy for Zionist crimes. However, the worst of the Moses legacy is, perhaps, the dehumanising of inherently peaceful Jews who otherwise might have served humanity better.