Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Some additional information and personal thoughts of
Professor Kenneth J. Herrmann

former US Vietnam Vet and now activist for peace

who is dedicated to assisting the victims of Agent Orange.

Most people are familiar with the film The Killing Fields.

Many noticed yesterday that a special tribunal began the trial of a Khmer Rouge leader who was partly responsible for the genocidal slaughter of 1.7 million Cambodians, directed by Pol Pot, the madman who declared the year 0 and abolished money the day his revolution took charge of Cambodia in 1975.

Observers are aware of the heinous murder of babies (often slicing them in two), the cutting open of pregnant women and the eating of the fetus, the attacks on neighboring Vietnamese villages and the slicing out of Vietnamese captives’ livers (which were fried and eaten by the Khmer Rouge).

Many are aware of this horrible history.

Few seem to recall that the United States supported the Khmer Rouge. President Carter and his administration, in fact, were the strongest supporters of Pol Pot’s murderous regime. They channeled money through China to arm and support these killers. Carter, however, will not be tried during the war crimes’ trials in Cambodia.

In fact, fewer still might know that the Khmer Rouge representative to the United Nations was Thiounn Prasith (known for justifying and often covering up the Khmer Rouge genocide), who lives in Mt Vernon, NY with the protection of the US government.

He is known for urging Cambodians during the Khmer Rouge rampages to return to Cambodia to what they did not know would be a certain death. Among these were Sokhom Hing, a professor at SUNY Stony Brook and an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, who was tortured for ten days at the S-1 Prison before being murdered.

The commander of this infamous prison is the first to stand trial this week. Sokhom Hing’s bones might be among the tens of thousands tourists view today when they visit this prison in Cambodia. If so, I presume they call out for justice for the Khmer Rouge official who personally talked him into returning – Thiounn Prasith – and the American leaders who supported this horror.

Bush left office with a track record of a blatant disregard of human rights, attacked two nations under the guise of national defense, two nations that had nothing to do with the attack on New York. His record of violations of American and international law seems endless. Congress seems to care less.

The rest of the world knows our human rights record: the genocide and oppression of Native Americans, slavery, two nuclear attacks on civilian populations in Japan, Vietnam War, the denial that our spraying 20,000,000 gallons of Agent Orange has had deleterious effects on the Vietnamese while we compensate American vets for brief exposure to the chemical, Gitmo and torture, avoiding the basic rights of Americans guaranteed by the Constitution under the guise of the war on terrorism, using tens of thousands of mercenaries in Iraq, and providing safe haven to known terrorists in America – terrorists whom we supported. We kill the leaders of other nations we do not like and condemn others for less heinous acts which are often a response to our arrogant oppression of people around the world.

is just one small nation in which we supported a massive genocide a few decades ago, but is more than a memory for those families who recall how Jimmy Carter sanctioned and supported the horror. For many, he is a champion of human rights. For many this phony image and Thiounn Prasith living a comfortable life in Weschester County is but another example of our loss of moral standing on the world stage.

Kenneth J. Herrmann, Jr., LCSW, ACSW

Associate Professor, Dept. of Social Work
Director, The College at Brockport Vietnam Program
Exec. Director, Danang/Quang Nam Fund, Inc.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Recently, an email was sent to me with an attached newspaper article "Heartbreak of war that echoes abroad". The article is about Vietnamese 'boat people' refugees who have "enriched Australia" but for whom the "tragedy of Vietnam lives on." It was an article by Ann Beveridge, but there were no details given as to where and when it was published.

The email had no message, just the attached article. Perhaps the person who sent me the email did so by way of criticism, because he had entitled his attachment "flip side"! If so, perhaps he was surprised by my response, which (with a few small changes) is below. The extracts in red are from the original article.

I think it might give some insights into Viet Nam, and also why I have been an anti-war activist for some 40 years. This is my response to the email.....

Thanks for the article you sent on "Heartbreak of war...."
I have read it, and agree with most of the comments made, although it is not new to me.

It beautifully explains just why war is so horrible and wrong, and why humanity has to find a more civilized way to settle our differences, if we want to survive or be considered better than barbarians. It is why I am anti-war!

This is summed up nicely at the end of the article by Pham herself:

".....I'm not a very political person but I feel for those who lost people in the war. In this war nobody won. In the end nothing was achieved and yet the costs were very great. I just hope that how war makes people feel is considered by the people who make the decision to go to war, that they feel what we feel before they let it happen again....."

However, I think it does help to be a "political person", or at least read lots of different history books, because then you can have a better idea of why such terrible and unnecessary things happened in the first place, and be better equipped to stop them in the future! (And also appreciate what exactly was fought for and won, and why it had to be won!)

It is not true that "nobody won"! Of course, the majority of Vietnamese, north and south, who supported Ho Chi Minh's quest for freedom, independence and reunification of their country, won. (That was conservatively 80% of the whole population, according to US President Eisenhower - which of course is why the US-backed side of 20% refused to hold the nationwide democratic elections under international supervision in 1956, as provided for in the Geneva Agreement!).

Yes, the Vietnamese majority won, but at a terrible price, of course. Even the Allies in World War 2 won, and were prepared to pay a terrible price for the victory they had to have. Sometimes important things don't come cheap.

THE Vietnam War cost the lives of more than 4 million people, half of whom were civilians....

But the most important question is: Who made the decision to "go to war" in the very first place, instead of allowing a peaceful outcome for the people of Viet Nam?

The answer to that is the government of the USA, in 1945. They decided to stop supporting the popular nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh (their ally against Japan in WW2, who seriously wanted to continue friendly relations with America), and instead to support the return of the cruel French colonialists, which most Vietnamese did not want.

From that wrong and fateful decision, everything else inevitably followed. Thus, the boat people refugees were just some of the resulting victims of a war decided in Washington!

It is usual in the aftermath of war or extreme poverty that some people will seek to leave for a better life. But the vast majority did not leave, despite the terrible consequences of war and the crippling 20-year US economic embargo. Instead, they stayed to rebuild their shattered country, despite the hardships. And, for most of these people, they were the 'victors' in the war anyway, north and south!

And yes, many horrible things happened on both sides - as they do in all wars.

"....Tet (New Year) Offensive in 1968. Instead of observing the expected ceasefire on this sacred day, Viet Cong (the guerilla force of the North Vietnam-backed National Liberation Front) attacked Saigon, capital of South Vietnam...."I still find it inexcusable that the communists violated the armistice during Tet....

The surprise Tet Offensive in 1968 was part of the consequence and strategy of winning the war. The Vietnamese did the same thing way back in Tet 1789, when they surprised the invading Chinese and defeated them in the famous Battle of Dong Da near Hanoi. Was this also "inexcusable" at the time? I don't think so! If invaders invade they will be defeated! The lesson should be: "Don't invade! And if you do, don't blame the defenders for the consequences!" A lesson the US government failed to learn years later, and still fails to learn today!

"....That month, television news revealed the massacre at Hue...."

And yes, at Hue in 1968 there was a masacre of civilians - on both sides! To some extent, the massacres that happened during Tet '68 in Hue were paybacks for the massacres already carried out by the Saigon government under President Diem and others. And when the siege of Hue was over, the Saigon government conducted more massacres. Massacres on all sides are another consequence of war. (Yet the article only refers to those of one side!)

War itself is a massacre. And a most inappropriate way to settle most disputes between people and nations. But, of course, it is "big business" to lots of powerful people who make their obscene wealth from the suffering of others. So anyone who wants to stop war has to battle some very powerful and selfish interests. Be prepared for a tough road!!!

Thanks for sending me the article, and I hope you will make good use of it, and other information, to help bring an end to this absurdity we call "war".

Best wishes to you.
Keep in touch.
Cheers from Bruce.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cambodia's Missing Criminals

By John Pilger

February 21, 2009 "
Information Clearing House" -- At my hotel in Phnom Penh, the women and children sat on one side of the room, palais-style, the men on the other. It was a disco night and a lot of fun; then suddenly people walked to the windows and wept. The DJ had played a song by the much-loved Khmer singer, Sin Sisamouth, who had been forced to dig his own grave and to sing the Khmer Rouge anthem before he was beaten to death. I experienced many such reminders in the years following Pol Pot’s fall.

There was another kind of reminder. In the village of Neak Long, a Mekong River town, I walked with a distraught man through a necklace of bomb craters. His entire family of 13 had been blown to pieces by an American B-52. That had happened almost two years before Pol Pot came to power in 1975. It is estimated more than 600,000 Cambodians were slaughtered that way.

The problem with the United Nations-backed trial of the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders, which has just begun in Phom Penh, is that it is dealing only with the killers of Sin Sisamouth and not with the killers of the family in Neak Long, and not with their collaborators.

There were three stages of Cambodia’s holocaust. Pol Pot’s genocide was but one of them, yet only it has a place in the official memory.

It is highly unlikely Pot Pot would have come to power had President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, not attacked neutral Cambodia.

In 1973, B-52s dropped more bombs on Cambodia’s populated heartland than were dropped on Japan during all of the Second World War: the equivalent of five Hiroshimas.

Declassified files reveal that the CIA was in little doubt of the effect. “[The Khmer Rouge] are using damage caused by B52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda,” reported the director of operations on May 2, 1973. “This approach has resulted in the successful recruitment of a number of young men [and] has been effective with refugees.” Prior to the bombing, the Khmer Rouge had been a Maoist cult without a popular base. The bombing delivered a catalyst.

What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot completed.

Kissinger will not be in the dock in Phom Penh. He is advising President Obama on geo-politics. Neither will Margaret Thatcher, nor a number of her comfortably retired senior ministers and officials who, in secretly supporting the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese had expelled them, contributed directly to the third stage of Cambodia’s holocaust.

In 1979, the US and British governments imposed a devastating embargo on stricken Cambodia because its liberators, Vietnam, had come from the wrong side of the cold war.

Few Foreign Office campaigns have been as cynical or as brutal. At the UN, the British demanded that the now defunct Pol Pot regime retain the “right” to represent its victims at the UN and voted with Pol Pot in the agencies of the UN, including the World Health Organisation, thereby preventing it from working inside Cambodia.

To disguise this outrage, Britain, the US and China, Pol Pot’s principal backer, invented a “non communist” coalition in exile that was, in fact, dominated by the Khmer Rouge. In Thailand, the CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency formed direct links with the Khmer Rouge.

In 1983, the Thatcher government sent the SAS to train the “coalition” in landmine technology – in a country more seeded with mines than anywhere on earth except Afghanistan.

“I confirm,” Thatcher wrote to opposition leader Neil Kinnock, “that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with Khmer Rouge forces or those allied to them.”

The lie was breathtaking.

On June 25, 1991, the Major government was forced to admit to parliament that the SAS had been secretly training the “coalition”.

Unless international justice is a farce, those who sided with Pol Pot’s mass murderers ought to be summoned to the court in Phnom Penh: at the very least their names read into infamy’s register.

See Also

Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia

John Pilger vividly reveals the brutality and murderous political ambitions of the Pol Pot / Khmer Rouge totalitarian regime which bought genocide and despair to the people of Cambodia while neighboring countries, including Australia, shamefully ignored the immense human suffering and unspeakable crimes that bloodied this once beautiful country..

A Documentary Film By John Pilger

Click to view

Friday, February 20, 2009

Are generals disputing Iraq pullout?

Are generals disputing Iraq pullout?
Do disagreements amongst top generals and Obama on Iraq pullout plan represent a more profound debate? view

Where are Afghanistan's missing millions?
Clancy Chassay hears charges of corruption leveled against the UN and aid agencies view

In the rubble of Jabal al Rayas
Gaza families struggling to survive in homemade shelteres view

Weapons programs re-branded as jobs programs
Military industry appeals to job-loss fears Pt2/2 view

Two years recession, or ten years of hell? Pt.4
Engdahl: Mass action in streets needed to demand bank nationalization and cuts in military spending view

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The war that did not make the headlines

Over Five Million Dead in Congo?

By Keith Harmon Snow

Behind the Numbers Redux:

How Truth is Hidden, Even When it Seems to Be Told.

A brilliant report of war and plunder in Congo.

You may be surprised by some of the famous names implicated!

"......Starvation happens not because this is Africa, or the Congo, it is because we are witnessing the most devastating example of predatory capitalism and heartless, absolute greed, combined with a spiritual crises—in the “first” world—of unprecedented proportions. The long term control of Congo’s resources is best served by eliminating as many black people as possible. The capacity to control Congo’s resources is enhanced by spreading terror, uprooting people, destroying families, sowing distrust and hatred. It is called divide and conquer and it is the oldest trick in the book of European conquest.....

And all the while the humanitarian “misery” industry is raking in billions of dollars on programs to “help” the Congolese people, and universities create new programs and departments to train the privileged “development” work force, all to create and institutionalize dependency. This is structural violence, and it is part of a cycle of perpetuated wealth and privilege. It is managed inequality.

This is the U.S. foreign policy in action. The International Rescue Commitee merely institutionalizes the false framework of thinking that supports war and plunder and the entrenchment, rather than alleviation, of structural violence. Behind the psychological warfare the picture in Congo is very different, and the responsible forces are easily identified.....


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ship of Fools

By Paul Craig Roberts

The Russians, overflowing with energy and mineral resources, and not in debt, have learned that the US government is not to be trusted. Russia has watched Reagan’s successors attempt to turn former constituent parts of the Soviet Union into US puppet states with US military bases. Continue

Iraq's Shocking Human Toll

About 1 Million Killed,
4.5 Million Displaced,
1-2 Million Widows,
5 Million Orphans

By John Tirman

Now that Bush is gone, perhaps the United States can honestly face the damage we have wrought and the responsibilities we must accept from it. Continue

Call to Try Bush:
Now that former U.S. president George W. Bush is an ordinary citizen again, many legal and human rights activists in Europe are demanding that he and high-ranking members of his government be brought before justice for crimes against humanity committed in the so-called war on terror.

The International Criminal Court
is exploring ways to prosecute
Israeli commanders over alleged
war crimes in Gaza.