Tuesday, January 02, 2018
Rape Was Rampant During the Vietnam War. Why Doesn’t US History Remember This?
Published by VIETNAM FULL DISCLOSURE: January 1, 2018
This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.
By Nick Turse.
“…War is obscene. I mean that in every sense of the word. Some veterans will tell you that you can’t know war if you haven’t served in one, if you haven’t seen combat. These are often the same guys who won’t tell you the truths that they know about war and who never think to blame themselves in any way for our collective ignorance. The truth is, you actually can know a lot about war without fighting in one. It just isn’t the sort of knowledge that’s easy to come by.
There are more than 30,000 books on the Vietnam War in print… if you read a few dozen of the best of them, you can get a fairly good idea about what that war was really like… and, if you pay special attention to the few real truths buried in all the run-of-the-mill war stories, you’ll still get some feeling for war American-style.
The main problem with most of those books is the complete lack of Vietnamese voices. The Vietnam War killed more than 58,000 Americans. That’s a lot of people and a lot of heartache. It deserves attention. But it killed several million Vietnamese and severely affected—and I mean severely—the lives of many millions more. That deserves a whole lot more focus…
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Given the stigma attached to rape, especially decades ago, and the added stigma attached to male rape victims, it’s shocking that the case ever became public, no less that it went to trial in a military court, or that the victim gave clear, graphic, painful testimony.
The truth was out there, but no one ever told this story to the wider world—neither the victim, the perpetrators, the witnesses, the lawyers, the judge, the commanders at the base, nor a historian.
You could read thousands of books on the Vietnam War—even books devoted to hidden histories, secrets, and the like—and never know that, in addition to rifles and rice paddies, war is also about rape, even male-on-male rape, even GI-on-GI rape. Just how many such rapes occurred, we’ll never know, because such acts were and generally still are kept secret.
Veterans don’t tell these stories. They almost never offer up accounts of murder, assault, torture, or rape unsolicited. They don’t want you to know. Such realities need to be mined out of them. I’ve done it for the last 10 years, and believe me, it can be exhausting…
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On a single day in August 1969, on one base, three GIs raped a fellow American soldier. Three rapes. One day. What does that mean? What does it say about men? About the military? About war? We can’t know for sure because we’ll never know the whole truth of sexual assault in Vietnam.
The men involved in wartime sex crimes—in raping Vietnamese women, in sodomizing them, in violating them with bottles and rifle muzzles, in sexually assaulting American women, in raping American men—have mostly remained silent about it.
One of the rapists in this case may have passed away, but at least one is still apparently alive in the United States. Maybe even on your street. For decades we knew nothing of their crimes, so we know less than we should about the Vietnam War and about war in general.
Maybe it’s time to start asking questions of our veterans. Hard questions. They shouldn’t be the only ones with the knowledge of what goes on in armies and in war zones. They didn’t get to Vietnam (or Iraq or Afghanistan) on their own and they shouldn’t shoulder the blame or the truth alone and in silence. We all bear it. We all need to hear it. The sooner, the better.”
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Read the complete story, and other excellent articles here: