Friday, March 1, 2019
My Lai Ã¢â¬ Culpability of Guilt
Series Vietnam A Television History. The solider was describing the reasons wherefore the American spends turned on the civilians whom they were sent to protect during the Vietnam war. The same soldier would start sobbing uncontrollably as he would go on to state, You dont remember the antagonist that you shot and killed. But you of on the whole time remember the 58 year old woman you shot and killed because she was outpouring away. And she was running away because you were threatening to shoot her.The Vietnam War was no more(prenominal) ugly than any other struggle in history, exactly it was the basic war that had aired uncensored on American television. This time, there would be no illusory tales of grandeur that would put mythic heroics onto the exploits after they war came to a close. The blood of the Vietnam War had been captured for eternity. Although popular sentiment among the lower classes for the North Vietnamese Army was non strong, there was still a great desir e for independence. (Morrison 17)This is non to say there were no noble intentions or heroic actions. more Americans served their country honorably and in a noble manner. Their deeds, how of all time, would forever be overshadowed by the atrocities committed by American soldiers who assaulted a free apprize z cardinal in the town of My Lai, a town that was primarily engaged by civilian women and children.The soldiers that went to Vietnam were normal, every twenty-four hour period young adults. Some were volunteers and some were conscripted, but none were murderers before they went to Vietnam. Even to a lower place the conditions of war, they did non easily notch or lose their humanity, yet, for some reason they snapped under pressure and followed arranges that resulted in the death of many innocent civilians. Were they entirely immoralityy for their actions or were their actions justifiable under the conditions of war? Did the directives of their superiors exculpate them o f delinquency? Was the stress they were under a driving force behind their decisions? Or had the militarys insurance policy of dehumanizing the enemy play the vital role in their decisions? Most of all, would these factors absolve them of guilt?In order to understand the culpability of guilt, one of necessity to clearly understand what actually occurred in the village of My Lai on the day of the resultant.March 16th, 1968 A company of the 23rd Infantry Division commanded by Lt. William Calley slaughters 347 unarmed civilians (including a dozen babies as young as one month of age) at the hamlet of Song My (My Lai 4) in Vietnams gray zone. Although Calleys superiors observe the slaughter from helicopters and its true nature known to higher(prenominal) ups, it is falsely cast as an intense firefight in which 128 enemy soldiers were killed. that when a former soldier forces the incident into public view a year later is an extremely limited official investigation initiated. (Church ill 141) un needful to say, this description hardly sounds as if there is a lack of guilt on the part of the soldiers. This description of the incident also points the finger at the higher ups in the military and places blame on those who were knowledgeable almost(predicate) the incident, as they not only did nothing to punish those who took part in the incident, but socasually ignored the massacre, that it would erupt that such an incident may not read been entirely out of the ordinary.What is it that would direct the soldiers to set up such a massive offensive against the civilians? What reduced the moral qualms about taking such violent action against non encounterants? Part of the reason is a issue that is endemic to all military conflicts.Throughout the history of war farthermoste throughout the world, there needs to be a certain instillation of a psychological attitude into a soldier in order to make the soldier acceptable to taking part in such wide-scale slaughter. Th is psychological instillation involves the dehumanization of the enemy in the eyes of the soldier. That is, the enemy is never portrayed as a human being. Rather, the enemy is invariably presented in a derogatory manner so as to appear less than human.After all, it is much easier to kill someone who is not seen as someone, but rather seen as something. In Vietnam, the soldiers were generally referred to under the derogatory term as gook. (Davis) As such, they are not presented as a real person, but rather as an determi domain of a subhuman animal. For years, this was considered necessary or the troops may have not taken full action when in a combat situation. However, such derogatory attitudes also remove a great handle of the moral qualms that soldiers may have during situations where moral qualms might be necessary in order to make the judgment calls that would be required in a situation that needs restraint.Further complicating the matter is the fact that as the Vietnam War dr agged on, many of the members of the military were drafted. They were not real soldiers so they were far more prone to cracking under the pressure of the highly uncivilised Vietnam conflict. It was an ugly war and many average people off the channel were rushed through boot-camp and then off to the jungles of Southeast Asia. Such tenderness and reservations to combat combined with an out of control war have all the elements for mental breakdowns and psychological behavior. A complete lack of understanding of the terrain and the glossiness of the people who inhabited contributed to the chaos. (Windrow 55)This, of course, leads to the very important question, Does this absolve the individuals who committed the atrocities of guilt? Under the letter of the law, the answer is absolutely not. The random slaughter of civilians is not justifiable under any circumstances. There simple is no replete(p) excuse or a deliberate act of genocide. This guilt, however, does not soaked that one should not examine the reasons behind the creation of the environment that lead to the deliberate massacre. Military and international law (drawing from precedents derived from the Nuremberg trials) clearly states that following orders is not an acceptable defense for a war crime.Much of the problems with the war in Vietnam were directly related to the American populaces total misinterpretation of Vietnam and its history. Vietnam had fought several centuries long war of independence with the Chinese. It also fought a cytosine years war with French colonialists and also occupying Japanese forces. The countrys goals were to free itself from foreign rule. While the United States saw itself as liberating the nation from communism, the general population simply wanted self determination.While the communistic regimes that ended up controlling Vietnam were as brutal, if not worse, than the foreign occupying forces, at the time, the hearts and minds of the people were not with the Ameri can forces so the war rapidly became a situation that was not winnable for the US troops. As such, the war trudged on without any cleargoal or end in sight. solitary(prenominal) two viable options existed to end US involvement withdraw and allow or drop an atomic bomb of Hanoi. The third option, perpetual impractical andground war, simply dragged on forever costing an incalculable repress of lives on some(prenominal) sides. This aerial assault also included outsized amounts of napalm bombs that made the adorn of war even more vicious. (Franklin) From this, the entire landscape of the Vietnam War was one of mayhem that led to unspeakable acts on both sides.Ultimately, however, no one truly faced punishment from the massacre at My Lai. Lt. Calley saw a mere 3 years of house check mark before President Nixon pardoned him. The deaths of those civilians have never been justly punished. So, was there ever a lesson that comes from these deaths?There were many lessons that were le arned from the Vietnam War, particularly lessons derived from the horror of the My Lai massacre. If anything, the My Lai massacre shows what will result from the evils of dehumanizing the enemy and not instilling a smack of clear moral guidelines in soldiers so they understand the difference betwixt an act of war and an act of genocide.Clearly, the military brass and the officials in the political science must realize that they are culpable for such actions and must be held accountable to the public. The United States never truly recovered from the disaster of the Vietnam War as its specter hangs over the military to this very day. Perhaps, it is haunted by the ghosts of My Lai.Works CitedThe American Experience. Vietnam A Television History. PBS DVD. 1983.Churchill, Ward. On The umpire of Roosting Chickens. Oakland AK Press, 2004.Davis, Peter. Hearts and Minds. Criterion Collection DVD. 1974Franklin, H. Bruce. Vietnam and other American Fantasies. Boston University of mum Press, 2000.Morrison, Wilbur H. The Elephant & the Tiger The Full Story of the Vietnam War. NewYork Hippocrene, 1990.Windrow, Martin. The Last Valley. Cambridge De Capo Press, 2005.