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There is inconceivable massacres that take place in every war. The United States is not an exception. Deplorably, the military and government attempt to whitewash these crimes. They’re only brought to light when participants or witnesses courageously report them. Cover-ups keep Americans in the dark, but when they learn of them, they attribute these mass murders to the “fog of war,” or accept them as an inevitable part of war.
The massacres committed during the Gulf War and Vietnam War are among the most atrocious since World War II -- particularly the savage cruelty of the U.S. Army’s Tiger Force platoon in Vietnam, and Charley Company platoon at Mỹ Lai.
During the Korean War, on orders of commanders, American soldiers killed refugees at No Gun Ri and other localities in South Korea. Even when Americans did not directly participate, U.S. commanders condoned mass executions by the South Korean Army.
Over a seven-month period in1967, Tiger Force platoon killed and mutilated hundreds of unarmed Vietnam villagers. They killed women and children by dropping grenades into bunkers where they were hiding. They shot farmers working in fields. “Prisoners were tortured and executed, their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings. Platoon members strung the ears on shoe laces to wear around their necks.”
On Saturday March 16, 1968, at around 7:30 a.m., all hell broke loose for the little hamlet of Mỹ Lai in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. Suspected of harboring the Viet Cong, Mỹ Lai became a "free-fire zone." Following a bombardment of artillery rounds, and strafing by Huey Cobra attack helicopters, two platoons from Charlie Company led by Second Lieutenant William Calley entered the hamlet firing at anything that moved, including women and children. They set fire to huts, killed animals, and poisoned water supplies. They raped women, clubbed and stabbed villagers, and executed groups of villagers and families. They carved some victims in the chest with a “C,” as if signing off for Charlie Company. In testimony, a soldier admitted, "I cut their throats, cut off their hands, cut out their tongues, scalped them. I did it. A lot of people were doing it and I just followed. I lost all sense of direction.”
In 1991, as the Gulf War was coming to an end, American forces attacked Iraqi forces and civilians who were in retreat on Basra road, making a beeline for Iraq. American fighter aircraft strafed and used napalm “that produced horrific casualties such as the ‘crispy critter’ … a revolting Americanism to describe an Iraqi tank commander burned alive.” News reports referred to the road as the “Highway of Death.”
In Haditha, Iraq, on Nov. 19, 2005, U.S. Marines killed 24 Iraqis including children between the ages of 3 and 15. The Marines, based on some news reporting, called Haditha their Mỹ Lai.
In Afghanistan, there was the “kill team.” And a look back at U.S. behavior should not give anyone reason not to believe that Afghan President Hamid Karzai may have had credible reason for giving U.S. special forces two weeks to leave Wardak province, after some U.S. soldiers there were found to have tortured and killed innocent people.
Now we hear Republican candidates for President of the United States calling for war over diplomacy. An extraordinary number of voters support the unsound notion that war is the only way to achieve peace. “For Chris Hedges, a reporter for The New York Times who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years, war was like a drug, ‘[exposing] the capacity for evil that lurks not far below the surface within all of us.’” However, those who support war evidently don’t care. In the era of Trumpism, it's expected.
Nevertheless, war’s brutality clearly points to the fact they must end.
This is a rewrite of a previously published article on Yahoo Voices, March 14, 2013
Pulitzer, Killing Korean Refugees Investigative Reporting: Works Article in a Series: 2000, pulitzer.org
Associated Press, U.S. Okayed Korean War Massacres, The Raw Story
Pulitzer, Tiger Force Platoon Investigative Reporting: Blade, Works Article in a Series, 2004, pulitzer.org
National Public Radio, My Lai Pilot Hugh Thompson, NPR.org
Michael S. Schmidt, Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq, The New Your Times
Hamid Shalizi and Dylan Welch, Afghan president to expel U.S. special forces from key province, Reuters
© Copyright Horatio Green 2016