Monday, September 29, 2003

The New York Review of Books: Wartime Lies - review of Elliott, The Vietnam War: "Of the many lessons in Elliott's book perhaps the most important is that the long revolutionary struggle was homegrown and not initiated as part of Soviet or Chinese global strategy. Indeed, American policymakers' eventual understanding that Vietnam had little to do with the cold war made them increasingly willing to abandon their long campaign, although only very slowly and very destructively. Elliott makes clear that the historic roots of this struggle were long and deep. That is why he starts his study in 1930... Inquiring why many Vietnamese preferred the revolutionaries, Elliott found that considerable numbers of the poor had benefited from Communist land distribution."

"the US 9th Division killed more than ten thousand suspected Vietcong in only six months. Most of these, Elliott writes, were civilians. At My Lai, Elliott observes, while a few rogue officers gave the orders to massacre civilians, "the civilian casualties [result-ing from] Speedy Express were a consequence of official policy." An American admiral commented that one 9th Division brigade commander was "psychologically...unbalanced. He was a super fanatic on body count.... You could almost see the saliva dripping out of the corners of his mouth. An awful lot of the bodies were civilians.""

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