America forced out of the war! Mass Murder Committed!

Much has been said about the Vietnam war since its end in 1975 with the seizure of Saigon by communist forces. It is one of those historical events of which the full impact cannot be comprehended by examining statistics and historical learning. It was, put simply, a long and bloody war that resulted in tremendous losses of American and Vietnamese life. 

The effect of the Vietnamese war can perhaps be more empathetically understood by reading the literature and watching the films that came about as a result of the war. As in all wars, much of the official goings on and manoeuvres were kept secret from the public, but publications such as Michael Herr’s Dispatches provide an unexpected insight into the realities of what it was actually like to be fighting such a war at such a time in history. 

In Dispatches, Herr places particular emphasis on the fact that the Vietnam war was being fought by young soldiers who had been influenced by war movies and television. He describes the way that soldiers would ‘run around during a fight, knowing there was a television crew nearby; they were actually making war movies in their heads…’. While shocking, it is not really surprising that soldiers should behave in this way after years of watching glorified scenes of war in film and tv. In the same way that Nazi Germany utilised mass media to control the behaviour of the masses, the behaviour of soldiers during the Vietnam war was heavily influenced by what they had seen of war on the silver screen while they were growing up. 

In an age in which everything is filmed, recorded, and made readily available via the Internet, war has, even now, retained this ability to appear ‘glamorous’. Herr records a conversation with a soldier he had interviewed in Vietnam; ‘”war is good for you, you can’t take the glamour out of that. It’s like trying to take the glamour out of sex, trying to take the glamour out of the rolling stones”‘. Herr also describes how many of the soldiers who were drafted in during the latter half of the war regarded the war’s beginning as a mysterious kind of myth ‘when a dead American in the jungle was an event, a grim thrilling novelty’. 

The idea of the Vietnam war pervades not only Herr’s Dispatches but Francis Ford Coppela’s movie Apocalypse Now!, a film that was so war-like in its production that it was claimed that ‘the film became war’. All of the explosions, helicopters, napalm fires and even the animal slaughter at the end of the movie was real. Apocalypse Now!, in creating a war movie, in effect created a different kind of war. It was a war between the glamour of the war that was perceived by so many, and the grim reality that war is dangerous, violent, and devastating. In glamorising the Vietnam war, Apocalypse Now!, and all of the crazy stories that are told about its production, highlight how truly ridiculous, all-consuming, and at time absolutely unnecessary that war really was. While Dispatches provides some insight as to why the war is glamorised in popular culture, Apocalypse Now! mirrors perfectly the war with a film that is, through its very production as well as its onscreen representation, like war in so many ways. 

The Vietnamese population was confused as to why America had decided to bomb them. Each day was as risky as the last, the Vietnamese people would tend to become more nocturnal during the war. The day time streets completely perished with life, while the night times thrived with life. An impression tactic used by the Vietnamese to survive the daily bombings, allowing them to live cautiously and tend to their crops.

With a record breaking amount of bombs dropped being at an estimated 7 million tons, this is said to be twice as much as the amount dropped on Europe and Asia during the Second World War. Many civilians during the war said that American bombers could drop up to 400 bombs a day killing thousands. It was a war of biblical proportion between the equivalent of a tribe and a future race, America having the technology to wipe out an entire civilization, while the other are still starting up their industrial sector.

On March 16th 1968 3 American army squads landed in south Vietnam hamlet with the intention that Vietcong would be waiting to attack, instead they find a village of civilians begging for their life’s.

Murdered, raped & mutilated, the ordeal that lasted 4 hours and saw hundreds of men, women & children killed in the most disgusting and horrific event of the Vietnamese war. Soldiers involved in the murders have stated that they were “just following orders” as they started firing as soon as their feet touched the ground.

Shot, scalped and stabbed, American soldiers came up with their own fancy versions of murder, allowing them to enjoy the killings even more. One soldier was repeated dropping his gun and using his knife to cut up at least 5 civilians. Civilians were herded around like sheep into groups of 50+ then thrown into ditches with members of the battalions opening fire on the innocent civilians.

Soldiers fought bravely against the Vietcong is what the American propaganda would tell you about this complete massacre. Luckily few survived due to large amount of mass graves hiding people below them. However, hundreds of innocent Vietnamese civilians were gunned down.

Only until a year later were 14 of these soldiers finally accounted for their war crimes, which had been covered up by high-ranking officials proving the system to be systematically flawed. Only one of these soldiers was convicted with premeditated murder and this was officer Calley, who explained he was just following orders. Apparently making this justifiable within the American Army.