Whistle-Blowing in Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq

Whistle-Blowing in Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq

by Dr. Robert D. Crane

  The quantity of military incursions by American troops throughout the past century and a quarter seems to be well known, including the statistic that we have military troops in 127 countries (in addition to the marines guarding the U.S. embassies).  Equally important, and much less well known, however, is the extent of the casualties inflicted by American military action and the harm done to America as a would-be model of justice.  In other words, the quality of military missions may be more important than their quantity. 

  In his article, entitled, “What I Learned in Afghanistan - About the United States”, Dana Visalli blows the whistle not only on U.S. policy and military actions in Central Asia today but about such actions throughout the world since World War II.  He warns not merely about the quantity of actions but especially about their extent and therefore about their quality.

  In one segment of his report he mentions the growing violence against women in Afghanistan.  He writes,

“Violence against women is increasing in Afghanistan at the present time, not decreasing. The Director of the Afghan Human Rights Commission told us of a recent case in which a ten-year-old girl was picked up by an Afghan Army commander in his military vehicle, taken to the nearby base and raped. He brought her back to her home semiconscious and bleeding, after conveying to her that if she told what had happened he would kill her entire family. The human rights commissioner ended the tale by saying to us that he could tell us ‘a thousand stories like this’. There has been a rapid rise in the number of self-immolations – women burning themselves to death – in Afghanistan in the past three years, to escape the violence that pervades many women’s lives – under the nine-year US occupation.

  “Armed conflict and insecurity, along with criminality and lawlessness, are on the rise in Afghanistan.  In this respect, the country mirrors experience elsewhere which indicates a near universal co-relation between heightened conflict, insecurity, and violence against women.”

  In Visalli’s report, then come the punch paragraphs:

“Once one understands that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is not actually helping the Afghan people, the question of the effectiveness or goodwill of other major U.S. military interventions in recent history arises.  In Vietnam, for example, the country had been a colony of France for the 80 years prior to World War II, at which point the Japanese invaded and took over. When the Japanese surrendered, the Vietnamese declared their independence on September 2, 1945.  In their preamble they directly quoted the U.S. Declaration of Independence (‘All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness… .’).

  “The United States responded first by supporting the French in their efforts to recapture their lost colony, and when that failed, the U.S. dropped 10 million tons of bombs on Vietnam – more than were dropped in all of World War II – sprayed 29 million gallons of the carcinogenic defoliant Agent Orange on the country, and dropped 400,000 tons of napalm, killing a total of 3.4 million people. This is an appreciable level of savagery, and it would be reasonable to ask why the United States responded in this way to the Vietnamese simply declaring their inalienable rights.

  “There was a sideshow to the Vietnam war, and that is that the United States conducted massive bombing campaigns against Vietnam’s two western neighbors, Laos and Cambodia. From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance over Laos in a operation consisting of 580,000 bombing missions – equal to a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years. This unprecedented, secret bombing campaign was conducted without authorization from the U.S. Congress and without the knowledge of the American people.

  “The ten-year bombing exercise killed an estimated 1 million Laotians. Despite questions surrounding the legality of the bombings and the large toll of innocent lives that were taken, the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs at the time, Alexis Johnson, stated, ‘The Laos operation is something of which we can be proud as Americans.  It has involved virtually no American casualties. What we are getting for our money there . . . is, I think, to use the old phrase, very cost effective’. ...

  “In Cambodia, the United States was concerned that the North Vietnamese might have established a military base in the country. In response, the U.S. dropped three million tons of ordnance in 230,000 sorties on 113,000 sites between 1964 and 1975. 10% of this bombing was indiscriminate, with 3,580 of the sites listed as having “unknown” targets and another 8000 sites having no target listed at all. About a million Cambodians were killed (there was no one counting), and the destruction to society wrought by the indiscriminate, long-term destruction is widely thought to have given rise to the Khmer Rouge, who proceeded, in their hatred for all things Western, to kill another 2 million people.

  “Four days after Vietnam declared its independence on September 2, 1945, “Southern Korea” also declared independence (on September 6), with a primary goal of reuniting the country – which had been split into north and south by the United States only seven months before.  Two days later, on September 8, 1945, the U.S. military arrived with the first of 72,000 troops, dissolved the newly formed South Korean government, and flew in their own chosen leader, Syngman Rhee, who had spent the previous 40 years in Washington D.C.  There was considerable opposition to the U.S. control of the country, so much that 250,000 and 500,000 people were killed between 1945 and 1950 resisting the American occupation, before the actual Korean War even started.

  “The Korean War, like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, was an asymmetrical war, in which the highly industrialized and mechanized U.S. pulverized the comparatively primitive North Korea.  One third of the population of North Korea was killed in the war, a total of three million people (along with one million Chinese and 58,000 Americans). Every city, every sizable town, every factory, every bridge, every road in North Korea was destroyed.  General Curtis LeMay remarked at one point that the U.S. had “turned every city into rubble,” and now was returning to “turn the rubble into dust.”  A British reporter described one of the thousands of obliterated villages as “a low, wide mound of violet ashes.”  General William Dean, who was captured after the battle of Taejon in July 1950 and taken to the North, later said that most of the towns and villages he saw were just “rubble or snowy open spaces.”

  “More napalm was dropped on Korea than on Vietnam, 600,000 tons compared to 400,000 tons in Vietnam.  One report notes that, “By late August, 1950, B-29 formations were dropping 800 tons a day on the North. Much of it was pure napalm. Vietnam veteran Brian Wilson asks in this regard, “What it is like to pulverize ancient cultures into small pebbles, and not feel anything?”

  “In Iraq, Saddam Hussein came to power through a U.S.-CIA engineered coup in 1966 that overthrew the socialist government and installed Saddam’s Baath Party. Later conflict with Saddam let to the first and second Gulf Wars, and to thirteen years of severe U.S.-imposed economic sanctions on Iraq between the two wars, which taken together completely obliterated the Iraqi economy.  An estimated one million people were killed in the two Gulf wars, and the United Nations estimates that the economic sanctions, in combination with the destruction of the social and economic infrastructure in the First Gulf War, killed another million Iraqis.  Today both the economy and the political structure of Iraq are in ruins.

  “This trail of blood, tears and death smeared across the pages of recent history is the reason that Martin Luther King said in his famous Vietnam Speech that the United States is ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today’.”

  These quantitative statistics presented by Dana Visalli address the overall quality of American political and military policy.  We should remember, however, that the United States is not unique in the quality of its military actions.  In fact, we are run of the mill.  We just have more power to do what others can’t match. 

  In the 1960s, I prepared for the Hudson Institute, an extensive list of state-nation casualties from 1945 to 1965 that resulted from efforts of sovereign states to crush minorities within their jurisdiction, most of which were seeking either autonomy or independence.  The total megadeaths (thousands of deaths) exceeded the casualties during World War II. 

  The unfortunate result of Western international law, before the era of the International Criminal Court, was that the international community regarded such ethnic genocide as a domestic or internal matter and therefore not worthy of consideration or even of media coverage.  The carnage was due perhaps not merely to the Western doctrine of state sovereignty, which precluded any consideration of human group rights, but to the fact that, thanks mainly to European colonialism, most of countries of the world have boundaries that either split organic nations (such as the Pushtun in Central Asia or the Kurds in Southwest Asia) or combine them into conglomerates, such as Burma and Iraq, in which authority comes artificially from the top down rather than organically from the bottom up.  This top-down paradigm has been the basic political paradigm of American economic development policies ever since it was consolidated by Robert McNamara when he was Secretary of Defense and then head of the World Bank.

  While I was Nixon’s principal foreign policy adviser from 1963 to 1968, I visited some of these genocides while they were still going on and published articles about them in The Washington Post, the Guardian, and various journals.  A series of such articles, one of which won an award for inclusion in a book of the best world-wide reporting from 1963 to 1968, stopped the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War from bombing all the nations along the border of China from Vietnam to India.  My thesis was that the objective to bomb them in order to “prevent them from going Communist” in accordance with the Domino Theory would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

  Most of the nations that I visited were taking arms from the Chinese Communists, but they were as fiercely anti-Communist as were the would-be American bombers.  I visited most of these peoples.  For example a third of the Nagas in the mountains at the intersection of Burma, China, and India were murdered by India after it ignored the departing British grant of independence based on free elections to the nations in this area, as well as to the Kashmiris.  The Indian troops impaled the protesting Naga leaders on posts and burned them alive in the middle of their villages in order to make a point, the same way we did it with napalm in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

  Almost a million Ibos were killed in Nigeria in 1969 when I was Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Elliott Richardson, despite his determined efforts to stop the carnage.  Unfortunately, the Ibos were substantially at fault for destroying the confederal system by banning Islamic courts in the north.  They were the most economically advanced of the nations in Nigeria and therefore ruled the roost, but they abused their power. 

I wonder whether the crimes of America should ever be exposed.  What good would it do?

  The only exception is the Holocaust, which so far is one of a kind, because this crime was committed on behalf of a vicious ideology to eliminate not merely a people but an entire religion.  So too were the deaths of 50,000,000 Chinese during the Communist takeover of China, but in China the major rationale was the pursuit of power.  The crimes committed by Americans were designed merely to stabilize the world for political and economic purposes, not in pursuit of some utopian and vicious ideology.  Most of the crimes against humanity that until recent decades went unreported in the media were carried out merely in pursuit of material power.  They were crimes of tyranny not of totalitarianism.  The difference is critical, because we now are in the middle of the ideological age, where “higher principle” in the pursuit of mind control can justify unspeakable evils. 

  One can call Neo-Conservatism an ideology, but the Neo-Conservatives do not consider it to be one, even though their founders were Trotskites.  Hitler and Mao were proud of their ideologies.  Stalin killed 20,000,000 Ukrainians in the 1920s, but he did this as a tyrant seeking power, not in pursuit of a totalitarian ideology.  Trotsky represented the ideological element of Communism, so he was assassinated by the Communist tyrants.

  The dynamics of mass murder in the modern world are not caught by statistics on the number of American military missions but by their purpose.  American policy can be regarded as primitive tribalism in pursuit of expanded turf.  Whether we have escaped from the ideological contagions of the modern world is yet to be seen.  Certainly our inane efforts to combat the ideological threats in the world will merely increase the threat, because ideologies are powered by opposition to perceived threats as well as real threats from concentrated economic and political power.

  As a postscript, one might add that there are solutions, including ways to diffuse power, as shown in such websites as http://www.americanrevolutionaryparty.us/partyplatform.htm and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)