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To 10 or 20 miles sometimes more populous. In any case it was not a surprise to the occupants or former occupants. I might point out that with respect to free fire zones Mr. Taylor makes a point that he sees nothing wrong with the bombing of North Vietnam where nothing whatever was done to take care of women and children and remove them whereas he finds something objectionable about doing it in South Vietnam where conscious efforts were made. Thank you general correct. Well at the very bottom of the chain and demand in the Marine Corps in Vietnam was a private Michael Schwartz. On February 19th 1969 Schwartz was a member of the patrol which killed 11 women and five children in a village called Song ton. SHORTZ was tried for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment but his case is now on appeal. Mr. Schwartz you've been listening to these generals and policymakers and people can you tell us what you were told in your training on how you should treat civilians. We were told to treat him with respect. They gave us all
films lectures classes. It was very difficult to tell from the enemy that the civilians were helping the Vietcong. But they didn't go into extensively because most of the places I was in a place where they taught it we weren't even allowed to speak when Except people civilians at work in our area. When you when you actually got to Vietnam did you understand that you and all your fellow Marines understand that it was your duty to protect the lives of civilians. Yes we did. One of stuff that we were going to go in there was best we could for the people and if they had to be moved to move them but other not there was no other. Well on that day an unfortunate day in 1069 which we heard about
you when you were part of a patrol that killed those civilians. What orders had you received that day. None that day it was just standard S.O.P orders that we do the same as all roving ambushes or killer teams as they're called. It's the stop night activities and they send them out only in a free fire zone. And there are there's supposed you know some civilians are near it all because all civilians just boldly been moved out. So those people you saw as far as you were concerned were were not civilians they were sympathizers and aiding abetting enemy. Thank you. One of the world's leading authorities on guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency is Robert Thompson who directed Britain's successful war against guerrillas in Malaya. He later headed the British advisor in mission to Vietnam and was appointed a special advisor by President Nixon in 1949. So Robert Thompson in London you've been listening
to this in a war of this kind when it's so obviously often difficult to know who the enemy is. Is it possible to protect civilians in accordance with the laws of war. It is all in accordance with the laws of role. But that doesn't mean that civilians are not going to be healed. I think what people don't understand him is the complete asymmetry in this war. The fact that the North is invading the SOG and disputes on that point. This can be disputes on the invasion of Cambodia or knows that the South Pole is fighting for his survival. Where is the No. Is not threatened. And secondly with regard to the conduct of the wall it is a semantical as Mr admits
the role as waged by by sea and the North means in violation of the traditional rules of war and the Geneva convention full of American backed you on that. And what about Mr. Taylor's charge that the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese may have violated the laws of war. What about some American tactics which he claims like free fire zones perhaps violated the laws of war. Well I don't agree with that and certainly not in a war of this nature. We had thought we respected areas. It meant that he was in risk. We also had for example
and that meant that no one was allowed outside that house. No one was allowed outside the village and during night time troops had to actually run. Is it your room is a German QUESTION So Robert that the American tactics took sufficient pains to ensure that there were not innocent civilians in the free fire zones as compared with your tactics in Malaya. I think every effort was made and here we come back to the evacuation of civilians. I think too much has been made by Mr. Taylor. The point he suggests that all the civilians were evacuated by the Americans and he's not true a lot of the evacuations are as a result of conics and in fact the great rush of refugees that we had during the war was all the hill people coming out of the jungles and mountains because they could no longer stand the cong
repression repression is a Viet Cong town it is a systematic and intentional to secure submission. So Robert can I ask you one final question just in this section were the tactics the Americans used in Vietnam which Mr. Taylor has criticized always dictated by military necessity or were there alternatives I do not think that the time of the 1965 in 1968 when the Americans were engaged the main force that they could do than fight a conventional war against them. Sir Robert thank you very much. Vietnam has been perhaps the most reported war in history. Peter Arnett of the Associated Press covered the war for many years and won a Pulitzer Prize America's highest journalistic Honor for his reporting. Mr. Arnett while you were in Vietnam what priority was given to protecting civilian lives.
Well we have heard that the directives were impeccable from the House and from the beginning of the American troop involvement. I was struck by the interest of American soldiers about the civilians but a major factor kept creeping into this in this situation it was the lives of the American soldiers themselves. And I heard on many occasions and I quoted them on many occasions but brigade commanders division saying that one American life is worth more than a million and that the life of the GI is overall important in relation to the war. This may have had something to do with General Westmoreland's policy of attrition which was an attempt to outlast the enemy and this dependence on God for that.
Involving a village area and we were approaching it there was a choice of bringing in and destroying the placement from the arrow by sending troops to clear it out carefully. Your observation was this use of heavy firepower power in areas where there was known to be civilian population. Well again getting to the approach to the hamlet you get some shots from the general direction that is often there would be three or four hundred in length. So usually much of these would be destroyed. There's another aspect to I think the civilians the Americans for the first two or three years were really engaged against the North Vietnamese. How I read it
was looking for a set piece battle which would decide the war once and for all in a traditional manner. The civilian population were essentially and so on more than one occasion I'd be riding with a battalion or with a brigade and he would be irritated and furious that the sniper fire and booby traps from villages adjoining his base camp. And the instructions would be given to American civilian advisors like the previous day saying we will be running a convoy down highway for tomorrow if we get one shot from any of the hamlets along the way we're going to destroy them all and in fact it often happened that way. How in your experience what was the effort to follow up the directives from high command down into the field through the chain of command. The effort to follow up. There was a war going in progress and was defining what should be followed. If a village village or civilians were killed in essential defense
of an American operation the defense of American life it would be interpreted one of these and this is reactive war however unfortunate. Now the acts that followed up of course were accidental shellings and accidental accidental forces and matters like this they were followed out. One other point I'd like to make is that you know the whole concept over the over the use of this is not a new thing. 66 67 the importance of American civilians within South Vietnam did present a viewpoint that this observation about the lives of civilians in the successful prosecution of the war and in fact in the later part of the war I'd say by 69 to a large degree. Thanks very much. I ask you to join in a moment Mr. Taylor now do you want to come
back in this in this section. Well only very briefly I must say that it is the most polite antagonist ever ahead because if the worst thing you can say is that I don't have a full understanding of the refugee situation I can only say a lot of people said worse things than that to me before. Of course I don't have full understanding. I don't believe anybody does. I'm well aware that the refugees come from many different sources and many different times. It seems to me that we're involved in here is two problems that are very difficult to resolve without without having very extensive observation and experience in all places. The fact that military orders as written are impeccable is in itself no guarantee that that will represent the actuality of things. And the real question is the extent to which efforts are made to enforce them as written. I think a great deal of the debate here is because you know it is a very place in a fairly large place. Things are different one place in another. People don't all see the same things units that go in there have
different degrees of training and discipline some commanders are rigorous and others are not. And this accounts for a great deal of the disparity in observation. But having said all that I think it's plain enough from the multitude of it seems to me responsible press accounts and other reports Senator Kennedy's committee and other sources of official information that the implementation of these orders has been has been so defective and the indoctrination of troops in many instances so poor and the discipline of enforcement so poor that the results. Do imply guilt in high places for the consequences. Mr. Jordan you want to come back. In a couple of points. First of all it's very hard to say what's an adequate standard of performance on the part of the superiors. I said before and I still believe that the performance of General Westmoreland and his subordinates in the years since 1965 has probably been unparalleled in the history of warfare and it's concerned now it hasn't worked perfectly
mineros even recognize have been changes but the efforts have been made I think stand out in the history of warfare with respect to the store and its comments on the on the villages and receiving foreign response. That's very difficult. But I'm not at all confident of the Vietnam War. There was a lot of combat in cities in the Second World War by our forces and by forces on the other side. There was a lot of times when shots were received from occupied places and tanks were brought in artillery was brought in and a lot of people were killed whether in a particular instance that violates the principle of proportionality which goes along with the doctrine of military necessity. It is hard to say and I think the only way you can assess it is to look very very carefully at the facts of each particular case. Generalizations are quite dangerous. Do you think Mr. Taylor about the observation that. Firing on villages with the return of sniper fire in cities during the
Second World War in Europe. Well I try to ignore the distinction I spoke before between either artillery or bombs used on a city or a village from which far is being received which I think ample justification can be made. And I would support every measure which does tend to save American lives in these operations. I would contrast that with situations where the town or the village has been taken. And where it is then the subject of killings in a punitive way. There is considerable evidence that there have been many airstrikes on villages not because fire is being received but because they have in the past harbored the Vietcong and we have seen copies of leaflets air units announcing that bombings have been done for that reason. That is punitive bombing and not operational bombing. A General Krulak to everything to add to this. I find myself in in full agreement with Mr Taylor in the matter of there being variations in application across the face of Vietnam. But I believe the record stands quite plain when you look at the
considerable number of aggressive pursuits of malfeasance by individuals and groups to exhibit that there is a continuing understanding of the of the criticality of watching the problem of abuse of the civilian. A community a good example of course is Mr. Schwartz here who will advise you that within 48 hours of the event for which he was tried it was public knowledge and he and his colleagues were were being pursued. Can we go to London. Sir Robert would you like to come back on any of these points. Yes I think one of them is that the high command in Vietnam had to deal on their own side with literally millions of men. The American forces reached a total of five hundred fifty thousand in 1968 and they were on one you told us so that the amount of training involved in the control involved and I agree with General Krulak about
the disparity all over the country. But when you take that into account and realize that only one hundred and eighty allegations have been made and none of them as far as we know anything like the net as a result of that they have been taking three court martials and 20 convictions. I personally think that the high command has been enforcing rules of war against when operating against a side which ignores the rules of war. Sir Robert Thompson thank you very much. So we're left with a position that some specific war crimes such as MI law and others Robert Johnson just mentioned have been acknowledged and we've heard charges of other crimes of a broader nature. So we turn now to the question of how high in the American leadership should any responsibility go for either category of crime. The World War Two presidents went right to the top of the chain of command. The American chain of command in Vietnam in 1968 ran up from General William
Westmoreland the commander in Vietnam Admiral U.S. ground commander in chief Pacific general chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington to Mr Clark Clifford secretary of defense. And finally to President Johnson the commander in chief. As we've heard some Americans are arguing that these same top men bear some of the guilt for identified war crimes like me lie to you. These people say there's an analogy with the World War 2 verdict on the Japanese General you mushed your master was tried by an American military commission. Which held him responsible for the murder of hundreds of Filipino civilians by troops under his command. After appeals right up to the United States Supreme Court John wrote you know mushed was hanged.
And that concept of responsibility complied with such severity by America 25 years ago leads us to the third part of Mr. Taylor's argument. The responsibility for war crimes in Vietnam. When I was considering this and considering the extent to which courts martial or other judicial proceedings can be of use in resolving these questions I think we have to do and also in deciding what level at what level of command or civilian status. Responsibility might be placed. I think we have to distinguish among the various kinds of charges that we've already talked about that we haven't been saying much about the crimes against peace. And of course has been urged as has been mentioned on some sides that the United States is guilty of aggressive war there. My own view of this is that this is a question which is very difficult to adjudicate. And which cannot possibly be adjudicated effectively by an American court. It has of course been invoked as a defense by draftees but I myself do not believe that
the American judicial forum is a place where that issue of overall national policy can be suitably litigated. Conceivably this could be done by an international tribunal as it was at Nuremberg indeed. But we must realize that that Nuremberg came after a total victory where the court was sitting in the middle of a virtual library of captured documents. Dealing with a dictatorship where the will of one man represented the motivation and purpose of the nation. And none of those things are true today. And I think even an international tribunal would find difficulty in the adjudication of a so complex an issue as to whether the United States or North Vietnam was the initiating factor and this belligerency. There is of course a separate issue within this country as to whether the president has exceeded the powers given him by the Constitution since the Congress has a part of clear war. But that again is not or rather irrelevant to our present discussion which is in terms of international law. When we come to the war crimes side of it which we
focused on here. If we're talking about things like free fire zones and evacuation these are matters of reviled official policy and the responsibility if any where lives upstairs because these these are the product of acknowledged orders. And I stated my view on those things. When we come to other things like the punitive airstrikes treatment of prisoners type episodes what you're plainly not in accordance with the rules laid down in writing then the question of higher responsibility is out of this difficult to generalize. And one would have to look into the particular case what the commanders had done in terms of discipline training and force want to know whether the responsibility should be taken higher or not. Now I do want to say something quite particular about the case which has been much mentioned as a possible basis for comparison with the high command and high command in Vietnam. And I think here we must distinguish the principle laid down in the Marsh case from its
application in that case. The principle laid down was that a commander. It is not only responsible for not giving unlawful orders that he must also do what he can within his knowledge and resources to ensure proper behavior on part of the troops under his command. And that principle I believe to be sound. The question is whether in the Marsh case there wasn't a bundle of evidence that he did not have the means at his command either in terms of knowledge or control. To prevent the excesses for which he was accused and a strong case has been made by Mr. Riehl and others that this was not so and that he was wrongfully convicted. From what little I know about it I would say with complete certainty that had he been tried at Nuremberg he would certainly not have received a capital sentence. And it is even dubious that you have been convicted at all. Now. When we get beyond that however we have had a picture so far in this country that the courts martial that have actually taken
place have concerned company platoon commanders and enlisted men. And there has arisen a feeling that this is due to a desire to make scapegoats of those of low rank and not in the same principals on their superiors. I regret to say that it seems to me this impression was very much underlined by the dismissal of the charges against General coster at the very moment when Lieutenant Calley the platoon commander remained on trial and was given a heavy sentence. But I'd like to say this in conclusion that I think the courts martial and trials of high ranking military men and civilians are bound to come up against political realities. And I think that the great need in this country is not so much for the criminal process here as for some kind of inquiry to bring about a confrontation. Between the army and its own
past. The army's actions in the Marshall case as compared to the actions in Vietnam. For public awareness of what our operations in Vietnam it has had in the way of consequences. The British have a device which I wish we had. The so-called tribunal as an inquiry which are comparable to courts which do not however give out criminal sentences but can subpoena witnesses and impose and declare judgments and they have been used for cases where it is not desired to prosecute a judgement is needed. Such a tool would be very useful for us here. There is another possibility. Article 1 forty nine of the Geneva Conventions provides that the parties to a conflict can ask for an international inquiry into allegations of unlawful conduct. This too could be made use of action through the United Nations or presidential or congressional committees are also possibilities. It seems to me that in in dealing with the issue in public terms that those are perhaps more
promising and certainly more practical avenues than extensive use of the criminal process. Thank you Mr. TAYLOR. A member of the inner circle of the administration's American policy. It was America's administration policy during the height of the Vietnam War was John Roche a close personal advisor to President Johnson. He's now head of the political science faculty at Brandeis University and a nationally syndicated columnist. I feel a little bit out of place here today because I am essentially I guess a historian among judges lawyers and warriors. And I will insist on historians write to the relevant within his own scope. In a curious sense this whole discussion has been a performance of a tell all without Jago. That is to say without the discussion of the role of the North Vietnamese and the whole responsibility of the war and the question really seems to me to start with who is
responsible for the war. Now despite all the myths of Geneva in 1954 the fact is that. The South Vietnamese by 1957 had become in the general form of nations accepted as a state. The United Nations General Assembly in one thousand fifty seven voted admission to the Republic of Viet Nam and in September in the Security Council it was past ten to one even the French voted for Russians over the tone of a Soviet veto might indicate that the Russians did not believe that South Vietnam was an autonomous state. But curiously enough they impeach their own argument by subsequently coming forth with a proposal that both North and South Vietnam be admitted as states to the United Nations along with North and South Korea and east and west Germany. Why you thought square one let's proceed to square two square two is that the North Vietnamese set out two new words liberate South Vietnam that is invaded as well as Laos and
Cambodia made no secret of his long range objective which was to recreate the French Indochina as a communist successor state. They launched an aggressive war against the South. And if we may believe Harold Wilson which I trust we may told him in 1967 that they had at least a hundred thousand people at the end of the pipeline in South Vietnam. Put simply I think it's grotesque to compare US behavior with that with out of Nazi Germany. It's true we've had two and a half million tonnes of ordnance but we've had no city bust. We kill hundred twenty thousand people in Tokyo in 1945 Nuremberg is not far from Dresden nor from home book. And yet this kind of city busting in Europe was considered a name that was considered legitimate What technique. What we did was make a commitment to limited war which in a sense was a commitment to a calculated military inefficiency. In order to save lives. That is we did not bust the dikes of the Red River and we have not engaged in such a
Russian bombing. In other words we made a political decision not to go the World War to rout in Viet Nam. We could have flattened North Vietnam in two days I imagine for which we are now condemned for using less than Nuremberg would have legitimate In other words we are now being condemned for using less force then we could have used legitimately under the Nurnberg rules. This reminds me of the old common law ruling. You know for any early days of the railroads if a person was hit by a train and only injured he had a right to sue. If he was killed. Unfortunately the right died with him it was a personal right. Like libel. As a consequence were always had a vested interest in killing rather than injuring people. Now the character of the enemy it seems to me in the in the war it seems to be also can be going to look into that later. Let me just take up finally this question of responsibility. Of course there have been war crimes they have occurred but against orders and they have been
punished. There are always frightening men who squeeze triggers and are always psychopaths. The president of the United States is in political terms responsible for everything that happens in his administration. Hoover was about as responsible for the Great Depression as the Wali of Swat but in fact it was put around his neck. Whether the president knows about it or not he is politically responsible for it. But President Johnson is no more responsible legally for war crimes than say Governor Reagan is legally is legally responsible for the 24 murders in Yuba City. There is no such thing in American law as objective guilt. That is especially of Stalin's prosecutors and of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy who accused General Marshall of object of treason for letting China go communist. Let us leave the principle of objective guilt to the totalitarians. Our concern is with subjective guilt or with deliberate refusal to see guilty acts. And here I submit there is no evidence whatsoever that all political leaders can I have that or in any way subjectively guilty of war crimes. Thank you Mr Roach.
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Nuremberg and Vietnam (Reel 3)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Date
1971-06-04
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Global Affairs
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00:30:49
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 4869 (University of Maryland)
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Chicago: “Nuremberg and Vietnam (Reel 3),” 1971-06-04, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 7, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-t43j2g7j.
MLA: “Nuremberg and Vietnam (Reel 3).” 1971-06-04. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 7, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-t43j2g7j>.
APA: Nuremberg and Vietnam (Reel 3). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-t43j2g7j