Rod McLaughlin


The War Remnants Museum (17 apr 18)

If you google "bob kerrey war crimes", you get lots of light-hearted banter about Bob Kerrey, baby-killer and, later, American politician, from the US newspapers. The Vietnamese account in the War Remnants Museum is more to the point.

 

"Bob Kerrey a baby-killer? Laughing, literate Bob Kerrey?" So wondered Mary McGrory in the pages of the Washington Post.
Los Angeles — Even today, Americans argue over the Vietnam War. This sad history returns because of Bob Kerrey's appointment as chairman of the American-sponsored Fulbright University Vietnam.
Despite evidence that Senator Robert Kerrey was involved in the commission of war crimes in the Vietnam war, he was appointed to the Official Commission to Investigate the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.
Bob Kerrey, Mass Murderer? 
...mistakes were made...

This is the best museum I've been to in Vietnam. The old planes and tanks are well maintained, and the notices are well-written and not at all strident. They don't need to be - the facts speak for themselves - the Vietnam war was a war crime committed by the USA from start to finish.

One of the best exhibits is by "Veterans For Peace", and explains the huge anti-war movement in the US which eventually led to withdrawal and communist victory. There is also an exhibition of prize-winning photographs from the time which I found disturbing, not so much because of the content, but thinking about the photographers, taking pictures of war crimes without becoming involved in trying to stop them. The picture I found most disturbing wasn't the famous picture of fourteen-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc naked, screaming from napalm burns, but a black-and-white photo of a woman swimming across a river with her three young children. It's so well-shot, and she is so beautiful, it's like a fashion photo - except that she's having to risk drowning her family to escape from bombs.

Incidentally, none of the above is meant to imply that North Vietnam didn't commit war crimes too. Also, its preparedness to sacrifice its own soldiers was summarised by General Westmoreland, who remarked “Any American commander who took the same vast losses as General Giap would not have lasted three weeks.



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