Wednesday May 22, 2013
Calley Vs Manning:
Political Perspective by Tim King Salem-News.com
William Calley and Bradley Manning: soldiers who are as different as night and day - both were propelled into the and national spotlight by the revelation of war crimes.
(SALEM) - If you were a U.S. soldier in a village in South Vietnam murdering children and spraying bullets into the faces of old ladies, you're cool, you are alright, you're William Calley. Red-blooded red staters will stand behind you and scream "hippie" and "Love it or leave it!" in the faces of those who object, because Americans back troops who rape little girls and slash people to pieces; My Lai taught us that it is perfectly acceptable to commit brutal crime as long as you're ordered to do so.
But if you follow the teachings of your mother, your teachers and your clergy; reporting what is wrong at all costs for the sake of what is right, then you're Bradley Manning; scorned by Americans who don't care about war crimes in Iraq, who scream "liberal" and "Love it or leave it!" in the faces of those who object. The Wikileaks experience so far, teaches us to silence and condemn those who expose war crimes.
What a path it is, that this nation walks on. Americans embrace war by proxy and they cheer and wave flags as their young sons and daughters are sent off to fight and often die in brutal, bloody conflicts we are not winning.
With the right conditioning, young idealistic American fresh out of high school can easily be convinced that it is perfectly OK to strap on a uniform and some body armor and play God with human lives. Then, among the easily led and overly impressionable young soldiers, one like Manning finds evidence of war crimes and he knows that if he doesn't release it to the public, this murderous warfare against civilians will continue, so he leaks it. This young enlisted soldier, a Private first class, risked a great deal to expose what was taking place in Iraq. There are very interesting notes to compare with these crimes, particularly with regard to public support, and the nagging aspect of class warfare as a possible contributing factor in Manning's alleged mistreatment.
Vietnam and Iraq: two of the longest & most unpopular wars in U.S. history; these are conflicts that tore up populations and devastated families, ended in stalemate.
William Calley and Bradley Manning: soldiers who are as different as night and day - both were propelled into the and national spotlight by the revelation of war crimes; Calley led soldiers on a sex and murder spree, razing a Vietnamese village, while Manning released video of a U.S. Army helicopter gunning down unarmed journalists and children in Baghdad, and other revelations.
Similarity and Contrast: Many years separate the cases of the two soldiers; William Calley and Bradley Manning, but as diametrically opposed as they may be, there are a number of common points in each story.
Heroes and Villains: In My Lai, a U.S. Army helicopter was used to save a group of innocent people; in Baghdad, one was used as a shooting platform to eliminate civilians.
My Lai remained a secret even though helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson tried to expose it. Photos taken by a soldier named Ron Ridenour at My Lai, released after he was discharged from the Army, brought the story out of the shadows. The murders of the journalists in Iraq only became known by Bradley Manning's release of documents and, in this case, video. More details about the similarities below.
In Vietnam, Americans fought, killed and died; became maimed and did the same to others, and then they came home and everything Americans didn't want to see happen, happened. The thing about Communist Vietnam, is that it hasn't turned out so bad, that is if you ignore the unexploded bombs, missing limbs, and of course the multi-generational aspects of Agent Orange.
William Calley led the soldiers of 'Charlie Company' with the U.S. Army's Americal Division into My Lai, a coastal village sometimes called 'Pinkville' by U.S. forces. They surrounded the unsuspecting villagers, sent in 'rape teams' to round up the girls and women they wanted to rape... and then murder.
Most of the civilians were just killed in a pre-meditated mass-murder.
A handful were saved by an American helicopter pilot who flew over the carnage and assumed at first, that the Viet Cong had killed a massive number of villagers - only to realize that U.S. soldiers were the ones doing the killing.
Warrant Officer One Hugh Thompson, Jr. ultimately landed his helicopter between a small group of villagers being marched toward a ditch filled with dead bodies, and the approaching soldiers, and instructed his gunner to open fire on the soldiers if they advanced or tried to kill the villagers. Thompson then talked a friend with a cargo helicopter into violating his orders and flying in to evacuate the villagers, some of the only 500+ people in My Lai to survive that day.
My friend Duc Tran Van, who was a little seven-year old boy in My Lai when Lt. William Calley's boys came to town, on 16 March 1968. Amazingly, he survived the day and went on to become a successful resident of Germany where he is raising his own son today, in safety.
There was a great deal of confusion for young Duc Van tran on that day that happened almost exactly 44 years ago. He thought for a little bit that he was going to be OK, but then the U.S. soldiers shot his mother and he became immortalized as the little boy laying in the dirt road protecting his infant sister from the marauding, murderous soldiers.
"Despite her injuries in her leg and stomach, my mother has dragged herself to the street to see us running away. So she had to see her other two daughters lying dead on the other roadside. I ran away from this place, carrying my sister," Duc Van Tran said.
The photos of his mother's corpse, so ungraciously gunned down in the dirt with her eyes still open, are along with the photos of her son, perhaps some of the central images carried by U.S. news magazines and they historically represent this terrible war that Americans were prevented from winning, by their own politicians.
Calley's actions also define in the eyes of many, the Vietnam Veteran, and this is wrong and part of a significant era where those who served were heavily frowned upon. Nearly all of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who served in this war did so with honor.
I do cite in this article that racism was a problem in Vietnam and has been in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that is unfortunate. Obvious some Americans are subject to a follow the leader mentality, as may in part describe what happened at My Lai, but generally, it is the minority, not the majority, who abuse power. I find it shocking to study this period and comprehend how vast the support for Lt. Callie was.
Some of Calley's avid supporters, were World War Two Veterans; yet they are the same group that refused for years, to allow Vietnam Veterans into the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). Vets from this war were told for too long, that their service didn't count; that they hadn't fought a real war, when Vietnam was as real as any war ever has been or could be.
If the Americans had been allowed to defeat North Vietnam, then the corrupt government of South Vietnam may have been able to exist without eventually moving toward Communism, but it is not what happened.
When the U.S. officially occupied Cambodia in 1970, it set the stage for what would be, one of the worst Genocides in history. Millions of Cambodians died in The Killing Fields. Young, highly indoctrinated children from the Khmer Rouge Communists carried out many of these terrible crimes against humanity; it began after the U.S. pulled its forces out and went home.
Then with the U.S. out of the way, the new unified Vietnam; the people we had been fighting;, engaged and defeated the barbaric and Genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and sent their leader, Pol Pot, packing to China, which of course in this timeframe, became a friend of the U.S. through negotiations carried out by then President Nixon.
Then, the Chinese; friends of the Genocidal Khmer Rouge, attacked Vietnam in retribution for Vietnam's war in Cambodia. The Chinese sent hundreds of thousands of inexperienced troops to Vietnam, they fought and suffered a series of terrible defeats at the hands of the highly experienced Vietnamese fighters, and retreated for good. This war was fought with ground forces only.
All of this tragedy followed the My Lai massacre, and the treatment of that terrible mass murder showed the world that the United States exists by the motto, "Do as I say, not as I do", and this is one of the largest contributing factors to the dark sentiments that erupted against Veterans in America. 'Baby killer' didn't just get pulled from a hat, and the photos that emerged from My Lai are as obscene as any civilian slaughter images can be.
Thank William Calley and every man that day who murdered those civilians, knowing every second, that they were violating everything right and decent and soiling their nation's image, as a soldier named Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, did last week in Afghanistan.
It is also important to note that a number of soldiers in Charlie Company did refuse their orders on this day. Yet others who participated in the killing, contend that they did nothing wrong that day, a claim strongly defeated by Thompson's aerial intervention, and Ridenour's infamous, tragic photographs.
In both Vietnam and Iraq, the decision was made to allow 'Cat-4's' (Category-4) into the military. These were individuals who scored in the lowest levels of the Armed Forces Entrance Exam (ASVAB) and are traditionally denied from service. In Vietnam, under Johnson, and then in Iraq, under Bush, 'Cat-4's' were deployed to war zones. Significant numbers of these individuals were criminals before entering the military, and as expected, all hell broke loose each time this practice was implemented.
A notorious example of a more contemporary Cat-4 type in uniform, is Lynndie England, the former Abu Ghraib guard who posed with nude, restrained and tortured prisoners and became synonymous with the shift in American sentiment from one of humanity, to one that largely endorsed torture.
I can not determine for a fact that England was a Category-4 ASVAB, but it would add up, and her lack of education and obvious shortfall of behavioral skills while serving in the Army, were consistent.
One could probably have put this together already: a number of soldiers in March '68, serving under Lt. Calley in 'C' Company... were Cat-4's.
When Bradley Manning served in Iraq, he saw a war where large numbers of those serving arrived with a pre-determined bias toward Arab people in place, before their feet ever hit the sand.
In Iraq, the Vietnam Veteran's derogatory reference for local people; "Gook" - was replaced with "towelhead" and "haji" and worse - I learned while covering the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, that the racial and cultural bigotry in America's military is strong, and obviously was well in place during both wars.
I do not believe any of the United State's most recent wars were either necessary.
Our normally smart society, which strongly resisted both WWI and WWII as long as possible in each case, should have been able to avoid the last several wars it chose to engage in.
Americans are supposed to set an example and they have absolutely done that, historically. The example is that the U.S. military will be sent to war when the country's resources are threatened, or when a fear against a foe is so great that violence seems a preference to peace, or sometimes, just because its president has a large ego and no respect for humanity, and wants to go to war.
There was a time when people could demand justification for military violence without being roasted alive by powerful media pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter, and most of the FOX News network; they've spent years pouncing on anything or anybody significant that mentioned being anti-war.
Americans have to straighten all of this out; we are attacking the messenger; the Iraq war was based on information that turned out to not even be true. Knowing those journalists were killed so brutally and that the matter would have been one more crime swept under the rug, was apparently something Manning couldn't allow.
The analytical minds are cut out of the mix when the U.S. initiates one of its run-ups to war. When this government is picking fights with North Vietnamese gunboats in the Gulf of Tonkin, or hanging 9/11 around the neck of an Iraqi president; the western media can be counted on to stop questioning obvious wrongs and to just fall in line with the rest of the troops when it is told to do so.
This problem is as fundamentally wrong, as is the concept of whistleblower retaliation - which sizes up the case against Bradley Manning. The idea that he broke the law is made on the assumption that the war itself was not illegal, yet it was. As a Nobel Prize Nominee, the U.S. government should read the writing on the wall and cut this guy loose; issue a pardon and a stern warning, and learn from the experience, thus cutting their own losses. The movement to see Manning released is growing.
Bradley Manning's alleged crime, as most people well know, is having released classified documents to Wikileaks, that implicated the United States in war crimes, or at least should have. His records were provided to the operation of Julian Assange, and soon, video of U.S. soldiers absolutely slaughtering a group of journalists in Baghdad was released on Wikileaks.
It happened on 12 July 2007, when two Apache helicopters using 30mm cannon fire killed roughly a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. Until this point, the incident was just one more day in the life of Americans who fly over and fire at innocent people from a mile away... after literally begging their commands for, "permission to fire".
After the helicopter crew killed the reporters and photographers, a van pulled up to evacuate the wounded, and the helicopter crew again impatiently asked for permission to fire on the mini van. It didn't take long, and the van was struck by bullets that literally destroyed the vehicle with two children's faces clearly visible in the passenger window.
This was followed by the arrival of U.S. forces in HUMVEE's who found at least one of the injured children, alive. The soldier is seen rushing this child to a waiting U.S. Army ambulance, the crew of which turns the soldier with the injured child away, saying they refused to offer treatment.
Had he slipped information about a legal war then things would be different, but a heartless war crime is still the same. The biggest thing that video reveals, is the attitude of aggressive Americans who are overly armed and improperly trained and guided.
During the Vietnam War, Americans supported the officer William Calley even though he was the poster boy for the My Lai war crimes. As the only member of an entire company held accountable for the crimes of all; up to 500 murders; he was briefly jailed and then pardoned by another famous American criminal, former President Richard M. Nixon.
The Manson Family was nothing next to William Calley and his soldiers, and of course his boss, Captain Ernest Medina; who also skated like all of the soldiers who committed the crimes.
During this time, William Calley was shown on the cover of magazines like Time, and Newsweek, repeatedly. He was the center of media attention for a long time, but with a divided fan base. In order to support Calley, Americans had to overlook hundreds and hundreds of dead bodies, of women, children and elderly people.
Hugh Thompson was able to save a group of villagers at My Lai, however the ground soldier who tried to save these kids in Iraq didn't have the ability to hand a dying child over to a waiting ambulance whose crew had nothing else to do, there were no injured Americans.
According to the 2011 Time Magazine Poll:
Now, Bradley Manning is being nominated for a Nobel Prize. He remains imprisoned, there are terrible reports about his receiving sustained abuse from guards, it is not hard to imagine.
Our writer, Dr. Phil Leveque, is a World War Two U.S. Army Veteran who spent years after the war both training doctors, and then after becoming one; treating Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In recalling his wartime experiences, he frequently discusses how distinctly different life was for officers and enlisted military personnel. Just last night we were talking about ridiculous historical philosophies that claim officers are essentially immune from PTSD, which is not true in any way.
The point is that a distinct bias exists within the military, that favors officers. Like many people, I find it interesting and incorrect that anyone with a bachelor's degree can become an officer, as young as 22; and after 90 days in Officers Candidate School and a commission, they instantly outrank every one of the most senior, battle hardened sergeants. Police lieutenants on the other hand, have to spend many years working their way into these higher ranking positions.
I can state from personal experience that the military will absolutely toss an enlisted person under the train, so to speak; in a heartbeat if it is deemed necessary.
William Calley was an officer, and the men aboard the Apaches were officers, and they all walked into the sunset.
Manning, a decorated enlisted soldier, rots behind bars. He has a thousand times the integrity of, the officers in this event. I believe as much as anything, Bradley Manning is a victim of class warfare.
William Calley has enjoyed a comfortable life in Atlanta, Georgia, he offered a minor apology for his crimes a couple of years ago at the anniversary of the killing. It is and was, the darkest and most extensive war crime in modern U.S. history, and the people responsible for it have never had to be responsible for it.
But then maybe it isn't the largest war crime in modern U.S. history.
Many people would argue that the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent decade plus-long conflict that Bush and Cheney launched on that soil holds that title, since the entire war was based on bad information and an incessant desire to use American resources to intentionally attack a country and leave up to 1.5 million people dead.
As a final note, we released a few hours ago, the fact that Bradley Manning trails by only 400 votes for Global Exchange's "People's Choice" 2012 Human Rights Award. Voting continues until Monday, 5:00 p.m. Pacific / 8:00 p.m. Eastern. You can log in with Facebook or register on the site to vote. Please vote here
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Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005.
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