Released: January 1967
From the opening pages of this harsh and unsparing book, Bertrand Russell offers what he considered to be the unvarnished truth about the war in Vietnam. For Lord Russell, the war, and the way it was being conducted, was the responsibility of the United States. And, he adds, “To understand the war, we must understand America.”
In Lord Russell’s view, one of the essential things we must understand is that racism in the United States created a climate in which it was difficult for Americans to understand what they were doing in Vietnam. And it is this same racism, moreover, which “provokes a barbarous, chauvinist outcry when American pilots who have bombed hospitals, schools, dykes, and civilian centres are accused of committing war crimes.”
Even today, more than forty years later, this chauvinist moral blindness permitted John McCain to run for President effectively unchallenged when he gloried in his exploits in bombing the Vietnamese.
While Bernard Russell’s view may still come as a stinging slap to most in the United States, they will have to come to grips with it sooner or later, if for no other reason than after Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq, it remains the view held by tens if not hundreds of millions of Europeans, Asians, and Latin Americans, and even by an increasing number of North Americans.