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Vietnamese woman with a gun to her head, Vietnam War, 1969 (Keystone / Hulton Images / Getty)

Vietnam and the Sixties

A Personal History

This article will be made available online on December 12th.

In early 1970, Vice President Spiro Agnew had this to say about the so-called ’60s Generation: “As for these deserters, malcontents, radicals, incendiaries, the civil and the uncivil disobedients among our youth, SDS, PLP, Weathermen I and Weathermen II, the revolutionary action movement, the Black United Front, Yippies, Hippies, Yahoos, Black Panthers, Lions, and Tigers alike—I would swap the whole damn zoo for a single platoon of the kind of young Americans I saw in Vietnam.” This is a fascinating statement for multiple reasons and on multiple levels. To begin with, a single platoon of the kind of young Americans he saw in Vietnam went into a village we remember as My Lai and murdered 407 unarmed men, women, and children. On the same day, in the nearby village of My Khe, another unit of the same division murdered an estimated 97 additional Vietnamese civilians. While I personally did not participate in or witness killing on that scale, I and my fellow Marines routinely killed, maimed, and abused Vietnamese on a near-daily basis, destroying homes, fields, crops, and livestock with every weapon available to us, from rifles and grenades to heavy artillery and napalm.… It is no wonder, it turns out, that Agnew should be so fond of “the kind of young Americans” he saw in Vietnam, since he himself turned out to be a criminal who was forced to resign from his office in public disgrace.… | more…

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The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?

Lessons from the Vietnam War

This article will be made available online on December 12th.

The Vietnam War was an example of imperial aggression.… Imperialism ultimately enriches the home country’s dominant class. The process involves “unspeakable repression and state terror,” and must rely repeatedly “upon armed coercion and repression.” The ultimate aim of modern U.S. imperialism is “to make the world safe” for multinational corporations.… U.S. imperial actions in Vietnam and elsewhere are often described as reflecting “national interests,” “national security,” or “national defense.” Endless U.S. wars and regime changes, however, actually represent the class interests of the powerful who own and govern the country. Noam Chomsky argues that if one wishes to understand imperial wars, therefore, “it is a good idea to begin by investigating the domestic social structure. Who sets foreign policy? What interest do these people represent? What is the domestic source of their power?”… | more…

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Osprey military aircraft are seen at the U.S. Futenma airbase in Ginowan, on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, July 26, 2013. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took power in December and strengthened his mandate with the LDP's decisive victory in last month's upper-house election, has enjoyed early success because of "Abenomics", a combination of aggressive public spending and monetary easing that has kickstarted economic growth. But with the opposition in disarray and no need to face voters for several years, elements within the LDP are starting to dig in their heels on issues important to Abe's reform agenda, including a multilateral trade treaty. Okinawa, which handed the LDP one of its few defeats in the upper house elections, offers a glimpse of what serious anti-Abe opposition looks like. The LDP's election defeat underlines the importance of Futenma for Okinawa people who believe they bear an unfair burden of the U.S. bases, a legacy of the battle on the island in World War Two and the U.S. occupation that lasted until 1972. Picture taken July 26, 2013. REUTERS/Nathan Layne (JAPAN - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) - RTX12QBE

Empire of Bases

This article will be made available online on December 19th.

David Vine, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World (New York: Metropolitan, 2015), 418 pages, $35.00, hardcover.

The United States maintains about 800 military installations around the world, and the number is growing, despite partial withdrawals of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and scaling back of major European bases. The continued expansion…has come mainly through a series of smaller “lily pad” installations, originally proposed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that are now being built in Africa, Eastern and Central Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and beyond.… [David] Vine, a professor of anthropology at American University [and author of Base Nation], visited more than sixty current or former bases in twelve countries and territories. Although scholars such as Chalmers Johnson, Cynthia Enloe, and Catherine Lutz, as well as contributors to Monthly Review, have for decades sounded the alarm about the ever-expanding global network of U.S. military bases, Vine’s new study provides a comprehensive update, persuasively documenting the ways that “far from making the world a safer place, U.S. bases overseas can actually make war more likely and America less secure.”… | more…

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Monthly Review Volume 68, Number 6 (November 2016)

November 2016 (Volume 68, Number 6)

Notes from the Editors

U.S. presidential elections, if nothing else, throw considerable light on the ideology and imperatives of the system. This is particularly the case with respect to imperialism, where one sees signs of a declining and increasingly desperate U.S. empire. Hillary Clinton has been calling for a no-fly zone in Syria (which would include Russian planes!), thereby threatening a confrontation with Russia on a level not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis.… Trump, for his part, while appearing to suggest a kind of détente with Russia, is ready to intervene directly and massively in Iraq against the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh), including the use of ground troops. He supports the extension of torture and the slaughter of whole families of suspected terrorists. He claims that he would raise Israel from being a second-level power…. In short, the presidential nominees for the two major political parties are each posturing over who is the most aggressive and bellicose upholder of U.S. militarism and imperialism—and in ways that threaten further escalation of war in the Middle East and in opposition to Russia.… | more…

The Battle of Jarama Memorial

Revolutionary Biology

The Dialectical Science of Christopher Caudwell

Next year will mark the eightieth anniversary of the Battle of Jarama.… In February 1937, eleven thousand Republicans…fought and died defending Madrid against Francisco Franco’s fascist incursion. At this point in Spain’s Civil War, the country was split evenly between west and east by rebel Nationalist and Republican forces. An earlier direct assault on Madrid had been repulsed. Republican troops subsequently consolidated their defenses along the Manzanares River. An assault through Madrid’s southern barrios would have cost Franco’s forces dearly. General Emilio Mora’s men north of the city in the meantime were held in check by Popular Front forces in the Sierra de Guadarrama.… The Nationalists turned to cutting off Madrid from the Republic’s provisional capital. They planned to march south before swinging north and capturing the road to Valencia. In early February, Franco ordered 40,000 of his battle-hardened Moroccan troops and an Italian unit provided by Mussolini to attack. The forces crossed the Jarama River on February 11. Republican General José Miaja countered the thrust with three battalions of the XV International Brigade, including the Dimitrov Battalion and the British Battalion.… | more…

Love and Struggle by David Gilbert

Memories of a U.S. Political Prisoner

“We will fight from one generation to the next.” In the 1960s and 1970s we anti-imperialists in the U.S. were inspired not only by that slogan from Vietnam but even more by how they lived it with their 2000-year history of defeating a series of mighty invaders. At the same time we felt that we just might be on the cusp of world revolution in our lifetimes. Vietnam’s ability to stand up to and eventually defeat the most lethal military machine in world history was the spearhead. Dozens of revolutionary national liberation struggles were sweeping what was then called the “Third World,” today referred to as the “global South.” There was a strategy to win, as articulated by Che Guevara: to overextend and defeat the powerful imperial beast by creating “two, three, many Vietnams.” A range of radical and even revolutionary movements erupted within the U.S. and also in Europe and Japan.… Tragically, the revolutionary potential that felt so palpable then has not been realized.… Today, fighting from one generation to the next takes on new relevance and intense urgency.… | more…

The Kurdish Question Then and Now

The political chaos that has recently dominated the scene in the Middle East is expressed, among other ways, by the violent resurgence of the Kurdish question. How can we analyze, in these new conditions, the scope of the claims of the Kurds—autonomy, independence, unity? And can we deduce from analysis that this claim must be supported by all democratic and progressive forces, in the region and in the world?… Debates on the subject produce great confusion. This is because most contemporary actors and observers rally around a non-historical vision of this and related issues.… I will offer a counterpoint to this transhistorical vision of social issues and “rights,” through which the social movements of the past and present express their demands. In particular, I will attribute paramount importance to the divide that separates the thriving of the modern capitalist world from past worlds.… | more…

The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?

The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?

A devastating follow-up to William L. Griffen and Marciano’s 1979 classic Teaching the Vietnam War, The American War in Vietnam seeks not to commemorate the Vietnam War, but to stop the ongoing U.S. war on actual history. Marciano reveals the grandiose flag-waving that stems from the “Noble Cause principle,” the notion that America is “chosen by God” to bring democracy to the world. The result is critical writing and teaching at its best. This book will find a home in classrooms where teachers seek to do more than repeat the trite glorifications of U.S. Empire. It will provide students everywhere with insights that can prepare them to change the world.… | more…

Vietnamese Vietnam War Poster.

Vietnam and the Soldiers’ Revolt

The Politics of a Forgotten History

This article will be published on June 20th.

It has been nearly fifty years since the height of the Vietnam War—or, as it is known in Vietnam, the American War—and yet its memory continues to loom large over U.S. politics, culture, and foreign policy. The battle to define the war’s lessons and legacies has been a proxy for larger clashes over domestic politics, national identity, and U.S. global power. One of its most debated areas has been the mass antiwar movement that achieved its greatest heights in the United States but also operated globally. Within this, and for the antiwar left especially, a major point of interest has been the history of soldier protest during the war.… Activists looked back to this history for good reason.… Soldiers, such potent symbols of U.S. patriotism, turned their guns around—metaphorically, but also, at times, literally—during a time of war.… | more…

December 2015 (Volume 67, Number 7)

December 2015 (Volume 67, Number 7)

In this issue we feature two articles on the 1965–1966 mass killings and imprisonments in Indonesia. The army-led bloodbath was aimed at the near-total extermination of members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), then a highly successful electoral party with a membership in the millions.… In all, an estimated 500,000 to a million (or more) people were murdered. Another 750,000 to a million-and-a-half people were imprisoned, many of whom were tortured. Untold thousands died in prison. Only around 800 people were given a trial—most brought before military tribunals that summarily condemned them to death.… The United States…was involved clandestinely in nearly every part of this mass extermination: compiling lists of individuals to be killed; dispatching military equipment specifically designated to aid the known perpetrators of the bloodletting; offering organizational and logistical help; sending covert operatives to aid in the “cleansing”; and providing political backing to the killers.… [T]he mass killings…[were carried out with the active] complicity of the U.S. media.… | more…

No Reconciliation without Truth

An Interview with Tan Swie Ling on the 1965 Mass Killings in Indonesia

In the early morning of October 1, 1965, self-proclaimed left-wing troops raided the houses of seven top army generals in Jakarta. In the process, six of the generals were killed—three were shot during the kidnapping attempt, while the others were taken to Lubang Buaya, an air force base located in the south of Jakarta, and then killed. The seventh general, Nasution, managed to escape. The perpetrators announced on national radio that they were troops loyal to President Sukarno, and they aimed to protect the president from the danger posed by the right-wing “Council of Generals”—who, they said, were planning to launch a military coup d’état.… This movement was very short-lived. Within one day, it collapsed. Major General Suharto…took control of the army during the morning of October 1 and quickly crushed the movement.… [W]hat happened on October 1, 1965 marked the fall of Sukarno and the rise of Suharto, who was soon to rule Indonesia under his military dictatorship for more than three decades. The brutality of Suharto’s New Order is probably not news for people familiar with Indonesia. But there is “an episode the West would prefer to forget,” as journalist John Pilger put it, that accompanied Suharto’s rise to power: the destruction of Communism and the mass killings that followed—a phenomenon claimed by Time magazine in 1966 as “The West’s best news for years in Asia.”… | more…

The United States and the 1965–1966 Mass Murders in Indonesia

On October 1, 1965, the teletype in the White House relayed the account of a supposed “coup” by a group of Indonesian army officers calling themselves the September 30th Movement. In Jakarta the movement, which had begun the night before under the alleged leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Untung with the kidnapping and killing of six generals of the Indonesian Army High Command, was already unraveling. The September 30th Movement was a relatively small-scale affair. It was poorly planned and so clumsily executed that it seemed almost preordained to fail. Major General Suharto…took control of the army, and blamed what he labeled a “coup attempt” entirely on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Within two weeks, a much more momentous army-led and U.S.-backed movement to exterminate the PKI and its supporters was under way. Working with Muslim organizations, student groups, and other anti-Communist organizations, the army proceeded over the next five months to murder hundreds of thousands of unarmed, alleged PKI members. The slaughter paved the way for the army’s ouster of Sukarno in March 1966, its ascension to power, and the reconfiguration of Indonesian politics and foreign policy.… The liquidation of the PKI in Indonesia was “perhaps the greatest setback for Communism in the Third World in the 1960s” and an event with enormous implications for each of the Great Powers.… | more…

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