The My Lai Massacre Just Got Worse

The My Lai Massacre

The My Lai Massacre

W.J. Astore

CBS News has an article that shows that President Richard Nixon sought to cover up the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.  The article draws from notes taken at the time by H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff and hatchet man.  The notes suggest that Nixon ordered “dirty tricks” to discredit the testimony of the true Army heroes who intervened to stop the massacre.  It further suggests neutralizing the gory details of My Lai by playing up atrocities committed by communist forces at Huế (“You think we’re bad in massacring innocents at My Lai?  Well, the commies are a lot worse”).

Here are Haldeman’s notes from his meeting with Nixon:

Credit: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Credit: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Note that My Lai is treated as a problem in public relations, not as a war crime.  It’s to be managed by dirty tricks and the exploitation of a senator or two.  As long as we all stay on the same page and spout the same message (while suppressing the facts and intimidating and discrediting witnesses), My Lai and the 504 Vietnamese killed there in 1968 can just be made to disappear.  That’s the gist of Haldeman’s notes.

Haldeman’s notes are further evidence of what The Contrary Perspective argued previously on the Vietnam War: We lost more than a war in Vietnam.  We lost our humanity.

4 thoughts on “The My Lai Massacre Just Got Worse

  1. Thanks, Col. Astore. I hadn’t been aware of this new evidence, though none was really needed to condemn Nixon and his cronies. I have long been highly suspicious of the claims of the liberation forces committing massacres at Hue. The more vigorously the Nixon team pointed to those alleged crimes, the more dubious they should be considered. At this late point in time, who can determine who killed whom in that city? Perhaps a few accused traitors were executed, but a mass killing of civilians makes no sense. The big racist lie of that war, of course, was that “Asians place little value on a human life.” Those making that accusation should have taken a long, hard look at their own reflections in the mirror.

    US Army, 1967-71

  2. Pingback: Document points to Nixon in My Lai cover-up attempt | Stop Making Sense

  3. From Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, by Nick Turse, Chapter 6 – The Bummer, The “Gook-Hunting” General, and the Butcher of the Delta:

    “The pervasiveness of brutality during the Vietnam War went hand in hand with a culture of defensiveness, denial, and, ultimately, impunity. Paper over any problems, conceal faults, bury bad news as much as possible; such was the standard operating procedure for commanders throughout the Vietnam years. Young officers looking to move up the chain of command knew that the appearance of battlefield success was the thing that mattered, and that their superiors looked askance on anyone rocking the boat. So even when detailed, reliable atrocity allegations came from soldiers within the army’s own ranks, the military often tamped down the reports, suppressed investigation findings, or dragged out the cases for as long as possible. And if any perpetrators were charged, they could frequently count on military juries or friends in high places to let them off with very little punishment — or none at all.”

    I have no doubt but that the same bureaucratic imperatives — chiefly, Parkinson’s Law and the Peter Principle — continue motivating our political/military “leaders” to commit and cover up war crimes committed on a vast scale as part of deliberate policy — “Grab ’em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow.” I see no reason to think that anything has changed significantly in the United States when it comes to wreaking disaster upon foreign peoples. In fact, according to the “new” Obama Drone Doctrine: If no Americans get hurt, all the killing and maiming of foreigners doesn’t even count as “war” at all, but only “Overseas Contingency Operations.” What deliberately meaningless mumbo-jumbo. So the national “long war” lobotomy continues unabated, mainly through shameless Orwellian logocide: the murdering of words.

  4. I would highly recommend the book “Matterhorn” for a very real and detailed account of a small battle and the decision making by the command structure behind it. It is supposedly fiction written by a former unit officer and it took him thirty years to write. It is a big book about a small battle and the incompetence and indifference to suffering of the infantrymen in Vietnam. Once you start reading it you will feel like you are on that hill, code named Matterhorn, and you are lost to civilization.
    But, hey, we were there to bring capitalism and its subsequent democracy to these benighted people. And we also didn’t want any “dominoes” to fall into Chinese hands. Of course our ‘deciders’ failed to uncover the easily obtained information from our vaunted intelligence services that the Vietnamese had a long standing fear of Chinese intrusion .

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