What's the real civilian casualty count from the Vietnam War?

12/09/08 Robert Lorei
Radioactivity: Live Call-In (Tuesday) | Listen to this entire show:

Welcome to WMNF’s Radioactivity program. I’m Rob Lorei. Coming up today: new revelations about atrocities against civilians during the Vietnam War.

But first some listener comments about last Thursday’s program which featured an interview with social activist and self-described mystic Andrew Harvey. We also received some comments about the possibility that Jeb Bush will run for U.S. Senate.

The most infamous case of civilians being killed during the Vietnam War was the My Lai massacre in 1968. In the course of three hours more than 500 Vietnamese civilians were killed at the hands of U.S, troops. The soldiers had been on a "search and destroy" mission to root out communist fighters in what was fertile Viet Cong territory.

After My Lai, the U.S Army chief of staff assembled a task force to determine if similar atrocities were being committed by U.S. troops elsewhere in Southeast Asia. During the next five years, the Army amassed extensive documentation of many alleged war crimes. The Pentagon kept the project secret and the 9,000 page report lay hidden for the next 30 years.

Our guest is Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Deborah Nelson; she has written a book about the investigation called The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth About U.S. War Crimes.

For more information, visit TheWarBehindMe.com](http://www.thewarbehindme.com).

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The Need for Democracy in Military

My experiences with the USMC and my experiences in Hue,Vietnam have make me question how can an anti-democratic military defend or struuggle to achieve a democratic state? I also question how can "National Security" be accomphlished at the same time that some people make a profit from the war? When there is no war then there is no profit? I,only,have dreams of a military where I could have refused orders that were not winning hearts or minds with a court-martial,which I got.

I discussed this very question with my brother, Americal 1967-1968 up in Northern S. Vietnam and he says the only atrocities they found was with the N.Vietnamese Regulars that would go into villages before or after Americans were there and teach them lessons for talking to them. How did he know it was not Americans that killed these villagers was because of the damage to the human bodies. Heads, tongues, ears & hands were all cut off before they were hung and throats slit. Only once did they get an order to do a Mai Lai and all of them refused. Soon after the company Captain was replace. I have also interviewed many other Vets that relate most of the same stories as my brother, especially those that were up north. So, most of those 9000 pages are probably about what the North did to the villagers in the South.