Sunday, January 27, 2013

Simply forgotten


It’s a bitter irony that “Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam” by Nick Turse was largely ignored by both mainstream Vietnamese media and bloggers. His book documented the secret history of U.S.-led atrocities against Vietnamese peasants during the Vietnam War. One case, highlighted by the Washington Post was Operation Speedy Express, conducted in the Mekong Delta by the 9th Infantry Division under the command of Maj. Gen. Julian Ewell. “Turse documents the savagery of Speedy Express, the gratuitous execution of thousands of civilians in pursuit of high body counts and career advancement,” the newspaper wrote in its review.
Another review praises the book, which it says, “argues, persuasively and chillingly, that the mass rape, torture, mutilation and slaughter of Vietnamese civilians was not an aberration – not a one-off atrocity called My Lai – but rather the systematized policy of the American war machine”.
While Americans are reading Turse’s book in the hope that “the truth, purely told by writers as gifted as Nick Turse, is the only thing that has the power to cleanse [them]”, that type of truth is simply forgotten in Vietnam.
Why?
The language barrier is obviously the first hurdle.
But I think the real reason lies in the fact that remembering atrocities during the war brings nothing pleasant to both sides: those who fought for the U.S. and those who fought against it. Denying that such atrocities happened and then ignoring the whole thing is simply the most convenient thing to do for the former; Looking the other way is also convenient for the latter as, for them, America is the land of new business opportunities.
Only the poor people of my land suffered the indignities and deaths silently during the war, their fate simply forgotten here despite the publicity Turse’s book received in the U.S. People here are busy evicting peasants out of their land, again, in the name of development.