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Re: The Living and the Dead

At 01:54 AM 9/16/96 GMT, John Young wrote:

>   The Washington Post has two heart-breaking pieces today 
>   on a new book about Vietnam, "The Living and the Dead: 
>   Robert McNamara and Five Lives," by Paul Hendrickson. 
>   The book tracks the disaster being formulated in 1965 by 
>   DC top-down policy interleaved with savagery to five 
>   grunts in bloody battle. 
>   There's a laudatory review of the grim book, and a long 
>   magazine piece gives an excerpt which includes some of 
>   Life's photos of a Marine copter gunner's transition from 
>   happy-go-lucky, to butchery of buddies, to grief-stricken 
>   collapse. It reawakens what's never forgot. 
>   That April, 1965, Life photo-essay, "One Ride With Yankee 
>   Papa 13," turned up in a sidewalk stall today so we'll 
>   put 18 photos on our Web page for a glimpse back to the 
>   future of power-mad policy begetting slaughter. 

ObAP comment:  A few weeks ago, the tv show "60 Minutes" ran an item about a 
group of Jews who, after the end of WWII, vowed revenge on the Nazis, down 
to German soldiers, plotting to kill as many as they could.  In their 
biggest coup, they killed hundreds of Germans in a POW camp by poisoning 
their bread.

My reaction?  As you might expect, I think that the main thing they did 
wrong was to not kill enough of them, but more particularly to not target 
the higher-ups.  The way I see it, the fundamental reason that people will 
continue to participate in holocausts, even today, is that they see no real 
prospect of being punished for their crimes.

Unfortunately, society has been conditioned if not to "forgive and forget," 
at least to not punish where it has an opportunity to punish.  I suggest 
that this is no accident:  It is in the interest of tyrants everywhere to 
let the other guy off easy, lest he be in the same position someday.  This 
is why numerous African and South American dictators were allowed to 
"retire" in peace, rather than being killed.

How would an AP-type system treat Robert McNamara?  He'd be dead in a 
second.  To those who say, "What good would this do?" I respond: Anyone in 
the American government today who is considering an adventure which MIGHT 
turn into another Vietnam should be deterred by the knowledge that sometime, 
in 30 minutes or 30 years, he could be killed for what he did.   Robert 
McNamara, presumably, did what he did because he thought he'd never be 
punished.  The best way to deter future governmental abuse is to remind 
these people that they _will_ be punished.

Jim Bell
[email protected]