Example essay

Essay: Should We Have War Crimes Trials?

If Congress fails to undertake an inquiry that carries the authority of the nation, then hypocrisy will be added to our sins. The Nuremberg judgments on Nazi crimes as diabolical as the extermination of the Jews will remain a monument to international justice. Even under the most critical scrutiny, nothing the United States has done comes close to the satanic evil of Hitler and his followers. The Nazis were in a class of their own.

But the other smaller judgments at Nuremberg, and the verdicts of the Tokyo court, will become what many said they were then – the declarations of the victors over the vanquished. We must remember that in the Tokyo court, the United States went so far as to set the legal precedent that anyone in a cabinet who learns of war crimes, and subsequently remains in that government, acquires the responsibility for these crimes. By our own criteria, therefore, Orville Freeman, President Johnson’s agriculture secretary, could acquire responsibility for war crimes in Vietnam.

Recently, when I spoke with a Japanese friend about General Yamashita’s conviction for the deaths of over 25,000 non-combatants in the Philippines, he said, “We Japanese have a saying. The winner is always right.

History shows that the men who decide to go to war, as the Japanese militarists did, cannot ask for mercy for themselves. The use of force is the ultimate act. It’s playing God. Those who try to force cannot afford to fail. I don’t mean to suggest that men should be free to try anything in the war to ensure victory. Rather the opposite. The laws of war seek to alleviate the evil of war, to save the lives that can be saved in the midst of a great slaughter. Nevertheless, war remains an evil which imposes a unique burden on those responsible. It will seem cynical to many, but if the Johnson administration had won the war in Vietnam, few would be looking for war crimes among the physical and human ruins of Indochina. Evidence of large-scale murder and brutality is said to have been muffled in cries of success. The use of force failed, however, and that failure helped make the issue of war crimes in Vietnam a very real issue and a very fair one to deal with. Our failure presents an opportunity for humanity that must not be lost. – Neil Sheehan


The Book Review received this bibliography from Mr. Mark Sacharoff, Assistant Professor of English at Temple University, and sent the books to Neil Sheehan.

“Against the crime of silence”, edited by John Duffet | “Air war – Vietnam”, by Frank Harvey | “Atrocities in Vietnam”, by Edward S. Herman | “At war with Asia”, by Noam Chomsky | “The victims of war”, by Daniel Lang | “Chemical and Biological Warfare”: Hearings of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee | “Chemical and Biological Warfare”, by Seymour M. Hersh | “Chemical and Biological Warfare”, edited by Steven Rose | “Chemical warfare”, by Major Frederic J. Brown | “Conversations with Americans”, by Mark Lane | “Crimes of War”, edited by Richard A. Falk, Gabriel Kolko and Robert J. Litton | “Defoliation”, by Thomas Whiteside | “The Destruction of Indochina”, by the Stanford Biology Study Group | “Ecocide in Indochina”, by Barry Weisberg | “Efficacy in Death”, sponsored by the Committee of Concerned Asian Researchers | “In the name of America”, by Seymour Melman | Militarism, United States ”, by Colonel James A. Donovan | “Half the military”, by Jonathan Schell | “My Lai 4”, by Seymour M. Hersh | “Nuremberg and Vietnam”, by Telford Taylor | “A Morning in the War”, by Richard Hammer | “Problems of Refugees and Civil War Victims in Indochina: Report of the Staff of the US Senate Subcommittee on Refugees,” by Dale S. de Haan and Jerry Tinker | “Problems of Refugees and Civil War Victims in Laos and Cambodia”: Hearing of the US Senate Subcommittee on Refugees | “Revolutionary non-violence”, by David Dellinger | “The Silent Weapons”, by Robin Clarke | “The social responsibility of the scientist”, edited by Martin Brown | “The Ultimate Madness”, by Richard D. McCarthy | “Vietnam and Armageddon”, by Robert F. Drinan | “The village of Ben Suc”, by Jonathan Schell | “War Crimes and the American Conscience”, edited by Erwin Knoll and Judith N. McFadden | “Weapons for counterinsurgency”, National action / research on the military-industrial complex | “Why are we still in Vietnam? »Edited by Sam Brown and Len Ackland

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