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Friday, December 29, 2006


Left I at the Movies

If you feel like being punched in the gut, and yet still inspired and educated, Winter Soldier is the film for you. This film of the 1971 hearings held by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War into atrocities and other war crimes being committed by the United States in Vietnam starts with discussions of beheadings and disembowelment, and goes on from there. After an hour and a half of powerful first-hand testimony about Vietnamese being pushed out of helicopters, the use of chemical weapons including CS gas and white phosphorous, the murder of wounded prisoners, disfigurement, rape, and murder for sport, you'll have had quite a look at the nature of warfare conducted by the United States of America against a third-world country where the people look different. Cross off that "people" and make that "inhabitants"; the testimony makes very clear the soldiers didn't view the Vietnamese as people.

I'll leave the testimony of atrocities to the movie itself, but two more general comments by two of the participants really struck me. First this one, offering some insight into how the soldiers could accept so much wanton murder of civilians:

"Things like Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed us it was ok to kill civilians as long as it was for the good of the nation."
And a different take on the same subject, from a soldier describing his change in attitude after an attack in which five of his friends were killed:
"I would kill anyone, innocent or not, just to make sure I wasn't killed."
Winter Soldier, made in 1972, was re-released in late 2005 and is now available on Netflix (and elsewhere, I presume). It would certainly be a highly appropriate movie to be shown by any local antiwar group.

Some related material:

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