[Marxism] Open Season in Iraq MAMs (Military-Age Males) Are Back

Mike Friedman mikedf at mail.amnh.org
Tue May 25 09:03:17 MDT 2004


May 24, 2004

Open Season in Iraq
MAMs (Military-Age Males) Are Back
By STAN GOFF

In 1963, well before the American public generally understood where Vietnam 
was, a young Army captain led a South Vietnamese unit through the A Shau 
Valley to systematically burn villages to the ground. This was to deprive 
the so-called Vietcong of any base of support, and was called "draining the 
sea," a reference to Mao's dictum that the guerrilla is the fish and the 
population is the sea.

That captain would later write, "I recall a phrase we used in the field, 
MAM, for military-age male. If a helo spotted a peasant in black pajamas 
who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM, the pilot would circle and 
fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of 
hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him. Brutal? 
Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served... was 
killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And 
Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat 
tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong."

On March 16, 1968, the US Infantry of C Company, Task Force Barker, 11th 
Infantry Brigade, Americal Division went into a Vietnamese hamlet 
designated My Lai 4 and killed 347 unarmed men, women, and children, 
engaging in rape and torture along the way for four hours before a US 
helicopter pilot who observed the massacre ordered his door gunners to open 
fire on the grunts if they didn't desist. The chopper pilot, however, did 
not report the massacre.

Six months later, a young enlisted man, Spec 4 Tom Glen, sent a letter to 
General Creighton Abrams, commander of US forces in Vietnam. Without 
specifically mentioning My Lai, Glen said that murder had become a routine 
part of Americal operations. The letter was shunted over to Americal 
Divison, and then to the office of the same officer who had been leading 
the South Vietnamese arson campaign five years earlier, since promoted to 
major. He was now the deputy assistant Chief of Staff of the division--a 
functionary who was directed to craft a response to this report of 
widespread atrocities against Vietnamese civilians.

"In direct refutation of this portrayal," wrote the officer dismissively 
and with no investigation whatsoever, "is the fact that relations between 
Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent." Perhaps he 
believed that those killed were MAMs, and therefore outside the protection 
of the Geneva Conventions and international law.

That officer is now the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who is still 
dutifully spinning out prevarications and excuses for his massahs. 
Apparently his perceptions of right and wrong are still dulled by his brief 
experience of "combat," burning people's houses and barns and crops and 
ordering that young men who run from heliborne machine gun fire be killed 
because running away from machinegun fire is... "hostile."

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, the MAMs are back.
[...]
http://www.counterpunch.org/goff05242004.html





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