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