Web Extra: Vietnam and America’s ‘Wandering Ghosts’

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Nick Turse talks to Bill about the ghosts of people and issues not properly put to rest in the years following the Vietnam war. In Vietnam, says Turse, a person who dies outside his or her home dies “a bad death,” and it’s the responsibility of the deceased’s relatives to make peace with the person’s “wandering ghost.” The multi-decade war with Vietnam, Turse says, is America’s wandering ghost, a conflict with which America has never managed to make peace.

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  • John Konopak

    At the time, “everybody” in the civilian
    bureaucracy, with the complicity of the already corporatizing media,
    were at incredible pains to treated the My Lai massacre as a horrible,
    but unique, incident.
    Of course, nobody who’d been IN the war–or
    in any war of any kind– thought it was the least abnormal, and was
    just an unlucky accident that it had been discovered.
    Ask the esteemed Colin Powell about his role in the My Lai coverup…

  • afterallthat

    War is a charade perpetuated by the immensely powerful banking and global arms industry’s influence over governments, demagogues and zealots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=637715563 WallopinWill Martin

    U.S. officers from Vietnam later became “military advisors” in Central America, Chile, and Argentina. Is it any wonder that people in those countries are searching for news of their “disappeared” relatives down to the present. Don’t forget about Archbishop Oscar Romero and the Maryknoll Nuns — murdered in the name of free enterprise. Was it anti-communist hysteria, or simple bigotry?

  • Diane Birmingham

    How can we go on believing that Capitalism works and is not the antithesis of a democracy? In almost every issue of concern today from environment to war crimes the common denominator is the greed and capitalism…Is there time to wake up yet???

  • Paul Soprano

    Communists and socialists have have way more people that capitalists ever have! Wake up ignorant people!!

  • Mr Drake

    Bill Moyers silences his critics by not allowing them to post on his facebook page. What a hypocrite you are Bill! It’s time for for you to be sent out to pasture.

  • Mr Drake

    If they don’t agree with your opinions Bill just silence then right?? Just like what Hitler did!

  • CarltonSagara

    Perhaps in 2051, another Nick Turse will write a book based on a nearly forgotten archive of war crimes investigations based on what is/has gone on in Iraq and Afganistan and elsewhere. And we will soberly discuss it and wonder why we haven’t learned from these investigations.

    The thing is that, even when the Vietnam war was being fought, we knew these things were happening. The Winter Soldier hearing were going on while we were fighting in Vietnam. But then, like now, we responded to these confessions by ignoring them, discounting them, denying them, ultimately justifying what we were doing by using bloodless words to refer to bloody deeds by saying that we were at war, that we were defending ourselves from imminent attack, that these actions were being carried out in the name of national security.

    Now, of course, one of our warriors will begin his day by having breakfast with his family, after which he will kiss his wife and children good-bye, get in his car and drive to his office, where he will sit before a computer screen to pilot a drone flying above a village, 10,000 miles away — a village with no running water or cable TV, where people are scratching out a living in the desert — and he will push a button or tap a key which will direct the drone to kill a man — and possibly his family, his wife and children — because that man has been deemed somehow to be an imminent risk to the national security of the United States.

  • J.M. Classen

    I am totally shocked and ashamed after viewing the Nick Turse segment tonite on PBS. I am so angry that our government would and did sanction such atrocities from the highest levels. I will never trust the U.S. Government again on any matter. My apologies to John Kerry for the utter disbelief of his testimony in the 70’s, and the disdain in which I have held him all these years.

  • Anonymous

    I recognize and applaud your courage in admitting to your shortcomings; it’s rarity among Americans who are schooled from infancy into believing in “American Exceptionalism” with the attendant view that we’d never participate in atrocities for which we’ve nailed so many at Nuremburg. Nick Turse speaks the truth as hard as it may be to accept. We are NOT lily-white,,,not even close!

  • Anonymous

    Well, it doesn’t hurt to hope,,,,but it also accomplishes very little.

  • SalishSeaSam

    Many of us knew the worst back then. Thanks to ‘alternative’ publications such as Ramparts magazine, the truth was out there, but then, as now, it was so much easier to marginalize the messengers and damn them as being unpatriotic while being sucked into the corporatization of the USA. There is a very direct line from Vietnam to 9/11 and beyond. Thanks, Bill and Nick, for trying once again to make America stare into an abyss of its own making.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks a lot. We have no idea what you are talking about re C. Powell in My Lai.

  • Anonymous

    I think, doubtom, that you speak in generalizations and with a broad brush re
    “American Exceptionalism.” You need to get out more; it’s not so all or nothing.

  • Anonymous

    Bear in mind that there were thousands upon thousands, I being one, who protested and worked against the war. Please no generalizations.

  • Anonymous

    Murdered in the name of free enterprise??
    I don’t think so.

  • Anonymous

    This is painfully instructive for us. I myself will take this as a very serious directive for the
    rest of my life to be ever vigilant and distrustful of US government and the US military and to try to protect the voiceless as much as I can! We must always be moral and ethical.

  • Anonymous

    Generalizations? What is so “general” about accepting the “specific charges” made by either Kerry or Nick Turse? As a Vietnam veteran of thats era do you think I find any enjoyment in re-hashing these atrocities? I know they’re true and far from being embellished and they do not speak entirely for all that transpired during that so-called war as more and more is being revealed.

  • Fred Voto

    “Kill everything that moves.”

    I would like to offer some clarification about the sentence, “Kill everything that moves.”

    As a rifle platoon leader with the 25th Infantry Division in Cu Chi our orders were clear and precise as to the rules of engagement. These rules were put in place precisely to avoid collateral damage and the killing or wounding of innocent civilians.

    We were made to understand that we needed permission to fire before we engaged the Viet Cong. This we did at risk to our own lives. As an additional safeguard to causing unintended harm to the Vietnamese people; were made to understand that all Vietnamese civilians were under curfew after dark and that they were to remain in their homes. We were told that the Vietnamese clearly understood this. After dark, anything that moved within out listening posts or ambush patrols were to be considered VC and could be killed or captured. We were NEVER given an order to “Kill anything that moves…”

  • Anonymous

    You have changed the subject , doubt. If you start off by generalizing on “american Exceptionalism” then don’t change the subject on to Kerry or Turse. Please.
    Your generalization is about American exceptionalism” . I just don’t know how widespread that notion is from infancy onward here in America.

    Atrocities, you are right. Who wants to rehash that?

  • Saba

    The Turse interview was one of your best programs ever. People from Latin America and Africa talk about Cold War torture in their countries. A nurse had cared for victims of torture in Honduras; her patients said the torture was CIA/US military inflicted. The recent water boarding controversy is specious as it casts torture by the US military as something that has never happened before. So, Turse and others should continue to pursue this theme.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree, it is not generalizing to say that it is the view of American exceptionalism that keeps us from accepting that we do these atrocities. I’m speaking of the public’s reaction. Kerry and Turse just gave voice to these atrocities and it’s not changing the subject to insert them.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps, you have a reading comprehension problem or synapse problem as you continue to misunderstand what I say. This is getting tedious.

  • Anonymous

    I am questioning how widespread is the American exceptionalism that you said was from infancy. Do you get that?

  • Anonymous

    If , after repeated attempts to clarify your jumbled reasoning you still fall short of the mark, maybe the problem is yours.

  • Anonymous

    The “from infancy” phrase refers to what we are taught in what passes for an education in America; everything from “America the Beautiful”, to “God bless America” (and to hell with the rest of the world), to the “shining light on a hill”, to the “land of the free and the brave”.
    We are also very exceptional in our textbooks’ claim to being a democratic Republic, when the entire world knows us to be an empire with military bases in hundreds of foreign locations where our “exceptional military” can properly communicate our exceptionalism to the exclusion of every other culture or government, even including democracies which are not amenable to our corporate business interests. Will that possibly answer your question? How widespread? World-widespread!

  • Anonymous

    Give up on the “moral and ethical”; it’s hard enough to simply get the “legal”. You live in the Romance age.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right! We went there on our own! It’s our very own abyss.

  • Anonymous

    That you “don’t think so”, doesn’t alter the fact that throughout South America the one common denominator of intrigue and mayhem is the CIA in the service of American corporations. Try reading Perkins for a change.

  • Sparky

    Come on people where has this author been?? The book “Conversation with Americans” revealed the true story (first hand) of even more horrific American atrocities during the Vietnam war in 1970. Do some research before writing a “new” book.