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Turse writes: "Barack Obama arrived in Washington in 2009 buoyed by the slogan 'change we can believe in.' The bitter Hagel hearings will be a fierce reminder that, when it comes to foreign policy, old is new, and the words 'change' and 'Washington' don't belong in the same sentence."

Chuck Hagel is pictured during his service in the Vietnam War, circa 1967-68. (photo: Library of Congress)
Chuck Hagel is pictured during his service in the Vietnam War, circa 1967-68. (photo: Library of Congress)

Chuck Hagel and Murder in Vietnam

By Nick Turse, TomDispatch

31 January 13


e's been battered by big-money conservative groups looking to derail his bid for secretary of defense. Critics say he wants to end America's nuclear program. They claim he's anti-Israel and soft on Iran. So you can expect intense questioning - if only for theatrical effect - about all of the above (and undoubtedly then some) as Chuck Hagel faces his Senate confirmation hearings today.

You can be sure of one other thing: Hagel's military service in Vietnam will be mentioned - and praised. It's likely, however, to be in a separate and distinct category, unrelated to the pointed questions about current issues like defense priorities, his beliefs on the use of force abroad, or the Defense Department's role in counterterrorism operations. You can also be sure of this: no senator will ask Chuck Hagel about his presence during the machine-gunning of an orphanage in Vietnam's Mekong Delta or the lessons he might have drawn from that incident.

Nor is any senator apt to ask what Hagel might do if allegations about similar acts by American troops emerge in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Nor will some senator question him on the possible parallels between the CIA-run Phoenix Program, a joint U.S.-Vietnamese venture focused on identifying and killing civilians associated with South Vietnam's revolutionary shadow government, and the CIA's current targeted-killing-by-drone campaign in Pakistan's tribal borderlands. Nor, for that matter, is he likely to be asked about the lessons he learned fighting a war in a foreign land among a civilian population where innocents and enemies were often hard to tell apart. If, however, Hagel's military experience is to be touted as a key qualification for his becoming secretary of defense, shouldn't the American people have some idea of just what that experience was really like and how it shaped his thinking in regard to today's wars?

Chuck Hagel on Murder in Vietnam

"In Chuck Hagel our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength - they see him as one of their own," President Obama said as he nominated the former Republican senator from Nebraska to become the first former enlisted service member and first Vietnam veteran to serve as secretary of defense. He went on to call him "the leader that our troops deserve."

Chuck Hagel and his younger brother, Tom, fought together in Vietnam in 1968. The two are believed to be the only brothers to have served in the same infantry squad in that war and even more remarkably, each ended up saving the other's life. "With Chuck, our troops will always know, just as Sergeant Hagel was there for his own brother, Secretary Hagel will be there for you," the president said.

Largely unnoted was the falling out the brothers had over the conflict. After returning home, Tom began protesting the war, while Chuck defended it. Eventually, the Hagel brothers reconciled and even returned to Vietnam together in 1999. Years before, however, the two sat down with journalist and historian Myra MacPherson and talked about the war. Although their interpretations of what they had been through differed, it's hard not to come away with the sense that both witnessed U.S. atrocities, and that Chuck Hagel's vision of the war is far more brutal than most Americans imagine. That his experience of Vietnam would include such incidents should hardly be surprising, especially given the fact that Hagel served in the 9th Infantry Division under one of the most notorious U.S. commanders, Julian Ewell, known more colorfully as "the Butcher of the Delta."

The Hagel brothers, MacPherson recounts in her moving and important history Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation, argued over whether American troops were "murdering" people. Chuck disagreed at first, pointing instead to the depredations of Vietnamese revolutionary forces. Tom reminded his brother of the CIA's Phoenix Program which, with an estimated body count of more than 20,000 Vietnamese, too often turned murderous and was no less regularly used by corrupt Vietnamese government officials to settle personal grudges. "There was some of that," Chuck finally granted.

Tom then raised an example that hit closer to home - the time, after an enemy attack, when a sergeant from their unit took out his frustrations on a nearby orphanage. "Remember the orphanage, Chuck ... That sergeant was so drunk and so pissed off that he crawled up on that track [armored personnel carrier] and opened up on that orphanage with a fifty-caliber machine gun," Tom said.

When Chuck started to object, MacPherson writes, his brother was insistent. "Chuck, you were there! Down at the bottom of the sandhill." Skeptically, Chuck asked his brother if he was saying the sergeant had "slaughtered children in the orphanage." Tom granted that he didn't know for sure, "because none of us went in to check." Chuck responded, "In any war you can take any isolated incident ..."

But the war Tom Hagel detailed to MacPherson wasn't one punctuated by a few isolated "incidents." He would talk about officers ordering the mutilation of enemy dead and soldiers shooting up and burning down a village, about how helicopter gunships and napalm decimated large areas of the countryside, about the lethality of indiscriminate weapons fire and about coming upon the bodies of women and children when firefights were over. He also recounted, in detail, a July 1968 assault on a "hardcore" enemy village in which their unit took part. After the battle had ended, he said, a lieutenant shot and killed a civilian in cold blood. "We're collecting all the NVA [North Vietnamese Army] bodies and this woman walks out of a hootch. He just shot her dead," Tom recalled.

The Hagel Hearings: America's Last Best Chance for the Truth

Recently, MacPherson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in support of Chuck Hagel's bid to serve as Secretary of Defense: "His experience has taught him the physical and mental toll of combat. He would surely think twice before sending young men and women into unnecessary, stupid, or unwinnable conflicts ... One thing I know: Chuck Hagel will stand up to whatever is thrown at him."

Tom Hagel has recently talked about his brother in similarly glowing terms. "He's going to do a great job, he'll be totally committed to it," he told Politico. "I think he will bring special sensitivity for enlisted personnel to the job, because, of course, of his experiences as an enlisted person in Nam."

While he ultimately voted to authorize the war in Iraq - despite grave misgivings - there is a perception that, in the future, Hagel would be reticent to plunge the United States into yet more reckless wars and a strong belief exists among his supporters that he will stand up for America's sons and daughters in uniform. On one subject, however, Hagel's Vietnam experience shows him in a lesser light: sensitivity to the plight of the men and women who live in America's war zones. In this area, his seeming unwillingness to face up to, no less tell the whole truth about, the Vietnam War he saw should raise serious questions. Unfortunately, it's a blind spot not just for him, but for official Washington generally, and probably much of the country as well.

It's worth noting that the Hagel brothers left Vietnam just as their commanding general, Julian Ewell, launched a six-month operation in the Mekong Delta code-named Speedy Express. One whistleblowing veteran who served in that operation told the Army's top generals that Ewell's use of heavy firepower on the countryside resulted in a "My Lai each month" (a reference, of course, to the one massacre most Americans know about, in which U.S. troops slaughtered more than 500 civilians, most of them women, children, and elderly men). That veteran's shocking allegations were kept secret and a nascent inquiry into them was suppressed by the Pentagon.

A later Newsweek investigation would conclude that as many as 5,000 civilians were killed during Speedy Express. A secret internal military report, commissioned after Newsweek published its account, suggested that the magazine had offered a low-end estimate. The document, kept secret and then buried for decades, concluded:

"While there appears to be no means of determining the precise number of civilian casualties incurred by US forces during Operation Speedy Express, it would appear that the extent of these casualties was in fact substantial, and that a fairly solid case can be constructed to show that civilian casualties may have amounted to several thousand (between 5,000 and 7,000)."

During the war, efforts by U.S. senators to look into Speedy Express were thwarted by Pentagon officials. More than four decades later, no senator is ever going to launch an investigation into what actually happened or the Pentagon cover-up that kept the American people in the dark for decades. Theoretically, the Hagel hearings do offer the Senate a belated chance to ask a few pertinent questions about the Vietnam War and the real lessons it holds for today's era of continuous conflict and for the civilians in distant lands who suffer from it. But any such hope is, we know, sure to die a quick death in that Senate hearing room.

Chuck Hagel's views on the Vietnam War underwent a fundamental shift following the release of audio tapes of President Lyndon Johnson admitting, in 1964, that the war was unwinnable. That "cold political calculation" caused Hagel to vow that he would "never, ever remain silent when that kind of thinking put more American lives at risk in any conflict."

But what about lives other than those of Americans? What about children in shot-up orphanages or women who survive a murderous crossfire only to be gunned down in cold blood? Chuck Hagel may well be, as Mr. Obama contends, "the leader that our troops deserve." But don't the American people deserve a little honesty from that leader about the war that shaped him? In these few days, the senators considering his nomination have an opportunity, perhaps the last one available, to get some answers about a war whose realities, never quite faced here, continue to dog us so many decades later. It's a shame that they are sure to pass it up in favor of the usual political theater.

Nick Turse is the managing editor of and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author most recently of Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books). Published on January 15th, it offers a new look at the American war machine in Vietnam and the suffering it caused. His website is You can follow him on Tumblr and on Facebook your social media marketing partner


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+22 # overanddone 2013-01-31 12:07
Interesting perspective, given the numerous incidents already reported in Afghanistan & Iraq, its not unlikely that Secretary of Defense Hagel will be faced with issues such as war crimes, atrocities, and torture. Will he be more or less, prepared to deal with these issues? Will this be another subject that has seen Hagel evolve from his stated opinions in his interview with Myra MacPherson. In that a scant few senators have the gravitas to get within sniffing distance of Hagels military service its likely Turse is right the war that shaped Hagel will go largely left to thank you for your service.
+41 # mjc 2013-01-31 12:15
Sadly, think any soldier in any of the military services probably knows of such atrocities as Hagel witnessed in the Delta or participated in some way to allowing those atrocities to take place. Vietnam was a war without any real patriotic fervor attached to it and this country suffered significant loss of belief in the purpose and goodness.
+4 # Douglas Jack 2013-02-03 17:47
VIetnam for decades was the poster-war against communism (community). There was tremendous USA patriotic fervor attached, involving our self-image as the world's saviour from people who thought they might govern themselves outside of our sphere of influence & indoctrination.

Vietnam was our shooting gallery where hundreds of thousands of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of litres of complex synthetic 24D & 245T defoliants were sprayed on the polyculture orchards of South & North Vietnam. We would test out thousands of new instruments of death on populations & the western press has never even raised the question to this day. It was our way of spreading monetary capitalism as the most successful system for milking/killing populations & their environments.

The Vietnam war was immensely popular in the mainstream press with no dissident articles appearing throughout the 1950's. Vietnam is just one of 100s of simultaneous conflicts which USA, Canada, NATO & Israel first finance, arm, munition & secure for our media-military- industrial-comp lex. If we were learning from these mistakes, we would be making war reparations in the trillions of dollars & transforming every aspect of our lifestyle.
+67 # Robert B 2013-01-31 12:33
Wow, stop the presses! Vietnam was a brutal, dogshit war that no one supported except right-wing chickenhawks like Mitt Romney, Dick Cheney and Dan Quayle. So now, guys like Hagel are going to be denounced by right-wing nuts and left-wing nuts alike, in order to "get some answers about a war whose realities... continue to dog us so many decades later." After 45 years, what answers does anyone think they want?

Sounds good on paper, but what this really amounts to is another round of blame the veterans. I wrote a paper in college in which I compared Vietnam veterans to rape victims. Women might complain, but I there are some very strong similarities.

So Hagel, who served with distinction in a miserable, thankless war, is about to get re-raped in these Congressional hearings. Apparently, no one is going to be happy until every last Vietnam veteran is branded a war criminal.

This is like blaming Walmart greeters for corporate policy.
+29 # Todd Williams 2013-01-31 13:05
Robert B., you've presented an important facet of these hearings, as well as the war. I never served over there primarily because of my lottery number, but I was so against the war that I would have gone to Canada if necessary. I am doubtful that dragging up the past in this hearing is going to do us all that good. I sometimes refer to McCain as "that baby killer." Is that true or am I just dredging up old anti-war feelings? Did Hagel murder cuivilians? Did Kerry murder as well? These questions will be unlikely to ever be answered. Maybe it is time to bury the Vietnam War hatchet. I, for one am getting tired of dredging up old memories. My father and my uncle refused to ever talk about thier time in the Pacific in World War Two. I think I understand why.
-39 # Robert B 2013-01-31 13:57
McCain didn't kill any babies. He was a P.O.W. The one thing that seems to unite Democrats and Republicans is that everybody seems to hate Vietnam veterans. Left-wingers hate the veterans because they hated the war; right-wingers hate the veterans because the war was lost. Either we killed too many babies, or not enough. And by the way, some of those babies can kill YOU.
+22 # bigkahuna671 2013-01-31 17:31
I didn't agree with you on this, Robert B, because you wrote McCain was a POW and thus didn't kill any babies. What a crock! When you drop bombs and unleash the power of your fighter, you can't specify who you kill. McCain has had his nerve in questioning Chuck Hagel's vision of war and whether it was necessary to increase our involvement through a surge in Iraq (and by the way, it's pronounced eh-rahk not eye-rack!). We had a surge in Vietnam when LBJ increased troop numbers and later when Tricky Dick did the same. Grunts in Vietnam, and I was one, had no idea who the enemy was. But to accuse the young men who were over there fighting as being a bunch of baby-killers is ridiculous and shows the stupidity of anyone who thinks that way. McCain's criticism of Hagel is mor because Hagel has had the nerve to oppose GOP obsession with war when most of them, the GOP clowns in Congress, have never served, and if they did, they never actually served in combat on the ground. Men who served in such a fashion have a healthy respect for war and a fear that our young will die for no reason. That's why we opposed the invasion of Iraq and we oppose the ridiculous desire to have one in Iran. Hagel had the nerve to question the surge in Iraq, a surge supported by McCain and the other neocons because they had a desperate need to prove there were WMDs in Iraq. Now we know there weren't and they were wrong, but the neocons don't want to hear it or be presented as fools for believing Rove's lie!
+13 # X Dane 2013-01-31 21:41
How right ...I mean correct you are. I also remember in 2008, McCain standing and singing at a rally: Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran, something that was televised and via CNN would go all over the world.....and certainly to Iran....Which is also , NOT airan. You hit my pet peeve with the way people pronounce Iraq.

I also regard to Vietnam,... Gen. Westmorland, so often on TV, ASSURING us that victory was JUST around the corner.....He ONLY needed 10.000 more troupes. .....He sure was guilty of so many young men dying.

OF COURSE McCain hates Hagel's guts. for Hagel GREW UP. He sees war as a LAST resort, while McCain sees it as the FIRST. Of course that can NOT be tolerated
+5 # Cassandra2012 2013-02-01 14:41
The verdict is out on Hagel, but McCain showed himself to be, as always, a cantankerous old chipmunked-jowl ed bully!
The only thing he didn't show to Hagel was his misogynistic rancor as well.
+30 # X Dane 2013-01-31 17:31
Robert B
Did McCain kill any babies??? That may be debatable. He was sitting 3000? feet in the air, dropping bombs! I would bet a number of the people those bombs killed, were Children...I would go so far as to say I am sure, they were.

I have read quite a bit about McCain, and he is not the hero many people make him out to be. His cocky behavior, caused him to crash 2 expensive planes,

When he was shot down, he was in area, he was told NOT to get into. He was doing what he wanted to do, and the result was his crash and capture.

Mrs. McCain worked very hard to free her husband, and how did he repay her?? When he came home, he dishonoured her by chasing anything in skirts.

And when he decided to run for "the house" he knew he was going to need money. So he chased Cindy McCain, a pretty very wealthy young woman ......before he even divorced his wife?

He is a publicity hound and is on TV all the time. He is changing position as it fits with what he want at the time.
Remember: "Finish the dang fence" when he was up for election??

Now he is front and center on the immigration reform to ensure a great legacy when he soon retires. I have NO respect for him.

And today he hounded and disrespected Senator Hagel. He was simply UGLY and so was Ted Cruz, and several other republicans.
+7 # bigkahuna671 2013-01-31 23:04
XDane (by the way, I'm half-danish), McCain is always played up as a hero for being shot down, but to my mind, anyone who ignores his wingman's warning that he's painted by enemy radar is not a hero, but a fool. McCain's reputation as a warrior is based on being shot down and being a POW. Unlike Hagel, McCain's TOD was flying a plane, then back to the O-Club for some brews, then another mission the next day or the next. Hagel actually saw action, was shot at, got wounded by the enemy in real combat, something McCain didn't do, so McCain is jealous as he knows Hagel's really a hero, not him. That and the fact that Hagel had the courage to call a mistake a mistake and warn the neocons to avoid it, but they wouldn't. Thus, now Hagel's the bad guy, not the neocons who got us in the mess in Afghanistan and Iraq (yes, eh-rahk, eye-rack, this is one of my big gripes, too, 'cause I hear so many people mispronounce the it and Iran). I'm an Arizonan and McCain has been retired since 2003 when he decided he wanted to run for Pres and put his meager efforts into that. But then, what can you expect from a man who crashed five planes before he retired and finished 4th from the bottom of his class at Annapolis? Yep, he plays politics w/every issue based on whether a primary or general election is coming up or it's the period between elections. He has absolutely no scruples or ethics. The man is incapable of taking a moral stand on anything without checking first to see how the wind blows.
+1 # X Dane 2013-02-01 15:35
Half Dane is fine. You have no idea how great it is to see that someone is NOT falling for the McCain admirers hype.
Yesterday at the hearings, he was....and looked so incredibly ugly as he excoriated Sen. Hagel. He was really disgusting, BADGERING his "friend"

It always seems so incredibly FAKE, when the politicians refer to each other as.. good friend,...when you know that the hate each others guts.

I doubt that many people know of his dismal graduation from Annapolis, 4--5 from the bottom? No doubt he ONLY graduated because it would have been a HUGE embarrassment for his father, the ADMIRAL.

I think his early "service" resembles W's. They were both a couple of cocky guys riding on their dad's coat tails and accomplishments . In reality they are a couple of NOTHINGS.

What is it the Texans say: "All hat and NO cattle". That's a good one.
I enjoyed your comment bigcahuna ..... It's always gratifying when somebody agrees with you.
+1 # Nominae 2013-02-01 16:52
@ X Dane

McCain was not only the son of a Navy Admiral, he was also the grandson of a Navy Admiral. *Definitely* a member of the Military equivalent of "The Good Ol' Boys" Club.

However, McCain is not lauded for getting shot down. That's not exactly a "Top Gun" badge of honor.

McCain is JUSTLY honored because he, Admiral Stockdale and others confined at the "Hanoi HIlton" put up with imprisonment and almost DAILY TORTURE for FIVE YEARS without ever breaking.

Go ahead and try that YOURSELF sometime, or offer it to anyone else who chooses to "dis" the young McCain.

It's easy to bloviate sitting on a soft couch with a full belly, and for many, a passport that has never been stamped outside their own home State.

I was myself a Naval Aviator from '67 to '71.

McCain cannot be accurately denigrated for his FIVE YEARS as a American POW.

That said, however, the REST of your analysis is spot on. I don't know *what* happened to McCain in later years, but it has been embarrassing for all Veterans.

And, yes. Chuck Hagel was the "real deal" Viet Nam Vet. He DID the fighting, hand-to-hand. He MADE the tough life-and-death decisions for himself and for all of the members of his Squad.

He KNOWS war, and he speaks truth to power without fear !
As an ex-enlisted man, he knows how call B.S. as needed.

Even more important, Hagel has consistently proven himself SINCE the Viet Nam war. That should be his REAL qualification.
+3 # bigkahuna671 2013-02-02 14:08
Nominae, Adm Stockdale and the others at the Hilton put up with a lot of S**t, but that doesn't forgive McCain for being a cowboy whose career was built on his dad's and granddad's and whose propensity for being a bully was probably only exceeded by Mitt Romney's in his prep school days. I had a friend who spent 7 years in the Hilton, an enlisted specops type. Never once did he call McCain a hero. He also never called himself a hero. His attitude was, the heroes were the men who didn't make it back. That's an attitude I respect and is why I've never played the hero game myself. When my friends say stuff like that, I say it's crap and I'm just lucky to be home. Chuck Hagel has never called himself a hero and I respect him for that. I'm a retired HS coach and I always used to tell my athletes not to brag. I told them that it's better to have other people sing your praises 'cause it's more meaningful. I wrote a song and one of the lines in the song is "When you're full of yourself, you're fooling yourself." With John McCain and his "Hero" status, he's been fooling himself for a long time, just as he's fooled a lot of people in Az who believe he's committed to making Az and the US better places. McCain lives for McCain and not for his state, country, or fellow man!! As we said in the Corps, he's ROJ - retired on the job - and has been for a long time! I repeat, he hates Hagel 'cause Hagel's everything he isn't, honest and a real hero!
+1 # tabonsell 2013-02-01 15:38
Had a coworker and friend from Iran years ago in Los Angeles.

He pronounced his homeland "Persia." No problem with pronunciation there.
+5 # David Starr 2013-01-31 17:47
@Robert B: I don't doubt McCain would have used violence-adding to the atrocities-if he wasn't a POW. Wasn't McCain an air force pilot? If so, more the point then: bombs, naplam, etc. would have certainly caused mass killings. And given the way bombs are, they don't discriminate, babies or not.

I would like to include shades of gray when examining something, thus regarding the Vietnam War. (But the B/W doesn't go away.) I do respect U.S. soldiers who snapped out of their denial and opposed the war, such as Tom Hagel. There are some others, whether they went to Vietnam or not. They understood the idea of underlying motives within U.S. foreign policy.

On the other hand, I don't respect the gung ho, ultranationalis ts within the military who just didn't get it; and still may not. Now, that is tragic.

It's nothing new. U.S. imperial wars have gone on for years; an obvious pattern within history. Maybe if U.S. foreign policy changed for the better, perhaps there wouldn't be babies and other locals killing U.S. soldiers based on the obvious cause and effect.

Maybe there wouldn't have been a 9/11.

There's that saying: karma is a bitch.
+5 # shraeve 2013-02-01 01:07
McCain was a Navy pilot.
+3 # David Starr 2013-02-01 10:15
@shraeve: Thanks for clarifying. I was thinking he was a pilot in one of the branches.
+8 # mikeandnettie 2013-01-31 14:56
A lot of soldiers end up being the hapless trigger men for the real baby killers. It comes down to "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" And we won't see that great day till human nature changes. In the meantime, you have to keep exposing the hidden illness. It won't go away by itself. It's like dealing with a cancer. We're verbal animals. Talking which uncovers corruption is action. So let's all keep remembering and talking.
+7 # overanddone 2013-01-31 13:58
You have obviously not read the book, it is certainly does not blame the vet. If the book has heros it is the young men sent to serve.
+2 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-01-31 15:34
Quoting Robert B:

Yes, Vietnam was 'a brutal, dogshit war' but to say that Hagel is about to get raped is extremely problematic for far too many reasons to list here; and

This is like blaming Walmart greeters for corporate policy.

It is not at all like blaming Walmart greeters for corporate policy...this guy will probably be confirmed as Secretary of Defense and US the people have a right to know what 'the deal' was when he was in Vietnam. What exactly was covered up, and why, is absolutely critical to gaining an understanding of him and how these experiences have shaped his worldview. The Vietnamese may have some 'rights to know' as well. As far as veterans of any war, it's a crying shame that our military far outweighs education, healthcare, renewable energy, etc. We're unfortunately dealing with a cultural mindset that allows a bunch of men and their lethal boytoys to determine who gets to live on Earth or not.
+4 # Nominae 2013-02-01 04:10
@ Robert B

Absolutely solid comment. I love your last line:

"This is like blaming Walmart greeters for corporate policy."

How can any of this crap even be up for discussion ? This author is apparently too young to have the slightest "grasp" on the Viet Nam war, or he's a propagandist.

American's "right to know" about this war are irrelevant to the nomination of one ex-enlisted man.

Your last sentence hits the nail on the head. The American people who were old enough to understand that insane war ALSO KNOW that a freakin' Enlisted man like Chuck Hagel did not ORDER the day-to-day combat actions, nor could he, in ANY WAY have STOPPED the day-to-day actions.

In addition, for any enlisted man to refuse a lawful order in the field of battle is a DEATH PENALTY OFFENSE ! Summary execution on the spot is not out of the question in the time of war.

So, this article is indeed "all sound and fury, signifying nothing".

Does anyone really think that the KID that was Chuck Hagel, enlisted soldier in one of the Country's most incoherent wars,
bears ANY of the responsibility for what WENT ON in that war ?

Nobody is accusing Chuck Hagel of war crimes. Therefore, how can Chuck Hagel be called upon to JUSTIFY the atrocities ordered by OTHERS durning the course of the ENTIRE WAR ?

This article is a complete bait and switch. From noting that Hagel and his brother fought in the war, to an indictment and re-hash of the War itself.

Total bullsh*t !
-3 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 09:23
Thank you for that. Our veterans only came home because they killed the enemy instead of letting the enemy kill them. Of course, it is more "moral" nowadays to die than defend yourself, so they were the bad guys.

BUT there's also the angle of "killing civilians". The Nazis, I believe, were the last enemies with the courtesy to wear uniforms identifying friend or foe. Lots of "civilians", including "baby bombs" (Kids coated head-to-toe with live grenades, designed to make the American soldier hesitate from firing long enough to get close enough to kill them). Dad even said the trite-and-true phrase, "The most dangerous enemy is the one you don't see".

And of course, our own media turned against us, from showing terrorists on fire as sympathy figures instead of enemies getting what they deserved, on up to at that time, the big star Jane Fonda posing with an enemy AA cannon. She "didn't know that would be used as propaganda against the Civilized World"? Modern celebrities often weigh in on wars that in no way affect them, but none have posed with thugs in suicide vests, then claimed they "Didn't know" they were helping the bad guys.

The Vietnam vets had to become "war criminals"--tha t is, kill everything, because everything was trying to kill them, or they would not have come home alive.

I think most secretly wish all our Vietnam soldiers had died?
+38 # Adoregon 2013-01-31 13:02
What goes around comes around.

Beyond "collateral damage" in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is the world's largest arms dealer.

Do you think the casual killing of civilians and flooding the world with arms has no connection with the epidemic of military suicides and civilian massacres here in the U.S.?

As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
+5 # mikeandnettie 2013-01-31 14:59
That's about the size of it. "The truth lies all around me, but it's just beyond my reach."
+43 # reiverpacific 2013-01-31 13:14
"Critics say he wants to end America's nuclear program. They claim he's anti-Israel and soft on Iran." [Quote from article).
So what's so bad about that?
Of course I'm not a war-hungry chicken-hawk who'd gladly send OTHER'S kids off as cannon-fodder to death, madness, dismemberment lingering PTSD and family alienation, as long as THEIR agenda is snug and their jobs safe.
And they don't give a shit what they do to the planet into the bargain.
I hope that Hagel gives 'em a little "What did YOU do in the war, daddy"?! How many deferments due to "other priorities (Cheney)? Let us count the ways.
Cowards and white collar thugs they are.
+43 # giraffee2012 2013-01-31 13:18
If Hagel will keep us out of another senseless war - I give him 100% of my vote (except I'm not in Congress)
0 # Citizen Mike 2013-01-31 13:55
Um, war is heck, we all knew that. Anyone who willingly participates is a war criminal, that is its nature, organized mass murder.
+4 # Nominae 2013-02-01 04:35
Quoting Citizen Mike:
Um, war is heck, we all knew that. Anyone who willingly participates is a war criminal, that is its nature, organized mass murder.

Good gawd. Another "citizen" apparently too young to have ever heard of the THE DRAFT. Viet Nam was about THE DRAFT, and only in later years about THE LOTTERY Draft.

Prior to the "Lottery Draft", All men of military age (18) were required by FEDERAL LAW to report for induction into the Armed Services. Failure to report carried a penalty of not less than Ten Years in a Federal Penitentiary (Leavenworth for example).

So these are the young men who, however reluctantly, obeyed the law and reported to their Draft Boards, whom you now dare to characterize as "war criminals" ?

It would appear that abject ignorance of an entire branch of history is no impediment to ridiculous snap-judgement and inane name-calling.

"It is better to remain silent, and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln
-2 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 09:23
So where are the tribunals to try the Vietnam thugs, and our modern terrorists? Why is it only the Civilized World soldiers that get put through that?
+15 # Above God 2013-01-31 14:09
"We had to destroy the village to save it". We went from "Winning the hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese to a policy of pacification. Pacification was another word for genocide. Welcome to war!
+2 # David Starr 2013-02-01 10:21
@Above God: Pacification = genocide. Yes, the former being a mild way of saying it regarding the Vietnam War. The village didn't need to be saved in the first place. After destruction, then it needed to be saved. The U.S. military knows how to do the Orwellian twist.
+22 # moby doug 2013-01-31 14:33
Americans lost 58,000 dead and 1/4 million wounded in the endless, pointless, Vietnam War. The Vietnamese lost military and civilian casualties variously estimated at 2,000,000 to 4,000,000. No American hands, combatant or noncombatant, in the war zone or Stateside, were clean during the Viet Era. But the dirtiest American hands were those of munitions manufacturers, jingoistic politicians, and star-hungry generals......N OT those of enlisted GI's like Chuck Hagel. The grunts had their necks on the chopping block while the fat cats bloviated in comfort. ...Some things NEVER change. And yes, I was a GI in an infantry brigade in I Corps, RVN, 1968-69.
+3 # giraffee2012 2013-02-01 13:35
moby doug - well said. And thank you very much for your service and glad you are here to tell the truth.
+1 # Jay Warren Clark 2013-02-02 17:56
Yes, the GIs are innocent when they are sent. They are the products of the American school system, i.e., ignorant. They will, usually, do what they are told. But later they can reflect and become men of conscience. If they do not, well that is their problem. And if they repeat the "sins of their fathers" like John McCain, then they are as guilty as those who sent them as children. Some, boys of conscience, went to Canada. Some like me knew it was wrong but did not know why; we just kept our heads down and hoped to be kept out of it. Some of us got lucky. Too many did not. Jay Warren Clark U. S. Army Medical Corps 1966 - 1969
+9 # Art947 2013-01-31 15:00
Many of these articles about the wars (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. throw around the numbers of people killed. Numbers that typically are in the thousands, ten thousands, or more. Unfortunately most people cannot "get their heads" around these numbers to fully appreciate the meaning of these killings -- of warriors and civilians alike. I would hope that the authors of these pieces would use some comparatives to help the typical reader appreciate the dimensions of these killings. For example the CIA's "Phoenix Program" killed almost 1/5 the population of Miami Beach, FL! "Speedy Express" destroyed 1/3 of the population of Defiance, Ohio. Perhaps if we offer some analogies than the scope of these killings would be more real.
+14 # James Marcus 2013-01-31 15:04
Yes. Organized Mass Murder. Probably All, 'Orchestrated', from WWI onward. Fat cats win. Grunts die. We, the People are taken for a Fleecing Ride; after ride; after ride. Slow learning curve., apparently. Many still sleep, easily fooled, believing all the lies and refusing to see the treachery.
Lies and betrayal.
+2 # Cassandra2012 2013-02-01 14:47
And even in WWII, the Red Cross always went to help officers, sometimes never getting around to helping the PFCs. My uncle, who was a medic in Guam saw it firsthand, would never give a penny to the Red Cross ... .
+2 # Jim Rocket 2013-02-01 17:32
I'd say waaaay before WW1....Wars have been orchestrated since the beginning of war! It's a bidniss.
+10 # humanmancalvin 2013-01-31 15:42
One poster wrote that the Left Hates Vietnam veterans. Such an ignorant & totally off the mark remark. I came whisker close to joining the Marine Corp in 1967, I showed my enlistment papers to a just returned from Nam red-blooded all-American paratrooper friend & he tore that paper up into tiny little pieces & said:Calvin, you are not going to Vietnam. He probably saved my immature life. Shortly thereafter I developed a political & questioning mind & did whatever I could in the way of protesting to get us out of that horrible war. I am Left, far left & all I have is the greatest respect & admiration for war time vets. They are just mere pawns in the chess game of countries fighting wars usually for financial reasons. Shit happens in war with the grunts, ugly shit but that is the job that are being used for, Nobody can blame the pawn for atrocities committed during brutal & filthy conflicts. One can blame the politicians who stand to benefit from these unfortunate ventures.
+10 # walt 2013-01-31 15:54
Nick Turse is doing a great job digging up atrocities of the Vietnam War and all should be reading what he writes since we are back at it again in the last ten years.

52,000 soldiers were killed in Vietnam and I defy anyone to state for what reason. Yet, that was all swept under the carpet and nobody held accountable. We simply built a wall and inscribed names on it in Washington. How nice.

Bush and Cheney launched the Iraq invasion based on lies and they walk around as free men today as Obama increased troops in Afghanistan and continues to launch drone attacks around the Middle East.

America, wake up. We are have disgraced ourselves and continue to do so in the name of "national security" and "anti-terrorism ." We are spending half our tax dollars for war and military and yet telling our own people they must do without a safety net. It's time for action and speaking out.
-2 # fhunter 2013-01-31 16:07
War is a horrendous insanity. People who never participated have no idea what is going on. People, like Mr. Turse. His article about the Hagel brothers is rich in innuendoes, not a basis for solid judgment.
+2 # X Dane 2013-01-31 21:10
I do not understand your red marks, for I think you are correct. And we were not there. So how can we judge?
-6 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 09:57
Then why do people always moralize, "Oh, the poor dead terrorists, American soldiers are BAD for killing them!"?
+3 # David Starr 2013-01-31 17:48
It sounds like Chuck Hagel's brother Tom would have been more qualified for the position.
-3 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 10:00
Based on what? Not killing as many enemy?
Presumed "innocence"?
+3 # David Starr 2013-02-01 10:29
@EPGAH3: Good point, i.e., the idea being that atrocities were nevertheless committed. But there are U.S. soldiers who do wake up, and become opposition. Before they went or after. Too bad all the culprits-like the Joint Chiefs of Staff- weren't put on trial for war crimes. If I was deciding, I'd have all draftees immigrate to Canada.
+10 # 2013-01-31 19:23
No one who hasn't been there can understand. It's as simple as that. Body Count (including, believe it or not, VC Cattle and VC fishnets) was emphasized. I was a Navy combat correspondent in the Delta. On one mission, when I asked the chopper pilot how we knew the people we had just shot up were really VC, he said, "Because we killed them." The simplicity of words made it easy. Did I observe atrocities from the choppers or the River Patrol Boats, where I was given the opportunity to shoot up an area with an M-60? I don't know now, and I didn't want to know then. In the jargon of the time, they weren't people, they were "gooks." Today, I understand, they'e "towelheads" or something like that. I do know that one of the guys who worked with me went out on a mission with the LRRPs (Long Range Reconnaisance Patrol) and came back with a "VC" ear. It looked like a dried apricot. After I got out, I joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War, founded by John Kerry. Is my conscience clear? I don't ask it. I still don't want to know. I know we had "Zippo Boats," equipped with giant flamethrowers, very effective for wiping out villages along the river bank. Does abyone know what I'm talking about. I'm not sure I do. DICK R.
+4 # X Dane 2013-01-31 21:06
I believe you. "You do not understand when you have not been there." I do remember the way the Vietnamese were made to be much less than human,..Calling them gooks. It sounds like something you stepped in and need to clean off your shoe.

That is so sickening. And I can understand that young guys, who are in a jungle sweaty and miserable, scared to death, and being shot at by an enemy they cannot see....until it is too late.

All of that can make young men loose a lot of their humanity, and having officers, who are,....from your description, cruel killers,...turn s these young guys into something their families would never recognize, if they saw them.

I am a woman, but I DO understand how you can condition humans to become inhuman.
And I also understand that when they return home and in normal circumstances, think about, what they saw or did.....they can NOT talk about it.
-9 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 09:40
Be glad you came back alive, and the reason you came back alive is because you killed them, rather than moralize and let them kill you!
-4 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 11:20
So whoever marked me down would rather that the American soldiers held still and let the terrorists kill them?
Always thinking of the terrorists and their families, aren't you? Guess what, American soldiers have families too, people waiting for them to come home, raising the children. (Or sometimes not patiently waiting, "found someone else" and betraying the soldier emotionally)
How do you think they feel about the uncertainty whether the soldier will come back safe&sound, horribly maimed by a terrorist's bomb, or in a cheap box?
(Technically, some of the boxes go home without the soldiers, if they can't find enough pieces)
+5 # Luis Emilio 2013-02-01 15:31
EPGAH3: The problem I have with your post is that your emphasis is on the killing (of the enemy) rather in avoiding the war in the first place. I suppose you will agree with me in that the Iraq war was initiated by us; the Afghanistan war could have been avoided if we had treated the 9/11 as what it was: a police matter: a crime, although an immense and horrendous crime. Instead of openly threatening Afghanistan, which forced them to answer in the negative, we could have used diplomatic and economic measures to force Afghanistan to give us Bin Laden.
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-03 18:43
So by that logic, all the terrorists are just criminals who take the whole "Resisting Arrest" thing to a whole other Level?
Even if you believe that, these terrorist countries consider virtues, those actions most of us consider evil. (Child soldiers, suicide bombing, pretending to be civilians, pretending to surrender, etc.)

And if I remember correctly, we DID originally just request the terrorists surrender, and they said something along the lines of "Make Me".

As to "diplomatic measures", the Moslem Cult considers talking to be either a sign of weakness, or a way to delay the Civilized World's reprisal until they do/get what they want. How long have we been "talking" with Pakistan to NOT give our Foreign Aid money to terrorists, or Iran to NOT develop a nuke? Have we accomplished anything but waste breath and time?

As to "economic measures", that's even MORE useless, and makes the world--even some Americans--symp athize with the enemy, something along the lines of "Our sanctions don't hurt the terrorists and their leaders, they hurt the middle class, who MIGHT become our allies!" Look up our embargos on Cuba, Iran, and Israel's attempt to starve out terrorists. All three were completely ineffective, Cuba has not made amends, Iran still believes nukes are their right, and the world FORCED Israel to let the terrorists get food.
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-03 18:49
Yes, I do emphasize the killing of terrorists, and the prevention of killing our people. (Strangely enough, those two aims dovetail nicely: The more enemies you kill, the fewer of them are in any shape to kill you and yours!)
They can either surrender, or they can fight us. If they choose to fight, they should EXPECT to die. Instead, they can EXPECT us to hold our troops back, even punish OUR OWN PEOPLE for hurting the terrorists, before pulling out entirely and letting the bad guy win.

As to the Iraq War, I HOPE you agree US created Saddam, and once he entered Nebuchadnezzar Syndrome, we had a moral if not legal obligation to take him out. Also, he DID use OUR chemical weapons against people we told him NOT to, violated the No Fly Zone, his son was a notorious torturer, etc. We did the genepool, if not the planet, a favor. Sadly, Bush didn't believe in just ASSASSINATING the bastard (Which Obama does, even mppeace admits it), nor wiping the whole enemy city out, so a lot of soldiers had to die to kill 3 bastards and their shadowy devotees throughout the countryside.
0 # Douglas Jack 2013-02-03 18:51
Luis, EPGAH has missing mind & heart. By the way, Osama Bin Laden was a paid CIA surrogate fighting the Russians for us. We were sending advanced weaponry to foreign Islamic fighters strictly upon the criteria that our enemy's enemy is supposed to be our friend. We knowingly armed Bin Laden as a foreign Saudi fighter in the same way as we are financing 100,000 foreign fighters in 80 countries (eg. Venezuela, Libya, Syria) worldwide today. 15 of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi with no Afghans.

We are after geo-political control for cheap resources through establishing puppet regimes. We don't care who the puppets are so USA is still the chief financier for Al-CIAda. The supposed Arab Spring is largely western financed & technologically -facilitated one-sided hates event (Facebook etc). The Soviet Union, having a large Islamic population, understand this religion's propensity for male dominance & self-justified murder & destruction (a mirror of our own) so they don't finance it the way we do. Do we finance fanatics because our Finance-Media-M ilitary-Industr ial-Complex is in the business of making a killing?

If we had honor, we would be engaging our perceived enemies & friends in open equal-time recorded & published dialogues. We would understand that economy is most profitable when aligned with the biosphere & full ownership participation for all stakeholders.
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-03 18:53
Also, there's an odd focus on America's fighting of the terrorists, but to be extremely cliche about it, "If We Don't, Who Will?"
Moslem terrorists (redundancy ignored) have hit civilian targets in America, England, France, Spain, Russia, China, and obviously Israel. Why is America the one fighting back, as halfass or as evil as it may be, depending your perspective?
Do the others just say, "Oh, well, America will take care of it!"? (And then stand back and bitch about HOW we do it?) And if so, why should they concern with the methods used, as long as it puts the terrorists down, or at least weakens them to the point they can't hurt anyone anymore?
+1 # Douglas Jack 2013-02-03 22:56
EPGAH, If we don't fund, arm & supply terrorists then they don't have the resources & tools to kill. Its called 'Cause & Effect'. If we don't cause war then there are no effects to clean up. Our human responsibility is to get down to the business of taking care of each other & the planet. Some advise, "Follow the money" if you want to understand where the problems start. It seems from your comments that you share a xenophobia (fear of foreigners) inspired by the American media. The best way to find out who people are is to talk with them, even debate & put your fears forward so they can address your fears point-by-point. There are steps everyone can take to be part of the solution and you will be surprised at how complementary their gifts are to ours.
+8 # mppeace 2013-01-31 19:31
Hagel's boss, Obama, is no Peacenik at all himself, by ANY stretch of the imagination. His Nobel "Peace" Prize acceptance speech in Oslo was the most bellicose defense of USA empire's blatantly aggressive War Machine ever heard from that podium. Since then, he has accelerated the drone killing program and now presides on a weekly "kill session" every Tuesday to commit murder by remote control. Even Hitler didn't have the 'audacity' nor the means to potentially target every single homo spaien living on this Planet! The USA empire is so stricken with war fever it can never reform itself. Only its dismantling, as the late Prof. Chlamers Johnson(of "Blowback" fame)so perceptively prescribed, can the Americna republic be salvaged from its self-created 'Abyss of Evil.'
+5 # Edwina 2013-02-01 10:25
It took us decades to get over what the politicians and media called "The Vietnam Syndrome". Unfortunately, we did.
+7 # Cdesignpdx 2013-02-01 10:28
The Baby Killers are the corporations that make up the US defense industry, not the hapless young men and women who are perpetually sent into some police action deemed necessary so the military industrial complex can test their new weapons' effectiveness. War is a fool's errand and we continue to tolerate it.
+1 # Cassandra2012 2013-02-01 14:50
+1 # Douglas Jack 2013-02-03 19:04

He’s 5 foot 2 and he’s 6 feet 4
He fights with missiles and with spears
He’s all of 31 and he’s only 17.
He’s been a soldier for a thousand years

He’s a catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain
A Buddhist, and a Baptist and Jew.
And he knows he shouldn’t kill
And he knows he always will kill
You for me my friend and me for you

And He’s fighting for Canada.
He’s fighting for France.
He’s fighting for the USA.
And he’s fighting for the Russians.
And he’s fighting for Japan
And he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way.

And He’s fighting for democracy,
He’s fighting for the reds
He says it’s for the peace of all.
He’s the one, who must decide,
who’s to live and who’s to die.
And he never sees the writing on the wall.

But without him,
how would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau?
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He’s the one who gives his body
as a weapon of the war.
And without him all this killing can’t go on

He’s the universal soldier
And he really is the blame
His orders comes from
far away no more.

They come from him.
And you and me.
And brothers can’t you see.
This is not the way we put an end to war
0 # Mannstein 2013-02-02 14:36
Ever hear of Dwight D. Eisenhower? He was responsible for reclassifying German POWs to DEFs (Disarmed Enemy Forces). His motive was to remove the protections of the Geneva Conventions for German POWs. This allowed him to put them in cages along the Rein under the open sky in April 1945 without food or medical care. Close to a million died. Local civilians who wanted to bring food to the cages were shot at. Read Canadian historian James Bacque's book "Other Losses' for the gory details. Incidentally his book was banned from the US when it first appeared. We really do have a glorious history if one bothers to look closely.
+1 # Jay Warren Clark 2013-02-02 17:48
If he has grown a conscience since his days in Vietnam he would not be chosen for this job. Look at Obama's record. It is as murdereous as any of these monsters. JWC
+3 # ganymede 2013-02-02 18:37
Just as a postscript to this thread. The more info we get it's clear that the foreign policy of the US since WWII has almost been on a par with the Nazi policies from 1933-1945, and much of Soviet Russian history. All our wars have been useless, destructive episodes and our support of everything from ousting Mossedegh in Iran to the bloodbaths in Vietnam, Central America and the shameless destruction of Iraq defy all logic and morality,a and yet it goes on and on even under our esteemed President Obama. Talk about bad karma!
+1 # kitster 2013-02-03 17:34
in the final analysis, chuck hegel will do what ever potus o decides concerning any war.

oh, and do john mccain and lindsay graham know that they lost in '08? unless hegel did something traitorous or salacious, he deserves their confirmation as the president's choice.
+1 # hammermann 2013-02-04 06:37
Good discussion. RSN has the best comments on the Web. I questioned McCain during the 2004 race about his insane resistance to be returned when the North was about to release him- because under extreme torture and life-threatenin g injuries, he made some video where he said the War was wrong, and he was ashamed to return to his admiral father. And spent another 4 years in Hell- a decision so BAD that it disqualified him from being President.

I used to kind of like him when he was self-depreciati ng, but he's become a nasty crotchety old man. His treatment of Hagel was disgraceful, because he wasn't the mindless booster of the treasonous Iraq War, and Graham cracker's because he wasn't more loyal to Israel than America.

(w audio)
A QUESTION OF JUDGMENT - Oct '08 Despite his "maverick" image, John McCain's judgment has been abysmal, starting with his decision to remain in a brutal NV prison for 4 1/2 years rather than go home (which we questioned him on). His economic advisor, friend, and so-called "genius" Phil Gramm wrote the bills that tore down Depression protections and exempted these junk bond derivatives from any regulation- creating this economic meltdown; McCain was a fervent backer of the catastrophic Iraq invasion + has never had any qualms; Cynical choice of the woefully unqualified Palin for Veep endangers nation; Rash reckless decisions the norm- Scoop, OpedNews

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