Rumor Of War Essay, Research Paper
Rumor Of WarIn all wars, civilians always suffer, and inexcusable deliberate acts of murder and pillage always exist. America was certainly no exception, and the public was never more conscious of its own soldiers atrocities then during the long and confusing Vietnam conflict. Often the men who committed these cases were normal persons like anyone else until they became victims of war s pressures. In Vietnam the intense physical strains of the jungle and the feeling of constant futility warped the judgments and actions of the combat troops and changed them psychologically. Lieutenant Caputo, Crowe and the others tried for the assassination of two Vietnamese civilians, had succumbed to their environment. Their perceptions blurred, they committed crimes against a population they often felt indifferent to, sometimes disdainful towards, and always wary of. A population they were supposed to protect. Their trial was to be conducted as if they had killed two men on the streets of Los Angeles, tried strictly on facts. However, the not guilty verdicts received by the defendants show a decision and a trial ruled by politics and opinions. The reason for the marine corp to bring on an investigation of the incident at Giao-Tri at its most obvious is the basic fact that Caputo and the five other marines violated the military laws on the way a war must be conducted. Caputo ordered an unauthorized raid into the village to capture and kill if necessary the two Vietnamese; and his men carried the orders through and killed the victims, of whom had no indications of being VC. So in the tradition of justice the military upheld their image by looking into the incident. And this they did doubly so, by coming to the conclusion that the defendants were all good and honorable soldiers with clean records, innocent of the charges against them. If they had been proven guilty the military would ve had to admit that cruelty could exist within good soldiers in their institution and that such capacity for evil existed to all those on the front-lines, an admittance that would be detrimental to their efforts in the war. A verdict of innocence would deceive themselves and whoever else into thinking that the soldiers they produced were virtuous and incapable of the crimes committed.
The fact that such an effort was taken in the investigation would also work in the direction of maintaining relations with the local population. The military, so committed to obtaining body counts, would have overlooked the killing of the two Vietnamese, as can be seen in Captain Neal s rewards for confirmed kills, and his congratulations to Caputo and his men for the two killed Vietnamese despite the fact that what they had done was not authorized. But because of the complaints lodged by the villagers, American military authorities commanded an investigation that they never would have gotten into had the complaint not been lodged. It was a trial to satisfy the locals and a cover up for the episode created by its troops at the same time. Many officers and those who ran the trial would be sympathetic towards the defendants. There wasn t a mark on their records, their service was honorable, and in so seeing that they were decent men, they saw them as they would see themselves and all other servicemen. Sympathy was involved in the fact that brutal front-line conditions could do the same to them. If they had been tried as if they had killed two men on the streets of LA, a court ruling would have found them guilty. In LA a jury would not have taken into sympathy or consideration a murder suspect s growth environment. They would not have taken into consideration that a suspect may have been beaten as a child or that he might have grown up in an impoverished area ridden with crime. However in Vietnam, sympathy was found more easily among fellow soldiers. Had facts ruled the case of Caputo and his men, they would not have been found guilty. However, for the sake of preserving a conflict and protecting themselves, the military chose to look into the incident for the Vietnamese and the public, and then overlook it for themselves. Appeasement and self-denial, a process that failed to work. They could not lie to the people, they never did win the hearts in minds of the Vietnamese, and they had lost the hearts and minds of their own Americans. They could not lie to themselves, for after a decade they came to a realization and finally left a war that should have been left alone.