In Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, Nick Turse focuses on the sheer amount of destruction that the U.S. military forces wreaked upon the Vietnamese landscape, with little regard to the amount of damage that it would do long-term to the Vietnamese countryside, and consequently, its people. As highlighted in chapter two, the American military forces’ ultimate goal was to showcase its’ military prowess with the usage of technology in their war strategies, in order to increase corporatization and efficiency of war; this is contrary to the widespread belief that American forces simply took pity on the Vietnamese people and wanted to essentially save the southern Vietnamese people from the advancing spread of communism. These are important ideas to keep in mind, especially since the justification of these war tactics are still to this day used to defend this notion that American forces inevitably had “no choice” but to use the chemical warfare dubbed Agent Orange, despite the suffering that the Vietnamese people are still undergoing as result of this. Moreover, statistician Robert Mcnamara bears no remorse, as appalling as that sounds, in how he says that a body count can “measure a level of success”. American troops, who consisted of young white males who were enlisted as part of the nationwide draft, were incentivized; they were either punished for having low body counts or held with high esteem and rewarded for having high body counts… This tactic is manipulative, and essentially desensitizes these young soldiers; by antagonizing the Vietnamese people and reducing them to targets, it is self-evident why the Vietnam War is still so crucial to study and discuss to this day. For example, President Nixon openly antagonizes the Vietnamese people during the 1960s to 70s, calling Vietnam a “backwards nation”. These horrific deeds done by soldiers are instead seen as indicators of success, as soldiers are rewarded with badges, medals of honor, and granted light duty at camp. The non-discriminatory war tactics led to the inclusion of civilians, who were devalued and viewed as “collateral damage”. Essentially the idea was that they should use every means necessary to meet the body count… It was the responsibility of the Vietnamese people to prove their innocence, but they were all were seen as part of the Vietcong. It begs the question: how can we learn from this history and prevent this type of widespread destruction?
Ruane, M. (2019, April 1). A grisly photo of a Saigon execution 50 years ago shocked the world and helped end the war. Retrieved January 17, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/02/01/a-grisly-photo-of-a-saigon-execution-50-years-ago-shocked-the-world-and-helped-end-the-war/