Then and now!

I refused to participate in the war crimes on the left of this picture. I counseled other young men on how to fightback, refuse to join the madness, reject that cruel and unjust political violence. We must do it all over again.

A single photo can change the world

Can a photograph help end a war?

Pictures from Ukraine by combat photographers, including contract photographer James Nachtwey and Associated Press photojournalists Felipe Dana, Mstyslav Chernov and Evgeniy Maloletka, have brought to light the horrific consequences of Russia’s invasion and the unconscionable treatment of innocent civilians.

Fifty years ago, I was in the same position as those photographers, working for the Associated Press in Vietnam.

On June 7, 1972, I learned about fighting taking place in Trang Bang, a small village roughly 30 miles northwest of Saigon. I still have vivid memories of my drive the next morning to Trang Bang, seeing rows of bodies by the side of the road and hundreds of refugees fleeing the area. I eventually arrived at a village destroyed by days of airstrikes. The residents were so tired of the constant battles, they fled their village to seek refuge on the streets, under bridges or wherever they could find a moment of calm.

By midday, I had the photos I thought I needed. I was preparing to leave when I saw a South Vietnamese soldier drop a yellow smoke bomb, which served as a target signal, near a group of buildings. I picked up my camera, and a few seconds later captured the image of a plane dropping four napalm bombs on the village.

As we came closer, we saw people fleeing the napalm. I was horrified when I saw a woman with her left leg badly burned. I can still see so vividly the old woman carrying a baby who died in front of my camera and another woman carrying a small child with his skin coming off.

Then I heard a child screaming, “Nong qua! Nong qua!” Too hot! Too hot! I looked through my Leica viewfinder to see a young girl who had pulled off her burning clothes and was running toward me. I started taking pictures of her.

Then she yelled to her brother that she thought she was dying and wanted some water. I instantly put my cameras down so I could help her. I knew that was more important than taking more photos. I took my canteen for her to drink and poured water on her body to cool her off, but it created more pain for her. I didn’t know that when people get burned so badly, you’re not supposed to put water on them.

Still in shock, and amid the confusion of everyone screaming, I put all the kids into the AP van.

I drove them to Cu Chi hospital, since it was the closest to Trang Bang. The girl kept crying and screaming, “I’m dying! I’m dying.” I was sure she was going to die in my van.

At the hospital, I learned that her name was Phan Thi Kim Phuc. She had suffered third-degree burns on 30 percent of her body. The doctors were overwhelmed by the huge numbers of wounded soldiers and civilians already there. They initially refused to admit her and told me to bring her to the larger Saigon hospital. But I knew she would die if she did not get immediate help. I showed them my press badge and said, “If one of them dies I will make sure the whole world knows.” Then they brought Kim Phuc inside. I never regretted my decision.

I have never looked at this photo without crying. The passage of time changes nothing about it. A war crime committed by my peers, my country. That poor child.

There is much more in this article. Much more for you to consider. If you read this blog regularly you know I won’t agree with it all; but, that’s not important. This post is about Nick Ut’s photo of Kim Phuc. A minute in the middle of terrible history and shame for the nation where I was born. And a photo that turned back a terrible contemptible war.

Photos from the Winning Side


Elders from North and South embrace, having lived to see Vietnam reunited and unoccupied by foreign powers
1975 – Photo by Vo Anh Khanh

The history of the Vietnam War is one that has been complicated by politics, and it is a history that is still being written and rewritten. The war involved a fratricidal conflict between the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the non-communist Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and extended to neighboring Laos and Cambodia; however, it was also a proxy war in a Cold War contest between the communist bloc and the western bloc…

Vietnam was a transformational event and became an international symbol for the protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The war had a ripple effect that spread outwards from Vietnam to other countries and continents, an effect that was temporal as well as geographic, reaching not only the wartime generations but also the postwar generations…

The history of the war has been a partial one, underscored by the American dominance of the English-language historiography of the war and the focus on American policies and the American experience of the war, coupled with a mostly negative assessment of South Vietnam.

The so-called first ‘television war’, the Vietnam war was defined and shaped by cameras and the bold photographers behind them. The pictures collected in this article are part of the photographic book Another Vietnam: Pictures of the War from the Other Side and show the war from the Vietnamese perspective.

The collection is available from National Geographic Books / Another Vietnam: Pictures of the War from the Other Side.

You will also find used copies in good condition at Amazon.

Chemical Weapon the United States dropped on the people of VietNam maims and kills, decades later


NY Times

A French court will…hear a case against more than a dozen multinationals, accused by a French-Vietnamese woman of causing grievous harm to her and others by selling the Agent Orange defoliant to the US government which used it to devastating effect in the Vietnam War.

Tran To Nga, born in 1942 in what was then French Indochina, worked as a journalist and activist in Vietnam in her 20s.

She filed the lawsuit in 2014 against 14 firms that made or sold the highly toxic chemical, including Monsanto, now owned by German giant Bayer, and Dow Chemical…

So far, only military veterans — from the US, Australia and Korea — have won compensation for the after-effects of the chemical whose toxic properties…were “absolutely phenomenal” at around 13 times the toxicity of herbicides in civilian use such as glyphosate.

Four million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were exposed to Agent Orange, according to NGOs, over a decade when the US military sprayed an estimated 76 million litres (20 million gallons) of the herbicide and defoliant chemical to halt the advances of communist North Vietnamese troops and deprive enemy combatants of food sources.

“Conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure” (Delaware Gazette 2/11/21) https://www.delgazette.com/opinion/columns/88753/conditions-linked-to-agent-orange-exposure Part 3 of a four part series on agent orange see https://muckrack.com/harold-b-wolford/articles
“Agent Orange Wasn’t the Only Deadly Chemical Used In Vietnam : The “Rainbow Herbicides” left a lethal legacy.” https://www.history.com/news/agent-orange-wasnt-the-only-deadly-chemical-used-in-vietnam

If Nazi Germany had done this in World War 2, chemical war on civilian populations would likely be a leading war crime remembered for centuries. When the GOUSA does it…when most of us still study history books written by English-speaking apologists for crimes like this…it takes decades just to find a court that will listen to the complaints of civilians and the survivors of those maimed and murdered by our war criminals.

Asia-Pacific countries form world’s largest trading bloc


VNA

Fifteen countries have formed the world’s largest trading bloc, covering nearly a third of the global economy.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is made up of 10 Southeast Asian countries, as well as South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand…

Negotiations over the RCEP began in 2012. The deal was signed on Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), hosted by Vietnam…

India was also part of the negotiations, but it pulled out last year over concerns that lower tariffs could hurt local producers…Signatories of the deal said the door remained open for India to join in the future…

Members of the RCEP make up nearly a third of the world’s population and account for 29% of global gross domestic product.

I left out the BBC commentary. Predictably, the Brits’ noses are out of joint over this.

The GOUSA wasn’t invited.

Ron Cobb has died

One of the greats in artistic design for film and TV…and everything else that required talent, humor [often] and courage [just about all the time].

Here’s one from the original LA Free Press…back when you could say you saw it in the “FREEP” and anyone hip and willing to challenge the bourgeois establishment knew exactly what publication you meant.

He will be missed.

Let the sun shine!

Amazon Prime added HAIR this weekend. Of course I cried watching it. Thousands of American soldiers died. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died. And many still live crippled by what our nation did. The United States government still doesn’t own up to Agent Orange, the genetic poison crippling folks in that Asian land.

Politicians in both political parties collaborated for decades until the grassroots revulsion against that war forced an end. And, please, don’t delude yourself into thinking the current scumbag in the White House wouldn’t be greedy enough to buy a bagfull of “patriotic” votes to stay in office – and roll out the profits of another war to fund all the corporate help he could ever wish for.

Watch the clip. Watch the film if you’ve never seen it. If you lived it as I did – shed a tear for the loss of Aquarius and the thousands murdered in the name of The Land of the Free.

Da Nang, VietNam – the Golden Bridge


Click to enlargeBored Panda

❝ A new bridge that’s opened outside of Da Nang, Vietnam — aptly named the “Golden Bridge” — has quickly staked its claim to being one of the most stunning bridges on Earth.

❝ The Golden Bridge, which sits about 4,600 feet above sea level in the Bà Nà hills, is designed to look like it’s being held up by two massive stone hands.

The golden walkway supported by the hands extends on a curve that stretches nearly 500 feet long and is lined with purple lobelia chrysanthemums while offering stunning views of the Vietnamese countryside below…

❝ A 2017 report published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization ranked Vietnam’s tourism growth seventh globally, and Vietnam was the only country in Southeast Asia to reach the top ten on that list.

When I started blogging several years ago, my boss was/is a tech journalist with a global reputation. Since I was already retired, I asked him where in the world did he think was the best place to live as a retiree, fixed income, the usual American constraints. One answer. VietNam.

I haven’t moved; but, if I did, it is likely I’d check out his suggestion. Especially somewhere in the vicinity of Da Nang. In addition to the tourism plans noted in this article, business growth should be phenomenal over the next decade. You see, Da Nang will be a dual interchange in China’s ONE BELT, ONE ROAD blueprint for global trade. Both a seaport link and a rail link.

Small nations have learned from the Tet Offensive — while the White House hasn’t

❝ The attacks erupted before dawn on Jan. 30, 1968 and escalated to new levels of ferocity the next day. It turned out that tens of thousands of communist soldiers had begun a coordinated series of surprise attacks on more than 100 cities and U.S. bases in South Vietnam, taking the Americans and their local allies by surprise on the lunar new year of Tet.

North Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap had planned the offensive to break the will of the United States and South Vietnam and end a long stalemate in the struggle by the North to reunite with the South under communist rule. And while Giap’s forces were eventually pushed back with huge losses, he did accomplish his wider objective of undermining American and South Vietnamese confidence in the war effort…

❝ The attacks erupted before dawn on Jan. 30, 1968 and escalated to new levels of ferocity the next day. It turned out that tens of thousands of communist soldiers had begun a coordinated series of surprise attacks on more than 100 cities and U.S. bases in South Vietnam, taking the Americans and their local allies by surprise on the lunar new year of Tet.

The lessons of Tet still resonate. “Tet shaped the world within which we live today: In an era when Americans still don’t fully trust government officials to tell them the truth about situations overseas, and don’t have confidence that leaders, for all their bluster, will do the right thing,” writes Princeton historian Julian Zelizer in the current issue of The Atlantic. “Tet is an important reminder that for liberals and conservatives sometimes a little distrust is a good thing. Particularly at a time when we have a president who traffics heavily in falsehoods, Tet showed that blind confidence in leaders can easily lead down dangerous paths.”

Say it again, Julian. Trust in a pathological liar isn’t likely to turn out well.