The Vietnam Analogy: Blackwater Massacre by mattsteinglass
October 3, 2007, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Iraq, Vietnam

Soldiers are told their mission is to clear an area. While unprovoked attacks on civilians are not allowed, attacks on guerrillas mixed in among civilians are allowed. The rules effectively ensure that there will never be any penalties for soldiers who kill civilians, with or without cause. In Iraq, they call it “clearing the X”. In Vietnam, they called it a “free-fire zone”. Result? Vietnam:

No sooner had Stout asked the question than they spotted two Vietnamese running down a hill toward the soldiers, waving leaflets. Stout could clearly hear them yelling, “No shoot, GI, no shoot, GI!”

He froze. Stout expected the soldiers to wait for the peasants to reach them before questioning them. They looked like civilians and weren’t carrying any weapons. He watched as two of the soldiers raised their M16s at the peasants, and figured it was just a precaution.

Suddenly Stout was startled by the instant, rapid sounds of the M16s. The peasants fell in a spray of bullets. “It happened so fast,” recalled Stout. “They just shot them. I couldn’t believe it.” He looked at the other three soldiers who didn’t fire their weapons, and could see the puzzled looks on their faces. One of the men turned around in disgust and blurted out, “Sarge, what happened?” The team leader glanced at Stout before motioning for the soldier to come over to talk to him privately.

Stout stared at the two men as they huddled, and knew he wasn’t supposed to hear what they were saying. As their voices rose, Stout could hear the sergeant saying the words “free-fire zone. It’s a damn free-fire zone, and you don’t question that.” Moments later, the men walked back and joined the rest of the team. Stout looked at the bodies and saw the leaflets in their hands. No guns or ammunition were found.

— “Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War”, Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss, P.77


BAGHDAD, Oct. 2 — It started out as a family errand: Ahmed Haithem Ahmed was driving his mother, Mohassin, to pick up his father from the hospital where he worked as a pathologist. As they approached Nisour Square at midday on Sept. 16, they did not know that a bomb had gone off nearby or that a convoy of four armored vehicles carrying Blackwater guards armed with automatic rifles was approaching.

Moments later a bullet tore through Mr. Ahmed’s head, he slumped, and the car rolled forward. Then Blackwater guards responded with a barrage of gunfire and explosive weapons, leaving 17 dead and 24 wounded — a higher toll than previously thought, according to Iraqi investigators.


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I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak. I believed another Vietnam could be avoided with defined missions and the best armaments in the world.

It made no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:

Comment by Ken Larson

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