Pleased to Meet You, Hope You Guess My Name
by Not Sure
20 November 2022
The Rape of Nanjing (Nanking) starting December 13, 1937, was a massacre that lasted six weeks, with mass gang-rapes, and contests between officers to see who could kill the most people. It is estimated that more than 300,000 men, women and children were murdered. Between 20,000 and 80,000 women and children were raped or sodomized. People were disemboweled. Many were decapitated and their heads put on pikes. Some were slowly cut into pieces until they died. Others were burned alive. Rows of children were beheaded by samurai-wielding officers. Some witnesses said they saw babies cut out of the wombs of their mothers and fed to dogs.
"In Quảng Trị City, I had a friend who was working for USAID. He was advisor to an Army group, and he asked me if I would like to accompany him into a village to see how they [the villagers] act. So I went with him and they didn't find any enemy but they found a woman…she was questioned by about six Army [personnel]…then they shot her. She was dead and this guy came over, he was a former Major for twenty years and he got hungry again and came over and was [also] working for USAID, (U.S. Aid and International Development). And he went over there and ripped her clothes off and took a knife and
cut from her vagina, well, just about all the way up to her breast and pulled her organs out, just about all the way out of her cavity and then he stopped and knelt over her and began to pull every inch of skin off her body and left her there as a sign for something or other."
- An American veteran speaking at the Winter Soldier Investigation, Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 1971. Testimony used for 1972 film Winter Soldier.
Figure 1 Winter Soldier Interrogation
“Just after the man killed the Vietnamese, a woman came out of the village, and someone knocked her down and Medina shot her with his M16 rifle. I was fifty or sixty feet from him and saw this. There was no reason to shoot this girl. Mitchell, Conti, Meadlo, Stanley, and the rest of the squad and the command group must have seen this. It was pure out-and-out murder.
Then our squad entered the village. We were making sure no one escaped from the village. Seventy-five or a hundred yards inside the village we came to where the soldiers had collected fifteen or more Vietnamese men, women, and children in a group. Medina said, “Kill everybody. Leave no one standing.”
- PFC Herbert L. Carter, from Wabash County, IN, describes atrocities committed at My Lai.
Figure 2 My Lai Massacre
"Four Soviet soldiers who deserted in Afghanistan said yesterday that the military intervention was taking a toll on the soldiers, whom they described as demoralized by harsh conditions and wide drug use as well as the perils of battle in a hostile environment.
The four deserters, speaking at a news conference in New York, said that indiscriminate killing of civilians, brutal treatment of soldiers by their officers and widespread illness were among the problems affecting the soldiers.
'Some Soviet soldiers are so filled with rage that they kill everyone they see,' said one of the deserters, Alexei Peresleni, a 20-year-old sergeant. 'A war is a war and a soldier is a soldier. We're no different from the way American soldiers were in Vietnam. The fighting is very indiscriminate.'"
- August 3, 1984, New York Times article, 4 Soviet Deserters Tell of Cruel Afghan War
Figure 3 Russia Leaves Kabul
“On Aug. 16, the day after Kabul fell to the Taliban, the Veterans Crisis Line received a nearly 12 percent increase in calls, compared to the volume of calls last year on the same day. On Aug. 25, the call line had a 17 percent increase compared to the previous year. Miller clarified that the VA doesn’t know if the uptick is directly attributable to the situation in Afghanistan and attributing any suicide to one particular cause vastly oversimplifies complex mental health challenges. But it’s clear that many veterans are struggling to watch a country that they fought in for 20 years now fall to the Taliban.”
- August 29, 2021, Shannon Vavra for The Daily Beast
Figure 4 U.S. Leaves Kabul
Photographer Eddie Adams took a photograph of General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan just before Loan executed a Vietcong prisoner. This iconic photo won awards for Adams, who had a few regrets about the picture. He said that two people died. The prisoner and the general, because that imaged messed up the general’s life, who was “doing his duty.” Adams said, “Still photographs are the most powerful weapons in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths…” An Unlikely Weapon was a documentary made about Adams in 2008. Adams said, “They say the written word is bullshit. The picture is what does it.”
I’ve never had a problem with the written word. I understand we’re in the visual age and most people can’t be bothered to read. But I can “see” things in my imagination. When I read that a man took a knife and cut a woman from her vagina to just below her breasts, I can “see” that, and I see it in a way that a picture could never capture. Anyone who has ever quartered a chicken or a turkey, raw or cooked, will understand the effort involved in cutting through flesh and bone. Even a sharp knife needs a bit of muscle behind it to make quick work of the job. To cut all the skin off a woman’s body would require both concentration and patience. A picture couldn’t convey that effort.
Figure 5 Eddie Adams photo - Execution of Nguyen Van Lem
But the still photograph can etch an image onto our psyches in a way that even “moving pictures” cannot, because we are swept up into the movement. We become part of the action and don’t have time to absorb each image. Yet film too lies often, with or without manipulation. We all know now that an enterprising captain of a battalion saw some restless Iraqis gathered in Baghdad’s Firdos Square and a while later we saw footage of angry Iraqi citizens toppling Saddam Hussein’s statue. We weren’t shown the crane of an M-88 Hercules tank. The “hundreds” gathered in the square were mostly reporters and Marines.
Before the embedded journalists of the Gulf War we had photojournalism and war photography has often been staged. The iconic Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph was actually a picture of the second flag planted that day. A larger flag in the afternoon to replace the flag that had been raised in the morning. A very real event, but with some staging nonetheless.
Figure 6 Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima
In this Redux, an hour excerpt from Alan Watt’s talk of February 14, 2021, which was more than four hours, Alan gives listeners a profound lesson on how class distinctions are made and used, for raising generations of “warriors” who will carry out the geopolitical aims of the ruling class. These soldiers are often pulled from the “lower” classes and are heavily indoctrinated with the mythologies of their nation. The young men willingly go to war to defend their country against gooks, slant-eyes, slits, Huns, Boche, barbarians, commie-pinkos and Japs. The enemy is demonized, stripped of their humanity.
Alan said, “But from ancient Greece to Rome, all the way up to the British Empire, then the American Empire, it's always the same thing. You must always tell your troops you're going off to... that's what they said when they went into…INTO Iraq, right, Operation Iraqi Freedom, what they called it. What a... how pitiful was that? Pitiful. And here it is, the natives of that country looking at these American troops, and the American troops were cussing and swearing at them, saying, we're bringing you democracy, you stupid so-and-so's, you know. And here's the natives who are looking at them in bewilderment. Because they didn't want your idea, they knew that you didn't have democracy, Mr. G.I. Joe. But you certainly have been brainwashed, 'eh? Spouting off democracy to a people who had their own system, whether you like it or not, it's their system. It's not a matter of, you don't invade countries because you don't like certain things, you see. Because then what are you going to do when some tyrant wants to invade you because he doesn't like certain things either?”
Alan wasn’t chiding or mocking those who believe that they are fighting for a righteous cause, but he was telling us that this system of class and money turns us against each other rather than recognizing the precariousness of our own lives within the system. The “elite” have long classed poverty as a mental illness, yet everything is designed to keep us “in our place” or blissfully blind to how we’re all just a paycheck or two away from disaster. He makes a point of highlighting Hollywood’s utter contempt for the people and region from whom so many soldiers are pulled, the Southern states of the U.S. He also talked of the irony of conquered people (India, Scotland) who become some of best soldiers, fighting for those who destroyed their own cultures, sometimes not even a generation earlier.
In researching this piece, I found a 2020 article from Children’s Health Defense that said, “US military members are routinely taking up to 19 prescription medications to enhance performance and reduce stress. The collateral damage is that, when current active duty, reserve members, and the National Guard are included, 20 veterans die by suicide every day in the US.” Other articles have stated that at present, American veterans exist on a drug regimen of up to 15 different medications. Regardless of the positive benefits some of these drugs might have, the cumulative side effects of that many prescriptions must be harmful.
Alan talked about those who end up with PTSD and the further harm that may be done to them by the psychoactive medications they take. He said, “The way you FIX the problem is to DEAL with things that are causing the problem…There's consequences to all of this. It's consequences to our actions as well. M-hm. Because without what seems to be the obvious visible things you're fighting for, I mean, in other words, for the propaganda that you’re fed, if you don't see it in action, the real propaganda, well they told me it was going to be this and that and the whole thing, and those folks aren't as bad as they make them out to be. But without all of that, you see, and you're still killing them, y'know, once there's a conflict in your mind, that's you. And it's drug time. And they'll, yeah, they can keep you going for tour after tour after tour doing that kind of thing if they want to. Then it's your problem later on. It is your problem. Who else is it, 'eh? It's you that's taking the drugs to flatten your emotions.”
That struck me as such an important point. It’s when the propaganda stops working that the conflict in one’s mind really kicks in. There’s a total disconnect between what you’ve been told and what you’re seeing with your own eyes.
All of my reading and researching reminded me of a documentary I saw a few years ago entitled Winter Soldier. This film was released in 1972 from footage shot during what was referred to as the Winter Soldier Investigation which lasted from January 31 to February 2 of 1971. The media event and veteran testimony was sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicize war crimes and atrocities committed by the United States Armed Forces and their allies. The event got very little coverage outside of Detroit and some media organizations tried to discredit the authenticity of the participants. The Detroit Free Press checked all military records against the Department of Defense and verified that all witnesses were veterans of the Vietnam War.
One of the initial supporters of the event was the actress, Jane Fonda. Fortunately for the long-term impact of the film, it was decided that she and some other controversial figures would not participate in the investigation or the film. A series of fundraising events and concerts leading up to the investigation had included performances by Fonda, actor Donald Sutherland (whose son Kiefer narrated An Unlikely Weapon), concerts by David Crosby and Graham Nash and the folk singer Phil Ochs.
John Kerry, a decorated veteran with two Purple Hearts, Bronze and Silver stars, joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War upon his return home and participated in the investigation and film. Kerry was born into the wealthy Forbes family, and his father’s career included the Army Air Corps and the Foreign Service. He would go on to become a Senator, the 68th Secretary of State under President Obama. He is now the first Presidential Special Envoy for Climate.
What is important about this film is not the celebrities who swirled around in the shadows but the faces and voices of the young veterans who wanted to find a way to deal with their conflicted feelings about what they were involved in. One of the veterans who had been a pilot smiled incongruently as he described seeing VC thrown out of helicopters on quite a few occasions. A commenter on one of the sites where the film was uploaded ascribed the smile to a sort of nervous response to a painful situation; a not atypical reaction of someone suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They describe situations and events so horrific that the viewer is left in disbelief or incomprehension. These events are referred to as SOP. Standard Operating Procedure.
The My Lai Massacre took place on March 16, 1968. Between 347 and 504 unarmed people were killed by U.S. Army soldiers. The victims included men, women, children and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and mutilated. Children as young as twelve were raped, their bodies mutilated. There were cover-up attempts and then the subsequent blame of 2nd Lt. William Calley and his trial. News of the massacre did not reach the American public until Seymour Hersh published a story on November 13, 1969.
It was said about Vietnam that this was the first war that played on televisions in living rooms across the world, especially in America, and that watching the daily footage of bloody and chaotic scenes sickened the American people and support for the war waned. When the public became aware of the My Lai Massacre, the protest movement picked up steam.
At a glance, it might seem that awareness of what happened at My Lai would make the revelations of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War easier to comprehend and accept, yet the VVAW was boycotted by most news outlets. Many organizations attempted to discredit those veterans who chose to participate in the Investigation. One of the stated goals of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in their presentation of the Winter Soldier Investigations was to show that the atrocities they recounted were not the actions of a rogue soldier (a reference to Lt. Calley and My Lai) but were Standard Operating Procedure.
Abu Ghraib was one of Iraq’s most notorious prisons under Saddam Hussein. After the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military used the prison as a detention facility. In 2003, Amnesty International published reports of human rights violations by the U.S. military. Abuses included not giving prisoners clothing and denying them sleep for extended periods of time. U.S. soldiers physically abused and humiliated prisoners. The George W. Bush administration said these were isolated cases and not U.S. military policy. Eleven soldiers were charged, court martialed, sentenced to military prison and dishonorably discharged.
Figure 7 Prisoner on a Leash - Abu Ghraib
This type of abuse has nothing to do with protecting one’s country or fellow citizens. This is something dark that is unleashed and encouraged. The young veterans who spoke in Winter Soldier described their training as being focused on seeing the enemy as something not even human. One soldier recounted that when he was on his tour of duty an officer spotted a little bracelet that he wore. The soldier told his superior officer that it had been a little gift from a Vietnamese boy. The officer made him remove the bracelet immediately. There is no room in war for any sentiment that humanizes the other side.
What struck me most about the film was a couple of young men who felt compelled to speak to save others from participating in something that they might not be able to live with later. Several of them were thinking about the kind of indoctrination that they had received their whole lives that made violence seem fun. One man said, “It’s in the cartoons. We grow up with this.”
Winter Soldier was 1971. Abu Ghraib was 2003. The suffering amongst active-duty soldiers and veterans has gotten worse. The 2018 Department of Defense Suicide Report said 47% of active duty suicides had zero deployments. Veterans aged 18-34 had almost double the rate of suicides as older veterans. According to an article from Children’s Health Defense, “One possibility is the increasing trend of military suicides in the US began in 2006 and is temporally correlated with the Pentagon’s 2006 policy that permitted and encouraged SSRI medications.”
“Total load” of prescription drugs is another factor. “A Veteran Affairs study of 157 veterans with PTSD reported an average use of 6.4 ± 3.8 prescribed drugs with a maximum of 19 prescribed drugs. These drugs were from the following 17 categories: anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anxiolytics, hypnotics, mood stabilizers, stimulants, anti-cholinergics, anti-convulsants, anti-hypertensives, diuretics, cardiovascular drugs, diabetes drugs, dyslipidemia drugs, analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, gastrointestinal drugs, and narcotics.”
In this talk, Alan Watt said “But the modern drugs that the military are on, by prescription, are, it's incredible, what an amazing cocktail. They've always had articles breaking out in the military magazines about these cocktails that they’re on now, now that they are keeping them in with tour after tour for years at a time sometimes, some of these tours. They can break them up, but they're in the military for years, you see. Even when they come back on leave, they're kept on this drug, this heavy drug state, and they're prescribed them like candy by the doctors. Even on the bases. We've had articles recently again about that in the US and Canada and other countries. There are no questions asked about them, keep them drugged, keep their emotional response flat. And that's what these drugs do to you, they flatten responses.”
It’s THE system, THE agenda that Alan described in such detail. A class system keeps us divided. Nobody wants to be poor. We are taught to look upon those with less (less money, less education, less privilege) as not quite human, so in that way CLASS makes enemies. Those in the middle class agree with those in the upper class that the lower class must be sub-human or somehow mentally deficient. Yet those in the upper class see themselves as a separate species from all below them. They’ve no more in common with a middle manager than with a factory worker or the man who mows their lawn. Divided in this way, we cannot see our common enemy.
Seattle is Dying was made in 2019 and as Alan said, that was before Covid came along. Drug use, tent cities. Prescription drug abuse, in particular oxycodone, is highlighted in the excellent 2013 documentary, Oxyana.
In 2009, there was a 20/20 Diane Sawyer special on poverty and an epidemic of prescription drug use in the Appalachians entitled A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains. I was only able to find an intro to the full-length show, but in that intro the narrator is talking about a hero of a war and says “The Appalachians has lost more men and women to America’s wars than any other part of the American nation.” In this talk, Alan talked about how Scottish young men were used as soldiers for England’s wars and said, “It's interesting to watch the same thing that's happened in the US, exactly the same thing, from the same, a lot of the same stock actually that was soaked up by America, that came from Britain, from England and Scotland and Wales and Ireland. You can see it too, the ones that Hollywood hates, [Alan chuckles.] through their movies all the time in the South, y'know, where the same stock eventually were deported from Scotland and places like that. They became, again, the bodies, they'd fill the uniforms up, they'd supply the bodies to fill the uniforms.”
In World War I, there were about 40 million who died, including 16 million military personnel. That war has often been called a war of attrition. Which side had the most men in the trenches they could send out into the open battlefield to be mowed down. I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to be in the trench that smelled of blood, rotting flesh, urine and feces, waiting for your turn to be sent over the top. The horror of attrition is vividly captured in the movie Gallipoli.
The casualties of World War II are numbered at between 75-80 million. Amphetamines were widely used by both sides. Benzedrine. Bennies. Cocaine was used in both world wars. Alcohol has long been used in militaries around the world, through history. “Liquid courage.” A 1971 U.S. Department of Defense report stated that half of all military personnel had used cannabis.
Alan said, “Once they come out of the military they're kept on these drugs as much as possible. That's why they're wrecks. A lot of them end up on the streets, these guys. Because little bits creep back into them, then you try to say, well who am I? What am I? Did I do that? Y'know? Why did I do that?”
Those were the questions several of the young men in Winter Soldier were asking themselves. “Did I do that?” “Why did I do that?”
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that in any given year 11-20% of all veterans suffer from PTSD. That’s a very high percentage.
In this system we’re born into, WE the little people are used as cannon fodder for geopolitics we’ll never fully comprehend and for the theft of resources. Some people do write editorials asking why NATO troops were guarding poppy fields in Afghanistan. Every war gets lots of coverage and depending on the era, we crawl under our desks in an odd training exercise to minimize exposure to an atomic bomb (!) or we cry over the pictures of babies born with birth defects due to Agent Orange.
Figure 8 Baby with Agent Orange birth defects
We pick a side, and we scream at the television, venting our two minutes of hate. What changes? Another generation is born, grows in their indoctrination and is used in their turn. All that is different now is that the war upon us has been so effective. Our willingness to comply has brought us right into the Painless Concentration Camp of the Mind.
Alan: “So, self-destruction, once cultural domination by another group has been put upon them, always happens. Mainly towards the men. And it's encouraged. And it's no more as evident as in the American education system today where they literally teach you not just about what ethnic group is responsible, to be hated about everything, but also what gender mainly. And that's taught by taxpayers’ money, 'eh. So, they get churned out hating the males. Quite something isn't it? And you think somehow that's all quite normal? This is warfare, this is literal warfare upon you.
That's also what's taught in preparation for genocides in the past, and maybe the future. You always name your enemy, blame them for all the world's problems, and all your problems, demonize them, put them into third-rate status, and in a nation or, y'know, even an Empire, third-rate status you see until they're nobodies, ridicule them, lambaste them, teach the public to hate them, all in preparation for what? Generally, their annihilation, folks.
And I don't wish for things. There's no point in wishing for things. But it would be nice if folk started to realize what's going on. That would be nice, wouldn't it? But I don't put out much hope for that because the massive psychological indoctrinations system is pretty well perfected. It was perfected when Bertrand Russell wrote his books in the 1940s and 50s, and onwards. He said that, you know, if they can get the children young enough, he said, it doesn’t matter.”
I’m with Alan. “There's no point in wishing for things.” But it really would be nice if people didn’t turn away from horror because it isn’t happening to them. It would be nice if instead of a simplistic little picture of reality the way we’ve been indoctrinated to see it, we could handle a thousand words about WHAT IS.
© Not Sure
Winter Soldier (1972) - US veterans testified war crimes in Vietnam.
Pharma Loaded U.S. Soldier Part 1: Taking Inventory of Risks
4 Soviet Deserters Tell of Cruel Afghanistan War
Association between Agent Orange and birth defects: systematic review and meta-analysis
Veteran and Military Mental Health Issues
Substance use disorders in military veterans: prevalence and treatment challenges
Seattle is Dying
A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains (intro)