Communist Party USA

         “There are deaths which make one immortal” — Tran Dinh Van, The Way He Lived: The Story of Nguyen Van Troi Anyone who doubts the murderous nature of American capitalism need only glance at the war in Vietnam. Between 1964 and 1973 America dropped eight bombs per minute on peasants, women, and children — more tonnage than used in all of World War II (Turse, p. 197). Vietnam was used as a laboratory for testing fiendish and cruel U.S. weaponry, “perversions” such as flechette pellets and white phosphorous (Boston Lesbian Feminists, 154). America even resorted to herbicidal warfare, targeting “not specific weeds but entire ecosystems” so that in Vietnam “the forest was the weed” (Zierler, 2). Approximately five million acres of forests were defoliated with 20 million total gallons of the carcinogen Agent Orange in an attempt to expose communist guerrilla fighters. Scientists labeled this type of warfare “ecocide” (2). It was an assault, not just on a people, but on the sacred earth and water that sustain them. The suffering continues to unfold today in cancers and birth defects. Journalist I. F. Stone predicted that “there is a possibility that Nixon would finally use nuclear weapons to blow Vietnam to bits . . . genocide of a whole people in order to save male face” (Boston Lesbian Feminists, 156). He was right. Years later word leaked that U.S. leaders “had been seriously and secretly contemplating a fierce escalation of the war, possibly to include the use of nuclear weapons. Persistent and aggressive antiwar sentiment . . . made it politically impossible . . . so the Sixties antiwar movement had no way to know how great was their success, how real was their achievement” (Zaroulis & Sullivan, 296). “Death and destruction that stuns the imagination” A distinguished International War Crimes Tribunal, just like the panel that sat in judgment of Nazis at Nuremberg, was convened in 1967 by philosopher Bertrand Russell. The Russell Tribunal found America guilty of war crimes and genocide in Vietnam. Comments by Tribunal members include “I sat numbed by the horrors,” “death and destruction that stuns the imagination and legitimizes — nay requires — use of the term genocide,” and “I doubt if Americans will ever be able to comprehend the depravity . . . or the nightmare of Vietnamese suffering and U.S. contempt for Asian life” (Albert and Albert, 335). Yet Vietnam emerged as a historical bright spot because, just as at the Little Big Horn, the good guys finally won. Famed historian Howard Zinn wrote that the war was “modern technology versus organized human beings and the human beings won” (Zinn, 460). Are there ghosts from that war, human beings who died needlessly and unjustly but heroically, knowing that their cause was just, now wandering about, still seeking to be heard? In 1964 Nguyen Van Troi was a very young Vietnamese electrician from the village of Quang Nam. He was also a communist patriot and member of the National Liberation Front. Trỗi had been married to Thi Quyen Phan only 19 days when he was arrested by South Vietnamese puppet regime troops for attempting to assassinate Robert Strange McNamara. McNamara was a primary architect of the Vietnam war, serving as U.S. Secretary of Defense under two presidents, Kennedy and Johnson. As a former president of Ford Motor Company, he was part of what sociologist C. Wright Mills called the “power elite” made up of three institutions: the military, political leaders, and the corporate rich (Menand, 49). McNamara, as creator of the ghoulish and dispassionate body count, was a statistician and reductionist, quantifying…

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Ghosts: Self-sacrifice and protest against war