Sunday, 31 January 2021

winter soldier investigations

Beginning on this day in 1971, the three-day Detroit media event hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) was a multidisciplinary workshop aiming to bring to the public attention the atrocities committed by the United States military in South East Asia and demonstrate that the recently exposed massacre at My Lai and spillage into Laos and Cambodia (see previously) were widespread and not the rare and isolated occurrences that they were portrayed as. The event’s name was proposed by organiser Mark Lane in contrast to what English Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Paine described in his 1776 pamphlet on the war for independence and The First American Crisis, opening: “These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the Sunshine Patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” Veteran member and future lieutenant-governor, senator, presidential candidate, secretary of state and now special envoy for climate John Kerry echoed those same words speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April of that year. Testimony presented was a harsh indictment against US foreign policy and a painful reflection of American brutality and racism. There were similar panels held in later years for US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.