The American War in Vietnam

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Journalist and historian Nick Turse talks about the American war on Vietnamese civilians. His book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam is based on more than a decade of research in secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews, and reveals that official policies resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded.


Nick Turse

Comments [18]

Philip from Manhattan

Mr. Lopate's conversation with Nick Turse was a sad disappointment. I served 16 months in Viet Nam with the 25th Infantry Division, much of the time in the field and I know for a fact not all Vietnam Veterans are the despicable human beings portrayed by Mr. Turse.

Mr. Lopate's gentle, deferential questioning was frustrating at best. NPR should be embarressed by to-day's Leonard Lopate Show.

Jan. 15 2013 07:52 PM
Lou from NYC

I finished "Kill Anything That Moves" in one day. I have never read anything so meticulously sourced and footnoted. A powerful but respectful treatment of a difficult subject too often skipped over, and ignored. The thousands of patriotic soldiers who were intimidated into keeping their mouth shut or accused of hyperbole or like myself making the stories thank Mr. Turse. We went to Vietnam with the idea of who Americans were as a people, taught us by our folks and in our history books. Our idea of the sort of behavior that was right and decent, even in war time, was shattered nearly every day in the boonies.
I hope other Vietnam vets like me find some vindication in this book and even more hope that GI's in foreign conflicts now will learn take note.

Jan. 15 2013 03:04 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

These soldiers were there because of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, Henry Kissinger. The atrocities are a result of their policies. Same with Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jan. 15 2013 01:57 PM

Regarding the "Winter Soldier" hearings that Sen. John Kerry testified at, could Mr. Turse comment on allegations of fraud involved with these?

The claim has been made that some of the people who had testified later admitted to being impostors who had never witnessed what they had claimed-to.

I heard these claims from one or more Republican propagandists on the radio back during the Kerry presidential campaign. Of course, the motive was obvious: to hurt Kerry's candidacy but that doesn't, in and of itself, mean that there was no validity to the claims and I would like to know what the guest thinks of them.

Thank you.

Jan. 15 2013 01:56 PM
James L

Amazing segment. Thanks for this!

Jan. 15 2013 01:55 PM


...ahh, because that would somehow justify atrocities by Americans??

Incredibly stupid question.

Jan. 15 2013 01:55 PM
B.A. from Brooklyn, NY

OMG! I was just thinking of the very same book! I thought that Nick was actually talking about it since they sound really familiar!

Jan. 15 2013 01:53 PM

These stories are a mystery???

The notion that there is an alternative, some way of conducting a war in a humane, "civilized" fashion is ABSURD!!


It happens in EVERY war.

This is NOT specific to the Vietnam War or any other war.



Jan. 15 2013 01:53 PM
Roger from Bronx, NY

Has Nick heard about the book "None of Us Were Like This Before"? It sounds exactly like what he's describing.

Jan. 15 2013 01:48 PM

Just to clarify regarding my last comment:

I began writing it well before this segment had begun and I hoped to be able to post it before as well. But, as is almost always the case, it took me much longer than I had anticipated or expected.

Jan. 15 2013 01:48 PM
gene from nyc

As a teen, I stayed up late nights, wondering if I should allow myself to be sent to Vietnam.

Finally, I realized that I simply could not let myself be sent half-way around the world into a situation where I'd have no choice but to kill people in their own land. I was raised Catholic.

PS: Who's torturing Leonard in the background? Kudos to the steady hand and voice of Turse, who is remarkably adept at performing under fire.

Jan. 15 2013 01:47 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Did your guest also document atrocities committed by the VC and NVA against first the French and later American troops?

Jan. 15 2013 01:46 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I think the Vietnam War was the 1st time I heard about children either being used to decoy soldiers to where they could be attacked or being set up as booby traps themselves, w/explosives. Does Mr. Turse know if these stories were true &, if they were, when these things started happening? If they weren't, were they made up to justify killing civilians?

Jan. 15 2013 01:42 PM
Scott from Lower Manhattan

Turse provides an accurate description of Westmoreland's war. Does he have anything to say about the tactics used during Abrams' war?

Jan. 15 2013 01:37 PM
Noa(c)h Rothstein

On Democracy Now! this morning, Mr. Turse described a situation faced by the U.S. troops who were sent to Vietnam in which they kept losing their buddies to snipers, etc. who remained hidden from view. Traumatized by this and desparate to achieve some sense of retaliation or vengenance, Mr. Turse argued, the troops resorted to comitting random atrocities upon the ony targets they could find: random civilians.

I would like to hear Mr. Turse expand and elaborate on this and discuss the argument that soldiers who commit atrocities in situations of war, at least in many cases and at least to an extent, are themselves victims of the horrific circumstances that they find themselves in. No one can ever know how they would act in that kind of hell until they actually find themselves in it. The way in which people react when faced with intense trauma or adversity differs greatly from person to person. Some people just snap, losing their sanity and any control. I think the true criminals in these cases, the ones who bear the most guilt and culpability for the atrocities that were committed, are those who are ultimately responsible for sending soliders into that kind of hell in the first place. The ruling elite who wage wars for their own benefit (military-industrial complex; war is big business) while remaining safely and comfortably ensconced in their opulence.

(And I apologize in case this was already addressed. I am running late and have not actually tuned-in yet.)

Jan. 15 2013 01:36 PM

Lenny needs to go home & get into bed asap. Yikes!

Jan. 15 2013 01:34 PM
LanVy Nguywn from NYC

What about the numbers wounded, injured, and killed by agent orange? Are these counted?

Jan. 15 2013 01:32 PM

Good God, someone get Leonard some water and tea! Hang in there sir - and don't come in tomorrow!

Jan. 15 2013 01:32 PM

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