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Online Forum: 11.15.00

If you could speak to the Vietnamese soldiers who tortured you, what would you say/ask of them? And do you forgive them?
Paul Evans

Answered by Commander Paul Galanti
I'd ask, "Did it ever bother you while you were torturing Americans? You seemed almost as if you enjoyed it." There's nothing to forgive. Most of the torturers were simple peasants wearing green uniforms. I haven't forgiven the communists who ordered them to do it.

And I won't visit Vietnam until, inevitably, the communists are out of power.

Have you forgiven Jane Fonda and others who called you baby killers and cowards for not opposing the war in Vietnam?
David Laughlin

Answered by Commander Paul Galanti
I don't hate Jane Fonda although I've deliberately never seen one of her movies. She is a not-too-bright product of Hollywood who hadn't the slightest idea of what she was doing or of how she was being duped. I don't hate her but I do feel sorry for her. Nothing to forgive.

What happened to the Vietnamese soldiers, (who tortured American POWs), after the war ended? Were they ever charged with War Crimes?
Matthew Smithers
New Haven, CT

Answered by Bui Tin
According to my knowledge, there isn't any Vietnamese soldiers who had captured and tortured American soldiers. Perhaps this only apply to American pilots who parachuted down to Vietnamese soil and were captured. Or in the cases of those American soldiers who slaughtered civilians and burnt down their houses, there may have been a few who cursed or threw stones at those soldiers, all due to the feverish anger and desire for vengeance inside.

Inside the prisoner's camp, there are government officials, military journalists, and other lieutenant (as well as military officials) who quickly engage in the process of questioning the prisoner to obtain information on strategy of bombings, massacre, attacks, and the enemies' military plans for the following days (i.e. when are the next attacks? what are the next targets of the bombing?). This process may involve a few physical hits like a slap across the face, or threats, in order to obtain the specific confessions. That type of "torture" isn't considered by the Vietnamese to be a violation of the law or justice, in fact, it is deemed to be necessary. That may not be publicly acknowledged, but it is realistically accepted. They do not see that [type of torture] to be a war crime.

I also know that after being imprisoned in the camp "Hanoi Hilton Hotel" a few American pilots proved to be strong-willed and possessed a lot of perseverance. When they had to undergo political reeducation, they refused to accept those brain-washing ideals (for example, they refused to accept that America is a country that had violated many crime wars) but those pilots, like Stockdale, Denton, were punished and were confined into small jail cells. Those treatments, according to me, is a violation of the International Agreement on Prisoner of War, but the Vietnamese refused to accept this fact.

Despite dropping more explosives than WWII, one of the bomber pilots said we were fighting "with both hands tied behind our backs." What targets would he have destroyed if it had been allowed?
Tim Butterworth

Answered by Stanley Karnow
Yes it is true that we dropped more explosives than WWII, but strategic bombing was basically ineffective because the number of targets was limited. As [Defense Secretary] Robert McNamara put it, the entire electrical output of North Vietnam was less than a Pepco plant in North Virginia.

When I went to Vietnam in 1961 it wasn't a very developed nation as far as industrial growth. B-52 Bombers were very effective giving tactical support to ground troops, as demonstrated in the Battle of Khesanh, but air strikes for strategic purposes were very limited.

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