Placing Blame for the My Lai Massacre

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“As you can appreciate, our Army is faced with a tremendous challenge here in Vietnam. Initially our soldiers were committed strictly in an advisory role, and as such the number required was relatively small. But now it has become necessary to commit more and more US troops to actual combat. It is necessary therefore that our training programs in the United States be oriented toward the type of fighting we are involved in today in this country” (Westmoreland). From 1959-1975, America was involved in a prolonged conflict to prevent the spread of communism. Opposing forces were attempting to unify Vietnam under a communist government. In 1954, at the Geneva conference, Vietnam was divided at the 17th parallel, splitting the country into communist North Vietnam and non-communist South Vietnam. Communist sympathizers in South Vietnam formed the Viet Cong to use guerilla warfare against their fellow South Vietnamese. Fighting among the Viet Cong and South Vietnamese continued. When the North Vietnamese fired directly into two US ships in March of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the first US ground troops to Vietnam. The original goal of US involvement in Vietnam was to aid the South’s defense until they could fight for themselves. As it turned out, this was not the outcome (Vietnam War).

There are several questions surrounding the Vietnam War, many of which are still unanswered. For years, Americans have posed the following question: “Why did our soldiers attack hundreds of unarmed South Vietnamese in the My Lai village in March 1968?” United States soldiers shot, beat, and burned innocent unarmed farmers, women, and children. Why was this allowed to happen? Anytime a country goes into war, brutality is expected; casualties are expected. But when this brutality and these casualties come at the expense of 400 innocent Vietnamese, we must ask why. Although most do not condone what happened on March 16, 1968, those soldiers cannot be held responsible for...
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