Socialist ViewPoint and analysis for working people

September/October 2005 • Vol 5, No. 7 •

‘Winter Soldier’

By Robert Davis

Because the Vietnam War had an overwhelming impact on my own life, I’ve seen most of the movies about America’s invasion of that tiny country struggling for national independence. The worst of these have been the most highly touted, “Apocalypse Now” and “The Deer Hunter,” both of which were, at bottom, lies trying to explain away or justify the American invasion. Even “Platoon” made it seem that it was the Vietnamese committing all the atrocities.

Much better movies, because more truthful, were “Coming Home” and “Born on the 4th of July.” But by far the best I’ve seen is a movie made in 1971 and not available until now, “Winter Soldier,” a documentary of the testimonies given by Vietnam veterans at the Detroit hearings sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

If you’ve wondered how the tortures at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo could have happened, see “Winter Soldier.” Although this 90-minute film is 34 years old, it should be shown on national TV. But what U.S. network has the courage to present truths of this magnitude—American soldiers raping, torturing, and murdering Vietnamese civilians en masse? The chilling news is that such barbarianism was not isolated, as the My Lai massacre was portrayed, but was S.O.P.—Standard Operating Procedure—in the American military.

One vet in the movie tells how, as a defensive reaction, he laughed as human beings were tossed from his airborne helicopter. Others tell how they later blocked out images of children stoned to death “for fun,” women and old people and babies savaged and shot. But psychological repression doesn’t last. No wonder the nightmare of Vietnam continues to haunt us in our streets amongst those homeless and drug-addicted lost souls who were there.

What further nightmares can we expect from the crimes of imperialism, which in the name of patriotism dehumanizes our youth, teaches them now to hate all Arabs and Muslims, to become murderers and torturers?

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