Erik Graff's Reviews > The Winter Soldier Investigation: An Inquiry Into American War Crimes

The Winter Soldier Investigation by Vietnam Veterans Against th...
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's review
Mar 24, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Recommended for: US citizens
Read in January, 1973 , read count: 1

I read this in college. It was quite upsetting, not just for the graphic, first person descriptions of the atrocities committed by our military in SE Asia, but also because of my confused feelings about the individuals who allowed themselves to be used by the government, those who gave up their wills and bodies to the authority of others. I myself was a resister who got off easy. This allowed me an easy sense of moral superiority. However, the fact that I did not suffer for my resistance, that I was never threatened with, say, military service or jail, meant that my smugness had little real foundation. What would I have done in such a circumstance? I would have feared either prospect, prison or the barracks, but prison would have seemed scarier since most military personnel never actually faced combat or even went to Vietnam. Yet, if I had chickened out, gone into the US Armed Forces, this would clearly have been an immoral choice.

My moral condemnation of the young men who spoke at the VVAW meeting in Detroit was, of course, qualified by reading their testimonies of shame, guilt and traumatization. They had all done evil, but they had all paid a price for it and, to their credit, had the courage to go public.
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