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How many Guantanamos in Vietnam?
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-01-05 09:25:14
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While reading the news I had to stop and read something more carefully that mentioned FBI agents accusing the American army of torture in Guantanamo and no respect to human rights. The truth is that the name of FBI, thanks to Hollywood, holds a legacy, the good guys, the men of the law; they even have to read the suspect’s their rights before arresting.

Well, reading this, however odd it sounds, a new question took shape in my mind, something I have never thought about before: If all these things are happening today in Guantanamo, with all these organizations around ready to link news and truth, what really happened in Vietnam? Photos from magazines such as Life crossed my mind and I saw Oriana Falaci’s book on my bookcase.

I know exactly what most people know and I have seen exactly the same documentaries, the same photos and the same films. Well, I have seen torture from one side and those missing in action American marines, but I never heard anything about Vietnam’s Guantanamo. I’m not going as far as Korea, but what really happened in Vietnam? Were there any Guantanamos then and, since there was totally no control and information was definitely not transmitted at the speed it is today, how bad was that situation?

I think worst of all is if we will ever get any answers. It’s not raving anti-Americanism that led me to these thoughts and yes things have probably happened in every single war for the last fifty years – I’m sure the Russians had their share in Afghanistan and in Chechnya nowadays - but the Vietnam War is something that was stamped on my youth.

The pictures of the naked kid covered in Napalm, the photos of the burned bodies and killing fields are part of my memory and films like Apocalypse Now! and Hamburger Hill have shown the ugly face of that war. But then how much uglier was it?

Somehow I have the feeling that the next question is not how ugly the Iraq war currently is, but how ugly it will get with the latest unreasonable killing of Saddam Hussein. Yet, going back to Vietnam, back then there was not a war against terror, but a much worse war between West and East with nuclear bombs all around. The States and Europe used to live the total Communist-phobia waiting for the tanks to cross the wall from day to day and the methods both sides used weren’t exactly ethical all the time.

Vietnam was the tip of the iceberg for that war. It was a chance for both powers to test their capabilities through others and in this case it was the Vietnamese people. Information was valuable to both sides, since anything could escalate the war and the button to fire nuclear weapons had already been shown as a threat too often. There were none all these hundreds of NGOs ready to bring out apocalyptic documents and material, so how many Guantanamos really existed?

It seems that after Saddam’s execution and the cannibal use of it from the media all around the world, my mind has begun playing strange games and making surreal connections.

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