19. DAVE DELLINGER

An Appeal to American and World Opinion

Unlike the Nuremberg Tribunal, which met after the crimes had been committed, the International War Crimes Tribunal is meeting and rendering its judgements at the very moment when the crimes are taking place and even being escalated. The Nuremberg Tribunal asked for and secured the punishment of individuals. The International War Crimes Tribunal is asking the peoples of the world, the masses, to take action to stop the crimes. At Nuremberg the accused rested safely in jail, and the main focus was on the past; our Tribunal is quite different. Unless the masses act, and act successfully, we stand only at the beginning of war crimes and genocide - genocide that could bring down the cities and destroy the populations of the world.
     No matter how horrible the evidence presented here, we stand at the threshold of even more horrible and extensive crimes, unless the peoples of the world act. Let us remind you that the history of the war in Vietnam is a history of continuous escalation. When the United States has found out that it cannot defeat the enemy of the moment at the level of warfare of the moment, it continually redefines the enemy and expands the form of its aggression. {366}
     I will not go into the history of this expansion, but I will remind you that it began with diplomatic warfare at Geneva and elsewhere; it went through the stages of political infiltration, the training of puppets, the organizing of counter-insurgency, the training and leading of massive Saigon troops, and finally, the commitment of masses of United States troops.
     As the United States loses in its battle with one enemy, it takes on new enemies. And as it escalates its enemies, it escalates the weapons. As the American GIs, David Tuck, Peter Martinsen and Donald Duncan, testified, they went to Vietnam to fight Communists, and they were disillusioned when they found out that they were fighting Vietnamese; that they were there to kill anybody from the population. Already as the United States is losing at the present level of warfare and claims that as a `great power' it cannot admit defeat and cannot withdraw from this criminal enterprise, Secretary Rusk is raising fears of the `yellow peril' in China. The state of mind that affirms napalm and pellet bombs and poison gases as weapons, is the state of mind that can affirm nuclear warfare.
     Many people in the countries of the world, especially the Western countries, are watching from the sidelines, as they watched Hitler. In the time of Hitler they said, `It can't happen here.' And in the time of the United States aggression in Vietnam, they are saying, `It can't happen to our cities; it can't happen to our populations.' But already their countries are subjected to the diplomatic warfare that began the attack on Vietnam. They are subject to pressures on their governments and their economies. The United States Special Forces are scattered throughout the world. The Vietnamese know that they have no choice, except to resist. In many other countries, particularly the Western countries, people think that they have a choice still. But they have none; they must resist. Paradoxically, if Hitler announced his intention to wipe out the Jews, the photos and the reports of the atrocities did not appear in the daily newspapers or go into the living-rooms on television. And if the democratic façade in the United States has prevented the American generals and presidents from announcing their intentions, perhaps even from comprehending them in their full intensity themselves, the same democratic façade allows some of the reports and some of the photos to appear in the American {367} mass media. And the psychology becomes, `It's all right to do these things, because we are a democratic country as shown by the fact that we tell about them in the press.' And at a certain stage, the psychology becomes, `Because we admit that we are doing these things, we are not really doing them at all.' In other words, they do not call these actions by their proper name, and they do not present them in their proper intensity.
     But a democratic society can commit genocide, as is illustrated by the history of the United States. I need only remind you of what happened to the American Indians and the black people. If the people in the Western countries, in particular, underestimate the total and genocidal nature of the United States' aggression, there is something else which they underestimate also. And that is the ability of the Vietnamese people to resist. If they underestimate the inhuman nature of the United States' actions, they also underestimate the human nature of the Vietnamese resistance.
     The legitimacy of the Tribunal has sometimes been questioned. Its legitimacy will be determined by the answer given to its findings by the peoples of the world. The peoples of the world must refuse to commit the crimes that have been documented here. They must refuse to be accomplices in these crimes. But it is not enough to stop there. In addition they must make positive acts to stop the crimes. The Tribunal appeals to the people of the United States to stop the monstrous aggression of the United States at its source. It appeals to the people of the United States to put an end to United States' genocide. And, finally, the Tribunal appeals to all the peoples of the world to act in the name of humanity and the name of solidarity with our Vietnamese brothers and with all other peoples whose lives and honour and integrity are threatened. {368}

Back to Table of Contents

Scanning & HTML Rae West. Zipfile 98-01-31