The Rich from “Poetic Revenge” Vietnam by Misha Bittleston
Boat Children – Vietnam, photo by Aja Marsh
I drew this while traveling in Vietnam. I was trying to understand what the US was doing and why. Was it Capitalism versus Communism, or to spread Democracy to prevent the “domino effect” of Socialism. What really motivated the “longest war”, fought by the richest country in the world with most powerful military, where most of the casualties were women, children and farmers? In my drawing, the flying puppy at the top is looking down impassively from above the clouds while underneath, clouds turn to flames, and a child who could be mistaken for a plant, fixes us with frightened eyes, which could have something to do with having a head covered with targets. To make a point Hoomi is standing on a pile of something. When the United States bombed Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the planes dropped, over 8 million tons of explosives. This was roughly three times the weight of bombs dropped by all sides in World War Two, and the explosive force was equal to 640 of the atom bombs used on Hiroshima, leaving more than 3 million people dead. (Gibson, 1986, p. 319.) The American flyers sang songs about their work, in bars and clubs and quarters, after flying. Major Joe Tuso, who flew sixty-nine combat missions in 1968-69, later collected these songs. Many are full of fear. A few, like “Chocolate covered Napalm,” are anti-war. “Strafe the Town and Kill the People” (sung to the tune of Jerry Livingston’s 1955 “Wake the Town and Tell the People”) is full of angry irony: Strafe the town and kill the people, Drop your napalm in the square; Do it early Sunday morning, Catch them while they’re still at prayer. Drop some candy to the orphans, Watch them as they gather ’round: Use your twenty millimeter, Mow those little bastards down. Strafe the town and kill the people, Drop your high-drag on the school; If you happen to see ground fire, Don’t Forget the Golden Rule. Run your CBU down main street, Watch it rip off arms and hair; See them scurry for the clinic, Put a pod of rockets there. Find a field of running Charlies, Drop a daisy-cutter there; Watch the chunks of bodies flying, Arms and legs and blood and hair. See the sweet old pregnant lady Running cross the field in fear; Run your twenty mike-mike through her, Hope the film comes out real clear. The politicians who ran the American War in Vietnam did not send their children to fight there. About 80 percent of the American soldiers who saw combat came from blue-collar families. The children of the rich did not go. Of the 1200 from the Harvard class of 1970 only a fraction of one percent were sent to Vietnam. The government and the draft boards protected the sons of the rich. College students were not drafted until they finished their studies. And as the demand for men increased the army began taking people who had failed their intelligence tests. The US intervened in Vietnam on the side of a ruling minority, sending the American GIs, from working class families, to defend the rich against the poor in Vietnam. War is an instrument of the investor class. Of all enemies to public liberty war should be the most dreaded, because it protects the interests of a few at the expense of many. War develops, as James Madison wrote in 1795, “known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”