Australian Left Review

Article Title

The Nature of the Vietnam War


Gabriel Kolko


THERE ARE NO CENSUS TAKERS of the barbarism of the 20th century, and there has been far too much of it to measure. The executioners are not willing, and the victims are rarely able, to provide exact details. What is certain in Vietnam, save to those who have neither the will nor the interest to confront truth, is the general magnitude and quality of the United States’ combat against the Vietnamese. This relationship necessarily has a logic and structure which leads to war crimes as the inevitable consequence of a war that is intrinsically criminal. More important, the war is the outcome of post-World War II American policy toward the world and its efforts to resolve the United States’ greatest dilemma in the second half of this century: to relate its industrial power to the political and ideological realities of popular revolutionary movements in the Third World.