Fear And War : ' Burning Monk '

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Alex Knych
Fear & War
“War does not determine who is right- only who is left”.Imagine being in a state of constant fear. From prosecution by the hands of your own government to roving Communist guerillas, war is a horrific experience for everyone involved. The Vietnam War was the longest war in American history and was by far the most unpopular war America had entered in the 20th century. “It resulted in nearly 60,000 American casualties and in an estimated 2 million more Vietnamese”(WWW). Even today, many Americans still ask whether or not the American effort in Vietnam was a sin, a blunder, or even necessary, while others question whether it was a noble cause, or an overly idealistic, failed, effort to protect the South
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This early attack did not lead to widespread defensive measures. When the main communist offensive began the next morning the attack was countrywide and well-coordinated, eventually more than “80,000 Communist troops striking more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of the six autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and the southern capital of Saigon.” The TET offensive was the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the war.
In the photo “Saigon Execution”, Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan raised his sidearm and shot Vietcong operative Nguyen Van Lem in the head, then he proceeded to walk over to the reporters and tell them that, “These guys kill a lot of our people, and I think Buddha will forgive me.” Captured on NBC TV cameras and by AP photographer Eddie Adams, the picture and film footage flashed around the world and rapidly became a symbol of the Vietnam War’s brutality. This was the scene the common person was exposed to back in the states.
Eddie Adams’ picture is especially striking, as the moment captured is one almost at the instant of death. As with many photos and stories, there is a side that is often unheard or told. South Vietnamese sources said that Lem commanded a Vietcong death squad, which on that day had targeted South Vietnamese National Police officers, or in
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