Nick Turse

It is said, Lewis Lapham tells us, that Abbot John Trithemius of Sponheim, a fifteenth-century scholar and mage, devised a set of incantations to carry “messages instantaneously… through the agency of the stars and planets who rule time.” In 1962, Lapham adds, Bell Labs “converted the thought into Telstar, the communications satellite relaying data, from earth to heaven and back to earth, in less than six-tenths of a second.” Magic had become science. Today, the Pentagon is picking up the centuries old gauntlet, asking the brightest minds in academe — through its far-out research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA — to come up with a means for a 20-something-kid-cum-lieutenant or perhaps the military’s much-lauded “strategic corporal” to be wired into unprecedented amounts of information beamed down from the heavens above.

At some level, even the language of DARPA’s solicitation for its SeeMe program seems to conjure up the visions that danced in Trithemius’s head. Its goal, we are told, “is to provide useful on-demand imagery information directly to the lowest echelon warfighter in the field from a very low cost satellite constellation launched on a schedule that conforms to DoD [Department of Defense] operational tempos.” Those heavenly-sounding constellations are, however, tempered by the reality of what the Pentagon is really after.

Yesterday’s future of high-tech satellites that would allow our thoughts to slip “the surly bonds of Earth,” while connecting the far reaches of the planet and linking minds globally in ways even Trithemius couldn’t imagine, is now being exchanged for a low-bid, low-rent system of military satellites. These will be capable of allowing a kid just out of high school to more efficiently target a kid who probably never went to high school — all courtesy of a well-educated university scientist who never bothered to think of the implications of his tenure-producing, tax-payer-funded research. This can’t be what Trithemius had in mind. And yet, that’s where we’re at.

If the Pentagon has its way, SeeMe will eventually fill the skies with cheap, disposable “satellites at very low altitudes, networked to existing fielded communications systems and handheld platforms.” So much for the “the high untrespassed sanctity of space.” But let Lewis Lapham explore further the borderlands of science and magic that have somehow been fused into the very center of our lives. The famed former editor of Harper’s Magazine now edits Lapham’s Quarterly, which, four times a year, brilliantly unites some of the most provocative and original voices in history around a single topic. (You can subscribe to it by clicking here.) TomDispatch thanks the editors of that journal for allowing us to offer an exclusive online first look at Lapham’s elegant history of unreason in this techno-age of ours. To read it, click the link below

Journalist Nick Turse describes his personal mission to compile a complete and compelling account of the Vietnam War’s horror as experienced by all sides, including innocent civilians who were sucked into its violent vortex.

Turse, who devoted 12 years to tracking down the true story of Vietnam, unlocked secret troves of documents, interviewed officials and veterans — including many accused of war atrocities — and traveled throughout the Vietnamese countryside talking with eyewitnesses to create his book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.

“American culture has never fully come to grips with Vietnam,” Turse tells Bill, referring to “hidden and forbidden histories that just haven’t been fully engaged.”

This weekend on Moyers & Company, journalist Nick Turse joins Bill to describe his unprecedented efforts to compile a complete and compelling account of the Vietnam War’s horror as experienced by all sides, including innocent civilians who were sucked into its violent vortex. Turse, who devoted 12 years to tracking down the true story of Vietnam, unlocked secret troves of documents, interviewed officials and veterans – including many accused of war atrocities – and traveled throughout the Vietnamese countryside talking with eyewitnesses to create his book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.

 ”American culture has never fully come to grips with Vietnam,” Turse tells Bill, referring to “hidden and forbidden histories that just haven’t been fully engaged.”

(For more, see: Preview: Who’s Widening America’s Digital Divide? | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com)

Vietnam: Flame tanks of the 1st Tank Battalion burn a village during Operation Doser near Binh Son in the Quang Ngai Province
Americans in Vietnam never seemed to run out of ways to burn things down, whether it be flame tanks, flame boats, napalm canisters dropped from planes, helicopters armed with white phosphorus rockets, or simply ground troops with zippo cigarette lighters.  The means were seemingly endless.

Vietnam: Flame tanks of the 1st Tank Battalion burn a village during Operation Doser near Binh Son in the Quang Ngai Province


Americans in Vietnam never seemed to run out of ways to burn things down, whether it be flame tanks, flame boats, napalm canisters dropped from planes, helicopters armed with white phosphorus rockets, or simply ground troops with zippo cigarette lighters.  The means were seemingly endless.

A book I read over the weekend absolutely blew my mind. It’s one of those types of books that shakes your world view about something, in this case the U.S. government’s war in Vietnam. It is an absolutely shocking book. It is entitled Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam by Nick Turse.

The lede of an incredibly flattering review of my new book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam by Jacob G. Hornberger, the founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

I’m bowled over!

A father holds the body of his child as South Vietnamese Army Rangers look down from their armored vehicle March 19, 1964. The child was killed as government forces pursued guerrillas into a village near the Cambodian border. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)

A father holds the body of his child as South Vietnamese Army Rangers look down from their armored vehicle March 19, 1964. The child was killed as government forces pursued guerrillas into a village near the Cambodian border. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)

BOOK REVIEW: “Kill Anything that Moves,” by Nick Turse. | StarTribune.com
I’m proud to say that Kill Anything that Moves is the lead review in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  And I really couldn’t ask for better endorsement of the book: “Meticulously documented, utterly persuasive, this book is a shattering and dismaying read.”   

BOOK REVIEW: “Kill Anything that Moves,” by Nick Turse. | StarTribune.com

I’m proud to say that Kill Anything that Moves is the lead review in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  And I really couldn’t ask for better endorsement of the book: “Meticulously documented, utterly persuasive, this book is a shattering and dismaying read.”   

LIFE magazine captioned this as an “American twin-jet F-4C Phantom heading toward tiny riverside village known to be an important Vietcong site to bomb it during Vietnam War.”  The problem of course is that all these villages that were “Vietcong strongholds”were filled with civilians — women, children, old men — who lost homes, limbs, and lives to American rockets.
 Photographer:    Larry Burrows, 1966

LIFE magazine captioned this as an “American twin-jet F-4C Phantom heading toward tiny riverside village known to be an important Vietcong site to bomb it during Vietnam War.”  The problem of course is that all these villages that were “Vietcong strongholds”were filled with civilians — women, children, old men — who lost homes, limbs, and lives to American rockets.


Photographer:    Larry Burrows, 1966

In early August 1967, I arrived in I Corps, the northernmost district of American military operations in what was then South Vietnam.  I was there to report for the New Yorkeron the “air war.” The phrase was a misnomer.  The Vietnamese foe, of course, had no assets in the air in the South, and so there was no “war” of that description.
There was only the unilateral bombardment of the land and people by the fantastic array of aircraft assembled by the United States in Vietnam.  These ranged from the B-52, which laid down a pattern of destruction a mile long and several football fields wide; to fighter bombers capable of dropping, along with much else, 500-pound bombs and canisters of napalm; to the reconfigured DC-3 equipped with a cannon capable of firing 100 rounds per second; to the ubiquitous fleets of helicopters, large and small, that crowded the skies. All this was abetted by continuous artillery fire into “free-fire” zones and naval bombardment from ships just off the coast.
By the time I arrived, the destruction of the villages in the region and the removal of their people to squalid refugee camps was approaching completion. (However, they often returned to their blasted villages, now subject to indiscriminate artillery fire.) Only a few pockets of villages survived. I witnessed the destruction of many of these in Quang Ngai and Quang Tinh provinces from the back seat of small Cessnas called Forward Air Control planes.
— Jonathan Schell, Seeing the Reality of the Vietnam War, 50 Years Late
(AP Photo/USAF)

In early August 1967, I arrived in I Corps, the northernmost district of American military operations in what was then South Vietnam.  I was there to report for the New Yorkeron the “air war.” The phrase was a misnomer.  The Vietnamese foe, of course, had no assets in the air in the South, and so there was no “war” of that description.

There was only the unilateral bombardment of the land and people by the fantastic array of aircraft assembled by the United States in Vietnam.  These ranged from the B-52, which laid down a pattern of destruction a mile long and several football fields wide; to fighter bombers capable of dropping, along with much else, 500-pound bombs and canisters of napalm; to the reconfigured DC-3 equipped with a cannon capable of firing 100 rounds per second; to the ubiquitous fleets of helicopters, large and small, that crowded the skies. All this was abetted by continuous artillery fire into “free-fire” zones and naval bombardment from ships just off the coast.

By the time I arrived, the destruction of the villages in the region and the removal of their people to squalid refugee camps was approaching completion. (However, they often returned to their blasted villages, now subject to indiscriminate artillery fire.) Only a few pockets of villages survived. I witnessed the destruction of many of these in Quang Ngai and Quang Tinh provinces from the back seat of small Cessnas called Forward Air Control planes.

Jonathan Schell, Seeing the Reality of the Vietnam War, 50 Years Late

(AP Photo/USAF)

BOOK REVIEW: “Kill Anything that Moves,” by Nick Turse. | StarTribune.com
I’m proud to say that Kill Anything that Moves is the lead review in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.  And I really couldn’t ask for better endorsement of the book: "Meticulously documented, utterly persuasive, this book is a shattering and dismaying read."   

BOOK REVIEW: “Kill Anything that Moves,” by Nick Turse. | StarTribune.com

I’m proud to say that Kill Anything that Moves is the lead review in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.  And I really couldn’t ask for better endorsement of the book: "Meticulously documented, utterly persuasive, this book is a shattering and dismaying read."