My Lai Massacre: The Need for an International Investigation

Russell, Kent A


Volume: 58 Issue: 3
California Law Review


The My Lai incident, the first officially-admitted United States atrocity against civilians, offers an ideal context in which the American public might assess the credibility of those reports charging that basic United States policies encourage the sort of reckless disregard for civilian welfare so blatantly manifested by the My Lai massacre. It therefore seems essential that some impartial body, preferably a disinterested international organization, conduct an intensive investigation into all aspects of the My Lai incident. That body could assess the underlying causes of the tragedy and thereby shed some much-needed light on currently raging factual disputes regarding American policies and their effects upon the Vietnamese people. To closely examine the need for such an international investigation, this Comment will first set forth the rules of international law applicable to United States actions in Vietnam and will then consider how the My Lai incident itself measures up against these international precepts. Finally, the Government's present response to My Lai will be criticized and the need for a full international investigation into the incident will be examined

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