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The Lesson Avoided: The Official Legacy Of The My Lai Massacre

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Chapter Summary

The Vietnam War left the American military with two conflicting standards of command responsibility, a doctrinal standard and a standard representing the latest legal precedent. In November 1969, General Westmoreland appointed Lieutenant General William R. Peers to head the official Army inquiry into the My Lai Massacre. The American military profession at least was able to uphold one of the major legal precedents of the Nuremberg era to one of its own officers: superior orders is no defense. Through the course of the My Lai trials, Taylor authored one book and wrote three opinion editorials for the New York Times that addressed the Vietnam war in general and My Lai in particular in the context of the Nuremberg era war crimes trials.

Keywords: American military; My Lai Massacre; New York Times; Nuremberg era; Vietnam War



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