Standoff at Mai Lai: Part 1 Standoff at Mai Lai: Part  2 Standoff at Mai Lai: Part  3 Standoff at Mai Lai: Part 4

Standoff at My Lai

The following case involves an account of incidents that occurred during the war in Vietnam. Many people find this account disturbing for various reasons. Some are emotionally effected by the descriptions of cruelty and death. Others are angered by what they see as a biased description of the events. Certainly, in the 1970's, the Mai Lai case evoked extreme reactions in many people. Because these are still volatile issues, it is incredibly important to bear in mind the major purpose of this activity: to provide a basis for applying the method of case study analysis and applying the criteria of Jus in Bello. Here are key points to bear in mind:

There is no expectation as to what conclusion you will draw from this activity (i.e. so long as it is reasoned, your opinion counts).

The content of your own beliefs is not subject to the instructor's assessment in this class.

The methods by which you present and support your beliefs is the key subject of the instructor's assessment in this class.

The information provided here has been researched and is properly cited with available documentation.

Anyone here may challenge this information and description, or add to it, but sufficient evidence and documentation must be provided.

This activity is not intended to draw general conclusions about the United States, the Vietnam War, or even the Mai Lai incident.

This activity is intended to provide a case for case study analysis and application of just war criteria
(Jus In Bello).

If successful, this activity will provide a model for how philosophical techniques are capable of helping us deal with even the most difficult and contentious issues.

People frequently respond to descriptions that conflict with their feelings or beliefs by refusing to give them any consideration whatsoever. Sometimes, you may find yourself reacting to a reading with objections and denials. Of course it is reasonable to raise objections and deny erroneous descriptions. But we can only do so reasonably when we work with the description as given. If you find yourself giving up on a reading, or switching to your objections before finishing a reading, or drawing negative conclusions about the author before completing the reading, then you are putting evaluation before analysis. Philosopher C.S. Peirce calls this "the method of tenacity" in which the individual wards off any challenges to his/her own belief system by sheer stubborness. To follow that methods is a dogmatic rather than a philosophical approach. let the following principle rule our approach;

False an erroneous positions and descriptions can be refuted and exposed.
But only if we make an honest analysis of the position and description given to us. Otherwise, we commit our own errors and only add falsehood to falsehood.

The reality of our situation is that you will conclude this activity and this class with the same basic politics and belief system that you brought into it. Nowhere in InterQuest are you asked to abandon your own positions and values. You are asked to adopt methods of expressing and investigating claims of all sorts. Thus, in reading and responsing to the following description of the Mai Lai massacre you are asked to remember that this is a case presented for analysis (not a conclusion that you are expected to accept) and that you are encouraged to object to or support any aspect of this description so long as you employ reasoned methods of scholarship. I believe that I have provided a fair and accurate summary of the events based on credible sources that are referenced throughout. - Jon Dorbolo

What is the stated purpose of this activity "Standoff at Mai Lai"?
To finally tell the truth about the Mai Lai massacre.
To persuade students that war is wrong.
To provide a case for analysis and discussion.
To show how history is misrepresented by biased college professors.

Standoff at Mai Lai: Part 1 Standoff at Mai Lai: Part  2 Standoff at Mai Lai: Part  3 Standoff at Mai Lai: Part 4