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IN THE VIETNAM WAR of the 1960s and early 1970s, both the Americans and the North Vietnamese were the protagonists of brutal war crimes, though the more advanced American arsenal took by far the greatest toll. The main aerial strategy adopted by the Americans to win the war, which Congress never officially declared, was an infringement of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. From the very start of the conflict, the American aerial campaigns took the form of the so-called carpet or area bombing, a practice which contravenes all the norms about civilian protection in the 1949 convention. Particularly infamous examples were the Christmas bombing of 1972 against Hanoi and Haiphong, cities in North Vietnam.

These area bombers were incapable of precision and they had never ...

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