Who do Americans admire most?

In December my wife and I went to see the The Wolf of Wall Street; then on Friday, January 10, Lone Survivor (its opening day).

Walking the mile-and-a-half home, both films stirred emotions and made for conversation. I admit that I didn’t think The Wolf of Wall Street was about a real man. It was so outrageous, so amoral, and so greedy—you name it—that I thought it was the product of a very active imagination.

When I Googled the film, I discovered it was based on a real story and was surprised that anyone could be this rotten other than a serial killer who loves murdering innocent people—the real Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, was as depraved and greedy as they come. The film is worth seeing. DiCaprio does a great job playing Belfort, a man who is often unfaithful to his wives, and in the end has no loyalty to anyone when it comes to his own survival.

Belfort and his employees lead a lifestyle of total debauchery with lavish parties, sex and drugs both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

Belfort was indicted in 1998 for securities fraud and money laundering, but he only served 22 months in a federal prison designed for white collar criminals. This prison, as depicted in the film, was more of a country club with tennis courts—but still a prison you can’t leave until you’ve served your time. It seems that today, Belfort is worth millions again (although nowhere close to the amount—about $200 million—he took from his victims); hasn’t paid back what the court ordered; lives in Manhattan Beach, California and is engaged again.

Lone Survivor is about a team of SEALS in Afghanistan and is also based on a true story. The film starts out with SEAL boot camp and in short order shows how tough it is to earn the right to be a SEAL. These are tough guys who value loyalty, patriotism and honor above all else and they are more than willing to die for what they believe.

Mark Wahlberg plays the lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell. Three of the four SEALS in his team are killed in combat with a vicious enemy, the Taliban, who once ruled most of Afghanistan while supporting Al Qaeda.

While I was disgusted at Belfort’s debauchery and greed, I was angry at what happened to the SEALS in Lone Survivor. Not long after they were dropped off in the Afghan mountains to carry out their mission, they discover that the intel was bad. Instead of a few Taliban, they were up against hundreds and they lost radio contact. When the help arrives, it’s without the proper support because there are not enough Apache gunships to support all of the ground operations in Afghanistan. The result, one of the troop carrying choppers is shot down with everyone aboard killed aborting the rescue attempt.

Why was I angry? Because when I served in Vietnam—several times while in the field—I lost radio contact—once on a deep recon where four of us were dozens of miles in front of our own lines. We even drove our World War II vintage jeeps—with no armor I might add—through an abandoned village where the cooking fires were still smoldering and there was a Vietcong flag flying from a radio antenna sticking out of the top of a tree. Several decades later, and Congress should have done something about fixing it so no ground troops would ever be out of radio contact, and I blame the lack of enough air support on Congress and President G. W. Bush for not making sure the troops had all the support they needed to succeed and come home.

Then there are the rules of combat that limit our troop’s ability to fight a war. We had them in Vietnam and they sucked. Noncombatants should not be allowed to make rules for combat. Most Americans—who live in a real fantasy world—do not understand war.

The challenge is how do we measure who Americans might admire most?

For The Wolf of Wall Street, the film—with a $100 million budget—opened in December in 2,537 theaters and has earned $90.8 million as of January 10, 2014.

Lone Survivor opened wide in 2,875 theaters on January 10; had a production budget of $40 million and has earned $14.782 million (the film started in 2 theaters on December 25, 2013 and went wide on January 10) compared to The Wolf of Wall Street that made $18.5 million its first weekend.

Who do you admire most and why: Belfort’s and his mob or Marcus Luttrell and the SEALS?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

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Collateral Damage—Dumb Bombs versus Smart Bombs

If you lived in a war zone, would you rather have dumb bombs or smart bombs dropped on targets?

Dylan Stableford—writing for Yahoo News—reported on a documentary about the fear and stress of life under the threat of U.S. drones, and I left this comment: “If people in countries where al Qaeda and the Taliban operate don’t like the U.S. drone attacks, then all they have to do is stop supporting Islamic terrorists and fight back against them so the U.S. troops will go home and take their drones with them.”

An anonymous, faceless person criticized my comment. His or her name was Win—who, as far as I know, could be an al Qaeda or Taliban PR person—wrote, “Lloyd, you sound like the typical dumbshit in government, underestimating how difficult it really is to do that. You are implying these people deserve what happened to them. If either you or me lost all that we have one day for absolutely no reason because some dumbshit from a foreign country willed that it happened to either one of us, I can guarantee, guaran-damn-tee that our blood would boil and our rage fueled.”

From Win’s comment it is obvious that he or she has little or no knowledge about the battlefield in countries where wars are fought. And I want to remind Win that we did not start this war for “absolutely no reason”.  The war was started by Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists on 9/11 in New York City when they killed thousands of civilians by hijacking commercial jets full of passengers and ramming those jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Now back to the question: If you lived in a war zone through no fault of your own and you didn’t want anything to do with the war, would you rather have dumb bombs or smart bombs used to hit targets in your country?

In World War II, for example, the United States killed millions of German and Japanese civilians bombing the cities in those countries with dumb bombs.  Fleets of bombers flew over targets and dropped thousands—probably millions—of bombs without knowing exactly where those bombs would land and explode.

In fact, the United States dropped more dumb bombs on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia than it dropped in all of World War II.

In World War II, civilian deaths in Germany are estimated to be between 1.5 to 3.5 million.  In Japan, civilian deaths were 500-thousand to one million. In comparison, the United States—the country that dropped most of the dumb bombs that caused that collateral damage—only lost 1,700 of its own noncombatants.

To defeat Germany and Japan, the United States and its allies also dropped napalm on German and Japanese cities. In one bombing of Tokyo, for example, 2,000 tons of incendiary dumb-bombs were dropped over the course of 48 hours, and between 80,000 and 130,000 civilians were roasted to death in the firestorm that followed.

In Vietnam, the collateral damage was somewhere between 245,000 and two-million civilian deaths.  But the United States didn’t drop dumb bombs only in Vietnam. The U.S. also dropped dumb bombs In Cambodia and Laos. In Cambodia the collateral damage was 200,000 to 300,000 civilian deaths. In Laos, the collateral damage from dumb bombs was 20,000 to 200,000 dead civilians—and millions were wounded.

Now, let’s focus on civilian casualty counts in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to see if the use of smart bombs to target enemy combatants resulted in reduced civilian casualties—that dirty word is known as collateral damage.

Classified US military documents released by Wikileaks in October 2010 recorded that there had been 66,081 civilian deaths in Iraq over a period of six years. But the Iraq Body Count Project’s numbers are higher: 110,937 – 121,227.

When checking these numbers for Iraqi civilian deaths, there were no details on who did the killing and how these civilians died.  And we know that al Qaeda blows up civilians all the time in the streets; on buses; in Mosques and Churches; in restaurants, at weddings and funerals, etc.  Therefore, it’s easy to conclude that American smart bombs were not responsible for all of those deaths. In fact, reports from Afghanistan indicate that collateral damage from Western smart bombs is responsible for less than 10% of all civilian deaths.

One source I checked reported that “In the first six months of 2013, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan counted 1,319 civilian deaths and 2,533 civilian injuries with 9% attributable to pro-government forces—this means that collateral damage from the West’s smart bombs may have only killed 119 civilians. Compare that to six months of civilian deaths during World War II in Germany or Japan or in Vietnam when the West was only using dumb bombs and often sent fleets of B52s to carpet bomb urban and rural areas.

That same report said, that in all of 2012, total civilian casualties were 2,754 deaths and 4,805 injured with 8% of those loses attributed to pro-government forces meaning that 92% of the deaths were caused by al Qaeda and/or the Taliban.

In conclusion, the United States is at war in Afghanistan with insurgent forces who started this war on 9/11—the same Islamic fundamentalists who have sworn to destroy Western civilization, and I’m convinced that they would not hesitate to use dirty bombs or nuclear weapons on Western cities like London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. killing millions of civilians without any effort to minimize the damage.

On April 11, 1880, General William Tecumseh Sherman, who played an instrumental role in defeating the South during America’s Civil War by ruthlessly destroying everything in his army’s path, said this in Columbus Ohio: “There is many a body here today who looks on war as glory, but boys, it is all hell.”

I fought in Vietnam as a field-radio operator in the United States Marine Corps. We had rules forced on us by civilian “dumb-shits” who said we couldn’t shoot at the enemy unless we could see who was shooting at us first. And most of the time, we couldn’t see who was shooting at us.

We lost the Vietnam War. We didn’t lose World War II.

If the West is going to win the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, then the West must be as ruthless as it was in World War II, and if the West fails, then civilians will be dying in American and European cities by the millions.

General Sherman was right. War is hell, and if you are reading this and you do not live in a country that is a war zone like Iraq or Afghanistan, then you should bless your fortunate stars and pray that the war doesn’t come to your neighborhood.

No one who is innocent deserves to be killed from a bomb—dumb or smart—but as cruel as it sounds, “Better them then us.” And if you believe in coexistence, then I think you should be the one to—face-to face—convince al-Qaeda to stop killing innocent people.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”