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!”

The Noble Nightmare: Part 3/3

Imagine the cost in lives and dollars if the United States were to rule over 1.9 billion people in other countries for a few centuries until future freedom fighters drove the U.S. out after centuries of revolution.

For example, Vietnam was occupied by China for more than 1000 years from 221 B.C. until 938 A.D. when the Vietnamese resistance was finally successful and drove the Chinese out. Once the Chinese were gone, what form of government replaced them? Was it democratic?  No!

But then it would not have mattered, because a few centuries later the French arrived and occupied Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos for almost a century before they too were driven out by a popular resistance that eventually became another oppressive regime. Then the United States moved in and fought a war in Vietnam—based on another lie—for almost twenty years, leaving millions dead before it too pulled out. And during this time, South Vietnam was never ruled by a democratically elected government. Instead, the noble United States supported one dictator after another in South Vietnam.

The Government of Vietnam or Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) was originally led by Ngo Dinh Diem until his assassination in 1963. Afterwards, a series of “revolving door” leaders emerged, including Nguyen Cao Ky, General Khanh, Duong Van Minh, and Nguyen Van Thieu.

During the Vietnam War, the US dropped more than three times the number of bombs on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos than it dropped on Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II. Were those bombs only dropped on military targets? No!


carpet bombing spares no one

It is estimated that the civilian death toll in Southeast Asia from America’s war (1955 – 1975) was 465,000 to 2.5 million. When we include military deaths that number is 1.1 to almost 3.9 million.

If we are unable to learn from history, we are guaranteed to repeat the same mistakes made by others.

Then of course, there is this incomplete history that many in the U.S. would rather never hear:

1. In 1953, the United States overthrew a democratic government in Iran and installed a dictator, the Shah of Iran, who ruled with American support until 1979.

2. In 1954, the United States overthrew a democratic government in Guatemala and installed a military dictator, and with American support brutal military dictators dominated Guatemala until the late 1980s.

3. In 1964, the United States overthrew a democratic government in Brazil and installed a military dictator, and with American support military dictators dominated Brazil until the late 1970s.

4. In 1965, the United States overthrew a democratic government in Indonesia and installed a military dictator, Suharto, who then with American help killed over 500,000 people–the people who supported the old democratic government. Suharto to this day continues to receive American economic, political, and military support.

5. In 1965, the United States helped install the brutal dictator, Mobuto, in Zaire, who killed tens of thousands of people and looted his country of over 8 billion dollars. The United States continued to support the brutal dictator Mobuto until just the last few years, when we are now calling him “a relic of the Cold War.” If he is a relic, he is the United States’ relic!

6. In 1973, after America had withdrawn from Vietnam, the United States overthrew a democratic government in Chile and installed a brutal dictator, Pinochet, who killed tens of thousands of people–people who supported the old democratic government. With American economic, political, and military support, the brutal dictator Pinochet dominated Chile until the late 1980s.

For a more complete list, see Dictators Supported by the United States and/or America’s Other Most Embarrassing Allies.

Now tell me how noble America’s government is.

One lesson we should learn from all this history is that one man’s noble cause often turns out to be a nightmare for millions.

Return to The Noble Nightmare: Part 2 or start with Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy, a suspense thriller. 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Follow”.

The Noble Nightmare: Part 2/3

Foreign Policy Magazine lists The Worst of the Worst and says, “There are at least 40 dictators around the world today, and approximately 1.9 billion people live under the grip of the 23 autocrats on this list alone.”

The Foreign Policy piece is worth reading because it reveals how some of these dictators were seen as freedom fighters until they won their revolution. Foreign Policy says, “Although all dictators are bad in their own way, there’s one insidious aspect of despotism that is most infuriating and galling to me: the disturbing frequency with which many despots, as in Kyrgyzstan, began their careers as erstwhile freedom fighters who were supposed to have liberated their people. ”

I think it is hypocrisy for any Americans to support the war in Iraq based on moral grounds without supporting wars against all of the other brutal, autocratic, and oppressive regimes across the globe. To do that, the U.S. would have to mobilize as it did to fight Japan, Italy and Germany in World War II by enacting the draft and raising a military force of more than sixteen million to fight a global war of this scale.

In fact, the use of nuclear weapons might also be an option to end this war as it did in World War II when two nuclear bombs were dropped on cities in Japan killing almost 200,000 innocent civilians including children.

Then after that global war on oppressive regimes,—that is if it was successful—to maintain the peace, the United States would have to occupy all of those countries by keeping a military presence as we have in Japan, Germany and South Korea. The last question would be, if the United States did do this and fought wars in these countries that have a population of about 1.9 billion people, how would the United States guarantee that a dictator would never rule these people again?

The answer is simple: The U.S. would have to rule over these countries no matter how the people felt and to achieve this, order would be maintained by a permanent U.S. military force.

Continued on February 26, 2013 in The Noble Nightmare: Part 3 or return to Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy, a suspense thriller. 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Follow”.

The Dark Side of Humanity

Sarah McCoy wrote a post for the Huffington Book Blog about “Men of War are Conflicted Characters“. After I read her post, I wanted to leave a comment but couldn’t because that section was closed, so I’m writing it here.

You may want to read McCoy’s post. It’s well written and deals with an author’s dilemma when she has to crawl inside the skin of someone most of the world considers a monster, because he fought for Hitler during World War II and was tagged with the term Nazi.

However, it was McCoy’s conclusion that I wanted to leave a comment for. She said, “I’ll be honest, it was an onerous task to write under the psychological hood of war. I struggled but knew it was essential to the story and my attempt to unearth a truth. War asks us to give up our humanity, but if we do, aren’t we losing what we’re fighting for in the first place?”

I say no. War does not ask us to give up our humanity. It asks us to reveal the horror of our humanity—to let the dark side we spend a lifetime struggling to suppress out of its bloody bag. Inside our skin lives both demons and angels. When an individual fails to keep the lid on his or her demons, we end up with people like Luis Garavito of Colombia who may have murdered more than 400 people. He was a serial killer known as The Beast.

These killers, who cannot control the dogs of war, live all over the world. Instead of listing them, you may want to visit this page on Wiki and see for yourself what happens when the lid comes off on its own and stays off.

In war, troops are trained to open that door and let the beast out.  Then they are expected to stuff it back in the box when we come home.

We can’t pretend it isn’t there, because just like night and day, sunrise and sunset, each person has a bright and dark side and it is the dark that we struggle to keep under control.

Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961), the founder of analytical psychology, called it the shadow: The shadow is an unconscious complex that is defined as the repressed and suppressed aspects of the conscious self.

There are constructive and destructive types of shadow.

On the destructive side, it often represents everything that the conscious person does not wish to acknowledge within themselves. For instance, someone who identifies as being kind has a shadow that is harsh or unkind. Conversely, an individual who is brutal has a kind shadow. The shadow of persons who are convinced that they are ugly appears to be beautiful. Source: Psychologist Anywhere Anytime.com

Some men that wear uniforms might go to war conflicted, but I think to most trained warriors, it’s just a job. Ethan Card, the main character in my novel, Running with the Enemy, is an example of what I’m talking about. To succeed and survive, he must trust the beast from the dark side of humanity to help him get the job done.

It is the only way to win a war. If you disagree, show me a war that was won by fighting with a set of rules based on modern, humanitarian principals that did not exist a few decades ago.

What do you think was going through the mind of the pilot of the Enola Gay as he dropped “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima and killed 80,000 people in one nuclear flash? Next was Nagasaki with another 40,000 killed instantly. Some children had been evacuated out of the city, for fear of bombing, but many remained. “1,653 primary school children and 74 of their teachers died in Nagasaki.” Source: Ban the Bomb.org

Discover Children as Weapons of Death

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

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

Jane Fonda: a real American Patriot! – Part 2/3

Before calling someone—anyone—a “traitor”, especially Jane Fonda, you should do your homework first.

I fought in Vietnam too (1966, field radio operator, U.S. Marines), but I do not blame Fonda for what she did when she went to North Vietnam, because when she spoke out, she was the voice of America’s conscience and she was not alone—at the time, a vast majority of Americans may have felt the same way she did.

After I came out of my PTSD shell in the early 1980s and stopped drinking, I started to learn the truth about the Vietnam War.

Most American troops went to Vietnam in honor, some came back tainted with innocent blood but many came back untainted but damaged physically and/or mentally as I did with PTSD.

The Vietnam War was based on a lie about the Tonkin Gulf Incident. You may want to read “30-year Anniversary: Tonkin Gulf Lie launched Vietnam War” by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon published July 27, 1994. The conclusion of that report says, “We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth.”

On October, 2005 the New York Times reported that Robert J. Hanyok, a historian for the U.S. National Security Agency, had concluded that the NSA deliberately distorted the intelligence reports that it had passed on to policy-makers regarding the August 4, 1964 incident. He concluded that the motive was not political but was probably to cover up honest intelligence errors.

In addition, before President Kennedy was assassinated, his brother Robert later said he was planning to pull out of Vietnam, because he saw it turning into quagmire if we stayed.

Then there is the fact that South Vietnam was ruled by a brutal dictator possibly worse than the leadership in North Vietnam.

And during most of the war, the U.S. leadership ran the war with the concept that we could win the war by killing as many people as possible. and to achieve that goal, the U.S. dropped more bombs than it dropped in all of World War II.

Pete Larson reports that the United States dropped 280 million bombs in Laos alone and that 80 million never exploded. Today, the population of Laos is estimated to be 6.5 million. That equals about 43 bombs dropped for each of today’s citizens in Laos. Do you know how many people lived in Laos during the Vietnam War?

If you click on Yale.edu, you will discover a map of Cambodia that shows where the bombs were dropped on 113,716 sites in 230,516 sorties dropping 2,756,941 tons of ordnance (explosives).

Libcom.org reports, “By the end of the war, 7 million tons of bombs had been dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – more than twice the amount of bombs dropped on Europe and Asia in World War II.”

Then there is the history of Vietnam.  For one thousand years, Vietnam was occupied by the Chinese (221 BC – 928 AD) and the Vietnamese resisted and fought to be free.

Then the French arrived in 1859 and occupied Vietnam, and eventually the Vietnamese fought to rid themselves of the French and the Japanese in the first Indochina War (1941 – 1954)

When the French left, the Americans moved into Vietnam in the late 1950s and stayed for almost 20 years. When the U.S. left, the soil was drenched with Agent Orange and millions—in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam combined—had been killed.

Vietnam is America’s shame and it took courage for someone like Jane Fonda to speak up and confront America’s leadership for this crime. The only honorable Americans in Vietnam were troops like your husband and me that went there as patriots believing we were fighting for freedom when the truth is that we were being lied to by our corrupt leaders.

Then there is the CIA and Air America. To this day the CIA denies that Air America was running drugs into the U.S. and supplying weapons to drug lords in the Gold Triangle with the design of creating an armed buffer between Communist China and Southeast Asia.

I refuse to condemn Jane Fonda for standing up to the corruption and lies of America’s leaders. More evidence that supports my opinion will appear in Jane Fonda: a real American Patriot! – Part 3 on February 12, 2013 or you may return/start with Part 1.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Jane Fonda: a real American Patriot! – Part 1/3

Nazi war criminals, who worked for Hitler during and before World War II, used what is now known as the “Nuremberg Defense” during the Nuremberg Trials in 1945 and 1946. Basically, the defendant claimed he or she was “only following orders and was therefore not responsible for his or her crimes”.

The “Nuremberg Defense” brings up questions about patriotism to one’s country. After all, Nazi’s were German patriots who were only following the orders of their leaders.

  • Is patriotism blind obedience to government and political leaders?
  • Is patriotism defense of country and family?
  • Is patriotism dictated and guided by the political correctness of a vigilante citizen mob?

The Free Dictionary by Farlex says patriotism is:

  • love of and devotion to one’s country
  • devotion to one’s own country and concern for its defense
  • a devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty
  • love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it

Did you see anything in those four meanings of patriotism that says we have to blindly obey and support the actions of our leaders when we suspect they might be telling lies?

Regarding Jane Fonda patriotism: the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

However, the 1st Amendment does not stop a politically correct mob from stepping in and attempting to deny an individual of her rights or branding her as a traitor because she dared to speak out against America’s leaders and the Vietnam War.

For example, recently I received an e-mail from an old friend from my youth. I haven’t seen her in probably more than fifty years. That e-mail was titled “Queen of Traitors”, and it was about Jane Fonda.

The old childhood friend wrote, “I almost threw up when I read this !!!!!  She is going to be honored ?????? No wonder her father cried and hung his head in shame when asked about the political activities of his daughter. Poor Henry Fonda. We have always been forbidden to say the name Jane Fonda in our home, even to this day. My husband served in Vietnam. He will never forget or forgive!!!!!  He gets so angry he can’t even talk about it. The damage she did, the lives she cost will never be undone. She will be judged by God, as will we all. God have mercy on us.”

My response to that e-mail will appear in Jane Fonda: a real American Patriot! – Part 2 on February 11, 2013.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Kill Anything That Moves: Part 1/3

While out driving around and doing some shopping, my wife listened to an interview on NPR with Nick Turse and told me about it. I then did some research on Nick Turse’s book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.

I haven’t bought or read the book yet, but I plan to, because the topic is worth reading to see what Turse wrote after his extensive research.

NPR.org reported, “The U.S. government has maintained that atrocities like this were isolated incidents in the conflict. Nick Turse says otherwise. In his book, Turse argues that the intentional killing of civilians was quite common in a war that claimed 2 million civilian lives, with 5.3 million civilians wounded and 11 million refugees.”

Turse takes the high end of the estimate of civilians killed during the Vietnam War. In truth, the estimates range from 245,000 to two million. In Cambodia, there were another 200,000 to 300,000 dead and in Laos 20,000 to 200,000—from bombs dropped by American aircraft, because American troops did not fight in large numbers in Cambodia or Laos.


15:32 minutes

For a comparison, in World War II, it is estimated that 37.5 to 54.5 million civilians were killed, and World War II spanned only six years 1939 – 1945. The Vietnam War lasted nineteen years, five months, four weeks and one day—about three times longer than World War II. In that time, the US dropped more bombs on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam than it dropped in all of World War II.

I suspect that most of the civilian deaths in Vietnam were caused by bombs dropped by American aircraft.

While I served in Vietnam, I heard of incidents like those Turse writes about, but I suspect that it wasn’t as common as Turse clams. After all, the US fought in Vietnam for almost twenty years and the last decade saw huge increases in troop numbers and the bombs dropped.

In 1959, America had 760 troops in Vietnam. The Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964 would change those numbers drastically. By 1963, the US had 16,300 troops in Vietnam and in 1964 there were 23,300. Then in 1965 those numbers reached 184,300. In 1968, the high point of the war, the US had 536,100 troops in Vietnam.

In total, 2.7 million Americans served in uniform in Vietnam. In 1966, I was one of them.

This is what I remember from my tour. We had rules that said we had to see who was shooting at us before we returned fire but we seldom saw who was shooting at us. I had unseen snipers shoot at me a number of times and come very close—one round touched my ear. Our base camp was hit usually at night by mortars and rockets, and it is true that body counts were important to General Westmoreland. At the time, the belief among America’s leaders was that we could kill our way to victory.

Continued on February 2, 2013 in Kill Anything That Moves: Part 2

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest superhero of them all?

Smithsonian.com published The Psychology Behind Superhero Origin Stories by Robin Rosenberg.

Rosenberg says, “As a clinical psychologist who has written books about the psychology of superheroes, I think origin stories show us not how to become super but how to be heroes, choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power.”

Rosenberg says, “I’ve found that superheroes undergo three types of life-altering experiences that we can relate to.”

1. trauma

2. a life altering force is destiny

3. sheer chance

“At their best,” Rosenberg says, “superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose.”

Reading Rosenberg’s piece in Smithsonian after watching “To Whom it May Concern, Ka Shen’s Journey” the previous night helped me understand his explanation. Ke Shen’s Journey was a documentary on the life of Nancy Kwan.

You may remember Kwan in “The World of Suzie Wong” (1960), or “Flower Drum Song” (1961). And in 1961, she won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer in film.

In fact, Kwan’s father was a hero. During World War II, he was a spy for the British and when the Japanese discovered what he was doing, he took his two, infant children and fled Hong Kong disguised as a Chinese peasant. Another Chinese spy working for the British in Hong Kong wasn’t so fortunate. He was caught and beheaded by the Japanese.

For Kwon, her life altering experience was the loss of her only child, a son from her first marriage. Bernie died at age 33 in 1996. He contracted AIDS from his girlfriend whom Kwan had cautioned him to avoid.

Bernie had unprotected sex with the girl he loved. He didn’t use a condom. The girlfriend died of AIDS first and Bernie stayed by her side and cared for her to the end. Eventually, when the virus threatened his life, he moved home so his mother and stepfather could care for him, and they watched the son they both loved die slowly over a period of three years as he wasted away.

Today, almost age 75, Nancy Kwan actively supports the study of AIDS and the promotion of AIDS awareness.

I think Rosenberg is right, because I’m convinced that what he explains is one reason why I joined the U.S. Marines and later became a classroom teacher in a barrio high school populated by violent street gangs. I made a choice. We all make choices, but why do we make such choices?

For me it wasn’t trauma—at least I don’t think so—that motivated me to join the U.S. Marines. I think it was the role models I saw in Hollywood films. For example, John Wayne’s movies. By the time I joined the Marines in 1964, John Wayne had been in 158 films. A few that stick in my head are: The Fighting Seabees; Back to Bataan; They were Expendable; Fort Apache; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon; Sands of Iwo Jima; The Horse Soldiers; The Alamo, and The Longest Day, etc.

Of course, no film compares to the reality of combat and coming home from war with PTSD and/or recovering from a severe combat wound. Those factors are also a life altering force.

It seems to me that there are a lot of people in America that are not inspired to be a hero or altruistic.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that 8.1% of the U.S. population are veterans. In addition, the NY Times reported that less than 1% of the American population is serving in the active military.  What does that tell us about the rest of America—not counting the physically and mentally disabled, police, teachers and firefighters?

Discover John Kerry, Purple Hearts, PTSD and WMD

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

What happened to the America that …

On January 3, 2013, Mark Hosenball writing for Reuters reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman expressed outrage over scenes in the film “Zero Dark Thirty” that imply “enhanced interrogations” of CIA detainees.

Hosenball wrote, “Some of Obama’s liberal supporters are attacking the film and officials who cooperated with its creators for allegedly promoting the effectiveness of torture.”

As I read this piece , I started to think of the brutality of war and what it means to lose and then had a few questions:

During the Vietnam War, what happened to the America that dropped 250,000 cluster bombs on Cambodia?

What happened to the America that firebombed civilians in Germany & Japan in World War II?

PBS reported that in Germany, “The casualty figures reported by German fire and police services ranged between 25,000 and 35,000 dead. However, thousands more were missing, and there were many unidentified refugees in the city. It is probable that the death total approached the 45,000 killed in the bombing of Hamburg in July-August 1943. Some careless historians, encouraged by Soviet and East German propaganda, promulgated figures as high as 250,000. Although David Irving later recanted his claim of 135,000 dead, one can still find that number cited in many history books.”

In Japan, PBS said that in Tokyo, “Before the firestorm ignited by Operation MEETINGHOUSE had burned itself out, between 90,000 and 100,000 people had been killed. Another million were rendered homeless. Sixteen square miles were incinerated, and the glow of the flames was visible 150 miles away. Victims died horribly as intense fires consumed the oxygen, boiled water in canals, and sent liquid glass rolling down streets.”

What happened to the America that dropped A-bombs on two cities in Japan to end World War II?

“Unlike many other bombing raids, the goal for this raid had not been a military installation but rather an entire city. The atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima killed civilian women and children in addition to soldiers. Hiroshima’s population has been estimated at 350,000; approximately 70,000 died immediately from the explosion and another 70,000 died from radiation within five years.”

“Approximately 40 percent of Nagasaki was destroyed. Luckily for many civilians living in Nagasaki, though this atomic bomb was considered much stronger than the one exploded over Hiroshima, the terrain of Nagasaki prevented the bomb from doing as much damage. Yet the decimation was still great. With a population of 270,000, approximately 70,000 people died by the end of the year.” Source: About.com

What happened to the America that sprayed Vietnam with Agent Orange?

What happened to the America that dropped more bombs on northeastern Laos during the Vietnam War than it dropped in all of World War II?

“As part of its efforts during the Vietnam War, the United States began a nine-year bombing campaign in Laos in 1964 that ultimately dropped 260 million cluster bombs on the country — the most heavily bombed country in history. That’s more than 2.5 million tons of munitions — more than what the U.S. dropped in World War II on Germany and Japan combined. … Of the 75 million bombs that failed to detonate, less than 1 percent have been cleared. At least 25,000 people have been killed or injured by these bombs in the 35 years following the end of the bombing campaign. Today, an average of 300 Lao people are injured or killed every year by these weapons.” Source: Huffington Post

What happens to the citizens of the United States if America loses the war on terror?

Discover A Night at the “Well of Purity”

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Rebuilding Lives

I bought an audio version of The Street of a Thousand Blossoms to listen to while driving (I am an avid reader and listener of books).

Gail Tsukiyama’s novel starts before World War II and concludes years after the war ends. The story is about the violent rebirth of a nation and its people through war and defeat told mostly through the eyes and emotions of two brothers.

Because I served in Vietnam in the US Marines as a field radio operator, my focus has been on what combat does to soldiers—not noncombatants. However, after reading Tsukiyama’s novel, it is easy to see that civilians that experience the horror of war may also suffer from the trauma of PTSD.

To get an idea of the destruction and suffering, more people may have been killed or injured in the firebombing of Tokyo than from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki near the end of the war.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department reported that almost a 100,000 were killed in addition to a million injured with 286,358 buildings and homes destroyed. There were a million left homeless.

In comparison, it is estimated that 150,000 – 246,000 were killed from the atomic bombs, and if Japan hadn’t surrendered when it did, the US would have had seven more atomic bombs ready to drop on Japan’s cities before October 1945.

What led to the war in the Pacific?

Some of Japan’s leaders wanted to rule over East Asia, including China, and that quest for power cost Japan dearly and the nations it invaded.

However, in defeat, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Japanese civilians were killed in addition to 2.12 million military. In comparison, in all of World War II, the US lost 1,700 civilians and 416,800 military. At Pearl Harbor, the US lost 2,402 military and 57 civilians.

What is not well known is that the decision to attack the United States was not unanimous in Japan’s government or military.

“Military control in prewar Japan was exercised by the War and Navy Ministers and the General Staffs of the Army and Navy, not by the civil government.” Source: ibiblio.org

In fact, “Higher Navy officials in Japan were against bombing Pearl Harbor, but the fleet commander, Yamamoto, threatened to resign unless given permission to launch the strike and the Navy staff reluctantly permitted it.” Source: Thornley.net

“To the conservative admirals of Japan’s Naval General Staff, a direct confrontation in the central Pacific Ocean between their navy and the Unites States Navy was unthinkable.” Source: Pacific War.org

In addition, Emperor “Hirohito said he was powerless to stop the militarists because any dissent on his part would have led to his assassination.” Source: Net Places.com

Then Japan’s Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoe attempted to avoid war with the United States, and when he failed, he resigned from office on October 16, 1941 – six weeks before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.”  Source: Wikipedia.org

Hiroshi and Kenji are the main characters in The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, and what they experience during the war is often worse than that of soldiers in combat. The sense of helplessness is acute because the characters in the novel cannot fight back as bombs are dropped on them or as Japanese police force them to comply with harsh wartime regulations.

Hiroshi dreams of becoming a sumotori (a Japanese form of wrestling) while his younger brother, Kenji, is obsessed with the craft of carving wood masks worn by the actors of Noh Theater, a classical Japanese theatrical form—one of the world’s oldest.

Before the war, the brothers’ parents drowned in a boating accident, and they are raised by their grandparents in the Yanaka district of northeastern Tokyo.

The war interferes with the boys’ dreams and rationing leads to hunger and the struggle to survive.

Because we are either with Hiroshi or Kenji during the horrific fire-bombing of Tokyo, and they also experience the iron fist of the city’s police to control the people while Japan is losing the war, we discover what it must be like to live in a nation that is being defeated.

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ends the war, but the emotional wounds are slow to heal. However, Hiroshi and Kenji renew their passions and through them we see the healing of a defeated nation. It is a bitter sweet story that I highly recommend—a story of resilience and rebirth.

 

Gail Tsukiyama was born in San Francisco, California to a Chinese mother from Hong Kong and a Japanese father from Hawaii. She attended San Francisco State University where she received both her Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master of Arts Degree in English with the emphasis in Creative Writing.

Discover Stanford Study shows effect of PTSD trauma on brain

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”