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US bombing missiong over Laos

  • somtam2000

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    If you've got Google Earth installed on your machine, you may be interested to have a look at the following add-on that marks over the map of Laos, every single US sortie that was flown.

    The results are simply breathtaking.

    I've attached a screenshot of it below, red circles are 500lb bombs, purple are 750lb (B52 strikes), other colours are other miscellaneous "General Purpose" munitions.

    There's all sorts of info about it here:
    http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=599644&page=1

    You also download the data file for Google Earth from the link above.

    #1 Posted: 26/8/2009 - 19:31

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  • gracetandil

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    Millions of years on this planet and we haven´t learned a single lesson. Very sad.

    #2 Posted: 26/8/2009 - 19:35

  • SBE

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    "The country was hit by an average one B52 bomb-load every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973. Of the 260m "bombies" that rained down, particularly on Xieng Khouang province, 80m failed to explode, leaving a deadly legacy."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2008/dec/03/laos-bombs-legacy?picture=339758964

    #3 Posted: 26/8/2009 - 20:12

  • Voyagner

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    I'm glad someone else found it interesting, it was quite a surprising find. When I first learned of it I thought it was a bomb here and there, later I thought it was significant but basically planes "unloading" unused bombs on the way home.

    This shows just how systematic it was not bombers way waywardly letting loose but ground attack fighers bombing real targets in a neutral country.

    #4 Posted: 26/8/2009 - 20:16

  • Voyagner

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    Another note, my understanding is this only maps General Purpose bombs. None of 260m "bombies" SBE mentions which were released by cluster bombs.

    #5 Posted: 26/8/2009 - 20:23

  • MADMAC

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    "Millions of years on this planet and we haven´t learned a single lesson. Very sad."

    We've learned plenty of lessons - for example, a moving target must be led to hit it.

    "It makes no difference what men think of war. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way."

    #6 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 00:23

  • gracetandil

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    I still think it´s very sad. I know what you mean. I have studied history and I read the papers every day. But I don´t agree with any form of violence. I am a peaceful human being. Just that.

    #7 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 00:34

  • MADMAC

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    "But I don´t agree with any form of violence. I am a peaceful human being. Just that."

    I'm not. I'm a violent human being. Always was. That's why I was a career soldier, and that's why I boxed.

    #8 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 01:38

  • BruceMoon

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    Though it appears the weblink refers to Laos, in fact the weblink shows google-earth references to 10 different parts of Laos. The districts shown are:

    Khammouane Province,
    Attapeu Province,
    Champassak Province,
    Houaphan Province,
    Bokeo, Phongsaly, Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, Xaybury Provinces,
    Saravane Province,
    Xieng Khouang Province (Plain of Jars),
    Sekong Province,
    Western Savannakhet Province, (minus Nong & Sepone Districts), Lao PDR.
    Nong District Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR.

    I note also, the extremely limited records / database access.

    What disturbs me is that while the weblink purports to show munition drop areas in a bid to assist UXO identification, it disclaims reference to two of the most insidious ordinances - cluster bombs and aerial land-mines.

    CAVEATS
    This file shows and only shows US Air Force sorties between 1965 and 1975 where General Purpose Munitions were used. No cluster munitions are shown in this file (only large bombs not bomblets are shown).

    Unfortunately, the existing US Air Force Bombing database also records only a small fraction (and in some cases none) of extensive air-bombing campaigns and air-dropped land mine "seeding" operations of Air Forces of the Republic of South Vietnam, Royal Lao, Thai, Khmer FANK, Mong and CIA (Igloo White & Air America).


    - - -

    Over the years, I've come to recognise the deleterious impact of militaristic power. For me, there can never be caveats as to legitimacy of/for institutionalised violence (even retaliatory).

    But, having expressed my view, I still cannot reconcile the degrees of power, authority, and 'legitimacy' whereby one (or more) person imposes will over another (or multiples). What is reasonable, and what is too far?

    Cheers

    #9 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 05:53

  • Rufus

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    Thanks for posting this Somtam. This will be very useful in my classes here in Laos. The US has a great deal to answer for. They are still not accepting responsibility for their actions, which were those of war criminals in this conflict.

    #10 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 07:27

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  • somsai

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    I don't know Rufus. I'm usually the first to point it out when the US blows it, and they certainly did in many ways in the Vietnam War, but things aren't always so simple, not as easy as black hats and white hats. The Vietnamese did invade Laos with many divisions. And the US has pretty good relations with the current govt of Laos for a reason.

    One thing I've noticed with the veterans of the Lao communist forces, Royal Lao Forces and Air America pilots is that none of them bear animosity for the others. Similarly with the civilians caught up in the times. Mostly the ones who get excited are those who were born after or too young to remember.

    Back on topic, Jo that woman at COPE Laos, showed me how there is a very clear pathway of the dots where the aircraft flew on their return route. Job security there.

    Boxing Mac? You mean when your mum used to box your ears I think, and even then probably not enough.

    #11 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 09:45

  • BruceMoon

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    As an aside, I was involved in legal action here in Oz re: chemical use in VN, and have the data for every spray mission in MACV III.

    An interesting issue in that exercise is that the aerial pathways are not what was actually flown, rather, it was the flight plan of what was to be flown. The reason for the flight plan was that every proposed spray flight needed clearances before being undertaken. However, if for some military reason the pilot had to move off course, or dump, or whatever, these actual fly routes were never recorded.

    So, logic tells me that the US Air Force Bombing database will also be of proposed, not actual.

    Similarly, as an FO, when I called in US Air Force bombing, it was me that told the pilot where to unload. So, ordinance delivery resulting from what we called 'contact engagements' would also not be recorded.

    I'm also aware that where a bombing mission in MACV III, or IV (northern half of then South Vietnam) needed to be terminated before completion, there were 'unload areas' where pilots could merely unload rather than return loaded (a potentially dangerous exercise). Some of the 'unload areas' were in (then North) Vietnam, some in Laos and some in Cambodia. I recall that the 'unload areas' in Laos were for B52's from Thailand.

    Cheers

    #12 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 10:07

  • somtam2000

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    "there were 'unload areas' where pilots could merely unload rather than return loaded (a potentially dangerous exercise)"

    I'd imagine that was a procedure that was potentially quite dangerous for the people who just happened to be living in these unload areas as well -- hence Rufus' comment above at #10.

    My mistake on saying the charts represented every single sortie -- the missing data, lack of reporting on cluster bombs etc is detailed in the bbs source I linked to. As per BM the bbs source has similar files for other regions of Laos -- as I read elsewhere, try and load all of them into your laptop and it will likely explode too!

    The data wrapped up in the files is fascinating - well worth a plod through if you're into Google Earth and are bored with checking out Kim Jong-il's villas in North Korea...

    #13 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 11:57

  • MADMAC

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    I strongly disagree with Rufus, who ignores NVA aggression concerning the campaign in Laos.

    The "unlaod areas" were along the Ho Chi Minh trail and not near population centers.

    There is a strong tendency in certain western political circles to indict the USA for it's actions in the cold war without which the cold war might well have been lost - all the while ignoring communist excesses of the worst kind.

    #14 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 16:51

  • SBE

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    As the bombing was done illegally (no approval from Congress and it contravened the Geneva convention) it's highly likely there's no really accurate record of where they dropped the bombs I'd have thought?

    As an aside, does the US give financial compensation when civilians get maimed or killed by their UXOs? Do they at least pay medical expenses? If not, why not? The US are the good guys right?

    And how much are they spending on making things safe in Laos compared to the money they spent dropping the bombs in the first place?

    #15 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 16:57

  • Rufus

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    Mac, the cold war was lost in Asia and containment failed dismally.

    "The "unlaod areas" were along the Ho Chi Minh trail and not near population centers."
    Absolute bullshit! Come to Xieng Khouan and have a look at the results of the bombies. Or do you like seeing kids with one limb missing?

    SBE: The US Govt gives NO compensation whatsoever when civilians get maimed or killed. All of the aid and UXO removal is paid for by NGOs or grants from countries other than the USA.

    #16 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 17:15

  • MADMAC

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    "As the bombing was done illegally (no approval from Congress and it contravened the Geneva convention) it's highly likely there's no really accurate record of where they dropped the bombs I'd have thought?"

    The bombing was not illegal. Prior to the passing of the war powers act, the chief executive was not constrained in how he employed military forces. Furthermore, the American campaign in Laos was undertaken with the approval - indeed at the behest - of the government of Laos. Remember, Laos was being invaded during this time by the NVA. It was an unprovoked invasion. Do not mistake secret with illegal.

    "As an aside, does the US give financial compensation when civilians get maimed or killed by their UXOs? Do they at least pay medical expenses? If not, why not? The US are the good guys right?"

    No they do not. Nor does any other country in the world. There is no precendent for this.

    "And how much are they spending on making things safe in Laos compared to the money they spent dropping the bombs in the first place?"

    It's not their job to "make things safe". You are trying to make the arguement that the US is responsible because they dropped the munitions. That's a fallacious arguement. The government of Vietnam is responsible because they created the conditions that required our intervention.

    #17 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 17:26

  • SBE

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    "You are trying to make the arguement that the US is responsible because they dropped the munitions."

    Damned right I am.

    http://www.legaciesofwar.org/news-room/related-news/389

    #18 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 17:40

  • somsai

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    Rufus at 16 Xieng Khouan was part of a different area of operation than the trail, more of the conventional war between the Lao govt and well equiped Vietnamese troops. The town changed hands many times and was finaly destroyed by conventional arillery by the NVA. The Vietnamese had very close supply lines, but the Lao had air support. It's one of the only places the Lao army and the Hmong part of those forces, fought a conventional type war. A look at the area suggests it's suitablility. If you go to the tourism authority or many other places you'll notice much of the ordanance collected is Soviet and Chinese manufacture. Mines, grenades, mortars. If you are interested there are a few history books on the war.

    I'd note on your last sentence you got one about 180 degrees wrong. The USA is and has been the largest contributer to UXO Laos for years. The person at the embassy who managed the distribution used to be a frequent contributor over on TT. His take on US funding for UXO Laos was that we were increasing funding at a rate that could be effectively and safely used.

    #19 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 19:28

  • somtam2000

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    From my understanding, though happy to be corrected with links to sources that say otherwise:

    a) War was secret, not illegal.
    b) The "unload areas" (I really really really hate that phrase) did effect populated areas.
    c) Both the US and "communist forces" committed barbaric acts.
    d) Laos had its neutrality violated by all three sides (for simplicity's sake I'm limiting it to the Thai's, Vietnamese and US).
    e) That there isn't a precedent for war reparations being paid to civilians injured doesn't mean it shouldn't be happening. Is it not happening now in Iraq when the US mistakenly kill family members -- cash payments are the norm I believe.

    I'd be interested to see some figures on expenditure on searching for MIAs Vs UXO clearance -- if anyone has some pointers would be much appreciated. I ask only because I had dealings (well "discussions" over too many beers) with some MIA people in Sekong province a few years ago and I gotta say they were a pretty unsavoury lot who needed their heads screwed back on in a more correct fashion (in my humble opinion anyway -- no doubt they felt the same way about me!).

    #20 Posted: 27/8/2009 - 19:53

  • Rufus

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    Hi Somsai,
    I have been to Xieng Khouan a number of times and had some dealings with MAG there. While you are certainly correct in what you say, there are a lot of US UXOs in the area. To the best of my knowledge as well, only the US used bombies which, far from having any strategic value, are designed only to kill and maim.
    I saw a list of the chief contributors to MAG funding. The US did not rate on the list.
    Some NGOs, buy the way, such as Lane Xang Minerals, formerly Oxian, have their own teams of UXO specialists. That was in Sepon, though of course.

    To Mac:
    "It's not their job to "make things safe". You are trying to make the arguement that the US is responsible because they dropped the munitions. That's a fallacious arguement. The government of Vietnam is responsible because they created the conditions that required our intervention."

    Really? Rarely have I read a more absurd argument. You might as well argue that the French were responsible as their colonialist policies encouraged the growth of Nationalism in Vietnam.

    #21 Posted: 28/8/2009 - 07:45

  • somsai

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    Don't you live in Vientiane Rufus? MAG is a UK humanitarian organisation operating in two provinces of Laos. UXO Laos is the large Lao Govt agency coordinating all UXO activity in country. Offices and workers and demining efforts everywhere. MAG is what they call an "implementing" partner meaning they do some work for UXO Lao along with other orgs like the Japanese (JMAS) Norwegiens (NPA)and others. The largest contributor (about 25%)to UXO Laos is the US Gov., this year, last year, since UXO Lao was begun. So no the US doesn't contribute directly to MAG, why should they, but UXO Lao does hire MAG, and the US is the largest contributor to UXO Laos, so I guess some of my tax dollars do fund those guys.

    Again I'd realy recomend A Short History of Laos by Grant Evans, it's on a lot of bookshelves in Vientiane and in all the stores. Very readable, written for the traveler or aid worker. You could out argue Madmac hands down, instead of , , well you know. Good to learn how things came about.

    #22 Posted: 28/8/2009 - 10:06

  • Rufus

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    I have the Evans book. I agree it is a good short history. Mac would probably argue that Evans is a revisionist Leftist Historian.

    #23 Posted: 28/8/2009 - 11:15

  • BruceMoon

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    Stuart

    I'm thinking this material - or a goodly part of it - ought to be in the 'Culture & Politics' site.

    - - -

    You wrote (in part)...

    From my understanding, though happy to be corrected with links to sources that say otherwise:

    a) War was secret, not illegal.
    b) The "unload areas" (I really really really hate that phrase) did effect populated areas.
    c) Both the US and "communist forces" committed barbaric acts.
    d) Laos had its neutrality violated by all three sides (for simplicity's sake I'm limiting it to the Thai's, Vietnamese and US).


    I'd like to add, rather than conflict with your words.

    a) War was secret, not illegal.
    The idea that a war is legal, secret or otherwise is a nonsense. War is war full stop.

    For modern western nations, various diplomatic and treaty obligations require an aggressor to do certain things regarding war (or warlike undertakings). For example, the Geneva Convention only applies when a war is declared. Similarly, the Westphalian Sovereignty means that international law can be invoked where one nation state enters another, without declaring war. The aggressor can be pursued in the international courts for compensation. I could go on. But, the bottom line is that the act of declaring war, or entering another state aggressively, holds important political, administrative, and social meanings.

    In this context, and for SE Asia, the aggressive party was Nth Vietnam aided by China and Russia.

    The US (and SEATO nations) did not declare war on Vietnam, nor on neighbouring nations. Nor did the US & SEATO nations act as aggressors. Whether one likes to admit it or not, the US and SEATO nations were invited by (what I call the puppet) administrations of Sth Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos to pursue socialist 'rebel' aggressors supported by Nth Vietnam (with aid from China and Russia).

    Now that I've cleared up the politico-speak bullshit
    the plain fact is that when people collect into a group, take up arms, and undertake aggressive action on (otherwise) peaceable people in order to rule those people - it is war.

    b)The "unload areas" ...did effect populated areas.
    There is no such thing as a 'safe' bomb area. The fact that war is always waged amongst civilians means that every bomb impacts on a non-military person. It matters little whether the damage done by a bomb kills people, or destroys cropland, or whatever. By the nature of their very purpose, bombs kill people: intended or otherwise.

    c) Both the US and "communist forces" committed barbaric acts.
    This is indisputable. Without diminishing the atrocities of Mai Lai, Ngai Giao, etc., the very fact that two superpowers used SE Asia to wage war over their preferred ideology is the primary barbaric act: all else is but explanation of how that barbarism was carried out.

    d) Laos had its neutrality violated by all three sides (for simplicity's sake I'm limiting it to the Thai's, Vietnamese and US).
    Sorry, this is not true. Laos was a function of French colonialism. The quasi government of Laos at that time comprised (western) educated elites administering a pale concept of nationhood to a very small part of the bounded area we know as Laos. It neither had a capacity to 'govern' the nation, nor speak on behalf of the collective peoples.

    In the 1950's to late 1960's, the Lao elite were capable of holding government, but were incapable of administering power across the countryside. The Pathet Lao held much of the country. In a bid to support the non-Pathet Lao side/s, the US funded the succession of gov'ts. But, the US wasn't able to get any Lao gov't to sign an 'invitation' to enter that would satisfy the US. Instead, it funded the various elitist groups (often as personal contributions) to help repel the Pathet Lao. The bombing of Laos was not secret in the sense that the US was doing it against the wishes of the Laos Gov't. Rather, the US was doing it with the sanction of the (successive) Laos governments (each, albeit, underwritten by the CIA). The US first utilised Thai troops as a means to bolster an incompetent Lao Army. In 1970, it used Sth Vietnamese forces (primarily because of the Cooper-Church Amendment limiting the presence of US soldiers to only Sth VN).

    The simple fact is that as a nation, Laos was a basket case following the French withdrawal, and the US propped up successive 'governments' as a foil for the increasingly forceful and influential Pathet Lao. The only 'secret' about US military action in Laos was that the US did not trumpet its actions to either its own population or to the world.

    I suggest the 'concept' of Laos neutrality was first raised by Kong Le in 1960. The rightists took control shortly thereafter, and dropped that view (I wonder who influenced them, could it have been the CIA?). When the 'neutralists' joined with the Pathet Lao and Souvana Phouma took office (in 1961), neutrality was again 'declared'. With the Pathet Lao moving to expel the neutralists and take outright control, the concept was again ditched. The CIA funding ensured the right took control, and Souvana Phouma was kept as a puppet to appease right and left.

    - - -

    I return to my original expressed view:

    The idea that a war is legal, secret or otherwise is a nonsense. War is war full stop.

    To play around attributing this view or that view about the legality or otherwise is folly. The simple fact is that when people collect into a group, take up arms, and undertake aggressive action on (otherwise) peaceable people in order to rule those people - it is war. And, the very fact of war is that it is intended to kill, maim, or destroy people.

    ALWAYS say NO to war - ALL WAYS.

    #24 Posted: 28/8/2009 - 12:30

  • MADMAC

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    Bruce
    So the the allied forces should have just said no to NAZI and Imperial Japanese aggression in WW II? Do you mean "Always" or most of the time?

    Rufus
    The idea that cluster munitions (where did you get the infantile expression "bombies" from?) are designed to deliberately cause pain amongst a civilian population is flat out stupid. Have you ever fought in a war? Do you study them in detail? It sure doesn't look that way. Cluster munitions were developed and are used against entrenched infantry. They are very effective in that capacity. They do have a high failure rate, which is why they have been highly critisized amongst those who wish to see them banned. Frankly, I would have no problem if the US signed up to this ban IF they would bring back napalm, which is also a highly effective anti personnel munition. Short of that, there isn't another munition for use against entrenched infantry that is nearly as effective.

    "Really? Rarely have I read a more absurd argument. You might as well argue that the French were responsible as their colonialist policies encouraged the growth of Nationalism in Vietnam."

    I am making a very straightforward agruement. The NVA invaded Laos. The government of Laos asked for our support to repel that invasion.

    You say that containment failed - bullshit. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, all targets of communist aggression, all with communist insurgencies supported by the COMINTERN, all insurgencies defeated. The communists were stopped at the Mekong.

    The International Communist movement was not legitimate. It was oppossed by US with military means, and rigthfully so.

    #25 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 09:24

  • BruceMoon

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    John (MAC)

    "Bruce
    So the the allied forces should have just said no to NAZI and Imperial Japanese aggression in WW II? Do you mean "Always" or most of the time?


    I suggest the US/Coalition approach to Iraq's aggression into Kuwait was symbolic of what ought be done in Europe & China, if necessary. Personally, the US/Coalition should have moved only into Kuwait and propped at the border. That would have been a sufficient signal.

    On this basis, Germany's aggression into Hungary ought have been met by repulsion back to Germany. And, Japan's aggression into China also negated.

    Let's remember that after WW1, the US was in isolationist mode and had it's head stuck up it's brown eye. And, sadly, Britain was politically (at best) a whimpering puppy. Together, these two nations lack of effort sent Hitler a clear signal (of lack of opposition).

    Holding arms as a measure of signalling potential intention does not mean they need to be used. And, if a silly autocrat wants to be territorially expansive, then containment by external forces is advisable.

    In my view, there are no 'winners' in war. And, other than as a tool for peace, military hardware ought stay in the cupboard.

    Cheers

    #26 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 09:55

  • Voyagner

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    Bombies are what the Laotians and the cleanup crews refer to them as. I guess its probably for education purposes "cluster munitions" might be a little more difficult for people with little education.

    #27 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 09:58

  • somtam2000

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    MADMAC: "Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, all targets of communist aggression, all with communist insurgencies supported by the COMINTERN, all insurgencies defeated. The communists were stopped at the Mekong."

    Communist "emergency" in Malaysia (I'm assuming that is what you're referring to) predates any substantial US involvement in the Vietnam conflict by about two decades.

    The wholesale slaughter of the "communists" in Indonesia was in '65 -- US involvement in Vietnam was only starting to build at that stage, think there was around 130,000 troops in by year-end 65, didn't peak for another three years. Admittedly, the US did assist in this regard with handing hit lists over to Soeharto & co -- but they probably didn't need 100,000K troops in Indochina to send a telegram.

    Yes, I think you could argue the US involvement in Indochina tapped the communist activities in Thailand on the head, but you're drawing a long bow on the others.

    As per Voyagner on "bombies" -- I thought it was a pretty widely used phrase.

    #28 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 10:51

  • Rufus

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    "As per Voyagner on "bombies" -- I thought it was a pretty widely used phrase."

    Mac, I thought you were a career soldier? Bombies is a commonly used term for cluster bombs; I am surprised you don't know that.

    #29 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 11:00

  • MADMAC

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    "Mac, I thought you were a career soldier? Bombies is a commonly used term for cluster bombs; I am surprised you don't know that."

    Rufus, I spent 27 years in uniform. I never once heard a soldier call them "bombies". We called them cluster munitions.

    Bruce

    "I suggest the US/Coalition approach to Iraq's aggression into Kuwait was symbolic of what ought be done in Europe & China, if necessary. Personally, the US/Coalition should have moved only into Kuwait and propped at the border. That would have been a sufficient signal.

    On this basis, Germany's aggression into Hungary ought have been met by repulsion back to Germany. And, Japan's aggression into China also negated."

    I think you mean Czechoslovakia. But at any rate, this approach is unrealistic. Essentially you are saying we should have simply tried to push Nazi Germany back to it's borders, not topple the Nazi regime that started the war. Ditto imperial Japan. That is just inviting more agression. The one thing that makes dictators hesitate from starting wars is the potential of losing power if things go wrong. Additionally, that solution would be politically unacceptable to the peoples who's territories were violated.

    "Let's remember that after WW1, the US was in isolationist mode and had it's head stuck up it's brown eye. And, sadly, Britain was politically (at best) a whimpering puppy. Together, these two nations lack of effort sent Hitler a clear signal (of lack of opposition)."

    Don't forget France. That's exactly right. That signal was "we don't ever want to fight for anything - certainly not for the Czechs.

    "Holding arms as a measure of signalling potential intention does not mean they need to be used. And, if a silly autocrat wants to be territorially expansive, then containment by external forces is advisable."

    Again, that's unrealistic. It's like a boxer who's just trying to parry punches. The British and French forces were large enough to contain the Germans in 1940 - but they were simply defeated.

    "In my view, there are no 'winners' in war. And, other than as a tool for peace, military hardware ought stay in the cupboard."

    What about the Somali intervention? What about the Bosnia intervention? What about the Congo intervention? Should the world turn a blind eye, as they did in Rwanda, to catastrophe that can only be stopped by force of arms?

    Somtam
    The general US policy vis-a-vis the COMINTERN was containment. The US approach differed in differing locations, but the policy was always the same. Whether the US played a large role or a small one. Communist intent toward Southeast Asia was clear.

    #30 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 15:05

  • SBE

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    Which Congo are you talking about? Without US help Mobutu would never have got into power.... he was one of the worst dictators in Africa (and that's saying something)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobutu_Sese_Seko

    #31 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 15:14

  • hokasch

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    oh, politics in message boards! sounds like fun!

    here is my take:
    The "domino Theory" was the same complete crap as the "WMD in Iraq" bullshit. The Communists won, nothing of that sort happened. Good, they invaded Cambodia and toppled the Khmer Rouge, but they did a far better job in "nation building" and withdrawal than one can witness today in Iraq.
    Also, the notable a lot more crazy and brutal KR communists gained support from the US gov (among others) when they already lost real power to the Vietnamese. Pol Pots represantatives staffed the embassy in the US until 1992, they sat in the UN until 1989. Not really cohesive. Vietnam opened up more and more over time.

    The complete Vietnam war was unnecessary. So much suffering for nothing but some insane politicians with delusions.

    "What about the Somali intervention? What about the Bosnia intervention? What about the Congo intervention? Should the world turn a blind eye, as they did in Rwanda, to catastrophe that can only be stopped by force of arms?"

    I am not sure about this. Which "humanitarian" interventions have been a real success? I can not really think of one. On the other side, that label gets overly used to make a war more acceptable, imho.

    /off topic: yeahaa, bbcode!

    #32 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 19:24

  • hokasch

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    @ madmac:
    COMMINTERN dissolved itself in 1943.

    #33 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 19:30

  • MADMAC

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    "The complete Vietnam war was unnecessary. So much suffering for nothing but some insane politicians with delusions."

    The American, Australian, South Korean, Thai and other participation in the war in South Vietnam and Laos was a DIRECT RESPONSE to North Vietnamese aggression. Of course, the communist movement hijacked very successfully anti-colonial movements. But the fact remains that the US containment policy was fully justifiable and correct. It ignores success (western Europe, Thailand and other locals) and harps on controversy (Nicaragua, Vietnam). There is also the tendency to obfuscate - that is to attack controversial US military intervention in places like Iraq and Vietnam to paint a mosaic of the US as aggressive and a negative player in the 20th century while ignoring vile governance of men like Ho Chi Minh and Mao Tse Tung.

    Yes, the COMINTERN was disolved, but the movement was not. The Dong aligned themselves with the USSR and China - and in the context of the 1960s world this was guaranteed to bring US reistance, as well it should have.

    #34 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 22:50

  • hokasch

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    The American, Australian, South Korean, Thai and other participation in the war in South Vietnam and Laos was a DIRECT RESPONSE to North Vietnamese aggression.

    That agression was not primarily directed at the US, neither did it constitute a real thread. Both parties involved were Vietnamese, that is what I call a civil war. The Nort Vietnamese did not plan on invading America.

    Of course, the communist movement hijacked very successfully anti-colonial movements.

    Who hijacked who is not always that clear. Is anti-colonial struggle legit only if their policy fits a superpower? My point is that it would not have been a serious threat against the US, if the North Vietnamese would have taken over the south and reunited the country in the early 60s. You could argue that the Vietnamese would have suffered under a horrible communist regime. But the communist eventually took over the country anyway - and the years of war have been clearly a lot more horrifying than the NV regime in power. So, what was all the suffering for?

    There is also the tendency to obfuscate - that is to attack controversial US military intervention in places like Iraq and Vietnam to paint a mosaic of the US as aggressive and a negative player in the 20th century while ignoring vile governance of men like Ho Chi Minh and Mao Tse Tung.
    That may be so, but is not my agenda.

    Yes, the COMINTERN was disolved, but the movement was not. The Dong aligned themselves with the USSR and China

    I do not buy into the this "global communist conspiracy" theory. The communist parties have never been a really united front, communist countries build and broke alliances, cooperated and strategized against each other as well as western countries did.
    There is this pretty ironic case where government, and CIA, officials started to believe their own black propaganda about the Soviet Union commanding a world-wide terror network. It may be tragic, I can't help to find it funny.
    Melvin A. Goodwin, "Ending the CIA's Cold War Legacy," Foreign Policy (Spring 1997), p. 7 last paragraph

    #35 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 00:43

  • hokasch

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    btw, if I am talking about "suffering" in Vietnam, I mean this for all involved.

    #36 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 00:58

  • MADMAC

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    "I do not buy into the this "global communist conspiracy" theory."

    It was not a theory - it was stated intent. The communist movement and it's intentions did not require sophisticated interpretation. They were very vocal about what they intended. Things began to change with detente.

    Of course now you can say "Well, the intervention was foolish because the NVA was going to win in the end anyway." But that's monday morning quarterbacking.

    The US could just as easily have used this arguement to withdraw from Western Europe at the end of WW II and left it to the Soviets.

    #37 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 01:08

  • hokasch

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    Yeah, these commis have alwys been blatant loudmouthes.

    Of course now you can say "Well, the intervention was foolish because the NVA was going to win in the end anyway." But that's monday morning quarterbacking.

    Sure, this is a pointless argument. I meant it more this way:

    The NVA took over Vietnam. The following communist regime did not turn out to be that horrifying and brutal as claimed by the West. They did not threaten neighbouring countries (apart from Democratic Kampuchea). Domino Theory did not happen. They did not invade the United States. Doi Moi came in 86 for economical reasons. Since than, the country slowly opens up, and more freedom becomes possible.
    The reasons for US intervention have been proven unfounded. ergo: what was all the suffering for?

    #38 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 01:43

  • MADMAC

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    "The NVA took over Vietnam. The following communist regime did not turn out to be that horrifying and brutal as claimed by the West. They did not threaten neighbouring countries (apart from Democratic Kampuchea). Domino Theory did not happen. They did not invade the United States. Doi Moi came in 86 for economical reasons. Since than, the country slowly opens up, and more freedom becomes possible."

    They were invading Laos, in case you missed it. They did support the KR until 1975. And there were active insurgencies in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia from the 50s through the 70s. All of those activities were supported by the same players (Russia and China).

    #39 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 02:25

  • MADMAC

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    "The reasons for US intervention have been proven unfounded. ergo: what was all the suffering for?"

    Because there was no way of knowing that in 1965.

    #40 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 02:32

  • BruceMoon

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    hokasch

    Some of that you write I'd agree with. However, there is one particular point on which I disagree: the Domino Theory.

    The Domino Theory was not a proposition in its own right, rather, a view in relation to the larger position now known as the cold war.

    It is now indisputable that following WW2, many lands (and peoples) subjected to colonial rule sought self government. Along with this, many self governed nations were but the domain of brutally powerful and self interested elites. For these places, the idea of a 'populist' revolution based on the Marxist ideal found considerable appeal (especially to the disenfranchised).

    The spread of Marxism was clearly concerning to liberal and conservative states - the US in particular (largely because it foresaw a potentiality of domination by a Marxist 'union' of states).

    The notion of Domino Theory was largely rhetoric to inspire the US population (but also western oriented states in the Pacific) to support US intervention into SE Asia.

    That said, the Domino Theory was adopted by Menzies (Australian PM) to scare the Australian people.

    In many respects, the Domino Theory explained well the combination of Malaya emergency, the Indonesian debacle, and the self governing moves by Marxists and Leninists in SE Asia.

    While young people today assume the Domino Theory meant that states fall like domino's, ie one after another, the fact is that should one have fallen (in those heady days of the 1950's), another 'liberationist' group would have guidance (and a template) to achieve success in their 'territory'. And, eventually, a whole region would become 'Socialist' states based on the soviet model.

    That no state anywhere in the world has ever become communist is telling.

    Cheers

    #41 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 05:27

  • MADMAC

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    "That no state anywhere in the world has ever become communist is telling."

    The only way to achieve a "communist state" is through massive coercion. Once a group has the power to achieve massive coercion, they forget why they have that power and use it for self interest. This is human nature - which communism requires to morph, but does not. It's a failed ideology that can not succeed. It can only bring repression. It has never brought succor, and for good reason.

    #42 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 12:02

  • somtam2000

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    As someone who never touched a gun till he was into his 30's I thought the commentary in this link may be helpful to others like me.

    I mean, why didn't the Empire follow counterinsurgency doctrine -- and am I alone in never realising that the ewok moon of Endor was actually based on the battle of Dien Bien Phu...

    #43 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 16:15

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Insurgency is not an effective technique if your enemy (the evil empire) is prepared to annihilate the population base serving the insurgents.

    #44 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 17:20

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