BOMBS AWAY!


hiding from bombs

I live in Thailand, a country with bombings going on, especially along the border with Malaysia. I suppose living in a country with bombings doesn’t make me unique, because bombings are going on in lots of places in the world, even America, though not routinely. Nobody knows who planted the bomb at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok a month ago. We do know who’s dropping the bombs on Syria, and who did the same to Iraq and Afghanistan. It was us. We still don’t really know who brought down the Twin Towers in New York City, but as time passes it becomes more and more apparent that it wasn’t our allies the Saudis under the direction of Osama bin Laden.

We’re looking at a long-term and maybe never-ending worldwide War On Terror, and maybe half the world’s population is affected by this war on a daily basis. That’s no small thing. There have been wars before, but they seemed more defined, with beginnings and ends, but this war is so amorphous and chronic that most people don’t seem to notice we’re even at war. Has it always been this way?

When I was a child I grew up terrorized by the Soviet Nuclear Threat. Such a threat had pre-dated by arrival on the planet, for I was born in 1950 and the Korean War was a direct result of our fears about the Soviets and their recently acquired H-bomb. General MacArthur was all for using nuclear weapons in Korea. Later, in Viet Nam we seriously considered their use in Laos on the Ho Chi Minh trail, but realized it would be largely ineffective because the terrain was no thinly populated. All we would have managed to do is contaminate a large portion of the country in order to kill a few thousand people.

But when I was a child and couldn’t get to sleep at night, I imagined scenarios of Red Chinese soldiers interrogating me about my belief in Jesus. Would I have the nerve to confess my allegiance to Christ under torture? Our neighbors had a fallout shelter in their backyard. Why didn’t we?

The most heavily bombed place on the planet is poor Laos. We conducted a bombing raid on that small, undeveloped country every eight minutes for eight years. They had the misfortune of being next door to Viet Nam, a country we also bombed, though not as extensively. We also dumped agent orange on large parts of that country, and there are still thousands of people suffering the after-effects of being doused with dioxin.

Here’s an interactive graph of our bombing of Laos.

This Ex-Patriate Life Teaches You Something


I’ve been abroad for over a year now, and it’s a fundamentally different experience than I enjoyed coming and going on two or three-week vacations. After this long away from America, I finally get the fact that these funny-talking foreigners are just as smart as we are. I’ve been able to feel their mixed appreciation and resentment of how we Americans have conducted ourselves. And I realize that everybody knows it’s only a matter of time before China becomes the major power in the world.

Western Europe seems to have grown out of its tendency to wage war. For seventy years now, they have lived in peace. We Americans are getting awfully tired of bombing the countries that displease us. We realize that there are no “surgical strikes,” that there is no quick and easy in and out when it comes to invading sovereign nations. So maybe we’re done with war, too.

But what can be done about the rest of the world? That was the question that brought about the creation of the United Nations. We Americans don’t much care for or respect the UN, even though it’s headquartered right here, in Manhattan. The Love It Or Leave It crowd are the main critics of the UN, because Internationalism is the opposite of American Exceptionalism.  But what if the relative peace much of the world has enjoyed can somehow be credited to the existence of the UN?  Could it be that the UN deserves our respect and attention? Maybe we need to take a leading role in reorganizing it, so that it provides a true democratic voice for all nations.

The window of opportunity for us to take this leadership role in supporting and fixing the UN is closing fast. In twenty years, we will no longer be the biggest gorilla, the one who sits down wherever he pleases. We will be overshadowed by India and China, who will set the agenda as they please. So maybe now is the time for us to act in true leadership and humility and fix somewhat broken but nevertheless enduring United Nations while we still can.