Video: Forty Years After the Carpet Bombing

Here are a few images and a drone video I made of scars on the earth in Xieng Khouang Province, Laos that were created over two generations ago by so called “carpet bombing”. This mutilation of an otherwise bucolic landscape was created by heavy bombs, indiscriminately dropped by B52s, piloted by faceless people originating from half a world away, upon what was mostly simple farmers and country folk. You can still see the effects everywhere in Xieng Khouang Province and many other areas in Laos. In fact, there were so many bombs dropped on this area that people today use casings from unexploded bombs as building material and scrap metal to make things such as silverware and jewelry.

Crater Created by Carpet Bombing in Xieng Khouang Province, Laos.

Crater Created by Carpet Bombing in Xieng Khouang Province, Laos.

From 1964 until 1973 the United States dropped the equivalent of a planeload of bombs every eight minutes onto the people of Laos. Oftentimes, because military policy wouldn’t allow bombers to return from Vietnam to their home base with munitions on board, they would just randomly rain their deadly cargo on Laotian territory without regard to where they were or for the innocents. There are still millions of units of unexploded ordinance (UXO) on the ground in Laos, menacing the people, rendering fertile farmland unusable and continuing the terror of the past. During the “secret war” the U.S.A. spent over $44 billion dollars bombing Laos, but today we spend less than $3 million dollars a year cleaning up the mess the current generations of Laotians must deal with.

Even These Horrible Scars Can't Hide the Beauty of Rural Laos

Even These Horrible Scars Can’t Hide the Beauty of Rural Laos

When you visit this area, the damage, not only in the form of ugly scars on the earth, but in the eyes of the people is visible to anyone that wants to see. Even now, over forty years later, there is almost one casualty a day from people encountering unexploded ordinance somewhere in Laos. Most of the injured are children.

It Will Take Many More Generations Before the Earth Will Cover This Assault

It Will Take Many More Generations Before the Earth Will Cover This Assault

Politicians like to fire up an easily led electorate by proposing “simple solutions” like sending other people kids to put “boots on the ground” or “carpet bombing” faceless people in faraway places to “protect the homeland”. Little regard is given to failures of the past, how ineffective these bellicose policies have been and how they tend to destabilize regions and radicalize new generations against us. It is only when you see these failures first hand do you begin to realize how military force should be a sober, last resort action against existential threats; not the thoughtless rhetoric, or action, of schoolyard bullies. It especially shouldn’t be a method of generating attention, capturing “low hanging” votes, or as a method of somehow repaying campaign debt.

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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