Destroying the Village in Vietnam

W.J. Astore

One day, a village of roughly 1200 people in South Vietnam ceased to exist. The U.S. Air Force destroyed it, and the report read “Target 100% destroyed, body-count 1200 KBA (killed by air) confirmed.”

It wasn’t an “enemy” village. It was a village that had failed to pay its taxes to a South Vietnamese provincial commander, a lieutenant colonel and ostensibly a U.S. ally. He wanted the village destroyed to set an example to other recalcitrant villages, and the U.S. Air Force did what it does: It put bombs and napalm on target.

At Seventh Air Force headquarters, the brass knew this village’s “crime.” As a brigadier general said to then-Lieutenant Colonel James Robert “Cotton” Hildreth, “Damn, Cotton, don’t you know what’s going on? That village didn’t pay their taxes. That [South Vietnamese] lieutenant colonel … is teaching them a lesson.”

It’s a “lesson” that made Cotton Hildreth, who later became a major general, “really sick” and “very bitter” about his role as a combat pilot in the Vietnam War. Later, in an oral interview, he admitted “I don’t talk about this [the war] very much.” One can understand why.

At the time, Hildreth brought his concerns to General William Momyer, the Seventh Air Force Commander, but Momyer offered only platitudes, saying that Hildreth was “doing some good, somewhere,” by dropping bombs and napalm and other ordnance on Vietnam and the Vietnamese people.

We know this story only because Cotton Hildreth was willing to share it after being retired from the Air Force for fifteen years. A few days before this village was obliterated, Hildreth and his wingman, flying A-1 Skyraiders, had been ordered to destroy the village with napalm. They refused to do so after making low and slow passes over the village, only to be greeted by children waving their arms in friendship. In “The Wingman and the Village,” Hugh Turley’s article about this in the Hyattsville Life & Times (July 2010), Hildreth admitted his wingman had dropped napalm away from the village first, and Hildreth then did the same. The wingman in question, old for a pilot at age 48 and a grandfather, had seen a woman running with two children from her hut. He’d made a snap decision to disobey orders.

As the wingman told Hildreth when they returned to base: “Sir, I have three small grandchildren at home, and I could never face them again if I had followed those orders.” The unnamed wingman was later reassigned to a non-combat role.

When Hildreth was asked later if he’d have destroyed the village if he’d been flying an F-105 “Thud,” which flew higher and much faster than the A-1 Skyraider, he admitted he likely would have, because “you don’t see the people.”

What can we learn from this story? This atrocity? That it’s very easy to kill when you never see the people being killed. That it’s easy to follow orders and much harder to disobey them. That the Air Force brass at headquarters knew they were complicit in mass murder but that it meant more to them to keep one South Vietnamese provincial commander happy than it meant to keep 1200 innocent people alive.

One day in a long and atrocious war, Cotton Hildreth and his wingman decided they’d put humanity first; that they wouldn’t destroy a defenseless village despite orders to do so. It didn’t matter. That village and those people were destroyed anyway a few days later. It was just another day in a war allegedly fought to contain communism but which instead led to uncontained barbarity by a so-called democratic alliance.

“We had to destroy the village to save it” is a catchphrase from that war that is of course a contradiction in terms. Destruction is destruction. Death is death. No one was saved. Small wonder that Hildreth was so sick, so bitter, and spoke so rarely of his experiences in Vietnam.

A Note on Sources:

Oral interview with retired U.S. Air Force Major General James Robert “Cotton” Hildreth on 9/19/96. Hildreth recounts his experience beginning at the 21-minute mark of the interview.

I first learned of Hildreth’s interview from David Martin, who wrote about it here in 2015, calling it the largest single known atrocity of the Vietnam War. Such atrocities were commonplace, given the wanton use of destructive power by the U.S. military in Vietnam. This is a theme developed by Nick Turse in his book, “Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.” (2013)

Hugh Turley, “The Wingman and the Village,” in “Hugh’s News,” Hyattsville Life & Times, July 2010.

Hildreth’s story is consistent with what Bernard Fall saw in Vietnam, which I wrote about here.

James Robert “Cotton” Hildreth. (Photo from North Carolina Digital Archive)

65 thoughts on “Destroying the Village in Vietnam

  1. When you think about the hundreds of articles and books written on the Mai-Lai tragedy,You’d think that this event warrants at least ONE book. I’d be the first in line to buy it!Les Margosian

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Then the Americans Came: Voices from Vietnam by Martha Hess, is a depressing book told by the Vietnamese who endured the maniacal use of fire power and search and destroy by the Americans. Hess traveled the length and breadth of Vietnam in 1990 and 1991, listening to the recollections of men and women who lost family, limbs or sanity–sometimes all of these–during the 1965-1973 war; who witnessed the bombing of schools, hospitals, churches, temples, ferryboats, and animals; who survived beatings, rape and torture, and saw the mass slaughter of civilians by U.S. ground troops.

    We did not do anything different than Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan or our own Military and Militias did during the Native American “Wars”, we had far more powerful weapons during Vietnam.

    Afghanistan and Iraq would have the same experiences that Vietnam had. Now you do not have to risk an airplane just use a drone, I suppose it is like a video game.

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    1. Yes. Depressing and maniacal.

      You can hear the depression, the bitterness, the sadness in the audio interview of Cotton Hildreth. I can’t begin to imagine what the Vietnamese people experienced.

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      1. The bitterness and sickness felt by Cotton Hildreth are the same as those experienced by a long-ago friend of mine, who was assigned to ground-based forward reconnaissance. He witnessed the destruction first-hand, and the horror destroyed him. He drank himself to death rather than live with the memories, a war casualty as much as the troops who never came home.

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          1. And the sad part is, I knew several other men who ended the same way, but in their cases, they kept their memories buried deep and put on stoic faces, never referring to their service. And of course there was the friend who died at 32 from pancreatic cancer, which his doctor ascribed to exposure to Agent Orange. So many casualties who, as you said, are forgotten or ignored.

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    2. And just like so many other humanitarian efforts, right to protect, democracy building….take your pick from the library of Murder, Inc. american foreign policy has always been the
      Pursuit of pathological liars and each administration carry’s the torch.

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  3. I think what we’ve got here is a telling example of how advances in technology make it not only possible but easy to believe in a “clean and antiseptic war” as drones allow some of us to do now.
    The Skyraider was propeller-driven, not all that different – except perhaps in the capacity of its payload – from similar, single-engine aircraft during “The Last Good War.” Attacking targets on the ground was carried out at much lower altitudes, often with visual reconnaissance and confirmation.
    With jet-powered aircraft it became a completely different ballgame which engendered a different type of pilot with a very different mindset, as presented in Tom Wolfe’s “The Truest Sport: Jousting with Sam and Charlie.”
    Cotton Hildreth managed to hang onto a sense of humanity, a different type of heroism than is celebrated today.

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    1. Yes Bill, the 2nd Amendment was a grievous mistake by America’s forefathers.
      Or I should I say the way the 2nd Amendment is being interpreted nowadays is the mistake.
      As a result America is awash with 400-million guns – many in the hands of people who should not have firearms. And America’s gun violence statistics are off the map. Talk to my daughter who is an ER doctor in Madison WI about the 2nd Amendment as another teenager dies of gunshot wounds on her shift.

      Great blog today my man. Dropping of Napalm on innocent civilians has got to be one histories greatest war crimes.

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      1. It never had much of anything to do with a reserve defense against invasion or coups. Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty or give me death”) and James Madison made sure the wording said “state” militia, not “national” militia, which is what it was originally written as. That, he wrote, could make it possible to nationalize the militia. The “well regulated militias” were actually slave patrols which had a “draft” requirement for white me 18 to 45. They went on monthly slave patrols looking for any slave off the plantations or other spots.

        Further proof they were not up to an actual army’s worth of defense was how unreliable they were. Washington hated having them. They ran or the got outflanked or they just didn’t show up. So they really were not prepared for war, just for hunting down unarmed slaves.

        And, that they had to organize this way, for so many years and decades also tells you the slaves were smart enough to communicate with each other across patrols and plantations for a long, long time and must have broken out and/or revolted far more than we hear (only because the slaves didn’t write their history, for the most part).

        Their degree of smarts also shows up in the breath taking eloquence of Frederick Douglas, former slave. Slaves were not supposed to read but they were the “smart machines” of their day and someone needed to teach them enough to keep accounts.

        Actually, from ancient times, it might be more instructive to think of slaves as a professional class of worker, one compelled to work. In ancient times slaves were often managers, even doctors. Tiro, Cicero’s slave is considered the father of shorthand. Tiro took voluminous notes, basically like a court reporter, and then wrote them out so that we have day by day accounts of what Cicero and other Roman senators were doing.

        NOTE: Every time you use an ampersand (&) think of Tiro. The Latin “et” meaning “and” is shorthand, though the current ampersand format [which looks like and E and t combines] is much, much later. Tiro’s actual glyph for “and” was more like our “7” which you can still see in use. Interestingly for me, if you hit the shift key and the “7” key, you get an “&” on most keyboards. I don’t know if that was conscious or just a coincidence. I’m tempted to think it was knowingly on purpose.

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  4. This incident may have been the actual event portrayed in Ward Just’s ‘A Dangerous Friend’, which described what happened when an American agent befriended a French owner of a rubber plantation. The friendship eventually resulted in such an attack by the Americans. The American had been hoping that the Frenchman could provide local intelligence for him.

    Ward Just was one of my favorite authors, who wrote of Washington political life as well as his experiences as a correspondent in Vietnam.

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  5. Your story today is a good example of the top-down command structure in any armed force. The one giving the orders is not the one in contact with the people/land that is about to take the hit. The one doing the killing is not permitted to decide on the kill. Tools don’t make decisions. Loyalty and obedience come first and are removed entirely from circumstances. In civilian life, in business, there is the same top down command structure, but then it comes down to “if I don’t do it, someone else will and they’ll get the promotion” if not “I might get fired.”

    In both military and civilian situations the desire is not justice but efficiency (meaning profit in business.) The machine must operate smoothly so get on with it.

    For all that we hear right now about the individual telling authority to go to hell (no, I won’t wear a mask!) that allows posturing with no consequences such as being passed over for promotion or being fired, I have to wonder how many of such fierce individuals would deny commands in the service or orders at the workplace when there was a real moral issue involved, serious consequences for taking a stand and no way to broadcast the decision to get pats on the back for it.

    Tolstoy made the point in his book The Kingdom of God is Within You that no military force could function if the individuals wearing the uniform refused to accept the task of killing. All nations, all of which are led by those who are not on the front line, deliberately operate boot camps that teach individuals to lose their individuality. There is no shortage of people who sign up.

    America, home to many loudly asserting individual liberty, is no exception. It’s ironic that we’re not short of those gung-ho for armed service especially in the non-urban areas that are strongholds for those defiant to the death in defense of liberty for oneself, yet very eager to give it up for a uniform. And with firearms, they see no contradiction arming up in private life against the very people, their fellow Americans, they would claim to be serving with pride if they join the service.

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    1. During boot camp, basic training and advanced infantry training young recruits were taught that they would be fighting a people who were subhuman. Instructors used terms such as gooks, dinks and slopeheads. Devaluing the lives of our enemy made it easier for soldiers to kill them.

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  6. That’s a new function for the military; administering death for tax evasion is the most egregious of penalties; which seems to be created by a lawless regime. It stops my mind hearing about this. I’m wondering why the commanding officer didn’t raise objections about placing his troops in-between the players for such a minor civil offense.Tax delinquency doesn’t seem like an oddity when considering that there was a war raging throughout the country and damaging local economic activity. This is most disturbing on so many levels; and what is insane, it seemed that the USA got it’s body count boosted; at the same time the SV landlords got their message of fear broadcast loud and clear.

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  7. Hi Bill,

    What you describe in Vietnam is precisely the strategy developed by Squadron Leader (later Air Marshall) Arthur Harris in Iraq in the 1920s: the use of aerial bombardment with incendiary bombs to make an example of tribes that did not pay their taxes, a long-standing problem for the Ottomans and then the British.

    Peace! Nicolas

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    1. Yes. I’d forgotten this. I remember the RAF bombing of Iraq in the 1920s but forgot the reason.

      Will drones be gunning for IRS deadbeats in 2032? Not if they’re super-rich, of course …

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  8. after graduating from amherst, one of my nephews signed up for marine officer candidate ‘school’ [aka, brainwashing unit]. he served 3 tours of ‘military duty’ [aka, sanctioned murder] as a helicopter pilot in iraq. he is now demented, i.e. a mental cipher. more personal narratives like hildreth’s need to be broadcast to the vulgate, lest the CMIC and their minions destroy our moral structures, spiritual cynosure-ship, and hopes for international consuetude.

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  9. I had never heard of that particular atrocity but not surprised; as I have previously commented
    I was a Navy Battalion Surgeon (what a laugh–I was a 25 y/o fledging MD just out of my internship in Portland in July 1969) assigned to the 1st Marine Division/ 3rd Battalion/5th Marines, based at
    An Hua Marine Firebase. In my 6 months with them, about half was spent actually out in the bush,
    where I had excellent support from the Navy Corpsmen and Marines, but know what it is like to get shot at, mortered, RPGd, and getting up to go, under fire, to aid a wounded Marine at 2 AM when under attack, no light, and everybody shooting at anything that moves. ” Don’t shoot, Doc coming!!”
    I never saw a Marine mistreat a villager, but did see SVA troops intimidate and threaten elderly female villagers ( there were no males in the villages in 1969-70) and children. Back at the Aid Station in An Hua, we could watch B52s carpet-bomb the Ho Chi Min trail at night.
    More than once in the bush our Company was approached by pathetic groups of Vietnamese with White Phosphorus (“Willy Pete”) burns which are, in my opinion, second only to napalm wounds in ferocity and are even more untreatable, w/ agonizing pain. THESE SHOULD BE OUTLAWED BY INTERNATIONAL
    AGREEMENTS–ever seen a Willy Pete burn eating its way into a child’s arm?
    We had no ability to treat these awful injuries in the bush, since we had only what we could carry in our backpacks, and we had no fear of getting inflicted with Willy Pete burns ourselves; our problems were with
    widespread booby-traps, malaria, and low morale in a time of maximum troop buildup but no sense of
    “winning” anything and seeing the hapless South Vietnamese government and troops languish–

    Bill, I appreciate your posts these past weeks, excellent and heartfelt; also for your collaboration
    with TomDispatch.com–

    Liked by 2 people

  10. wja, it appears my reply to raymond [about my nephew’s 3 tours of duty in iraq] which was announced as “awaiting” adjudication, has never appeared, and raymond’s original comment has disappeared altogether…. huh? are the comments buried elsewhere, on one of your other posts, or have they drifted into an endless, dreamless sleep?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure why it got caught in “moderation,” but I “approved” it just now. Also, I think Raymond commented on the previous article?

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      1. tnx, wja. am curious if enshacklement in ‘moderation’ is a freak phenom or a not uncommon one. are you the sole monitor of your site? has your site ever been the victim of a hack-job?

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          1. ahhh, then you have been kissed by kismet, wja… or you have a supernal security apparatus.

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    1. The key paragraph for me in the link,

      A new report by Brown University’s Costs of War Project calculates that, in the post-9/11 era so far, four times as many veterans and active-duty military have committed suicide as died in war operations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And from the Tom Dispatch article….an additional 500,000 troops in the post-9/11 era have been diagnosed with debilitating, not fully understood symptoms that make their lives remarkedly unlivable.

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        1. Good point, Dennis. I’ve read a bit about that, but haven’t delved deeply. I recall that, at one point, there was a furor about symptoms related to the use of DU (depleted uranium) among weapons in the Middle East, but the Pentagon flatly denied it, and I never heard anything else. Have there been any developments in pursuing that issue, do you know?

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          1. The government of the United States has created an official policy of only using DU weapons against armored targets, and avoiding their usage in civilian areas. Sadly, despite this policy against their usage against soft targets, the weapons were used, some would say illegally, in civilian areas in Iraq in 2003, and most recently, against ISIS targets in Syria in 2014. This usage in these densely populated civilian areas caused outrage internationally, and Iraqi doctors have reported large increases in cancers and birth defects in areas in which such projectiles were used.

            At least 300 sites in Iraq are contaminated by depleted uranium, and their cleanup cost has been estimated at around $30 million.

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          2. Good lord! Just….unbelievable. And unconscionable. If ever there was a case for prosecution, for war crimes, that’s it. But then, there was Abu Ghraib and so many other horrendous crimes.

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      1. @Denise Donaldson
        BTW Denise, in the battle for the small town of Fallujah the 1st Marine Division fired a total of 5,685 high-explosive 155mm artillery rounds. The 3rd Marine Air Wing expended 318 precision bombs, 391 rockets and missiles. And 93,000 (!) machine gun and cannon rounds were used. And many depleted uranium shells.

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        1. the heart fails and the brain rails, “this can’t be true!” where are the voices of our putatively good-samaritan americans? the tipping point will arrive when the magnitude of physically and psychologically damaged vets returning to the homeland’s frogbog becomes so toxic as to be insufferable to their family members and the nation at large.

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  11. I don’t remember whether I posted this. My apologies if I am doubling up here.

    I went looking last month (July) for numbers in Vietnam to compare what “our” 58,200 would be if the number were proportional in the same ratio as were lost in Vietnam.

    Starting with 1970 populations:
    Vietnam 43.4 million
    United States 205.1
    That is 4.726 times larger than Vietnam, getting us the relative population factor
    from Vietnamese 1995 release of numbers of
    2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians both sides
    1,100,000 NVA and Viet Cong
    add in the 200,000 to 250,000 estimated South Vietnamese soldiers who died
    (calling that 225,000 as a back-of-the-envelope interpolation)
    Making 1,325,000 Vietnamese soldiers/fighters on both sides killed
    3,325,000 Vietnamese killed x 4.726 (to get the US equivalent)
    == US equivalent:
    Or the same as if 15,713,950 US soldiers and civilians had been killed in the war in the year 1970
    or equivalent to 25,145,385 those US soldiers and civilians if they were killed in 2019 (essentially today) rather than the actual figure of 58,200. Or 1/270th the equivalent number.
    Imagine if our losses were 270 times worse than they were. (15.7-million/58k)

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  12. While we are comparing numbers Mike (good job by the way) did you know 407,000 military deaths and around 12,000 civilian deaths occurred in WW2.
    Now they are reporting 600,000+ have died of Covid. And yet there are nut jobs in the US saying Covid is just a bad case of the flu and their freedoms are not going to be violated by being injected with poison.
    Put another way, 12x more US people have died of Covid than were killed in Vietnam.

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  13. I have to admit my fav. Scene in the Masterpiece 1979’s. “Apocalypse Now” is the Helicopter Attack on the Vietnamese Village with the “Flight of the Valkyries” playing over the Gunship Helicopters, and Robert Duvall as Major Kilgore uttering his immortal Line about loving the smell of napalm in the morning… His emptiness is frightening, but that is the Vietnam War..! I’m not glorifying War as a Ret. Professional Firefighter here dedicated to saving lives just stating my feelings honestly.

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    1. When napalm falls on people, the gel sticks to their skin, hair, and clothing, causing unimaginable pain, severe burns, unconsciousness, asphyxiation, and usually death. Even those who do not get hit directly with napalm can die from its effects since it burns at such high temperatures that it can create firestorms that use up much of the oxygen in the air. Bystanders also can suffer heatstroke, smoke exposure, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

      The US dropped almost 400,000 tons of napalm in the Vietnam war. Of the Vietnamese people, mostly civilians, who were on the receiving end, 60% suffered fifth-degree burns, meaning that the burn went down to the bone.

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        1. as you say ray. precisely so. the only significant differences between napalm and phosphorous are: the latter is not accompanied by napalm’s sticky gel; it billows out w/ a white colour instead of grey; and it doesn’t suck quite as much O2 from the air column as napalm does. the US refused to sign the geneva convention’s ban against the manufacture and use of napalm… and so it goes… w/ our good ol’ rogue nation, the oh-so ‘exceptional’ US, and its genocidal sidekick israel.

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          1. Phosphorous bombs do burn the skin!

            I won’t post any pictures here because they’re too disturbing to see as War Crimes, but searching Google for “phosphorus bombs burning skin,” you will find too many images.

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          2. i know, ray; phosphorous sizzles right down to the bone. foregoing your proffered shots is craven of me, but the images would be too graphic to keep my questionable sanity free of further tatters.

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    2. There is a spectacle to war. A sort of awesomeness. And I don’t mean this in a good way.

      But combat veterans talk about this. Chris Hedges, in his book “War is a force that gives us meaning,” devotes a chapter to “The seduction of battle and the perversion of war.”

      War can also be a narcotic; consider here Anthony Loyd’s book, “My War Gone By, I Miss It So.” The adrenaline rush; the “band of brothers” bonding; living life for the moment.

      Again, this is not meant as an endorsement of war in any way. But to stop war, we need to understand it fully, including its seductiveness.

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      1. In 1994, one of my fellow psychiatric residents did a presentation on his work with Vietnam vets. He found that in some of them their symptoms came from the dissonance between feeling the most alive and most intense when simultaneously involved in actions that were horrific.

        Desire and aversion contribute to something I call Unease. Reductions in unease are pleasurable. The greater and the faster the reduction in unease the greater the pleasure. What is associated with pleasure is reinforced and remembered positively, even euphorically.

        Before someone ingests a drug they are craving, their unease is high due to the desire for the drug. Ingesting the drug reduces the unease quickly and the use of the drug is reinforced.

        My sense with violence is that there is a strong aversion to death which makes unease extreme. Coming through that causes an intense reduction in unease. In many people that reduction in unease is peripheral in their attention and has little reinforcing effect. However, in some people the reduction in unease dominates their experience and that is intensely pleasurable. Extreme violence becomes associated with a reduction in unease and that is what is sought.

        This can be used constructively as Phillip mentioned by going into firefighting, EMS, wilderness medicine, etc. Or somewhat constructively by participating in extreme sports.

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        1. Thought-provoking analysis, JPA, and it makes intuitive sense to me. I’d think the adrenaline rush associated with wartime situations, extreme sports, and firefighting would be part of dispelling the unease, yes? Hence why some are attracted to those things, as it’s a physiological reaction in addition to mental imagery?

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        2. Yes, JPA, makes perfect sense. And then there are “adrenaline junkies” who pursue extreme activities precisely for “the rush.”

          There’s a line in “Tosca” in which the condemned Cavaradossi says “Never have I loved life so dearly” in the moments before he faces the firing squad. The intensity of emotions in life-and-death situations can be intoxicating. It’s often why love and war, paradoxically, go together.

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          1. Bill, here’s another perspective I see related to, “It’s often why love and war, paradoxically, go together.”

            Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
            And deliver them who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
            Hebrews 2

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        3. To illustrate this point, consider what Anthony Loyd wrote in “My War Gone By, I Miss It So,” page 310:

          “The thing about near-death experiences is that you only get to appreciate them after the event. For three consecutive mornings after the rout [and dangerous retreat] I woke up laughing, and stayed high on adrenalin for the rest of the week once the last vestiges of dread had gone. War is like hard-drug abuse or a fickle lover, an apparently contradictory bolt of compulsion, agony and ecstasy that draws you back in the face of better judgment time and time again.”

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          1. Exactly. It is not the lack of unease that is pleasurable. It is the reduction in unease. So the greater the unease at the start, the greater the reduction when the unease is removed, and the greater the pleasure. If nothing else gives that kind of reduction in unease then ordinary pleasures will seem insipid and not worth working for.

            That is why there is a saying “The forbidden fruit tastes sweeter.” We desire fruit. Desire is one form of unease. Eating the fruit reduces the unease. When the fruit is forbidden the unease from the desire to eat the fruit is augmented by the unease associated with the aversion to being caught. Successfully eating the forbidden fruit causes a greater reduction in unease, i.e. is more pleasurable, than eating fruit that is allowed.

            Advertisers use this as well. An effective ad doesn’t just make you desire a product. It also makes you averse to not having the product.

            A major goal of meditation practice (at least the way I practice) is to be able to experience unease and be at ease with that. I call that practice “wanting and not having.” One does not try to get rid of the want. One simply experiences the want without letting the attention or other mental processes get drawn into it.

            Sorry. I realize I have gotten off on a philosophical tangent.

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          2. JPA: your wanting/having comment reminds me of Spock’s wisdom at the end of “Amok Time.”

            Spock says: “After a time, you may find that ‘having’ is not so pleasing a thing after all as ‘wanting.’ It is not logical, but it is often true.”

            When you get what you want, that thing you desire so greatly, it doesn’t always end well.

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          3. Excellent Star Trek reference. I’d suggest that the corollary is that, once you have something and discover that having is disappointing, you go out and find something new to want. Hence, our ultra-consumerist, disposable culture.

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          4. Having the benefit of so many years hindsight from 1969, one line of the Rolling Stones that has been an effective governor and moderator of my wants and excessive emotions, is so simple and True in Life on Earth.

            You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you find you get what you need!
            on the subject of old music, People are buying a stairway to heaven!

            It’s nothing new People desire comfort and ease. The Prophet describes it in these Terms,
            As I live, says the Lord God, Sodom your sister has not done as you and your daughters have done.
            Behold this was the iniquity of Sodom your sister: pride, abundance of bread, and careless ease were hers and her daughters’, and she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
            And they became haughty and did abomination before Me, and I removed them when I saw.

            If I’m going to take this Old Testament description literally, it describes the nominally Christian Wealthy Nations Today, and particularly the US, with it’s Imperial attitudes in the delusional belief in it’s own indispensable exceptionalism.

            At 77, pains like I never experienced when I was younger, suddenly arrive in a Day, not knowing if it’s the onset of something or just the temporary exception.
            I’m still enduring my 1st Time experience of Sciatica after 3 weeks, with no relief in sight yet.

            With my Faith and Belief, and what works for me, when I feel pain and suffering in my body, I compare it to the torture Christ felt in his body on the Cross, and then my pains are insignificant and entirely bearable.

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          5. You have my sincere sympathy about the sciatica, Ray. It truly is pain like no other. My first bout literally incapacitated me; I was reduced to crawling. Recovery times vary, but it took me several months to be completely without pain. Belatedly, I discovered that there are stretches to alleviate the symptoms. See this YouTube presentation:

            As painful as it surely will be to get down there in position, if you can attempt the stretches, they will help. Should help a LOT.

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  14. Yes that was my point exactly… And.., that is why these returning Vets have so much trouble readjusting too when they get back to Civi. life. Also– some choosing Adrenalin rush Careers such as Firefighters to experience that Rush again. Of course now in a more constructive instead of destructive way… The Action being deep in the—- can be better than any mind altering Drug.

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  15. But Bill the war has to have meaning.
    Why so many draftees in the later stages of the Vietnam war just hid in the jungle smoking dope while out on patrol.
    And why many fragged their officers.

    Fragging is the deliberate killing or attempted killing of a superior officer. The word was coined by U.S. military personnel during the Vietnam War, when such killings were most often attempted with a fragmentation grenade, making it appear as though the killing was accidental.

    The high number of fragging incidents in the latter years of the Vietnam War was symptomatic of the breakdown of discipline in the U.S. Armed Forces. Documented and suspected fragging incidents totaled nearly nine hundred from 1969 to 1972!

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    1. Yes. Fragging and indiscipline became a serious problem. The troops knew, or sensed, they were fighting for a lost cause, assuming you could identify a cause to fight for other than survival. When reluctant draftees fight so far from home against a determined enemy with “home court” advantage, should we be surprised at the outcome?

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  16. Speaking of wartime and post-war revelations, has anyone noticed we get daily reports on the progress of the Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan, whereas we went years with no real idea what American troops were up to over there beyond fighting the good fight and protecting our American way of life? And nary a word of “heroic Afghan security forces” – the same ones we’ve been training for 20 years – fighting to the death to save their country. Just thought I’d mention it.

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