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Drones and President Obama, the A-Bomb and President TrumanDr. Phillip Leveque Doctor of Pharmacology Salem-News.com
The A-bomb saved my life.
(PORTLAND, OR) - I am very troubled by the current debate about the military use of drones and the "collateral damage" which is a polite way of saying that the civilians including children are being "taken out" when we bomb enemy leaders and their bodyguards.
"War is hell" was presumably uttered by William William T. Sherman as his infantry marched to the sea and destroyed everything in their way. The infantry lost 300,000 killed on both sides and you can bet that the infantrymen were in full agreement with the general. In my war, World War Two, we lost 300,000 infantry killed and I was one of the lucky ones, now here writing this article. Most of the German cities were about 50% destroyed and downtown Berlin was 95% destroyed. I will estimate German civilian deaths at one million --- "collateral damage". Military deaths in Germany were about five million. The damage was done mostly by airplane bombers, by about 5,000 or so bombardiers. I don't know how many of these guys saw themselves as mass killers, because very few saw the results of their destruction and killing. Airmen who had to bail out and were prisoners were hated beyond reason by German civilians and had to be protected by the German military.
An interesting sidelight to all this was Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the A-bomb plane Enola Gay. He did feel a sense of responsibility for the destruction of Hiroshima and maybe as many as 160,000 dead. In an interview in 1975, long after the war, he said, "I'm proud to be able to start with nothing and have it work perfectly. I sleep clearly every night". In 2005, he stated, "Given the same circumstances, I'd do it all again". As an infantryman, I would ask him, "If somebody hands you a sub-machine gun and told you --- go kill the first 20 people you see," I think one would get a different comment.
I was in one of the first infantry divisions scheduled to go to Japan. We had experienced three months of war and had lost more than 10% of our infantry. We knew we weren't going home because the Japanese were going to have kamikaze's sink the troop transports before we got to the beach. I thank President Truman for saving my life.
One drone plane is probably the equivalent of 20,000 troops. The enemy knows he can not hide anyplace.
Now, getting to President Obama, he did not have the say so about the use of drones. His military advisers gave him the alternative --- drones will save thousands of infantry lives. I would say to those who complain about the use of the drones, make sure your son, daughter, nephew or niece join the infantry. Anyone in the infantry will tell you, if you think drones will save my life or those in my outfit I'm all for it. Nobody in the infantry wants to be killed if he or she has another option. War IS hell and nobody knows it better than a front line soldier. At the same time we DO have sympathy for the civilians. Bullets or bombs have no conscience nor sympathy.
The army has two rules. Rule one, young men die (and old men/officers have no control over rule #1)
Got a question or comment for Dr. Leveque?
More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole".
If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.
Watch for more streaming video question and answer segments about medical marijuana with Bonnie King and Dr. Phil Leveque.
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