Jerry Redfern and Karen Coates, documentarians - The bombs we left behind in Laos are killing people

Jerry Redfern and Karen Coates, documentarians
The bombs we left behind in Laos are killing people

 

For most Americans, our foreign wars are far away and fast forgotten. Was Ramadi in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria? Or was it the other way around. It’s easy to confuse them as their time in the news cycle was brief.  And they have so much in common: both Ramadi and Raqqa were fortress-towns for the Islamic State, both were pulverized by American weapons wielded by troops trained and largely paid for by the United States and both have been left to fend for themselves in the years since the Islamic State was defeated and America walked away.

Considering America’s pivotal role in Ramadi and Raqqa’s destruction, they are places few Americans ever heard of, and most of them have forgotten both towns since.

We’ve been out of Afghanistan less than half a year and aside from the Americans who fought or worked there, who suffered physical or moral injuries there, and their families, few want to remember our 20 years making war there. And even fewer want to be reminded of what life is like today in the Afghanistan we left behind.

How much public discussion have you heard about what American warfare was responsible for in Afghanistan or Iraq or Vietnam.  And these were all — more or less — public wars.  When we were in ’em, anyone who cared, knew.

But what about a famous “secret war.” That’s what presidents and generals, journalists and scholars have called our bombing campaign in Laos.  When the war was happening, we denied it.  When our bombing stopped, aside from a few “left-wing” books, little was said about it.

Thus, the bombing in Laos was not a “forgotten war,” because to forget something you have to have once known about it. And who’s willing to accept responsibility for something done without their knowledge.

 

READING ROOM

Jerry Redfern is an award-winning visual and print journalist, covering environment and humanitarian issues globally. At home in New Mexico, he reports on oil and gas for Capital & Main. His film and photo work ranges from the aftermath of American bombs in Laos to agroforestry in Belize to life amid logging in Borneo. Jerry’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Der Spiegel, among others. He has contributed to four book projects, including Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos (co-authored with Karen Coates), which was a finalist for the IRE Book Award and the basis for Eternal Harvest the film. Jerry was a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado, and a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. When not working with cameras and words, he crashes bikes and grows grapes.

 

Karen Coates is an independent producer, editor, author, and investigative reporter who covers food, environment, health, and human rights globally. She is a fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation, a contributing editor for Archaeology Magazine, a former Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado, and a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis. She is the author of four books, including (with Jerry Redfern) Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos, which was a finalist for the IRE Book Award and the basis for Eternal Harvest the film. She also conducts international journalism training, and, as a food writer and former correspondent for Gourmet, has a passion for spicy curries.

https://www.eternalharvestfilm.com/

TOP

Subscribe

Subscribe to insider notes from Dave Marash along with previews and cartoons of upcoming podcasts. You’ll be richer, taller, and if you don’t eat, thinner.

Donate

Here & There is kept afloat by wonderful sponsors and curious listeners like you. Your support is appreciated!

Connect

LOADING