Transforming a Country into “Collateral Damage”: US Cluster Bombs Killed Children for Decades in Laos, and Now Yemen | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Transforming a Country into “Collateral Damage”: US Cluster Bombs Killed Children for Decades in Laos, and Now Yemen

The preposterous ironies of President Obama’s unapologetic visit to Laos on September 6 have not yet generated the attention they deserve, but they provide an excellent measure of the self-righteousness of the monstrous continuity of American violence inflicted on the world from Viet Nam in the 1950s to Yemen more than sixty years later.

The baldest irony of Laos is that the U.S. spent nine years bombing Laos, at a cost of more than $100 million per week in current dollars (on the order of $45 billion in all), powerfully documented in Mother Jones in 2014. Having tried to bomb Laos back into the stone age and then walked away, now, decades later, as the bombs continue to blow up Laotian civilians, the U.S. president is promising $90 million (the equivalent of less than a week of bombing) over the next three years to help clean up the mess the U.S. made. This promise of more bomb-removal aid was one of the few lines in his speech to elicit applause from his 1,000-person audience, who were likely more aware of the brutal context than most Americans. As the U.S. president described the bombing of Laos, then a neutral country:

At the time, the U.S. government did not acknowledge America’s role. It was a secret war, and for years, the American people did not know. Even now, many Americans are not fully aware of this chapter in our history, and it’s important that we remember today.

There are minor ironies in that passage. The U.S. government did not acknowledge bombing Laos then, just as it does not acknowledge now that bombing Laos was a war crime of major magnitude.

The U.S. is presently waging another criminal war mercilessly attacking civilians in Yemen, but this time the U.S. is on the side of the one-party state that is the lead aggressor, Saudi Arabia. Few if any American media have made the ironic connections between Laos and Yemen, but the Hong Kong based Asia Times nailed it despite running a half-wrong headline:

U.S. apologizes to Laos over cluster bombs,
then sells them to pound Yemen

The story that followed, by Johns Hopkins Fellow Christina Lin, does not mention the apology that never happened. She reports on President Obama’s speech in Laos this way:

Obama said, “Given our history here, I believe that the United States has a moral obligation to help Laos heal.” This gesture of trying to make amends for the damage U.S. caused in the past is laudable, especially since Obama is the first U.S. president to visit Laos. However, one wonders how sincere is this gesture, when U.S. turns around and sells the same cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia for a similar bombing campaign of another poor country—Yemen—that is maiming children and will likewise keep the population trapped in dire poverty and devastation for the next several decades.

The assertion, despite its relatively cautious academic prose, is as devastating and undeniable as the hypocrisy and war crimes it describes are palpable. But Lin, like others “concerned” about Yemen, keeps her rhetoric modest to the point of obscuring the truth. She describes the inhumanity of using cluster bombs without mentioning their criminality. She points out that the White House has approved another arms sale to Saudi Arabia for $1.15 billion to benefit U.S. arms makers. She does not say that without U.S. support, weapons, and ordnance the Saudi-led war on Yemen could not continue. She does manage to hint at outrage when she notes: “As a token gesture, Secretary Kerry announced a $189 million humanitarian aid for Yemen, a Band-Aid compared to the multi-billion dollar arms packages used to inflict harm on the very same people.” She does not connect this payment to the much smaller amount of conscience-salving money promised to the much smaller, but much more damaged Laos.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

When it comes to war crimes, the United States Government can certainly claim: "We're number one! We're number one!"

I am an American who cares about the future trajectory of this country in the world; unfortunately, however, in examining this country's sordid history of generating these war crimes, I cannot be terribly hopeful about America's future at this point.

There is a Biblical injunction, "That which you sow, you shall also reap"; and right now, in the Middle East and Asia, the US government is sowing a whirlwind, and we will all reap the consequences of that.