Posted by Traveler (reposted) on November 07, 2008 at 08:25:15
"popular current thinking" about the US
Posted by Traveler on May 04, 2005 at 23:58:14
In Reply to: Re: Interesting Judicial decision today posted by Joseph on May 04, 2005 at 18:36:46:
Please let me start off with a disclaimer that I am not trying to start up a political discussion. I am not anti-US. I am just picking up on the comment "popular current thinking in this country that nobody is really ever responsible for anything they do." The coordinators can delete me or move my post if it's too provocative.
I posted as "Watcher" catching TF in the act in Laos. I am on an internal journey, which on the outside reflects as a trip through Indochina. But maybe I'm being too philosophical. Maybe not. I am learning so much from the people I meet here. I am learning about forgiveness and the depths of man's inhumanity against fellow man.
Both North Vietnam and the USA broke the Geneva agreements of 1962 to leave Laos as a neutral territory, without military interference of any kind.
The US then proceeded to carpet bomb 80% of Laos in a secret war, and saturated it with unexploded ordnance. There were more bombs dropped here in 9 years (almost 600,000 bombing missions between 1964 and 1973), than all the bombs used in the entire WW2. Much of it was cluster bombs, of which 30% did not explode and got left in the ground.
Today there is 1 mine or UXO (unexploded ordnance) for every 3 steps you take. Some of it has integrated into nature, moving with flood waters, getting caught up in bamboo growths and getting high up above ground. Some of these then fall back on the ground, or attract children, since they look like play objects. To this day 20,000 people still die every year from the leftover ordnance. A greater number are maimed. Even more livestock is lost.
The US knows that this kind of warfare/weaponry is more lethal to civilians than the military, and prevents the population from resettling an area, but continues to use it in wars around the world. They used it in Yugoslavia even though the stated military objective was to enable populations to move back to their homes.
Close to newly setup tourist attractions like the Plain of Jars (consists of many archaelogical sites, some of which were blown up by the bombs), there are personnel from the MAG (Mines Advisory Group) detonating batches of mines.
The US dropped agent orange to defoliate the land, and then napalmed what was remaining. They indiscriminately bombed villages and livestock and farms, to prevent the communists from being supplied. There are still huge bomb craters pockmarking the country side, and huge swaths of barren land where the deforestation by napalm/agent orange took place. We had to walk in between markers plced by the MAG - wandering outside those markers means potentially "discovering" a mine.
While US war vets are sometimes able to claim compensation for health problems due to Agent Orange, Laotian children are still being born with 3 arms and legs due to the poisoning of the water system.
Since it was an illegal secret undeclared war, there were no restraints whatsoever, and the US set out to literally wipe out the nation of Laos. The US has not taken any responsibility for cleaning up the mess. NGOs from several other nations have volunteered to help with clean up and development. The nation is in abject poverty (ranking poorest in UN stats) because of the resources they have spean/lost on this. The clean up of this land will take several decades or centuries. Farmers will probably not be able to tread their land safely forever.
Despite all this, the Laotians are peaceful and forgiving, spiritual people. If there is any nation/people which might have immense hatred for the US and swear terrorist acts against it, it is the Laotians. Yet, nobody I've met is hateful of the US or even the Vietnamese. Although they do think the US should do more to help clean up their country, hey minimalize their suffering and joke about the "souvenirs" left behind by the Americans. They just want to move on, leave it behind, and get along with everyone. If the people in the middle-east think they have it bad, they should come visit Laos.
I believe that some day in the future I will be involved in NGO work in this region. I hope to do something real for these people. That's why it upsets me that TF has the cheek to come here, twist a few ballons and take a few pictures, and try to show that they are doing something for the people.
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