Does anyone think America is accountable for its own actions?
he 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.