Obama in Laos: Being an Imperialist Means Never Having to Say Sorry for War Crimes

September 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


A scene from the country of Laos:

A couple of poor farmers are walking in the countryside near their village looking for scrap metal to sell. They start to dig up a piece of metal half-buried in the ground. They know it is an old bomb casing left over from when the U.S. dropped bombs on their country during the Vietnam War, but assume it is no longer dangerous. But the bomb explodes. Shrapnel rips through the body of one of the men who has four kids, killing him instantly. His friend survives the blast but is now blind and has lost his left leg and arm.

Now a scene from Obama’s recent trip to Laos to attend the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (September 7):

Obama is speaking at a center that provides prosthetics for those who have lost their arms and legs. He acknowledges that during the Vietnam War, the U.S. dropped 270 million cluster bombs on Laos, more per capita than any other country in the world... that 80 million of these bombs did not explode and that in the last four decades, some 20,000 people, including many children, have been killed or wounded by unexploded ordnance (UXO).*

So did Obama apologize for this horrendous war crime carried out by the USA—that continues today to kill and maim many hundreds of Laotian people? Did he apologize for the fact that these cluster bombs were designed to explode in hundreds of pieces with razor-sharp shrapnel that would rip through a human body? That they had a toy-like shape and that 40 percent of the casualties from unexploded bombs since the war ended have been children?

NO. Being a top-dog imperialist power in the world means never having to say sorry for the war crimes you carry out against the people.

Obama DID NOT apologize for the savage bombing—let alone the whole UNJUST war the U.S. waged in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He didn’t say anything of the sort.

Instead, in a typical Obama-esque way, he promised more money to help clean up the bombs, accompanied by BULLSHIT comments about how “We see the victims of bombs that were dropped because of decisions made half a century ago and we are reminded that wars always carry tremendous costs,” and that there is “the suffering and sacrifices on all sides of that conflict.”

NO, motherfucker! This was not a “tragic” war or, as you say, one of the “painful chapters in our history.” This was an imperialist war for U.S. domination in Southeast Asia, where the U.S. carried out great crimes against humanity. It is bullshit to talk about the “suffering and sacrifices on all sides of that conflict” as if this was not an UNJUST war waged by the U.S. and that 58,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War count for as much as the one to three million Vietnamese, over 600,000 Cambodians, and a million Laotians who were killed.

The next day, September 8, a headline in the Asia Times read: “US apologizes to Laos over cluster bombs, then sells them to pound Yemen.” In fact, only three days after Obama talked about “America’s moral obligation to help Laos heal,” his administration approved another $1.15 billion arms package to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemenis—which INCLUDES THE SAME KIND OF CLUSTER MUNITIONS used in Laos that have and continue to kill and maim hundreds of people, including many children.

* A "cluster bomb" contains hundreds of small bomblets that it spreads over a very wide area; each bomblet then explodes, releasing shards of metal that tear through the bodies of any one in their path.



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