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Young Hillary Clinton Used to Think Kissinger Was Criminal and Immoral: Now in Laos, She Follows In His Footsteps

Clinton's visit to Laos should focus on cleaning up the 80 million unexploded bombs the US left behind from the Vietnam War. Instead, it's all about realpolitik.

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 "Lao people continue to live in fear of UXO three decades after the Indochina war ended. Last month Mr. Ladone of Nhuanthong village in Xieng Khouang province, was injured when a UXO device exploded as he lit a fire in his backyard to warm himself. Mr. Ladone was blinded by the explosion."

The human impacts include not only actual people killed, blinded and deprived of limbs, but the millions of Lao who are forced to live in fear as they walk to school, light a fire or pick bamboo shoots to feed their families. And countless numbers of these subsistence-level rice farmers are denied safe access to land they need to farm in order to survive. "About 37 percent of the country's surface is contaminated with UXO, preventing people from using agricultural land and making many areas uninhabitable," the newspaper also noted.  

Secretary Clinton's State Department does acknowledge the problem. At an April 22, 2010 hearing, 29 years to the day after former U.S. Ambassador William Sullivan lied to Congress by denying that the U.S. was bombing civilian targets in Laos, State Department official Scot Marciel  declared that:

"During the Vietnam War, over 2.5 million tons of U.S. munitions were dropped on Laos. This is more than was dropped on Germany and Japan combined in the Second World War. On a per capita basis, Laos is the most heavily bombed country in history. Up to 30 percent of the bombs dropped over Laos failed to detonate. The UN Development Program has reported that ‘UXO/mine action is the absolute pre-condition for the socio-economic development of Lao PDR’ and that because of UXO `economic opportunities in tourism, hydroelectric power, mining, forestry and many other areas of activity considered main engines of growth for the Lao PDR are restricted, complicated and made more expensive.'”

Marciel also acknowledged the human consequences of UXO:

"The explosive remnants of war continue to impede development and cause (close) to 300 (casualties) per year ... At the level of individual victims, of course, the consequences of death or maiming are catastrophic for entire families."

 But despite admitting the U.S. has caused "catastrophic consequences for entire families," the Department of State has basically ignored them. It for many years provided only $3-5 million annually for bomb cleanup, and only recently increased it to a still woefully inadequate $10 million due to the work of the public interest group Legacies of War.

U.S. leaders are prone to lecture others on their need to exercise “personal responsibility.” There may be no more shameful example of their own irresponsibility than their failing to take responsibility for the deadly mess they have left behind in Laos.

Secretary Clinton Pushing To Weaken the Cluster Bomb Treaty

The State Department's refusal to adequately fund cluster bomb cleanup in Laos is but part of Secretary Clinton's failures on the issue.

During the November 2010 conference in Laos to ban cluster bombs many delegates commented on an obvious fact: while over 100 nations were participating in the conference, the major nation not represented was the country that had dropped the bombs in the first place. In a startling display of pettiness the U.S. embassy had refused to accept the Conference's invitation to even send an official observer, the new U.S. ambassador had delayed her arrival in Laos until after the conference was ended, and the only official American present was a low-level political officer handing out a one-pager lauding America's woefully inadequate funding of cluster bomb cleanup.

The U.S. has retained its giant stockpile of cluster munitions, by far the largest in the world, and reserves the right to use them whenever it wishes. It dropped  1.8 million  cluster bombs on Iraq,  250,000 on Afghanistan. And in Yemen, t he Daily Telegraph  reported on June 7, 2010:

 
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