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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.

A symbolic moment periodically illuminates both the true nature of U.S. foreign policy and how even once-idealistic youth become what they once opposed when executing it. Such a moment will occur on Wednesday as Hillary Clinton becomes the first U.S. Secretary of State in 57 years to visit Laos, where the U.S. has refused to clean up the  80 million  unexploded bombs it left behind, bombs which have murdered or maimed over  20,000 innocent rice-farmers and children since the bombing ended in 1973 and continue to kill until today.

Secretary Clinton's visit to Laos is part of the administration's new attempt to contain China, and will focus on "the Lower Mekong Initiative and ASEAN integration efforts" according to State's press  release. The young Hillary Clinton, an admirer of the New Left and activist for the poor, criticized a heartless U.S. foreign policy which plays power politics while shamelessly neglecting urgent humanitarian needs like protecting innocent civilians around the world from being blown up by U.S. cluster bombs. Today, rather than signing the U.N. treaty banning them, she fights to weaken it, ignoring the screams of the victims from the aftermath of U.S. bombing. As a youth she regarded her predecessor Henry Kissinger's bombing of Cambodia as "criminal" and "immoral." Today, supporting similarly illegal and inhuman U.S. bombing and assassination around the globe, she follows in his footsteps.

Millions of Lao children have grown up believing it normal to live in a hellscape where one can suddenly lose a limb, eyes or life by stepping on an unseen cluster bomb, and where it is common to meet whole families made destitute because a father died in an explosion while searching for food, or seeking scrap metal to make a few dollars, to feed his subsistence-level family. No people on earth have been so tormented by U.S. warmaking for so long -- 48 years and counting. U.S. leaders, who dropped more cluster bombs in Laos than have been used in the rest of the world put together, first bombed Laos for nine years from 1964-'73, destroying everything they owned and causing an estimated  30,000 civilian casualties. Then, from 1973 until today the unexploded ordinance (UXO)  has not only killed and wounded so many more. It has deprived them of land they badly need to feed their children and caused them to live in constant fear of sudden death.

From 1969-'71, I interviewed refugees from the bombing in Laos who told me that cluster bombs, which U.S. airmen then called “antipersonnel” bombs, were the weapon they most feared. They reported that thousands had been dropped on their villages, and that most of the victims were children, women and grandparents. Lao and Vietnamese communist soldiers moved through the thick forests of northern Laos, and were largely undetectable from the air.

I brought back an antipersonnel bomb to the U.S. in February 1971. Although the communists knew all about these weapons, the information was kept secret from the American people and Congress. It was only by interviewing  U.S. military personnel that I learned how these bombs could not destroy buildings or tanks but were designed to maim not kill human beings in the hopes of tying up others to care for them; how steel pellets were replaced by flechettes meant to tear more flesh if one tried to remove them than they had entering the body; U.S. Airforce personnel at Udorn Airforce Base in Thailand had told me they comprised 80% of the bombs dropped on Laos. I also learned that each “pineapple” bomblet like mine contained 250 steel pellets, and that one aircraft sortie dropped 1,000 bomblets, spewing out 250,000 pellets over an area the size of four football fields.

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