September 6, 2016

The Vietnam War was catastrophic for Southeast Asia, especially a less well-known nation of the Indochina Peninsula, which still suffers as a result. President Obama is currently on an historic three day tour of Laos, the first sitting-U.S. President to ever visit the most heavily bombed nation in the world. America's secret bombing campaign, which lasted an entire decade, to this day causes numerous tragic accidents. We are finally pledging aid to help clean up the bombs and put an end to the suffering.

President Barack Obama referenced our international standing when he said that the US has an "obligation" to help Laos recover from the 1964-1973 intensive secret bombing campaign that destroyed so much of the Vietnam-adjacent nation. Naturally, Republicans in the camp of the second GOP Presidential candidate to receive a deferment for that same conflict see this as America apologizing for its actions, and expect the right-wing outrage machine will soon condemn our President for being a humanitarian.

During an address to the Lao people in the country's capital, Obama pledged $90 million in a joint three-year project with the country's government to clear tens of millions of unexploded US bombs. "Villages and entire valleys were obliterated," during US bombardments, Obama said. "Ancient plains were devastated. Countless civilians were killed. That conflict was another reminder whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a terrible toll, especially on innocent men, women and children."

We launched 580,000 bombing missions, and left a nation in ruins, all in the name of 'freedom and democracy.'

The stats are appalling:

unexploded_laos_bombs
Credit: Adrian Leung/Gal Roma (AFP)

This address is especially poignant, as

It was one of the last major foreign policy speeches of Obama's administration. He summed up the pivot to Asia that is at the center of his global agenda as a lasting shift and not a "passing fad."

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