Laos bombed by the U.S.

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• There were more than 580,000 bombing missions on Laos from 1964 to 1973 during the Vietnam War.
• That’s equivalent to one bombing mission every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years.
• Over two million tons of ordnance was dropped on the country, with up to 30 per cent failing to explode as designed.
• More than 270 million cluster munitions (or ‘bombies’, as they are known locally) were used; up to 80 million failed to detonate, remaining live and in the ground after the end of the war.
• Approximately 25 per cent of the country’s villages are contaminated with unexploded ordnance (UXO).
• All 17 provinces suffer from UXO contamination.
• More than 50,000 people were killed or injured as a result of UXO accidents from 1964 to 2008.
• From the end of the war in 1974 to 2008, more than 20,000 people were killed or injured as a result of UXO accidents.
• There have been approximately 300 new casualties annually over the last decade.
• Over the last decade 40 per cent of total casualties were children.

When our carpet bombing of Laos was happening it was a secret war, and no one was authorized to talk about it. Later, after our defeat in Viet Nam, nobody wanted to think or hear about it.

I recently spent eight days in Northern Laos and was struck by the sweet nature and good cheer of the people I met. I’d like to go back and visit the most heavily bombed areas in the south of the country.

check out this animated map. It’s quite moving. The Vietnamese had an army and an air force of sorts that could fight back, but Laos was largely undefended. There are already NGO’s involved in the removal of UXO (un-exploded ordinance,) but the problem is so great that any attention brought to it would not be a bad thing.


4 thoughts on “Laos bombed by the U.S.

  1. Hey Dan, My name is Jeff Larson. Many moons ago I would go to Sharpless Auctions with Tom Walz and we would often run into you. Ah, the good old days of Ask Dr. Science, Duck’s Breath Mystery theater and ads for Frohweins. Well we are now in the process of selling our place here in Iowa City and if that comes to fruition I would enjoy travel with you.

  2. I would love to do this, Dan. I can only imagine what an experience it would be for an old guy like me. Sadly, I doubt that I can afford either the cost or the time, but I will certainly keep thinking about it. –peter a.

  3. “Great Powers” meddling in this beautiful part of the Earth has resulted in endless misery for every country in the region. To be fair, there has been un-ending tribal warfare and strife between these countries since at least the Middle Ages, but since about 1940 it’s been non-stop mayhem.
    Let’s not forget the “secret bombing” campaign in Cambodia, 1970, a brilliant project of Nixon and the War Criminal Nobel Laureate “Doctor” Henry Kissinger. the Thing Who Will Not Die. That led directly to the nightmare of the Killing Fields. See John Pilger’s film Cambodia Year Zero, on youtube.

    There are no clean hands.

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