In December of 2008, representatives of over 100 countries around the world, including Laos, met in Oslo to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions; an international treaty calling for the end of the use, manufacture, and sale of such munitions. In 2010, Laos hosted the first meeting of State Parties to the convention. Despite being directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people through the use cluster munitions, of which each target was personally reviewed and approved by the US Ambassador to Laos, the United States refuses to sign the convention, claiming that the usage of “smart” cluster munitions is militarily viable, and, despite the thousands killed in Laos since 1975, that such munitions provide “minimal” risk to noncombatants.
As the first quarter of the 21st century draws to a close, and the crises of the international capitalist hegemony reach a fever pitch, the history of the Lao struggle, the blood debt of imperialism owed to those brave people who dared to struggle for their rights, and the innocents who were mercilessly killed without remorse by the West, should be remembered. The peoples of Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia still live with the memory of the forgotten terror unleashed on them by the West all those decades ago — for them, it still lasts to this day. As the forces of imperialism lash out wildly to save themselves from the crises of their own making, they would do well to remember how the freedom-loving people of the world stood against them then, and that they will be willing to do so again if the time comes. The age of imperialism is ending, and the people of the imperialized Nations will not be going back.
Today, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), most well-known for backing color revolutions, in cooperation with the government of Norway, provides a measly $9 million to the reconstruction effort, such as the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE)’s work to repair the human damage of the US government’s terror campaign, and assisting some 15,000 plus victims of unexploded munitions now living with long-term disabilities, as well as others. In 2016, despite the US government’s continued refusal to sign onto the Cluster Munitions Convention, or do much else to materially support the victims of its campaigns, President Barack Obama traveled to Vientiane, where he apologized to the victims and asserted that the country has a “moral obligation” to its victims. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic has come far, and today stands on the cusp of a new age of Socialist development and construction. With growing and deepening cooperative ties with the People’s Republic of China, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Kingdoms of Cambodia and Thailand, the Lao PDR is well positioned as the “crossroads of southeast Asia,” and a golden future appears to lay just around the corner — a future well deserved, and one that many anti-imperialists elsewhere could likely learn very important lessons from.