(K. Brent Tomer),
A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. By Joshua Kurlantzick. Simon & Schuster, 320 pages; $28.
THE bombing of Laos in the 1960s and early 1970s always used to be referred to as America’s “secret war”. This was not just a mistake or even a misunderstanding: it was a terrible misnomer. For the Laotians who cowered in caves to escape what is considered the heaviest bombardment in history, the campaign was certainly not a secret. America’s involvement was well known in the capital, Vientiane, and covered in the international press. Eventually it became well publicised and was even investigated by Congress. But the “secret” label stuck to America’s war in Laos, in part because of official denials and in part because of public indifference.
At last the secret is out in full. This was brought home during President Barack Obama’s visit to the tiny South-East Asian nation in September, when he pledged more money to remove unexploded American bombs, though without offering any formal apology. For those looking for more, the war’s entire compelling tale can be…Continue reading