US ‘Secret War’ reveals new library, focuses on worst Laos bombing in history –

US ‘Secret War’ reveals new library, focuses on worst Laos bombing in history –

A woman walks through a Laotian city that was heavily bombed by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War / Jorge Silva / Reuters

Published on Thursday 2022.06.16 08:07 JST

(CNN) Most Americans learn something about the Vietnam War in school. However, little is known about the war going on behind the scenes.

From 1964 to 1973, the United States dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on the small Southeast Asian country of Laos. This was roughly equivalent to the population of Laos at the time. More bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War than on Germany and Japan combined during World War II. On a per capita basis, Laos is the most heavily bombed country in history.

The bombing was secretly carried out by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to cut off communist supply lines between Laos and Vietnam. The “secret war” in Laos was revealed in congressional hearings in 1971 and reported by the popular media, but most Americans were ignorant of its scale and destructiveness.

In order to let more people know about its history, the support group “Legacy of War” opened a new virtual library.

Officials scoured reams of material, including books, films and documents, to uncover the full story of what happened in Laos. By educating people about the history of Secret Wars, they hope to raise awareness of the ongoing devastation.

The idea for the library was born in 2020 during a social media chat between the group’s president, Sera Kouravdara, and author and journalist Jessica Pierce Rotondi.

Mr Rotondi has personal ties to Secret Wars. According to his memoirs, after his mother’s death, a box of letters and CIA documents were discovered that shed light on the destruction of the Secret War by solving family mysteries involving his uncle Jack, who Disappeared during the 1972 war.

A library is a collection of books, articles, and documents that tell a fragment of history. “We don’t want it to be a meta-academic library where students study only one subject,” Rotondi said.

Photographed from the sky near a village in northeast Laos.The crater is filled with water and looks like a pond

Perhaps the most valuable collection is a collection of sketches by refugees who experienced first-hand American bombing. These hand-drawn sketches were drawn by villagers who witnessed the brutal murder of their families and neighbors before American activist Fred Branfman visited the refugee camp in the 1970s.collected in

The library currently only focuses on the Secret War in Laos, but hopes to expand to include material on bombings in Cambodia and Vietnam.

The influence of the Lao Secret War continues to this day.

Of the 2 million tons of cluster munitions dropped in Laos, an estimated one-third did not explode. Unexploded ordnance such as bullets, shells, grenades and land mines remain at risk of detonating, continuing to endanger Lao residents.

Since 1964, an estimated 50,000 people in Laos have been killed or injured by such unexploded ordnance. Many of them are children. For decades, the legacy of war has advocated for federal funding to clean up such unexploded ordnance. The US government has supported unexploded ordnance disposal since 1993 and has significantly increased its budget since 2010.

The organization hopes the new library will boost that effort.

Officials say what happened in Laos should not be repeated as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues. “Cluster munitions should not be used because 50 years later we are still removing them,” said Alina Insally of Legacy’s of War.

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