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Why Laos Has Been Bombed More Than Any Other Country

December 5, 2019 in History

By Jessica Pearce Rotondi

During the conflict in Vietnam, American bombers dropped some two million tons of bombs over the country as part of a covert attempt to wrest power from communist forces.

The U.S. bombing of Laos (1964-1973) was part of a covert attempt by the CIA to wrest power from the communist Pathet Lao, a group allied with North Vietnam and the Soviet Union during the Vietnam War.

The officially neutral country became a battleground in the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union, with American bombers dropping over two million tons of cluster bombs over Laos—more than all the bombs dropped during WWII combined. Today, Laos is the most heavily bombed nation in history. Here are facts about the so-called secret war in Laos.

Where is Laos?

Laos is a landlocked country bordered by China and Myanmar to the North, Vietnam to the East, Cambodia to the South and Thailand and the Mekong River to the West.

Laos’ proximity to China made it critical to President Eisenhower to defend against communism.

Its proximity to Mao Zedong’s China made it critical to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Domino Theory of keeping communism at bay. “If Laos were lost, the rest of Southeast Asia would follow,” Eisenhower told his National Security Council. On the day of his farewell address in 1961, President Eisenhower approved the CIA’s training of anti-communist forces in the mountains of Laos. Their mission: To disrupt communist supply routes across the Ho Chi Minh Trail to Vietnam.

Eisenhower’s successors in the White House: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, all approved escalating air support for the guerrilla fighters, but not publicly. The 1962 International Agreement on the Neutrality of Laos, signed by China, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, the United States and 10 other countries, forbid signees from directly invading Laos or establishing military bases there. The secret war in Laos had begun.

History of Laos

Long before the Cold War, Laos had a history of interference from its neighbors. Fa Ngum founded the first recorded Lao state of “Lan Xang,” or “The Kingdom of a Million Elephants,” in 1353. From 1353-1371, Fa Ngum went on to conquer most of today’s Laos and parts of what is now Vietnam and Northeast Thailand, bringing Theravada Buddhism and Khmer culture from the kingdom of <a target=_blank …read more


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