Communism and Capitalism Are Mixing in Laos by Thomas Fuller
September 17, 2009
The writer depicts a sweet backwater, mistaking innocent sincerity and the lack of artifice as naivete' and ignorance. He quizzes a rice farmer and reports his admitting being unknowledgeable about Marx, and answers humbly, "If I had studied more, I might know more about it," a bookshop saleslady answering to booklets about Lenin offers, "He was a brave and smart person, everyone wants to get lessons from him. It's still important." He criticizes school girls' dancing style and quotes a bank representative admission, "Civil society in Laos is still very immature ...". Lack of sophistication is 'exposed' as a fault which will be hopefully be remedied "mastering the [capitalist] ideology might require some re-education."
Why pick out little Laos to belittle? The article features a snide commentary and a condescending portrait of a modest nation. It derides the idea that its noted soft, quiet, innocent and gentle humanitarian Buddhist non-aggressive culture could be effecting a commitment to socialism.
This New York Times lightly humorous targeting of a brave communist nation would seem to have been generated merely as an accompaniment to a rather insignificant news item for Americans, namely, the event of Obama officiously lifting the decades long punishing economic sanctions strangling Laos.
Barak Obama, June 12, 2009
Could it be that the blockade was lifted because American business has been losing out to Chinese and Vietnamese joint ventures?
Though depreciating Laos as what is described as a pastoral backwater, the writer saw fit to acknowledge fleetingly that Laotians are still beset with the lingering damage of the devastation the greatest empire in the world saw fit to wreak upon it in the aftermath of their liberating themselves from brutally exploitive French colonial rule.
Secret U.S. Bombings in Laos"
"From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance over Laos during 580,000 bombing missions - equal to a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for 9 years. ... The U.S. launched an unprecedented secret bombing campaign without authorization from the U.S. Congress. To evade the Geneva agreements, the U.S. placed CIA agents in foreign aid posts, contracted with private plane companies, and temporarily turned air force officers into civilian pilots. The Ravens, a code name for U.S. pilots in Laos, flew 1.5 times the number of air sorties flown in all of Vietnam. Each cluster bomb casing scattered several hundred tennis-ball-sized bomblets (known as bombies in Laos) over 5000-sq-meter areas. About 260 million cluster bomblets fell over Laos with close to 53 million bomblets dropped within one kilometer of villages. Up to 30% of the bomblets did not detonate on impact, leaving as many as 86 million unexploded cluster bomblets buried in fields, roads, forests, rivers and villages."
Thirty-six years later the New York Times has its writer playing the wise guy describing the survivors and descendants of the above as a confused bunch of Asian hicks - maybe to boost Times American readers' sense of superiority over these louts who lets the Yanks cream 'em with bombs and screw them over homicidally in line with various U.S. presidents' kill-the-third-world- communists war wishes.
Mr. Fuller puzzles sterilely, "What to make of Laos, the former French colony that became a focal point of great powers during the Vietnam War, only to slide back into obscurity once the Cold War ended?"
The article plays to many old saws that were invented to debase communist economic performance, it being fair game to laugh at the 'copying of capitalism' every time the ancient invention of money is used or anything is imported from the advanced shlock & rock modern cheap U.S. commercial culture.
Ah, but we few archival research historian whistle-blowers on media distortions and blackouts read the Times in depth, and are therefore most appreciative of Mr. Fuller for inserting a blue link: "Laos" in the middle of his third paragraph - dutifully, for the New York Times is the U.S. newspaper of record.
A few of the articles that come up upon clicking on the link word "Laos" are worthwhile reading that makes one shudder in patriotic embarrassment at the cavalier treatment Laotians receive in this fun poking article:
Old U.S. Allies, Still Hiding in Laos by Thomas Fuller, 9/19/09
"Thousands of jungle warriors hired by the C.I.A. during the Vietnam War live in fear of the Laotian government."
Laos Sees Possibility of Tourism in Caves Used During the 'Secret War'
by Jennifer Conlin
"A network of caves promises to further illuminate the "secret war" the United States waged in Laos against the North Vietnamese, but may also help open a region in need of tourism revenue."
TravelNews, March 18, 2007
The Centuries-Old Allure of Laos's Relaxed Capital
by Daniel Altman
"It's easy to turn into a turbo-tourist in Southeast Asia. So when it's time to take a break, there's Vientiane."