Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The First New York Times Article to Bring Tears to My Eyes

For the first time, a newspaper article made me tear up.

Maybe it was because insomnia held me in its prickly arms last night until 5:30AM --- wearing a war of attrition on my nerves until, like a girl, I broke into tears from something that normally would have had no effect. (This happens sometimes when I'm three sheets to the wind, too).

Or maybe it was because I've met people in Laos.

I visited Laos this year, motored a four-wheel-drive through its nether-regions, and got saved from a sloppy mudhole by some kindly rice farmers who pushed my truck out for a sip from my bottle of beer and a drag off my crooked, wet cigarette.

Back in the 60s and 70s, our CIA supported the Laos Hmong fighters to fight communists, and as of 2007, there are still a few left, dug deep into southeast Asian jungle, fighting the war and still seeking support from America. But from us, they've gotten --- and will get --- cold abandonment and maybe even violent death at the hands of their enemies.

The NY Times reporter, Thomas Fuller, in an effort that should make 90% of modern-day journalists feel like milk-fed desk jockeys, was escorted by AK-47-wielding locals through miles of dark southeast Asian jungle to find a small band of a few thousand freedom fighters. He was the first foreigner that those people had seen in over 30 years. Thirty years. "Freedom fighter" is a watered-down description nowadays, but from reading this article, I'm convinced that these Hmong tribesmen deserve that noble term.

The actions of the United States --- covert or otherwise --- are REAL and they have long-term effects. The Hmong are living examples that three decades onward, the behavior of my country has had local effects that still continue; cold geopolitics were --- and are --- meaningless to them.

I urge you to watch the video of the interview of one of the old men who your CIA gave material and logistical support 32 years ago. Listen to the old man's tone and try and understand where he's coming from. Listen for the sadness in his rare language. It's a moment that makes your realize that the often irresonsible force that the USA wantonly throws around has long-term effects and means something real and brutal in many cases. For a long time.

Thank god the New York Times had the balls to get this story out.

(NYT article here).
Almost more emotional than it is interesting. How great a PR story would it be to airlift those fighters out and take them to US. Diplomacy has replaced fighting communism now, so we should take them out.


Using military force will cause more problems now than it will solve.

Maybe the NYT story will inspire some NGOs to do something but I'm not holding my breath. These local conflicts should be allowed to take their natural course, sad as that is.
Well, well, well, a heart that bleeds. Not far from flagrantly quoting Chomsky and attaching the term "sustainable" to everything you do. Reminds me of the good old days.
Yeah, that was a rough read. It's like so many other small ethnic groups we've funded and abandoned over the course of the 20th century, except this one has been neither exterminated nor reabsorbed by the larger society.
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