Hillary Clinton made a stop in Laos during her Asia tour. The stop on Wednesday was the first visit an American secretary of state has made in over 50 years; the last visit was 57 years ago. This visit has reminded Clinton, as well as others, of the legacy that the Vietnam War has left. The war did not leave pleasantness behind. Instead, it left more destruction. The United States Air Force often dropped bombs in Vietnam to try and win what was actually the worst war the US could ever have been involved in. Many consider going into Vietnam a mistake because of the high number of lives lost, not only of American soldiers but also Vietnamese.
Clinton met a 19-year-old who was at an artificial limb center due to the loss of his forearms and eyesight. The incident happened when an unexploded bomb left behind by the war exploded three years ago. The young man told his story to Clinton. He explained how, three decades after the war was over, not enough military moves had been done to find any undetonated bombs and make certain that they could not hurt future generations. There is a Convention on Cluster Bombs that has yet to be signed by the US. This would be something important to sign for those who have suffered or could suffer like the 19-year-old boy. This was the lesson the 19-year-old wanted Clinton to leave with. He wanted to make it known that the US military move should be to help find the bombs and make certain that they are detonated safely or removed and then detonated safely. The four-hour visit may help to make a decision for the military to move into Laos as a helping aide to take out what it left behind decades ago.
Vietnam is run by the Communist Party, which does make things a little difficult. Those who met with Clinton were actually veterans of the Pathet Lao guerrilla group, which supported North Vietnam against the US. These party members took power in 1975 after Saigon fell and the Soviet Union’s backing worked.
Laos is still siding with China, since the country is their biggest support in terms of investments. There is a meeting in November that includes European and Asian countries. The US was not included in the invitation. The US can only hope to make relations with Vietnam better. Clinton kept her visit short and rather subtle to help avoid further issues. The last secretary of state to go to Vietnam was John Foster Dulles. He arrived in Vietnam in 1955, trying to persuade the Lao royal family to join the American camp.
Clinton obviously did not do any such thing. Instead, she made it known that the US would like to have a warmer relationship with Laos. There have been negotiations with Laos about entry into the World Trade Organization. There have also been talks about better environmental protection, with the US and Laos coming together to make this happen. Hopefully this move by Clinton will be taken kindly.