The CIA’s ‘Secret War’

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Neil, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    India
    Decades after US forces exited the Vietnam War the remnants of a CIA-backed force of Lao villagers still live in fear in the jungle.

    In a clearing deep inside the Laotian jungle, a group of Hmong fall to the ground and beg me for help as soon as they see me. Chor Her, a skinny man wearing torn camouflage, is the only one to remain standing. He salutes before joining the others on the muddy ground.

    ‘We have no food, every day we have to run, we are being hunted like animals,’ says one elderly woman,weeping. The young children surrounding her are also crying—I’m told it’s the first time they’ve seen a foreigner. Indeed, these people have been largely cut off from the outside world since the Vietnam War.

    Back then, the Hmong were fighters—secret fighters in a 15-year covert US operation backed by the CIA. Now they are forced to constantly run for their lives in a country whose government doesn’t officially acknowledge they exist.

    ‘The Americans gave us weapons and told us to shoot the enemy,’ says Chor Her, waving a battered CIA-issued M79 in the air. ‘Then they left us and we’ve been slowly dying here ever since…When the Lao Army kills one of our men, they feel as though they’ve killed an American in revenge for us helping them during the war.’

    Almost before he has finished his sentence, another man jumps into the conversation, pleading for food and medicine. ‘We are human beings, so why does the world turna deaf ear and blind eye to us?’ he asks.

    As the Vietnam War raged,Washington noticed that communist forces had spilled over into Laos. In response, the Americans launched what was later called a secret war. At the time, Laos had been declared ‘neutral,’ but with a growing communist presence, the CIA saw it as the next front in the conflict. A handful of CIA agents were flown in to build on existing tensions between the Hmong and the Laotian government, led by the communist Pathet Lao.

    ‘They were better than anyone else around, every step they took was up or down so they could move a lot faster than the enemy,’ says Bill Lair, a legendary CIA agent who headed the agency’s paramilitary operations in Laos. ‘They needed a leader and Vang Pao seemed like the most suitable man for the job.’

    Vang Pao, or ‘the General,’ was selected for his charisma and leadership skills, honed when the Hmong had previously allied with the French against North Vietnamese forces. With the help of the CIA, he reportedly trained and armed more than 60,000 Hmong fighters. While the Americans set up a major military airport in Northern Laos, the Hmong were in charge of disrupting communist supply lines and rescuing downed pilots.

    It has been estimated that the Hmong lost nearly 100,000 people during this secret operation. As the war progressed, and with casualties quickly mounting, Vang Pao and his CIA backers eventually had to turn to the use of child soldiers to keep up the resistance efforts.

    ‘An American and a Thai man came into my school and I was taken away to military training,’ says Bou Than, a former Hmong soldier. Still only 13 years-old, the war was raging around him in the Laotian jungle. He was poached from a classroom and shipped straight off for military training.

    ‘I saw many of my school friends die in those jungles to help American forces,’ he says. ‘Kids as young as eight were being used.’

    It’s rumored that at one point, Vang Pao said he wanted to cease all military operations with the CIA over concerns that the enormous loss of life could ultimately lead to the Hmong communities being wiped out altogether. Regardless of his intentions, though, the Hmong involvement continued—as did the casualties.

    Soaring heroin sales were perhaps one thing that persuaded him to keep going. Before the Americans arrived, opium smoking was a cultural norm in the region and was prevalent throughout the Hmong highlands. US planes gave the Hmong the opportunity to do something they hadn’t previously—transport and sell large quantities of the drug, including to US soldiers.

    There has been a great deal of debate since over the exact details of the operation, based on testimony given by CIA agents who were there at the time. But one thing is clear—there was a busy opium trade operating in the region, and the agency appears to have turned a blind eye.

    A number of CIA officers have claimed since that, fearing their operation could be embarrassingly exposed, they decided to give Vang Pao his own local airline, Xieng Kouang airlines, as part of a compromise following his demands for control of all of the agency’s planes.

    Much of the opium that was produced is said to have ended up in the hands of American GIs on the frontlines, leading to a dramatic rise in the number of overdoses among soldiers. Yet despite this obvious drawback, those involved in the operation appear to have felt there was little they could do as the profits were, in effect, also helping to fund the war effort.

    ‘Opium grew everywhere in our highlands,’ says Tho Ther, a former Hmong soldier who now resides in the United States. ‘We smoked it openly, but it was only when the Americans came that our leaders began to sell it.’

    ‘We were losing countless male children for the CIA’s war and needed to pay to keep the villagers happy,’ he adds. ‘Otherwise they would have changed sides to save their men from joining our army.’

    But it still wasn’t enough. The communist forces continued to grow in strength and advanced towards the CIA bases despite Washington’s best efforts—and $2 million a day spent carpet bombing Laos—to stop them. Accepting defeat, the Americans eventually fled, taking a handful of Hmong leaders, including Vang Pao.

    With the Americans out of the picture, the Pathet Lao moved to try to wipe out the remaining Hmong elements that had worked with the CIA. But while thousands perished in aerial attacks on Hmong settlements—spurring a mass exodus to Thailand—the rest fled deeper into the jungle, where many remain today, still hoping the United States will return to save them.

    Funeral for a Father
    Earlier this month, thousands of mourners gathered in California for Vang Pao’s funeral. While an average Hmong usually receives a three-day funeral, owing to his stature among exiled Hmong, Vang Pao was given a six-day ceremony. While his critics have suggested his decision to support foreign forces led to his people suffering unnecessarily, the numbers attending the funeral demonstrated the loyalty he still inspired, with thousands of supporters flocking from locations as far away as France and Thailand to bid farewell to the symbolic head of a troubled people.

    ‘We call him “father.” He was always our leader and never turned his back on us, until his very last day,’ says Meng Lee, who attended the service.

    In what turned out to be his final effort to secure some kind of lasting peace for his people, Vang Pao last year surprised followers by announcing a planned visit to Laos to meet government officials. The plan, revealed at a Hmong New Year dinner, was for him to make a peace deal with his former enemy on the Thai-Laotian border. Once peace had been agreed, Vang Pao planned to travel into Laos to assist the jungle Hmong. He hoped that those left in the jungle could then join repatriated refugees from Thailand on specially designated farmland, free from persecution.

    But the Laotian government didn’t share this vision. In response to the proposal, Laos’ foreign minister is quoted as having said: ‘If he comes to Laos soon he must submit to the death sentence.’ The trip was cancelled.

    The chilling response wasn’t entirely surprising—the Laotian government remains bitter over the role Vang Pao played in the Vietnam War. Ironically, then, the death of the would-be peacemaker might actually benefit the Hmong people, leaving space for a younger generation of ‘untainted’ leaders better able to avoid direct conflict with Vientiane. Still, the prospects for a breakthrough anytime soon seem remote.


    No Foreign Friends?
    Despite being home to more than 250,000 Hmong refugees, the United States has done little to try to resolve the ongoing tensions. In a recent meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Lao’s foreign minister in Washington, no mention seems to have been made of the persecuted Hmong.

    The same can be said for Thailand, which allowed the forced repatriation of 4000 Hmong despite having trained many of Vang Pao’s forces. Thailand now also tops the list of Laos’ foreign investors.

    Meanwhile, the Lao People’s Army continues to hunt down the remainder of the once formidable Hmong force. Always on the run, they have no time to harvest rice, so they survive largely by eating bugs and tree roots. Some of those who have surrendered in the past have returned to the jungle with stories of torture and rape. Without any form of foreign assistance, it seems likely most will eventually be found by the Army.

    Shortly after Vang Pao’s death, speaking over a phone smuggled in by Hmong-American activists, Chor Fer says his group is struggling.

    ‘We’ve lost our father and don’t know what to do, we just keep running with nowhere to go,’ he says over a crackling line. ‘Every one of us wants to put an end to the war, but we know what will happen if we surrender. The communists will kill us.’

    William Lloyd-George is a freelance journalist based on the Thai-Burma border. His work has appeared in TIME, The Independent, Bangkok Post, Afternposten, Irrawaddy and Global Post among others.



    http://the-diplomat.com/2011/02/25/the-cia’s-secret-war/3/
     
  2.  
  3. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    23
    I read it, and this is a sad story.

    They wont be able to, and anyone will note that after reading this. The Hmong are being killed off by the communists, and for these people to be liberated would require them immigrating out of the region; which isn't as easy as it sounds. This is the end result of a failed Vietnam war in South-East Asia, and had it not been for the fact the US pulled out, this would have most likely not happened.
     
  4. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    India
    m not siding either US or Laos....i just read posts on soviet army blog so wanted to share that neither communist nor capitalist are good they both will fight for their country at the end not the ideologies...

    those people will be hunted down like animals for the fact that neither US is trying to help them nor Laos is trying to pardon them
     
  5. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    23
    Well comparing communism to capitalism is redundant as capitalism is purely economical, where as communism is an all-encompassing system. Capitalism is the natural extension of democracy, to allow free and private trade; communism doesn't allow this, as everything is owned by the state. Communism as a political system is also responsible for the largest record of deaths in human history, more than even fascism.

    I don't condone CIA actions here to arm children, or to peddle drugs; although it seems these people are desperately fighting for survival. I would like the US to do something about it, but in all likelihood; they will probably not be able to do anything as these people have been deliberately hunted for too long.
     
  6. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    India
    true in terms of economy....i personally support capitalist economy because it allows individual to grow to an unlimited potential...
    but in terms of death.....both are more or less equal....they are both killing innocent every where they have gone.....
     
  7. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    23
    Capitalism does not advocate the deaths of people or to crush individual freedoms in the way communism does, and even if it did; the statistics show that communism by far is the largest killer in human history. Over 100 million people dead in the last 100 years, most of which died in the USSR or PRC. There are plenty of statistics to back this up.
     
  8. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    India
    yeah thats because in capitalists country the govt is responsible to its people..and also they are allowed to have human rights watchdogs in the country....communists does not allow that.....but if power is on the side of capitalist they dont mind exploiting them.there are many instances where US is responsible for numerous innocent deaths may be not the scale of USSR but it will reach that point in some time with the invasions they are doing....
     
  9. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    23
    I agree with your point about how people abuse their power, and I'm sure you can cite many examples with past foreign policy mistakes. Capitalism is not perfect, but I would say it's probably the best thing we have for commerce and economics.

    It depends on what invasion you talk about.
     
  10. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    India
    capitalism is actually the best form of economy but it does have demerits....all things do....

    Iraq for instance...Diego Gracia for me was an invasion....
     
  11. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    23
    The majority of civilian killings in Iraq is actually at the hands of the insurgent shia and sunni groups. The coalition forces killed the least amount of people there. So how is that comparable to a communist dictatorship which would, without much thought, slay a million or more of its people?
     
  12. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Location:
    India
    true shias sunnis and even saddam has killed many people- worst their own people.....but even US troops have committed genocide - remember the video in which unarmed civilians were killed even after it was verified they are unarmed ....

    man m with you when you say communists are responsible for much more death of their own people than capitalist but with number of invasion taken by US and allies and in that their so called ''collateral damage'' its not far that they reach communist level or even near that....
     
  13. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    23
    You have to attribute the deaths at the hands of capitalists to an amenable trait within capitalism itself that promotes the death of people, or the oppression of others. Capitalism is simply about profit. Although you're more than welcome to put forward statistics related to western countries killings of civilians in the last 100 years (20th century on, to compare with communism).

    Click here for total mid-range killings between all communist regimes.

    Link to civilian deaths by each country, under varying regimes in the last 100 years.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011
  14. Nonynon

    Nonynon Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2011
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    15
    They may have done that but that's no genocide, its murder. Genocide is attempting to kill an entire population where this is simply wacko soldiers murdering for the fun or pure hatred. This sort of thing happens in every war to some level, its inevitable because not all the people are good people and not all soldiers are good soldiers.
    That's why the morality of an army should be based on how much the army is trying to prevent those stuff, not on wither they happen or not.
    In America's case, the army is an option and not a must and therefore its based mostly on people who need a good job and can't find one elsewhere, not patriotic people who want to serve their country. Those are the kind of people that are more likely to end up more violent and act less morally in a war and that's why I think USA deserves credits for keeping almost all of those people that would normally end up as thugs and thieves as moral soldiers in wartime.
     
  15. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    10,788
    Likes Received:
    4,552
    If you think usa, europe and australia are purely capitalistic then you dont know anything.
     
  16. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    10,788
    Likes Received:
    4,552
    Serves them right for siding with a foreign country over the people of there own country.
     
  17. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    23
    When did I say that? What does America/EU/my home country being 'purely' capitalistic have to do with the topic?

    Compassion at its finest hour. Do you mean the Hmong wanting democracy over communism? How dare they.
     
  18. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    10,788
    Likes Received:
    4,552
    This democracy and communism is all bollocks. West has allied itself with dozens of dictators since WW2 and we all know the russians didn't follow communism and were infact also greedy. So only an ignorant would believe such nonsense. World politics isn't as simplistic as black and white.

    In anycase i wouldn't side with a foreign country to defeat my enemies in my country. Last time that happened the british occupied the whole country.
     
  19. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    23
    Yet again, what has any of this got to do with my quote? Non-sequitur. It is also a straw man argument since you seem to attribute my anti-communist stance as somehow being representative of my overall view of politics. Further enquiry would have been advisable, but leaping to conclusions is perhaps the next best thing.

    I am anti-communist simply due to the fact of the sheer number of people it has killed in its 100 years of existence, which is statistically more so than any other political ideology, or government of people on earth. It is a system that sets itself as the be all, end all totalitarian regime that eliminates human rights, freedoms, and crushes the idea of the individual; just like fascism does. Its ideas are destructive and is ironically little to no better than most of the systems it replaced. What we are seeing in Cambodia by the government is the remnants of a failed political ideology, hell bent on killing all of its political rivals and will go to the length of exterminating an entire ethnic group in the process. Bravo cowards. Communism is a system riddled with ironies, not being about the people at all, and being the embodiment of imperialism and fanaticism that it claimed was its antithesis.

    Yes, because comparing a constitutional republic to a European colonial power is clearly a comment made by someone with a firm grasp on reality, oh but anyone who sees communism for what it is; is somehow an idiot. Whatever rhetoric works best I guess. :pound:
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  20. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    10,788
    Likes Received:
    4,552
    Edited.

    ...................................
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2011
  21. Nonynon

    Nonynon Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2011
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    15
    I don't think supporting a dictator is necessarily a bad thing. There are areas in the world that democracy have no chance to rule and be it a dictator, best for the West to make him a relatively a good one. If he is good then the West acted morally, if he was cruel to his people (all relatively) then it wasn't, but saying the West supported a dictator in general doesn't tell us anything about the moral side.
    Well, with the exception of Iran where democracy had a chance but the West helped the British empire in oppressing it with a dictator (the Shaa) until it turned radical. But its worth mentioning that even then, the Shaa was good to his people (again, relatively speaking).
     

Share This Page