Sep 27, 2009 Documentary
More casual way one learns in Clint Eastwood’s new movie Gran Torino something about the native of Southeast Asia of the Hmong people who fought during the Vietnam War as an ally of the United States and forced to flee after the defeat of the world largely in exile. Marc Eberle’s film America’s secret war in Laos, describes the historical background of the suffering of the Hmong and the associated background of the biggest military operation the CIA – a story that is still largely remained in obscurity, and whose whole shocking extent only in recent years slowly comes to light.
That this can finally happen after more than thirty years is due primarily to the Australian photographer Philip Blekinsop whose recognized with the World Press Photo Award for picture of Hmong fighters in the jungles of Laos, the eyes of world public opinion this secret, forgotten and has not ended the war turned. It shows guerrilla fighters, since the end of the Vietnam War without U.S. support, its hopeless struggle against the Communist government of Laos, lead – a tough war, without any prospect of success and because of the pre-shaped by the United States with no hope of reconciliation and peace.
The beginnings of the entanglements of Laos into the great world politics go back to the year 1960 and reflect the political situation during the Cold War. As the country became a quagmire, his position was above all and its proximity to crisis regions such as Cambodia and even Vietnam. Since the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail, that is the main supply route and supply the Viet Cong fighters, led over Laotian terrain, despite its neutrality, Laos became an important secondary theater of the Vietnam War. From secret bases in the interior like the airport in Long Cheng, the U.S. waged a merciless air war against the country, without this ever to have declared war: between 1964 and 1973, the “country of million elephants’ quasi constantly bombarded in 580,000 flights be 2.1 million tons of bombs dropped on Laos, a bomb every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, nine years long. Financing for the military operation in part by the involvement of the CIA in the opium and heroin trade, which ensures that more than 40,000 U.S. soldiers severely addicted to return home.
But it was not left alone in the heaviest bombardment of military history that calls to this day his victims by unexploded bombs and the late effects by the herbicide Agent Orange. To combat the Viet Cong and their supply routes and on the ground that without intervening directly in what is happening in neutral Laos, the CIA made use of the Hmong people who are recruited for the relentless struggle against the Communist “Pathet Lao”. When the war in Vietnam, then finally lost, abandoned to the useful allies to their fate, the fighting continues in part to this day. The consequences are disastrous for the country: hundreds of thousands of Laotians – approximately one quarter of the population – on the run, countless civilians die as a result of the bombing, witnesses of an ancient culture in the Plain of Jars to the carpet bombing of the B-52s destroyed, a country sinking into chaos and is still located in the Civil War, which was used by the U.S. for their own purposes.
America’s Secret War in Laos is a carefully researched, and with plenty of previously unreleased archive material mounted film, a revealing light on the geopolitics of the United States poses. That it is not just about dealing with the past, but also to better understand the present, is at least clear when a former CIA operative, the parallels to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is in the room. Next to him, and other stakeholders such as the Laotian Resistance leader General Vang Pao, the photographer Philip Blekinsop, the journalist and former aid workers Fred Branfman, historian Alfred McCoy, the Air America pilot Charlie Weitz come Sousath Phetrasy the war dead as well as many other witnesses and put into words From a terrible testament to just how thoroughly Eberle and his co-author Tom’s father proceeded with the research for this film.
Again and again we believe in a hopelessly exaggerated Hollywood screenwriter trapped, as when the language comes to the CIA fighters Tony Poe, who, like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now in the years of jungle warfare went out of control and even today some of his fellow fighters wrested respect grim. The truth of the secret war in Laos, but does so many fiction in the shadows and throws a different light on the Hegemonialbestrebungen the U.S. in the past and therefore also on the conflicts and possible secret involvement in the present. One holds to be impossible after this film, at least nothing more.
The movie will be on the following days his movie premiere with director Marc Eberle and celebrate the producer brothers Beetz:
Cologne, NRW Film Forum at the Museum Ludwig, 26.4, 11.30 Clock
Hamburg, Abaton: Monday, 4.5., beginning 20 clock.
Frankfurt, Naxos Cinema: Tuesday, 5.5., 20 Clock
Berlin, Babylon Mitte: Thursday, 7.5., 21:15 Clock
(Joachim Kurz )
Title: America’s Secret War in Laos – the biggest military operation the CIA Country of production: Germany Year of production: 2009 Length: 75 ( min) of material: Zweitausendeins