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The Domino Delusion


When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently visited Laos as part of a U.S. government “friendship” mission to counteract the rising influence of China, she inadvertently reminded the American people of some of the horrors of U.S. foreign policy in that part of the world.

Here’s a photograph in the Los Angeles Times of Clinton meeting with Phongsavath Souliyalat, a young Laotian man who lost his arms and sight from U.S. bombs dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War.

How is that, you ask, given that the man is so young?

As part of its unconstitutional war in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. government was also waging a secret, unconstitutional war in Laos that consisted of dropping tons of bombs on the country for some ten years.

According to the New York Times, “there were more than 580,000 bombing missions by the U.S. military, making Laos the most heavily bombed country on a per-person basis.”

The Times points out that “at the end of the war, 30 percent of the bombs were unexploded.” Even worse, many of the bombs were “cluster bombs,” each of which, when exploded, produce 600 hundred “bomblets.” The cluster bombs were colored, making them seem like toys. Not surprisingly, many of the post-war victims of the bombs have been Laotian children.

Among the fascinating points in the Los Angeles Times article was this tidbit: “The government is run by the Communist Party.” In fact, in her “friendship” outreach, Clinton actually met with members of Laos’s Politburo, many of whom were supporters of North Vietnam against the United States.

Why is that fascinating? Well, Laos was part of the domino theory that U.S. officials used to justify their illegal invasion of Vietnam. They said that if they didn’t sacrifice tens of thousands of American men in the Vietnam War, the dominoes would start falling to the communists, with the final domino being the United States.

Like its “war on terrorism” today, the U.S. national-security state had to fill Americans with fear. It had to make them feel like they were in grave danger of falling to the communists. By inculcating the same massive irrational fear of a communist conquest within the American people as they do today with the fear of a terrorist conquest, the military and the CIA could ensure themselves of a permanent, ever-growing presence in American and international life, including ever-growing budgets for their “keeping us safe.”

In actuality, the domino theory was nothing more than a self-induced delusion or an outright lie. Think about it: Vietnam fell to the communists. So did Laos. So did Cuba. So did Nicaragua. So did North Korea. So did Russia. So did China. So did Eastern Europe and East Germany. So did Chile. According to interventionists, so did Guatemala and, later, Venezuela. In fact, American conservative statists would argue that many socialist countries in the world are actually communist.

And so? Did that mean that the United States ultimately got invaded, conquered, and occupied by the communists?

It all goes to show that the entire Cold War rationale of the national-security state — that the United States was in danger of being conquered by the communists — was ridiculous from the get-go.

After all, here is the reality: many countries did end up with communist regimes, and, today, the United States is peacefully coexisting with them. In fact, here we have the spectacle of a U.S. Secretary of State actually embracing and making friends with ardent, devout, committed communists!

Don’t forget also that U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently visited Vietnam, where he sought friendship and partnership with the communists, which would include the establishment of U.S. military bases in Vietnam.

Let’s also not forget where U.S. officials got the money to invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan: from the brutal communist regime in China.

Clinton and Panetta show us that there is absolutely no reason why the United States couldn’t have been mutually coexisting with communist regimes in the 1950’s, ’60s, and ’70s, just as it does today. But that, of course, would have meant that Americans would begin questioning and challenging the entire concept of the national security state, including the permanent military-industrial complex and the CIA, along with its massive overseas empire of military bases.

Clinton’s trip to Southeast Asia, where she has personally witnessed the horrors of U.S. foreign policy, even as she eagerly embraces brutal communist regimes, bears an important message for Americans: It’s time to think outside the box. In a time of impending financial bankruptcy for the U.S. government and continued economic depression for the American people, it’s time to dismantle, not streamline, America’s national security state, the military industrial complex, the CIA, and the overseas empire of military bases.

It’s also time to bring an end to the national-security state’s policies of foreign aid (including to dictatorships), coups, assassinations, embargoes, sanctions, regime-change operations, invasions, occupations, torture, indefinite incarceration without trial, secret overseas military prisons, and denial of due process. After all, aren’t those the types of things that characterize communist regimes?

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.