U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Laos on Sunday, foreshadowing a visit by President Obama sometime this autumn. It will be the first ever visit by a U.S. President to Laos. There are probably several reasons for the visit, including strengthening ties, checking Chinese power in the region, etc. Most relevant to me is the hope that more will be done to alleviate some of the damage done during the war years, especially by removing leftover unexploded ordnance (UXO).
A CNN article mentions two emotions that Americans might feel toward President Obama’s position towards Laos: guilt and optimism. It quotes Channapha Khamvongsa, who founded he NGO Legacies of War, which works to raise awareness of UXO in Laos.
“one of the main drivers of funding for unexploded ordnance is the guilt some Americans feel.
“I think this President believes it’s never too late,” said Khamvongsa, who is “incredibly optimistic” about Obama’s visit. “This visit can show that no matter what has been done in the past, there is always a sense that a wrong can be righted and we can do the right thing.”
Of the two emotions, I think it’s a good time to feel some optimism. I hope things work out for the best.