President Barack Obama continued his international apology tour for American deeds overseas, traveling to the Asian country of Laos to deliver a speech.
Obama acknowledged that the United States dropped more than two million tons of bombs in the country, intervening in the country’s civil war.
He sorrowfully noted that “villages and entire valleys were obliterated” as a result of the bombing, including the “ancient Plain of Jars.”
“That conflict was another reminder that, whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a terrible toll, especially on innocent men, women and children,” Obama said. “Today, I stand with you in acknowledging the suffering and sacrifices on all sides of that conflict.”
As a result, he said, having a U.S. president visit Laos would have been “unimaginable,” but he noted his courage to address the historical conflict.
“At the time, the U.S. government did not acknowledge America’s role. It was a secret war, and for years, the American people did not know,” Obama said. “Even now, many Americans are not fully aware of this chapter in our history, and it’s important that we remember today.”
He announced his plan to meet with survivors of the United States bombing of Laos, asserting that the U.S. had a “moral obligation” to help them fix their country.
“The United States does not seek to impose our will on Laos,” he said. “Rather, we seek a relationship based on mutual respect, including respect for your independence and your sovereignty.”