A Great Place to Have A War

A Great Place to Have A War

America in Laos and the Birth of A Military CIA

Book - 2017
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"Sometimes the most astonishing chapters of history are hidden in plain sight. January 1961: Laos, a tiny nation few Americans have heard of, is at risk of falling to communism and triggering a domino effect throughout Southeast Asia. This is what President Eisenhower believed when he approved the CIA's Operation Momentum, creating an army of ethnic Hmong to fight communist forces in Laos on America's behalf. Largely hidden from the American public--and most of Congress--Momentum became the largest CIA paramilitary operation in the history of the United States, a war that lasted through two decades, left the ground littered with thousands of unexploded bombs, and changed American foreign policy forever. In [this book, journalist] Joshua Kurlantzick provides the definitive account of the Laos war, focusing on the four key people who led the operation: the CIA operative whose idea it was, the Hmong general who led the proxy army in the field, the paramilitary specialist who trained the Hmong forces, and the State Department careerist who took control over the war as it grew. Using recently declassified records and extensive interviews, Kurlantzick shows for the first time how the CIA's clandestine adventures in one small, Southeast Asian country became the template for how the United States has conducted war ever since--all the way to today's war on terrorism."--Jacket.
1960. President Eisenhower was focused on Laos, a tiny Southeast Asian nation. Washington feared the country would fall to communism, triggering a domino effect in the rest of Southeast Asia. In January 1961, Eisenhower approved the CIA's Operation Momentum, a plan to create a proxy army of ethnic Hmong to fight communist forces in Laos. Kurlantzick shows how the brutal war lasted nearly two decades, killed one-tenth of Laos's total population, and changed the nature of the CIA forever.
Publisher: New York, NY ;, London ;, Toronto :, Simon & Schuster,, 2017
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781451667882
1451667884
9781451667868
1451667868
Branch Call Number: 959.70438 K968g 2017
Characteristics: 323 pages ; 24 cm

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rick7white
Sep 01, 2017

It by far one of the best books on this subject.

Very good comments below also.

l
lukasevansherman
Apr 19, 2017

"We only had a minimal understanding of the history, culture, and politics of the people we wanted to aid."-CIA officer working in Laos
I have to take issue with the previous commentator's mis-characterization of this book as "revisionistic [sic] nonsense." The book has very little to do with the Kennedy administration, as the period the author is looking at is primarily 1964-1973. And his rant about Chomsky, MIT, and the Koch brothers it totally irrelevant. Regardless of your feelings about Kennedy or Chomsky, this is an important book about a neglected and shameful period in American foreign policy: our secret involvement in Laos. It was concurrent with Vietnam and also used the "domino theory" (If one southeast Asian country falls to Communism, they'll all fall.) as a justification. Arming and support the Hmong people, the U.S. fought a proxy war that involved over 580,000 bombing runs, which dropped more than 2 million tons of ordinance, much of which impacted the civilian population. As the subtitle indicates, Kurlantzick, a fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations, the book is also about the use of the CIA to fight unconventional wars. It helps if you have some familiarity with the Vietnam War. Other books on the same theme: "Legacy of Ashes" (a history of the C.I.A.) and "Ghost Wars."
"They (the CIA) thought that [Laos] was a great place to have a war."-Robert Amory Jr., former CIA deputy director

s
StarGladiator
Sep 08, 2016

More revisionistic nonsense from the CFR about the Kennedy Administration, for the real story, please read:
https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/Laos.aspx
[It began with Eisenhower, as usual, while JFK reined in the generals and his people, as usual!]
Whether the author is a CFR hack named Kurlantzick, or some former MIT phony named Chomsky, revisionistic lies about the Kennedy Administration have grown most tedious - - and are proof positive of your inability to tell the truth!
Did anyone ever hear Chomsky attack MIT trustee, Fred Koch [patriarch of the Koch family and financier behind the John Birch Society, Liberty Lobby and other such drivel groups]? Of course not! Yet Chomsky has repeatedly lied and attributed falsehoods to the Kennedy Administration, an avowed enemy of Fred Koch and his family!

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