Harvest of Duds: What Cluster Munitions in Laos Can Teach Ukraine


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(The Diplomat) A tennis ball-sized bomblet was recently defused in the river town of Kasi in northern Laos. The munition was discovered shortly before the 50th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, the treaty that ended U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia.

The Vietnam War has faded into history, yet a zombie army of munitions marches on killing and maiming civilians to this day. Of the 270 million cluster bomblets dropped over Laos, an estimated 30 percent made soft landings in the countryside. Submunitions like the bright yellow “pineapple bombie” with pop-out drag vanes for stabilization tended to get stuck in trees, scrub brush, or rice paddies. “Little kids mistake them for toys. Farmers mistake them for rocks,” Karen Coates wrote in her 2013 book “Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos.”

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Published: Monday, August 14, 2023

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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