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The Secret War In Laos: Why Was It A Secret?

2262 words - 10 pages

Imagery and politics are two closely related concepts. “Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favor of his image, because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be” (McLuhan, 1971). The image has the power to make or break the politician. The impact of imagery also applies to the Government as a whole. The image created by the government influences the support of the population; because of this correlation, information regarding government affairs goes through filters; information that could negatively impact the image of the government may not be provided to the public depending on how important it may be for the general population to know. In the beginning of the Vietnam War, Laos was declared a neutral zone at a conference in Geneva by the United States and the Soviet Union (Jones, 2007). As the disputes about Laos’ future government structure continued, the United States believed it was time to take action and continue their fight against communism (Young; Buzzanco, 2006). The Americans were fighting the Cold War for the containment of communism and to make the world safe for democracy. If Laos became a communist country, communism would not be contained; this led to the Secret War. American officials did everything in their power to keep the information regarding the Secret War in Laos hidden. The prime reason for failing to acknowledge the public of the happenings in Laos, was to aid the government in the protection of their image. Many American citizens were against the government because of the war in Vietnam, which had started 10 years prior to the Secret War; knowing about Laos would give the general population more reason to protest. Furthermore, the relentless bombing in Laos coupled with the CIA’s alliance with the corrupt General Vang Pao, surely raises questions about the morals of the United States government.
In the beginning of the Vietnam War America was supportive, however, once reporters captured scenes of the war in action, viewers were against the violence leading to massive protest movements. What Americans were unaware of was the additional violence happening in Laos. Music has always been an effective way for one to release their anger and frustration and many Americans were angry and frustrated with the government for allowing their men to die in Vietnam. One of their methods of portraying their irritation to the government were through musical protests. The largest musical anti-war movement was in 1969, 4 years before the end of the Secret War and 6 years before the end of the Vietnam War at Woodstock (Candaele, n.d.). The audience consisted of approximately 500 000 Americans and 33 performers. Among the performers were worldwide renowned artists like Jimi Hendrix and The Who (Harrison, 2009). The use of the performers would have stirred up support from their other fans; similar to celebrity endorsement advertising techniques. Moreover,...

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