The War Conspiracy
Peter Dale Scott
Souvanna Phouma was forced out of office on July 23, 1958.
Richard Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy, p. 69.
July 23, 1958, was my 12th birthday. The forced change of government in Laos was one of the first steps on the way to the Vietnam War which dominated my 20s and early 30s, and not just mine.
Oddly, this was not one of those “Little did they know!” stories. I was a nerdy and precocious kid, already afflicted with the fascination with politics which has been the bane of my existence, and if I didn’t notice what happened at that very moment, within a year I became familiar with names which I will never forget: Boun Oum, Souphanavong, Nguyen Khanh…..
While I was still in high school I went to a summer school for the talented and gifted. To all intents and purposes it was a neocon recruiting ground, even though the neocons didn’t exist yet, and while I washed out I did have the privilege of meeting Paul Wolfowitz, Abe Shulsky, and several others who became neocon big shots.
As for Vietnam….. 60-70% of the guys served in the military during that period, if you included the National Guards (whom the real veterans named “No Good and Not Going”). The best athlete the school ever had was all shot up. After a dozen reconstructive surgeries and a life of pain he died at age 59. As for me, I went to jail as a war resister and ended up living outside the law for a few more years. When I went back there for a few years when I was 59 several of the Vietnam Vets went out of their way to be friendly to me.
One of my college teachers ended up publishing an early expose of American Vietnam policy which ended up being eclipsed by Daniel Ellsburg’s revelation. I liked his class but not him, nor did he like me, and I’ve been told that he ended up going off the deep end.
Years later my son had a Lao best friend in school, Sithapou. Lao are tall and Sithapou was all-city in Portland the same year as Damon Stoudamire, who went on to a pro career. At about that time I was teaching Hmong kids in the Portland Public schools, with their memories of opium growing and domestic elephants. A couple years later when I lived in Taiwan, on my way to work at the LTTC I walked past the headquarters of the World Anti-Communist League, which (under the name “Asian Anti-Communist League”) had been involved in the Lao drug trade in an earlier period. A little earlier I had been a very active opponent of the US policy in Central America, where the WACL had been supporting the rightwing governments. And by sheer coincidence, the teacher I worked for in the public schools had had a “counter-terrorist” boyfriend who had worked in Central America, and told me that one of the janitors at the school was a Salvadoran (presumably rightwing) who was cooling off in the US.
So what’s the point? Well, all those “political things” that people sometimes claim are distant and unreal kept on showing up in my life. In the case of the summer school and my involvement in anti-war activity, perhaps it was something about me, but the other things could have happened to anyone. It was right there if someone wanted to see it. But mostly people don’t want to think about things like that, or talk about them. Not polite.
Peter Dale Scott? Yes, he’s a conspiracy theorist, the best of the bunch. And I’m down the rabbit hole.