Books for changing the world
The United States, Southeast Asia, and Historical Memory

This book sheds crucial new light on the epochal US interventions in Southeast Asia after World War II. Antiwar activist Fred Branfman describes the tragic lives of Laotian peasants under US bombing. Cambodia scholar Ben Kiernan and colleague Owen Taylor illuminate the course of Cambodia history after unprecedented US bombing. The book also includes classic works by Noam Chomsky, Nick Turse, and Edward Herman.

Mark Pavlick is an independent editor. He was active in the US movement against the Indochina wars in volunteer work with the Indochina Mobile Education Project and the Indochina Resource Center in Washington, DC.



Introduction 1

Richard Falk

1. War Crimes in Indochina and Our Troubled National Soul 5

Fred Branfman

2. Excerpts from Voices from the Plain of Jars 19

Collected by Fred Branfman

3. Legacies of War: Cluster Bombs in Laos 23

Channapha Khamvongsa and Elaine Russell

4. Agent Orange in Vietnam 53

Tuan V. Nguyen

5. Iraq, Another Vietnam? Consider Cambodia 75

Ben Kiernan and Taylor Owen

6. My Lai and the American Way of War Crimes 85

Gareth Porter

7. The Indonesian Domino 101

Clinton Fernandes

8. “So Many People Died”: The American System of Suffering, 1965–2014 119

Nick Turse

9. Bloodbaths in Indochina: Constructive, Nefarious, and Mythical (1979) 125

Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman

10. From Mad Jack to Mad Henry: The United States in Vietnam (1975) 173

Noam Chomsky

11. After “Mad Henry”: US Policy Toward Indochina Since 1975 201

Ngô V˜ınh Long

12. My Experiences with Laos and the Indochina Wars 221

Interview with Fred Branfman

13. Interview with Noam Chomsky 251

Glossary of Selected Terms 261

Further Action 267

Recommended Reading 273

Acknowledgments 281

Permissions 283

Notes 285

Index 333

Contributors 351

  • "The text Pavlick and Luft have put together is both history and forewarning. By the very nature of its subject matter, it can not be light reading. It barely touches the catalog of horrors that the US war on the people of Southeast Asia was. At the same time, it is a useful and potent introduction to a history too few US residents truly know and one that most US leaders would like to hide. There is no respite from the true nature of the war on Southeast Asia in these pages. Indeed, the only relief can be found in the knowledge that all proceeds from the book’s sale will go to humanitarian assistance in Indochina." CounterPunch

    “Extremely important and pertinent…. The importance of the historical events and arguments made in this book cannot be overstated; the government of the United States waged war against the three countries of Indochina for years, even though none had harmed the United States or were vital to American security or geopolitical interests. In the course of those wars, massive atrocities were committed, undoubtedly war crimes. The United States has never taken responsibility for those actions nor has it punished the criminals who committed these acts…  Moreover, the extent of these atrocities have been kept from the American public and the lack of historical awareness of these events prevents Americans from learning important lessons about how their government acts in their names and precludes learning important lessons to prevent any other occurrences such as these.” —Critical Asian Studies

    "A well-researched and powerfully presented overview...." —David Swanson

    “The content of this book is unavoidably grim, and it can be tempting to turn away. Yet the individual essays, clear and carefully researched, are especially useful for classroom purposes.” Peace & Change

    “Within the academic disciplines of international relations and diplomatic history, there still exists the perception that the U.S military engagement in Southeast Asia was an honorable but ill-advised adventure. Moral outrage is often absent among historians and political scientists. Mark Pavlick’s edited volume illuminates these American wars as a denial of democracy, and a crime against humanity. The United States, Southeast Asia, and Historical Memory has educated me, and it should educate my colleagues.” —Lubna Qureshi, author of Nixon, Kissinger, and Allende: U.S. Involvement in the 1973 Coup in Chile

Other books of interest

  • The United States, Southeast Asia, and Historical Memory