“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. ” It was C.S. Lewis who said that. I agree with him, of course.
They’re pretty fuzzy as they are.
Today I return to work, and to the other things I put off while on vacation. My latest encyclopedia entry was returned to me with a request for more information on race relations, a very tricky topic to research, and I have two weeks to do that. I have not so much as begun the finishing on #2 daughter’s dress, and that needs to be done this week. I need to pick up the book for the Wednesday study and do the assignments which I should have been doing since last Wednesday, to prepare for the first meeting of the youth choir which I am leading, and of course you can only skip the housework for just so long.
Yesterday we got distracted by the story of Vang Pao, and spent most of the morning tracking down the details.
Here’s what happened: General Vang Pao and nine others (one is in the hospital with tuberculosis and is left out of a lot of news reports) were arrested for planning the violent overthrow of the government of Laos.
This seems like a pretty simple case at first, since it is against the law for U.S. citizens to plot the violent overthrow of foreign governments, and also to possess weapons of mass destruction. The suspects were caught on tape shopping for missiles. They showed pictures of Vientiane to the sellers, asking whether the missiles in question would do a good job of reducing the city to rubble. They met with federal undercover agents at numerous watering holes and chatted freely about their plans.
But there are further complications. For one thing, General Vang Pao was recruited by the United States to fight against the communists. He was able, by the simple expedient of buying up all the opium crops grown by the Hmong people and flying them out of Laos in CIA planes, to pay much better than the Royal Lao Army my brother-in-law fought in. Also, any village that would not give up their men and boys (from 12 or so) for soldeirs would be bombed. This is a more effective recruitment tool than that available to governments. The Royal Lao Army had three guns for every hundred soldiers, but Vang Pao’s guerillas were well equipped, and the general was well rewarded for his service.
For the thirty years since those days, General Vang Pao has been telling everyone, including the congress, that he intends to go back and finish the job, overthrowing the communists and allowing the 200,000 or so Hmong refugees in America to return to their homeland. He has been cheered by U.S. conservatives for this stance, and is revered by older Hmong people. He has never made any secret of his intentions. Why arrest him now?
My husband also suggests that Mr. Bush, having invaded other countries and overthrown their governments, is not in a strong position to arrest someone else for doing the same thing.
And yet, it is said that Vang Pao raised funds through drug and human trafficking, and was planning to send 9.8 million dollars worth of weaponry into Thailand this month with the intention of killing thousands. A government engaged in a “war on terror” can’t really just ignore that sort of thing.
And yet, it is a lot like arresting George Washington, from the point of view of the Lao Hmong.
And a New Zealand news source claims that the CIA was helping.
In the course of studying up on this complex case, we discovered that Laos has some interesting laws. It is, for example, illegal for Lao citizens to have sexual relations with foreigners. Lao citizens who marry in other countries are supposed to register their marriages with the embassy and must have permission to marry foreigners. We didn’t follow these rules. Even if they marry other Lao citizens, their marriages are not recognized in Laos. So Lao nationals who have married in the United States may find, upon visiting Laos, that the police storm their hotel rooms without warning or permission and put them in jail for unlawful relations with their spouses. There is a $5,000 fine, and their passports can be taken away.
My husband felt that this was the sort of thing that people should know, and headed out to spread the word.
I stayed home with the boys and lazed around.
Now I am refreshed and ready to face the workday. Happy Monday to you all!