Collateral damage

I’ve just finished Air America, an account of the US’s undeclared war in/on Laos (and nothing to do with the Mel Gibson movie). It made me hopping mad. This is what they left behind:

More than 3/4 of the population are subsistence farmers and only a tenth of its villages are anywhere near a road. Nearly one child in five dies before its fifth birthday. 87% of villages are afflicted with malaria, 80% by diaharrhea, and cars seem to have a longer life expectancy than people. More than 1/3 of the population aged over 15 cannot read or write, the diet is inadequate, sanitation poor, and only a quarter of the population have access to safe drinking water. Debilitating and fatal diseases from malaria to bilharzia are endemic in rural Laos, while health and education systems are limited. In northern provinces the opium addiction rate is double the literacy rate. With a per capita income of US $363 in 1995, Laos is one of the poorest countries in the world.’
From Footprint’s Laos Handbook