Tuesday, March 01, 2016

More than 40 years after the fall of Saigon, the scars of the Vietnam War are still visible.
Born in the Agent Orange hot spot of Dong Nai, in 1991, Chau has a rare disability caused by Dioxin - the chemical found in Agent Orange.
During the Vietnam War, the United States is estimated to have dropped more than 70 million litres of chemicals on to the dense jungles of the country in order to rid the Northern Vietnamese army of their food and cover. Unknowingly, Chau's mother drank from a still contaminated river while pregnant with him.
The emotions that this article provoked in me were exactly the same as the article from oivietnam I commented on back in October.
Once again, this is not new news.  But once again, it's a sad reminder.

I had known about this issue intellectually before, but it really hit me emotionally when I was in the War Remnants Museum (W) in Saigon.  The museum featured several pictures of the deformities and birth defects caused by Agent Orange, the lingering affect of which continued long after the war ended.

I was, once again, struck by the fact that the US army had dropped all these chemicals on a peasant population (more than 70 million litres!!!), and then simply returned to their own country, with no thought about how a third world country, with no health care infrastructure, was going to deal with these problems.

And at the risk of repeating myself, I am again reminded of Chomsky's quote about the Vietnam War.

The United States went to war in Vietnam for a very good reason. They were afraid Vietnam would be a successful model of independent development and that would have a virus effect--infect others who might try to follow the same course. There was a very simple war aim--destroy Vietnam. And they did it. The United States basically achieved its war aims in Vietnam by [1967]. It's called a loss, a defeat, because they didn't achieve the maximal aims, the maximal aims being turning it into something like the Philippines. They didn't do that. [But] they did achieve the major aims. It was possible to destroy Vietnam and leave.
(This comes from a 2006 interview with Chomsky.  Full text here.)

[The last article was about the problem of unexploded bombs in Vietnam, so this article on the lingering effects on Agent Orange is slightly different in focus.  Although Whisky did bring up Agent Orange in the comments.]

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