Revisit the legacy of Agent Orange

Click to enlargeReuters photographer Damir Sagolj

As April 30 approaches, marking 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War, people in Vietnam with severe mental and physical disabilities still feel the lingering effects of Agent Orange.

Respiratory cancer and birth defects amongst both Vietnamese and U.S. veterans have been linked to exposure to the defoliant. The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange onto Vietnam’s jungles during the conflict to expose northern communist troops.

Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj travelled through Vietnam to meet the people affected, four decades on.

I would say, “Never again”; but, I haven’t that much trust in our government, our politicians.

7 thoughts on “Revisit the legacy of Agent Orange

  1. "Peace with Honor" says:

    According to the Congressional Research Service (Library of Congress) The U.S. military sprayed approximately 20 million gallons of tactical herbicides over Vietnam between 1961 and 1971, supposedly for the purpose of denying cover to enemy combatants. However: “in 1965, members of the U.S. Congress were told “crop destruction is understood to be the more important purpose … but the emphasis is usually given to the jungle defoliation in public mention of the program.” Military personnel were told they were destroying crops because they were going to be used to feed guerrillas. They later discovered nearly all of the food they had been destroying was not being produced for guerrillas; it was, in reality, only being grown to support the local civilian population. For example, in Quang Ngai province, 85% of the crop lands were scheduled to be destroyed in 1970 alone. This contributed to widespread famine, leaving hundreds of thousands of people malnourished or starving. The U.S. military began targeting food crops in October 1962, primarily using Agent Blue ( ) …by 1965, 42 percent of all herbicide spraying was dedicated to food crops. In South Vietnam alone, an estimated 10 million hectares of agricultural land was ultimately destroyed.”
    Destroying agricultural land and threatening the population with starvation was part of a counterinsurgency strategy referred to as “forced draft urbanization” The resulting rate of urbanization and/or homelessness in the South reportedly reached its highest level at about 40 percent of the total population of the country in early 1970s. Also it’s been estimated by the Congressional Research Service that between 2.1 million and 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange – the number of Vietnam-era veterans who may have been exposed is unknown.

  2. Footnote: says:

    5 years earlier on April 30th 1970, President Nixon appeared on all three U.S. television networks to declare “It is not our power but our will and character that is being tested tonight” and that “the time has come for action” as he announced his decision to invade Cambodia – ten days after announcing a forthcoming withdrawal of 150,000 U.S. troops from South Vietnam.

  3. Update says:

    US defence chief James Mattis on Wednesday visited the former Bien Hoa storage depot for Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant widely used during the Vietnam War, ahead of a clean-up programme to start next year.
    Bien Hoa, outside Ho Chi Minh City, is one of the largest remaining dioxin “hotspots” in the Southeast Asian nation. The US has pledged to clean up the site at a cost of some $390m and work is expected to start next year as part of a 10-year remediation effort led by development agency USAID. In addition to Bien Hoa, the US and Vietnamese have identified two other “dioxin hotspots” at the airbases in Danang and Phu Cat. The project to clean up Danang has just been completed at a cost of $110m.
    An attempt by Vietnamese victims to secure compensation from the United States over Agent Orange has had little success. The US Supreme Court in 2009 declined to take up the case, while neither the US government nor the chemical manufacturers have ever admitted liability.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.