In order to deny food and protection to those deemed to be the enemy, from 1961 to 1975 the United States defoliated the land and forests of Vietnam with the chemicals known as Agent Orange. These chemicals contained the impurity of dioxin—the most toxic chemical known to science.
It is estimated that 3,000,000 Vietnamese still suffer the effects of these chemical defoliants.
In addition, tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers were also affected. Agent Orange has caused birth defects in hundreds of thousands of children in Vietnam and the United States—that is, the second and third generations of those who were exposed to Agent Orange decades ago.
Today marks the 52nd anniversary of the start of the chemical warfare program in Vietnam, a long time with NO sufficient remedial action by the U.S. Government.
Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford okayed it while it was happening; Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama have okayed it retroactively by not addressing it.
But the, there are still Native Americans (aka Injuns) and Afro-Americans who have waited hundreds of years for the Great White Man in Washington to redress the horrors inflicted upon them by European settlers conquerors occupiers! So I would not suggest the Vietnamese nor affected American vets hold their breath in anticipation of this or any other administration’s recognition of past wrongs let alone justice and compensation . . .
As US Army Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz aptly observed, “The horror. The horror . . . ”
(For readers wanting more, click on over to Marjorie Cohn’s blog, marjoriecohn.com.)