10 February 2007

Agent Orange in Vietnam

For the first time, America has agreed to help
towards cleaning up a site in Vietnam where
Agent Orange and other chemicals were stored
during the Vietnam war.
A 1m dollar study into the removal of the highly
toxic chemical dioxin from the soil at the former
US base at Da Nang, now the city's international
airport, is to be carried out and the US will pay
400,000 dollars towards that, the rest coming
from the Vietnamese government and the
Ford Foundation.

Dioxin is an ingredient in Agent Orange, one of
several herbicides that US forces sprayed in order
to destroy vegetation, thus denying the Viet Cong
their natural cover.

Vietnam, along with many veterans from the war,
from the US and other countries, believes at least
four million cases of ill health and disability are
linked to the spraying.
Whilst the US admits that dioxin is dangerous
when absorbed into the body (for example by
eating fish from contaminated lakes) it disputes
the link between the spraying of the chemical
from the air and ill health. Excuse me -
where does America think it goes??

That link is increasingly obvious:
Independent studies have shown that in certain
affected areas the dioxin level in the soil is 13
times higher than normal and the local people
have up to 20 times more dioxin in their body
fats, and in one particular place the locals have
200 times the normal levels of dioxin in their

Children born in areas sprayed have alarmingly
disproportionate rates of mental and physical
problems, clearly related to genetic defects,
photos or films of them are harrowing to watch.

Nguyen Trong Nhan, from the Vietnam Assoc
Of Victims Of Agent Orange and a former
president of Vietnamese Red Cross, believes the
use of Agent Orange was a war crime and he also
claims that Vietnam's poverty today is a direct
result of the massive scale of the spraying -
a total of around 80m litres of several different
"agents" were used, others with names like Pink
or Green or White, and of these Agent Orange,
having been found to be the most effective,
accounted for 45m litres, or just over half the
total with which 10% of the total land area of
Vietnam was sprayed during 6,000 flying missions!
It was also secretly used over parts of
neighbouring Cambodia.

Agent Orange was produced mainly by Monsanto
and Dow Chemical who in 1984 paid the Vietnam
veterans in the US 180m dollars but refused to
admit any wrongdoing.
The former president of Vietnamese Red Cross
mentioned above started a lawsuit in the US in
2004 against the chemical companies involved
and, strange timing, a joint US-Vietnamese
project to examine the long-term genetic impact
of Agent Orange was cancelled shortly after.

Clearly the US is not prepared to admit when it
was not only wrong but horribly wrong and it
confirms to the world, if confirmation were
needed, that the reality is the exact opposite
of the projected Hollywood-make-believe-image
of a compassionate and always brotherly helpful

Having now found more than half a trillion dollars
for its idiotic, self-inflicted and unwinnable
War-on-Terror, contributing 400,000 dollars to
this clean-up study is not just an insult to the
Vietnamese and to humanity in general, it shows
us again that Ayatollah Khomeini was right all
those years ago when he described America as
The Great Satan.

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