MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Agent Orange, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt,The Forgotten Story

Posted by Martin C. Fox on October 16, 2017

Next time you hear John McCain perpetuate lies about Syria using chemical weapons and prattle on about how horrible is the thought of doing such a thing – think agent orange.

http://www.vetshome.com/forgotten_story_of_agent_orange.htm

This is the forgotten story of the shameful nexus between politics-industry-scientists to poison the living and the future generations by terming the toxic chemical as safe for humans and environment. There are an estimated 650,000 like Hong Hanh in Vietnam, suffering from an array of baffling chronic conditions. Another 500,000 have already died. We are talking of the most toxic molecule known to science — Agent Orange — sprayed during a prolonged military campaign in the Vietnam war.

The company which manufactured and marketed Agent Orange, has now moved into genetic engineering. This is the company, which former US President Bill Clinton once remarked: “…will lead us into 21st century.”

Hong Hanh is falling to pieces. She has been poisoned by the most toxic molecule known to science; it was sprayed during a prolonged military campaign. The contamination persists. No redress has been offered, no compensation. The superpower that spread the toxin has done nothing to combat the medical and environmental catastrophe that is overwhelming her country. This is not northern Iraq, where Saddam Hussein gassed 5,000 Kurds in 1988. Nor the trenches of first world war France. Hong Hanh’s story, and that of many more like her, is quietly unfolding in Vietnam today. Her declining half-life is spent unseen, in her home, an unremarkable concrete box in Ho Chi Minh City, filled with photographs, family plaques and yellow enamel stars, a place where the best is made of the worst.

Hong Hanh is both surprising and terrifying. Here is a 19-year-old who lives in a 10-year-old’s body. She clatters around with disjointed spidery strides which leave her soaked in sweat. When she cannot stop crying, soothing creams and iodine are rubbed into her back, which is a lunar collage of septic blisters and scabs. “My daughter is dying,” her mother says. “My youngest daughter is 11 and she has the same symptoms. What should we do? Their fingers and toes stick together before they drop off. Their hands wear down to stumps. Every day they lose a little more skin. And this is not leprosy. The doctors say it is connected to American chemical weapons we were exposed to during the Vietnam war.”

There are an estimated 650,000 like Hong Hanh in Vietnam, suffering from an array of baffling chronic conditions. Another 500,000 have already died. The thread that weaves through all their case histories is defoliants deployed by the US military during the war. Some of the victims are veterans who were doused in these chemicals during the war, others are farmers who lived off land that was sprayed. The second generation are the sons and daughters of war veterans, or children born to parents who lived on contaminated land. Now there is a third generation, the grandchildren of the war and its victims.

This is a chain of events bitterly denied by the US government. Millions of litres of defoliants such as Agent Orange were dropped on Vietnam, but US government scientists claimed that these chemicals were harmless to humans and short-lived in the environment. US strategists argue that Agent Orange was a prototype smart weapon, a benign tactical herbicide that saved many hundreds of thousands of American lives by denying the North Vietnamese army the jungle cover that allowed it ruthlessly to strike and feint.

“In Vietnam the US had conducted the
“largest chemical warfare campaign in history.

Every day during the war, Captain Elmo Zumwalt Jr had swum in a river from which he had also eaten fish, in an area that was regularly sprayed with the herbicide. Two years after his son’s death in 1988, Zumwalt used his leverage within the military establishment to compile a classified report, which he presented to the secretary of the department of veterans’ affairs and which contained data linking Agent Orange to 28 life-threatening conditions, including bone cancer, skin cancer, brain cancer – in fact, almost every cancer known to man – in addition to chronic skin disorders, birth defects, gastrointestinal diseases and neurological defects.

Zumwalt also uncovered irrefutable evidence that the US military had dispensed “Agent Orange in concentrations six to 25 times the suggested rate” and that “4.2m US soldiers could have made transient or significant contact with the herbicides because of Operation Ranch Hand”. This speculative figure is twice the official estimate of US veterans who may have been contaminated with TCCD.

Most damning and politically sensitive of all is a letter, obtained by Zumwalt, from Dr James Clary, a military scientist who designed the spray tanks for Ranch Hand. Writing in 1988 to a member of Congress investigating Agent Orange, Clary admitted: “When we initiated the herbicide programme in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. We were even aware that the military formulation had a higher dioxin concentration than the civilian version, due to the lower cost and speed of manufacture. However, because the material was to be used on the enemy, none of us were overly concerned.”

Be seeing you

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I am not a number. I am a free man!-Number 6

 

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