Agent Orange: Damage & Responsibility

                                                       Vietnam Agent Orange victims

The US – Vietnam is now far over but its negative results have been lingering in the daily life. One of the most severe things is the effect of Agent Orange.
Agent Orange was a powerful mixture of chemical defoliants used by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War to eliminate forest cover for North Vietnamese troops, as well as crops that might be used to feed them. The U.S. program of defoliation, codenamed Operation Ranch Hand, sprayed more than 19 million gallons of herbicides over 4.5 million acres of land in Vietnam from 1961 to 1972. Agent Orange, which contained the chemical dioxin, was the most commonly used of the herbicide mixtures, and the most effective. It was later revealed to cause serious health issues–including tumors, birth defects, rashes, psychological symptoms and cancer–among returning U.S. servicemen and their families as well as among the Vietnamese population.
From 1961 to 1972, the U.S. military conducted a large-scale defoliation program aimed at destroying the forest and jungle cover used by enemy North Vietnamese troops fighting against U.S. and South Vietnamese forces in the US-Vietnam War. U.S. aircraft were deployed to spray powerful mixtures of herbicides around roads, rivers, canals and military bases, as well as on crops that might be used to supply enemy troops. During this process, crops and water sources used by the non-combatant peasant population of South Vietnam could also be hit. In all, Operation Ranch Hand deployed more than 19 million gallons of herbicides over 4.5 million acres of land.
Questions regarding Agent Orange arose in the United States after an increasing number of returning Vietnam veterans and their families began to report a range of afflictions, including rashes and other skin irritations, miscarriages, psychological symptoms, Type-2 diabetes, birth defects in children and cancers such as Hodgkin’s disease, prostate cancer and leukemia.
In 1979, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of 2.4 million veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during their service in Vietnam. Five years later, in an out-of-court-settlement, seven large chemical companies that manufactured the herbicide agreed to pay $180 million in compensation to the veterans or their next of kin. Various challenges to the settlement followed, including lawsuits filed by some 300 veterans, before the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed it in 1988. By that time, the settlement had risen to some $240 million including interest. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Agent Orange Act, which mandated that some diseases associated with defoliants (including non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, soft tissue sarcomas and chloracne) be treated as the result of wartime service and helped codify the VA’s response to veterans with conditions related to their exposure to Agent Orange.
Agent Orange affected Vietnam in a number of ways.  The spraying of the dioxin-contaminated herbicide is believed to have led to a whole range of illnesses in the population, as the Vietnamese breathed the vapors or were directly exposed to the liquid itself, or simply went about eating subsequently from a contaminated food chain during the years of the spraying.  Others were or continue to be exposed to the dioxin at one of the existing hotspots in southern Vietnam.  Vietnamese have experienced many illnesses that have been found to be associated with dioxin, everything from chloracne to Hodgkins Disease.
But Agent Orange may be even more pernicious.  It is believed to have affected a new generations of Vietnamese, creating a wide range of disabilities among the children and even grandchildren of those exposed.  It is possible that the last victims of the war in Vietnam haven’t yet been born.
Neither of these impacts was intended.  What was intended was the destruction of the jungle and crop land, and in this, too, Agent Orange has had devastating effects.  Vast swaths of the Vietnamese countryside were laid waste, a result that will take another century to fully heal.
Meanwhile, the dioxin contaminant in Agent Orange lives on, though by now limited to 28 known and suspected “hot spots” where the herbicides were handled and stored.  To reduce the impact on human health, this dioxin must be remediated from the Vietnamese environment.
In addition to the massive environmental impact of the U.S. defoliation program in Vietnam, that nation has reported that some 400,000 people were killed or maimed as a result of exposure to herbicides like Agent Orange. In addition, Vietnam claims half a million children have been born with serious birth defects, while as many 2 million people are suffering from cancer or other illness caused by Agent Orange.
The U.S. government, however, has dismissed these figures as unreliable and inflated.

In 2004, a group of Vietnamese citizens filed a class-action lawsuit against more than 30 chemical companies, including the same ones that settled with the U.S. veterans in 1984. The suit, which sought billions of dollars worth of damages, claimed that Agent Orange and its poisonous effects left a legacy of health problems and that its use constituted a violation of international law. In March 2005, a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, dismissed the suit; another U.S. court rejected a final appeal in 2008.

The U.S. government is trying to avoid their sins, their responsibility for what they had done wrongfully. So is this the democracy what the US is trying to promote worldwide. What a shame! I think the civilized international community should give more efforts to force the US Gov to do compensate for Vietnamese AO victims./.

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All comments [ 10 ]

Phạm Hiếu 21/8/14 20:41

I am so ashamed of what the US has done and is doing to this day. It is controlled by truly evil people

Quốc Kiên 21/8/14 20:44

The American troop were WAR CRIMES, simple as that!

Huy Lâm 21/8/14 20:45

Americans need to open their eyes to what their government did in their name and start paying out compensation to the injured at the very least

Lê Tín 21/8/14 20:48

This is absolutely shameful people should not be living in these circumstances with no help from their own or US government! These are the very people whose 'human rights' have been infringed and, something must surely be done!

Quốc Cường 21/8/14 20:50

america can stoop to any depth to win ,whether they use atomic or chemical weapon doesnt matter. they should pay vietnamese same compensation as they would pay their own people.

Vân Nhàn 21/8/14 20:53

We must do somethings to raise public awareness of AO/dioxin all around the world and calling for more support for victims.

Huy Quốc 21/8/14 20:56

We really need support from international friends to aid the lawsuit against 37 US chemical companies which sprayed the toxic chemical during the war in Vietnam.

Hùng Quân 21/8/14 20:57

Public opinions in and outside the country have forced the US government to detoxify dioxin-contaminated areas as well as provide financial support for AO victims to assess medical checkups and treatment

Hoàng Lân 21/8/14 20:58

Many of the victims have died, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases due to the effects of the chemical

Quân Hoàng 21/8/14 21:03

The US Gov, you're running out of time to do right things to fix your war sins. Just think of it once more, if there were American who suffered the effects of AO.

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