Will We Ever Pay For Our War Crimes?

by James Glaser
April 3, 2006

"Never in human history have people witnessed one country's making war on the living environment of another." Senator Gaylord Nelson in speech to the U.S. Senate 1970.

80 million liters of Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant containing dioxin was sprayed on the country of Vietnam between 1965 and 1971 by the United States. It is reported that one millionth of a gram of dioxin per kilo of body weight is enough to induce cancers, birth defects, and other diseases when exposure persists over a period of time.

Today the Veterans Administration has a list of diseases that are on the VA's Agent Orange list of presumptive disabilities. That means that the connection between these diseases, and a veteran's exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam is so strong, that if you get the disease, you are paid a monetary disability benefit every month.... until that disease kills you. The list includes:


Hodgkin's disease

multiple myeloma

non Hodgkin's lymphoma

porphyria cutanea tarda

respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx, and trachea)

soft tissue sarcoma

acute and sub acute peripheral neuropathy

prostate cancer

Add to this list the child birth defects of diabetes and spina bifida in the children of Vietnam veterans.

Thousands of Vietnam Vets have received compensation for illnesses caused by their service in the war and almost all of those veterans only stayed in Vietnam for a year or so. The Vietnamese people have been living in America's chemical war experiment for over 30 years. No Vietnamese, no matter how horrible their disease has been paid anything by our country.

In a report by the Independent/UK on Saturday it states, "The Vietnamese government estimates 500,000 children have been born with birth defects caused by contamination with Agent Orange and two million suffer cancers and other ill effects... innocent victims of a chemical intended to harm plant life, not humans. But unlike the American soldiers who sprayed the defoliant, they never received compensation."

Agent Orange was a mistake, but anyone who has used a chemical to control weeds in their back yard, knows that when millions and millions of liters of these chemicals are sprayed on a small county like Vietnam, bad things are going to happen. We knew it and the companies who made the stuff knew it too. That makes what we were doing a war crime.

Today we use depleted uranium tipped shells in Iraq and Afghanistan. Doctors and scientists the world over have said that this is another time bomb for the environment of these two countries. We know this, but we choose to use these weapons, like we chose to use Agent Orange. Add to those two our refusal to stop our use of land mines and cluster bombs. Both of these weapons will be killing innocent civilians for decades to come.

Washington politicians and our military leaders have been and continue to be war criminals. We use weapons that continue to kill innocent adults, children, and the unborn for decades after we end a war. We know were are doing this going in, and we continue to use these weapons.

Someday, you and I and our children will pay a heavy price for this. If not in this world, then the next. We are our government, and what they do is in our names.

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