While the United States is fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an estimated 1 million Vietnamese are still battling the effects of a war that ended 30 years ago.
Their fight is with Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide that was spread over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War by U.S. forces. Currently, a lawsuit filed by victims against the makers of Agent Orange is under consideration.
From 1962-71, 21 million gallons of Agent Orange, containing the toxin dioxin, as well as variants Agent Pink and Agent Green, were sprayed over Vietnam. A recent study found at least 3,181 villages were sprayed in the process. According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, dioxin is still commonly found in Vietnamese staple foods.
Among other things, dioxin has been linked to lung and prostate cancer, miscarriages, diabetes and spina bifida. Blind, deaf or deformed babies are typical victims. In some regions, plants still do not grow.
The use of Agent Orange remains one of the worst instances of chemical warfare in U.S. history. Sadly, the United States has yet to admit to the effects of Agent Orange or acknowledge its responsibility in warping generations of Vietnamese children.
The United States and Agent Orange’s manufacturers have a moral obligation to compensate the victims as well as lead cleanup efforts in Vietnam. Much of the sprayed areas in Vietnam remain contaminated. The poisoned soil is often the only means of living for many Vietnamese people.
The United States and the manufacturers of Agent Orange cannot allow it to continuously poison generations of victims. Vietnam and the United States have peaceful relations; the United States must do its part to bring closure to the Vietnam War by both funding and directing the necessary cleanup.