Nowadays, with the possibility of a Third World War, the North Korean threat, the end of ISIS as well as the US imperial foreign policy, it’s easy to forget about past bloody events such as the Vietnam War. But, if you knew all about the use of ‘Agent Orange’ during this war, you would definitely realize it was more horrific than you thought.
Agent Orange was a toxic concoction of two herbicides which the US used for ten years during the Vietnam War, in order to wipe out the thick jungles of Vietnam. Its initial aim was to bomb enemy bases more effectively and easily. However, the problem was that in addition to being an herbicide, it was also a deadly weapon since it contained large amounts of dioxin.
Discovered in 1943 by American botanist Arthur Galston, this toxic mixture was regularly sprayed over Southern Vietnam between 1962 and 1971. This military operation was known under the name of “Ranch Hand” or “Trail Dust”. In total, the US army dropped more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange, contributing to the deforestation of vast areas of land. It also contaminated the air, water, and food.
According to History Rundown, high concentrations of dioxin can cause severe inflammation of the skin, lungs and mucous tissues. In some cases, it can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary edema, and death. It affects the eyes, liver, kidneys, and can even cause some forms of cancer.
So, it’s no wonder the consequences of using Agent Orange during the Vietnam War were catastrophic. This highly poisonous carcinogen killed or maimed nearly half a million people. Also, just as many children were born with mild to severe birth defects. In addition, 5 million acres of forests and far more farmland was destroyed.
Since the United States signed defense treaties with Southern Vietnam’s government, their actions were in line with defense treaties. They didn’t violate any international laws. Therefore, the US military never answered for what would otherwise be considered war crimes, because of a technicality.
Sadly, that doesn’t erase all the damage and suffering it caused.
To this day, many of the children are born with deformed bodies, twisted limbs or no eyes. And many victims of these atrocities live in Peace Villages, where peace workers take care of them. Nevertheless, Agent Orange continues to wreak havoc in elders too, as they get lymphoma, leukemia, and cancer at alarming rates.
The 24 chilling images below are a proof of how the US got away with war crimes:
1. Le Van O., a 14-year-old boy born without eyes because of the effects of Agent Orange.
2. A 10-year old girl born without arms writes in her schoolbook.
3. A 5-year-old boy, born blind and mute because of Agent Orange, sits at the barred window of an orphanage.
4. Three planes release chemicals over Vietnam.
5. An aerial photograph of the effects of Agent Orange. The land on the left hasn’t been sprayed while the land on the right has.
6. Soldiers spraying Agent Orange on the jungle.
7. Nguyen Xuan Minh, a 4-year child born with severe deformities due to the effects of Agent Orange.
8. A man born with a deformed arm because of Agent Orange, begging for money outside of a cathedral. It’s nearly impossible for him to find work.
9. A group of American planes flies over the top of the jungles, releasing chemicals in order to kill the trees underneath.
10. A helicopter spraying Agent Orange.
11. A huge stack of 55-gallon drums full of Agent Orange waiting to be poured over the Vietnamese people.
12. Nguyen The Hong Van, a 13-year-old girl born with skin disorders and a mental handicap. She grew up near a site where the army stored Agent Orange.
13. A third-generation child of an Agent Orange victim. Even though generations separate him from the Vietnam War, this boy still feels the effects and lives in a special village for Agent Orange victims.
14. Lt. Kathleen Glover comforting an orphaned Vietnamese child.
15. An American veteran shows the long rashes on his arms that he developed from contact with Agent Orange. The rashes under his clothes cover half of his body.
16. Hoang Duc Mui, a Vietnamese veteran, talks with American veterans during a visit to Friendship Village, Hanoi’s shelter for Agent Orange victims.
17. A soldier, after spraying the land with Agent Orange, tries to wash himself clean in the same waters that he had helped pollute.
18. Military personnel show how to handle an Agent Orange leak, evidently growing increasingly aware of how dangerous the chemicals they’d been using really are.
19. Tran Thi Nghien bathes her handicapped daughter who is incapable of bathing herself due to the effects of Agent Orange.
20. A 55-year-old woman holds her 14-year-old son, born with severe physical disabilities because of Agent Orange.
21. Professor Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong poses for a photo together with the handicapped children under her care. All of them were born with a defect caused by Agent Orange.
22. A helicopter sprays Agent Orange on Vietnamese farmland.
23. Soldiers spraying crops from atop a vehicle, getting in touch with the dangerous chemicals.
24. A child born without eyes lies in bed at an orphanage that takes care of 125 children, born with disabilities because of Agent Orange.