One is the naked napalm-burned girl running from her village with flesh hanging off her body.Another is a photo of the piles of bodies from the My Lai massacre, where U.S. troops executed 504 civilians in a small village.Then there is the photograph of the silent scream of a woman student leaning over the body of her dead friend at Kent State University whose only crime was protesting the bombing of Cambodia in 1970.Finally, there is the memory of decorated members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War testifying at the Winter Soldier Hearings, often in tears, to atrocities in which they had participated during the war.
The Vietnamese exposed to the chemical suffer from cancer, liver damage, pulmonary and heart diseases, defects to reproductive capacity, and skin and nervous disorders.Their children and grandchildren have severe physical deformities, mental and physical disabilities, diseases, and shortened life spans.The forests and jungles in large parts of southern Vietnam were devastated and denuded.Centuries-old habitat was destroyed, and will not regenerate with the same diversity for hundreds of years.Animals that inhabited the forests and jungles are threatened with extinction, disrupting the communities that depended on them.The rivers and underground water in some areas have also been contaminated.Erosion and desertification will change the environment, causing dislocation of crop and animal life.
An unsuccessful legal action by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against the chemical companies in U.S. federal court, begun in 2004, has nonetheless spawned a movement to hold the United States accountable for using such dangerous chemicals on civilian populations.
Does the United States have any credibility to demand governments and non-state actors end the killings of civilians, when through wars and drones and its refusal to acknowledge responsibility for the use of Agent Orange, the United States has and is engaging in the very conduct it publicly deplores?
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, andto reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, andto establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, andto promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
The alternative is the law of the jungle, where only might makes right.
In the United States, you can sign an orange post card to the U.S. Congress asking it to pass HR 2634. This would be a good start to assist the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange as well as the next generations of those exposed to these dangerous chemicals in both Vietnam and the United States.