The Devastation of Agent Orange Essay

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Abstract: This paper exposes the social injustices to Americans and to Vietnamese resulting from spraying of Agent Orange during the Vietnam Conflict. American Vietnam Veterans and many Vietnamese citizens have struggled with the United States Government for due reparations from the devastation of Agent Orange that has shattered their lives. Veterans have demanded compensation for this injustice through lawsuits and government allocations while the Vietnamese want the United States to clean up their dioxin-contaminated land and waterways. The United States has denied responsibility and the battle continues as veterans and the Vietnamese challenge the United States to accept its wrongdoing. This paper provides the evidence that the US government knowingly sprayed innocent people without warning. Based on the treatment of US military personnel, this paper argues that a major international effort will be required to force the US Government to assist in responding to the Vietnamese crisis.

During Operation Ranch Hand the US Air Force sprayed approximately 18 million gallons of the herbicide and defoliant, Agent Orange, over South Vietnam from 1965 - 1970 (Moore 2000). Both US military bases and Vietnamese cities were sprayed in order to decrease the amount of foliage to prevent surprise attacks as well as to deprive the enemy of food, since much of the spraying was over agricultural land. Agent Orange is composed of equal parts of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5- trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) (Moore 2000). Agent Orange was also contaminated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (dioxin) which is a byproduct of the manufacturing of 2,4,5-T (Moore 2000). Dioxin has been described as the "...

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... Constable, Muneaki Matsuda, Vu Duc Thao and Amanda L. Piskac. "Recent Dioxin Contamination from Agent

Orange in Residents of a Southern Vietnam city". Journal of Occupational and

Environmental Medicine. Volume 43, Number 5. May 2001. pp. 433-443.

Schector, Arnold, Marian Pavuk, John D. Constable, Le Cao Dai, and Olaf Papke. "A Follow-Up: High Level of Dioxin Contamination in Vietnamese from Agent Orange, Three

Decades after the end of spraying". Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Volume 44, Number 5. March 2002. pp.218-220.

Wilcox, Fred. Waiting for an Army to die. Seven Locks Press: Cabin John, MD. 1989.

Winerip, Michael. "US Judge clears way for trial on Agent Orange". New York Times. May 18, 1983.

Young, A.L. and G.M. Reggiani. Agent Orange and its associated dioxin: assessment of a controversy. Elsevier: Amsterdam. 1988.

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