As the drum rolls sound once again for those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Roger Pulvers has provided a poignant reminder of those other, far more numerous, victims the United States has left in the wake of its wars overseas. In particular, the victims of the dioxin-contaminated herbicide Agent Orange, whose suffering continues decades after the Vietnam War ended.
August 2011 was the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the American herbicide-spraying campaign in Vietnam, and the anniversary was well marked. An international conference of Agent Orange victims was held in Hanoi (link) with participants from more than 20 countries, it reflected the wide geographical and generational scope of the contamination. As Jon Mitchell’s reporting on Agent Orange in Okinawa demonstrates, we still do not know the full extent of the environmental damage. The 50th anniversary also saw the introduction of new legislation in the US Congress to provide much-delayed relief to victims of Agent Orange in the US and Vietnam. (Link. An expanded version of Mitchell’s research is forthcoming at The Asia-Pacific Journal.)