By Tom Fawthrop
Posted February 13, 2008.
Long after the last bullet has been fired in a war, unexploded bombs, landmines and toxic chemicals continue to maim and kill civilians. This is particularly true of the Vietnam war. Three decades after US soldiers and diplomats scrambled aboard the last planes out of Saigon in April 1975, the toxins they left behind still poison Vietnam. Relations with the United States have been normalized since the 1990s, but the denial of justice to the victims of Agent Orange remains a major bone of contention.
Not only are Vietnamese still maimed from treading on unexploded bombs, they are also victims of this insidious scourge that poisons water and food supplies, causing various cancers and crippling deformities. Eighty million liters of Agent Orange were sprayed on the jungles of Vietnam, destroying swathes of irreplaceable rainforest through massive defoliation and leaving a toxic trail of dioxin contamination in the soil for decades. The legacy of this chemical warfare can even be inflicted on the unborn, with Agent Orange birth deformities now being passed on to a third generation.