Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Week 8 - Angela Oh

The consequences of the Vietnam War are not isolated to the wartime era and its immediate aftermath. As Wilcox discusses in "Scorched Earth", the costs of the Vietnam War and the US's warfare tactics have affected the land of Vietnam and its people to this day. Agent Orange is an extremely carcinogenic pesticide employed by the US during the war. The North Vietnamese troops used the forest and its cover to their advantage, until the US started using Agent Orange (AO) to drive them out of hiding. Initially, the government insisted that AO posed no serious health threats to human beings. As we know now, they couldn't have been more wrong.

To this day, we see Vietnamese people born with deformities and cancers linked to AO. US veterans of the Vietnam War also suffer from the highest rate of testicular cancer than any other group of war veterans. Interestingly, the South Vietnamese government assumed ownership of the herbicide when it was delivered to Vietnam. In a way, this allowed for the US to shift some of its moral responsibility off to another government. In addition, the US initially dismissed AO sicknesses as side effects of the Okinawa bacteria. These actions display the US's repeated motives of hiding its mistakes and avoiding addressing its failures. Rather than taking the responsibility and redress in these types of situations, the US has largely ignored its responsibilities and even got out of its 2004 lawsuit by a technicality (statutes left out "pesticides").

Question: What are some methods in which the US would be forced to accept responsibility for its actions? How would you suggest the US redress for its wrongful use of Agent Orange?

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