During the Vietnam War (1961 – 1971) the US military launched a program called Operation Ranch Hand in which chemicals (herbicides and defoliants) which the Vietnamese government estimates killed or maimed 400,000 people. In the ensuing years they claim that half a million children were born with birth defects.
It was later discovered that Agent Orange (a 50:50 mixture of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, if that makes any sense to you) contained an extremely toxic compound (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin). During Operation Ranch Hand, the US military sprayed nearly 20 million US gallons (80 million liters) mixed with jet fuel over Vietnam, Eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia. The goal of the program was to destroy the dense forests where the guerrillas took cover. In addition, they sought to destroy the resources needed by the indigenous population which would force them to live in the U.S. dominated cities. The idea here was to deprive the guerrillas of their rural support base and food supply.
All this is a history lesson, right? Wrong. History has a habit of not disappearing into books.
And a CBS report:
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).