Saturday, December 03, 2011

Agent Orange Blues

Review: Scorched Earth: Legacies of the Chemical Warfare in Vietnam
In 20 years at the Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Dr. Nguyen Thi Phuong Tan has seen it all: twisted toes, missing limbs, mental disabilities, dysfunctional spinal cords. Her patients are children whom she suspects were poisoned by the dioxin that lingers in Vietnam’s soil and water more than three decades after American pilots sprayed the highly toxic Agent Orange herbicide over an area the size of Massachusetts.

Agent Orange has created “a burden for the economy and for society,” Tan says. The US officials who commissioned the wartime spraying “have to compensate, and they have to help us to solve this problem,” she demands.

Tan is one source for Wilcox’s clunky new book, "Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam", the sequel to his 1983 book "Waiting for an Army to Die: The Tragedy of Agent Orange", which profiled American war veterans who claimed to be suffering from the effects of wartime exposure to Agent Orange.

Scorched Earth chronicles Wilcox’s 2009 trip to Vietnam, in which the Ithaca College professor and his son, Brendan, meet Vietnamese who allegedly suffer from dioxin-related health complications. The trip is a platform for Wilcox to glorify the Vietnamese and to lambast chemical companies and US policymakers who, the author says, refuse to acknowledge their responsibility for causing the complications.

“For decades, the United States government appeared to be waiting for Vietnam veterans to die,” Wilcox writes. “Now, the chemical companies and the government are waiting for the Vietnamese to give up their campaign to secure justice for the victims of chemical warfare. This will never happen. We ignore their suffering at our own peril.” read more>>>

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