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Agent Orange: A Deadly Legacy

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In the early 1970s, Vietnam veterans reported skin rashes, cancer, psychological symptoms, birth defects, and other health problems. A 1979 class-action lawsuit against herbicide producers was settled out of court in 1984. 

An Agent Orange Settlement Fund was established. Through 1996, affected veterans got about $200 million in compensation. It was too little, too late. It insulted survivors. 

In July 2011, 50 years after spraying began, HR 2634: Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011 was introduced. It was referred to committee. No further action was taken. Congress prioritizes war making. Effects on US service men and women from past and current ones don't matter.

Law Professor Marjorie Cohn asked what's "the difference between super powers like the United States violating the laws of war with impunity and the reports of killing of Syrian civilians by both sides in the current war?"

"Does the United States have any credibility to demand governments and non-state actors end the killings of civilians, when through wars and drones and its refusal to acknowledge responsibility for the use of Agent Orange, the United States has and is engaging in the very conduct it publicly deplores?"

It's done that and much more. It's responsible for millions of  Yugoslav, Afghan, Iraqi, Libyan, and Syrian deaths, as well as many others in numerous other counties. Conventional and illegal weapons are responsible.

Depleted uranium (DU) contamination began in the 1970s. US forces used DU freely since America's Gulf war. Dirty bombs, shells, missiles, and other munitions are used.

DU and other toxic weapons are illegal under international law. The 1925 Geneva Protocol and subsequent Geneva Weapons Conventions prohibit use of chemical and biological agents in any form.

The 1925 Geneva Convention Gas Protocol prohibits poison gas. The 1907 Hague Convention bans use of any "poison or poisoned weapons."

Dioxin kills. DU is radioactive and chemically toxic. The US code, Title 50, Chapter 40, Section 2302 prohibits use of "weapons of mass destruction," saying:

"The term 'weapon of mass destruction' means any weapon or device that is intended, or has the capability, to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of people through the release, dissemination, or impact of (A) toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors, (B) a disease organism, or (C) radiation or radioactivity."

America's use is lawless. Doing so constitutes war crimes. Millions of combatants and civilians have been irreparably harmed or killed. In current US direct and proxy wars, others are affected daily.

August 10 is International Agent Orange Day. Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC) members urge observing it annually in silence at noon. Doing so for 51 seconds this year was commemorated. 

Established in February 2005, VOARRC campaigns for victims denied justice. Wars remain hell when they're over. They don't end when bombs stop falling and combat ceases. Devastation remains long-lasting. Millions of Southeast Asians and US veterans suffer from physical injuries, illnesses, and/or trauma. Millions of others died.

Washington wants its toxic legacy buried and forgotten. Survivors can't let it happen. No one should tolerate America's imperial ravaging. New victims are affected daily. 

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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