Herbicidal Warfare In Vietnam And Its Effects On The World Today

1191 words - 5 pages

In the 1960s the United States was at war with Vietnam. In an attempt to counter the Vietnamese’s guerilla warfare, the United States sprayed herbicides all over Vietnam and this method of warfare has been controversial ever since. The use of herbicides in Vietnam has caused many deaths and suffering not just for the Vietnamese, but the United States’ veterans too. However, the United States denies that it caused these problems, continues to use herbicides today, and will not even help the victims medically or financially. It was and is a crime, if the United States wants to admit it or not, and if it is not studied and taken care of soon, many people will continue to suffer.
Before understanding why herbicidal warfare was and still is an important topic, one must know what herbicidal warfare is. Herbicidal warfare is a type of chemical warfare where the goal is to destroy vegetation and agriculture. In Vietnam, it was used so that the enemy could not hide in the vegetation and to destroy or damage food production. There are many different types of chemicals that were used during the Vietnam War and even still today. A total of fifteen herbicides, named by their color, were used during the United States’ Operation Ranch Hand but the most well-known is Agent Orange (Trautman, 1). Agent Orange is a mixture of toxic chemicals that kills vegetation and is mixed with kerosene and diesel fuel so that it sticks to plants for a long period of time (Trautman, 1). When sprayed onto vegetation Agent Orange kills it within days and also pollutes the soil and water. So what is the concern? Agent Orange and other herbicides destroy ecosystems, they have also been found in plants, water, fish and other animals, including humans. Since it began being used, it has also been linked to various different diseases including cancer and diabetes and also has caused terrible deformations in children. It continues to affect many innocent people and is still being used today. For these reasons, the herbicides used in Vietnam over forty years ago continue to be a hot topic. (Hitchens, 1)
During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese used a tactic called guerilla warfare where they would use the thick, jungle vegetation to hide and ambush the United States and their allies. This is how the use of chemicals like Agent Orange came about. To eliminate this strategy, the United States had a few of its companies manufacture herbicides to kill the vegetation and take this advantage away from their enemies. This also led to more than just killing the vegetation. The United States also sprayed the chemicals on agricultural lands such as rice paddies and in bodies of water so that the food supply was destroyed (Trautman, 1). As mentioned by Ron Moreau in “Of Peace and Poison” over twenty million gallons of herbicides were dumped over Vietnam, and over sixty percent of it was Agent Orange (1). This amounted to a total of about six million acres exposed to herbicides (Hitchens, 1)....

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