Saturday, April 25, 2015

THE KEY WAR ON TERROR PROPAGANDA TOOL: 
ONLY WESTERN VICTIMS ARE ACKNOWLEDGED

As April 30 approaches, marking 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War, people in Vietnam with severe mental and physical disabilities still feel the lingering effects of Agent Orange.


Respiratory cancer and birth defects amongst both Vietnamese and U.S. veterans have been linked to exposure to the defoliant. The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange onto (South) Vietnam's jungles during the conflict...
Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj travelled through Vietnam to meet the people affected, four decades on.
The Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) told Reuters that more than 4.8 million people in Vietnam have been exposed to the herbicide and over 3 million of them have been suffering from deadly diseases.
The United States stopped spraying Agent Orange in 1971 and the war ended in 1975. Twenty years later, some people from villages and cities didn’t know all about it. Forty years later, today, children and their parents still suffer and a large part of the story remains untold. Agent Orange is one big tragedy made of many small tragedies, all man made.
There is not much I can do about it with my pictures except to retell the story, despite all the raised eyebrows. The pictures I took are not about the before and after, they are all about now. As for how poorly we read history and stories from the past, I’m afraid that is about our future, too.
Then another village and another picture. On a hill above his home, former soldier Do Duc Diu showed me the cemetery he built for his twelve children, who all died soon after being born disabled. There are a few extra plots next to the existing graves for where his daughters, who are still alive but very sick, will be buried.

Link to the complete story and powerful pictures here:


Tuesday, April 21, 2015



By Dana Visalli 

April 21, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - 

I recently flew from Seattle to Seoul, South Korea and thence to Hanoi, to join a two-week tour of Vietnam with VFP - Veterans for Peace. The tour is led by American veterans of the Vietnam War who now live in that country, working to in some way atone for the damage done there during that war.

The Vietnamese are a sweet, friendly, even kindly people, and it is impressive to recall how the western countries have treated them. 

The French colonized Vietnam in the 1860s and enslaved the Vietnamese people, forcing them to work for the enrichment of France. We have toured the prison that the French built for resistors, which included a guillotine for those who failed to grasp the god-given right of the French to rule over them.

When the French tried to regain their ‘Indochina’ colony (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) after WW II, the U.S. supported them (we paid most of the cost of the ‘First Indochina War’), then we invaded and brutalized the Vietnamese for 20 years after the French were defeated (the ‘Second Indochina War’, 1955-1975).

As my plane crossed over the Japanese city of Tokyo on the way into Seoul, I realized that I was retracing a geography that I was familiar with largely from America’s wars. 

The United States firebombed Tokyo on March 10th 1945, dropping 2000 tons of incendiary bombs on the wood and paper houses of that city, incinerating 16 square miles and killing an estimated 120,000 citizens in the worst single firestorm in history. U.S. General Curtis LeMay said, ‘It was the biggest firecracker the Japanese had ever seen.’ 

A few months later, on August 7th of that year we dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing an estimated 75,000 people on that day (150,000 total), and on August 9th we dropped another on Nagasaki, killing another 40,000 almost instantly (80,000 over time).

An hour later we landed in Seoul, South Korea. The United States divided Korea into north and south in August of 1945, then invaded South Korea on September 8th 1945 (note that American reports of this event always write that the U.S. marines ‘landed’ in South Korea, minimizing the impact of reality; all cultures interpret events in a manner favorable to themselves) dissolving the new socialist government that had just formed and installing our own man, Syngman Rhee, who had been living in Washington DC for the previous 40 years.

This unwarranted and illegal interference led to the Korean War 5 years later, during which North Korea was utterly and completely devastated  by American military power. 3 million North Koreans were killed out of a total population of 9 million—33% of the population. All of the cities and most of the villages, roads, dams and dikes in that country were destroyed, creating a veritable hell on Earth for those millions of peasants. 

In 1952 General Curtis LeMay noted with evident pleasure that, ‘We have bombed every city twice, and now we are going to pulverize them into stones.’

From Seoul I flew into Hanoi where I met the rest of the VFP group. The American bombing of Hanoi in 1965 (Operation Rolling Thunder), 1968 (Operation Linebacker I) and 1972 (Operation Linebacker II) caused massive damage to this ancient city and killed thousands of people.  

From Hanoi we traveled to the city of Hue, in central Vietnam; Hue was completely destroyed by U.S. bombing of the city during the 1968 Tet offensive. One reporter, Robert Shaplen wrote at the time, "Nothing I saw during the Korean War, or in the Vietnam War so far has been as terrible, in terms of destruction and despair, as what I saw in Hue."

Wherever you go, you will find the land, the people, the infrastructure has been at some point bombed by the United States. 

Remarkably, the United States has been bombing Iraq regularly since 1990 (including during the 13 years of sanctions). Prior to 1990 the United States provided weapons to both Iraq and Iran for their 1980-1988 war. It is now a ruined nation, a failed state. 

The British first invaded Afghanistan in 1838, then again in 1868 and 1920. The United States took over the job in 1956, when it built an airbase in Kandahar capable of accepting intercontinental bombers. The United States supported the fundamentalist mujahedeen with billions of dollars of weapons in the Afghan war with the Soviets (1979-1987), and has now been at war with and occupying Afghanistan since 2001—14 years. 

Afghanistan is also a failed state, as is Libya, which we bombed to rubble in 2011, and Syria, which we are currently destroying by supplying the weapons of war to various factions.

One begins to perceive a pattern here in terms of how the United States of America relates to the rest of the world: endless bombing of other people, other societies and the Earth itself.  

America’s pervasive aggression against others has given rise to the axiom, ‘War is god’s way of teaching geography.’ Who knew where Hue or Pyongyong or Nagasaki or Fallujah were before we destroyed them?

What is the cause of this pathology of pandemic American brutality? We have a case of arrested psychological development on a national scale. 

Child psychologists Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kolberg found that the moral development of children went through several stages. Young children’s early social behavior is typically driven by a fear of punishment or and related need for obedience. 

In the second stage of moral development individuals are concerned with the maintenance of law and social order. As they continue to mature people recognize that rules and laws serve social functions and can be altered. 

Kohlberg in particular identified the highest stage of moral development as one in which individuals live, act, and think according to universal ethical principles that emerge naturally in mature individuals.

Most Americans are trapped in the first stage of moral development, fear of punishment and the need for obedience. 

Writer Larken Rose notes in his book The Most Dangerous Superstition that, ‘There is a harsh contrast between what we are taught is the purpose of "authority" (to create a peaceful, civilized society) and the real-world results of "authority" in action. 

Flip through any history book and you will see that most of the injustice and destruction that has occurred throughout the world was not the result of people "breaking the law," but rather the result of people obeying and enforcing the "laws" of various "governments." The evils that have been committed in spite of "authority" are trivial compared to the evils that have been committed in the name of "authority…. 

The belief in "authority," which includes all belief in "government," is irrational and self-contradictory; it is contrary to civilization and morality, and constitutes the most dangerous, destructive superstition that has ever existed. Rather than being a force for order and justice, the belief in "authority" is the archenemy of humanity.’

It is only when we come alive to our latent capacity for compassionate intelligence, when we care enough about the destruction of other humans and ecosystems and the widespread ‘killing of hope’ by the American military machine to question and/or reject external authority over our moral and ethical lives, we can each take the next step on our individual journeys towards becoming mature, useful and relevant human beings.


Postscript:

In the abstraction of words we lose track of just what war is.  Here is a reminder of the nature of war, an excerpt from Nick Turse’s recent, well-documented work on the Vietnam war, Kill Everything that Moves

U.S. marines had burst into a thatch hut belonging to a young Vietnamese couple. The young mother, Huong, ‘was dragged to the side of the house. A marine held his hand over her mouth; others pinned her arms and legs to the ground. They tore off her pants, ripped open her shirt, and groped her. Then the gang rape began. First one marine, then another. Five in all. Huong's sobs elicited more screams of protest from her husband, so the marines began beating him again, after which a burst of gunfire silenced him. Her mother-in-law's sobs ended after another staccato burst, and her sister-in-law's after a third. Soon Huong could no longer hear the children. Then came a crack and a blinding flash, followed by searing pain that brought her to the ground. The marines exploded a grenade to make the scene "look good," then radioed in their results: three dead Viet Cong.’


Dana Visalli is a biologist living in Washington State. He has traveled numerous times to Iraq and Afghanistan to witness the impact of the American war in and occupation of those countries.




Sunday, April 19, 2015

Secret is out:
US Murdered First Elected Prime Minister Of Pakistan
Confirmed by Khan’s grandson, US declassified documents disclose US killed Khan through Kabul man in quest for Iran’s oil



By Pakistan Today
April 17, 2015 "ICH" - "PT" - 

Americans murdered the first elected prime minister of Pakistan through the Afghan government, declassified documents of US State Department disclosed.

Like a number of other high-profile killings, the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, has also remained a mystery. Conspiracy theories abound, yet are difficult to substantiate.

It was revealed in the documents declassified a few years ago that two people killed the murderer of Liaquat Ali Khan at the spot while crowd also massacred the two persons in order to leave no sign of the conspiracy.

According to the documents, the United States wanted to get contracts of oil resources in Iran. 

Pakistan and Iran enjoyed cordial ties and Afghanistan used to be an enemy of Pakistan during 1950-51. The neighbouring Afghanistan was the only country that did not accept Pakistan at that time.
The US demanded Pakistan use its influence in Tehran and persuade it to transfer control of its oil fields to the US.

Liaquat Ali Khan declined to accede to the request, saying he would not use his friendship for dishonest purposes and not interfere in personal affairs of Iran.
On which, then US President Harry Truman had threatened to Liaquat Ali Khan. Not only that, Liaquat Ali Khan also demanded that the US vacate air bases in Pakistan, dropping a bombshell on Americans.

Following the development, American started search of murderer for assassinating Khan. They did not find a suitable person in Pakistan and then turned to Afghanistan for this purpose, according to the documents.

Washington contacted the US Embassy in Kabul, offering Zahir Shah to search an assassin for Khan and in return they will ensure Pashtoonistan’s freedom.

Afghan government had found a man, Syed Akbar, to take the job and also made arrangements for him to be killed immediately after, so as to conceal the conspiracy. All three stayed at a local hotel in Rawalpindi one day before the meeting of party in Company Bagh.

Akbar fired at Khan when he started his speech at dais and he fell on the stage, saying “Allah help Pakistan”.

The cartridges recovered from Khan’s body were US made. The type of bullets used to kill the Pakistani prime minister was in use by high-ranking American officers and were not usually available in the market.

Some people claimed that Governor General Ghulam Muhammad was behind Khan’s murder while some blamed Mushtaq Ahmed Gormani. Different committees and commission were constituted but failed to conclude any results.

After a span of over 60 years, the US State Department have disclosed all the secrets and a video of Dr Shabir about disclosures also appeared in which he gave reaction over the declassified documents.

When Online contacted Muazzam Ali Khan, the grandson of Liaquat Ali Khan, he said they are aware about the report and it is true. He also said they also have supporting documents in this regard.




Wednesday, April 15, 2015






WHO WILL TELL OUR STORY?

     

                 By tom hayden


 

Who will tell our story when we are gone? 
So much was never remembered, and now the time is rapidly passing.

We need to resist the military occupation of our minds. Long-discredited falsehoods are being resurrected again. As one example, the recent acclaimed film "Last Days of Vietnam" depicts the war as one of aggression from the North with a green dagger of invasion pointed to the South. That was the false claim of the State Department's "white paper" we debunked in 1965.  

As other examples, the Pentagon's recent website trivializes the Pentagon Papers, and restores the Phoenix assassination program, shut down in 1971, as  a  misunderstood program that was succeeding. We were winning the war in the South, many claim today, when Congress and the peace movement pulled the plug.

The Official History becomes a hecatomb covering our truths. So this becomes our last campaign, our legacy to the next generation.

The warmakers could win on the battlefield of memory what they lost on the battlefields of war.

We must not let that happen. We must unite for the future to overcome our divisions of the  past. 

We need everyone in the peace movement to transcribe their stories so that an oral history of the peace movement can be preserved in a living archive.That's how the stories of past social movements were recorded.  

We need a new generation of historians to document the peace movement as a truly historic resistance which helped end a war, terminated the forced draft, toppled two American presidents, might have elected a president were it not for assassinations, and shook the country to its foundations until the madness finally was ended.

We need to protest the continuing exclusion of our viewpoints from the the think tanks of the powerful. 

 
We need to widen the spectrum of legitimate opinion to include a genuine peace option. Having been wrong about past wars should not be a qualification for high political or editorial office. We need to ostracize all those who have never apologized.  

Healing the wounds of war should mean a faithful commitment to removing the unexploded bombs and mines from the soil of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and preventing Agent Orange from dooming future generations to birth defects and disabilities.
  
The disaster that began in Vietnam still spirals on as a conflict between empire and democracy. The cycle of war continues its familiar path, with memory its casualty. The demonization of enemies. The fabricated pretexts. The secrecy in the name of security. The casualties covered up. The costs hidden off budget. The lights always at the end of tunnels. 

We need to end this future and assert ourselves in history.

April 13, 2015
***********************************************************

May 1-2 in Washington is the place to begin to tell our story.  Click here for the agenda and to register for the conference.

A registration donation of at least $25 assures reserved seating at the Saturday conference.  General admission is a nominal $5. 

Saturday registration at the church requires a donation of at least $30 for reserved seating.

There is no cost for the Friday night program or to participate in the walk to the Martin Luther King memorial.

Saturday's on site lunch and a special dinner of Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian cuisine must be reserved on line and purchased no later than Wednesday, April 29.

***********************************************************


Speakers, Entertainers, Moderators (revised 4/10/15)
Jan Barry
Elizabeth Becker
Phyllis Bennis
Jeff Blum
Becky Bond
Julian Bond
Heather Booth
Taylor Branch
Leslie Cagan
Alan Canfora
Rufus Cappadocia 
Robert Cohen
Jo Comerford
John Conyers
David Cortright 
Ron Dellums
Bernadine Dohrn
Phil Donahue
Rev. Ray East
Bill Ehrhart
Dan Ellsberg
Jodie Evans
Rev. Richard Fernandez
Frances Fitzgerald
Todd Gitlin
Juan Gonzalez
Amy Goodman
Judy Gumbo Albert
Susan Hammond
David Harris
David Hawk
Tom Hayden
Julian Hipkins 
Elizabeth Holtzman
Doug Hostetter
Gerald Horne
Jonathan Hutto
Raed Jarrar 
Channapha Khamvongsa
Michael Klare
Larry Korb
Carol Kurtz 
Judith LeBlanc
Barbara Lee
Judy Lerner
James Loewen 
Staughton Lynd
Myra Macpherson
Jorge Mariscal
John McAuliff
David McReynolds
Betty Medsger
Stephen Miles
David Morris
Jack Ballange Morris 
Bob Muehlenkamp
Rosalio Munoz
Robert Musil
Holly Near
Martha Noonan
Don North
Nguyen Nguyet
Margaret Prescod
Sophie Quinn-Judge
Bonnie Raines
Marcus Raskin
George Regas
Brewster Rhoads 
Luis Rodriguez
Randy Ross
Mark Rudd
Vivian Rothstein
Andre Sauvageot
Susan Schnall
Pat Schroeder
Frank Smith
Wayne Smith
Marge Tabankin
Arthur Waskow 
Barbara Webster 
Rick Weidman
Cora Weiss
Barbara Williams
Bethany Yarrow
Peter Yarrow
Marilyn Young
Ron Young

**********************************************************

Additional reading

The 40th anniversary of the end of the war is prompting many reflective pieces.  Among the most interesting:


"The Scene of the Crime:  A reporter's journey to My Lai and the secrets of the past."      
by Seymour M. Hersh



"After the Fall of Saigon"
by Ngo Vinh Long



"America's Memory of the Vietnam War in the Epoch of the Forever War"  
by H. Bruce Franklin 




 Gray

Friday, March 27, 2015

Agent Orange Funding Opens Door To US Militarism And Covert Action In Vietnam

Is the United States finally accepting responsibility for the devastating ongoing effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam, or is this funding just a way to get USAID in the door to meddle in the country’s affairs as part of Obama’s “Asian Pivot” strategy? 

MintPress News investigates.


@PopResistance March 24, 2015

Martin DempseyU.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, right, and Vietnamese Chief of General Staff of the Army, Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty, left, during an honor guard review before their talks in Hanoi, Vietnam. The easing of an arms embargo against Vietnam and a military agreement with the Philippines show the Obama administration wants deeper security ties with Asia. On Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, the State Department announced it would allow sales, on a case-by-case basis, of lethal equipment to help the maritime security of Vietnam, easing a ban that has been in place since communists took power at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Hanoi welcomed the step, saying it would promote the U.S.-Vietnam partnership.

WASHINGTON — The use of Agent Orange constitutes a war crime with devastating effects on the people in Vietnam not only during the war but even today. The U.S. military knew that its use of Agent Orange would be damaging, but, as an Air Force scientist wrote to Congress, “because the material was to be used on the enemy, none of us were overly concerned.”
Ecocide was committed when “the U.S. military sprayed 79 million liters of herbicides and defoliants over about one-seventh of the land area of southern Vietnam.” The 2008-2009 President’s Cancer Panel Reportfound that nearly five million Vietnamese were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in “400,000 deaths and disabilities and a half million children born with birth defects.”
In this photo taken on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, Le Van Tam, 14, is picked up by his father at a rehabilitation center in Danang, Vietnam. The children were born with physical and mental disabilities that the center's director says were caused by their parents' exposure to the chemical dioxin in the defoliant Agent Orange. On Thursday, the U.S. for the first time will begin cleaning up leftover dioxin that was stored at the former military base that's now part of Danang's airport.  (AP Photo/Maika Elan)
Le Van Tam, 14, is picked up by his father at a rehabilitation center in Danang, Vietnam. The children were born with physical and mental disabilities that the center’s director says were caused by their parents’ exposure to the chemical dioxin in the defoliant Agent Orange used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam war. Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012.

No one has been held accountable for this crime. U.S. courts have blocked lawsuits brought by the people of Vietnam, and the United States has never paid adequate war reparations to assist in caring for the victims of Agent Orange or to clean up the environment.
In recent years, however, the U.S. has begun to fund cleanup and treatment programs for Agent Orange victims. The timing of this change in policy comes as the U.S. military has been building a relationship with the Vietnamese military as part of the so-called “Asian Pivot.” Yet this relationship has been impaired by the United States’ failure to properly deal with Agent Orange.
Funding for Agent Orange damages is being used to open the door to greater U.S. military involvement and influence in the region, but it will also allow an expansion of U.S. covert operations in Vietnam that set the stage for the U.S. to install a “friendlier” government, if necessary for U.S. hegemony in the region.
This funding is coming through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which has close ties to the CIA and a long history of covert intelligence and destabilization. Vietnam is experiencing a greater U.S. military presence along with USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, also known for fomenting regime change.

Drawing Vietnam into US militarism

With its Asian Pivot, the U.S. intends to surround and isolate China by moving 60 percent of its Navy to the Asia-Pacific region, developing military agreements with countries there, and conducting joint military exercises with Pacific countries. The U.S. is also negotiating a massive corporate power-expanding treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which excludes China.
Map of current US military deployments in S.E. Asia.  (Courtesy of the   Copyright Schiller Institute, Inc. 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
Map of current US military deployments in S.E. Asia. (Courtesy of the Schiller Institute, Inc. 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
Vietnam has been a focal point for the U.S. military since the end of the George W. Bush administration, a prelude to the Asian Pivot that was formally announced by President Obama. For the last five years, the U.S. and Vietnam have been involved in joint military exercises. The U.S. has also started to sell weapons to Vietnam, seeking to transition the Vietnamese from Russian weapons to American weapons. And there has been a series of high-level meetings between the two countries.
In June 2013, The Diplomat reported, “the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff hosted the first visit by the Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army (and Deputy Minister of National Defense), General Do Ba Ty. Ty’s delegation included the commander of Vietnam’s Air Force and the deputy commanders of the Navy and General Intelligence Department. His trip included a visit to the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state suggesting future possible joint activities.”
On July 25, 2013 Obama met with President Truong Tan Sang in Washington to form a U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, covering a range of concerns including war legacy and security issues. They agreed to cooperate militarily through the U.S.-Vietnam Defense Policy Dialogue and the bilateral Political, Security, and Defense dialogue to discuss future military cooperation.
That meeting was followed by two high-level meetings between the U.S. and Vietnamese militaries. On Oct. 1, 2013 they held the 6th U.S.-Vietnam Political, Security and Defense Dialogue. The U.S. delegation included representatives from the State Department, Defense Department, USAID and the U.S. Pacific Command, while the Vietnamese delegation included representatives from the foreign affairs, public security and national defense ministries. The agenda included counterterrorism, counternarcotics, human trafficking, cyber law enforcement, defense and security, disaster response, search and rescue, war legacy and cooperation in regional organizations.
On Oct. 28 to 29, 2013 a second meeting was held in Washington. The 4th U.S.-Vietnam Defense Policy Dialogue was a deputy minister-level meeting and involved officials from their respective defense ministries.The Diplomat reported that “both dialogues were held within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding on Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation signed on September 19, 2011 and the U.S.-Vietnam Joint Statement of July 25, 2013.”
“What was new?” The Diplomat continued. “The two sides agreed to step up cooperation between their navies and their respective defense academies and institutions.”
Yet the Vietnamese are continuing to move slowly in building a military relationship with the U.S. Vietnam limits the U.S. Navy to one port call per year and continues to bar U.S. Navy warships from entry to Cam Ranh Bay. Further, Vietnam has yet to approve a request made by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in June 2012 to set up an Office of Defense Cooperation in the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.
A key factor holding back a closer military relationship is the inadequate cleanup of Agent Orange and the United States’ insufficient commitment to dealing with war legacies. After the 4th Defense Policy Dialogue, Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi told Voice of Vietnam, “A better defense relationship should be based on the efficiency of practical cooperation, including overcoming [the] war aftermath… General speaking (sic), the U.S. has offered Vietnam active cooperation in the issue, but it is not enough as the consequences of war are terrible.”
Bloomberg reported last year on the fifth year of joint military operations, tying them to the Asian Pivot: “Two U.S. Navy ships began six days of non-combat exercises with the Vietnamese military as the U.S. seeks to bolster its presence in Asia at a time of growing tension between China and its neighbors.” Lt. Comm. Clay Doss, a Navy public affairs officer, described the evolution, saying: “The quality and depth of the exchanges is increasing each year as our navies get to know each other better.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey visited Vietnam in August – the first visit of a Joint Chiefs chairman since 1971. Dempsey’s trip came amid an escalation in conflicts between China and Vietnam. Among other things, he visited a U.S. military base where toxic defoliants had been stored.
In October, the U.S. eased a ban on lethal weapons sales to Vietnam. The U.S. said the arms sales would improve the maritime military capabilities of Vietnam so it could be more effective in conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region. In December 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry announced $18 million in assistance to Vietnam to provide its coast guard with five unarmed, high-speed patrol boats.
An October commentary in the People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of China’s Communist Party, described these acts as destabilizing and “a clear extension of America’s interference with the balance of power in the region.” Maritime conflicts between Vietnam and China have been increasing as the U.S. adds military strength to Vietnam’s navy and coast guard. China maintains that disputes should be resolved through negotiations. Citing the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the Chinese side maintains that “related countries should solve maritime disputes peacefully.”
Meanwhile, in Vietnam there are also concerns about an escalation of disputes: “Some senior Vietnam Communist Party leaders have worried over the years that moving to upgrade military-to-military ties with the US would provoke China to increase its pressure on Vietnam and its assertiveness in the South China Sea.”
In addition to challenging China, the U.S. also seeks to undermine the relationship between Vietnam and Russia. Russia, an arch rival of the U.S., has been the main weapons supplier for Vietnam since 2009. The U.S. wants to reorient Vietnam’s military away from Russia, which holds multi-billion dollar arms sales contracts with Vietnam, including the sale of submarines and fighter jets.
Sputnik, a Russian government-owned news media outlet, reported earlier this month that the U.S. “bullied” Vietnam to stop allowing Russia to use the Cam Ranh Bay naval base. The State Department says it has “urged Vietnamese officials to ensure that Russia is not able to use its access to Cam Ranh Bay to conduct activities that could raise tensions in the region.” Igor Korotchenko, director general of the Russian Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade, described the U.S. as stirring up tensions, instituting an arms race and creating regional instability.

Agent Orange funding a tool for US militarism — and what else?

A U.S. Air Force C-123 flies low along a South Vietnamese highway spraying Agent Orange on dense jungle growth beside the road to eliminate ambush sites for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, Air Force C-123 planes sprayed millions of gallons of herbicides over the jungles of Southeast Asia to destroy enemy crops and tree cover. A U.S. Air Force C-123 flies low along a South Vietnamese highway spraying Agent Orange on dense jungle growth beside the road to eliminate ambush sites for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, Air Force C-123 planes sprayed millions of gallons of herbicides over the jungles of Southeast Asia to destroy enemy crops and tree cover. 

The Vietnamese government told the U.S. that one thing preventing a closer relationship between the U.S. and Vietnamese militaries is the failure of the U.S. to deal with the lasting effects of Agent Orange. After 50 years of the Agent Orange crisis the U.S. is finally beginning to fund some cleanup efforts. This funding is coming from USAID, which has a sordid history of serving as a cover for U.S. militarism and the CIA in Vietnam and around the world.
In William Blum’s 2004 book “Killing Hope,” John Gilligan, director of USAID under the Carter administration, describes the depth of the CIA-USAID relationship: “At one time, many AID [USAID] field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.”
Likewise, The Washington Post reported in 2010 that, “In South Vietnam, the USAID provided cover for CIA operatives so widely that the two became almost synonymous.”
During the Vietnam War, USAID operated a police training program that was tied to death squadsFormer New York Times correspondent A. J. Langguth wrote that “the two primary functions” of the USAID police training program were to allow the CIA to “plant men with local police in sensitive places around the world,” and bring to the U.S. “prime candidates for enrollment as CIA employees.”
The covert role of USAID has persisted. As The Washington Post reported in 2010, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta promised spies “new cover” for secret ops, and agencies that provide such cover include USAID and the State Department.
USAID has recently used health crises as cover for its covert operations. In 2011, Pakistan had a polio crisis, recording the highest number of polio cases in the world; it was a spiraling health catastrophe. USAID used a vaccination program organized by Save the Children, which had operated for 30 years in Pakistan, as cover to find Osama bin Laden.
The USAID-funded vaccination program used a Pakistani doctor and a local group, Lady Health Workers, to gain entrance to bin Laden’s home by going door-to-door to administer vaccinations. When vaccinations were administered to bin Laden’s children and grandchildren USAID tested the DNA of the used needles. It is likely that the doctor and two organizations were not aware they were being used by USAID. Save the Children staff members were expelled from Pakistan and the doctor was sentenced to 33 years in prison. His lawyer was murdered last week, and 74 health care workers have been killed since December 2012.
Last year, The Associated Press uncovered a USAID HIV-prevention program in Cuba used for covert operations. Beginning in October 2009, USAID, working through the Washington-based Creative Associates International, sent “Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of ginning up rebellion. The travelers worked undercover, often posing as tourists, and traveled around the island scouting for people they could turn into political activists.” They created an HIV-prevention workshop that “memos called ‘the perfect excuse’ for the program’s political goals.” Cuba uncovered the covert mission when the youth were questioned about their funding.
David Shear Nguyen Chi VinhU.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear, center, and Vietnam’s Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh, third left, along with delegates, attend a ceremony marking the start of a project to clean up dioxin left over from the Vietnam War, at a former U.S. military base in Danang, Vietnam Thursday Aug. 9, 2012.

Noting that USAID has “a long history of engaging in intelligence work and meddling in the domestic politics of aid recipients,” Foreign Policy reported on another USAID program in Cuba, also exposed in 2014, where USAID covertly launched a social media platform in 2010, creating a Twitter-like service that would spark a “Cuban Spring.” The digital Bay of Pigs failed to spark a revolt, but it did expose the political leanings of 40,000 Cubans. This was reportedly not a CIA project, but a USAID project meant to undermine the Cuban government. Indeed, USAID has evolved to carry out its own meddling in the affairs of governments.
A 2006 State Department cable, released by WikiLeaks in 2013, outlined the United States’ strategy for undermining the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez by “Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base,” “Dividing Chavismo,” and “Isolating Chavez internationally.” The same office responsible for the digital Bay of Pigs in Cuba, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, also carried out the program in Venezuela.
Bolivia expelled USAID in 2013 because it was meddling in Bolivian politics. President Evo Morales was upset that USAID money reached lowland regional governments that attempted to overthrow him in 2008. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request showed that USAID provided “$10.5 million for ‘democracy-building’ awarded to Chemonics International in 2006 ‘to support improved governance in a changing political environment.’” (Democracy development is a common cover for programs to foment rebellion.)
Bolivia is one of the many countries that have recently expelled USAID over the organization’s meddling in internal politics. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2013 that “about 50 countries have adopted laws to limit foreign funding of civic groups or more strictly control their activities. About 30 other countries are considering restrictions.”
Meanwhile, U.S. covert actions in Vietnam have not ended. A blogger and lawyer who spent a year in the U.S. as a fellow the National Endowment for Democracy was arrested in December 2012 for pro-democracy activities. The National Endowment for Democracy has been providing hundreds of thousands of dollars to various Vietnamese projects related to changing the government in recent years. USAID has a major presence with 38 ongoing projects in Vietnam.
It may be that regime change activities are already beginning in Vietnam. In 2014, there were large anti-China protests and attacks on Chinese businesses in Vietnam. Some speculated that the Vietnamese government was behind the protests, but David Koh, a reporter for Singapore’s Straits Times, who works with NGOs in Vietnam, interviewed officials and businessmen in Vietnam and reported that the government was surprised by the protests.
The protests were also against economic conditions and other issues in Vietnam, and it remains unclear who planned and funded the events. Researchers in Singapore who interviewed people on the ground in Vietnam wrote:
“A large number of Vietnamese flags and T-shirts had been purchased before the demonstrations suggesting that the attacks were not spontaneous. Even maps locating Chinese and Taiwanese factories had been photocopied in large numbers. The leaders of the riots have been reported to have been using walkie-talkies to communicate with each other. The fact that the violence affected as many as 200 factories in a single day already suggests that a high level of professionalism and organization was involved. This suggests that the riots were premeditated, although unlike the earlier peaceful demonstration of the patriots, they were not announced openly. Workers were believed to receive from VND50,000 to VND300,000 VND (equivalent to US$2.3 to US$14) to follow the agitators. This begs the question: where did the money come from?”
It’s important to note that people were paid more than a day’s labor to participate.
The Singapore researchers ultimately concluded that the Vietnamese government was the big loser:
“However, for now, the notion that the riots and violence were simply the result of a wave of blind nationalism and anti-Chinese sentiments must be re-examined. The current crisis presents major challenges for not only Vietnam-China relations, regional stability and ASEAN’s unity, but most of all, for Vietnam’s political system.”

Agent Orange Trojan Horse compounds war crimes

In addition to opening up Vietnam to a deeper relationship with the U.S. military – which is dangerous enough for Vietnam, China, Russia and the broader Asia-Pacific region – what else will USAID do with its foothold in Vietnam? As USAID so routinely involves itself in the affairs of foreign governments, it would be foolish to assume that USAID does not have other plans for Vietnam.
Rather than paying war reparations, the U.S. is using Agent Orange as a Trojan Horse to further U.S. militarization in Vietnam, escalate conflict with China and break the Vietnamese relationship with Russia. It may also be laying the groundwork for regime change if Vietnam does not comply as a tool of U.S. empire.
Vietnam should continue to demand war reparations that are adequate for the problems the U.S. created and keep the U.S. military at arm’s length. Vietnam should kick out USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, and demand that payments be made directly to Vietnam to keep U.S. meddling out of their country. Indeed, the U.S. should not be allowed to leverage the war crime of its use of Agent Orange as a tool for more U.S. militarism and intervention.

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