Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The interview Western ‘leaders’ and 'news' media do NOT want you to read!  


Compare these words of common sense with the official mainstream narrative about Syria.  
Decide for yourself who makes more sense. . .


The civil war in Syria will soon enter its fifth year, with no end in sight. On January 20, Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus to discuss the conflict in an exclusive interview.
January 27, 2015 "ICH" - "Foreign Affairs" -
     
I would like to start by asking you about the war. It has now been going on for almost four years, and you know the statistics: more than 200,000 people have been killed, a million wounded, and more than three million Syrians have fled the country, according to the UN. Your forces have also suffered heavy casualties. The war cannot go on forever. How do you see the war ending?

All wars anywhere in the world have ended with a political solution, because war itself is not the solution; war is one of the instruments of politics. So you end with a political solution. That’s how we see it. That is the headline.


You don’t think that this war will end militarily?

No. Any war ends with a political solution. . . 


If you were able to deliver a message to President Obama today, what would it be?

I think the normal thing that you ask any official in the world is to work for the interests of his people. And the question I would ask any American is, what do you get from supporting terrorists in our country, in our region?. . . 


One of the officials from your country asked me seven years ago in Syria at the end of a meeting, “How do you think we can solve the problem in Afghanistan?” I told him, “You have to be able to deal with officials who are not puppets, who can tell you no.” So for the United States, only looking for puppet officials and client states is not how you can serve the interests of your country. 


You are the greatest power in the world now; you have too many things to disseminate around the world: knowledge, innovation, IT, with its positive repercussions. How can you be the best in these fields yet the worst in the political field? This is a contradiction. That is what I think the American people should analyze and question. 

Why do you fail in every war? You can create war, you can create problems, but you cannot solve any problem. Twenty years of the peace process in Palestine and Israel, and you cannot do anything with this, in spite of the fact that you are a great country.


But in the context of Syria, what would a better policy look like?

One that preserves stability in the Middle East. Syria is the heart of the Middle East. Everybody knows that. If the Middle East is sick, the whole world will be unstable. In 1991, when we started the peace process, we had a lot of hope. Now, after more than 20 years, things are not at square one; they’re much below that square. 


So the policy should be to help peace in the region, to fight terrorism, to promote secularism, to support this area economically, to help upgrade the mind and society, like you did in your country. That is the supposed mission of the United States, not to launch wars. 


Launching war doesn’t make you a great power.


Read the entire excellent interview:


Monday, January 26, 2015


By Tyler Durden
January 25, 2015 "ICH" - "Zero Hedge" - 

Amid the devastation of yesterday's Mariupol artillery strikes...an 'odd' clip has emerged that appears to provide all the 'proof' a US intelligence officer would need to surmise that US military boots are on the ground in Ukraine. 

As the following clip shows, a Ukrainian journalist approaches what she thinks is a Ukrainian soldier (since he is wearing a Ukrainian military uniform and is carrying an AK) and asked him as they run through the battlezone, "tell me, what happened here?" 

His response, which requires no translation, speaks for itself.

WATCH THIS VIDEO (41 seconds):


With daily reportage of the 'invasion' of Russian military forces into Ukraine territory (admittedly unconfirmed by NATO), this clip raises many questions about American involvement in the ongoing conflict - most of all, was the US involved in the "staging" the Mariupol massacre, and if so it is clear who should be blamed (and isolated).

Of course, US troops, or at least mercs, on the ground, should not be a total surprise, since just 2 months ago, we discussed the hacked US documents that revealed the extent of undisclosed US "lethal aid" being given to the Ukraine army. What was apparently left unleaked was the part of the US aid also includes US-speaking soldiers. The only question is whether US taxpayers are paying their wages.





The following article appeared briefly at this URL on censor.net.ua and was quickly pulled down. Ironic? It would seem so. My translation. I bring it to you because it succinctly lays out the situation as I've been able to piece it together from multiple Russian- and Ukrainian-language sources, and because you are unlikely to come across anything this truthful from cough Western media cough.      Continue



Why I will NOT be watching the latest Hollywood warmongering movie: ‘American Sniper’. . .


Rather than glorifying false 'heroes' who are actually war criminals, such as Chris Kyle, we should be targeting the Rumsfelds and Cheneys, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard and other criminals who put Kyle and his high-powered rifle on rooftops in Iraq and asked him to shoot innocent men, women and children, including people legitimately resisting an illegal war of aggression inflicted on them. 

Iraq was an illegal war of aggression, sold to the public by deliberately fabricated lies, which has destroyed millions of innocent people, and fueled more terrorism, all to advance the selfish interests of the ruling class of an evil Empire that belongs in the dustbin of history. 

If the Nuremberg Principles had been applied to the war crimes against Viet Nam & Iraq, etc., Western political and military leaders would have been condemned and executed, just as Nazis were after World War 2.

Those responsible for the Iraq War should not be free to sit in a cinema watching this Hollywood propaganda distortion of history - they should be punished as war criminals. 

If ordinary people can actually watch this movie and laugh, and cheer war criminal Chris Kyle, we know how successful the militaristic brainwashing has been, and how little decency and humanity is left in so-called 'Western civilization'.                                              Bruce McPhie.






Killing Ragheads for Jesus
By Chris Hedges
The movie “American Sniper” lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society—including the belief that Christians are called upon to exterminate “lesser breeds.” 
Continue


WATCH: Chomsky Blasts 'American Sniper' and the Media that Glorifies It
By Janet Allon 

The famed professor draws a disturbing parallel between "Sniper" and our "global assassination program."Continue


Why Do Critics Love American Sniper?
By Jonathan Cook

The only reason audiences could be raving about American Sniper, is that it closely aligns with the mood of self-pity that currently dominates in the US. 
Continue


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Selected extracts from 
William Blum's Anti-Empire Report, January 20, 2015:


Murdering journalists … them and us

...Where has all this Islamic fundamentalism come from in this modern age? Most of it comes – trained, armed, financed, indoctrinated – from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. During various periods from the 1970s to the present, these four countries had been the most secular, modern, educated, welfare states in the Middle East region. And what had happened to these secular, modern, educated, welfare states?
In the 1980s, the United States overthrew the Afghan government that was progressive, with full rights for women, believe it or not, leading to the creation of the Taliban and their taking power.
In the 2000s, the United States overthrew the Iraqi government, destroying not only the secular state, but the civilized state as well, leaving a failed state.
In 2011, the United States and its NATO military machine overthrew the secular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi, leaving behind a lawless state and unleashing many hundreds of jihadists and tons of weaponry across the Middle East.
And for the past few years the United States has been engaged in overthrowing the secular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This, along with the US occupation of Iraq having triggered widespread Sunni-Shia warfare, led to the creation of The Islamic State with all its beheadings and other charming practices...
On January 11, Paris was the site of a March of National Unity in honor of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose journalists had been assassinated by terrorists. The march was rather touching, but it was also an orgy of Western hypocrisy, with the French TV broadcasters and the assembled crowd extolling without end the NATO world’s reverence for journalists and freedom of speech; an ocean of signs declaring Je suis Charlie … Nous Sommes Tous Charlie; and flaunting giant pencils, as if pencils – not bombs, invasions, overthrows, torture, and drone attacks – have been the West’s weapons of choice in the Middle East during the past century.
No reference was made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades in the Middle East and elsewhere, had been responsible for the deliberate deaths of dozens of journalists. In Iraq, among other incidents, see Wikileaks’ 2007 video of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign cameramen.
Moreover, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.”
And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-day bombing of a country which posed no threat at all to the United States or any other country, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage...

Let Cuba Live! 

The Devil’s List of what the United States has done to Cuba

On May 31, 1999, a lawsuit for $181 billion in wrongful death, personal injury, and economic damages was filed in a Havana court against the government of the United States. It was subsequently filed with the United Nations. Since that time its fate is somewhat of a mystery.
The lawsuit covered the 40 years since the country’s 1959 revolution and described, in considerable detail taken from personal testimony of victims, US acts of aggression against Cuba; specifying, often by name, date, and particular circumstances, each person known to have been killed or seriously wounded. In all, 3,478 people were killed and an additional 2,099 seriously injured. (These figures do not include the many indirect victims of Washington’s economic pressures and blockade, which caused difficulties in obtaining medicine and food, in addition to creating other hardships.)
The case was, in legal terms, very narrowly drawn. It was for the wrongful death of individuals, on behalf of their survivors, and for personal injuries to those who survived serious wounds, on their own behalf. No unsuccessful American attacks were deemed relevant, and consequently there was no testimony regarding the many hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts against Cuban President Fidel Castro and other high officials, or even of bombings in which no one was killed or injured. Damages to crops, livestock, or the Cuban economy in general were also excluded, so there was no testimony about the introduction into the island of swine fever or tobacco mold.
However, those aspects of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare waged against Cuba that involved human victims were described in detail, most significantly the creation of an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever in 1981, during which some 340,000 people were infected and 116,000 hospitalized; this in a country which had never before experienced a single case of the disease. In the end, 158 people, including 101 children, died.  That only 158 people died, out of some 116,000 who were hospitalized, was an eloquent testimony to the remarkable Cuban public health sector.
The complaint describes the campaign of air and naval attacks against Cuba that commenced in October 1959, when US president Dwight Eisenhower approved a program that included bombings of sugar mills, the burning of sugar fields, machine-gun attacks on Havana, even on passenger trains.
Another section of the complaint described the armed terrorist groups, los banditos, who ravaged the island for five years, from 1960 to 1965, when the last group was located and defeated. These bands terrorized small farmers, torturing and killing those considered (often erroneously) active supporters of the Revolution; men, women, and children. Several young volunteer literacy-campaign teachers were among the victims of the bandits.
There was also of course the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion, in April 1961. Although the entire incident lasted less than 72 hours, 176 Cubans were killed and 300 more wounded, 50 of them permanently disabled.
The complaint also described the unending campaign of major acts of sabotage and terrorism that included the bombing of ships and planes as well as stores and offices. The most horrific example of sabotage was of course the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner off Barbados in which all 73 people on board were killed. There were as well as the murder of Cuban diplomats and officials around the world, including one such murder on the streets of New York City in 1980. 
This campaign continued to the 1990s, with the murders of Cuban policemen, soldiers, and sailors in 1992 and 1994, and the 1997 hotel bombing campaign, which took the life of a foreigner; the bombing campaign was aimed at discouraging tourism and led to the sending of Cuban intelligence officers to the US in an attempt to put an end to the bombings; from their ranks rose the Cuban Five.
To the above can be added the many acts of financial extortion, violence and sabotage carried out by the United States and its agents in the 16 years since the lawsuit was filed. In sum total, the deep-seated injury and trauma inflicted upon on the Cuban people can be regarded as the island’s own 9-11. 

READ MORE:
Official website of the author, historian, and U.S. foreign policy critic, William Blum.
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to his website are given.


*

Do you agree?. . .

Anti-Israel cartoon breached standards, Australian press organization finds: An Australian press organization has judged that a cartoon published in The Sydney Morning Herald violated press Standards of Practice by the way it linked symbols of the Jewish faith to criticism of Israel.


Sydney Morning Herald caricature, published during summer Gaza War, depicted a Jewish man watching a Gaza bombing from a hilltop.


An Australian press organization has judged that a cartoon published in The Sydney Morning Herald violated press Standards of Practice by the way it linked symbols of the Jewish faith to criticism of Israel.
The adjudication, issued by the Australian Press Council, concerned a cartoon drawn by Glen Le Lievre and published by the Morning Herald on July 26, in the midst of the most recent Gaza conflict. The cartoon depicted an elderly man with a sizable nose wearing glasses and a yarmulke, reclining in a chair emblazoned with a Star of David, and holding a remote control while watching from hilltop as a city, which by implication is Gaza, explodes.
Le Lievre is an internationally published cartoonist whose work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, Reader’s Digest, and Mad Magazine.
In the adjudication issued January 17, the Press Council states, “A linkage with Israeli nationality might have been justifiable in the public interest, despite being likely to cause offense. But the same cannot be said of the implied linkage with the Jewish faith that arose from inclusion of the kippah and the Star of David."
In response to the adjudication, the Morning Herald republished an apology that it originally published onAugust 3, 2014, one week after the cartoon originally ran. That apology likewise regretted the use of the religious symbols of the yarmulke and Star of David, although it noted that Le Lievre’s work commonly depicts people with large noses, regardless of race or ethnicity, and that the image was inspired by news photographs of Israelis watching the bombardment of Gaza from the hilltops of Sderot.
The Press Council’s statement praised the apology and noted that the Morning Herald’s editor in chief and news director had attended “seminars facilitated by the Jewish Board of Deputies to raise awareness about imagery that could be construed as anti-Semitic."



*



From AcronymTV.com
Rep. Alan Grayson: Put The TPP TO Death
(Featuring interviews with Rep. Alan Grayson and President of CWA Larry Cohen.)

(WATCH)

Recently, Dennis Trainor Jr. spoke with one of the members of the U.S. Congress, Alan Grayson, who has taken the time to read the top-secret trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). There is nothing redeemable in the entire TPP, Grayson told me, saying, “It is something that should be totally put to death.”

The Obama administration continues to favor what is referred to as “fast track” legislation to authorize the TPP.  Fast track,  Grayson tells me, would allow each member of congress “88 seconds of debate per member” meaning that there would be no meaningful debate on this trade deal carved out by the lawyers and advisors of 600 or so of the most powerful corporations in the world.

You have probably heard the TPP called “NAFTA on steroids” and for good reason. The TPP is a trade deal to dismantle democracy.

The TPP It is a secret global deal that combines all of the worst elements of NAFTA and Citizens United, shoots them up with steroids, sprinkles in a speedball and codifies these principles into a trade agreement that is in fact a Trojan horse to bore you and put you to sleep so that when you wake up a global corporate coup will be in place creating a parallel system of justice where three private attorneys would oversee a kangaroo court set up to defend corporate interests over the interests of people and the planet. 

To whit, the TPP would empower corporations to sue countries or states that take action (environmental regulation, consumer protection, you name it) that may harm the potential future profits of the corporation.

In other words, if the concept of corporate personhood puts you into a fit of rage, then take a moment to let the concept of Corporate Nationhood sink in.

Rep. Grayson does not think that we have to worry about Fast track legislation on the TPP being pushed through during this lame duck session of Congress, citing “people who agree with you for all the wrong reasons, and yet they still agree with you.” While Congressman Grayson states unequivocally that he is against fast track and the TPP “on the merits” there are many Republicans who oppose the TPP and Fast Track authority because they “hate President Obama.”

Strange bedfellows, according to Grayson, have created a situation where creating fast track authority for the TPP is unlikely.

Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) acknowledges that the labor movement did not do enough to stop NAFTA over 20 years ago, but he is throwing his weight behind stopping fast track authority for the TPP. “There are a significant number of Democrats willing to support Obama on fast track,” said Cohen. “To them, we say: we will not support you going forward politically. We won’t be part of your fund raising base, but you are willing to have corporate America substitute for our support. Shame on you.”





With Aleppo Encircled, West Seeks Wildcard to Save its Terror Hordes   By Tony Cartalucci     


The Syrian Arab Army is reportedly close to completely encircling militants that have occupied the northern city of Aleppo since they invaded it from NATO territory in 2012. Once the encirclement is complete, analysts believe the the city will be finally liberated, in a process similar to the retaking of Homs further south.

The desperation of militants facing this final phase in the Battle for Aleppo is indicated by their Western sponsors’ attempts to broker a ceasefire and arrange “aid” to reach them. Similar attempts were made in vain during the closing phases in the Battle for Homs in mid-2014 – with the city of Homs having been an epicenter of terrorist activity beginning in 2011, and now under the control of the Syrian government.  Small pockets of militants have been isolated within Homs, allowing order to be restored across the majority of the city and the surrounding region.

As the Syrian government systematically regains control of a nation up-ended by Western-backed terrorists flooding the country accompanied by a seemingly inexhaustible torrent of cash, weapons, and equipment, the desperation of these Western interests has visibly increased.

The Guardian, chief among the many propagandists distorting the conflict since it began in 2011, is now attempting to form a narrative extorting global security by claiming only by NATO establishing a no-fly-zone over Aleppo and repelling Syrian government forces, can “moderate rebels” hold on to the city and repel lingering “Islamic State” (ISIS) forces.

Since then the regime’s incremental gains have been hard fought, with most inroads being pushed back by rebel fighters and locals, both still reeling from their losses of manpower in the war with Isis. Meanwhile Isis has lurked 20 miles away, taunting the Islamic Front with a radio station it has set up that regularly plays Islamic chants insulting the group’s members. 
“They were strategic [losses] for us,” said the Aleppo commander of the gains by Isis. “And [yet] the Americans doubt our commitment to fighting them? When [the US] came back to Syria, we thought the least they could do is to stop Assad’s air force from flying. But they have bombed the city more than at any time before the Americans arrived. Of course we believe they have a deal with the regime. It is obvious.”
Of course the reality is that the US has merely used ISIS as a pretext to violate Syrian airspace, with the next step being to establish long-planned no-fly-zones, if possible, to thwart the Syrian Arab Army. Just as in Libya, the no-fly-zone would simply hand the rest of Syria over to ISIS and other Al Qaeda affiliates – clearly the most dominate militant force engaged in fighting the Syrian government, and clearly the recipients of the vast majority of material support supplied by NATO and their regional partners, most notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel.

It should be noted, that while the Guardian claims the remaining encircled militants in Aleppo are at odds with ISIS, the same report admits these same militants coordinate with US State Department listed foreign terrorist organization, Al Nusra. The Guardian would admit:
The fight for Zahraa, one of the few Shia enclaves in northern Syria, is being led by the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra, with whom the Islamic Front have an understanding but no formal alliance. After barely holding ground for much of the past year, al-Nusra recently seized large chunks of territory near the Turkish border, reasserting itself as a power player at the expense of non-jihadist groups. The fast-changing dynamic is forcing a new reckoning with the Islamic Front, which says it has waited fruitlessly for help from Arab states that was promised but never delivered.
These same ISIS forces that are allegedly at odds with “moderate rebels” have seen thousands of so-called “moderates” defecting into their ranks recently bringing with them large sums of Western cash and weapons. 

That Al Qaeda – both Al Nusra and ISIS – seems to thrive along the Turkish border indicates that NATO support is not at all going to “moderate rebels,” but instead, intentionally to Al Qaeda, or to moderate groups NATO knows is working with, or soon to join Al Qaeda.

With a menace of its own creation – perpetuated to this day and thriving along the borders of NATO, seeking safe-haven in NATO territory and receiving an uninterrupted line of supplies from NATO territory with absolute impunity – the West seeks to extort from the world through fear of ISIS’ spread, greater direct military intervention, up to and including no-fly-zones, and perhaps more muscular policies including the carving out of “safe havens” within which ISIS can stage larger and more effective military operations deeper into Syria.

As exposed in 2007 by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and veteran journalist Seymour Hersh in his New Yorker report titled, “The Redirection,” the West conspired to intentionally build up and unleash terrorist mercenaries affiliated with Al Qaeda across the Arab World to fight a proxy war against Iran and its growing arc of influence. 

US support was to be laundered through Saudi Arabia as to maintain a veneer of plausible deniability and operational compartmentalization. Clearly, what is unfolding in Syria today, is the verbatim manifestation of Hersh’s meticulous, 9-page report.

To confound this criminal conspiracy, Syria and its allies must ensure that the ongoing conflict is exposed as a terrorist invasion, not a “civil war,” and that any strategy formulated to combat this terrorist scourge must include the Syrian government – demonstrably the most capable force confronting Al Qaeda in the Levant since 2011. 

Thus, the more aid the West and its regional allies supply this terrorist front with, the greater support Syria has upon the global stage to fight it – painting Western foreign policy into a corner, and allowing Syrians to finally restore order to their besieged nation.


Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine
 New Eastern Outlook”




Friday, January 23, 2015


Compare and Contrast
Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chávez

By Glenn Greenwald
Only in those circles of tribalism, jingoism and propaganda is such tripe taken at all seriously.   
Continue



Western Politicians and Media Rush To Issue Tributes To King That Led The World In Beheadings: 
By WashingtonsBlog

The Saudis under King Abdullah have beheaded more people than ISIS, treated women drivers and atheists as terrorists, and flogged people who speak out.   
Continue



False flags and how to start a 'colour revolution' in Argentina
By Mario

The day judge Nisman is invited by the opposition to appear in Congress, he is found dead in his apartment.   Continue


Argentina's President Says Prosecutor Killed In Plot
By AFP
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner says prosecutor murdered to implicate her government in a cover-up.  
Continue



The Davos Oligarchs are Right to Fear the World They’ve Made
By Seumas Milne

The billionaires and corporate oligarchs meeting in Davos this week are getting worried about inequality.  Continue


How Propaganda Conquers Democracy
By Nicolas J S Davies
In recent decades, the U.S. propaganda system has grown more and more sophisticated in the art of “perception management,” now enlisting not only government PR specialists but careerist journalists and aspiring bloggers to push deceptions on the public.   Continue


Inevitable Payback 
By Craig Murray
If we launch weapons of great destructive power into communities abroad, incinerating and shredding women and children, we cannot avoid the fact that those who identify with those communities – ethnically, culturally and religiously – will take revenge on people here.   
Continue



Chomsky: Paris Attacks Show Hypocrisy Of West's OutrageBy Noam Chomsky
Ignored in the "war against terrorism" is the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times -- Barack Obama's global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day.   
Continue



The Golden Age of Black Ops
US Special Ops Missions Already in 105 Countries in 2015

By Nick Turse
The American people have consistently been kept in the dark about what America’s special operators are doing and where they’re doing it. not to mention the blowback from, what they’ve done.   Continue



Inside the secret network behind mass surveillance, endless war, and Skynet. 



Sunday, January 18, 2015

The terrible legacy of Agent Orange


Forty years after war ended, Washington begins decontamination of worst-affected areas in Vietnam.

THE INDEPENDENT  SUNDAY JANUARY 18, 2015

. . .Last week, 40 years after the war ended, the US began a programme to try to decontaminate the worst-affected parts of the country, but even if the belated action grows into something far larger, it can never deal with the dreadful legacy of Agent Orange.

In a museum in the suburbs of Saigon, there is an exhibit where hundreds of photos of deformed adults, children and babies hang next to a copy of a letter which Tran Thi Hoan wrote to Barack Obama in 2009. After describing how doctors discouraged her from starting a family, fearing her children would be born with similar defects, she asked if the President would "spare a little time to resolve this forgotten problem", after decades of quibbling over the issue in Washington.

Between 1962 and 1971, the US air force dropped around 20 million gallons of the herbicide during Operation Ranch Hand. Around 4,000 villages and communes in South Vietnam were sprayed, leaving at least 4.5 million Vietnamese exposed to the substance, according to census reports taken at the time. Five million acres of farmland were destroyed in the process (the size of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Northumberland combined), of which two million remain barren today.

. . . Early on in the campaign, US planes dropped pamphlets written in Vietnamese assuring farmers that the chemicals were harmless to humans and animals. In spite of alleged warnings from chemical companies that the herbicide was potentially harmful, the US reportedly dropped the chemical at a higher concentration than what was recommended for destroying foliage.

As a result, the Vietnam Red Cross estimates that three million Vietnamese were left suffering from spina bifida, Parkinson's and heart diseases as a result. Since then, at least 150,000 children have been born with birth defects, a number which the Vietnamese government claims could be as high as half a million.

Various court cases and pleas to the US government by Vietnamese victims have proved fruitless, whereas American veterans exposed to Agent Orange have had their appeals answered. Families of former US soldiers suffering because of dioxin poisoning get up to $1,500 (£956) a month in compensation, while Vietnamese families who have been affected receive around 80,000 dong a month (just over $5) in government support for their disabled children.

In 1984, chemical companies that manufactured the herbicide settled a class-action suit by US veterans for $180m. Then, in 2010, 200,000 veterans filed claims based on a policy change by the Department of Veterans Affairs which gave them easier access to compensation for health problems caused by exposure to the defoliant.

Vietnamese victims filed a similar lawsuit in 2004. The case brought by the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange against the chemical companies failed, with the court ruling that the herbicide was used to protect US troops against ambush and was not intended to be used against human populations. The manufacturers were also protected by a contract with the US government which employed them to manufacture and supply them with the herbicide during the war.

For years, Washington has avoided discussing the Agent Orange-related health problems among the Vietnamese and the need for more scientific research into the problem. Since 2007 it has given about $60m for environmental restoration and social services in Vietnam, but last week's project is its first direct involvement in decontaminating areas affected by dioxin.

The $43m project, which began last Thursday, is expected to be completed in four years. It covers a 47-acre site in the coastal city of Da Nang, one of many "hot spots" that have been identified on the perimeter of former US bases where Agent Orange was handled; 50 years on, dioxins still into the surrounding soil, posing a risk to the population.

Even though this is a step forward by the US in a relationship with Vietnam that has been hampered by the issue, the lasting legacy of Agent Orange will need a far more substantial input to repair the damage. 

In 2007, the non-partisan Aspen Institute determined that it would cost the US government $300m over 10 years to eliminate the remaining health threat and improve the lives of disabled people in Vietnam.

READ MORE:




Letter of Vietnam student Tran Thi Hoan 

victim of Agent Orange 

sent to US President Obama


Dear President Barack Obama! 
My name is Trần Thị Hoan, 23, born in Đức Linh District, Bình Thuận Province, (south) Việt Nam. I am a second generation victim of Agent Orange, one among the plaintiffs, representing millions of Agent Orange victims, in a lawsuit against 37 U.S. chemical manufacturers in the U.S. Federal Court, two richest of which are Dow and Monsanto.  They manufactured deadly defoliants sprayed in the Vietnam wars containing dioxin—it has not only killed living people during the war, but gradually kills their children generations, like me, and goes on to kill the next ones.  It damages my country and other nations beyond imagination. 
I have read your letter to your beloved daughters, especially this excerpt: “These are the things I want for you—to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That’s why I’ve taken our family on this great adventure.” I was deeply moved by the love you have for your daughters and the dreams you have for children of other countries, and I dream that certainly you meant also for Vietnam.  I dream that when you were on the campaign trail, and when you were writing those lines, you had some ideas about Agent Orange and its devastating effects on human and environment. I dream when you wrote “And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have” you were actually thinking about innocent children slowly killed by dioxin, and their sufferings, their education in a very poor country like Vietnam will be the same as your daughters in the U.S.  I dream you had in mind what to do to help every child to have the same chances to learn and to dream and grow and thrive like your daughters’. 
May I say something about myself: when I was in junior high school, I studied hard to become a doctor to help people in my home town because they were so poor. But this dream was taken from me.  I was suggested in college not to follow medicine because I was born with no legs and no left hand.  My parents were consumed with grief when I was born and when I started school.  I was suggested not to dream about raising a family for fear that my children would be born deformed like me, and the poison might even take their lives.  You may have guessed from my personal story, one among three million victim stories, what happen to other parents victims of Agent Orange. 
You are a father of two beautiful daughters, and you know how parents love their children.  As you might have known, the U.S. Vietnam veterans, sick from Agent Orange, have gotten remediation for their illnesses, but their children have not. How do their children live a decent life like your daughters?  In the case of my poor country, veterans of the U.S. war and their children and grandchildren have not received any justice from the U.S. courts: they refused to hear our case against the U.S. chemical companies without explanations.  This denial of justice may have rendered void your dream for every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive.  When I toured the U.S. cities last October, I found the American people deeply concerned about the problems of Agent Orange, including lawyers.  I was totally disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court running away from this question of justice. 
I understand that you are very busy with the urgent matters that face your country, I hope that you would consider the poison from Agent Orange and the lives of its victims with as much a matter of urgency because what they mean to the future of humanity.  I hope that you, a symbol of hope not only for the United States, but also for the world, a father who love his children dearly, and a man of humanity, spare a little time to resolve this forgotten problem.