The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), on the occasion of the Second International Conference of Victims of Agent Orange / dioxin, held on August 8-9, 2011 in Ha Noi, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.
From: Bruce McPhie
It is my pleasure and honour to send warm greetings to everyone participating in the 50th Commemoration of Agent Orange /dioxin sprayed on Viet Nam, and to wish you great success.
This work is of vital importance, on many levels: To raise public awareness of Agent Orange around the world. To provide practical and compassionate support to the Vietnamese Agent Orange victims in desperate need. To seek the basic human right of Justice for the victims. And to disarm the war mongers from using such diabolical weapons of mass destruction again.
Many people from all walks of life, throughout Viet Nam and around the world, are dedicated to this work. They may be doctors, scientists, lawyers, journalists, or just ordinary people like me, and it is wonderful to see our numbers growing, despite the enormous obstacles put in our way by powerful vested interests with a lot to hide and a lot of guilt.
On that fateful day, August 10, 1961, when the US military began spraying toxic chemicals as a weapon of war against Viet Nam, did anyone ever stop to consider the deadly and painful consequences for Viet Nam’s people, the environment, and future generations?
For some 10 years, nearly 100 million litres of diabolical chemicals, including dioxin - perhaps the most dangerous chemical known to man - were sprayed over vast areas and on millions of innocent people in Viet Nam and even Cambodia.
In 1988, the Pentagon compiled a classified report linking Agent Orange to 28 life-threatening conditions, including genetic birth defects and many cancers. The US Academy of Sciences has confirmed this. These effects were known at the time they were being sprayed, but did anyone care?
An international conference in Stockholm in July 2002 asked the United Nations, the US government and the chemical companies to take responsibility for dealing with the long-term consequences of these toxic chemicals. But have they?
A conference at Yale University in April 2003 concluded that in Viet Nam the US had conducted QUOTE “the largest chemical warfare campaign in history.” END OF QUOTE.
I wonder how many people in the world even know that today?
The International People’s Tribunal of Conscience in Paris made its final judgment on May 18, 2009, concluding that the use of dioxin by the US military in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971 was a war crime against humanity. Has anyone been charged with these war crimes?
Now, 50 years since the war crime of Agent Orange was first unleashed on the world, in Viet Nam, we are still waiting for the guilty parties to accept their responsibility to clean up the shocking mess they left behind, or to answer for their crimes.
Now, 50 years later, millions of innocent Vietnamese victims suffer to live and die with the horrible diseases caused by Agent Orange and the kaleidoscope of other toxic chemicals used. These victims are now into the 3rd and 4th generation, with no end in sight. What a shocking legacy to leave for the future.
Now, 50 years later, the unrepentant war mongers continue to ignore the consequences of their criminal actions, now using Depleted Uranium munitions in the countries they have bombed since Viet Nam. These radio-active uranium shells are now an every-day weapon of war, yet, as with Agent Orange, these indiscriminate weapons not only kill in the present, but they go on killing with cancers and birth defects long into the future generations. What type of monsters can go on doing this without care?
The innocent people of Libya have now become the latest victims of such genocidal Uranium weapons - after Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. And who might be next? Depleted Uranium weapons are effectively nuclear weapons, yet so-called civilized, Western powers are using them with hardly a peep of protest. How many people even know about this? Where are the truthful stories exposing these crimes in the mainstream media? Where is the outrage?
In the case of Viet Nam, the US war propagandists told the great lie that this was a “noble cause” to “save” the people of Viet Nam. Somehow “We had to destroy the town in order to save it”, as the US army officer infamously said about 1968. Many people believed it, at least at first, because ordinary, decent people want to believe that their governments act with good intentions, not evil.
Today, imperialist wars continue to be ‘sold’ to the public by similar feel-good messages, such as the big lie that the ongoing US / NATO war against Libya is a “humanitarian mission” to “save innocent civilians”. Of course, it is no such thing. NATO is killing civilians with weapons including Depleted Uranium (the Agent Orange of the present wars), which will go on killing future generations, long after the conflict is over, as is the case with Viet Nam.
The intent in Libya is regime change for a host of other strategic reasons, none of which have anything to do with compassion for ordinary people, or respect for the rule of law. It is all about oil, control of resources, and to stop the introduction of the Gold Dinar as an alternative currency to the USD and the Euro. Powerful vested interests really don’t like that idea!
As was the case with Viet Nam, imperialist powers seek to defeat the very idea that any country can exercise its right to develop independently outside the exploitative control of the international capitalist financial system. Of course, they use nice-sounding words to hide their true intent, as they did in Viet Nam, and as they do today with Libya.
There is a long-term, consistent plan here. U.S. General Wesley Clark (Retired) is on public record saying that he was told years ago that the US Administration of George W. Bush planned to take out 7 countries in 5 years - Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran.
What do these seven countries have in common?
In the context of banking, one thing is that none of them is listed among the 56 member banks of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), thus putting them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers' central bank in Switzerland.
Kenneth Schortgen Jr., writing on Examiner.com, noted that QUOTE "six months before the US moved into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein, the oil nation had made the move to accept euros instead of dollars for oil, and this became a threat to the global dominance of the dollar as the reserve currency, and its dominion as the petrodollar." END OF QUOTE
According to a Russian article titled ‘Bombing of Libya - Punishment for Ghaddafi for His Attempt to Refuse US Dollar’, Gaddafi made a similarly bold move: he initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Gaddafi was successfully working towards a united African continent, with its 200 million people using this single gold dinar currency, so he had to be stopped.
George W. Bush has been replaced by a new Nobel Peace Prize-winning warrior president, but the imperialist war crimes continue with no change ‘we can believe in’, just more of the same or worse.
It is safe to assume that imperialist wars are always fought for the benefit of the rich ruling class, and never for the interests of the ordinary people. They are always sold to the public with cynical, carefully-crafted lies, and sustained corporate media propaganda. Our only defence against that is to always be sceptical, to be well-informed from a variety of news sources, and not to automatically believe the official stories promoting unjust wars with lies and misinformation.
This is one of the important and enduring lessons of the Viet Nam experience, which we all must learn if we are to understand the real reasons behind the ongoing, endless imperialist wars of the present and future.
US Major-General Smedley Butler knew this long ago. As a 33-year veteran of the US marine corps and America’s most decorated soldier, Smedley Butler became a whistle blower against war, writing his powerful book ‘War is a Racket’ way back in 1935. In that book he wrote:
“…For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it…I must face it and speak out...” He confessed to having been a “…high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” END OF QUOTE
During the American War against Viet Nam, ordinary GIs played a vital role in helping to end that imperialist war, when they awoke to the truth of what it was really all about. Similarly, veterans of the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are also mobilizing against the ‘racket of war.’ Meanwhile, Bradley Manning, who allegedly released official documents to WikiLeaks exposing the criminality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, still languishes in a US prison, tortured and denied his legal rights. In a sane world, heroic whistle blowers against wars would get the Nobel Peace Prize, wouldn’t they?
However, the war makers and profiteers are tireless and persistent in the pursuit of their vested interests. So we, the people, must be at least as equally tireless and persistent if we are to enjoy the human right to live in a sustainable world free of imperialist war.
Agent Orange is just one of the diabolical weapons of war, which should never be used again. The greatest evil is war itself. For the sake of humanity, and the planet, we must move beyond war and find peaceful means to settle conflicts. But we cannot actually move on until past crimes are properly dealt with. This includes healing the wounds of war in Viet Nam, and delivering care, compassion and justice for the innocent Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.
The world can certainly learn valuable lessons from the experiences of Viet Nam in wartime and peace.
Thank you and warm regards to you all.
July 10, 2011