Duty to Warn

new-logo25kohlsGary G. Kohls, MD

 

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Four specially-equipped US Air Force cargo planes spraying a Vietnamese triple canopy forest with dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange during what the Vietnamese called the “American War” (those aren’t benign “contrails”, they’re toxic “chemtrails”)

50 years ago this next month (December 1965), with the urging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rubber stamp approval of President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the United States Air Force started secretly spraying the forests of Laos with a deadly herbicide that was known as Agent Orange.

Operation Ranch Hand, whose motto was “Only We Can Prevent Forests” (a shameful takeoff of Smokey the Bear’s admonition), was a desperate, costly and ultimately futile effort to make it a little harder for the National Liberation Front soldiers from North Vietnam to join and supply their comrades-in-arms in the south. Both the guerilla fighters in the south and the NLF army had been fighting to liberate Vietnam from the exploitive colonial domination from foreign nations such as imperial France (that began colonizing Vietnam in 1874), then Japan (during WWII), then the United States (since France’s expulsion after their huge military defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954) and then against its own nation’s US-backed fascist/military regime in South Vietnam that was headed by the brutal and corrupt President Diem.

(Incidentally, the nepotism in the US-backed, Roman Catholic Diem’s iron-fisted rule was almost laughable, with one brother being the Catholic Archbishop of Vietnam, a second brother being in charge of the Hue district, and a third brother being the co-founder of the only legal political party in South Vietnam [as well as Diem’s principal adviser]. It needs to be pointed out that true democracies do not criminalize political parties.)

The aim of the National Liberation Front was to unite the north and the south portions of the country and free it from the influence and occupation of foreign invaders. The leader of the liberation movement since its beginning was Ho Chi Minh, who had made sincere appeals to both President Woodrow Wilson (after WWI had weakened France’s colonial system) and President Harry Truman (after the Japanese had taken over Vietnam during WWII and then surrendered to the US in 1945).

Each appeal asked for America’s help to liberate Vietnam from their French colonial oppressors, and each one fell on deaf ears, even though Ho Chi Minh had frequently incorporated the wording and spirit of America’s Declaration of Independence in his continuous efforts to achieve justice for his suffering people.

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