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Agent Orange, Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Other Ugly Legacies of the Vietnam War

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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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Agent orange, Agent White, Agent Blue and the Rainbow colors of biological warfare going on since WW2

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Air University Review, July-August 1983

Operation Ranch Hand:
Herbicides In Southeast Asia

 

It has been more than twelve years since the last Ranch Hand, herbicide mission in Southeast Asia. Although the controversy still continues perhaps enough time has passed for a retrospective evaluation of this operation. The widespread use of herbicides in Southeast Asia was a unique military operation, but examining the decisions that led to the initiation, expansion and eventual termination of Operation Ranch Hand may provide insights about the larger war of which it was a part. Its history may also be useful pattern for anticipating the course of events that the introduction of some other uncoventional tool of war in a future conflict may follow.

The term Operation Ranch Hand was the military code name for the spraying of herbicides from U.S. Air Force aircraft in Southeast Asia from 1962 through 1971. 1 The term itself had no particular signficance and was one of a number of similar code names such as Farm gate and Barn Door, which denoted specific activities early in the Vietnam War. The aircraft employed were Fairchild C-123s, and medium transports with twin piston engines that were later supplemented by two jet engines for added thrust. The Ranch Hand detachment began with six planes, dropped to two, and peaked at about 25 in 1969. It had several organizational homes over the years, but it was known during the height of its activities between 1966 and 1970 as the 12th Air Command Squadron and 12th Special Operations Squadron. In terms of personnel and aircraft, one can see that Ranch Hand was relatively minor part of Air Force operation in Southeast Asia. More

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