The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Effects of Agent Orange still plague Vietnam

Despite the fact that America pulled out of Vietnam 30 years ago, the legacy of the war still exists to this day. The war in Vietnam was fought differently than in wars past where trenches were utilized. Vietnam is an example of guerilla warfare. The country’s thick, plush forests kept the Vietcong army hidden from American soldiers.

American army fought back by destroying the forest. The weapon of choice was a strong, poisonous herbicide and defoliant, the infamous chemical Agent Orange.

The herbicide and defoliant contains Dioxins, which are extremely toxic to human beings. The people living in the area were not only contaminated when it was sprayed, but are continually contaminated by ingesting food and water which were affected by Agent Orange.

The after-effects of Agent Orange are still being felt 35 years after spraying stopped, and people feel compensation is due.

Sophomore George Rossmann feels that given the reasons why America entered Vietnam in the first place were on shaky grounds, we owe the Vietnamese something for our actions there.

“We were a little too far-reaching with our methods” Rossmann said. “We didn’t think our actions through, and because of the consequences, compensation is due.”

America took part in 6,000 missions, spraying 10 percent of Vietnam with Agent Orange. The spraying ceased in 1971.

Compensation is being requested because Agent Orange sprayed 35 years ago is affecting innocent children who were born a number of years after the war ended, taking a toll on their physical and mental health.

Agent Orange has been blamed for the malformation of 150,000 children. Symptoms range from stunted growth and an inability to grow hair, to deformed limbs, deformation and mental retardation.

Not only are children being affected, but people living in areas contaminated by Agent Orange fall ill with cancer due to the accumulation of Dioxins in their body.

In 2004, Nguyen Trong Nhan, a member of the Vietnam Association Of Victims Of Agent Orange and former president of the Red Cross in Vietnam, filed a class action lawsuit against the companies that supplied the Agent Orange.

However, the lawsuit was dropped based on the ruling that Agent Orange didn’t violate any laws of the time.

The first lawsuit, which ended with the Agent Orange producers setting up a 180 million dollar fund, was filed in 1984 by Vietnam Veterans.

Some people feel it is unfair that attempts for compensation to Vietnamese have been denied.

Sophomore Saron Smith-Hardin feels that way. “I think it’s unjust how we’re only willing to take care of our own citizens, but not the citizens of other countries who we have negatively affected.” Smith-Hardin said.

Smith-Hardin found it extremely unfair that the 2004 lawsuit was dropped, while in a lawsuit filed 22 years ago, the plaintiffs were given compensation.

Regardless of the ruling, people still want compensation or funding for the damage done.

Sophomore Amelia Godfrey thinks that that is easier said than done.

“It’s easy to say ‘yes, we should give compensation’,” Godfrey said, “but in reality, how would we go about do that? What really needs to be done is to give people the chance to see what has happened, so they will know the affects of certain actions.”

Sophomore Emma Pett agreed with Godfrey that people needed to see the effects of certain actions.

“I think it’s hard to compensate during war time, but we need to take this as a lesson,” Pett said. “We need to look at the current situation in Iraq where America is using missiles with depleted uranium. Depleted uranium gives off radiation, which can have serious consequences as in Vietnam.

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