Agent Orange: Consciousness and Conscience

February 10, 2009

As part of the series Moral Responsibilities for the Legacies of War, Diane Fox, visiting professor of history and anthropology, discussed the use of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam war and how that treatment continues to affect the lives of the Vietnamese people and U.S. veterans today.

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Read the Lecture (pdf)
Agent Orange Fact Sheet (pdf)

View correspondence from the Vice-President of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), Professor and M.D. Nguyen Trong Nhan, as examples of U.S.-Vietnamese relations on the remediation of Agent Orange.



SAT JAN 24 16:21:27


I'm very interested in Dow's argument that there is no scientific evidence to support claims that Agent Orange causes human illness. How did Jack Weinstein respond to this absurd claim when the Vietnamese presented their case in his courtroom? I'm also interested in Weinstein and other judge's argument(s) for why the massive use of herbicides in Vietnam was not a violation of the 1925 Geneva Accords. Do you think the Vietnamese will prevail when and if the Supreme Court hears their case? And will the USA ever agree to compensate Vietnamese victims of chemical warfare? Good luck, all the best.

Fred Wilcox, Ithaca


WED FEB 11 14:32:56


Contrary to Prof. Hehir's presentation, the anthropological approach to analyzing the consequences of war that Prof. Fox brought us created a new way of approaching the consequences of war. Using Vietnam and Agent Orange specifically, Prof. Fox made it clear that repairing a war-torn country/population can be brought away from economical, legal, and religious restraints and looked at as a moral humanitarian obligation. This goes to show that there are multiple ways of approaching these legacies of war, but it is inevitable to do something.

Conor Donoghue, '11


THU FEB 12 01:06:09


I think that the United States government's refusal to pay reparations for the destruction that we caused during the Vietnam is clearly a serious problem. That being said, the chemical companies who manufactured Agent Orange are not without fault. Their defense that they were only following government orders is utterly flawed, morally outrageous, and holds no weight in international law as established at the Nuremberg Trials. They are weakly pleading, "But he told me to do it." They had the ability to make the herbicides cleaner and safer (or better yet to not make them at all) and they knowingly chose not to. The idea of retroactive justice was raised at the talk, and this is an interesting question. While we generally believe that retroactive justice is not appropriate, in dealing with issues of science and technology, this is often the only option we have. New technology is generally developed and used before the full extent of its effects are known and certainly before an ethics for its use has been developed. We are still learning now about the effects of Agent Orange. I feel that because the chemical companies and the United States military used Agent Orange before a reasonable and appropriate amount of information about its effects was known and available, they have opened themselves up to being charged retroactively. Without retroactive justice in these types of situations, recklessness is encouraged.

Brendan Mackinson,'09


MON FEB 16 18:49:43


Agent Orange is a horrible chemical that has caused much tragedy to all of those impacted- the Vietnamese especially. It cannot be denied that to use the chemical was one of the worst decisions in American history, but as a student of history, I have come to realize that hind sight is always 20/20. When the decision to spray Vietnam with Agent Orange was approved, the government had no knowledge of any specific side effects of the substance. The intention was to use it to defoliate the dense forests, not to kill or injure humans. At that time, the United States was obeying chemical warfare international law. I find that it is easy to criticize the American government because it sprayed this chemical, but it needs to be understood that little was known about the side effects when first used. Because of this, I feel that instead of placing blame on the government, America needs to focus on the present, and help those still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. We cannot turn back the hands of time, but we can support the victims with better health care and clean up around our former US bases. Reparations will take years to receive, but environmental clean up and better health care can start now.

Kerry Kendall, '09


TUE FEB 17 12:40:00


In our world, audiences are not simply saturated but hyper-saturated with images of war. As an unfortunate result of the media's obsession to showcase images of war, the public is often numb to the grave realities of death and destruction upon human health and environment suffering during and after war. Overexposure to these images and illustrations during war has reduced the effectivity of survivors' personal testimonies about the consequences following war. For many of us the Vietnam War was experienced from a distance, we cannot understand, we cannot imagine the infliction of pain and damage upon human's health and environment. Therefore, one must accept the testimonies from survivors and uphold these messages as the best means for reflection and rational for future military endeavors. When trying to understand the affects of Agent Orange we must listen to those closest to the experience, the survivors themselves. Those closest to the War's aftermath have a voice, and it is the government's obligation to insure that the survivors' voices are heard. In my opinion, both the American and Vietnamese government has a role in preserving the voice of the Vietnamese who have had generations suffer from the destruction of Agent Orange. This is especially true for those children who were born disabled due to the toxins of Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War. Who will look after them when their parents are deceased, who will represent their voices?

Kayla Pallas, '10

The talk on Agent Orange was both provocative and illustrative as Professor Fox lectured on February 10. For the sole reason that Agent Orange is still harmful to the people of Vietnam today should be a catalyst for the American public and government to help generate more assistance to those affected and the cleanup of the environment. After American scientists concluded that Agent Orange had the powerful herbicide byproduct Dioxin, the continuation and manufacturing of this herbicide should have been discontinued. The common response to the continuation of the product was that it was being used against the enemy, against the forestation, and it would help save American lives. All these facets can not be ruled out as it did indeed do all these things. But, the overall effect Agent Orange had on the people it touched and the generations to come rules out any positive that it did. The United States also thought in a selfish economic manner when developing these chemicals as companies produced more and more with harmful chemicals only because they could be produced in an economy of scale fashion with deadly pollutants. We as an American people should be held morally responsible for the devastation created in a war that was controversial in the first place. As relations gradually increase between our two nations, I feel that the United States should have more of a responsibility for the clean up and help of affected Vietnamese/American lives.

Student, '11

Prior to the film and lecture, I had little knowledge or interest in Agent Orange. It was something that had been briefly mentioned in prior history classes - a case of unfortunate wartime events that affected "them" but not "us." Therefore, it barely stood out in my mind. After hearing of the damages directly or indirectly linked to Agent Orange, it truly baffles my mind the extent to which consumerism will drive individuals and companies to the point of total lack of empathy for the human race. Rather than spending the extra money to withdraw the known harmful chemical, Agent Orange manufacturers allowed soldiers and civilians alike to be exposed to the harmful toxins. Was it not enough that 5,000 of leading scientists worldwide signed a petition to stop the use of Agent Orange due to its lethal side effects? The excuse of "wartime decisions" creates a gray area - who then, is to blame? The U.S. government's ability to claim sovereignty is absurd - in many cases, this power to avoid lawsuit allows the US government to smoothly function. I believe they abused this power - to not take responsibility for something this detrimental to the lives of Vietnamese goes against every principle we've ever claimed to uphold in the name of human suffering. Having failed miserably with a military invasion, to admit wrongdoing to the civilians would be an additional embarrassment as the US government has attempted to legitimize its occupation in Iraq as a 'war on terror.'

Student, '10

I thought the most compelling part of Tuesday's lecture on Agent Orange was during the question and answer session when the Combat Veteran from Vietnam came up and spoke. Not only were the things he had to say relevant and important, he knew he was in a space where he could share. Professor Fox's lecture provided a space in which those who did not know could learn, those who knew could examine Agent Orange from a different perspective, and those who experience Agent Orange could feel understood.

I particularly liked the part when professor Fox spoke about what Agent Orange is, and what it does - it's local - then global - it blurs lines between combatant and civilian, environment and human health, it was a code name, a metaphor for an out of balanced world.

In a world that science is expanding into everyday human lives, there is a growing separation between the two. Especially in wars between human expense and science, thus this lecture on Agent Orange is extremely important. Who is morally responsible for this: the US government or the chemical companies? I would say both; they should bear the moral responsibilities to the Vietnam people and to American Vets.

Student, '09

Agent Orange is indeed a "ghost of war," a moral responsibility. Agent Orange is an extreme example of war profiteering resulting in the destruction of not only one generation of human lives, but three at the present, with a mournful future of even more devastation. Agent Orange is not only proof that we as a human race have moral responsibilities after war, but also that we have a human responsibility to establish a global ethic that will be respected.

This is our only world. As an American it is easy to analyze the actions of my government, and yet extremely difficult to accept the outcome of those findings. In the case of Agent Orange, I am appalled at the executive order and prolonged use of a known poison. After scientists supported claims that Agent Orange, an herbicide containing the byproduct Dioxin, was responsible for numerous devastating health problems, the order to end the use of Agent Orange should have been given immediately. The simple fact that Agent Orange could have been produced Dioxin free and was not is outrageous. It is completely deplorable that as a society we have become so greed obsessed that we would not only poison people abroad, but also subject our own soldiers to the same poison.

It is my hope, no matter how utopian and unattainable it might be, that we adhere to a global ethic regarding the protection of human life and the environment. We must learn from our mistakes and understand that all actions have seen and unseen consequences. Our ultimate goal should be the protection of human life, not profit at any cost.

Student, '10

The most remarkable thing to me about the whole issue of Agent Orange is the fact that the government was warned by a group of scientists about the dangers this chemical would cause to humans. It is frustrating to know that the government continued their actions while knowing these side affects. I am also surprised of the extent of people who are affected from Agent Orange today. I know during the lecture it was said that 1 million people were still suffering from effects. I was wondering if this number pertains to only those in Vietnam or Americans as well? I also was very touched by the stories of the Vietnam veterans. Both men talked about how the government needs to changed their reasoning of war for moral humanitarian reasons rather than for profit. Lastly, another thing which one of the veterans brought up which I found interesting was the concern that uranium used in Iraq may have side effects as well. This is scary to think that we are using these chemicals without thinking fully about the effects they will have on people in the future.

Student, '11

The Agent Orange reading was particularly striking because it showed the infinite possibilities and outcomes of Agent Orange used during the war in Vietnam. It did not just illustrate the immediate effects on the land or the people but the long term effects for future generations. It was truly mind blowing to think about the perpetual effects that Agent Orange has caused as well as the multiple meanings and significances it carries. It caused me to wonder, did America really know what they were doing? And if they did not realize the extreme severity of their actions and methods of warfare at the time, but they did now and had the chance to re-do things, would they have taken the same course of action? I thought the entire article was extremely moving and thought provoking, especially in terms of trying to grasp the magnitude of the conflict. But what was especially moving was during the interview when the man asked that America not use these chemicals, not just on behalf of Vietnam, but all the world.

Elizabeth Alizzi, '09

After hearing Prof. Fox's talk and seeing the movie in class on Tuesday, I, like many others, was appalled at the U.S. government's inaction and denials of responsibility. While it is an extremely positive step that the government has allocated some money to begin clean up, this seems to me to be more symbolic than anything. While I am aware that $3 million is a significant amount of money, we now hear about trillions on a daily basis; to me, this makes $3 million seem like little more than a gesture. But even if it is primarily a gesture, that is not necessarily a bad thing. It means that the government is willing to accept some responsibility. Some is not enough, however. The government's refusal to be sued (this does not seem to make any sense to me--I'd heard that before, but I'm not sure why the government can only be sued if it agrees to be--why would it ever?) seems to indicate that they are not prepared to accept true responsibility. It's almost as if the money says I'm sorry without saying what for. I find it hypocritical to allocate money without accepting full responsibility.

As for the chemical companies, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is despicable that the companies could have made the herbicide without dioxin. It is very disturbing to think that a company would put profits over human life, but I'm not so naive as to believe that this is not a common occurrence. On the other hand, I believe that it is truly the U.S. government who is most to blame (not the only one who deserves blame). Since the U.S. was buying the chemicals from the companies, it had the ability to force the companies to make a less harmful product and chose not to. Because the government had the final say, and didn't take a responsible path, I would level the vast majority of the blame on them.

Eric Wester, '09

One of the most striking points in the movie and lecture was the description of agent orange - the silent killer - as leaving physical traces of war. It is scary to think that agent orange is affecting a third generation of Vietnamese people... and that it could affect fourth and fifth generations. The Vietnam War has been considered "over" for almost thirty-five years, yet the war is hardly over for the Vietnamese, and it may not be for years on end. It seems as if many students, myself included, were unaware of these serious problems going on in Vietnam. Why is that? Why aren't Americans more concerned with helping solve the after-effects of agent orange? Why isn't the issue in the news more often? Since there are still incredible traces of the Vietnam War, why do Americans see the war as over and in the past? In another thirty-five years, will America be on to its next war, forgetting about the physical traces of war left in Iraq? How will President Obama deal with these issues?

Christine Giamattei, '10

Prior to taking this class, I had never heard of Agent Orange, and only had a vague awareness of the use of chemical agents against the Vietnamese. Knowledge of this sheds new light on America's moral responsibility for post-war aid to Vietnam. My prior understanding had been that the collateral damage of American bombing missions was the worst atrocity of the war, but now I see that the use of Agent Orange could be seen as equally evil. The question that Owen raised at the lecture is important in placing judgment on the use of Agent Orange, since it is harder to castigate the use of the agent if its side affects were not yet known. However, at the same time, the U.S. was fully aware of the physical destruction they were causing to Vietnam with the chemical, and that makes the U.S. entirely reprehensible.

This all brings into question the boundaries of warfare. Once war is joined, collateral damage in this day and age has proven completely unavoidable. Agent Orange, as well as depleted uranium, as mentioned by one of the questioners at the lecture, are new issues that complicate the notion of just war, or war bound by international law. Weapons such as these that continue to maim and kill during "peacetime" are clearly beyond any hope of moral justification. This was an extremely important and informative lecture, and the word needs to spread.

Christopher Masello, '09

As many have mentioned, the term "agent orange" has come up in many previous history classes. I never really understood the severity of it, however, until the film and lecture. I also was not aware that the American lawyers were the ones to bring the class action suits against the chemical companies, or that this was done very recently. The question of moral responsibility posed during the lecture, for me, was easily answered given the movie and the talk. While the government, as it said in the movie, cannot be sued because they have to agree to it (which is confusing...), someone or some corporation needs to be held accountable. The consequences of the spray have continued on too long and these innocent people cannot go unnoticed.

Student, '09

Professor Fox's discussion of Agent Orange, its history and consequences of use in the Vietnam War, and the responses to its debilitating effects provided both an informative historical context and a uniquely personal dimension to understanding moral responsibilities that remain to be fulfilled several decades after the War. One of the most significant aspects of the misuse of Agent Orange that Professor Fox highlighted was that it "blurs lines between combatant and civilian, Vietnamese and American..." The problem, therefore, cannot simply be divorced from Americans' consciousness as a byproduct in a foreign land of an unpopular war. Instead, it has affected and continues to affect both Vietnamese and Americans, demonstrating the manner in which victimization caused by the Vietnam War persists into the present day. Professor Fox's inclusion of testimonials by Vietnamese villagers who suffer from the effects of Agent Orange, as well as her photographs of Thai Binh residents, contributed a personal dimension that enabled the audience to gain a sense of the real consequences of this tragedy within the lives of everyday people. Despite the refusal of the U.S. chemical companies who produced Agent Orange to accept liability for its deleterious effects, healing has occurred on both a localized and international level. The measures undertaken by U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War, such as the founding of Friendship Village, demonstrate a unique bond that has been fostered based on the tragedy of Agent Orange. Concluding with a question posed to the audience, Professor Fox asked, "What seems to you the morally responsible action in this instance?" Part of the answer can be seen in the measures that the U.S. government has undertaken, such as a pilot-project in conjunction with Vietnam in order to rid the country of dioxin contamination. Acceptance of responsibility by the chemical companies for the consequences of Agent Orange could also serve to bring about closure and facilitate decontamination efforts. It remains questionable, however, whether this moral response will ever occur due to the reality of politics and the stigma that continues to surround the Vietnam War.

Caitlin D'Amico, '09

I thought the talk was very interesting because it was the first time I became fully aware of not only the effect of the chemicals, but also how abundant and controversial it was during and after the war. Like most people, I have heard of it, but never knew the role it played or the purpose of it. The discussion was helpful as it gave great background of the chemical. One of the facts that was pointed out that I found rather disturbing was how the corporation that made the chemical knew the effects of it and had the means to make it less toxic, but decided not to. The talk fit in very well with the theme of morality of war as it presents the question to the U.S. of whether or not 30-40 years later, it has a responsibility to help create a cleaner and safer Vietnam. After listening to the talk and learning more about how much destruction the U.S. caused, both then and now by the lasting effects, I believe the U.S. does have a responsibility to face the infamous past and help Vietnam deal with the consequences of actions. The story of the family that was interviewed was particularly troubling and is one example of many cases that act as an incentive for the U.S. to step in and take significant action.

Student, '09

I think the most interesting aspect of this argument is the complete lack of understanding by the companies who have produced the chemicals. Understanding might be the wrong word, but they are refusing to accept responsibility for the actions that were taken using their chemicals, which they knew were far more toxic then necessary. Additionally, there is a huge frustration in the fact that the government can not be sued unless it consents to be sued, and is immune from any of these charges. It is no different from genocide in other countries, or the terrorist acts on our own; there are always well-thought out reasons for the actions taken, but that doesn't make it right. The problem is that there is no one holding the government responsible for these actions; you can't expect the judging power to judge itself. The damage done is completely devastating to both our own soldiers and the entire nation of Vietnam, and no one is recognizing our responsibility.

Student, '10

Professor Fox's lecture on Agent Orange was both informative and thought provoking. Before our class, I only knew surface information about Agent Orange and its effects on the Vietnamese people. However, this lecture in conjunction with the in class movie have greatly increased my awareness. I particularly thought the discussion of Agent Orange in terms of the "human experience" and the "human condition combined with politics" to be interesting. We learned of direct effects this chemical had on the Vietnamese citizens. Furthermore, we discussed how U.S. politics have affected the fight between the Vietnamese versus U.S. chemical companies responsible for manufacturing Agent Orange. One intriguing quote I found during the lecture stated: "Leaving this situation up to politics will take the human aspects of out change. [sic]"

Student, '09

After both watching the movie and hearing the lecture on Agent Orange, I absolutely think that it is the United States' moral responsibility to aid in at least the clean up of the current hot spots in Vietnam. Ideally the United States would also send financial aid to Vietnam to help the victims of the herbicide spraying. I think that the responsibility should be split between the government and the chemical companies that produced Agent Orange. The companies need to be held responsible because they knew how to make Agent Orange less toxic and decided that money was worth more than human life. If they are not held responsible, then it leaves the door open for other companies to take advantage of situations and do the same thing.

Student, '09

In previous history classes which discussed the Vietnam War, I heard about the use of Agent Orange to kill foliage, but never discussed the side effects of this spraying. I never thought about the harm that it would do to the countryside, the soil, vegetation or people. Even though the Vietnam War ended decades ago, we are still fighting the effects of it, something I had not realized before.
After watching the film in class, and listening to the two lectures on War and Agent Orange, I better understand just how powerful this chemical is and how misused it was. The speaker from the first lecture raised the question of whether or not we have a moral obligation and responsibility to the people affected by the wars we fight. After listening to the Vietnam vet, I believe that the answer is "Yes," we have a responsibility to the people whom were affected by Agent Orange.

Sarah Durkin, '09

Professor Fox's lecture on Agent Orange was very informative and the responses by the audience were incredibly moving. What I found most interesting was the notion that Agent Orange is the "last significant ghost remaining from the war." The photos from Professor Fox's trip to Vietnam that were passed around the room prove that the chemical warfare deployed by the United States is still harming the Vietnamese. Even in America, people are still affected, as seen in the case of Kerry. I am curious to know if research has been done as to how many generations will continue to be affected by Agent Orange. In the case where a woman had three disabled children and one healthy one, is the healthy child still a carrier of the mutated genes? Overall, I feel that it is our country's moral responsibility to assist Agent Orange victims and help clean up the environment.

Rosemarie Tibaldi, '09

Both the movie and the talk on "Agent Orange" revealed another serious problem that we face today. I have heard of the long term effects of Agent Orange but never really heard of action taken to solve such a problem. It was good to see that steps are being taken to clean up, compensate, and learn more about the effects of Agent Orange. However, it is discouraging that we barely hear of this in the media and clearly are not doing enough. Also, with the information on Uranium in Iraq, it is discouraging to think that we may not be learning from our mistakes. It is unfortunate that there seems to be little accountability for such an enormous problem. There is still so much to be done, and I think it starts with realizing that we cannot create similar problems in the future. We have seen such long term effects from both nuclear and atomic weapons that we may be creating enemies against us tens and hundreds of years down the road. Especially with America's belief of providing for future generations, it surprises me that such action can be taken. The amount of people affected in the future was alarming and needs to be controlled.

Student, '09

Perhaps what I found most interesting about Professor Fox's talk was the revelation that TCDD, the highly toxic chemical that intercalates into people's DNA and causes birth defects in later generations, is a byproduct resulting from the generation of Agent Orange. I am both surprised and appalled that the government did not perform more extensive testing on Agent Orange to ensure that this byproduct was eliminated from the spray altogether - in fact, if TCDD is a byproduct of the reaction, it would seem logical to me that its presence in the spray is not required to allow for Agent Orange to serve its primary purpose as a defoliant. As such, there does not seem to be a just reason for its presence in Agent Orange spray. This being said, I think that the fact that TCDD remained such a prevalent component in the Agent Orange spray sadly demonstrates how issues of morality are often overshadowed by fiscal matters and blind patriotism in times of war. As Professor Fox mentioned, chemical companies developed other methodologies that severely curbed the production of the TCDD byproduct, an advancement that would be in the right direction in terms of morality but would be less financially feasible because it took roughly five times as long to generate the same volume of Agent Orange. Although I still would have disagreed with the spraying of this modified, less TCDD-containing Agent Orange, I think it would have been a step in the right direction because it would have posed less of a health risk to both the Vietnamese People and United States Troops. I just think it is sad and morally repulsive how people and governments sometimes turn a blind eye to the fact that human life should 100 percent of the time be valued as more important than saving time and money in producing inanimate goods; I find it difficult to understand how someone could possibly justify ruining someone else's life in order to fuel their own greed. Shouldn't we learn to first discuss issues that are areas of tension between countries instead of relying on war to get what we want? After all, words don't cause upwards of three generations of people to experience crippling birth defects and the emotional trauma associated with Agent Orange and other war atrocities that have occurred throughout time.

Owen Fenton, '10

The last two years I have been in classes where Agent Orange was discussed and every time I learn about it I always have a deep feeling of empathy towards its victims. All the Vietnamese and American children of parents who have been exposed to Agent Orange have to live a difficult life and suffer due to elements that they had no control over. I think the question of how to give justice to the victims of Agent Orange is very important. Bringing the corporations who produced Agent Orange for the government to trial is one important way to give justice to those affected by the chemicals in Agent Orange. In court, victims of Agent Orange will be able to publicly display to the judiciary system how awful the use of chemicals can be and might prevent chemicals from being used in future wars without extreme caution. Even though bringing these issues to court is a very important step towards getting rid of this last "ghost" of the Vietnam War, I believe it is also important from America to give justice to victims of Agent Orange through raising money and starting programs to help these people. It is one thing to bring justice to people through court but another to actually help them live their daily lives. Providing medical care and other special care to children and adults affected by Agent Orange will also bring justice to the people of Vietnam and American War veterans.

Bethany Phillips, '11

The movie we saw in class and Professor Fox's speech on Agent Orange were both very informative. The images the movie presented of the defected children and adults were tragic. I had a slight idea about the effects of Agent Orange coming into a class because a friend's father who was a Vietnam vet passed away from being exposed to it and suffered from many illnesses. However, I did not know just how horrible the effects can be for the future generations whose parents were exposed to it.

I thought Professor Fox's speech was very interesting with how she tied the personal human experience of Agent Orange and the science behind it together. The fact that the chemical companies/U.S. government knew Agent Orange would destroy the crops is horrible and questions the morality behind the decisions made during war. War is horrible enough as it is but when innocent civilians and their future generations are hurt/destroyed, war becomes even more terrible.

Student, '11

In her discussion, Professor Fox indicated that one must look at Agent Orange both from the viewpoint of personal experiences and also as a scientific and political issue. By reflecting on human experience, one can search for meaning and really see the immense consequences of U.S. actions. Looking at personal reflections also call us to think about the moral consequences of Agent Orange, and how we can begin to make reparations. I thought Professor Fox made a particularly interesting point when she noted that Agent Orange has linked the local to the global, across lines of gender, ethnicity, and class. Out of all the horror of Agent Orange comes a greater understanding between Americans and Vietnamese. Professor related how American Veterans could "see themselves" in the situation of the Vietnamese. They went through, and continue to experience, the same trials and tribulations.

Student, '09

From the movie viewing today in class to the lecture tonight, I seriously became aware of the gravity of the Agent Orange issue. As heart-breaking as the movie was, hearing the lecture tonight maybe even had more impact on me. It became especially alarming when Professor Fox noted that the toxin was intentionally released to not only rid the leaves and kill the vegetation to reveal the hiding places of the enemy, but also to destroy the food supply of the Vietnamese. I can understand the goals of the first reason, however I can't see any morality in the second reason (destroying the food supply) at all.

I would be surprised if this issue has not been raised before. It seems as though the companies supplying Agent Orange had some indication that the vegetation would be destroyed or contaminated, and I am thinking this is not ethically acceptable on an international level.

I also found the points raised about profit to be interesting. I agree that it should be a priority to eliminate profit from war. This could change entire tactics and outcomes. It was said that about 60 companies gained profits from the sale of the toxic chemical, and it is disturbing to think that individuals made millions at the expense of at least 3 generations of Vietnamese people. For moral reasons, it seems we as a country owe it to Vietnam to help the affected people and clean up whatever we can in hopes of preventing other infections.

Jenelle Verrochi, '11

Two comments struck me as particularly interesting and moving from the Thai Binh interview during Professor Fox's presentation on Agent Orange. The first was the emphasis that the lives of those in Vietnam should be the same as their international counterparts. Many Vietnamese soldiers were sent into combat at the age of eighteen and ultimately suffered devastating consequences, such as the diseases that developed from Agent Orange exposure. Unlike U.S war veterans who have begun to receive compensation and other assistance, many of the Vietnamese are left to suffer. I believe that the United States government has a duty to offer assistance. It was the U.S government who made the decision to use Agent Orange and they need to take responsibility for their actions. While the $3 million signed under the Bush administration is a start, greater assistance will be needed. The second comment that I found interesting was the idea that we need to close the past and open the future. The use of Agent Orange has already been done. There is no need to dwell on the past. Instead, we need to think about the future and find ways to improve conditions. Chemical warfare has dangerous consequences and there is a need to stop production and use. As mentioned in the presentation, depleted uranium in Iraq has had similar lasting effects. At times, war is seemingly inherent in human nature. Conflicts arise over various issues and it seems idealistic to suggest that wars will completely cease. However, if countries can take the moral responsibilities for their actions, the world as a whole can be redefined as a more stable and understanding community.

Student, '10