VIETNAM, TET, & AGENT ORANGE

May 19, 2018 at 5:15 am

We take a look back at the Vietnam War, Agent Orange, and its impact 50 years after the Tet Offensive. Charles Bailey, author of “From Enemies To Partners: Vietnam, The U.S. And Agent Orange,” joins us with the details on how dioxin, a chemical compound in Agent Orange, is still causing casualties in Vietnam and what our nations are doing to solve the problem that the war left behind.

Aired on May 18, 2018. 

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>>> AGENT ORANGE, WIDELY USED BY
AMERICAN FORCES DO YOU AGREE THE
VIETNAM WAR TO DEFOLIATE FORESTS
AND DESTROY CROPS.
BUT LONG AFTER THE WAR'S ENTHE
TRAGIC EFFECTS REMAIN.
IN ADDITION TO ENDURING DAMAGE
TO THE ENVIRONMENT, DIOXIN, THE
TOXIC SUBSTANCE IN AGENT ORANGE
CONTINUES TO IMPACT THE LIVES OF
THOUSANDS OF VIETNAM VETERANS
AND HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF
VIETNAMESE PEOPLE.
IN FACT 14 DIFFERENT DISEASES
HAVE RESULTED FROM THE EXPOSURE
TO DIOXIN, INCLUDING SEVERAL
TYPES OF CANCER.
IT HAS ALSO BEEN LINKED TO BIRTH
DEFECTS.
BUT THE STORY DOESN'T END THERE.
OVER THE LAST DECADE SERIOUS
EFFORTS HAVE BEEN UNDERTAKEN BY
BOTH THE AMERICAN AND VIETNAMESE
GOVERNMENTS TO STEM THE TIDE OF
THE DEVASTATING LEGACY.
JOINING US NOW WITH THE LATEST
ON THE 70s CHARLES BAILEY, THE
CO-AUTHOR OF THE NEW BOOK, FROM
ENEMIES TO PRNTS, VIETNAM, THE
U.S. AND AGENT ORANGE.
THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.
>> THANK YOU.
>> NOW CHARLES, BEFORE WE GET TO
THE SUBJECT, TELL US QUICKLY WHY
YOU DECIDED TO GET INVOLVED IN
THE ISSUE OF AGENT ORANGE.
>> I WENT TO VIETNAM IN 1997 TO
HEAD THE FORD FOUNDATION PROGRAM
THERE.
AND AFTER A SHORT WHILE I
STUMBLED INTO THIS SUBJECT.
I DECIDED -- I DISCOVERED NO ONE
ELSE WAS WORKING ON IT.
I DECIDED TO SEE WHAT I COULD
DO.
>> ALL RIGHT.
SO WHAT IS AGENT ORANGE/DIOXIN?
AND WHY DID THE U.S. MILITARY
DECIDE TO USE IT IN VIETNAM IN
THE FIRST PLACE.
>> THE U.S. MILITARY SPRAYED IT
OVER A LARGE AREA OF SOUTHERN
VIETNAM, PARTICULARLY REMOTE
RURAL AREAS.
THE PURPOSE WAS TO DEFOLIATE
TREES AND DESTROY FOOD CROPS AND
DENY COVER AND FOOD TO THE NEM.
>> AS I SAID IN THE
INTRODUCTION, THOUSANDS OF VET
NAM VETERANS AND HUNDREDS OF
THOUSANDS OF VIETNAMESE PEOPLE
HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY THE
LINGERING EFFECTS OF DIOXIN.
DO WE HAVE A CLEAR SENSE WHAT
THE ACTUAL NUMBERS ARE AND HOW
EXACTLY HAVE THESE AMERICANS AND
VIETNAMESE BEEN AFFECTED.
>> WE HAVE SOME GENERAL IDEA OF
THE NUMBERS IT IMPACTED.
FIRST IN VIETNAM THERE AS YOU
SAY THERE ARE SEVERAL HUNDRED
THOUSAND CHILDREN AND YOUNG
ADULTS WHO ARE LIVING WITH --
SEVERELY DISABLED AND IT'S
LINKED TO EXPOSURE OF A PARENT
OR GRANDPARENT TO DIOXIN.
IN THE U.S. WE KNOW ONLY ABOUT
THE AMERICAN SOLDIERS WHO WERE
THERE AND LATER DEVELOPED
ILLNESSES AND APPLIED FOR
DISABILITY ASSISTANCE FOR ONE OF
A NUMBER OF DISEASES.
IN 2015 THE V.A. PAID ABOUT $24
BILLION IN DISABILITY
COMPENSATION TO ABOUT
1.5 MILLION OF THESE PEOPLE WHO
SERVE OUR COUNTRY DURING THE
VIETNAM ERA.
ABOUT 40% OF THOSE WERE AGENT
ORANGE RELATED CASES.
>> NOW YOU WRITE IN THE BOOK
THAT THE USE OF AGENT ORANGE IN
VIETNAM BY MILITARY FORCES WAS
KIND OF A TABOO SUBJECT FROM THE
END OF THE WAR IN '75 TO 2006.
WHY WAS IT TABOO.
>> WELL FOR THE FIRST 20 YEARS
THERE WERE NO DIPLOMATIC
RELATIONS.
AND WHEN THE TWO COUNTRIES BEGAN
TO NEGOTIATE DIPLOMATIC
RELATIONS.
THE VIETNAMESE RAISED THIS AND
THE U.S. SAID WE'RE NOT TALKING
ABOUT IT.
THE AMERICAN DIPLOMATS POSTED TO
VIETNAM IN THE LATE '90s WERE
TOLD NOT TO USE THE PHRASE AGENT
ORANGE.
IT WAS REALLY A THIRD RAIL
SUBJECT.
YOU TOUCH IT YOU'RE DEAD.
.
THE U.S. I THINK FELT THAT THERE
MIGHT BE QUESTIONS OF LEGAL
LIABILITY AND TO THIS DAY THE
STATE DEPARTMENT DENIES THAT
THERE IS ANY LEGAL
RESPONSIBILITY TO RESPOND TO
AGENT ORANGE IN VIETNAM.
AND ALSO QUESTIONS THE SCIENCE
OF CAUSALITY.
WE VIETNAMESE CONTINUE TO RAISE
THE SUBJECT.
BUT THEY WERE TRYING TO
NEGOTIATE TRADE ACCESS WITH THE
U.S.
AND SO FINALLY IT WENT ON AND
WENT ON FOR A LOG IN TIME.
>> BUT SOMETHING CHANGED IN 2006
AS RECORDS TO THE UNITED STATES.
WHAT CHANGED?
>> WELL WITH THE PROGRESS OF
TIME AND GETTING TO KNOW EACH
OTHER AND WITH THE GROWTH OF
TRADE AND THE MUTUAL CONCERNS
ABOUT REGIONAL SECURITY, THE
CLIMATE FOR DISCUSSING REALLY
DIFFICULT TOPICS IMPROVED, AND
MORE IT PARTICULARLY A STUDY
THAT I FUNDED THROUGH THE FORD
FOUNDATION IN 2003 ACTUALLY
IDENTIFIED WHERE THE DIOXIN --
WHERE THE REMAINING DIOXIN
RESIDUES WERE.
WE CALLED THEM DIOXIN HOT SPOTS.
AND THIS PROVIDED THE SENSE OF
RELIEF IN A SENSE.
BECAUSE IT BECAME A KNOWABLE,
FOCUSABLE PROBLEM THAT THE TWO
COUNTRIES COULD GET TOGETHER.
AND SO WHEN PRESIDENT BUSH
VISITED VIETNAM IN 2006 HE
AGREED TO HAVE IT ON THE AGENDA
AND A JOINT STATEMENT WAS AS
YOUED.
FOR THE FIRST TIME BOTH
COUNTRIES AGREED TO WORK
TOGETHER TO KILLEEN UP THE
DIOXIN.
>> SINCE 2006 THE UNITED STATES
HAS ACTUALLY INVESTED MONEY IN
CLEANING UP DIOXIN.
WHAT IS LEFT TO DO?
>> WELL, THANKS TO SENATOR
PATRICK LEAHY AND THE U.S.
CONGRESS APPROPRIATED A SMALL
AND INCREASING ANNUAL SUMS
BEGINNING IN 2007 FOR CLEANUP TO
HELP PEOPLE WITH SEVERE
DISABILITIES.
TEN YEARS HAVE GONE BY AND THE
CONGRESS IS APPROPRIATED ABOUT
$230 MILLION FOR THESE TWO
PURPOSES.
I MANAGED TO RAISE ABOUT $30
MILLION FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR
TO GET THE BALL ROLLING.
SO WE'RE ABOUT AT THE HALFWAY
POINT.
I WOULD SAY ANOTHER TEN YEARS TO
COMPLETE THE CLEANUP OF DIOXIN
AS A FORMER U.S. MILITARY BASE
NORTH OF HO CHI MINH CITY AND TO
REALLY DEVELOP SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
PROGRAMS FOR THE SEVERELY
DISABLED.
>> CHARLES, WE ARE ALL GLAD TO
HEAR THAT AT LEAST THE PROCESS
HAS BEGUN.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.
>> WELL, THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

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