We are rapidly approaching the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, and one of the most grotesque of its many grotesque aspects may soon have its day in court.Yesterday brought this news on the BBC websiteFor the first time since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, a group of Vietnamese people who say they are victims of Agent Orange are suing for compensation.I've been quoting from an article on the Radio Netherlands website. [...] We might as well read about all this from Radio Netherlands, because it doesn't look as if the American press is having any of it. Oh well. What did we expect?
A US federal court in New York has dismissed a legal action brought by Vietnamese plaintiffs over the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.Well of course no such link has been proved. How can you prove such a link?
The plaintiffs had sought compensation from the firms that manufactured the chemical, which allegedly caused birth defects, miscarriages and cancer.
They said use of the defoliant - to strip away forest cover during the war - was a war crime against millions.
But Judge Jack Weinstein ruled there was no legal basis for their claims. [...]
The civil action was the first attempt by Vietnamese plaintiffs to claim compensation for the effects of Agent Orange, which has been linked to a multitude of heath problems, including diabetes.
However, the chemical companies said no such link had been proved.
Here are the final few paragraphs of the BBC article:
Agent Orange was named after the colour of its container. As well as herbicides which stripped trees bare, it contained a strain of dioxin.The final sentence says it all, really.
In time, some contend, the dioxin spread to the food chain causing a proliferation of birth defects.
Some babies were born without eyes or arms, or were missing internal organs.
A group representing alleged Vietnamese victims says three million people were exposed to the chemical during the war, and at least one million suffer serious health problems today.
A group representing alleged victims. These are the kids with the alleged birth defects, and the people with the alleged diabetes and the people whose horribly disfigured faces are only allegedly disfigured. They all had a lifetime of living in a country contaminated by Agent Orange and now they can't prove the Agent Orange caused anything. Maybe all these illnesses were caused by sunspots!
How about a little alleged background? [Click these links for more detailed information]
What's Agent Orange?
Agent Orange is the code name for a powerful herbicide and defoliant used widely by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was used from 1961 to 1970 and has disputedly caused serious harm to the health of both Vietnamese and Americans, their children and grandchildren.Wow so that's the kind of chemical that can "strip trees bare"?
Agent Orange is a roughly 1:1 mixture of the herbicides 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) and 2,4,5-T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid). These herbicides were developed during the 1940s for use in controlling broad-leaf plants. First introduced in 1947, both of these herbicides had widespread use in agriculture by the middle of the 1950s.Roughly. But they forgot to mention the secret ingredient: dioxin.
Dioxin is a general term that describes a group of hundreds of chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment. The most toxic compound is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or TCDD. The toxicity of other dioxins and chemicals like PCBs that act like dioxin are measured in relation to TCDD. Dioxin is formed as an unintentional by-product of many industrial processes involving chlorine such as waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing and pulp and paper bleaching. Dioxin was the primary toxic component of Agent Orange, was found at Love Canal in Niagara Falls, NY and was the basis for evacuations at Times Beach, MO and Seveso, Italy.
It's like a bad script from a bad movie.
Somebody put dioxin in the defoliant and it worked even better.
Good. Make it that way all the time.
With dioxin? What will it do to the people?
Who cares about the people? This is a war!! We can always hire a lawyer to say: "They can't prove anything. They can't prove their alleged victims were exposed to the alleged defoliant, and even if they could prove that, they still couldn't prove their alleged victims' alleged illnesses were caused by said alleged exposure."
But nobody could ever prove this kind of connection about anything!
Well at least our justice system did the right thing. It gave the ungrateful litigious Vietnamese thirty years to get their case together before refusing to hear it. That's a generous legal system; patient to a fault! USA! USA! USA!
No court in the USA will ever award damages against the Pentagon for any war crime. It would set a truly "unfortunate precedent"!
As detailed in a post I guest-blogged for the Brad Blog, they won't even allow foreign countries to be sued for damages by our guys. Take a look here: Supporting Our Troops / Tortured POWs Win Judgement Against Iraq; Justice Department Seeks To Overturn It!