Vanity Fair and Agent Orange

The Norm links to a distressing article in Vanity Fair which describes the horrific effects of Agent Orange on the population and subsequent generations of the areas in Vietnam on which it was dropped.  Norm chooses to excerpt the following sentences:

This was not a dreadful accident, or a tragedy. It was inflicted, on purpose, by sophisticated human beings.

Now I’ve read the piece, and I have repeatedly read the passage from which the above is extracted, and it is clear that it refers to the effects of Agent Orange, i.e. the horrific mutations described in the passage were inflicted on purpose.  This being the case, the statement itself is preposterous.

Agent Orange was created specifically as a defoliant, as the article itself states, and there is very little doubt that Agent Orange has proven to be the cause of terrible mutations amongst the population in Vietnam.  But there is no evidence whatsoever that the dropping of Agent Orange was intended to achieve anything other than its purpose as a defoliant, and there is also no evidence whatsoever that the US military or the Agent’s creators knew at the time that this product would have these terrible side effects.

It is a perfectly reasonable case to make that the US military was criminally negligent in not researching the side effects of Agent Orange before it was dropped onto the Vietnamese population, and it is equally reasonable to demand that the US military takes responsibility for the suffering it has caused.  But it is most certainly not reasonable to state that the mutations and health problems now being experienced in Vietnam were inflicted on the populace on purpose.  This statement is nothing short of historical revisionism.


4 thoughts on “Vanity Fair and Agent Orange

  1. Well, precisely. Presumably we are supposed to believe the US did this out of pure spite.

  2. A very emotive article which plays on individual cases but is but rather short on evidence, one way or the other, for the inherited transmission of dioxin-related deformities.

    There is a very strong case that Agent Orange caused contemporary foetal deformities but Hitchens does not make it.The evidence for post-first generation transmission is much less clear, despite dioxin being, sinec the 1970s, possibly one of the most researched group of chemicals on the planet.

    And you are right Tim, the US just wanted to defoliate areas. They didn’t have a clue what the effect on humans would be because there was, at that time, little research.

  3. Litte research are not the words for it. There was no research at all. It killed plants and that was what the US was looking for. The way it tore up human life was not even thought about. I was there, I saw it and I have buried friends that were there as well. I have seen first hand the after effects. Not a pleasant sight for anyone to see and remember.

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