The title came to me as I thought of the human carnage in the Vietnam war and its last impacting on the civilian population. The interplay of colors from intense orange to baby sea blue reminded of this climate as well.
What were the human after costs of the war?
Obviously, one of the largest costs in terms of human life happened from the war itself with modern attack helicopters, bombing raids and on the ground troop actions. One of the lasting results of the bombing raids was children born from mothers suffering the effects of Agent Orange.
What was Agent Orange?
Basically, the US Army requested chemical manufacturers a way to clear out the jungle so the army could fight a traditional tanks and troops battle like in WWII. The Vietcong were very successful at making underground tunnels and just traveling with infantry only, which made their advances hidden to the complete US air domination. Of course, this made over flights to see troops basically useless. The US companies involved in these chemical agents were Dow Chemical, insecticide maker and Monsanto, the maker of Roundup. Likely, Roundup is a child of the products used on the Vietnamese jungle and civilian population.
To quote from Dow’s website: “We have a diverse portfolio of leading-edge insecticide, herbicide, fungicide and fumigant technologies for customers around the globe.”
To quote from Monsanto’s website: “Developed in 1974, Roundup brand agricultural herbicides continue to be a perfect fit with the vision of sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.”
How many were effected by their products during the war bombings?
The US air force dropped 20 million gallons of “Agent Orange” in Vietnam from 1962-71. One of the first impacted were farmers, who had to abandon destroyed crop lands leading the Vietnamese cities to swell from 2.8M to 8M with 1.5M ending up in city slums. Another impact were 500,000 birth defects from spraying. About 1M total people were disabled as a result of exposure. Below you can see why it was called Agent Orange:
The US government told the soldiers the chemicals were harmless to humans. Of course, the handlers of the chemicals also had similiar health issues and miscarriages resulting from the exposure. The Veteran’s Affairs only compensated 486 veterans for exposure out of 39,000 exposed or a little over 1 in 100.
How do we avoid such catastrophes in the future?
Unfortunately, governments will always stock chemical weapons. One of the recent examples, was the US government selling Saddam Hussein WMD (ie. chemical weapons) in the 1980s to help in the war against Iran, who held US hostages one year.
What was the impact in that war?
At least 1M killed in combat. From pure chemical weapons standpoint, 50 thousand Iranians suffered from the chemical weapons supplied by the US government. Hence you could understand why the US is considered the Great Satan.
Ironically, in the Gulf War II the US invaded Iraq to find WMD, but the weapons had decayed or been destroyed over time to prevent the US invasion.