Mark Ulyseas – U.S. Chemical Warfare – Ongoing Genocide in Vietnam

Profile Mark Ulyseas LE Mag June 2018

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U.S. Chemical Warfare – Ongoing Genocide in Vietnam by Mark Ulyseas

Ulyseas has served time in advertising as copywriter and creative director selling people things they didn’t need, a ghost writer for some years, columnist of a newspaper, a freelance journalist and photographer. In 2009 he created Live Encounters Magazine, in Bali, Indonesia. It is a not for profit (adfree) free online magazine featuring leading academics, writers, poets, activists of all hues etc. from around the world. March 2016 saw the launch of its sister publication Live Encounters Poetry, which was relaunched as Live Encounters Poetry & Writing in March 2017. He has edited, designed and produced all of Live Encounters’ 128 publications till date. Mark’s philosophy is that knowledge must be free and shared freely (without charge) to empower all towards enlightenment. He is the author of three books: RAINY – My friend & Philosopher, Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives and In Gethsemane: Transcripts of a Journey.

Special thanks to:  Nguyen Thuy Hoa (Ms), International Cooperation Department, The Voice of Vietnam, Hanoi :  The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) Hanoi :  Agent Orange victim Le Van Ot, 25 years old born without eyes :  Vu Tuan Hung, photographer, Ho Chi Minh City.

“What they are doing amounts to a pretty important form of conservation in itself, the saving of American lives” –
American reporter on the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam during the war
(The Dark Shadow of Agent Orange | Retro Report | The New York Times link).

This chemical warfare was authorised by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Its code name was Operation Ranch Hand. The justification used by elements in the White House was that the British had used toxic herbicides and defoliants during the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s. LINK The reasoning was that the U.S. was not setting a precedent but merely following in the footsteps of its former colonial masters – the means of committing a crime against humanity to justify the end…vanquishing of communist forces perceived to be enemies of the free world, whatever this means.

From 1961 to 1971 the U.S. Army conducted 19,905 missions spraying about 80 million litres of toxic chemicals, of which about 61% was Agent Orange, containing 366 kg of dioxin over nearly 26,000 villages, with an area of 3.06 million hectares – nearly a quarter of the total area of South Vietnam; in which 86% was sprayed more than 2 times and 11% sprayed more than 10 times.

The intent of the U.S. Army was to deprive the Viet Cong of forest cover by indiscriminately spraying this highly toxic defoliant on an industrial scale. It resulted in the death and maiming of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, massive poisoning of flora and fauna, water bodies and farmlands. The devastating effect of this crime against humanity can still be seen today in the approx. 3,000,000 Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange…the third generation of Vietnamese since the conflict, which the U.S. refers to as ‘police action’. LINK

But the poisoning of a huge proportion of the population of Vietnam by Agent Orange did not go without its drawbacks – the poisoning of its own soldiers who were not informed about the harmful effects of coming in contact with dioxin the deadly ingredient in Agent Orange. LINK

U.S. Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. who commanded naval forces in Vietnam from 1968-70, ordered the spraying of Agent Orange to ‘contain the enemy’.  His son, Elmo R. Zumwalt 3d, who had served in the U.S. Army at the same time in Vietnam was exposed to dioxin and later died of cancer at the young age of 42. The unrepentant admiral and father on first coming to know about his son’s illness said, ”Knowing what I now know, I still would have ordered the defoliation to achieve the objectives it did, of reducing casualties. But that does not ease the sorrow I feel for Elmo, or the anguish his illness, and Russell’s disability, give me.” LINK

The genocidal mind-set is self-evident in the actions of the perpetrators even after the war ended.

The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), Hanoi, has answered a number of questions posed by Live Encounters Magazine to help our readers comprehend the magnitude of this genocide.

When was Agent Orange (AO) dropped on Vietnam, which years? How many tonnes were dropped?

The United States conducted a chemical war in Vietnam between 1961 and 1971.  For 10 years, the United States dropped 80 million litres of toxic chemicals to the South of Vietnam in which 61% were Agent Orange; others were Agent White, Agent Blue, and Agent Purple.

Which areas were affected by AO?

About a quarter of Southern Vietnam area was sprayed with Agent Orange. The heavy sprayed areas were provinces Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam, Da Nang, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh. Check the map

What was the immediate effect – how many people (men, women, and children) died, how many were injured? What were the kind of injuries suffered by civilians? How many livestock and wildlife were killed?

The number of people exposed directly to dioxin is 4.8 million. There are no accurate figures for the number of dead, estimated to be hundreds of thousands.

There is no data on the number of animals killed due to exposure to Agent Orange.

How many square kilometres of forest area and cultivated fields were poisoned during the war? And how many square kilometres are still contaminated?

About 3 million hectares of forest have been destroyed by Agent Orange. Presently no forest or farmland is contaminated. Today there are 28 hot spots which have a high dioxin level, mainly in former U.S. military bases (where toxic chemicals were stored, disposed or equipment/empty storage drums washed after spraying trips).

Were waterways and underground water contaminated? And are they still affected?

Ponds and other water sources had been contaminated. The contamination of the water resources is non-existent now.

How many people are still affected by AO? What are the ailments?

Approximately 3 million people are affected by Agent Orange. Up to now, the Vietnam Ministry of Health has identified 17 diseases in these people associated with the exposure of Agent Orange:

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Soft tissue sarcoma.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Hodgkin’s disease
Lung and Bronchus cancer.
Trachea cancer.
Larynx cancer.
Prostate cancer.
Primary liver cancers.
Multiple sclerosis (Kahler’s disease).


Acute, subacute peripheral neuropathy.
Acne caused by chlorine (Chloracne).
Type 2 Diabetes
Porphyria cutanea tarda.
Unusual birth: Infertility.
Mental disorders.
Deformities and malformations.
Spina bifida







Is livestock and wildlife still contaminated? What are the visible signs?

The teratogenic effect is visible in livestock and wild animals. The most recognizable signs are animals that are born deformed and those that abort stillborn offspring.

How many generations of people were/are/will be/ affected?

At present, it is shown that the third generation of family is affected by Agent Orange. It cannot be confirmed that Agent Orange will affect to further generations.

Has the US accepted responsibility for the chemical attacks and prosecuted those who ordered the chemical attacks?

The U.S. government has never officially acknowledged, and has even refused responsibility for the consequences of their use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Therefore, they have never prosecuted those who ordered the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

How has the US compensated Vietnam and its victims financially (amount) and through other means?

The US government has never offered any form of compensation for victims of Agent Orange. However, they began to participate in environmental cleanup in areas with high levels of dioxin remained. Specifically, they participated in the decontamination in Da Nang and surveyed dioxin residue in Bien Hoa airport. They have also implemented a number of projects supporting people with disabilities in Vietnam, including victims of Agent Orange.

Has Vietnam and its victims approached the International Criminal Court at The Hague for justice by filing a suit against the US for crimes against humanity? And if so, what was the result?

Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange / Dioxin (VAVA) has unsuccessfully conducted civil action law suit in a U.S. court against 37 chemical companies that produced and supplied toxic chemicals that U.S. troops used in the war in Vietnam. VAVA is also preparing another civil suit, but has not yet filed a lawsuit in the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Did Vietnam and its victims file law suits in US courts for justice – fixing liability and compensation? If so, what were the results?

As mentioned above, in 2004 Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange / Dioxin brought a lawsuit against 37 chemical companies of the U.S. in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York. After Court of First Instance and Court of Appeals, in 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to accept the suit of VAVA. Thus, the first lawsuit has ended. It has not achieved the desired results. However, the lawsuit has attracted the attention of many people worldwide and sparked off a movement of supporting the struggle for “justice for victims of Agent Orange”, demanding that the US Government take responsibility for its criminal action.

What had been done and is being done now to help the victims of the chemical attacks? And what more has to be done?

During the war, we participated and organized many research activities exploring the effects of Agent Orange on the environment and human health. After the war, we immediately embarked on improving the environment, cleaning the areas which were affected by toxic chemicals during the war. Also, we focused on the treatment and improvement of living conditions for people who suffered from exposure of toxic chemicals. Up to now, more than 320,000 combatants in affected battlefields and their children receive subsidies, monthly. Over 300,000 civilians in affected areas recipients of a social welfare program.  Victims of Agent Orange are the beneficiaries of the State’s socio-economic programs.

How many more years will the effect of AO prevail on the people of Vietnam and its flora and fauna?

Agent Orange is still affecting the health and quality of life of the Vietnamese. The extent of the poisoning of our people and our environment is visible in our third generation – children being born with horrible deformities and painful afflictions. How many more generations will suffer this fate cannot be ascertained.

We have waited for justice too long.


Types of herbicides, known as the Rainbow Herbicidestheir active ingredients, and years used by the U.S. Army in Vietnam. LINK

Agent Green : 100% n-butyl ester 2,4,5-T, used prior to 1966..

Agent Pink : 100% 2,4,5-T (60% n-butyl ester 2,4,5-T, and 40% iso-butyl ester of 2,4,5-T) used prior to 1966.

Agent Purple : 50% 2,4,5-T (30% n-butyl ester of 2,4,5-T, and 20% iso-butyl ester of 2,4,5-T) and 50% n-butyl ester of 2,4-D used 1961–65.

Agent Blue : (Phytar 560G): 65.6% organic Arsenicical (cacodylic acid (Ansar 138) and its sodium salt sodium cacodylate) used from 1962–71 in powder and water solution.

Agent White : (Tordon 101): 21.2% (acid weight basis) triisopropanolamine salts of 2,4-D and 5.7% picloram used 1966–71.

Agent Orange or Herbicide Orange : (HO): 50% n-butyl ester 2,4-D and 50% n-butyl ester 2,4,5-T used 1965–70.

Agent Orange II: 50% n-butyl ester 2,4-D and 50% isooctyl ester 2,4,5-T used after 1968.

Agent Orange III: 66.6% n-butyl 2,4-D and 33.3% n-butyl ester 2,4,5-T.

Enhanced Agent Orange, Orange Plus, or Super Orange (SO), or DOW Herbicide M-3393: standardized Agent Orange mixture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T combined with an oil-based mixture of picloram, a proprietary DOW Chemical product called Tordon 101, an ingredient of Agent White.

The herbicides were procured by the U.S. military from Dow Chemical Company (all but Blue), Monsanto (Orange, Purple and Pink), Hercules Inc. (Orange and Purple), Thompson-Hayward Chemical Company (Orange and Pink), Diamond Alkali/Shamrock Company (Orange, Blue, Purple and Pink), United States Rubber Company (Orange), Thompson Chemicals Corporation (Orange and Pink), Agrisect Company (Orange and Purple), Hoffman-Taft Inc. (Orange), and the Ansul Chemical Company (Blue). In April 1967, the US’s entire production of 2,4,5-T was confiscated by the military; foreign sources were also tapped into, including the Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).

A declassified letter by V.K. Rowe at Dow’s Biochemical Research Library to Bio products Manager Ross Milholland dated June 24, 1965 clearly states that the company knew the dioxin in their products, including Agent Orange, could hurt people. Chemical companies, U.S. authorities knew the dangers of Agent Orange (See references)

The trail of blood of five U.S. Presidents that ‘over saw’ the creation and bloody warfare, which included chemical attacks that killed over 2,000,000+ Vietnamese, 1,100,000+ Viet Cong soldiers, 58,000+ U.S. soldiers, Canadians 100+, South Korea 4,000+, Thailand 350+, Australia 500+ and New Zealand 36+ (approximate figures). This does not includes over 4,000,000+ Vietnamese and thousands of U.S. soldiers and their descendants poisoned by dioxin. And the U.S. Government still refuses to acknowledge the genocide committed and the resultant ongoing genocide in Vietnam where 3,000,000+ civilians are affected by exposure to dioxin. Presently, it has reached the third generation of Vietnamese.

Dwight Eisenhower (1953 – 1961) Republican

After the Geneva Accords were signed between the French and Communist Viet Minh leading to a partition of Vietnam, Eisenhower decided to create the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) with the purpose of stopping communist influence in South East Asia. SEATO was used as a cover for Eisenhower to build a new nation in the South fighting against the Communists in the North. In 1955, the Republic of Vietnam was born with Ngo Dinh Diem as its President. (See references)

John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) Democrat

Kennedy pledged extra aid to Diem regime when he was in office in 1961. He ordered the commencement of Operation Ranch Hand – the spraying of herbicides. In fact, more advisers and machinery but not troops were sent to South Vietnam. However, in 1963 Kennedy tacitly approved a coup to overthrow Diem just 3 weeks before his assassination. (See references)

Lyndon B. Johnson (1963 – 1969) Democrat

In 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred and its resolution gave Johnson more powers to wage the war in Vietnam. He was the President who ordered the bombing campaign called Operation Rolling Thunder and sent the first combat troops to South Vietnam in March 1965. The draft was instituted soon after that and caused many anti-war protests nationwide especially inside campuses. (See references)

“This way of settling differences is not just. This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated on April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A

Richard Nixon (1969 – 1974) Republican

Nixon started the so-called “Vietnamization” policy in 1969. During his years in office, he escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia in an attempt to destroy Communist food, weapons and manpower supply through the Ho Chi Minh Trail to South Vietnam. Nixon ordered the “Christmas Bombing” in 1972 to keep North Vietnam at the negotiating table as well as to convince South Vietnam to sign the peace treaty. It is alleged that Nixon contemplated using the ‘big one’, a reference to dropping a nuclear weapon on the North Vietnamese. (See references)

Gerald Ford (1974 – 1977) Republican

Aid funds for South Vietnam was significantly cut off during his years. Although it had been promised by the Nixon administration, Congress forbade further U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  On April 23, 1975, Ford declared the Vietnam War ended “as far as America is concerned”. Seven days later, Saigon was captured and South Vietnam fell to the North Communists. (See references)

  • U.S. propaganda about Agent Orange was so effective, it fooled American troops into thinking it was safe, too. It launched a public relations campaign that included educational programs showing civilians happily applying herbicides to their skin and passing through defoliated areas without concern. One prominent comic strip featured a character named Brother Nam who explained that “The only effect of defoliant is to kill trees and force leaves to whither, and normally does not cause harm to people, livestock, land, or the drinking water of our compatriots.” – U.S. War propaganda and delayed justice The Conversation  LINK 

Prosecuting U.S. citizens involved in this genocide as well as the U.S. Government and holding them liable for chemical warfare on civilians that has killed millions and affected three generations of Vietnamese in The International Criminal Court at The Hague is not feasible. This is so because the U.S. Government does not recognise the jurisdiction of the court. It only accepts rulings by its own courts. This is odd because it was the U.S. that pushed for the setting up of the ICC. It arm twisted many countries into joining but kept itself out. It has refused to ratify the Rome Statute because …

Article 86 of the Rome Statute provides that parties to the treaty shall “cooperate fully with the Court in its investigation and prosecution of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court,” and other articles in the treaty provide that the Court may formally request even non-parties to provide assistance to the Court and to surrender suspects to the Court.

The U.S. was not inclined to give up its politicians or military personnel to face justice. Hence, the victims of Agent Orange of Vietnam had to approach the U.S. courts for justice. As expected their case was thrown out by the Supreme Court of the U.S. The interpretation of law sided with the U.S. Government against the aliens.

It would appear that the U.S. has reserved the right to commit genocide and continue to act like an extra judicial power without answering to the international community at large. Unfortunately, its cannon fodder has also been its own people.

A westerner once remarked to me that the Vietnam War was a long time ago and therefore it should be consigned to history, forgotten and buried, because it was a war against communism. In effect he justified the genocide. I suppose we could also forget the Holocaust and other horrible events of the past 100 years. Further, we could put a moratorium on remembrances of genocide.

Why is it that we acknowledge the Holocaust every year and not what was done to the Vietnamese, and the ongoing genocide they face today as a result? Is this an example of deluded elements in western ‘civilisation’ considering themselves above and beyond others? Or, are some people genetically deluded by an arrogant form of exceptionalism that we are more equal than others?

How does one fight for one’s country (U.S.) by illegally invading Iraq, decimating its ancient societies, both Christian and Muslim, and being directly responsible for the killing of 1,000,000+ civilians. And, giving rise to the bloody Islamic State. The unfolding tragic events in the Middle East and elsewhere is symptomatic of a colonial mind-set that refuses to acknowledge that it does not have the perceived power, moral or otherwise, to direct the course of events to its own choosing. That the past is catching up. That even its own citizens are becoming aware of the omissions and commissions of government. That citizens are becoming proactive in exercising their rights. One hopes that in this process the Vietnamese victims will get justice along with the U.S. soldiers who were used and abused by an insidious system that appears more pervasive today.

In the meantime, let us thank all those individuals and organisations in Vietnam and across the world who have come forward in their own capacity to assist the victims of Agent Orange, both Vietnamese and U.S. soldiers.

Regardless of nationality, insaanyat, humanity, is still alive. And this is, perhaps, our only saving grace.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

References breaking pictures were captured by British-born photographer Francis Wade on trip to Vietnam   –   The Dark Shadow of Agent Orange | Retro Report | The New York Times – downloaded screen shots from this link – Toxic Rain – The Legacy of Agent Orange   –  downloaded screenshots from this link Toxic Rain – The Children of Orange, SBS Dateline – downloaded screenshots   Agent Orange, exposed: How U.S. chemical warfare in Vietnam unleashed a slow-moving disaster Vietnam’s horrific legacy: The children of Agent Orange A declassified letter by V.K. Rowe at Dow’s Biochemical Research Library to Bioproducts Manager Ross Milholland dated June 24, 1965 clearly states that the company knew the dioxin in their products, including Agent Orange, could hurt people. – Chemical companies, US authorities knew the dangers of Agent Orange Vietnamese school trains disabled victims of Agent Orange Vietnamese families still battling the aftermath of Agent Orange. The Forgotten Victims of Agent Orange – Troubling questions about dioxin Why the United States Went to War in Vietnam  The Joint Chiefs of Staff and The War in Vietnam 1960–1968 Part 1 Agent Orange The UK’s use of Agent Orange in Malaysia Effects of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese people Agent Orange: Outreach Programs  Elmo R. Zumwalt 3d, 42, Is Dead; Father Ordered Agent Orange Use Rainbow Herbicides Operation Ranch Hand DOW SAYS U.S. KNEW DIOXIN PERIL OF AGENT ORANGE States parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court U.S. Announces Intent Not to Ratify International Criminal Court Treaty

© Mark Ulyseas