History Is the Enemy as "Brilliant" Psy-Ops Become the News

By Pilger, John | New Statesman (1996), June 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

History Is the Enemy as "Brilliant" Psy-Ops Become the News


Pilger, John, New Statesman (1996)


Arriving in a village in southern Vietnam, I caught sight of two children who bore witness to the longest war of the 20th century. Their terrible deformities were familiar. All along the Mekong River, where the forests were petrified and silent, small human mutations lived as best they could.

Today, at the Tu Du paediatric hospital in Saigon, a former operating theatre is known as the "collection room" and, unofficially, as the "room of horrors". It has shelves of large bottles containing grotesque foetuses. During its invasion of Vietnam, the United States sprayed a defoliant herbicide on vegetation and villages to deny "cover to the enemy". This was Agent Orange, which contained dioxins, poisons of such power that they cause foetal death, miscarriage, chromosomal damage and cancer.

In 1970, a US Senate report stated that "the US has dumped [on South Vietnam] a quantity of toxic chemical amounting to six pounds per head of population, including women and children". The code name for this weapon of mass destruction, Operation Hades, was changed to the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand. An estimated 4.8 million of the victims of Agent Orange today are children.

Hanging tough

Len Aldis, secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, recently returned from Vietnam with a letter for the International Olympic Committee from the Vietnam Women's Union. The president of the union, Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, described "the severe congenital deformities [caused by Agent Orange] from generation to generation". She asked the IOC to reconsider its decision to accept sponsorship of the London Olympics from the Dow Chemical Corporation, which was one of the companies that manufactured the poison and has refused to compensate its victims.

Aldis hand-delivered the letter to the office of Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee. He has had no reply. When Amnesty International pointed out that in 2001 Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide, "the company responsible for the Bhopal gas leak [in India in 1984] which killed 7,000 to 10,000 people immediately and a further15,00o in the following 20 years", David Cameron described Dow as a "reputable company". Cheers, then, as the television cameras pan across the [pounds sterling] 7m decorative wrap that sheathes the Olympic Stadium: the product of a ten-year "deal" between the IOC and such a reputable destroyer.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

History is buried with the dead and deformed of Vietnam and Bhopal. History is the new enemy. On z8 May, President Obama launched a campaign to falsify the history of the war in Vietnam. To Obama, there was no Agent Orange, no free-fire zones, no turkey shoots, no cover-ups of massacres, no rampant racism, no suicides (as many Americans took their own lives as died in the war), no defeat by a resistance army drawn from an impoverished society. It was, said Mr Hopey Changey, "one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of [US] military history".

The following day, the New York Times published a long article documenting how Obama personally selects the victims of his drone attacks across the world. …

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