War is Hell. An adage made banal by repetition. But the truth of that statement should never be banal. Ask any veteran; moreover, ask their family, wh
August 31, 2006

War is Hell.
An adage made banal by repetition. But the truth of that statement should never be banal. Ask any veteran; moreover, ask their family, who still feel the effects of a combat they didn't themselves see. Make no mistake, the hellish horrors of war continue through the generations, long past the last fired shot and the ink dry on peace treaties.

In last month's edition of Vanity Fair, professional contrarian Christopher Hitchens teamed with photographer James Nachtwey to show the lingering effects of our use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The very title of our joint subject is, I must tell you, a sick joke to begin with. Perhaps you remember the jaunty names of the callous brutes in Reservoir Dogs: "Mr. Pink," "Mr. Blue," and so on? Well, the tradition of giving pretty names to ugly things is as old as warfare. In Vietnam, between 1961 and 1971, the high command of the United States decided that, since a guerrilla struggle was apparently being protected by tree cover, a useful first step might be to "defoliate" those same trees.

Famous corporations such as Dow and Monsanto were given the task of attacking and withering the natural order of a country. The resulting chemical weaponry was euphemistically graded by color: Agent Pink, Agent Green (yes, it's true), Agent Purple, Agent Blue, Agent White, and-spoken often in whispers-Agent Orange. This shady gang, or gang of shades, all deferred to its ruthless chief, who proudly bore the color of hectic madness. The key constituent of Agent Orange is dioxin: a horrifying chemical that makes total war not just on vegetation but also on the roots and essences of life itself. Read on...

Nachtwey's photo essay here .

It is horrifying to look at the damage suffered by the children and grandchildren of those exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. What a real life nightmare for these families. Predictably, our government bears little responsibility for those ravages here in the US, none in Vietnam.

We know--without the assistance of the "liberal media"--about the use of Depleted Uranium in the war in Iraq. Which begs the question: For how long and for how many generations will we suffer the effects of this ill-advised war?

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