WMD: Who's Got Them?

From Granma International

One can easily be connected to the other. The headline in The Chicago Sun Times read: 'Looking for WMD?' That’s easy enough, there are eight million chemical weapons stockpiled. They were not found in Iraq, but they are being warehoused in igloo-like concrete structures in the state of Oregon, USA. They are a permanent fixture in the Panamanian rain forest since the US bases were installed in that country and are also maintained in storage facilities in Australia in quantities far greater than the amount Bush claimed was in Iraq in order to justify the invasion. These types of deadly weapons can also be found a scant four miles from the White House.

Reuters, meanwhile, wrote that Nguyen Van Quy, one of the three Vietnamese who are suing the manufacturers of Agent Orange, the defoliant that the US aggressors used during the Viet Nam war, survives with death knocking at his door. The former North Vietnamese sergeant major gets weaker everyday as a result of a liver tumor caused by the dioxin he was contaminated by.

There are more than eight million chemical weapons being kept in the world, and they threaten not only those that may in one war or another be labeled as 'the enemy' but also the communities that, sometimes without knowing it, are endangered by harboring deposits of Sarin and VX nerve gas, or other nerve agents prolifically produced by US laboratories.

Nonetheless, 'chemical terrorism' is usually referred to only as a threat that could come from some deranged warlord, ignoring the fact that the well-organized and mighty US Army is the holder of the largest stock of chemical weapons and hasn’t hesitated to use them.

Quy and the other Vietnamese plaintiffs are living examples that these weapons existed and were used, and they are denouncing Agent Orange’s effects on their children. These substances were manufactured by Dow Chemical and Monsanto corporations. They are the same consortiums whose herbicides are still being used against cocaine fields in Latin America, contaminating vast extensions of farmland in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Another 30 companies are named in the case brought by the Vietnamese, which is scheduled for a hearing in a New York court in December.

In an effort to deprive the Vietnamese fighters of food and the shelter of the jungle, the US forces used chemicals that contaminated the soil and the water. The aftereffects of this chemical warfare continue to be felt today. In Viet Nam there are more than three million victims of the 20 million gallons of herbicides that were sprayed between 1962 and 1971, including Agent Orange, which contains dioxin, believed to be responsible for several types of cancer. Nightmarish birth defects are common in Viet Nam and have yielded babies without eyes or arms, others with two heads and many with vital organ dysfunctions.

But the Vietnamese adversaries were not the only victims. As if a punishment from hell, US war veterans have also suffered from the effect of the chemicals. In 1984, Dow Chemical and Monsanto were forced to pay $180 million to US soldiers, who had ironically become their own 'collateral damage.'

Weapons there were, and there are...

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