HANOI -- According to a report in the Viet
Nam News (Saturday, November 22, 2008), �Statistics show 20.2 percent or
6.6 million hectares (or 66,000 sq. km.) of land are affected by unexploded
ordnance in Vietnam. About 104,000 people have been injured or killed this way
This ongoing war against
the Vietnamese people has been brought about through the use of cluster bombs,
large-sized munitions that, when they hit the ground, fragment into hundreds of
As the article states,
�Nearly 97 million tons of bombs, of which 296,000 are cluster munitions, were
[dropped] across Vietnam between 1965 and 1975.� In this insane barbarity,
every geographic area in Vietnam was subjected to bombing, urban and rural
alike. The Americans used 16 different types of cluster munitions.
The director of the
Vietnam Bombs and Mines Clearance Center, Nguyen Trong Canh, says, �It would
take 440 years and US$10 billion to clear this leftover ammunition across
[Vietnam],� adding these unexploded munitions and their clearance will have �an
enormous impact on human life, socio-economic development and the environment.�
As the reader may know, the $10 billion price tag is the equivalent of about a
week�s worth of war expenditure by the U.S. in Iraq.
Obviously, one major
consequence is that unexploded munitions �discourage people from cultivating
their land, reducing farm productivity and hampering socio-economic
development.� Further, each year the Vietnamese government must spend a large
amount of its budget (hundreds of millions of dollars) on clearance and other
mine clearing-related activities.
Considering that the
war was only intensified in earnest
with LBJ�s vicious increase of the U.S. military personnel in Vietnam, more
than 40 years ago, this makes the war waged by the U.S. government against the
Vietnamese people a 480-year war. Considering further that the Americans had
been actively present in the form of �advisors� and materiel to help the French
from late 1940s, we are looking at a war that is half a millennium long.
government tends to leave long-lasting impressions on their politico-military
victims. They are leaving the same long-lasting impression again today on the
Iraqis and the Afghans. This time around not just with cluster bombs, which
they still drop on people, but also with uranium-enriched munitions; they call
it �depleted uranium,� but that�s a misnomer, since the uranium used in the
munitions is radioactive and will remain so for 4 billion years.
As the Viet Nam News report states, a total of
107 countries, including Vietnam, ratified the Convention
on Cluster Munitions in Dublin
in May of this year. Guess which country is not a signatory? If you guessed the
U.S., you are right but no cigars; that was pretty obvious. (See a list of signatory nations here.)
[Among the Middle
Eastern/North Afrian countries that did not sign on: Algeria, Egypt, Iran
(shame on us!), Israel, Jordan, Kuwait (not a real country, so they can be
excused), Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and UAE.]
Unlike the U.S.
government, which does everything in very-long-term strategic fashion, a
signature shortcoming of the left in the U.S. has historically been a lack of
follow-through. One such, as regards the war in Vietnam, is the failure to
force the U.S. government to clean up its mess after leaving.
As a result of a lack
of follow-through, no lessons were learned from the practical-political
struggle of the anti-Vietnam war movement in the U.S. This means that, among
other things, once the U.S. government changed course from that barbarity, the
American left pretty much went home and never thought of the consequences, nor
of any long-term remedies for the previous barbarity unleashed.
In this particular
case, among other failures, there was never any follow-up by the left to make
sure that the Vietnamese people receive any reparations of any kind. The people
of Vietnam have not even received any help from the U.S. government (financial,
technical, or even purely rhetorical) in mine and cluster bomb clearing
efforts. The only people who provide any help are American veterans of that war; for example, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, whose efforts at banning landmines, Campaign for A Landmine Free World, won
the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.
As a result of the �search,
destroy and leave� policy of the American imperialists, a residual,
random-intensity war against the people of Vietnam continues, and will do so
for hundreds of years.
When will these
barbarities be stopped? Obama is certainly not about to stop the barbarity.
Only the American people can stop it, and at the rate the American left is
going, the world will be waiting for a long time for the Americans to stop
their state from terrorizing the rest of the world, or help those who have been
victims of American imperialism . . . Alas!
Reza Fiyouzat can be reached at email@example.com. He keeps a blog at: revolutionaryflowerpot.blogspot.com.