Our ghosts deserve better
News today that the Government is close to finalizing a deal to compensate NZ soldiers for the damage done to them from exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam war is welcome news indeed.
“A report recommending the Government apologise and compensate veterans poisoned by Agent Orange $50,000 each is close to being approved. Defence Minister Phil Goff would not comment on the Agent Orange Joint Working Group report's recommendations, but said he and Veterans Affairs Minister Rick Barker would be meeting Vietnam vets in coming weeks.” NZ Herald
Personally I think the Vietnam War was one of the most despicable conflicts we have ever been involved in, and that the blood spilt there in that nation forever tarnishes our honour. I believe that it is forever a lesson to mankind showing the pointlessness of war for ideaology, that when there is no honour to defend, the brutality of conflict leaves us with only our base selves, stripped of our humanity. It is a lesson that America has refused to learn because it was never honest with itself as to why it was involved in the first place. The Gulf of Tonkin incident which was the escalating action that turned the Vietnam conflict into a full blown war was a lie that should never have been allowed to stand. The USS Turner Joy and the USS Maddox were two American ships that believed they came under attack from the North Vietnamese Navy off the coast of Vietnam, in the Gulf of Tonkin, it was proved later that attack never took place. When 3 million Vietnamese lives were ended plus the illegal bombing campaign of Cambodia which led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields are all held up against the justification of a supposed attack on two American ships that never took place the real fury is that America refused to learn its lesson and embarked on Iraq.
Whether you supported the war or protested against it, I believe we can all find common ground on at least one point – that the troops we sent to fight that war should NEVER have been treated as appallingly as they have been regarding the horrific health legacy left to them from exposure to Agent Orange. This goes also to the Korean war vets who have lived with the sickening effects of DDT and of course troops exposed to radiation during nuclear tests. When we ask people to protect us and to fight we have a responsibility to them, first to never ask them to fight for anything short of a REAL threat to our nation, and second to look after them from any ill effects caused from their fighting.
That said, the NZ Agent Orange legacy pales into insignificance with the horror that exists in Vietnam today. While we should do right by our own soldiers, we have a million more steps to doing right by the children of Vietnam.
'Sleep now in the fire'
The lie is my expense
The scope of desire
The party blessed me with its future
And I protect it with fire
I am the nina the pinta the santa maria
The noose and the rapist
And the fields overseer
The agents of orange
The priests of hiroshima
The cost of my desire
Sleep now in the fire