On December 10 — International Human Rights Day — Takeshi Onaga began his term as the new governor of Okinawa. Last month, the citizens of Okinawa delivered a landslide victory to Onaga, who ran on a platform opposing the construction of a new U.S. Marine Corps base...
Since 1945, the small Japanese island of Okinawa has been unwilling host to a massive U.S. military presence and a storehouse for a witches’ brew of dangerous munitions and chemicals, including nerve gas, mustard gas, and nuclear missiles. However, there is one weapon the Pentagon has always denied that it kept on Okinawa: Agent Orange. But a recently discovered U.S. army report puts lie to those denials once and for all.
The Pentagon’s refusal to acknowledge that Agent Orange was stored on Okinawa endangers the health of both local Okinawans and American service members currently stationed on the island.
Agent Orange, the notoriously toxic defoliant first used by U.S. troops during the Vietnam War, has long been known to cause liver cancer, birth defects, leukemia, and other illnesses in people exposed to it. Although the U.S. military hasn’t actively used the chemical since the 1970s, a number of forgotten victims are still suffering the nightmare of its contamination.
In May, three former U.S. soldiers admitted to dumping hundreds of barrels of chemical substances, including Agent Orange, at Camp Carroll in South Korea in 1978. This explosive news was a harsh reminder to South Koreans of the high costs and lethal trail left behind by the ongoing U.S. military presence.
In last month’s blitzkrieg tour of Central and Southeast Asia, two of the four stops Secretary Clinton made share the unfortunate bond of enduring an invasion by U.S. air and ground forces. In the space of a few days, Clinton visited both Vietnam and Afghanistan, thus physically linking what had once been, and then what has now become the United States’ longest war. One of the more insidious links that tie these conflicts together was highlighted in a few of the news stories about Clinton’s trip. That link, in a word, is agribusiness.
ÂWar is hell,Â Union General William Tecumseh Sherman famously said 14 years after the end of the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history. ÂIt is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation.Â