Michael Uhl, Vietnam Awakening: My Journey from Combat to the Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2007), pp. 204-208; and “5 Vietnamese Women Support Former G.I.’s Report of Slayings,” New York Times, May 10, 1971, p. 12.
Robert Mann, A Grand Delusion: America’s Descent into Vietnam (New York: Basic Books, 2001), pp. 512, 594, 682; “Gallup Poll Reports 49% Believe Involvement in Vietnam an Error,” New York Times, March 10, 1968, p. 4; and Charles DeBenedetti, with Charles Chatfield, assisting author, An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Era (Syracuse University press,1990), p. 310.
Fred Wilcox, Waiting for an Army to Die: The Tragedy of Agent Orange (New York: Vintage Books, 1983), pp. 4, 51; Fred Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011); “Effects of Chemical Warfare in South Vietnam,” in Frank Browning and Dorothy Forman, eds., The Wasted Nations: Report of the International Commission of Enquiry Into United States Crimes in Indochina (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 117; and Duffet, ed., Against the Crime of Silence, p. 335.
Jonathan Schell, “The Village of Ben Suc” (1968), in The Real War: The Classic Reporting on the Vietnam War with a New Essay (New York: Da Capo Press, 2000) p. 188.
Neale, A People’s History of the Vietnam War; and Wilfred G. Burchett, Vietnam North (New York: International Publishers, 1966), p. 13. In an all-too typical incident, American bombers destroyed a leprosorium in Quinh Lap in April 1967, causing 120 deaths and over 1,00 wounded. When some of the lepers fled to nearby caves, the caves were mercilessly bombed through the month of June, killing well over a dozen more.
The Pentagon Papers, Vol. IV. C. 11. “The United States Re-Emphasizes Pacification – 1965 to Present, An Examination of a Major Trend in our Effort.” This summary report focused almost exclusively on organization and agency relationships to the exclusion of program results, noting only that Washington’s demands exceeded realistic possibilities.
“NSC-68, 1950,” Office of the Historian, U.S. State Department, . Officially titled, “A Report to the National Security Council – NSC 68”, April 12, 1950.
For an excellent analysis of economic motives interwoven in the American quest for hegemonic power in Asia as well as ideological-driven rationales, see Noam Chomsky, At War with Asia: Essays on Indochina (New York: Vintage Books, 1970; republished, Chico, CA: AK Press, 2004).
The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, chaired by Milton Eisenhower, interviewed more than 1,400 witnesses to the events and studied FBI reports and films of the confrontations. Its report, released on December 1, 1968, characterized the convention violence as a “police riot,” albeit on the part of a minority of police officers, and recommended prosecution of those officers. The police officers were not prosecuted, but seven movement organizers – Abbie Hoffman, Rennie Davis, John Froines, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner, Tom Hayden, and Bobby Seale – were indicted by the U.S. Justice Department on March 29, 1969, on charges of conspiracy and traveling across state lines to “incite a riot.” Five were convicted of the latter charge, but their convictions were overturned on appeal.
The liberal wing of the antiwar movement, represented by groups such as SANE, WSP, Student Peace Union, and Americans for Democratic Action, supported détente, diplomacy, and demilitarization of the Cold War, paying particular attention to the nuclear arms race. Liberal peace groups worked to build a broad-based movement, gain positive media attention, and influence members of Congress – all essential elements of movement-building. At the same time, they tended to narrow their vision and political goals to what was feasible within the American context, which fell short of what was needed to achieve peace in the international context. The unwillingness of liberal peace groups to support U.S. withdrawal from South Vietnam not only divided the antiwar movement but also constituted a missed opportunity to combine domestic peace efforts with international diplomatic efforts led by UN Secretary-General U Thant, which were based on the Geneva formula. According to the historian Milton Katz:
Public opinion shifted during the war. In the fall 1964 election, a majority of Americans voted for a presidential candidate who promised not to send “our boys” to Vietnam. Once combat troops were sent, however, the majority endorsed the war, in keeping with patriotic support for American troops abroad. A Gallup poll taken in June 1965 reported that 66% favored continued U.S. military involvement as opposed to 20% who favored withdrawal. Only one year later, support for the war had begun to wane. A Gallup poll taken in June 1966 reported 48% in favor of continued involvement and 35% in favor of withdrawal.
Wilcox’s first book, Waiting for an Army to Die, chronicles the effects of Agent Orange on American veterans. Many became sick or died from diseases that normally do not afflict young men, including rare cancers, while others reported that their children were born with birth defects similar to those seen in the offspring of female laboratory animals exposed to dioxin. The veterans considered themselves to have been guinea pigs in scientific experiments by their own government. They brought a class action lawsuit in 1980 against the government and Monsanto, which was settled out-of-court in 1984 for $180 million dollars.
The phasing out of the American chemical war in Southeast Asia was the result of an expanding ecological awareness as well as specific studies of chemical agents. The insecticide DDT, which was widely used in American agriculture, was banned in 1972 after a ten-year movement that began with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962. In a similar way, reports of birth defects and other deleterious effects of Agents Orange, Blue, and White in Vietnam led to scientific studies that correlated these effects with toxic ingredients, particularly 2,4,5-T. Scientific experiments produced malformations and stillbirths in mice.