Chapter ID: CBB414594872

From Charles and Francis Darwin to Richard Nixon: The Origin and Termination of Anti-plant Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (2017)


Anti-plant chemical warfare (CW), the use of chemicals to clear vegetation or destroy food crops as a method of warfare, was conducted on a large scale in the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s. Unlike the anti-personnel CW of World War I, which continued until the Armistice, anti-plant CW in Vietnam was terminated while the war was still underway. Already subject to increasing controversy, its limitation and subsequent termination was precipitated by the appearance in late 1969 of a government-sponsored study suggesting that 2,4,5-T, a component of Agent Orange, the herbicide most heavily used for defoliation, might be teratogenic to humans. In consequence, its use in Vietnam was restricted and then prohibited altogether. Although another herbicide, Agent White, remained briefly in use, all large-area defoliation had ceased by May 1970, leaving crop destruction as the remaining form of large-area herbicide operations in Vietnam. After a review of the program requested by the U.S. Ambassador and the Commanding General in Saigon, the ambassador telegraphed Washington in early December 1970 their decision that chemical crop destruction should be phased out. Although secret, the content of the telegram became known to the press and was published a week later, followed shortly thereafter by President Richard Nixon’s announcement that there would be “an orderly yet rapid phaseout of herbicide operations in Vietnam.”

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Book Bretislav Friedrich; Dieter Hoffmann; Jürgen Renn; Florian Schmaltz; Martin Wolf (2017) One Hundred Years of Chemical Warfare: Research, Deployment, Consequences. unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Martini, Edwin A.
Amat, Jean-Paul
Tran, Thao
Pirot, Françoise
Vuic, Kara Dixon
Spinardi, Graham
Histoire & Mesure
History and Technology
Journal of Military History
War and Society
Air Power History
Environment and History
Osprey Publishing
Johns Hopkins University Press
Columbia University Press
University of Massachusetts Press
Georgetown University
Harvard University
Vietnam War
Science and war; science and the military
Technology and war; technology and the military
Chemical warfare
Military technology
Nixon, Richard M.
Mao, Zedong
Henry Kissinger
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
19th century
United States
United States Air Force (USAF)
National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)

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