Theatres of War
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog› entry 27 of 41 › view all entries
August 14th, 2008 – by: semiperipatetic
The garden of the war museum is full of american military equipment, including an M48 Patton tank, an F5 fighter and a Huey helicopter. But the most interesting - and also shocking and infuriating - part lies inside, in the photographic exhibition.
Not claiming to be an unbiased account of history, nor a full account of the war, the museum's main focus is the atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out by the U.S. army during the years of the American (Vietnam for the westerners) war.
The photographic evidence gives a horrific account of the civilian massacres, the torture of POW and the long term effects of the chemicals used by the U.
The most shocking aspect for me was the extensive use of toxic weapons. In an attempt to clear the vast jungle used as a hideout by the Viet Cong, american planes indiscriminately sprayed a tremendous amount of defoliant over the south vietnamese countryside. Rice crops were destroyed, trees were flattened and streams, lakes and ground were polluted making it impossible for civilians to drink local water. The deadliest weapon, Agent Orange, contained the extremely toxic Dioxin. 85 grams of dioxin can kill a whole city of 8 million. About 45,000,000 litres of Agent Orange were sprayed over Southeast Asia during the American involvement.
As of 2006, the Vietnamese government estimates that there are over 4,000,000 victims of dioxin poisoning in Vietnam, although the United States government denies any conclusive scientific links between Agent Orange and the Vietnamese victims of dioxin poisoning.
Another shocking tactic of the U.S. forces was the policy of "Search and Destroy" which resulted in the My Lai and Thanh Phong massacres. In My Lai, 504 civilians were shot in one morning, among them 182 women and 173 children.
It is worth noting that between 1965 and 1973, the United States spent $120 billion on the war ($700 billion in 2007 dollars). U.S. aid to subsaharan countries for 2007 was $3.6 billion.
The painting exhibition at the exit of the Museum consists of a gallery full of recent children drawings, featuring pictures of peace and unity. It serves as a reminder that war is a game invented by adults - children have no interest in it.
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