The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Viet Nam:
Clearing up explosives left by U.S. bombing

Mar 1, 2004

On February 25, Ron Muller, President of the Viet Nam Veterans of America Foundation, signed an agreement with the Vietnamese government to help in locating unexploded U.S. ordnance in Viet Nam.

Viet Nam is the most heavily bombed country in the world. During the Viet Nam war, U.S. military forces used two to three times the amount of munitions used by all countries all over the planet in World War II. A lot of these munitions malfunctioned and did not go off at the time they were used. As much as 850,000 tons of unexploded ordnance remain scattered across the country along with as many as three million landmines.

As a result, since the end of the war in 1975, over 38,000 Vietnamese have been killed and about 64,000 injured – many of them children – by old bombs, shells, rockets and mines going off – an average of about 10 people killed or wounded every day.

It is now almost 30 years since the end of the war, yet the identification and removal of unexploded ordnance is just getting underway in much of Viet Nam. This deadly delay is mainly due to the impoverishment imposed on the Vietnamese by the destruction caused by that war and by the U.S. government's refusal to accept any responsibility for what it did to Viet Nam.

Ron Muller, who signed the agreement, was disabled in the war, then came home to oppose it. He is one of the co-founders of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and says that he has devoted his life since returning from Viet Nam to helping the victims of war. The push to work in Viet Nam came from him and other vets like him.

The U.S. government may finally have agreed to pay part of the expense of this survey, but it continues to refuse to admit any responsibility for what happened in Viet Nam – hiding behind the vets who have pushed to go there, just like it once used them to carry out its war there.