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tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  February 17, 2016 2:43am-3:56am EST

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so. so, we can't turn around and say we think the cuban insurgents are real beligerents and deserve all the rights that they should have during the time of war, particularly with neutrals. that was occupying him much more than -- anyone else? sir, please. >> i had a question about grant's relationship with sherman after the war. sherman continuing on as chief of the army later on. but this notion of grant and his ties with army colleagues, with this brotherhood that was established. in his memoir, he speaks so highly of sherman as his colleague and trusted subordinate.
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i'm interested to hear your thoughts on their relationship after the war, personal relationship and especially the fact that sherman advised grant not to enter politics at all. we know sherman's own view of presidential politics. can you shed some light on that and how it affected grant at all, or what counsel sherman may have given him? >> that's a good question. sherman was completely -- i shouldn't say a political. he was anti-political. he hated the whole game of politics and didn't want to get involved. i think he may have thought to grant, you know, you're unsuited for this. this is really not what you were cut out to do. senator john sherman was a politician, aspirate for the
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presidency. i think there was an element of tension then between sherman and grant because of that, that sherman may have thought that grant made some mistakes in become being president and particularly in the western policy, indian policy. i think sherman was much more sympathetic to sheridan's ideas of just trouncing these people. exterminating the indians, if necessary. grant, much more sympathetic to the indians, trying to protect them. grant, very early on, said the problem in the west is -- the encroachment by the white settlers. what we need to do is somehow work out the relationship between the newcomers to the region and the long-time occupants there. but sherman was more sympathetic toward sheridan's approach of
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warfare to deal with the problem in the west. and so i think there was some questions about how much independence grant let sherman have, as general and the chief. i think he had a little bit of difficulty working out that relationship as to what sherman would be able to do on his own and what he would need to check with the secretary of war, for instance, check with the white house. i think there was disappointment on sherman's part that grant did go the political route and made that famous statement. he's often thought of sherman as saying that statement in 1884, if nominated, i will not run. if elected, i will not serve. he made it as early as 1871 when people were thinking about running him to try to defeat grant. he certainly said no, there's no way i want to get involved in
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politics. i don't think it was an animosity that developed by any means. i think it's an element of disappointment on the part of a friend, when you see a friend perhaps doing something that you think that friend is not particularly suited for. ro who else? thank you very much. [ applause ] we talk to supreme court reporter david savage about the death of justice scalia over the sbentd vacancy left on the court. then the aaron klein with the possible changes on interest rates in the coming weeks.
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you can join the conversation on phone or by facebook and twitter. washington journal every morning live at 7:00 am on c-span. this weekend the c-span cities tour hosted by our cable partners takes you to greenville, south carolina, to explore the city's history and literary culture. >> in september 1939 when europe went to war, our allies, primarily england and france, looked to washington, d.c. for goods and materials that they needed. so, washington, d.c. looked down to the textile capital of the world. and all of a sudden, government contracts came funneling into this area, asking the mills here to begin producing for the war effort, initially for our allies and then, of course, for the united states as well. >> and on american history tv -- >> so we're standing right here
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at red river falls. this really was a pretty nasty spot. it's hard to believe now, looking at it. one of the best parks in the country. this really was a very depressed, nasty place. and it's a great story of how a community can get behind a park and start to appreciate and cherish its river and waterfall again. >> watch the c-span cities tour saturday at noon eastern on c-span 2's book tv and sunday at 2:00 on c-span 3. working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. former national security council counterterrorism director daniel rosenthal was in charge of closing guantanamo bay prison. shortly after leaving his white house post in january, he took
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part in a discussion at fordham university, with rolling stone contributor janet wrightman, last reporter allowed inside the gitmo detention center. carol rosenberg and two attorneys who represent guantanamo bay detainees. tune in at 8:00 pm eastern on c-span. each week, american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. you can watch the classes here every saturday evening at 8:00 pm and midnight eastern. next, boise state university professor lisa brady talks about how chemical agents were used during the korean and vietnam wars to destroy the landscape and infrastructure. she argues that during this time, the u.s. military began to see foreign landscapes as an enemy rather than just an obstacle. she describes the reasons for various defoalization missions
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as well as damage to the environment and locals. her class is about one hour, 15 minutes. >> okay. so, today we're going to be talking about the wars in korea and vietnam from an environmental history perspective. many of you are quite well aware of the military side of things, how the wars progressed. i think it's important for to us think about how nature is impacted by and shapes warfare. these are two very important wars in american history. not only because korea is often considered to be the forgotten war and so many of its veterans feels like it doesn't get talked about enough, but also because it was the first hot war in the cold war, in which the united states really did go to war with communist enemies. in this case, north korea and the people's volunteer army in china.
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and because it really does impact our world today. korea is one of our most important allies, one of our most important trading partners. so our involvement in korea was a very important moment in u.s. history. of course, vietnam is very important for its roll in activism and in getting many of the younger people in the united states involved in politics, involved in protest and demonstrating that the united states government is very much influenced by its constituents and responsive to it. but we're going to focus on the environment of both of these places. and we're going to start here with korea. so this means land of the morning calm. that is what koreans considered to be the phrase that best captures the essence of korea and the korean peninsula. the war that we're going to be talking about, as you all know, the fighting took place between
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1950 and 1953 for u.s. and u.n. allied troops. the war went on much longer before that. it began really in 1945, '47 when there were internal conflicts between those who wanted to have a communist government and those who wanted to have a liberal capitalist government. of course, as you all know, the war still continues. it's only governed by an armistice, not a peace treaty. those years are reflective of u.n. military involvement in an actual combat situation. so the map there is of the korean peninsula. tigers are very important to korean people am their culture and history and tradition. for centuries, koreans have seen their peninsula in the shape of a tiger. that's why i've got that map up there rather than a boring political map. here are the more boring political maps of the korean
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peninsula. i have these here to show you what the climate is like in korea. we're taking the war from an environmental history perspective. it's very important for us to know what are the types of weather patterns, temperatures and kinds of conditions that u.s. forces faced when they get over to korea. on the left is the average low temperatures in the heart of winter. and they range from, at the very tip there -- let's see if i can get that. right there. about minus 4 degrees on average in that part of north korea. and down here in the southern areas, it's more about 36. just hovering right around freezing on average from december through february. the summer temperatures there are much warmer. it is a climate where you've got a bimodal climate. very, very cold and dry in the winter and very, very hot and subject to monsoons in the summer. again, you can see ranging from
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about 64 degrees here in the northern parts of korea, all the way to the 80s down here in the southern part. keep in mind, these are averages. averages. and so you can have temperature ranges in the peninsula, along the peninsula anywhere from double digits below zero fahrenheit to triple digits above zero in the summer. it's about the same area as utah. and it is 600 miles in length and, at its narrowest, right where the dmz is, right around in here, it's about 120 miles in width. keep in mind, though, that the dmz extends out into the marine and estuary areas outside, in the water areas there. so the dmz is actually about 155 miles in total width.
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70% of the peninsula is mountainous. all of this is just leading up to giving you a sense of the kind of ter sban climate that u.s. soldiers and marines faced when they were on the ground. 70% of the peninsula is mountainous. about 20% is suitable for agriculture. most of that is in the south. now the mountains today are heavily forested with mixed growth forests. they had been previous to the war as well. as i'll show you in many of the pictures, the war devastated the forests, undermined the stability of the mountain sides and created long-lasting environmental implications for the pen lanes and the people who live there.
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it has three very powerful nations surrounding it. china, russia, and japan, all of which had designs on the korean pen lanes. at many points in korea's history, it has been the object of conquest. as early as the 16th century, between 1592 and 1597 one of the most strong of japan attempted to conquer the peninsula. in 1904, 1905, russia and japan fought over control of the peninsula and its resources. that ended with japan getting control over korea and eventually in 1910, 1911, making korea into an official colony. so, korea has had a long history of conflict on its territory. and the conflict that we're going to be talking about, of course, though, is 1950 to 1953,
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the u.n. war in korea. so, the next several slides, i just want to demonstrate most of the military activity on the peninsula. in part to show how it ranged all the way across. so, the war officially begins june 25th, 1950, when north korean forces move across the dmz. it was not the dmz at that point. it was a temporary demarcation line between the northern government and the southern government in the hopes that, at some point soon, the korean people would be tiebl elect a single government. in any case, the north korean army moves past, across the demarcation line and captures seoul, and moves into south korean territory. within a few weeks, the north koreans have moved all the way down to what is called the pu n
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pusong perimeter. this is what brings the united nations into the war. september 15th, we have operation cromite. this is mcarthur's quite brilliant plan to, rather than pushing entirely by land and trying to push the north korean army back into north korean territory but to do marine landing just near seoul and to essentially act as a pinser movement to capture north korean troops in south korea and force a compromise or surrender. they are successful in that. by october of that year, you have u.n. forces, south korean forces, u.s. forces and other u.n. troops moving up towards the border with china. they move up to the river and push the north korean forces all the way back up to their very northern border.
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this is moving sbak forth across the peninsula in a very rapid pace. lots of devastation in the wake because they've got lots of artille artillery, tanks, aerial bombardments. i'll read a description of an aerial bombardment later on in theure. again it's important to know that this war was not stationary in its first year. went back and forth, back and forth. the devastation was widespread, all across the pen lanes. so, in 1951, january, u.n. forces are forced to retreat. this is in part because chinese forces are now involved in the war. this is not, according to china, an official chinese government force. this is the people's volunteer army.
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many move across the river and into korea to enter into the fight. back beyond the demarcation line and capture seoul again. then, in mid -- well, early spring, 1951, we start to see the beginnings of stalemate. this happens to be along the same line where the dmz is today. so, this is a very active part of the war, where you have troops from both sides going back and forth across that line, fighting over hills, fighting over outposts, engaging in mountain warfare. it is incredibly difficult and tragic for many of the men involved in this fighting. this is where a lot of them lost their lives here. and so again, i show these slides just to show how much of the peninsula was affected by
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the war and how much of its climate and geography u.s. ground forces encountered. we really are today just focused on the u.s. experience here. i'm not going to go into talking about the 17 nations that fought in the war. we're really going to focus on the experiences of american troops. so, as we've talked about in this class before, we've talked about principles of war and one of them is that war on paper, such as these kinds of maps, drawings and strategies by the main decision makers is not the same kind of war on the ground. weather and terrain, of course, are key elements in any military decision. military historians have not adequately addressed how these things affect the individuals and how they affect the landscape of the places where the war is fought. they have certainly done a good job of explaining the importance of weather and terrain to war-making decisions. but i think that we need to look
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at the wars from an environmental perspective to understand the intimate sorts of ramifications that these conflicts take. and have. so, many of the soldiers and marines that end up in korea, especially in the first pastor war, are veterans of world war ii. they are combat experienced soldiers, marines, air men and sailors. they understood what battle was and what was expected of them. but what they could not anticipate was what they would face on the ground in korea. most of these men hadn't heard of korea. didn't know where it was. many of them were not aware of the longstanding political animosities between korea, japan, russia. all of this will be a new experience for them. certainly the terrain and weather was very different from what they had experienced. for example, master sergeant james hart, who was in f company of the second battalion of the
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fifth regiment combat team wrote in the early part of february 1951 we went into combat. at the time i thought i was in pretty good physical condition. i found out differently. korea is one hill and mountain after another. since we also carried about 80 pounds of equipment, soldiering in korea was pretty exhausting. this, from someone who had served in world war ii and was used to battle and the rigors of battle and being a soldier. sergeant albert snyder in the 7th infantry division noted, quote, in mid april 1951 a few days after i arrived, two men in i company, which is what he was assigned to, were seriously wounded during firefight with enemy troops. we were assigned to accompany the two wounded soldiers and four korean litter bearers as an armed escort against enemy
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guerrillas operating in the area. so snyder had to take over when the koreans became too exhausted to carry the litters and he said the terrain was very tough and i found the job as serving as litter bearer extremely exhausting. from the first marine division, said one thing never changed in korea, the hills. they all looked the same and there was always one more we had to take. this again is especially true when the war becomes a stalemate and they're fighting over little bits of territory, sometimes 100 yards apart, these enormous trenches and they're really just going back and forth, capturing a hill, losing the hill, retaking the hill, loodsing the hill. it's a sxhaconstant climbing. here is a picture of the terrain
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and a hint at the kinds of weather that some of the u.s. soldiers and marines experienced there. weather, of course, was very important to the experiences of these soldiers. in winter, especially early in the war when the troops are not actually well supplied. they had used supplies leftover from world war ii. intended for climates in places not like korea. so they had boots that were not appropriate for climbing mountains or for withstanding deep, deep freezing cold. they also had overcoats and their uniforms were not well suited for the cold climate of korea either. so, one soldier -- sorry, a marine actually, private first class bruce d. lipert, entered korea in march 1952. so in the time of the stalemate. he said like everyone else who served in korea, i have a
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lasting memory of the cold. we wore heavy parkas, thermal mickey mouse boots and all the other stuff. so he came in after they got the supplies that they needed to withstand the cold. but i still couldn't get warm during the winter months. at the same time i found the summer heat oppressive, mainly because of the high humidity. so, in addition to being under fire, the problems of combat, they had to deal with these climate issues in korea as well. he went on to say during the night chinese reportedly blew their bugles. he is talking about a winter-time conflict. even when they had no intention of attacking our lines. it was one of their gimmicks to make us jumpy. and in christmas they played christmas music, to make us homesick, i assume. we heard "silent night," freezing our butts off thousands
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of miles from home. unfortunately for them, the carols didn't make them feel like they were in a nice, friendly place. it just made them feel more homesick and made the climate and conditions of war that much worse. so, one of the most famous battles of the korean conflict, especially for u.s. marines, is the chosin reservoir. this engagement occurs between november and december of 1950. it is an extremely cold winter in korea that year. and there is just this very serious engagement here between u.s. troops, u.s. marines and chinese people volunteer forces. tens of thousands of them engaged against thousands of marines. so, according to corporal harold
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l. muelhausen, in a company, who serve there had at chosin reservoir. we remained on 50% watch. at 1:00 that night we were ordered to move back 200 yards. this time we set up our 3 1/2" rockets in a field next to the road. we tried to
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along with the fellow u.n. troops, u.s. forces left a lasting mark on korea's landscape and here's how they do this. they have these modern technologies. they've got chemical agents. they have tanks, they have artillery, they are airplanes with massive capacity for carpet
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bombing and that is what happens in korea. modern weapons of war, due to the hills and mountains of forest and other vegetation which led to erosion which in turn led to the insillation of rivers and damaging ecosystems and to the flooding of korea's agricultural land which remember is only about 20% of the peninsula itself so huge amounts of food have to come from very small amounts of land and so any kind of destruction temporary or permanent is going to have an impact on the ability of civilians to maintain any kind of stable lifestyle during the conflict or after it as well as getting food for the troops because not all the food came from rations. some of it came from taking it from the land as well. so the next several slides provide some illustrations of this. this picture here is of a white phosphor rous attack.
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it's a chemical agent that when it comes into contact with the air it becomes fire. it basically catches on fire. and anything that it touches also becomes engulfed in flames. that includes vegetation and of course, human beings. and certainly there were many chinese in north koreans who were afflicted by white phosphor rous in these kinds of attacks. it was used to clear forest areas. vegetation, foliage so that the enemy did not have a place to hide. they had less cover. aerial bombing. this was probably the most widespread agent of destruction in the korean war. this image here is a post bombing reconnaissance picture and here -- oops, sorry.
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wrong button. here you see a mountain ridge sort of the white area there. these areas here are streams arest wares -- streams or flooded areas along rivers and patties. rice patties that have been flooded as well. all of the little white pockmarks are craters from bombs that have been dropped from u.n. planes. so again, widespread destruction. that's just one very small area and you can see the amount of damage. and when the mountains are pretty high and they've got these pockmarks, takes away the foliage, it takes away the trees which keeps the soil in place, and when these mountains are up against rivers those rivers become saturated with the runoff from the mountains and this creates serious problems for agriculture, for getting clean water and of course for the fish and other animals that live in the streams.
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this is just one picture of the mountains of ordnance, artillery ordnance that was used during the war. right there are three men, three u.s. soldiers and so you can get a sense of the scale of all of these spent shells. it was a massive amount. so all of that artillery and ordnance on to a landscape. here you can see the trees that are just utterly shattered from both artillery and aerial bombing. i'm going to read a fairly extensive quote here by an airman who actually witnessed one of these nighttime bombings of the korean landscape. this comes from captain john thornton who was a u.s. army helicopter pilot who on april 19th, 1951 witnessed a u.n.
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nighttime attack. he was a prisoner of war at the time and this is his recollection of what happened. suddenly as if on queue, the nearby hills were brilliantly illuminated by flares from the u.n. night bombers. their flickering glow cast spooky shadows and dancing forms across the rugged terrain. then like mythical griffins night fighters swooped in from the gloom. they shattered distant hidden men in machine gun fire and rockets. splattering across the ground in searing name they lit up the hills with a greater intensity. the attacking fighters were met by rounds arcing skyward that groped for a target in the night. as the dying flares descended on their miniature parachutes and flickered out they allowed the mountains to retreat momentarily into the safety of darkness.
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their existence revealed only by the open wounds burning on their slopes. >> yes, michael? >> were they able to recycle all these shells or did -- is it just waste at this point that they just have left over? >> that's a good question. so these shells were not just waste. they would actually be recycled into a variety of different uses. it depended on who actually got control of them, how they were used but the u.s. army would actually just recycle them. yeah. yes, please? >> just going back a couple slides, how are the white phosphor rous attacks carried out? >> so these are -- it basically was put into canisters that they would then shoot from -- honestly i don't know if it was from hand held guns or tank artillery. i would have to check on that for you, but they're shot into canisters and when they would
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land the canisters would break open, it would come out and it would explode, light on fire. yes, please? >> yeah, this white phosphorous, i read a small article, it also causes blindness. is this an aftereffect after it burns is this the aftereffect from it or -- >> yeah, so the question is does white phosphorous cause blind ens by its explosion, by the flair or perhaps from some other reaction? i actually don't know. my guess would be that it's either from the flash of the white phosphorous, the explosion of it or more likely from the -- the burning actually, that the eyes were burned or affected by the heat from the fire that the white phosphorous generated. >> thank you. >> brittany. >> so a lot of these that have been used in korea were also used in vietnam, so why is it
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that all this environmentalism stuff came up in vietnam and not korea? >> an excellent question. a very good question. and if you don't mind, i will answer it in just a couple of slides. it's -- i wish you'd asked it maybe two more slides in because it would have been a perfect segway. ask it a little bit later. but you're right. these were also used in world war ii, so vietnam is not the first time that these kinds of chemical agents were used in war, but we'll talk about why vietnam becomes such a flash point for protest against them. so a couple more picture to give you a sense of the landscape damage to korea by these just three years. right? well, three years on the calendar. four years of actual by months fighting. this is a picture of old baldy in 1953. this is on the main line of resistance where the dmz
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currently exists and it earns its name according to lieutenant woods who is in the army, the 45th infantry division quote because of the heavy fighting had destroyed all of its vegetation. it had been covered in fores and scrub and now it looks like this in 1953. private first class james red davis who is in the third infantry division said that most of the fighting took place on outposts. ugly treeless hills and mountains located well in front of our main line of resistance. while the communists lost thousands of men trying to capture these outposts we also lost a lot of men trying to defend them. this is the kind of territory that they were fighting in. here the the picture of the main line of resistance. this is a picture of columbian troops. this is a picture of their
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trenches and you can see there are trenches cut along and this was the -- where the men would take cover as shells and artillery would be coming in. this looks fairly dry now, but remember, korea has monsoon seasons and in the spring and summer it rains buckets and so these trenches would be filled with rain and mud and it's very slippery and they're on very steep slopes so that's a big danger for many of the men who are positioned at the main line of resistance. let's talk about the casualties of war and we'll get to brittany's question about vietnam. u.s. deaths are about 56,500. most of you have probably heard 54,000 for korea but about ten years ago the pentagon came out with a clarification about those numbers in that 54,000 is the total number of casualties
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during the war years of all servicemen worldwide. so just like if you are in the service during a conflict, you become a veteran of that war whether or not you actually served in the war. that's where those numbers come from. it's looking at the war and the servicemen who were wounded or killed during the war in service to the united states. so the actual casualties -- yes, rob? >> just a question on the trenches. >> oh, yes. sure. >>. >> when you said they filled up with water and mud, that means mosquitos. was dddts still the main use for that? >> ddt was still in use for the korean war certainly for mosquito abatement and lice control. especially because most of the men didn't have the opportunity to bathe very often. they were very far away from any kind of towns, much of korea at
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this time was very agricultural and so it would be little hamlets or maybe a few houses, they didn't have running water so they didn't have the infrastructure to support any kind of hygiene. they would go into rivers and streams and lakes and things like that, but only when they found them. so yeah, ddt would have been one of the major tools to fight the infestations that they would have faced. and using fires was a way of getting mosquitos away from you too. that was one of their tools, strategies. so the u.s. deaths, 36,516. wounded, 92,134. so the missing still at 4,759.
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they sound like very specific and accurate numbers, but of course, there's always a little bit of uncertainty when it comes to the actual numbers of dead and wounded just because we can't always keep very good records. that's just the u.s. side. south korean, there were 217,000 military casualties approximately and at least a million civilian casualties killed, missing and wounded. north korean casualties, about 406,000 military and about 600,000 civilian according to their records. and the chinese suffered about 600,000 casualties in the korean war. of course, while this is definitely a human tragedy, war always is a human tragedy. there are other casualties as well as i've tried to demonstrate in the last several slides. the landscape was a casualty. it suffered tremendously during the war. forests, rivers, lakes, streams,
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all sorts of the natural landscape was affected by the combat. korea's infrastructure, what there was, was utterly dessimated and so that leaves sewers, no running water, all of these things that are then going to contribute to post war disease, mall nutrition. of course the agricultural lands were also affected. so now i am going to turn to vietnam so that we can talk a little bit about a contrasting experience for u.s. servicemen. the servicemen certainly experienced a different geography and a different climate but here is where we have the difference and in answer to brittany's question, here we've got an actual strategy of attacking the landscape especially through the use of chemical agents. so while most of these instances in korea were tactical uses of
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chemical agents to enhance the u.s. forces' ability to identify and view their enemy, it was not a strategy. it was not a large scale strategy. and it is in vietnam where we see the strategy of using chemical defoal yants on a wide scale come into place. and that difference of scale and of use of this particular chemical agent orange and the other rainbow agents that were used during the war really generates an outcry among scientists and among civilians back in the united states. and that's -- that's where we have the difference. yes, victor. >> one they actually outlawed the chemicals in warfare? >> 1925 is the geneva convention on chemical weapons. >> so how are chemical weapons used by the united nations?
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how do you get around that not being used? >> so the question is how does the united states get around the geneva convention? we didn't sign it until 1975, so we were not under the restrictions of the geneva convention even though it was actually u.s. citizens and ugs congressmen who wanted to put the geneva protocol into place. in response to the problems of world war i and the use of mustard gas and other chemical weapons during that war. that's the other key element of this. weapons versus agents. you've noticed that i've been very careful to call these chemical agents, not chemical weapons because chemical weapons are mustard gas, nerve gas, nerve agents, things like that that are used against human personnel. chemical agents are used against nonhuman aspects in the strategy and so it's against nature, not against humans and so that's how
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we get around using those kinds of things. but during vietnam it was not an issue because we were not a signatory to the geneva convention. yeah, brittany. >> so how does using chemical agents make a winning strategy when there's not like a clear definition of like gaining territory or like fighting for territory, won or lost kind of thing. >> yeah, so the idea behind the use of defoliants in vietnam, is that that jungle is an easy place for the enemy to hide and so if you can get rid of the jungle the enemy has to come out and face you on the battlefield. so it's not necessarily gaining control over territory, but it's denying cover to your enemy troops. yeah. and i'll talk a little bit about that in just a moment as well. you're just always anticipating me.
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no, that's good and i'm going to talk about the geneva convention too. you guys just -- you have great questions. all right. so this is a map here of vietnam. it's this long thin sort of s shaped nation here. often described as a descending dragon. there's actually a bay up here that is called descending dragon bay and it's got this wonderful mythology about dragons coming down to help the vietnamese ward off an invasion by their enemies and dropping all these gems and pearls and all these other things in the bay and that's how you get these lovely rock outcroppings in the water, but the nation itself, you can kind of see it, right? the dragon coming down with its mouth and that's its tail fanning out? i think it's a lovely idea to think of vietnam as the descending dragon. so what i want to focus on here
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is less on the soldiers' experiences and more on this shift in strategy by the united states to see the environment itself as the enemy, not just as an obstacle but as the enemy and as cover for the enemy. i do want to show a picture here of u.s. soldiers here and north vietnamese soldiers here in a very similar landscape. these are picture from the hochi min trail and these are u.s. soldiers trying to destroy the trail and to flesh out the north vietnamese enemy there and these are north vietnamese troops who are using the trail as their supply line. and you know. >> reporter: it's the same conditions but clearly they don't have the same experiences in them. right? the north vietnamese are very clearly familiar with the terrain, with the jungles, with
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how to deal with the weather and the water and everything in the region and the u.s. soldiers simply are not. they just did not get that kind of training and most of them aren't there long enough to get experience with it. most of them had one-year tours of duty and would be toured out. so the ho chi minh trail. it was used by the veet ma knee army and the vietkong. it was carved out of pretty serious jungle and terrain. it's the greatest feat of military engineering of the 20th century because this wasn't done with mechanized vehicles. this was done a lot of it created by hand. so it becomes a major priority for u.s. forces.
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what they wanted to do was make it unusable and they attempted to destroy the trail by a variety of means. first was to create storm clouds through seeding clouds with silver iodide trying to wash out the road because it also goes through very rugged terrain. they thought if they could wash out parts of the road they could not get the supplies down to their allies in the south. that didn't work very well, as you might imagine. they also tried to use what was called a chemical soap. they would get big huge burlap bags of this chemical agent, drop it all along the ho chi minh trail and wait for natural rain to come and create this soapy mess that they hoped would wash out the trail. they would just simply go out and they would scoop out all of
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the chemical agent and move it away and it never became much of an issue. so these kinds of things did not work for the u.s. army. they could not create weather, they could not use the weather as an ally in order to get rid of the ho chi minh trail, so what did they turn to? they turned to bombs there and they turned to agent orange in a lot of other places in vietnam. so here's one report, an official report on the operation which would come to be known as agent -- or operation ran chant. south vietnam is covered with dense forests jungle and man grover. utilization has afforded the enemy great tactical and logistical advantages vis-a-vis allied forces. the difficulty of locating the enemy. without information about enemy dispositions, our forces cannot exploit their advantage of
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superior fire power. defoliation by chemical herbicides is the principal way which allied forces obtain ambush sites and infiltration routes. so it comes back to the point that i made earlier this that is -- the use of agent orange was intended to get the enemy out from behind the cover of the forests, the jungles, the man groves, and into sight so they could engage in military combat. okay. agent ormg was not the only way that the u.s. forces helped denude the landscape of neat vava -- vietnam. it's been estimated about 60% of vietnam's fores were damaged by the war. you can see the craters here. those are bomb craters.
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artillery craters. according to a geographer, although artillery was used by the war, aerial bombardment afflicted the damage inflicted upon the forests. proit was the same as seen in previous wars. bombs destroyed vegetation outright. tored open with shrapnel and left pieces impregnated with small pieces of shrapnel. u.s. air force bombers in this were also widely practiced carpet bombing in which b-52 bombers would fly over and lay down a blanket of bombs into an area thought to be occupied by enemy forces. the b-a 2s left wide swaths of disturbance dotting the landscape with millions of craters. here are some of them. typically it consisted of 3 to
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12 aircraft each carrying 108,500-pound bombs. huge amounts of bombs. the swath of disturbance created by such missions saturated in areas of bombs half a kilometer wide and over 1,000 meters long. conservative estimates place the number of craters left behind from these carpet bombing missions at around 26 million. that's the craters. for comparison with the previous wars of the 20th century, during world war ii a total of 2 million were dropped. in indochina in vietnam, between 1965 and 1971, the united states dropped over 14 million tons of munitions. so ramped up the scale pretty significantly. and this was one of the effects of that. so let's get on to operation
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ranch hand. now, this is a video that i'm going to show you here of u.s. servicemen using agent orange and i have to get it at the right point. otherwise, the first part might make you motion sick. and i also have to press play. sorry.
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>> there you can see the immediate effects of agent orange. yes, michael. >> how quickly did agent orange take effect? i mean, like when they shot it out there it didn't look like it
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was instantly killing stuff. >> no. so how agent orange works is essentially it -- it gets into the leaves. it goes on to the leaves of the man groves, of the trees, of the grasses that are around there, and then it goes into the root system and it kills it from within. so it's not an instant sort of effect, but it is a long lasting kind of effect, because it kills the plant from within. yes, scott? >> i noticed that like you showed the killing of the foliage, but yet if i remember right they were having problems with being shot at by vietnam dr veetkong rather and that foliage may be dead but it's still there. wouldn't the use of fire or a bomb being more productive in
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the sense of clearing the actual landscape? >> i'll show you some pictures that will demonstrate how effective agent orange is in killing the actual trees, but yes, it was an incredibly difficult mission. i mean, these guys -- this was apparently -- or a fairly safe one because they didn't have enemies firing on them, but many of those who were charged with deploying the agent orange in this manner were of course, shot at because the enemy were along the river banks. >> so you could see it getting into the water and so how would it affect the water and the animal life and then also, kind of getting that they were being shot at, how did it affect the humans that it might have landed on? >> excellent. well, you notice they had no protective covering. the soldiers who were spraying the agent orange had no protective covering. so agent orange is a topical toxin and so you know, if you
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are exposed to it you're going to have some long-term health effects. it wouldn't be an immediate kind of reaction to it, however. and so most of the men who were spraying the agent orange didn't know that they were really getting themselves into serious health trouble later on. in terms of getting in the water, that's an excellent point because agent orange is not water soluble so it remains in the water. it only degrades by sunlight. basically the only thing is through sunlight and so when it gets in the water it stays in the water and you can ingest it. it gets into the food system and there are numerous studies that indicate that the per distance of agent orange in hot spots all around nevietnam where it was ud or where it was stored for f future deployment have resulted in serious birth defects for the
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people exposed to it for a long period of time. cancers, other kinds of internal diseases are connected to it as well for the servicemen who were exposed to it and the civilians and the enemy troops that were also. so it's a terrible, awful toxin that, yes, is a great herbicide, but again, it's persistent and so it has long lasting environmental and human health impacts. yeah. so operation ranch hand begins in 1961 as a test and really begins in ernest in 1963. that's when it's ramped up. initially, it was -- it was an attempt to create vegetation free buffer zones around military bases so as a defensive kind of use, and along transportation routes but it soon developed into a battlefield tactic. aimed against fighters as weave been talking about throughout the south vietnamese country
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side. so according to one scholar, the amount of herbicide deployed shot up from approximately 1 liters in 1964 to 10 million lee liters in 1966. i'll turn to joseph who has written extensively on this. he says the vietnam war deliver differed from previous wars in the 20th century because now the destruction of key components of the country's physical environment became a deliberate military strategy. in in world war i and world war ii, the damage inflicted was incidental. in that the damage was a side effect of the intention to eliminate enemy forces. in vietnam, a major portion of the u.s. war effort was the elimination of forests. deforestation of the dense, tropical area was done to eliminate coverage for enemy
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troops and create landing strips for aircraft and establish landing zones for troops by helicopter. so brittany, does that answer your question? good. so here's another way that agent orange was deployed through area spraying. in 1966 the acreage of forest and farmland targeted by ranch hand more than tripled jumping from 230,000 acres in 1965 to 840,000 and then doubles again to 1.7 million acres in 1967. after spraying 1.3 million acres in 1968, ranch hand began to taper off and large scale defoliation missions ceased in december of 1970. so as i've already mentioned agent orange is not water soluble. it degrades in sunlight, it clings to soil particles, it gets washed away by rainwater so even if it was contained in one
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place during the war if it was left there as much of it was in the years just after the fighting, it would get into the soil and spread through rain so you've got a much larger affected area. average die ox sin contamination, this is just to give you a comparison. of industrialized nations is less than 12 parts per trillion. in vietnam, researchers have found levels up to 365,000 parts per trillion, 260,000 parts per trillion on the base and 236,000 parts per million in former storage areas on the fu cat base. so hundreds of thousands of times larger than what you normally find in an industrialized nation. the united states epa and a variety of international ngos
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are attempting to clean up hot spots and they've been doing this since 2003, but this is an enormous problem and likely it's not going to be solved any time soon. so scott, to your question, these are pictures of defoliated areas. and so when you think about the kinds of vegetation that it was sprayed on, if it's a dense kind of strub vegetation, you're still going to have the branches and maybe some of that to use as cover, but a lot of the jungles are of, you know, palm type trees and so you defoliate that and you don't have much cover left. so -- and this also comes to your question earlier, scott, about how effective was it to protect against snipers. well, the idea of the use of defoal yant chemicals would help reduce the vulnerability of ground forces to ambush, booby traps and sniper fire and also the intent to force the mlf into
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open battle was of course wrong. it didn't happen. many of the men deployed in these kinds of operation ranch hand were shot down or shot at from -- or by snipers in more heavily forested areas. the idea of course was to destroy the environment, bring the enemy out into the open and fight wars the way it's meant to be fought, not behind cover of the jungle but come out on the battlefield. it just was not a useful tactic, however, in the end. it was not successful. one of the major targets of agent orange were man groves and this is a picture of a man grove today in vietnam. before 1943, there were about 250,000 acres of vietnam mostly on the coastal areas. about 150 were devastated by toxic chemicals. of the u.s. military forces during the time of the war.
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the tremendous consequences of the destruction of man grove forests have been encountered with difficulties in rehabilitation, bio diversity loss, and also it continues to affect the lives and health of communities in the region. so just as some statistics from scientific studies recently, about 26,000 villages were affected by operation ranch hand and the use of agent orange. 86% of those villages were sprayed more than two times and 11% of those villages so maybe about 3,000 were sprayed more than ten times with agent orange. most of the defoliation campaign focused on the destruction of mainland forests and the two most affected man grove forest areas were the forest outside of saigon and along the cape. so a wide swath of destruction
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with agent orange. here is a picture of an area targeted by agent orange before and after. so it not only destroys the trees, it can lead to the sals fi occasion of the soil depending on what kind of soil it is. or maybe it dries out and becomes infertile. so it's a long-term impact for many of the areas affected by agent orange. so victor, your question about the geneva protocol. that was developed in 1925. it was signed by all european powers, but the united states did not sign. in part because of a powerful lobbying effort by the u.s. armed forces which did not want to lose a potential weapon or a means of defense and by the chemical industry. so you had two major lobbying groups working against the u.s.
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signing and ratification of the geneva protocol. in 1966 the u.s. claimed that it did not use chemical weapons in vietnam. it instead used chemical agents and not against personnel. so they are not weapons if they are not antipersonnel -- used for antipersonnel purposes. the u.s. had used chemical agents including white phosphorous in world war ii, but began using herbicides to clear around bases as defensive measures. then further field as an offensive strategy, always careful to3hap call it a chemic agent. in response to the united states' actions in vietnam and its refusal to sign the geneva
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protocol the u.n. refined its definition in 1967 i believe it was to include any chemical agent used during warfare that may be toxic to man, animals or plants. this is where we get the idea of ecoside. so inventing ecocide. scientists in the united states and elsewhere began radicalizing themselves and organizing themselves and other sympathetic people to their view of the use of chemical agents in war as ecocide so it's the destruction, the murder of ecosystems which they rightly claim have larger human impacts. arthur gal ston coined the term, compared it to genocide
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basically saying that if you destroy the means by which a community can support itself from the natural world, then you are essentially killing them and come police part of their death. so they rallied to protest the war on the grounds that environmental destruction was problematic ecologically and from a humanistic point of view. he argued that sooins had been corrupted by the government and the defense department for too long and that it was too long for science to work for good. not to create things like agent orange but to create things that would better humanity. a team was sent in 1970 to vietnam to study the ecological effects of operation ranch hand. finally in 1970 they were allowed to go.
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their report had two major findings. first, that herbcidal spraying had utterly destroyed fully half of vietnam's man grove forests and had done irreparable harm to the tropical hard wood forests which were being replaced by boom boo and grasses. in addition, the second point is that widespread tree kills created soil erosion and kn nutrient. the crop destruction program of operation ranch hand was a failure according to david zealer because they were ue


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