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Vietnam: War's Lasting Legacy, panel discussion, George Washington University, 11/14

Event Date:

November 14, 2009 | 12:00 PM EST
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More than three decades after the Vietnam War ended, the Vietnamese people continue to live with the...

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Multiple Authors

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting With Sponsorship by The War Legacies Project and the Program for International Studies in Asia, The Elliott School of International Affairs Presents


Friday, November 14, 12-2 p.m.

The George Washington University

Elliott School of International Affairs

6th Floor, Lindner Family Common

E Street, between 20th and 19th Streets NW

Join journalist Christie Aschwanden and Phung Tuu Boi, one of her Vietnamese interviewees, for a panel discussion on the unintended consequences of warfare in Vietnam and what is being done today to overcome the lingering toxins of Agent Orange sprayed by the U.S. during the war.

More than three decades after the Vietnam War ended, the Vietnamese people continue to live with the consequences of Agent Orange, a defoliant that has come to symbolize the unintended consequences of warfare. During the war, American forces sprayed nearly two million gallons of Agent Orange across Vietnam's forests in an attempt to steal cover from insurgent forces that lurked in the dense jungle. The U.S. eventually halted the spraying program, after learning that Agent Orange was tainted with high levels of dioxin. But by then, nearly 18 percent of Vietnam's forests and 20,000 villages had been sprayed with this toxic chemical.

For years, Agent Orange's toxic legacy in Vietnam has seemed like an impossible problem. Dioxin has a decades-long half-life and it continues to linger in Vietnam's soil, working its way up the food chain and exposing new generations of Vietnamese. Cleanup costs dwarfed the Vietnamese government's ability to pay, and the logistics of cleanup work looked daunting. But a new era of cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam has finally led to a shift from finger-pointing to problem solving.

Screening of media published in The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, and broadcast on public television's Foreign Exchange.

Moderated by Linda Yarr, Director, Program for International Studies in Asia

Christie Aschwanden is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist based in western Colorado. Her work has appeared in more than 50 publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Science, National Wildlife, Reader's Digest, Men's Journal, and O, the Oprah Magazine. In 2007 she received a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting to travel to Vietnam. Her report on Agent Orange's legacy appeared on PBS and her New York Times article about an Agent Orange remediation project in Vietnam's central highlands received the Arlene Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). She has also received an Outstanding Essay Award from the ASJA and an honorable mention for print journalism from the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Mr. Phung Tuu Boi, is the Director of Assistance for Nature Conservation and Community Development Center (ANCODEC) in Hanoi, Vietnam. Mr. Boi is also on staff at the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute (FIPI). For the past three decades Dr. Boi has studied the effects on forests of the herbicides and defoliants used during 1961-71 in the Vietnam War. He has served as a scientific advisor to the Vietnmese government's national Steering Committee on Agent Orange and the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange. Currently Mr. Boi is working on a project to remediate Agent Orange contaminated areas in central Vietnam, including his "Green Fence" project to plant a protective border around the former US military base in the A Luoi Valley that is still contaminated with Dioxin.

Linda J. Yarr has served as Director of the Program for International Studies in Asia (PISA) of the Elliott School of International Affairs for twelve years. PISA partners with universities, research institutes and nongovernmental organizations in Asia to promote international affairs education, training and research. She recently returned from Vietnam, where PISA organized a Leadership Institute on Creative Responses to Global Climate Change in collaboration with the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences.

Parking: Metered street parking or garage parking available on 19th Street, NW.

Rates: $8 for one hour, $14 for two hours, $17 daily, evening rate after 5 p.m.: $10

Contact: For more information, contact Pulitzer Center George Washington Student Liaison, Paul Biba, at [email protected]