Vietnam: War's Lasting Legacy

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. Reporter Christie Aschwanden and videographer George Lerner travel to Vietnam to witness Agent Orange's lingering legacy and to find out what's being done to solve the problem.

War's Lasting Legacy

It's been 18 months since Phung Tuu Boi gave me a tour of his Agent Orange remediation projects in Vietnam. Now I get a chance to show him some of my country.

Mr. Boi is in the U.S. this month to speak about his work to scientists, students and journalists. Last night George Lerner and I joined with Mr. Boi and Susan Hammond of the War Legacies Project for an informal discussion of Agent Orange in Vietnam at Columbia University's Center for Environmental Research and Conservation.

Effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam: War's Lasting Legacy

Rigorous scientific study of the effects of Agent Orange have been complicated by politics. Journalists document some of the lasting effects of the dioxin Agent Orange in Vietnam, including birth defects, cancer, and infertility. As featured on Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria.

Hanoi Victim's Families

Reporter Christie Aschwanden reports from Hanoi, Vietnam on initial meetings with victims to explore the effects Agent Orange sprayed by U.S. military over Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s. Video shot by George Lerner, featuring reporter Christie Ashwanden.