Last year, I was part of an interfaith delegation to Vietnam investigating the lingering effects of Agent Orange on the civilian population. I saw children with dreadful birth defects and visited the old air base at Da Nang -- now a "hot spot" -- where you can still smell the chemicals today, 35 years after they were stored and spilled there.
Now, David Zierler has written a new book about all this, and named the crime. It's called The Invention of Ecocide. It refers to any large-scale destruction of the natural environment or over-consumption of critical non-renewable resources. Zierler focuses on wartime ecocide, tracing it to the time when the Pentagon began to study weed killers in the 1940s. When the findings merged with theories of counterinsurgency and a perceived need to deny "cover" to the "enemy," it led to the spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam. It covered a part of South Vietnam the size of Massachusetts.