I first went to Vietnam in 1997, three decades after I graduated from college, volunteered for the Peace Corps and was assigned to teach high school in a remote village in Nepal.
One day the students asked me why we Americans were destroying the forests in Vietnam. I couldn’t answer them. But when I arrived in Vietnam as the head of the Ford Foundation office there, I found their assertion to be distressingly true.
Moreover, the herbicides, collectively called Agent Orange, had been contaminated with dioxin, a chemical that is extremely toxic to humans in small amounts. Severe disabilities associated with Agent Orange/dioxin were occurring in generation after generation in Vietnamese families.