Watch rs21 member Patrick Ward’s new documentary, Rusting Assassins, which explores the largely forgotten legacy of the American War in Vietnam, specifically the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of unexploded ordnance that are still destroying people’s lives today.
It’s shocking that the United States, now a strong economic and geopolitical ally of Vietnam against China, can claim to be a key humanitarian donor to the country when they offer it just a pitiful $3.5 million a year to solve the problem of unexploded ordnance. That’s a fraction of the price of any single war machine they send to countries like Afghanistan or Iraq for “humanitarian” reasons.
Compare the $3.5 million to the estimated $3 billion given to Israel in military aid annually. The US spends nearly 1,000 times more ensuring its bombs devastate Gaza than it does cleaning up the devastation they once left in Vietnam.
So I wanted to draw these things together in the film. Vietnam wasn’t just a blot on history, it’s part of the horrific patchwork of imperialism that continues to this day.
But the one glimmer of hope from Vietnam, of course, was the lesson that resistance – both inside and outside a country – can make a difference. Occupations can collapse and superpowers can be humbled.