Flat Earth: Elmo's fire

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The Independent Online
IT'S A strange place, the military mind, where universal laws do not necessarily apply. Last week, after 24 years away, US Admiral Elmo Zumwalt was back in Vietnam. The last time he was there, as commander of US naval forces, he ordered 20 million gallons of Agent Orange to be sprayed over the place, stripping 10 per cent of the country bare and, he himself believes, producing cancers in the living and deformities in the unborn.

'How tragic,' he said this time, meeting dozens of deformed children born since the war. And he really meant it. After all, his own son, serving in Vietnam at the time, died of a cancer caused, the admiral himself believes, by Agent Orange. But would he issue the same order again? Absolutely, said the old salt, patting the little ones on the head. 'It's the kind of tragic decision that has to be made in wartime. We used Agent Orange to save lives.'

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