If you think the war in Vietnam ended in 1975, you need to read this book. Innocent people continue to be harmed.
Bobby Muller, Founder, Vietnam Veterans of America
For Vietnam, the wartime suffering has never ended. Nor has America’s refusal to acknowledge its responsibility for causing that continued suffering or to fulfill its legal obligations to alleviate it. Ariel Garfinkel illuminates both of these failures by our country, and calls on us to rise at last to these challenges. It is long past due—but never too late—for us to heed her call.
Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
Ariel Garfinkel just reports the facts, awful facts about a war that did not change a grand strategic thing but continues to kill and maim innocent people nevertheless. This book flies in the face of five millennia of human history, doing so with eloquence, copious example and the rule of law. One day our successors might be marching in a different direction. If so, this book will have been a signpost.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell;
Visiting Professor of Government, College of William and Mary
The US wars in Indochina are among the most severe crimes of post-World War II history, crimes compounded by the unwillingness of the perpetrators to recognize what they have done and to try to compensate in some manner for the terrible human consequences. As Ariel Garfinkel demonstrates in this revealing study, the crimes persist to the present day at an awesome level and fundamental issues of international law and human rights have yet to be confronted, a matter of no slight import for future exercises of state power.
Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus, M.I.T.
After the devastating Vietnam War, the U.S. government left behind people and lands poisoned by Agent Orange/dioxin. Descendants of those exposed to these deadly chemicals continue to suffer serious diseases and horrific birth defects. This important book details why the U.S. refusal to compensate the victims of its chemical warfare violates international law.
Professor Marjorie Cohn, Co-Coordinator, Vietnam Agent Orange Relief Campaign; Professor Emerita, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Ariel Garfinkel has written an exhaustive and compelling analysis of the extensive use of conventional weapons and military herbicides during the Vietnam War, and of their continuing presence as a lingering hazard to the Vietnamese people. The data she presents on the sheer magnitude of the problem are eye popping. This book is a compact guide to the complexities of international law and science that are still to be resolved nearly a half century later, with regard to the massive bombing and spraying of Vietnam. With so many persistent unanswered questions, it is heartening that capable young scholars like Garfinkel are still focusing on these issues.
Jeanne Mager Stellman, Professor Emerita, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
For decades the U.S. has claimed it has no legal obligation to address the impact of its weapons that continue to injure and kill tens of thousands in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Ms. Garfinkel makes a clear case that the U.S. government can no longer hide behind the argument that its weapons were legal at the time. At the very least it has a moral and humanitarian duty to address the continuing impact now that the prohibition of these weapons has become the international norm. Scofflaw will be useful for those advocating for the U.S. to do more to address war legacies in Southeast Asia, including the environmental and human impacts of weapons used in more recent years.
Susan Hammond, Founder and Director, War Legacies Project
Ariel Garfinkel’s impressive analysis weaves together U.S. legacies of war in Vietnam with precise readings of international law. She makes a persuasive case that treaties and conventions do apply retroactively to the unexploded bombs and remaining wartime chemicals in Vietnam, and that U.S. efforts to remediate the damages caused to the Vietnamese people have been far less that what international law requires. Scofflaw should be required reading for the next generation of foreign policy and security specialists who can reverse this disregard for legal norms.
Andrew Wells-Dang, Senior Governance Advisor, Oxfam in Vietnam; Board of Directors, War Legacies Project
If you think the war in Vietnam ended in 1975, you need to read this book. It’s a powerful statement about our moral and legal obligations to clean up the unexploded ordnance, landmines and chemical toxins that continue to harm innocent people in that country.
Bobby Muller, Founder, Vietnam Veterans of America; Co-founder, International Campaign to Ban Landmines (1997 Nobel Peace Prize)
Ariel Garfinkel provides a brisk introduction to the residual humanitarian issues remaining in Vietnam, even in 2017, from the war that ended nearly fifty years ago. There remains a compelling case for the U.S. to see through the removal of the landmines and unexploded ordnance, and to clean up dioxin contaminated locations in Vietnam… and, I believe, to provide modest assistance to the families proximate to Agent Orange contamination whose genetically deformed children they struggle to raise.
David Hawk, Former Cambodia Director; Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
Promising new energy is added to the international human rights movement by this work of the young scholar Ariel Garfinkel of Columbia University. In her penetrating analysis of U.S. failure to comply with international law when leaving Vietnam (resulting in the continuing deaths of innocent villagers who step on unexploded American bombs even today), Garfinkel poignantly identifies the biggest challenge in promoting human rights around the world—making sure that the UN Declaration of Human Rights and relevant treaty laws have real teeth instead of being platitudes ignored at the whim of powerful states. This is her goal and hopefully that of a new generation of scholar-activists.
John G. “Jack” Healey, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA (1982-1994)
This penetrating analysis by a remarkable young scholar should give pause to all policymakers about the role of war on the world stage. It also is a wake-up call for the U.S. and other nations about the vital importance of our adherence to international law.
Hon. John Lewis, United States Congress
The careful scholarship reflected in Scofflaw is truly remarkable. While it took years for our government to acknowledge that American soldiers were severely harmed by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam, it has never admitted that spraying this toxic substance across Vietnam also harmed its innocent civilians—and continues to cause severe birth deformities to this day. Taking ownership of the devastation we caused in Vietnam and aiding victims who continue to suffer as a result should be a priority.
Hon. Barbara Lee, United States Congress
Ariel Garfinkel powerfully reminds us that America’s venture in Vietnam is not over for the Vietnamese. In spite of some heroes who work to insure that we comply with international law and treaty obligations, the U.S. has failed to acknowledge and fully fund our responsibility to clean up the munitions and chemicals left behind in Vietnam. And the cost of that cavalier attitude is that more Vietnamese have died or been maimed from our weapons since we withdrew military forces than the number of Americans who died in the entire war. While these continuing deaths could have been avoided, the damage to the environment and future generations from chemicals cannot be avoided now, but with adequate funding could be mitigated. Until we Americans act on this knowledge and face our responsibility the war cannot be over for us either.
Ambassador Sam Brown, U.S. Representative, Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe; Coordinator, Vietnam Moratorium Committee
Over recent decades, Vietnam veterans and many others have felt that a great injustice occurred during and after the war in Viet Nam with America’s use of Agent Orange, and our massive bombing campaigns over civilian areas in both the south and the north. The resulting legacy of destruction and loss, pain and suffering – especially the effects of Agent Orange – has affected American veterans and their children, and millions of Vietnamese born after the war. Many have felt a vague discomfort and sadness about this, and others a sense of moral outrage. Some have condemned America for our refusal to be held accountable under accepted standards of human rights and international law – judicial tenets that most of us have not read or researched.
Now Ariel Garfinkel has made it easy. She has compiled into one easy to read book the relevant international laws and protocols which provide compelling evidence of what many citizens of the world have long suspected: that the U.S. has been in violation of some of the most fundamental international laws in our use of Agent Orange and also our massive bombing attacks in Viet Nam. Garfinkel’s conclusion, after presenting concrete evidence carefully researched, is that the U.S. is a scofflaw.
As Americans, we are not easily shamed; we rarely admit to error, and never to violations of international law. After reading this book, however, American citizens may wonder how we have escaped, all these years, not just the condemnation of other nations, but accountability for inhumane and illegal actions which have long been fundamental to global standards of justice.
Chuck Searcy, U.S. Army Military Intelligence (1966-1969); International Advisor, Project RENEW; Veterans for Peace, Chapter 160
Ariel Garfinkel’s book shows why the war us not yet over for the Vietnamese, and she brilliantly lays out the ongoing ravages of Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance. Scofflaw is a detailed accounting of how, more than 50 years after the ‘end’ of the war, the U.S. has failed to take responsibility for the continuing casualties.
Jean Grassman, Associate Professor, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Policy
Ms. Garfinkel’s book explores the great tragedy of Agent Orange use in Vietnam and its deep lingering consequences for a generation born after the war was over. She makes a very serious contribution to the scholarly debate about international law, its limitations, its jurisdiction and how it plays a part in pushing political discussion. Scofflaw also lets the reader understand how Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont moved the United States to take responsibility and to provide a pathway for more remediation.
Lynn Novick, Florentine Films, Co-Director/Producer with Ken Burns, The Vietnam War (PBS)