Interview on “Charlie and the Agent Orange Factory”

Image

Why the crazy title on this work?

The title came to me as I thought of the human carnage in the Vietnam war and its last impacting on the civilian population.  The interplay of colors from intense orange to baby sea blue reminded of this climate as well.

What were the human after costs of the war? 

Obviously, one of the largest costs in terms of human life happened from the war itself with modern attack helicopters, bombing raids and on the ground troop actions.  One of the lasting results of the bombing raids was children born from mothers suffering the effects of Agent Orange.

What was Agent Orange?

Basically, the US Army requested chemical manufacturers a way to clear out the jungle so the army could fight a traditional tanks and troops battle like in WWII.  The Vietcong were very successful at making underground tunnels and just traveling with infantry only, which made their advances hidden to the complete US air domination.  Of course, this made over flights to see troops basically useless.  The US companies involved in these chemical agents were Dow Chemical, insecticide maker and Monsanto, the maker of Roundup.  Likely, Roundup is a child of the products used on the Vietnamese jungle and civilian population.

ImageImageImage

To quote from Dow’s website: “We have a diverse portfolio of leading-edge insecticide, herbicide, fungicide and fumigant technologies for customers around the globe.”

To quote from Monsanto’s website: “Developed in 1974, Roundup brand agricultural herbicides continue to be a perfect fit with the vision of sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.”

How many were effected by their products during the war bombings?

The US air force dropped 20 million gallons of “Agent Orange” in Vietnam from 1962-71.  One of the first impacted were farmers, who had to abandon destroyed crop lands leading the Vietnamese cities to swell from 2.8M to 8M with 1.5M ending up in city slums.  Another impact were 500,000 birth defects from spraying. About 1M total people were disabled as a result of exposure.  Below you can see why it was called Agent Orange:

Image

The US government told the soldiers the chemicals were harmless to humans.  Of course, the handlers of the chemicals also had similiar health issues and miscarriages resulting from the exposure.  The Veteran’s Affairs only compensated 486 veterans for exposure out of 39,000 exposed or a little over 1 in 100.

How do we avoid such catastrophes in the future?

Unfortunately, governments will always stock chemical weapons.  One of the recent examples, was the US government selling Saddam Hussein WMD (ie. chemical weapons) in the 1980s to help in the war against Iran, who held US hostages one year.

Image

What was the impact in that war?

At least 1M killed in combat. From pure chemical weapons standpoint, 50 thousand Iranians suffered from the chemical weapons supplied by the US government.  Hence you could understand why the US is considered the Great Satan.

Image

Ironically, in the Gulf War II the US invaded Iraq to find WMD, but the weapons had decayed or been destroyed over time to prevent the US invasion.

 

Is this work available?

I sold the original, but you can get a print at http://fineartamerica.com/

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact

Interview on “444 Con” painting

Image

So what is with the name “444 Con”?

I came up with the name because there were 444 days that the US embassy staff was held hostage.  The word con could be understood as a prank or as convict.  One was that it was a game of bluff the Ayatollah played with Carter and his peace position.  The convicts were the days the staff was held hostage as prisoners suffering torture like fake shootings. Additionally, I like the reference to early graffiti signing their name with numbers to indicate a street number in New York City.  Another reason for 444 in the name was that 1979 was a bit obvious, so I chose the 444, which always surprised me.  It seems odd that the number was 444 and not 425 or 433.

Image

How did the situation develop?

Well, initially the students had planned a sit-in and then the regime supposedly just sat on their hands.  Considering that the Ayatollah refused to accept any other party to the table during the free form government forming, I would say his philosophy directly led to this situation.  When it occured, it was so popular the leader kept up the situation.

Image

How did the situation get resolved?

Ironically, as the regime was taking such a one-sided view of the future government after consolidation they decided to “liberate” secular governments to become theocracies like in Iran.  This was despite the fact Saddam had sheltered the Ayatollah for years from the Shah’s reach in Iraq.  At the point of the start of the Iran-Iraq war, Iran decided they had a life or death survival situation and the US hostages were a distraction at that point.  Both leaders had huge egos that thought they would free their world and expand.

Image

How did the event effect the US policy?

One direct result was that the US backed Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war and sold them chemical weapons that Saddam used on Iranians and his own people.   There are photos of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam.  At the same time, al-Queda was getting formed to help defeat the Soviet puppet government in Afganistan, which the US initially supported.

Image

What were the events leading up to the Iranians accepting this extreme Ayatollah regime?

In 1953, the CIA along with Shell and BP lobbying decided to reinstate the old Shah because the recently elected new Prime Minister Mossadegh had just nationalized the 2 major players old companies.  It was kind of a replay of existing US policy that had played out earlier in the 1900s with US Fruit Company in Central America and related invasions to “free” the people and reinstate a dictator friendly to US business. I would call this the dark side of capitalism during the Cold War with the USSR.

Image

What do you think of the suggestion that Reagan delayed the US hostages until he became President to win in the elections?

Image

Many say this is circumstantial, but if you see the Iran-contra weapons scandal that follows it definitely seems very fishy.  Another tie-in was that in Lebanon bombing of US Marines (sponsored by Iran), they also bombed French troops.  During the withdrawal, the candidate Chirac decided to pay out 10 times the money to delay the release of the French hostages in order to win the election, which he did. So that Reagan might have done something similar would not be impossible.

Image

So what inspired you to do the piece?

Recently, I saw the film “Argo” by Ben Affeck.  It was a nail-biter movie that captured the fear and terror as the regime came to power.  Additionally, I found out recently that Iranians had made Argo an black-market sell-out of the movie as well.  Apparently, the new generation is seeing how the theocracy is now starting to brutalize its own people with the same methods used on the US hostages.

So is your piece pro-US or pro-Iran?

Well, in the work I tried to take the long-term approach in that each side is guilty.  The US instigated the bitterness of the CIA overthrow while the Ayatollah fanned the flames of paranoia of US and Israeli power and continued the brutality of the secret police that were originally trained by the CIA for the Shah.

Image

Do you think the US is now on a more democratic mission or is reverting to its old real Politik?

Great question.  Its hard to say in the moment.  Each side is trying to shape the public opinion to its own view as well as each citizenry has a limited understanding of each side as well.  I definitely would say we went into Iraq for the oil and a bit on the terrorism, but now accomplished little from it.  You can see the democrats and Obama step away from the active wars Bush started.  One sad event is that Syrian civilians are being killed because of the West and US exhaustion of war intervention in the Middle East.

 

Are any works available? 

Check my shop at www.shawnshawn.co

 

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact