Back in 1961, President Kennedy, since World War II, had seen China fall to Communism and Cuba, in the USA's own backyard, fall to Communism while listening to the Soviet Union's Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, preach that, "Your grandchildren will live under Communism." Now confronted with the threat of a Communist takeover in Southeast Asia, Kennedy wanted to fight a "high tech" war using chemicals, helicopters and psychological operations. Part of that new technology was the use of herbicides to force the enemy out into the open, destroy his food source and compel the population to move to the coastal cities where it was easier to protect them.
Those of us who fought in Vietnam, especially in the heavily sprayed areas, now have to live with the legacy of that decision ... and we still do. Keeping the topic relevant, this was published in yesterday's New York Times.