It sounds like two extreme ends of a continuum, but that’s really the debate:
In 1981 the Vietnam War was over, for the United States, but it looked to the world like the Cold War was still being fought in Southeast Asia, and it had a nasty new wrinkle. The Soviets were spraying Vietnam and Laos with something that left odd yellow spots on trees. The trees would sicken, and some would die. A similar thing would happen to people in the region, as they were felled by a mysterious toxin. What awful thing was happening? According to the Secretary of State, the USSR was fighting insurgents by spraying chemical weapons.