Iraqs Radiation: Not Going Away
- Iraq's Radiation: Not Going Away
May 3, 2012
By Karin Friedemann, TMO
A depleted Uranium shell
According to Al Jazeera, the Pentagon used more than 300 tons of depleted uranium in Iraq in 1991. In 2003, the US military used more than 1,000 tons. In 2010, depleted uranium contamination was reported to be the highest on record, yet by 2012 continuing documentation has still not resulted in any action by the US or any other responsible party towards environmental clean-up.
An April 13, 2012 article by Karlos Zurutuza published by Global Research quotes hospital spokesman Nadim al-Hadidi saying:
"At Fallujah hospital they cannot offer any statistics on children born with birth defects there are just too many. Parents don't want to talk. Families bury their newborn babies after they die without telling anyone. It's all too shameful for them."
Relief organizations such as LIFE for Relief and Development escorted several US Congressmen on a tour of Iraqi hospitals in 2002, which often had no electricity nor sterile equipment, where women too weak from hunger to give birth had to receive C-sections by candlelight without anesthetic on beds without sheets. The horror show often reached its climax when the baby was born looking grotesque. When the sympathetic Congresspeople spoke up, the US government arrested relief workers and peace activists from several organizations for the crime of breaking US sanctions.
Back then, there was already documentation of Iraqi babies being born with bizarre deformations such as hands growing out of shoulders without arms, which were also found to occur in the offspring of US veterans who had served in Iraq. None of this came as a surprise to the US Army.
In a report published in 1990, before Operation Desert Storm, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) reported that:
"Short-term effects of high doses can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer," and
"Aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects."
None of this is new information, but a recent photo circulated on Facebook shows infant deformations in Iraq that are so horrific that I was asked to stop "traumatizing" my friends after I posted the photo.
Many babies born dead in Iraq today do not even resemble a human being. My Facebook friend told me she doesn't want to see it and doesn't want to think about it ever again. This was the first time she had ever heard of this problem.
My outrage, if fully expressed, would be a howling scream filling every corner of the earth. How dare anyone do this to women? Or refuse to care? How come, after over 20 years, no one is working to fix this problem? I have lost so many friends over the years, trying to educate them, and yet our popular culture continues to condemn Nazi Germans as the worst people who ever lived, because they went about their normal lives, oblivious to the atrocities of their government. The Nazis are accused of having performed scientific experiments on humans. Yet when I spoke up in college German history class, saying, "You ask, `How could they?' How could you?" I just received a roomful of blank stares.
After WWII, the victorious party (America) took responsibility for rebuilding the defeated party (Germany). This was considered vital for preserving the world economy. Projected temperature for Wednesday in Baghdad is 103 degrees. Before we discuss universal health care for Americans, we need to discuss the clean-up of Iraq.
The radioactivity situation in Iraq is much worse than in Japan after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Each atomic bomb created a huge blast that killed over 100,000 people within eight weeks, one third of them dying within one day. Infants conceived within that eight week period were found with birth defects but no genetic damage was discovered after the blasts.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Physical, Medical and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings, an exhaustive Japanese study, published in English in 1981 claims that most of the radioactive debris was carried off in the mushroom cloud and not embedded in the earth. By contrast, the relatively low-level radiation caused by the use of depleted uranium artillery and tanks has become part of the air, rain and dust, sickening the Iraqi people without killing them immediately. Because the victims die one at a time, there are no headline news stories. Yet even in the early 1990's there were reports of farmers' fields strewn with bullets where nothing would grow, and children dying after playing with bullet casings. Relief organizations' concerns were casually dismissed by Hillary Clinton at a meeting during her husband's presidency. Like Madeleine Albright, she felt that the deaths of Iraqi children were "worth it."
The way the US treats Iraqi people is worse than they treated the Black slaves, who at least were considered useful. The US has intentionally destroyed the future of more than one country. This is why getting our government to make the reparations necessary for a true peace will be difficult. The good news is that we now have Facebook, Twitter, and alternative news websites to bring the horrible news to people's bedrooms and living rooms. In the 1990's, political activists had to rely on subscription-only email lists and photocopied flyers. We now have the technology to go beyond preaching to the choir.
Many of us are exhausted from the relentlessness of international news reports of evil in the world. After subjecting ourselves to twenty or more years of sleepless nights, some of us are ready to say, "I tried," and hand the heavy responsibility of knowledge to the next generation. Yet, our children cannot save the world without our guidance.
The problem of radioactive contamination is not going to go away by itself. Those who are interested in scientific experiments should embrace the very real challenge of cleaning up Iraq's depleted uranium. It's something no human generation has ever had to do before, and will require some very smart thinking individuals to come up with a plan.