Toxic Munitions And Deadly Vaccines
- Toxic Munitions And Deadly Vaccines
American Soldiers Endangered By Their Own Instruments Of War
Conn Hallinan is provost at the University of California at Santa
Cruz and a foreign policy analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus
Every time I hear the likes of Vice-President Cheney, Secretary of
Defense Rumsfeld, or Sen. Lieberman go on about war with Iraq, it
reminds me of a history lesson. Congress should keep in mind when it
begins its debate over Iraq: Wars are waged with the bodies of the
young, and they always come home.
The 1991 Gulf War is a case in point. As wars go, it was a slam-dunk
for the United States side. While Iraqi casualties were somewhere
between 85,000 to 100,000, the United States lost 148 soldiers in
combat, the majority of those the victims of so-called "friendly
Gulf War II is likely to be a repeat. The United States is better
armed than it was 11 years ago, while a decade of sanctions and
bombings -- more tonnage has been dropped on Iraq since the end of
Gulf War I than was dropped on Yugoslavia during the war over
Kosovo -- has reduced the Iraqi military to a shadow of its former
self. I suspect we will take Baghdad in less than a week. But that's
when the real trouble starts.
Out of 700,000 U.S. soldiers who served in Gulf War I, 118,000 are
suffering from chronic fatigue, headaches, muscle spasms, joint
pains, anxiety, memory loss and balance problems. Gulf vets are
twice as likely to develop Lou Gehrig's Disease, and two to three
times more likely to have children with birth defects.
War has always been a toxic business, but it is much more so today
than it was 50 years ago. Modern battlefields are saturated with
Depleted Uranium Ammunition (DUA), and other chemicals, and soldiers
are pumped full of untested vaccines and antidotes.
In the last Gulf go-around, the United States fired 860,590 DUA
munitions. While the military keeps claiming DUAs are harmless, tank
crews protected by DUA armor get the equivalent of a chest x-ray
every 20 to 30 hours. Ask your doctor if that is a good idea. The
Army's own Chemical Command concluded back in 1991 that troops
exposed to DUA should wear protective masks, respirators and
clothes, "at a minimum." Fighting in such gear is almost impossible,
which means it is unlikely to be used much, and probably only if
chemical or biological weapons are used.
One major suspect in Gulf War Syndrome is the experimental anthrax
vaccine required for all military personal. That requirement has
caused an exodus from the Air Force. According to the Associated
Press, the vaccine is a leading reason for aircrews and pilots
resigning from the National Guard and Air Force Reserve units, and
86 percent of those who take the vaccine report local or system-wide
The effect of another war on Iraqis, of course, will be horrendous.
The Pentagon projects a minimum of 10,000 Iraqi civilian deaths for
If Congress and the American pubic don't bring a halt to all this,
we are going to kill and maim tens of thousands of innocent people,
goad angry young Muslims to commit more terrorism against American
civilians, and create yet another round of deadly Gulf War Syndrome
for our troops.
Young men pressed into the service of empire have always paid for it
with their lives. Rudyard Kipling's epitaph for them still resonates
"If any question why we died, Tell them because our fathers lied."
Published: Nov 27 2002