Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


avenging Blackwater: 'worse than Hiroshima'
July 24, 2010 7:20 PM   Subscribe

"To produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened." Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009 (pdf) suggests the use of depleted uranium by US forces (who also used white phosphorous) might be the cause of soaring rates of cancer and birth defects among citizens of Fallujah. (more DU on the blue)
posted by grounded (95 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think the Fallujah assault was a crime on the level of the firebombing of Dresden.
posted by empath at 7:28 PM on July 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Indeed, the slaughter in Fallujah was a microcosm of the entire misbegotten enterprise launched by those two eminent Christian statesmen, Bush and Blair: a brutal act of collective punishment for defying the imperial will; a high-tech turkey shoot that mowed down the just and unjust alike; an idiotic strategic blunder that has exacerbated the violence and hatred it was meant to quell.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:33 PM on July 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


My votes on the phosphorus.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:35 PM on July 24, 2010


The whole thing happened over some Blackwater who got killed in the city.
posted by delmoi at 7:57 PM on July 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


.
posted by Catblack at 7:59 PM on July 24, 2010


Two words: Depleted Uranium.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 8:01 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is one of those things that come to mind when some neocon asshole gets in my face about being proud to be from the US.
posted by nevercalm at 8:04 PM on July 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


The whole thing happened over some Blackwater who got killed in the city.

Perhaps. Or perhaps this was going to happen no matter what. This is the logic of shock and awe, overwhelmingly desired by the American Public.

If you had asked people then if they would be willing to give three times as many children cancer and killed ten times as many people if the attack would reduce the perceived risk of an imaginary assault by 1%, you'd have gotten an overwhelmingly positive response. When we can't kill children fast enough, we torture instead. Another policy the American people demanded quite loudly. Same as Agent Orange/My Lai. It's more American than the national anthem.

You know, nothing's really changed. If you asked Americans today whether they would support torturing a random Muslim just in case they might be able to stop a ticking time bomb, well, they'd say "get er done" and then protest the construction of a hypothetical mosque.

Blame it on Blackwater all you want - the real problem lives next door and perhaps in your own home or skin.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:06 PM on July 24, 2010 [36 favorites]


My votes is on that frightening project from the last administration that no one knew about but was reported a year or so back that it had ended and that it was good that it ended because it was so terrible. There was an FPP about it but I can't find it. We've purposefully bombed orphanages, hospitals, and water treatment plants before, why not go a step further and play with modernized earth salting?
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:10 PM on July 24, 2010


What about other explanations? Stress during wartime for pregnant women, lack of good nutrition in a war zone, etc. Your first article admits the cause is unknown and your WHO link seems pretty skeptical:
# No reproductive or developmental effects have been reported in humans.
# Although uranium released from embedded fragments may accumulate in the central nervous system (CNS) tissue, and some animal and human studies are suggestive of effects on CNS function, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions from the few studies reported.
Or should I be jumping on this bandwagon because of OMG RADIATION! Damn the facts and lack of any concrete connection. Oh btw, lets ban cell phones too!
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:11 PM on July 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


the cover up (apparently) continues:
Hitherto the Iraqi government has been loath to respond to complaints from civilians about damage to their health during military operations.

Researchers were initially regarded with some suspicion by locals, particularly after a Baghdad television station broadcast a report saying a survey was being carried out by terrorists and anybody conducting it or answering questions would be arrested.
I'm glad the health community is doing this important research. Ideally the journalist community would start reporting on the (apparently) continuing coverup. Potentially interesting questions to see answers to: which TV station, which reporter, where did these allegations arise.

Other questions about the current media environment in Iraq: what is the range of discourse in their media currently, how difficult is it to get a broadcast license, what parties have obtained such licenses (and which have been denied).

It would seem ill-advised for Iraq to become a US puppet regime (look what the US did to the last Iraqi puppet regime).
posted by el io at 8:11 PM on July 24, 2010


The source of the cancer cluster and birth defects probably comes from a breakdown of infrastructure for clean drinking water and a reliable food supply. I think jumping to more exotic causes is unnecessary.
posted by humanfont at 8:22 PM on July 24, 2010


Maybe they're allergic to "freedom".
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:43 PM on July 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


1) There's a long precedent for the effects of depleted uranium shells causing all kinds of health issues that have been legitamately exposed by the conspiracy theory community.

2) So mutagens don't actually make X-men?
posted by nathancaswell at 9:10 PM on July 24, 2010


On the plus side Chemical Ali isn't gassing Kurds anymore.
posted by humanfont at 9:30 PM on July 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


White phosphorus is bad, but how is it connected to birth defects in the same way that depleted uranium is?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:41 PM on July 24, 2010


My understanding (reinforced by looking up some pubmed review articles just now) is that DU's toxicity is basically that of a heavy metal, like lead, exacerbated by the way it gets spread into the air as a fine dust when it's used as an armor piercing projectile. It's definitely toxic, especially reproductively (like lead), but as far as I can tell the "uranium = nuculer mutants" bit is just cheap fearmongering. Or am I wrong?

I fear that by concentrating on the mediagenic word uranium, people are less likely to think of ways to help the people who are ill.
posted by hattifattener at 9:57 PM on July 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


The whole thing happened over some Blackwater who got killed in the city.

I've often wondered if we'll ever hear the full story of what they did to justify being hanged from a bridge. I doubt very much it was Tom Hanks War Hero material.
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:08 PM on July 24, 2010


On the plus side Chemical Ali isn't gassing Kurds anymore.

Hey, Pentagon... if you could power the military with irony, you could save a pretty penny on oil!

The provision of chemical precursors from United States companies to Iraq was enabled by a Ronald Reagan administration policy that removed Iraq from the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
posted by atypicalguy at 10:46 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone knew this was going to happen because the same thing happened after Desert Storm, and after Kosovo. Everyone knew this was going to be hundreds of times worse, because this invasion was going to be a hundreds of times worse. But we did it anyway and no one cared.

All Things Considered conducted an interview with two people during the runup to the war. One was a journalist who basically said we were about to perpetrate nightmare. The other was a DOD spokesman who said the equivalent of "piffle". ATC gave them equal time, but let the DOD spokesman go last, thus giving him the final word, and the authoritative win through the device of narrative structure.

Propagandizing for the Iraq war was either blatant or subtle depending on the outlet, but every major media organ did it. Everyone involved is complicit, our nation is full of war criminals, and it would take us a year of full scaffolds to execute the proper post-Nuremberg sentences that hundreds of our countrymen so richly deserve.

Don't even get me started on the Midwest-spanning political reeducation camps.

...as far as I can tell the "uranium = nuculer mutants" bit is just cheap fearmongering. Or am I wrong?

You're horribly wrong. To address your other panglossian point: the best way to help them would involve a time machine. The second best way would involve a complete and total withdraw of all our forces, followed by a UN led cleanup army, funded completely by US war reparations.

P.S. Tying this specifically to the Fallujah bridge incident is meaningless. That happened because the guys in the trucks were invaders. Plain and simple.
posted by clarknova at 10:49 PM on July 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


By the way, Geobacter can be used to neutralize uranium-contaminated aquifers. This is an expensive and highly-technical process, but I am perfectly willing to see the American south used as forced labor to produce the necessary equipment.

Blacks and immigrants exempted, of course.
posted by clarknova at 11:03 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


clarknova: how does that article contradict my comment? (Did you even read my comment? Or are you using "panglossian" in some novel sense?)
posted by hattifattener at 11:32 PM on July 24, 2010


1. It's not an article, it's an abstract.
2. It contradicts your assertion that (DU = birth defects) = "cheap fearmongering" right there in the conclusion.

Did you even read the abstract? That'll be ten years in the barbed-wire wastes of Iowa for you.
posted by clarknova at 11:42 PM on July 24, 2010


Wild unfounded speculation: might Saddam's regime and "Chemical Ali" have been secretly storing chemical/biological weapon stuff within Fallujah that America's "Shock and Awe" bombing could have opened up and exposed the population to? That would NOT absolve the Allies of blame for the terrible consequences... I mean, if we really believed the regime was so awful it'd risk exposing its own people to such crap then WHY MAKE IT HAPPEN? But as I said, that is wild unfounded speculation.

Still, I don't quite trust my own government NOT to keep hidden stashes of chemical/biological weapon stuff where people live. But, hey, I live 5 miles from a nuclear power plant and I'm not being kept awake by my glowing in the dark. Yet.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:58 PM on July 24, 2010


As far as arguing whether or not this particular study has merit, hey, have at it. It is what the FPP is about, and we all can believe whatever we want, and write about it here. Based upon what I've read over the years, I believe that DU is a mostly unreported horror show which will be unfolding over these coming years. Though of course most Americans won't know anything about it, what with watching reality shows and all.

Here's a fun question to all who think DU is pretty much harmless as Play Doh: If you were given an opportunity to have the stuff dusted all over your entire world, as has been done in so many parts of Iraq, damn sure in Falujah -- would you agree to it? Before you jump on that bright "Yes! Sure! Of course! You betcha!" bandwagon, remember that this stuff doesn't go away for a long, long, long time. Remember also that it's going to be in all the schools, and in your childrens bedrooms, and in their hair, and in their lungs, too, and everywhere else. Oh, and it's not like here in the states, where you can move to Oregon if you decide to; nope, you're going to stay put, you and your children. You're going to put down roots! Yay!

Even if DU *is* harmless as powdered cinnamon, I don't think it's a bad idea to keep in our consciousness the horrific atrocities committed in our name; a Falujah FPP every now and then, a good thing. Anyone with intelligence and an internet connection who does not know what's happened "over there", hey, they just do not want to know. Take a few minutes and watch a few of the videos linked to by Joe Beese: "... page Joe linked ... " in his comment above; as a MetaFilter reader you surely know that these videos exist, and have existed for years, but maybe you haven't had the gut to sit and watch them.

If you don't care about the poor Iraqis blown away and/or poisoned and/or burned for oil and corporate profit and neocon glory, hey, maybe you'll care about the pack of broken people coming back here -- Freedom Fighters! -- broken as badly as any Viet Nam vet, maybe worse, because of all the multiple deployments. I've a buddy here in town who is pretty much trashed because of what he saw there, and did there. Myself, I know -- as do you -- how badly screwed over these people were, and are, but somehow I still think an Iraqi life is worth every bit as much as a US life. I know that this is a silly notion, but I hold to it.

The only war that's been conducted without huge censorship is Viet Nam, and if not for the internet there'd only be about fourteen of us, reading Mother Jones and/or listening to Pacifica radio, there'd be fourteen of us who have part of the low-down on what this current war is, and consists of. Every war has been this filthy, this low, this vile -- that I am convinced of. But it's important that we have it in our face -- I believe -- to keep us looking toward better for the species. The internet is still our hope, our beacon -- "they" have all the media sewed up but they don't have this.

So where am I going with all this? I surely don't know. I don't want to feel hopeless, or write hopeless, though having watched (again) just twenty minutes of one of those videos I do feel ... Hopeless? Disgusted? Heartbroken? Horribly, horribly saddened? Angry? Most of those, or all of those. We won't even give our returning vets proper health care -- in a just world, every Iraqi would have lifelong health care, including psychotherapy. Hey, we could even give them chemotherapy, so they don't just die like dogs, lying there in poisoned dust.

I'm going on. I'll stop. A good FPP. Thanx for posting.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:03 AM on July 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


...to all who think DU is pretty much harmless as Play Doh

A few years ago I met a marine at a large camping event. He was discharged on a medical: uranium poisoning. He got it while on a live-fire training exercise, because he'd messed around with some spent ammo. "Didn't they tell you not to play with it?", I asked, thinking that maybe the military believed its own propaganda. "Of COURSE they told us not to play with it" he said, rolling his eyes.

Anyone with even a passing familiarity knows that it's horror-movie bad. But it's a fantastic way for GE, the biggest nuclear reactor builder in the US, to get rid of some waste. They make reactors. They produce uranium fuel. They repackage the depleted fuel as munitions. They make the cannons that fire it. And they own a major network news network that sold the wars.

Isn't that awesome? Don't you just want to buy some stock?
posted by clarknova at 12:21 AM on July 25, 2010 [15 favorites]


Thank you for posting this.
The eminent BBC reporter John Simpson had a disturbing report on this earlier this week.
When this story started
back in October TPM was about the only US orientated media running with it.
I had a poorly titled post deleted about this crime against humanity where the white phosphorus theory was debunked.
Countercurrents explains a bit about DU. nausiating pictures
.....
Now in the first 10 comments of this thread we have two apologists for War Crimes.
As allen.spaulding ^ so rightly points out It's more American than the national anthem.
humanfont and damn dirty ape I hope you sleep well at night knowing that your tax dollars were being well spent. After all it was just a bit of stress and dirty water that was the cause. Oh, and Chemical Ali killed Kurds. (with a bit of help)
Only base, craven scum think like this. As for contaminated water; what the fuck do you think it was contaminated with? DU by any chance? and who fucking broke the infrastructure and never repaired it?
Metafilter thankfully is open to all but I will not let crap like this sail by. Both of you need to seriously get your heads out of your respective arses.
posted by adamvasco at 12:47 AM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or should I be jumping on this bandwagon because of OMG RADIATION! Damn the facts and lack of any concrete connection. Oh btw, lets ban cell phones too!

According the the US Army training videos I've seen on DU exposure, "OMG RADIATION" has bugger-all to do with it (hence "depleted"), but "OMG EXTRAORDINARILY TOXIC HEAVY METAL EXPOSURE" is entirely appropriate.

Of course, just because the US Army uses hazmat teams to clean up toasted Abrams, to avoid DU exposure, doesn't mean DU isn't healthy for pregnant Iraqis...
posted by pompomtom at 1:19 AM on July 25, 2010


Isn't America great. WHAT A COUNTRY!!!
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:20 AM on July 25, 2010


Now in the first 10 comments of this thread we have two apologists for War Crimes.

War crimes? What war crimes? They're only war crimes if you lose the war. Didn't you get the memo before Nuremberg. The U.S. military doesn't commit war crimes we commit collateral damage.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:26 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This study was intended to investigate the accuracy of the various reports which have been emerging from Fallujah regarding perceived increases in birth defects, infant deaths and cancer in the population and to examine samples from the area for the presence of mutagenic substances that may explain any results. We conclude that the results confirm the reported increases in cancer and infant mortality which are alarmingly high. The remarkable reduction in the sex ratio in the cohort born one year after the fighting in 2004 identifies that year as the time of the environmental contamination. In our opinion, the magnitude of these effects make it difficult to question them on the basis of any of the hypothetical shortcomings of the study type which we have considered although these must be borne in mind. However, owing to the various constraints placed by circumstance on the methods employed, we must emphasise that the results of this study should be interpreted with those aspects in mind. Finally, the results reported here do not throw any light upon the identity of the agent(s) causing the increased levels of illness and although we have drawn attention to the use of depleted uranium as one potential relevant exposure, there may be other possibilities and we see the current study as investigating the anecdotal evidence of increases in cancer and infant mortality in Fallujah.

From the conclusion in the linked pdf. Does it really matter what the exact contaminating agent was? Seems pretty clear to me that it is linked directly to U.S. military action. So something our military did is causing this.

Or should I be jumping on this bandwagon because of OMG RADIATION! Damn the facts and lack of any concrete connection.

Maybe you should be jumping on the this is the result of a horrible war crime bandwagon. Or are you not the bandwagony type?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:42 AM on July 25, 2010


My anecdata: I worked in the US for a while and when I left, the guy who took over from me was a military vet who had served in the first Gulf War to put himself through college.

He died at the age of 31, I think, of leukemia. Of the men who served directly with him - part of a group whose job was to collect depleted uranium shells - something like 5 or 6 of them had died or were dying by the time he died.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:35 AM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Using radioactive waste as weaponry has got to stand right up there as one of the stupidest acts in history. And...why is DU used? Because it is heavy. As a holder of a science degree from a US university, I have to say that this unspeakable crime has forever turned me off to feeling positive about US military actions. Grrrr.
posted by telstar at 3:41 AM on July 25, 2010


I dunno, it seems to me that this is completely backwards. Instead of worrying that the bullets and shells we're using to blow up towns full of civilians and mow down brown people in foreign lands, maybe we should not give a shit what is in the bullets and shells and just stop blowing up towns full of civilians and mowing down brown people in foreign lands. But that's just me.

"How can you shoot women or children?"

"Easy! Ya just don't lead 'em so much!"
posted by Justinian at 3:44 AM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reading things like this makes me wonder if the average, reasonably well-educated Roman was aware that the Roman Empire was dead long, long before the Goths came.
posted by Mooski at 4:30 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you don't care about the poor Iraqis blown away and/or poisoned and/or burned for oil and corporate profit and neocon glory

I'll spot you the neocon glory, but the "war for oil" thing is ridiculous on the face of it. If we wanted Iraqi oil, all we had to do was start buying it. The Iraqis weren't stopping us from getting their oil, WE were engaging in an embargo. If Bush and Pals wanted the oil, all they had to do was stop the embargo.

Using radioactive waste as weaponry has got to stand right up there as one of the stupidest acts in history. And...why is DU used? Because it is heavy. As a holder of a science degree from a US university, I have to say that this unspeakable crime has forever turned me off to feeling positive about US military actions. Grrrr.

"Radioactive waste" is a bit of a misnomer though. It is waste only in that it is uranium that can't be used for nuclear fission because it isn't radioactive enough. U238 emits alpha particles, which are only harmful if they are ingested. Which is bad. But it isn't "nuclear waste" in the Simpsons-esque green glowing ooze sort of way. It can't even penetrate the layer of dead skin on your body. Standing in the sun is more harmful than holding a lump of the stuff in your hand.

What makes it bad is that inhaling the dust lets the alpha particles in, and once they are inside, they are pretty harmful. But then again, so is lead.

But as telstar says, the problem isn't that DU is slightly worse than lead, but that we live in a world of war.
posted by gjc at 5:38 AM on July 25, 2010


Or should I be jumping on this bandwagon because of OMG RADIATION! Damn the facts and lack of any concrete connection. Oh btw, lets ban cell phones too!

Radiation from a cell phone is not the same thing as radiation from uranium. This should not be necessary to tell you.
posted by odinsdream at 6:40 AM on July 25, 2010


a survey was being carried out by terrorists

Sounds like the sort of thing terrorists would do. Talking to the people, finding out the truth - sounds incredibly dangerous.

But as I said, that is wild unfounded speculation.

How about you stop doing that?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:51 AM on July 25, 2010


Hey, you know, bird hunters have been complaining about steel shot for years. Lead's just a better projectile, denser.

Solution? Depleted uranium! Since the stuff is obviously not a problem - or we would never be exposing our soldiers to it, or contaminating the environment with it - the United States should be a fine market for this fine product.

We never torture anyone, either.
posted by Xoebe at 7:15 AM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


hattifattener made the right point before 10 pm, and some back-and-forth might have been avoided had we taken the time to distinguish between adverse health effects from radiation effects vs chemical effects. There are lots of carcinogens used in warfare, in explosives in particular--petrochemicals are generally teratogenic, for example--and depleted uranium is poisonous like lead, not like spent nuclear fuel. And the residue of poisons in Iraq, as terrible as it surely is, can't plausibly be thought to rank high on the long-term harmful effects of the war. The destruction of civil society, the destruction of infrastructure, and the direct killing of a hundred thousand Iraqi soldiers and civilians are much, much, worse, and the "issue" of depleted uranium is a distraction from those central points.

We who draw attention to the humanitarian consequences of war in trying to influence political debates will do well to avoid being distracted from words like "Uranium" that seem scarier at first blush than they do under careful scrutiny. It makes it sound as if one is accusing the USG of spreading nuclear waste in Iraq, which is false. And it detracts from anti-war arguments to make claims that will subsequently seem simple-minded and misleading after educated inquiry.
posted by GentleReader at 7:26 AM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll spot you the neocon glory, but the "war for oil" thing is ridiculous on the face of it.

It really isn't. Of course, for people buying oil, it doesn't matter who's selling it. But if you're in the business of selling oil, that matters a great deal. Hence the Iraq oil law.

Oil "security" has been a motive for going into Iraq since Clinton was in office. Look at an open letter published by the Project for a New American Century, which mentions oil (among other things) as a reason to overthrow Hussein. Notice the cosigners and the date.
posted by Humanzee at 7:47 AM on July 25, 2010


I've repeatedly brought this issue up on a political podcast I do, this is one of the biggest ticking timebombs sitting out in open sight regarding our disastrous occupation of Iraq. At some point, the Iraqi people will figure out a way to bring a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. for poisoning the next number of generations of their children, and that will be the straw that breaks the buffalo's back.
posted by dbiedny at 8:07 AM on July 25, 2010


Ah yes the late and unlamented New American Century. For those of you playing along at home this organization was reborn as the Foreign Policy Initiative; where Kristol and Kagan are still driving. See Jeremy Scahill.
posted by adamvasco at 8:29 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vietnam's forgotten war victims: The Vietnam war ended 35 years ago, but children are still being born with birth defects from chemical poisoning allegedly caused by defoliants sprayed by the US military
posted by homunculus at 8:34 AM on July 25, 2010


Wait, you mean salting the earth with poisonous, radioactive dust is bad?

I felt from the moment I first heard about this that the Bush administration knew exactly what they were doing from the start, what with their penchant for biblical retribution and all that.
posted by Aquaman at 8:58 AM on July 25, 2010


I think the Fallujah assault was a crime on the level of the firebombing of Dresden.

Which one? The Marines launched a major assault (Operation Vigilant Resolve) on April 4, 2004 that was supposed to be an "overwhelming" attack that would "pacify that city." It was called off after three days, US forces declared a cease-fire on April 9, and the Fallujah Brigade took control of the city.
"When you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, you really need to understand what the consequences of that are going to be and not perhaps vacillate in the middle of something like that," [Marine Lt. Gen. James T. Conway] said.
The second assault (Operation Phantom Fury) was launched on November 8, 2004, and secured most of the city by November 16.

This may seem cynical, but it sure seems like the Bush administration called off the initial assault and postponed it until after the November 2004 election so voters wouldn't be shocked by the casualties.

The provision of chemical precursors from United States companies to Iraq was enabled by a Ronald Reagan administration policy that removed Iraq from the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

That can't be right. Everybody knows that Republicans don't negotiate with terrorists and enjoy HAMBURGER.

Wild unfounded speculation: might Saddam's regime and 'Chemical Ali' have been secretly storing chemical/biological weapon stuff within Fallujah that America's 'Shock and Awe' bombing could have opened up and exposed the population to?

Please. They used some dude's buried cartoon drawings as evidence of Iraq's phantom nuclear program. If there had been any actual evidence of Iraqi stuff we'd have heard about it 24/7/365.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:04 AM on July 25, 2010


So imagine all the chemicals in your town turned into a fine mist an sprayed all over everyone.

Do you really think you need depleted uranium to be magically carcinogenic when you're blowing up god-knows-what and scattering it everywhere? The correct answer is don't blow shit up willy-nilly.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:09 AM on July 25, 2010


As the Fallujah assault began, former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin wrote a prescient op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald: All the makings of a war crime - with Australia silently onside.

This attack will also violate the rules of war and the Geneva conventions in having grossly indiscriminate effects on civilians and civilian homes and infrastructure. America's largely untrained in battle but over-armed forces will start their attack "humanely", but as they inevitably take numbers of lethal casualties, their tactics will quickly escalate to indiscriminate bombing and shelling of the city using their WMD armouries.
posted by grounded at 10:17 AM on July 25, 2010


I can't imagine that being next door to the largest oil spill in world history or the Kuwaiti well fires did much for their health either, not to mention widespread gas attacks during the Iran-Iraq War. DU is certainly nasty stuff, but this study seems to have a lot of problems.
posted by electroboy at 10:18 AM on July 25, 2010


hattifattener wrote: ""uranium = nuculer mutants" bit is just cheap fearmongering."

No, you're not wrong. Depleted Uranium is the U-238 left over when they extract the more unstable U-235. DU is not particularly radioactive (like most elements not considered radioactive, it has a very long half life, so produces little radiation). It's perfectly plausible (even likely) that heavy metal poisoning from depleted uranium could cause all sorts of health issues, though.

I can't say I've ever been in a firefight, so I don't know whether it's more likely to get pulverized and turn into dust than lead or other dense metals.

And let me assure everyone that if the public at large didn't care a whit about the wholesale destruction of Fallujah in the first place, they aren't going to suddenly start giving a shit because of health problems caused by heavy metal poisoning.
posted by wierdo at 11:18 AM on July 25, 2010


"And...why is DU used? Because it is heavy"

There's more to it than that. Not only is it heavy, but Uranium projectiles also have the useful (for weaponry) property that the metal deforms in an unusual way, instead of squashing against the armour it actually forms a sharp dart as it penetrates the metal, and then reacts explosively with air when it passes through the other side. It's about as close to the perfect material for penetrating through armour as anything yet devised.

Radioactivity is not especially dangerous with DU. DU is not, as one poster above implied, used reactor fuel, it is the less radioactive form of uranium which is left over when the more radioactive form is enriched for nuclear power or weapons. It's the otherwise useless stuff left over from enrichment, useless because it is NOT radioactive enough. (On the other hand, depleted uranium can be made more radioactive via breeder reactors, which convert it to other things. For something on that, look up Travelling Wave Reactors.

The level of radioactivity of depleted uranium is not believed to be a significant problem for human health, you'll suffer ill effects from the plain old chemical toxicity long before the radiation will do you any harm. There are researchers out there doing a lot of work to try to find out just how dangerous DU is, unfortunately the science does tend to get shouted down by people with strongly held political views who make claims which are not supported by data, and that applies to both the for and against sides.
posted by Mokusatsu at 11:21 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Any scientist like to comment.? To my politically biased eye this seems to indicate something severely out of the normal was caused by supersaturation of DU and white phosphorus fall out. this is what a quick bit of googling pulled up.

Potential late health effects of depleted uranium and tungsten used in armor-piercing munitions: comparison of neoplastic transformation and genotoxicity with the known carcinogen nickel.

Identification of health risks in workers staying and working on the terrains contaminated with depleted uranium.

Remediation of white phosphorus contamination in an Alaskan wetland

And to conclude from 3.6 conclusion of this Presented at The 3rd ICBUW International Conference Hiroshima, August 3-6, 2006.
Published epidemiological studies in Basrah introduced a clear correlation between DU related exposure to LLR and the multifold increase of malignancies, congenital malformations and multiple malformations in detected DU contaminated areas.
posted by adamvasco at 12:05 PM on July 25, 2010


It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works.

From protocol II, art. 14 of the Geneva Conventions.

The U.S. Airforce clearly violated these provisions of the Geneva Conventions. Can we at least get you people trying to whitewash our actions in Iraq to admit that what we did was in fact a war crime? Regardless of the DU issue. Just so everybody is clear about where you stand.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:51 PM on July 25, 2010


We've purposefully bombed orphanages, hospitals, and water treatment plants before

Um, cite?
posted by electroboy at 4:16 PM on July 25, 2010


I hate to piss on your parade, but pretty much a unified scientific community have rejected DU ammunition as a serious health hazard to the civilian population of war areas. This includes people like Pugwash, who aren't exactly pro-war, pro-nuclear-weapons, or pro-war-profiteering. In their report on the issue, they say:
What are the chemotoxicity dangers? Uranium is a heavy metal like a number of others (lead, cadmium etc.) and 1mg is dangerous for kidney function. But to get 1mg U to the kidney 50mg would have to be inhaled, an amount not likely to be taken up by anyone other than an unfortunate crew member of a stricken tank. In any case the description of 'Gulf War Syndrome' illnesses does not include kidney-related complaints.
They also address radiological danger, etc., and come to the same conclusion.

I'm not saying there might be stuff released that is causing cancer, but it's not DU.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:52 PM on July 25, 2010


The only time I've ever seen birth defects play out so rapidly was in drosophilia. Otherwise, this just isn't how genetics works.

Now, if we look at the picture of those two malformed kids, we're looking at kids who are, at the very least, in puberty. That boy? Has a mustache. The defects displayed--most clearly by the boy--are clearly genetic in nature.

Mr. Busby, in the article, claims that the source of the genetic mutations was the 2004 bombing of Fallujah.

So. . . that boy in the photo is meant to be. . . six years old? Really?

I think what we're looking at is increased reportage and awareness of pre-existing conditions due to the attention focused on Iraqi health due to the war--no more, no less.

There may very well be toxic exposure to blame at the heart of these defects and illnesses but there is no proof that the exposure is from depleted uranium. Moreover, the narrow time span of the study--2005-2009--is far too short and without comparable data prior to 2004, it's impossible to find the culprit(s).
posted by gsh at 7:05 PM on July 25, 2010


it's impossible to find the culprit(s).

What ever the exact cause I am pretty sure the United States government is the culprit. Do you agree or disagree?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:46 PM on July 25, 2010


"What ever the exact cause I am pretty sure the United States government is the culprit. Do you agree or disagree?"

If you haven't based that on data then you're saying that because of ideology, and ideology has no place in scientific debates.

There are a lot of papers which are published all the time in questionable journals with dubious peer review processes, often with fancy sounding names which make the journals sound very prestigious when they're actually little more than vanity presses, just so that activists can point to the existence of "research" which supports their point of view.

Unfortunately, a lot of these junk papers have come out trying to discredit depleted uranium. These do little good for the cause as they only cast a shadow of ideologically driven pseudoscience over legitimate research, and confuse the public.

"Creation scientists" do it, the tobacco lobby did (does?) it, HIV denialists do it, anti-porn crusaders do it, anti-gay marriage people do it, global warming deniers do it, as do "911 truthers" and other conspiracy theorists.

I think gsh raised some very valid points about the paper being discussed here, which makes me inclined to think it might be one of the ideologically driven ones. That it was prepared by an anti DU lobby group rather than some academic makes me inclined to think it probably was.

Iraq has had poor health care for a very long time. Populations always have some degree of birth defects and there are many causes of this including the genetics of the population, nutrition, cleanliness of the food, air and water, what pharmaceuticals they did and did not take, etc.

It is actually very difficult to establish the truth of claims like the ones being made in this paper. You need a great deal of data, you need the data to be carefully controlled and checked to avoid bias. It needs to be checked with control groups (i.e. similar populations, before and after etc) and various causes need to be examined.

From what I gather they simply handed out questionnaires and these were voluntarily answered by members of a population who had every reason to exaggerate health claims and blame them on the Americans, and the data was processed by researchers who may well have been actively seeking to establish relationships which put the US in a bad light.

"What ever the exact cause I am pretty sure the United States government is the culprit." does not sound to me at all like the kind of fair minded, open to evidence approach which needs to be taken whenever assessing data of this kind.
posted by Mokusatsu at 12:22 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Iraq has had poor health care for a very long time. Populations always have some degree of birth defects and there are many causes of this including the genetics of the population, nutrition, cleanliness of the food, air and water, what pharmaceuticals they did and did not take, etc.

12 years of sanctions followed by 8 years of war? Do you think that might have something to do with it? Furthermore I wasn't aware we were having a scientific debate. Are you a scientist? Does anyone in this thread have a Phd in the relevant fields? I was under the impression we were having a discussion about one possible aspect of the war crimes the United States military has committed against the Iraqi people. Do you deny that the U.S. military did willfully and deliberately bomb and disable Iraq's electric grid and water treatment system. Do you deny that hundreds of thousand possibly millions of people have died as a direct result of our military action there. Unfortunately we will never know the actual number because the U.S. military "doesn't do body counts". This fact is beneficial for apologists of our war crimes because when called on it they can always fall back on the fact that there aren't any reliable numbers. As if that makes the death and destruction we perpetrated on the Iraqi people somehow acceptable and less immoral.

There are a lot of papers which are published all the time in questionable journals with dubious peer review processes, often with fancy sounding names which make the journals sound very prestigious when they're actually little more than vanity presses, just so that activists can point to the existence of "research" which supports their point of view.

Are you people fucking serious? Did you read the article in question? I am not an expert in the field but these guys seem pretty legit, and you lumping them in with "conspiracy theorists" smacks of whitewash. Again I invite all you people trying to ignore or downplay the crimes of the U.S. military to answer the question I posed earlier.

It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works.

From protocol II, art. 14 of the Geneva Conventions.

The U.S. Airforce clearly violated these provisions of the Geneva Conventions. Can we at least get you people trying to whitewash our actions in Iraq to admit that what we did was in fact a war crime? Regardless of the DU issue. Just so everybody is clear about where you stand.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:20 AM on July 26, 2010


History will not be kind to the people responsible.
posted by Monkeymoo at 6:44 AM on July 26, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar, you're getting argumentative and axe-grindy. There's nothing wrong with requiring evidence to form a particular belief. Whatever we may have done to the Iraqis is not changed by angry ranting.

If your goal is to change people's mind, reasonable discourse works a lot better. When you get your rant on people presume you're some kind of activist and tune you out.

Moreover, there are plenty of peer-reviewed studies showing the excess deaths caused by our invasion published in widely respected journals like the Lancet. There's not really any need to argue over whether some journal most of us have never heard of is astroturf or not.
posted by wierdo at 9:02 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


people presume you're some kind of activist

What does this even mean? I am not an activist but is that a bad thing? I would think being an activist for a certain cause, ie not killing innocent people, is better than being a Little Eichmann for a murderous cause.

The fact of the matter is that the journal linked to was said to be a questionable journal with a dubious peer review processes with the intent of discrediting its findings. I simply linked to the page with the list of professors and specialists from respected universities and institutions who are on the editorial board doing the peer review process for this particular journal. I don't care to change people's minds. The people trying to whitewash our actions in Iraq are not the kind of people I want to have discourse with. What I am trying to do is not let them get away with downplaying and/or justifying the slaughter of innocents.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:47 AM on July 26, 2010


Sanctions and childhood mortality in Iraq

Here is an example of what I like to call "soft genocide". It's not like we didn't know this was happening. The DU issue is subsidiary to the bigger issue of the decades long progrom of war crimes systematically perpetrated against the Iraqi people. It would be comical, if not for the awful consequences, watching people here try to rationalize and justify the use of DU. I think someone pointed out above that using lead shot is outlawed. Why is that? What that says to me is that the American government is more worried about the health of its wetlands and waterfowl populations than it is about Iraqi children and citizens. But carry on with your proclamations that DU is harmless. I can only hope that in the near future some military or government will have the opportunity to shoot off loads of DU near the places you live and watersources that you drink from. Maybe then you will change your tune.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:05 AM on July 26, 2010


Do you deny that the U.S. military did willfully and deliberately bomb and disable Iraq's electric grid and water treatment system.

I don't deny it, but you also haven't offered any proof of it.
posted by electroboy at 3:30 PM on July 26, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar wrote: "I am not an activist but is that a bad thing?"

What does it mean? It means you come off very stridently, which tends to make people tune out your message, especially in the US. If you want to change people's mind, you generally need to have a calm demeanor and avoid blame. Putting people on the defensive only hurts your cause. (hint: "Little Eichmann" does not bring about productive discussion)

This is why PETA, Greenpeace, and all the other lefty activist organizations don't get much traction.

Ironically, if you are pro-war rah-rah American, strident is OK, because you're talking about what seems like (but isn't) an immediate personal threat.
posted by wierdo at 5:35 PM on July 26, 2010


Whatever wierdo. War crimes are war crimes. It's pretty black and white on this one. You either admit it or you don't. If you can't bring yourself to admit what we have done then I don't know that I have much else to say to you. Why do you keep ignoring the real issue - war crimes by shifting discussion to whether my particular method of posting is conducive to changing peoples mind. I do not think that anything I say here has any chance of changing anyone's mind about anything. If you can't look at the facts, look at our actions, and results of our actions and not call a spade a spade then what some faceless person says on the blue is unlikely to cause any mea culpas.

So again I ask; does anyone here in this thread trying to whitewash and/or downplay our actions in Iraq think that we have perpetrated war crimes. Yes or No. Just so that everybody here is clear on where you stand.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:02 PM on July 26, 2010


It's pretty obvious you're very worked up about this. I have made no statement one way or the other regarding my position on the issue of whether the US is responsible for war crimes, yet you have attacked me and others for excusing what we've done or "not being able to admit it" or whatever the hell else.

I'm not downplaying anything, but I also don't see what you expect to gain by continuing to be argumentative.
posted by wierdo at 6:31 PM on July 26, 2010


Calmer than you wierdo, calmer than you. Again with the changing of the subject and the obfuscation of the topic. Anyone going to answer the one simple question I posed?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:53 PM on July 26, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar: "So again I ask; does anyone here in this thread trying to whitewash and/or downplay our actions in Iraq think that we have perpetrated war crimes."

I think it's quite likely that the US and its allies have committed war crimes in Iraq, by most reasonable definitions. I doubt any of them have to do with depleted uranium. Is that clear enough?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:08 PM on July 26, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar wrote: "Anyone going to answer the one simple question I posed?"

I'll answer your question with a question: What difference does it make to the conversation? Personally, I just pointed out that DU's danger is not in its radiation, then stated that there's plenty of evidence in widely respected journals that everyone has heard about to make your claim without arguing about a relatively obscure one. I also stated that you'd probably be more successful in arguing the merits of your assertion without getting fighty.

Whether I think the US committed war crimes or not has fuck all to do with any of that.

In any event, what do you want to be done about it?
posted by wierdo at 11:47 PM on July 26, 2010


I just pointed out that DU's danger is not in its radiation

Like to build strawmen I see. The paper linked to makes no such claim. In fact it doesn't even make the claim that DU is the culprit only that it is a possible culprit. I guess you didn't read the quote from the conclusion I posted up thread. I will post the relevant part again. The bold is added for emphasis.

Finally, the results reported here do not throw any light upon the identity of the agent(s) causing the increased levels of illness and although we have drawn attention to the use of depleted uranium as one potential relevant exposure, there may be other possibilities and we see the current study as investigating the anecdotal evidence of increases in cancer and infant mortality in Fallujah.

Why does admitting to our war crimes in Iraq matter in this context? It matters because if you can't admit to the very blatant and obvious war crimes that have been committed than I think your ability to engage in honest discourse about whether DU is in fact causing health problems in Iraq is highly suspect.

I doubt any of them have to do with depleted uranium.

Well that's your opinion and you're welcome to it but some people, including scientifically trained specialists, might disagree. The fact of the matter is that there is no scientific consensus one way or the other as to the long term effects of DU. Thank you for answering the very simple question which wierdo seems unable to.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:49 AM on July 27, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar wrote: "Like to build strawmen I see. The paper linked to makes no such claim."

Read the thread and get back to me. People here made that claim, hence the need to refute it.
posted by wierdo at 1:40 PM on July 27, 2010


What specific war crimes are you talking about? You keep saying we've intentionally bombed orphanages and water treatment plants, but haven't offered any evidence as such. Are you saying that using DU ammo is a war crime in and of itself?
posted by electroboy at 3:16 PM on July 27, 2010


hence the need to refute it.

Actually I think that it is you who need to read the thread. Can you please show me the place where anyone claims that radiation is the main danger with DU. Neither the paper linked to in the fpp makes the claim nor does anyone else except damn dirty ape when he says:

Or should I be jumping on this bandwagon because of OMG RADIATION! Damn the facts and lack of any concrete connection. Oh btw, lets ban cell phones too!

Which then leads to pompotom commenting:

According the the US Army training videos I've seen on DU exposure, "OMG RADIATION" has bugger-all to do with it (hence "depleted"), but "OMG EXTRAORDINARILY TOXIC HEAVY METAL EXPOSURE" is entirely appropriate.

So while you didn't start the straw man you certainly kept it alive.

What specific war crimes are you talking about? You keep saying we've intentionally bombed orphanages and water treatment plants, but haven't offered any evidence as such. Are you saying that using DU ammo is a war crime in and of itself?

I have made no such claims. You need to read the thread. As far as what war crimes we've committed I will again for the third time cite Protocol II, article 14 of the Geneva Conventions:

It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works.

I think the most blatant example of a war crime happened when during our "shock and awe" campaign we destroyed the Iraqi infrastructure for the second time in 12 years. So sure are the architects of this doctrine of our American exceptionalism that they make no effort to hide it's flagrant violations of the Geneva Conventions when they state:

It will mean the ability to control the environment and to master all levels of an opponent's activities to affect will, perception, and understanding. This could include means of communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other aspects of infrastructure...

Is using DU a war crime? I honestly don't know if it is by the letter of the law a war crime. I guess I can turn the question around on you. Do you think that it is or should be considered a war crime?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:13 PM on July 27, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar wrote: "It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works."

So, was that done? Did the US intentionally destroy drinking water or food supplies?
clarknova wrote: "But it's a fantastic way for GE, the biggest nuclear reactor builder in the US, to get rid of some waste. They make reactors. They produce uranium fuel. They repackage the depleted fuel as munitions."
telstar wrote: "Using radioactive waste as weaponry"
odinsdream wrote: "Radiation from a cell phone is not the same thing as radiation from uranium."
Aquaman wrote: "Wait, you mean salting the earth with poisonous, radioactive dust is bad?."
So yeah, no straw men here. Thanks for the accusation, though. That sort of thing keeps me on my toes.
posted by wierdo at 10:59 PM on July 27, 2010


So yeah, no straw men here. Thanks for the accusation, though. That sort of thing keeps me on my toes.

None of those comments nor the article linked to put radiation forward as the main cause of what is happening in fallujah. These are throwaway comments that aren't making any claims; the only one that comes close is odinsdream. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of what depleted uranium is and how it gets introduced into ecological and biological systems knows that radiation is not the main danger. So yeah strawman. All very pointless as we both know that radiation isn't what is causing problems in Fallujah. Still haven't answered my original question. Has the U.S. military committed war crimes in Iraq?

So, was that done? Did the US intentionally destroy drinking water or food supplies?

This is from the description of phase II of Operation Instant Thunder undertaken during the first gulf war.

Attention would then turn to disabling the civil infrastructure of Iraq, by destroying power plants, telephone lines and water treatment plants.

This follow Warden's Five Rings strategy. As you can see it is a very heinous strategy which the focus of is in descending order of importance: Leadership, system essentials, infrastructure, population, fielded military. As you can see this strategy is on its very face in violation of the Geneva Conventions as it places the civilian population ahead of the opposing military in the target order. Sick really. Not to mention cowardly.

This only touches on the first Gulf War which was then followed by 12 years of sanctions which denied the Iraqis the necessary parts to repair aforementioned infrastructure. Any repairs would have to come from homegrown sources. The second air campaign during Operation Iraqi Freedom followed the "Shock and Awe" doctrine developed after the first Gulf War. It is basically a repackaged version of Warden's Five Rings. So yes we did target infrastructure vital to the survival of the civilian population. This partly explains the soft genocide that followed the first Gulf war. Estimates range from 500,000 to 1,000,000 children died as a direct result of the destroyed infrastructure and sanctions during the 12 years following the first war.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:18 PM on July 28, 2010


Warden's Five Rings Forgot to link.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:28 PM on July 28, 2010


"Attention would then turn.."

So did it actually happen, or was it an unexecuted plan?
posted by wierdo at 2:23 PM on July 28, 2010


So did it actually happen, or was it an unexecuted plan?

Nope it didn't happen. It was part of the plan, part of the stated doctrine and bam they just decided not to do it. They were feeling generous that day and decided to spare the Iraqi people the misery of having to rebuild their infrastructure after the first gulf war. They also decided that although it is part of the doctrine of shock and awe that they would also leave it out on the second go around. That's why we didn't have to rebuild any infrastructure after we invaded. In fact the infrastructure was in such good condition that we actually didn't have to invest a dime to repair and rebuild it after we invaded.

Iraq boasted a modern social infrastructure with a first-class range of health-care facilities, and its people enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in the Middle East. But the Gulf war of 1991 and more than 12 years of trade sanctions have left the country's economy and infrastructure in ruins.

The country had a modern sanitary infrastructure with an extensive network of water-purification and sewage-treatment systems. Water networks distributed clean, safe water to 95% of the urban population and to 75% of those in rural areas. In 1990, Iraq was ranked 50th out of 130 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index, which measures national achievements in health, education, and per capita GDP.
But the 6-week Gulf War in 1991 resulted in almost complete breakdown of the country's infrastructure. Electricity-generating stations, water-purification plants, and sewage-treatment networks were all destroyed, and transport capabilities were reduced to about 10% of pre-war levels, preventing distribution of essential food and medical supplies.

In the immediate aftermath of the war, widespread malnutrition ensued, and the breakdown in water-purification and sanitation systems led to outbreaks of infectious diseases such as typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis, and malaria. About 100 000 Iraqi people are estimated to have died from the health effects of the war, and child and infant mortality increased more than threefold between January and August, 1991, according to the Harvard-based International Study Team.

The economic sanctions, which were imposed by the UN in August, 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, made it virtually impossible for the country to recover from the devastating effects of the war and to rebuild its infrastructure. By the mid-1990s, there had been modest improvements in social services, but electricity, water, sanitation, and health-care services were still barely functional.


source

Listen dude you've been using strawmen and now you're just grasping at proverbial straws. Quit being willfully obtuse and just admit the god damned truth about our actions in Iraq. We are the monster. We are the empire. This is the truth. If you can't except the truth than I have nothing more to say to you.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:48 PM on July 28, 2010


I find it interesting that the only evidence you have for the existence of war crimes is an article from a medical journal.
posted by electroboy at 8:08 PM on July 28, 2010


[few comments removed - AElfwine Evenstar you need to quit making stuff personal and making threads into your personal soapbox - folks, you can take this to email or MetaTalk but let's back up on this a little.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:01 PM on July 28, 2010


Ok. What is acceptable evidence?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:35 PM on July 28, 2010


I think DU is a nice guy, personally.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:39 PM on July 28, 2010


I find it interesting that the only evidence you have for the existence of war crimes is an article from a medical journal.

Also the fact that the aforementioned war crimes were part of the military doctrine used in planning the airstrikes and were in fact in the final plan. Also supporting this is the fact that Iraqi water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, and the electric grid were all in fact destroyed. Unless of course it is being claimed that the Iraqi civilian infrastructure blew itself up. How does one explain the fact that the standard of living for the average Iraqi went from being the highest in the Middle East to the lowest in the space of about six weeks? Or maybe it's being claimed that all of the people who died from "outbreaks of infectious diseases such as typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis, and malaria" didn't really die. All of these diseases are hallmarks of populations that lack access to clean drinking water and/or live in unsanitary conditions. How did one of the most advanced systems of public sanitation and waste treatment in the Middle East break down so completely in the space of six weeks? Did this happen in a vaccum? These six weeks just happened to be the same six weeks that the Coalition was carrying out Operation Desert Storm.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:43 PM on July 28, 2010


I think DU is a nice guy, personally.

Yeah but he's not the kinda guy you bring home to mother. :)

DISCLAIMER: THE PREVIOUS STATEMENT IS IN NO WAY A PERSONAL ATTACK AGAINST DU. IT IS TO BE TAKEN AS A JOKE. ANY OTHER INTERPRETATION IS INCORRECT AND MAY RESULT IN THIS COMMENT GETTING DELETED.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:51 PM on July 28, 2010


Again, you saying something doesn't make it so.
posted by electroboy at 4:52 AM on July 29, 2010


Patrick Cockburn on Missing Billions in Iraq and Soaring Cancer & Infant Mortality Rates in Fallujah
posted by homunculus at 8:45 AM on July 29, 2010


[seriously chill out folks and take this out of the realm of the personal. MetaTalk is your option.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:18 PM on July 29, 2010


Again, you saying something doesn't make it so.

What will you accept as a source demonstrating that the U.S. military deliberately destroyed Iraqi civilian infrastructure? How about the WHO? Here it is in black and white.

The six-week Gulf war in 1991 resulted in the destruction of a large number of public facilities in Iraq, such as electricity generating and water purification plants and sewage treatment networks. As a consequence, provision of health care to the population was seriously disrupted.

and again further down the page...


The extensive destruction of electrical generating plants, water-purification and sewage treatment plants during the six-week 1991 war, and the subsequent delay or incomplete repair of these facilities since the sanctions, coupled with over-crowding and a lack of sanitary facilities, leading to a lack of personal hygiene, have been responsible for an explosive rise in the incidence of enteric infections, such as cholera and typhoid.

and again in the conclusion...

The six-week war in 1991 resulted in the large scale destruction of military and civilian infrastructures alike. In general, civilian populations were, subsequently more affected by the consequences of much destruction than the military populations, the latter of whom have tended to be more protected against the daily hardships ensuring since enforcement of the sanctions.

source

Funny the civilian population was more affected than the military. That's exactly what Warden's Five Rings calls for. Imagine that. We plan a military target list based on a certain doctrine and guess what it follow that doctrine to a T. So please quit denying the historical fact that the U.S. military did deliberately and willfully "attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population;" namely electrical generating plants, water-purification and sewage treatment plants.

With that I will try my best not to respond to any more trolls as I have told Jessamyn that I will try my best to not use threads as my own personal soap box.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:48 PM on July 29, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar wrote: "Nope it didn't happen. It was part of the plan, part of the stated doctrine and bam they just decided not to do it."

If the Department of Defense executed every plan they come up with, we'd be living in the Fallout universe by now. Do you or do you not have any evidence that the US military did in fact intentionally bomb water treatment plants or other infrastructure protected by the Geneva Convention?

I'm not grasping at anything except the hope that you can provide some evidence of your allegations. If it in fact happened the way you claim, I want to see those responsible prosecuted. However, I no more accept your claims at face value than I accepted the claims of the Bush administration regarding Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and all that.
posted by wierdo at 3:05 PM on July 29, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar wrote: "Also the fact that the aforementioned war crimes were part of the military doctrine used in planning the airstrikes and were in fact in the final plan."

I should have read the rest of the thread, but you have presented no evidence to support that claim. Nor have you provided any evidence of deliberate destruction of protected targets. If you have it, please share with the rest of us.

Your link regarding the "plan" appeared to take great care to refer to it only as a plan and never stated the plan was put into action. In fact, it stated the plan was shelved in favor of the Desert Storm plan, which included ground-based forces in addition to the air assault contemplated in the plan you referenced.
posted by wierdo at 3:08 PM on July 29, 2010


Wow.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:26 PM on July 29, 2010


Before 1991 the South and Center of Iraq had a well developed water and sanitation system comprising over two hundred water treatment plants ("wtp's") for urban areas and 1200 compact wtp's to serve rural areas, as well as an extensive distribution network. WHO estimates that 90% of the population had access to an abundant quantity of safe drinking water. There were modern mechanical means of collection and sanitary disposal.

You may wonder dear reader what happened to this capacity after the six weeks of Desert Storm? Did it miraculously cease to exist in some so far unexplained catastrophe unrelated to the war?

During allied bombing campaigns on Iraq the country's eight multi-purpose dams had been repeatedly hit, simultaneously wrecking flood control, municipal and industrial water storage, irrigation and hydroelectric power. Four of seven major pumping stations were destroyed, as were 31 municipal water and sewerage facilities - 20 in Baghdad, resulting in sewage pouring into the Tigris. Water purification plants were incapacitated throughout Iraq.

How many sources do you want?

For more than ten years, the United States has deliberately pursued a policy of destroying the water treatment system of Iraq, knowing full well the cost in Iraqi lives. The United Nations has estimated that more than 500,000 Iraqi children have died as a result of sanctions, and that 5,000 Iraqi children continue to die every month for this reason.

To save you some legwork, dear reader, here are the pertinent declassified documents from the above article proving that the DOD knew exactly what it was doing in regard to intentionally denying Iraqis access to clean drinking water.

SUBJECT: Effects of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad

SUMMARY: Food- and waterborne diseases have the greatest potential for outbreaks in the civilian and military population over the next 30 to 60 days.

Increased incidence of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems.

The following diseases are prioritized in descending order of expected outbreak potential in Baghdad over the next 30 to 60 days. Prioritization is based on level of endemicity, seasonal distribution, and mode of transmission.


The next document is especially heinous as it goes step by step through the entire process of how Iraq's water purification system will collapse because of the damage done and the inability to import needed chemicals and parts for water purification. Sanctions are a bitch aren't they.

SUBJECT: IRAQ WATER TREATMMENT VULNERABILITIES (U)
AS OF 18 JAN 91 KEY JUDGMENTS.

4. IRAQ'S OVERALL WATER TREATMENT CAPABILITY WILL SUFFER A
SLOW DECLINE, RATHER THAN A PRECIPITOUS HALT, AS DWINDLING
SUPPLIES AND CANNIBALIZED PARTS ARE CONCENTRATED AT HIGHER
PRIORITY LOCATIONS. ALTHOUGH IRAQ IS ALREADY EXPERIENCING A LOSS
OF WATERTREATMENT CAPABILITY, IT PROBABLY WILL TAKE AT LEAST SIX
MONTHS (TO JUNE 1991) BEFORE THE SYSTEM IS FULLY DEGRADED.


The next details the estimated outbreaks of disease that will occur as a direct result of the conflict.

SUBJECT: Disease Outbreaks in Iraq

Current public health problems are attributable to the reduction of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification and distribution, electricity, and the decreased ability to control disease outbreaks.


The last one is also about the health problems that the Iraqi people were experiencing.

MEDICAL PROBLEMS IN IRAQ
March 15, 1991

HEALTH PROBLEMS CURRENTLY FACING IRAQ ARE PRIMARILY PUBLIC HEALTH IN NATURE; ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE BREAKDOWN OF NORMAL PREVENTIVE MEDICINE, WASTE DISPOSAL, WATER PURIFICATION AND DISTRIBUTION, ELECTRICITY, AND TRANSPORTATION (IMPEDING HEALTHCARE ACCESS). THERE ARE INDICATIONS THAT THE BAGHDAD GOVERNMENT IS
FOCUSING ITS EFFORTS RESTORING THESE SERVICES, AS EXAMPLED BY A RECENT REPORT OF AN ICRC DELIVERY TO BAGHDAD OF WATER PURIFICATION AND SEWAGE EQUIPMENT.


Do you want more sources; gentle metafilter reader?

The collective destruction of the infrastructure and services severely diminished
the quality of life, and the Iraqis’ basic requirements could no longer be covered.
Destroyed power plants, oil refineries, communication and transport networks
and sewage treatment plants disrupted the people’s normal living conditions.

Here's one from the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists.

The attacks that have come under the severest criticism were those launched after mid-February on electrical, water, and sewage treatment facilities in Iraqi cities. These attacks are responsible for much of the continuing death and hardship among Iraqi civilians.

Still unconvinced dear reader? Well just for good measure here are a couple more to top off your reading list for the next week or so.

Needless Deaths in the Gulf War: Civilian Casualties During the Air Campaign

Strategic terror: the politics and ethics of aerial bombardment

Apparently the first Gulf War happened so long ago our actions, some may even dare call them war crimes, have gone missing down what someone once called the memory hole.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:23 PM on July 29, 2010


After re-reading the thread I think I owe you an apology wierdo. Accusation of strawman is withdrawn. I should have read more closely. Sorry. When I feel very strongly about something I sometimes over do it. This was one of those occasions.

No, you're not wrong. Depleted Uranium is the U-238 left over when they extract the more unstable U-235. DU is not particularly radioactive (like most elements not considered radioactive, it has a very long half life, so produces little radiation). It's perfectly plausible (even likely) that heavy metal poisoning from depleted uranium could cause all sorts of health issues, though.

I can't say I've ever been in a firefight, so I don't know whether it's more likely to get pulverized and turn into dust than lead or other dense metals.

And let me assure everyone that if the public at large didn't care a whit about the wholesale destruction of Fallujah in the first place, they aren't going to suddenly start giving a shit because of health problems caused by heavy metal poisoning.


And you were right. If the American public didn't give a shit when we bombed them back into the stone age and then enacted the 12 years of brutal sanctions a little DU poisoning isn't going to raise any hackles.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:26 AM on July 31, 2010


Last Combat Brigade Leaves Iraq; Operation Iraqi Freedom officially ends 8/31
posted by homunculus at 8:18 PM on August 18, 2010


« Older Alberto Contador of Spain has solidified his third...   |   A St. Louis woman lost her law... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments