Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq

(From the section "Just When We Need Brilliant Leadership ...", in the chapter Last One Standing, in Powerdown)

     "In four short years, Bush, Cheney, and company have managed to do the following:
     "...Use weapons that kill indiscriminately -- i.e., 'weapons of mass destruction' -- in the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq. While time has shown that Saddam Hussein did not possess banned weapons, the Americans and British did possess indiscriminately lethal and possibly illegal weapons, and proceeded to use them -- as they had done in the 1991 Gulf War and (with other NATO forces) in the former Yugoslavia. The UN has sought to ban both depleted uranium munitions and cluster bombs (the US has objected), and a recent UN report stated that these weapons breach several international conventions.14 Some allege that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis, and tens of thousands of American soldiers, have been sickened or killed by DU weapons, which disperse radioactive particles throughout the battlefield landscape. Each M1 tank round consists of ten pounds of uranium-238 [half-life, 4.5 billion years -- it is the U-235 (half-life, 770 million years) which has been "depleted"], which vaporizes into a highly toxic aerosol upon impact. Much of Iraq is now covered with tons of the stuff. Major Doug Rokke of the US Army, who was assigned by the Army in 1990 to assess the health effects of DU ammunition, told a Palo Alto [Los Altos] audience in April 2003 that 'when I did their research, [I found out] that you can't use [DU munitions] because you can't clean up and you can't do the medical.' According to Rokke, the effects of DU on American soldiers themselves have been horrific (so much for supporting our troops); but for the land and people of the nations we are 'liberating', DU carries far longer-term consequences: soil and water are poisoned virtually forever. In May, 2003 a Christian Science Monitor correspondent took a Geiger counter to areas of Baghdad that had been subjected to heavy shelling by US troops and found radiation levels 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal. To be fair, it should be emphasized that DU munitions had been deployed prior to the advent of the Bush administration; however, these weapons' continued and expanded use (between 1,100 and 2,200 tons used during the 2003 invasion of Iraq versus 300 tons in the 1991 Gulf War and 10 tons during the bombing of Serbia in 1999), in a war fought ostensibly to prevent another nation from using banned weapons, is a bitter irony.15

     "14In January 2001, the European Parliament approved a resolution imposing a ban on the use of DU munitions while investigations were carried out into the links between DU and cnacer. In August 2002, the UN published a report citing a series of international laws and conventions breached by the use of DU weapons, including: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the UN Charter; the UN Genocide Convention; the Convention Against Torture; the four Geneva Conventions of 1949; the Conventional Weapons Convention of 1980; and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 which all forbid the deployment of 'poison or poisoned weapons' and 'arms, projectiles or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.'
     "15See: Learn About Depleted Uranium From The US Army's Expert on Depleted Uranium (DU) See also: IRAQ: Experts Warn of Radioactive Battlefields; Remains of toxic bullets litter Iraq"


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