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America’s grim legacy in Iraq

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The Iraq War is now 11 years old and still tearing up the country, but no longer with the assistance of U.S. troops. Between 500,000 and 700,000 people died from 2003–2011. The monthly civilian toll now is as high as it’s been since 2008. It’s a riven country, at odds with itself, fending off jihadists from Syria, and morally and physically drained by more than 20 years of war (starting with Operation Desert Storm in 1991) and crippling sanctions.

And that’s not all. We now know, thanks to the courageous efforts of several researchers, that environmental toxins have likely poisoned the country – another consequence of the war instigated by the United States. The munitions the United States used in Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom are the apparent culprits, and, like the grim Agent Orange legacy in Vietnam, controversy and denial animate much of the discussion.

Two agents are at issue. One is depleted uranium, which is used to harden bullets and mortar shells to enable them to more easily penetrate targets. Depleted uranium (DU) is slightly radioactive and harmful if inhaled, though the extent of this hazard is unclear and most studies discount widespread impacts. The most likely effect is chemical (rather than radiological), and affects kidneys, according to studies conducted in manufacturing DU applications. Other metals used in munitions could have similar effects.

A second candidate is white phosphorous (WP), a known carcinogen, which U.S. forces used extensively in Fallujah and possibly elsewhere to light up fields of battle, and as an incendiary. The Army referred to its use of WP as “shake and bake.” A shell containing WP could burn toxic smoke for 15 minutes. Israel also used WP extensively in its assault on Gaza in 2008 and 2009, but said last year it would no longer use the agent.

These toxic materials, among others, have largely been ignored in the aftermath of the war. But epidemiological studies have raised the distinct possibility that such agents have taken a sizable human toll, particularly in Fallujah and other places of intense fighting.

A 2010 peer-reviewed study by molecular biologists found high rates of birth defects among Iraqis in Fallujah – “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied,” according to the lead author. Another scientific study found that “since 2003, congenital malformations have increased to account for 15% of all births in Fallujah, Iraq. Congenital heart defects have the highest incidence, followed by neural tube defects. Similar birth defects were reported in other populations exposed to war contaminants.”

Depleted uranium is a leading suspect for these effects, though many official bodies, including the World Health Organization, assert that based on most studies, DU is not enough of a hazard to explain birth defects. A comprehensive report issued by a coalition of activists seeking to ban DU responds that studies have not been done in enough war zones to understand the dynamic effects of the weapons and the environment. The subject deserves considerably more independent study.

Currently, there’s no indication that the U.S. military will stop using DU or WP weapons. They’re not classified as chemical weapons, though a case could be made that they should be. It defies logic that there are no effects from these contaminants when the high levels of “genetic damage” are coincident with the conduct of the war.

The military’s rote response in most cases of wrongdoing is denial. Remarkably, the American people and their political leaders are in denial about the impacts of the Iraq War as well. Many news media elites insist that no more than 100,000 people have been killed, and there’s little attention to the millions of Iraqis displaced from their homes by the war.

That the shattered society earns little heed today is no surprise – it’s a misadventure everyone wants to forget. But the mothers with malformed babies and high rates of infant pathologies are grim reminders of our legacy. It happens in all of America’s wars: We’re leaving a legacy of the uncaring bully. We should be better than that.

This article originally appeared at www.themarknews.com.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
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morally and physically drained by more than 20 years of war (starting with Operation Desert Storm in 1991)

The author of this article obviously didn't study up, or (s)he would know that it started before that with the Iran-Iraq war.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The United States has a lot to answer for.

They make a mess and don't clean up after them.

Drum cans containing Agent Orange were recently found under a soccer field at a Junior High School in Okinawa.

This land used to be part of an American base.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Shame on all USofA leaders - and the citizens that sleep while this is done in their names!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

"America’s wars" ?

As Americans, and especially GOP-Tea war profiteers, try to forget, the world cannot help but remember. Iraq was George W. Bush's war. A war created with forged documents and a thirst for profits to benefit the Vice President's own company.

Until the American media, politicians and public face these confirmed facts, the burden of a war of lies, a black war, will forever cloud the perception of American exceptionalism as exceptional only in greed and lack of remorse.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

kcjapan,

Couldn't you say pretty much the same thing about Vietnam?

Except of course, that the slaughter was far, far worse.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Lessee... an awful dictator who ran the country into the ground from his luxurious palaces overthrown and brought to justice... free elections... no more threats to neighboring countries... yes, a grim legacy indeed.

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

Serrano

i hope you are being ironic with your post.

i would wager that the majority of Iraqis would prefer to have Saddam in Baghdad than the current crop of corrupt pols, would prefer to be able to go shopping or whatever without the htreat of being blown up, would prefer not have been dragged into the Syrian mess. ans to call Iraqi elections free is just ridiculous.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Serrano. Are you serious?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Lessee... an awful dictator who ran the country into the ground from his luxurious palaces overthrown and brought to justice... free elections... no more threats to neighboring countries... yes, a grim legacy indeed.

The country was stable, with a healthy economy under Saddam. Now it's a cesspit. Definitely a grim legacy.

4 ( +9 / -6 )

@Serrano

'An awful dictator who...'

was kept in power by America and Britain, who Donlald Rumsfeld was photgraphed shaking hands with around about the time he was gassing Kurds, and who America and Britain decided to wage war against since he was no longer playing ball.

It was an illegal and immoral war, not sanctioned by the UN and now it has been left to clean itself up. It is part of the reason the world is in economic and politcal turmoil now. It has basically handed that part of the Middle East over to the Shiite extremeists on a platter. It helped in the ascendancy of former Iranian President Ahmedinijad, allowing him to suppress a democratic movement in Iran which could have gotten rid of the Ayatollahs... Gimme a break.. The list goes on...

9 ( +12 / -3 )

The country was stable, with a healthy economy under Saddam.

And you call Abe a revisionist?

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

A war which disgraced the Bush presidency and let's not forget his tail-wagging sidekick from the UK. Sold on a lie and which left over 100,000 dead and many more maimed in a country continuing fall apart. A criminal act. Get Bush and Blair in the dock.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

JimizoApr. 25, 2014 - 04:05PM JST A war which disgraced the Bush presidency and let's not forget his tail-wagging sidekick from the UK. Sold on a lie and which left over 100,000 dead and many more maimed in a country continuing fall apart. A criminal act. Get Bush and Blair in the dock.

I agree, except you've understated the death toll by about 5 times. The real number is closer to half a million.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Couldn't you say pretty much the same thing about Vietnam?

Except of course, that the slaughter was far, far worse.

@Bertie

Not even in the same category. So basically, you think we and the rest of the world would have been better off with Saddam in power? buddy, you never seem to astound me.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

'no more threats to neighboring countries'

Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was a peccadillo compared to his attempted invasion of Iran with support from the US ( chemical/biological weapons a part of this ) which left a million dead. Like the British before them and with them, America's involvement in this part of the world has been generally disgraceful. I'd like to think that the Iraq invasion by the US was the end but there is too much oil involved.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was a peccadillo compared to his attempted invasion of Iran with support from the US ( chemical/biological weapons a part of this ) which left a million dead. Like the British before them and with them, America's involvement in this part of the world has been generally disgraceful. I'd like to think that the Iraq invasion by the US was the end but there is too much oil involved.

So you're basically saying, let the Iranians have nukes, knowing full well they will without a doubt use them without any provocation whatsoever! Thinking like that in itself is disgraceful, not to mention deplorable. Because of that same liberal nutty mindset we are in this situation. What has the great Sainted Obama achieved in the ME? Absolutely nothing. In fact, the Iranians are still making a bomb and the Syrians are STILL using gas, but I thought Putin was the peace broker in all of this, so much for that, I suppose. And please stop acting as if you guys care about the wounded or dead soldiers, your president sent men and women to die in Afghanistan and didn't even believe in the mission he sent them to go fight in. But that's ok. Typical!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

to the dwindling amount of simple idiots who still support this war & its lies the argument is simple .

would you be prepared to have YOUR family burnt to death , YOUR town destroyed , YOUR country smashed , tortured & ruined forever to have "free elections" as serrano sums up?

yes or no ? right or wrong ?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

with a healthy economy under Saddam.

You really honestly think Iraq had a healthy economy under Saddam? You do realize that Iraq's economy is in a much better state now than what it was under Saddam. In fact it is one of fastest growing economies today.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

'So you're basically saying, let the Iranians have nukes, knowing full well they will without a doubt use them without any provocation whatsoever!'

Iran will use nukes with no provocation? I know you are an extremely well-informed, internationally travelled journalist who has worked in the Middle East and has inside knowledge of the security services so perhaps you can tell us something we ordinary people are not privy to.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Iran will use nukes with no provocation? I know you are an extremely well-informed, internationally travelled journalist who has worked in the Middle East and has inside knowledge of the security services so perhaps you can tell us something we ordinary people are not privy to.

Well, you are most definitely right about that. I wasn't in Iran, but I do know for a fact having been in Iraq and spending a month in Fallujah and many Shiites having a strong connection to Iran and knowing the true intentions of the Mullahs, it would be at best to say at the very least, the Iranians are not building the bomb because they want to protect themselves, anyone thinking that needs a tin foil hat!

But it matters not what the U.S. does, when the day comes or close to that day with or without the help of the U.S., Israel without a doubt make sure that Iran will never get the chance to use it. That's a promise.

to the dwindling amount of simple idiots who still support this war & its lies the argument is simple .

I feel the exact opposite of the nut jobs that were against and would rather have had the jihadists destroy America.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I spent 2 years in Baghdad as a journalist during the war.

After reading the above comments, I think I can make the reasonable assumption that none of you have ever been.

Stop armchair quarterbacking. That goes for the writer of the opinion piece as well.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

'But it matters not what the U.S. does, when the day comes or close to that day with or without the help of the U.S., Israel without a doubt make sure that Iran will never get the chance to use it. That's a promise.'

That's a promise? You have inside knowledge on Israeli intentions too? Please keep informing us.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In 50-100 years historians looking back will easily be able to identify the tipping point of the irreversible decline of American hegemony as the the Bush administrations - two disastrous and unnecessary wars, the entrenchment of the all encompassing security state, and tax and investment policies that favored the already wealthy.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I spent 2 years in Baghdad as a journalist during the war.

After reading the above comments, I think I can make the reasonable assumption that none of you have ever been.

Stop armchair quarterbacking. That goes for the writer of the opinion piece as well.

And you are allowed to make that assumption if you like.

@jim

That's a promise? You have inside knowledge on Israeli intentions too? Please keep informing us.

Enough to know that when that Iran is playing a very, very dangerous game and if they're smart...well....

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@Bass 'Enough to know' isn't an answer. I read the papers and books written by those on the left and right regarding Iran and Israel but 'promise' with regards to intention seems to be a bit strong. Can you really justify this?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

'Enough to know' isn't an answer. I read the papers and books written by those on the left and right regarding Iran and Israel but 'promise' with regards to intention seems to be a bit strong. Can you really justify this?

"Enough" meaning, there is no way on God's green Earth that Israel would ever allow Iran to house and most definitely use a nuclear bomb, it's just that simple. Israel is not getting any assurances from the U.S. That in a worst case scenario regardless of the circumstances it will stand shoulder to shoulder against Iran denouncing and not allowing them to ever have a bomb, but it didn't really happen The Israelis are nervous to the point where they started to have talks with the Saudis if it's possible to launch an attack from their soil and they would burn the country to a crisp. For now, the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu is extremely frosty. Since the creation of the Jewish state, Israel was our closest ally until Obama came into office. If we lose Israel as an ally, that's the day the U.S. is seriously in trouble. The Israelis are NOT known for taking chances.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Bass I'm glad you returned to a garden-variety rightwing view of the Israeli-Iranian situation rather than claiming inside knowledge to justify your 'promise' of Israeli intentions. It's an opinion, not a promise.

'Since the creation of the Jewish state, Israel was our closest ally'

A little more historical and perhaps, dare I say it, journalistic research will tell you that Israel wasn't a close ally of the US after its creation. It is generally the model client state under a rightwing president but I'm surprised that a professional journalist with a finger on the pulse of the Middle East could make such a mistake.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

They’re not classified as chemical weapons, though a case could be made that they should be. (From the article)

Depleted Uranium should be classified as a "radiological weapon".

http://www.pdhealth.mil/downloads/Chem-Rad-DU.pdf (2nd page)

Approximately 90% of a single uranium exposure is renally eliminated in the first 24 hours.14 The re- maining 10% is rapidly redistributed to the bones and other organs. Sixty-six percent of the total uranium body burden resides in the skeleton, where the uranyl ion codeposits with calcium.14.20

You have a very similar biological action to what is happening to people from the Fukushima radiation issue here. => Slow emitter radioactive particles embedded in the bones and tissues. These "embedded" radiation can and will cause issues down the road.

Why does this happen? Metals like mercury/uranium have a higher affinity than the calcium (also a metal) and the calcium is pushed out and replaced by the other metal. => If you have kidney stone issues look into getting rid out your mercury (amalgam) fillings which vaporize to methyl mercury and are ingested thru the lungs (worse for mouth breathers).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A little more historical and perhaps, dare I say it, journalistic research will tell you that Israel wasn't a close ally of the US after its creation. It is generally the model client state under a rightwing president but I'm surprised that a professional journalist with a finger on the pulse of the Middle East could make such a mistake.

Closest ally, the majority of Jews outside of the Israel live in the U.S., from the beginning there was always a strong bond between the two. By the way, what do you call this president that is so against Israel? I know, I misguided progressive left wing president who has 3 more years on the job. But nice try, Jim

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

"The country was stable"

North Korea is stable. But, like Iraq was, the situation there sucks big time.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Bass I'm sorry, your comment that the US has been Israel's closest ally since its creation because America has lots of Jews living there is jaw-dropping. Seeing as you've clearly read nothing of the history of the Israel-US relationship, I can only recommend a quick google search to help you report better on the very complex problems facing that part of the world. You'll find countless articles from both left and right which will help you understand this.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"North Korea is stable. But, like Iraq was, the situation there sucks big time."

Severe American backed U.N. sanctions, including an embargo of powdered milk, completely forgotten I see.

I can't tell you how much withholding milk crippled Saddam's regime!

I hope you don't think oil for food was just made up as a way to scam some cash. No, the people actually needed food! I am sure Saddam and sons were eating quite well though, thank you.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@HCKpro

One is entitled to have an opinion on any subject no matter how remote or removed one may be from the subject, Proximity to an event does not necessarily inform opinion if one has already formed a preconceived notion of the event. Sometimes direct experience of an event only serves to reinforce pre-existing biases .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Whether by toxins or by Saddam's heavy hand, the people of Iraq are SOL no matter what.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The damage by DU and WP have know for decades but denied by the US. The unmitigated horror that the US has inflicted upon Iraq was only touched on here. The sanctions denied basic medications that may have caused the deaths of half a million children. On top of this Iraq endured twelve years of periodic bombings prior to the invasion. A weakened country it was still blown up to be threat by the US. The truth was soon out. No weapons of mass destruction. This after thousands of unnecessary deaths. They finally got Sadaam. In the wake of his execution we see a religious civil war.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam deformed babies as still being born.

The US is war criminal nation whose war criminals live without punishment and remorse.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

' In the wake of his execution we see a religious civil war.'

Not just a religious civil war. The deep fault lines in Iraqi society are religious, ethnic and economic with bitter, longstanding grievances. The fact that the US and UK had little or no concern for the inevitable bloodbath that would follow was criminal.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Quite right Jimizo. But concern for the lives of Iraqis was not a primary American concern.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

But concern for the lives of Iraqis was not a primary American concern.

Nor should they be. That's how they got into Iraq in the first place.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not just a religious civil war. The deep fault lines in Iraqi society are religious, ethnic and economic with bitter, longstanding grievances.

But can't be helped, you do what you can, to minimize casualties, but as you said, with the different factions and tribes that exist in Iraq, the entire country would have fragmented anyway. personally, I blame Saddam for all 40 years of brutality towards the Shiites and the Kurds, that's the real root of the problem as to why Iraq is the way it is.

The fact that the US and UK had little or no concern for the inevitable bloodbath that would follow was criminal.

More scapegoat rhetoric. The sectarian violence would have happened sooner or later regardless of the U.S., UK intervention or not. Just look at Syria or do you want to blame that on the U.S. and UK as well? The 60% Shiite Iraqis were becoming even before the coalition forces set foot on Iraqi soil, let's not go there.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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