By Stephen Lendman, Countercurrents.org
Americaâ€™s hidden history is ugly and disturbing. No nation ever matched it. To Iraq alone, over the past two decades, it includes ongoing genocide, destruction, terror, occupation, and contamination – a horrendous combination of crimes, unmentioned in Western discourse.
Environmental Engineering Professor Souad N. Al-Azzawi documents them, including in her report titled, â€œCrime of the Century: Iraqâ€™s Occupation and DU Contamination,â€ a detailed account of US culpability.
Americaâ€™s strategic aims, she explains, include:
— controlling most of the worldâ€™s oil and other natural resources;
— remaining permanently in the Middle East, â€œthe intersection zone of the three continents where 80% of the world(â€˜s) populationâ€ lives; and
— if the above two objectives are achieved, America will control the worldâ€™s economy, or enough of it to matter.
Spread over a large enough area, depleted uranium (DU) is a weapon of mass destruction, because itâ€™s radioactive and chemically toxic. If ingested or inhaled through food, air, water or other means, it enters the human body, remaining for decades. An earlier article reported the dangers, accessed through the following link:
It explained that continued DU use has the potential to end planetary life, yet few understand the risk, or that weaponized DU is used regularly in missiles, bombs, shells and bullets wherever America wages war – first during the 1991 Gulf War.
Its danger comes from radiation residue after use. On impact, DU munitions penetrate deeply and aerosolize into a fine spray, polluting surrounding air, water and soil. Itâ€™s microscopic, sub-miscroscopic, and permanent. Spread over vast areas as radioactive atmospheric dust, its contamination causes virtually all known illnesses and diseases from severe headaches, muscle pain and general fatigue, to major birth defects, infections, depression, cardiovascular disease, and many types of cancers. It also causes permanent disability and death.
Over the past two decades in Iraq alone, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tons have been used, irradiating the entire country, some areas more than others. In her October 2009 presentation to the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia International Conference to Criminalize War, Azzawi accused America and Britain of:
â€œsubject(ing) the whole nation of Iraq for two decades to torture and slow death through the intentional use of radioactive weapons and the sanctions. The continuous and intentional use of (these) weapons is a crime against humanity due to its undifferentiating harmful health effects on civilians in contaminated areas tens of years to come after the military engagements.â€ Radiation, in fact, is permanent, affecting unborn generations like living ones.
During the Gulf War, about 320 tons were used in southern Iraq, affecting the Basrah region. Post-conflict, â€œcomprehensiveâ€ examination detected it, especially â€œin and around Al-Basrah City,â€ showing:
— â€œhigh gamma radiationâ€ levels;
— â€œsoil samples from 39 locations (with) higher activities than natural background levels;â€ and
— â€œSurface water channel sediments (with 2 – 3) times higher radioactivity than the natural backgroundâ€ level.
Contamination was widespread, affecting at least â€œ45% of people in the area, the Iraqi troops, andâ€ coalition ones. As a result, soldiers (and civilians) exposed â€œto DU oxides (can expect) 70 cancer cases per 1,000â€ persons. Perhaps a higher incidence over time, and along with other illnesses and diseases, an epidemic of human affliction.
Subsequent epidemiological studies in Basrah showed a â€œfive times rise in the incidence rate of malignancies amongst children to be far more noticeable from 1995 onwards.â€ In addition, exposure to ionized radiation caused:
— higher child leukemia rates;
— a â€œsix fold increase in congenital malformations among births in Basrah City since 1995 onward,â€ some too disturbing to view; and
— higher rates of congenital heart diseases and chromosomal aberrations.
Even more destructive weapons were used in the 2003 war, including banned ones like napalm, white phosphorous, cluster bombs, and greater amounts of DU – â€œagainst people, infrastructure facilities, and environment.â€ Further, â€œthe looting and burning of factories, industrial complexes, laboratories, and ministries (including the looting of the Tuwaitha Atomic Energy Agency, and 300 other highly contaminated sites….)â€ caused contamination.
Much more as well across the country in Baghdad and suburbs, Basrah, Mosul, Fallujah, Balad, Anbar, Haditha, Qaâ€™im, Rawa, Karbala, Najar, Aubaidi, Diala, Samara, Tikrit, Baiji, Ahsaiba, Madaâ€™in, Kubaissa, and other locations.
In March 2009, Gideon Polya used the Just Foreign Policy estimate of 1.32 million Iraqi deaths post-March 2003 alone, a number considerably higher today. Itâ€™s also well below his post-9/11 eight million â€œwar on terrorâ€ total, mostly affecting women and children, aged five and younger, killed by war, diseases, and/or depravation, Americaâ€™s horrific ongoing genocidal legacy – air-brushed from history. Azzawi adds more:
— at least 4.5 internal or external refugees, many victimized by â€œmilitias and police raids and terrorist groups;â€
— death squads targeting â€œcertain ethnic and sectarian groupsâ€ daily; and
— in cities throughout Iraq, sieges cutting off â€œall life support aids on people, (affecting) Thousands of children, women and elderly who could not leave their houses and were subjected to collective punishment….â€ For weeks, these areas were deprived of food, water, healthcare, and electricity. As a result, contaminated water was used â€œfrom ditches and nearby rivers,â€ causing cholera and other waterborne diseases.
The continuous use of DU weapons in heavily populated areas exposes millions to its destructive effects. Further, â€œContinuous negligence of medical care systems, hospitals, and the killing of prominent medical and healthcare specialists….after 2003â€ exacerbated a widespread health crisis.
Yet occupation forces provide no data on civilians killed, wounded, kidnapped or otherwise harmed. Nor do they allow â€œexploration programs to detect (DU) related contaminated areas.â€ Yet theyâ€™re vitally needed to â€œhelp Iraqi people….cope with the damages.â€
Known evidence shows â€œContinuous deterioration of environmental quality….in Baghdad City due to explosions, and heavy traffic of tanks and vehicles….â€ Concentrations of numerous toxins way exceed safe levels. â€œWater quality deterioration caused an increase in â€œpathogenic water borne diseases like Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis, (and) others.â€ Air pollution results from continuous bombing and explosions.
The â€œMultiple impact of all of the above pollution sources on the human body can be critical, especially for children, women and the elderly people.â€
From DU munitions alone, Azzawi told the Kuala Lumpur conference that contamination is spread over vast areas by â€œwind storms, dust storms, sandstorms, and rainstorms,â€ besides polluted waterways and surface migration in soil, causing:
— â€œSiltation, creeping, and suspension from contaminated soil to atmosphere; (and)
— Suspension and re-suspension of deposited DU aerosols….the most dangerous and critical pathway of transfer and spreading from source to the human population.â€
America and Britain are responsible â€œfor exposing a whole nation to the risk of continually receiving high radioactive and toxic persistent contaminants,â€ including DU and many others, a noxious brew leaving no one untouched and many lethally harmed. â€œThis is a crime against humanity (because of) its undifferentiated harmful health impacts on civilians long (after) military operationsâ€ are concluded.
A Final Comment
On September 19, Brussells Tribunal Executive Committee member Dirk Adriaensens headlined, â€œIraq: The Age of Darkness,â€ explaining â€œa devastating balance sheet (of) success,â€ including:
— a 150% increase in child mortality since 1990;
— only half of primary-aged children in school;
— about 1,500 children in (horrific) detention facilities;
— in 2007, about â€œ5 million Iraqi orphans;â€
— over two million external refugees and almost three million internal ones (IDPs);
— official unemployment at 50%; real unemployment at least 70%;
— at least 43% of Iraqis â€œin abject poverty;â€
— at least eight million need â€œemergency aid;â€
— at least four million â€œlack food and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance;â€
— at least 80% lack â€œeffective sanitation;â€
— â€œReligious minorities are on the verge of extinction;â€ and
— an Oxfam survey showed 33% of women got no humanitarian aid since 2003; 76% of widows lack pension help; 52% are unemployed; 55% have been displaced; and 55% have been â€œsubjected to (various forms of) violence.â€
In Iraq today, â€œkilling of innocent people has become part of daily life.â€ America is committing genocide against the entire population. It persists daily unreported, yet called â€œa success.â€
It includes death, destruction, torture, terror, occupation, displacement, disease, and insecurity in a nation that no longer exists. For sure, one unfit to live in – unsafe, corrupt, terrorized, tyrannized, contaminated, and permanently occupied. In virtually all rankings that matter, Iraq scores last, Afghanistan second last, a testimony to Americaâ€™s liberating values.
Theyâ€™re run from Washington with no functioning governments, de facto satraps instead obeying their imperial masters. Yet on August 31, declaring an â€œend to the combat mission in Iraq,â€ Obama outrageously said: â€œThrough this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility,â€ infamously displaying his culpability as a war criminal, matching the worst America ever produced.
Under him, George Bush, and their successors, â€œIraq has no viable future,â€ Adriaensensâ€™ final assessment of Americaâ€™s â€œsuccess.â€
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.