A new start: the meaning of "weapons of mass destruction", and an Al Jazeera poll result

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sat Nov 1 16:20:47 MST 2003

(this article describes how the forces of imperialism literally poison
people to death, which over time may make official war casualty rates look
like chickenfeed - and I am not talking tobacco. The poisoning would also
affect American and British soldiers stationed in Iraq - JB).

(...) "American forces admit to using over 300 tonnes of depleted uranium
weapons in 1991. The actual figure is closer to 800. "This has caused a
health crisis that has affected almost a third of a million people. As if
that was not enough, America went on and used 200 tonnes more in Baghdad
alone this April. I don't know about other parts of Iraq, it will take me
years to document that." Hardan is particularly angry because he says there
is no need for this type of weapon - US conventional weapons are quite
capable of destroying tanks and buildings. "In Basra, it took us two years
to obtain conclusive proof of what DU does, but we now know what to look for
and the results are terrifying."

Leukaemia has already become the most common type of cancer in Iraq among
all age groups, but is most prevalent in the under-15s. [In Basra, the
overall incidence rate of all cancerous malignancies for persons below 15
years of age only was about 4 per 100, 000 children in 1990, about 7 per
100, 000 children in 1997 about 10 per 100, 000 children in 1999 - JB]. It
has increased way above the percentage of population growth in every single
province of Iraq without exception. Women as young as 35 are developing
breast cancer. Sterility amongst men has increased ten-fold. But by far the
most devastating effect is on unborn children. Nothing can prepare anyone
for the sight of hundreds of preserved foetuses - barely human in
appearance. (...) Not only are there 200 tonnes of uranium lying around in
Baghdad, the containers which carried the ammunition were discarded. For
months afterwards, many used them to carry water - others used them to sell
milk publicly.

After his experience in Basra, Hardan says that within the next two years he
expects to see significant rises in congenital cataracts, anopthalmia,
microphthalmia, corneal opacities and coloboma of the iris - and that's just
in people's eyes. Add this to  foetal deformities, sterility in both sexes,
an increase in miscarriages and premature births, congenital malformations,
additional abnormal organs, hydrocephaly, anencephaly and delayed growth. "I
had hoped the lessons of using DU would have been learnt - especially as it
is affecting American and British troops stationed in Iraq as we speak, they
are not immune to its effects either."

If the experience of Basra is played out in the rest of the country, Iraq is
looking at an increase of over 300% in all types of cancer over the next
decade.  (...)  "I'm fed up of delegations coming and weeping as I show them
children dying before their eyes. I want action and not emotion. The crime
has been committed and documented - but we must act now to save our
children's future."


PS - my first sister died of leukemia in 1964, when I was 5 years old, and
it wasn't a funny joke to me.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera has conducted a poll (to which 17399 responses were
received) as follows:

Is the war on terror a showdown between the West and Islam? (48% yes, 43%
no, 8% unsure)
Will anti-Iraq occupation sentiment in the US increase, as occupation gets
more costly? (84% yes, 12% no, 4% unsure)
Should the US prevent other countries from pursuing nuclear technology? (37%
yes, 55% no, 8% unsure)
Are Bin Laden and al-Qaida now a 'spent force'? (31% yes, 52% no, 17%
Should the US withdraw from Iraq and let the UN take the lead role? (72%
yes, 24% no, 4% unsure)

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