Sunday, December 25, 2005

All The King's Men

i can't vouch for the article, but it does fall in line with arguments i've made here and in newspapers. depleted uranium (DU) is a nuclear weapon. in the first gulf war, we left behind between 500 and 1000 metric tons of its dust. i have no legitimate numbers concerning this war, but pre-estimates were in the range of 1000-2000 metric tons.
the thing is DU makes a great weapon point, because it begins to burn extremely hotly and can pierce tempered steel like that which is used to plate tanks. the only problem is that it continues to burn. forget what it will do to the skin if it makes contact in that state. the real concern is what it can do in particulate form (after it's done burning). DU is depleted uranium, a radioactive substance. it cannot be thrown away by nuclear power plants. it has a long half-life and must be stored for lengths of time that greatly surpass our own lifetimes. if it is ingested through the lungs it can and often will cause fatal cancers. more often, it causes organ failure. and immune system deficiencies. and birth defects. but, because we tip our standard armaments with it, we can claim we are not using nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. you see, a little bit of this stuff in your lungs might not do anything. standing near it will not cause your testicles or ovaries to fall off. but live around it for any extended period of time and your chances of serious or fatal disease becomes very likely. besides malnutrition, DU is blamed by many health agencies as the leading cause of death and birth defect of iraqi children since 1991.
there is and will continue to be argument as to whether using a depleted radioactive substance counts as nuclear warfare. one, the government would have to admit accountability (legally, morally and financially); two, 1991 was the first time this weapon was deployed (so there is no precedent). three, we think of nuclear warfare as mushroom clouds and thousands dead in an instant.
i think that this use falls into the weapons of mass destruction category. why? because it is more insidious and subtler. and will affect many times more people than a nuclear bomb ever could. and no one will know until it's too late. at least, the people breathing the stuff won't. those of us on this side of the ocean should. but we're content to wave our protest banners and shout out slogans about how we've been against the war since the beginning. sort of like putting a magnet ribbon on a car to invoke patriotism. words and slogans. while hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to possible cancer and worse.
isn't it about or past time to demand that our leaders hold themselves to the same standards that they do other leaders of other countries? i'm not against war per se. sometimes a country has to stop another for the greater good. that's our history as a species. but how can we justify force to stop "evil" if we participate in the very acts we accuse the others of doing? we found no weapons of mass destruction in iraq, but we are leaving the mother of all WMDs in our wake.
any of you reading this can call me to task by asking for stats backed by reference. and i can't give it to you. because there are none. not for the illnesses. not for the iraqi children (and, by now, adults). the government does not accept that DU causes illness. no independent groups have been (to my knowledge) allowed unfettered access to those people affected. the news is all anecdotal. the stats are anecdotal. even the scientists and doctors who back my claims state that we may not know the total truth for decades, because radioactive illnesses can take a long time. as for the iraqi children... no one keeps track of how they die above noting time and probable cause of death (which normally looks like malnutrition). not to mention that most iraqi families have no access to doctors. the children grow sick and die. the family wails and buries within 24 hours. where have i been going with this? well, it just seems that all sides of the so-called debate about this war of ours has concentrated itself within the guise of "liar liar pants on fire" or "it's our god-given duty". no one in the mainstream is looking at this from a humanitarian perspective and what the future holds for all of those who are actually there.
well, harry holimas. i and my mimosa (which i drink in the relative safety of my house) salute you and yours and hope you have a SSM-curmudgeon-free weekend.

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