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Just Look What They’ve Done to Iraq

On May 26, journalist John Pilger published a piece at the Guardian called “We’ve moved on from the Iraq War, but Iraqis don’t have that choice.” Indeed; they are reaping the results in hideous measure, and will continue to for many generations to come, if not … forever.

A shoe's sole in the desert along with the wreckage of a tank.

Wreckage of human lives and war machines along Iraq's "Highway of Death." The legacy of our destructive war will last for generations.

The title I chose for this was a considered one, in that it’s been my wont to say both ‘We’ when we speak of our nation’s global military and policy depradations, and that ‘they’ve done it in our names.’ I witnessed some strong pushback to both those themes at Ian Welsh’s website not long ago; at the crux was whether or not ‘we’ should accept responsibility for not stopping the War Machine, or reject owning their deeds. You decide, but I’m trying this framing for now. Karmically (as in: causes reap effects) speaking, we will all be the recipients when and if the vast array of heinous deeds committed by our ruling class boomerang back on us, those ‘chickens coming home to roost.  Perhaps the karma is already killing us; who’s to say? Karma is at its core, the law of cause and effect.

Pilger quoted Nick Carraway saying in the Great Gatsby, They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…” 

How apt a quote it is generally, but in this case specifically, given his mockery of Bush and Blair’s current activities. We see a few headlines here and there about Iraq and burgeoning civil war, nothing much about Libya, really, except that something like 152 different militias are making life hell there. We exported democracy, ‘protected’ and left, or were kinda asked to leave in the case of Iraq. Pilger laments that one murdered soldier in Britain has gotten so much ink spent on the story, but in contrast, the 57 Iraqis killed in a week of increasing sectarian violence was a non-event in media circles.

Pilger brought a lot of horrid news:

Their “mess” is a crime of epic proportions, wrote Von Sponeck, referring to the Iraqi ministry of social affairs’ estimate of 4.5 million children who have lost one or both parents. “This means a horrific 14% of Iraq’s population are orphans,” he wrote. “An estimated one million families are headed by women, most of them widows”. Domestic violence and child abuse are rightly urgent issues in Britain; in Iraq the catastrophe ignited by Britain has brought violence and abuse into millions of homes.

He also brought further news on the massive damage that was done to humans by the use of depleted uranium coatings on the bombs and missiles that were used to ‘shock and awe’ Iraq during the Gulf Wars.  You can read some of the particulars about DU in this post of mine from a year ago here, including the history of why Fallujah was targeted in extra ways.

After writing of the devastating increases in cancer and genetic birth defects in newborns, he writes about the ongoing cover-ups and failures to investigate the results of these war crime effects. He quotes a British oncologist working at the World Health Organization as saying, “We were specifically told [by the WHO] not to talk about the whole Iraq business. The WHO is not an organisation that likes to get involved in politics.” Then this:

Recently, Hans von Sponeck, former assistant secretary general of the United Nations and senior UN humanitarian official in Iraq, wrote to me: “The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.” A WHO report, the result of a landmark study conducted with the Iraqi ministry of health, has been “delayed”. Covering 10,800 households, it contains “damning evidence”, says a ministry official and, according to one of its researchers, remains “top secret”. The report says birth defects have risen to a “crisis” right across Iraqi society where depleted uranium and other toxic heavy metals were used by the US and Britain. Fourteen years after he sounded the alarm, Dr Jawad Al-Ali reports “phenomenal” multiple cancers in entire families.”

Not just careless; outright and ongoing evil cover-ups.  We heard similar, but not officially verifiable, stories about DU coating on missiles rained down upon Libya.  The ‘other’ toxic heavy metals included white phosphorus and mercury in Iraq.

Curious about new statistics and information on birth defects and other resultant ongoing destruction, I found this March interview with journalist Dahr Jamail at Democracy Now, who had just returned from Iraq.  Please understand that you will see grievous and heart-searing images of some of the most hideous neuroblastomas and other birth defects you’ll ever see.  And yet, should we not be willing to bear witness to this?  Knowing what to do about it, or preventing more catastrophes like them is hard, yet stop them somehow, we must.  Or realize that outside forces may try to stop them instead.


Lest any of us harbor the illusion that the DOD didn’t realize the dangers of DU, I ran into this video which proves that they damned well did know:

This link will take you to Dahr Jamail’s Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq.

 Not because I can, but because I must:

cross-posted at

Photo by Christiaan Briggs released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license. 

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