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Bombing for Peace


High altitude bombing and long-range missile attacks always bring nightmares of dead children and suicidal veterans. The president’s plans for rocketing yet another mid-east country without a UN mandate are being rationalized by pointing to bad actions by others — in this case Syria’s overlords.

When bystanders and the elderly and women and children and illiterate peasants are blown to bits or maimed by U.S. missiles fired by U.S. jets, the unnumbered deaths and dismemberments (the Pentagon will not count them) will be called “accidents” or “unintended consequences.” The endless failure of the peace movement means that the bodies of unidentified villains and countless innocents are to be sacrificed by U.S pilots in their thoughtless obedience to illegal orders.

“Humanitarian war” joins “surgical strike” in the lexicon of self-contradiction but with a ghastly, choking, throat full of smashed bones, broken teeth and burned bodies that can only be dreamed of by Senator John McCain. He and other weapons dealers keen for bombing Syria should be required to identify the source of the chemical weapons that have been unleashed in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. Without a positive ID of the weapons’ derivation and the shooters, the UN will not sanction an attack.

Widening the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia being waged in Syria will lead to catastrophe. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff knows this and has expressed strong opposition to even limited intervention in Syria.

President Oh-bomb-ah will call his “precision strikes” a righteous punishment for the crime of chemical weapons use, but this will be richer than the Vatican. Worse than the pot calling the kettle black, it’s napalm calling the depleted uranium a poison.

The greatest purveyor of chemical weapons violence in the world

No country on earth is guiltier of using chemicals as weapons of war than the United States — even against its own people.

The National Cancer Institute disclosed in 1997 that 90 (of 235) U.S. nuclear bomb tests spewed 150 million curies of iodine-131 mainly between 1952 and 1957. The NCI found that all 160 million people in the U.S. at the time were contaminated with the radio-iodine. The study said that between 25,000 and 75,000 thyroid cancers would result in the U.S. and that 10% of them would be fatal. The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research cautioned that the upper estimate of “75,000 is more plausible, since the lower estimate assumes that internal radiation doses from iodine-131 are ‘as little as one-fifth as hazardous’ as the same dose of external radiation. This assumption is very dubious, not based on human data, and not protective of public health.”

In Vietnam, from 1962 to 1969, the U.S. sprayed over 100 million pounds of liquid Agent Orange and other poisons over four million acres. Our chemical warfare destroyed over 460,000 acres of crops and today the Vietnamese Red Cross counts 150,000 children whose birth abnormalities were caused by their parents’ exposure to Agent Orange alone. Additionally, about 388,000 tons of our chemically gelled gasoline — napalm — was dropped on SE Asia between 1963 and 1973, after 32,357 tons were used on Korea over three years, and 16,500 tons were poured on Japan in 1945.

In 1991, over 400 tons of “depleted” uranium (DU) munitions were fired into Iraq and Kuwait during the Gulf War. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reported that 940,000 Air Force 30-mm DU shells and 4,000 Army 120-mm DU anti-tank shells were fired. The “tank busters” alone contained 25 tons of uranium. Another 170 tons of DU were used in the 2003 bombing and occupation of Iraq.

In his introduction to the 2003 book “Depleted Uranium,” Peter Low says of the use of these toxic munitions: “The people responsible for the spreading of 400 tons of DU there [Southern Iraq] in 1991 were conducting a very peculiar sort of experiment — one in which the ‘guinea-pigs’ were the soldiers and civilians present … and in which the ‘experimenters’ did not want to know the results.” A report by the World Health Organization has found huge increases in birth abnormalities in southern Iraq where our DU was used extensively. Doctors at the Basra maternity hospital told the BBC this spring that they have seen a 60% rise in birth defects like spina bifida since 2003.
In 1994 and 1995, the Pentagon admits it fired about 10,800 DU rounds into Bosnia — close to three tons. More than 31,000 rounds, about 10 tons, were shot into Kosovo by the U.S. and NATO in 1999. DU has also contaminated large parts of Okinawa, Panama, Puerto Rico, Vieques, South Korea, New Mexico and other U.S. bases and firing ranges where target practice is conducted.

The memory of the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed or poisoned by the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia and Yemen should give pause to today’s gung-ho warriors. But it seems they’re only interested in selling weapons.

John LaForge is a co-director of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and was welcomed to play second chair cornet in the Lebenslaute blockade. 

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

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