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The Legacy of Horror for Children in Iraq

by HOWARD LISNOFF

Children are innocent and often the innocent victims of U.S. warfare. Despite protections, most written after the carnage of masses of civilians during World War II, the U.S. quickly jettisoned its commitment to the protection of civilians and children by the rules of international and U.S. law as soon as the burning embers of war cooled. Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are among the places most notable for the murder of children in wars in which the U.S. has waged. From conventional weapons to nuclear weapons and on to drone warfare, we do it all!

Just ten years ago I stood along with my wife and hundreds of other protesters in front of the federal building in Providence, Rhode Island wearing a rubber mask of George W. Bush with a sign hanging from around my neck that read “War Criminal.” The sign gained the attention of a reporter from the Associated Press and the interview she conducted with me reached around the world. I noted that reports had already been cited in the media that children had been killed in the bombardment of Baghdad. As I expected, some of the postings on the Web about my observations at the beginning of the Iraq War drew the contempt of those who naively believed that Iraq possessed so-called weapons of mass destruction and that the government of Iraq had links to Al-Qaeda. As usual, the masses marched in step to the beat of the warmongers!

When a person counters militarism in the U.S., or puts his or her feet on the ground in protest to U.S. wars, there’s a price to be paid. That’s a given. But absolutely nothing could prepare me for the airing on Democracy Now of the segment “Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement & Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers” (March 20, 2013). Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail reports in that segment of the program that congenital birth defects in the city of Fallujah, the site of some of the heaviest fighting of the war, has surpassed those recorded in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the use of nuclear bombs in those cities at the end of World War II. The culprit in these grotesque birth defects is the suspected use of depleted uranium munitions by the U.S.

The Geneva Conventions are clear that the targeting of civilians by these types of munitions, including weapons such as white phosphorous, are clearly banned. But the U.S. has long noted that these casualties are known as collateral damage and of no real interest to the so-called imbedded reporters from major media outlets who served as cheerleaders during the years of war in Iraq and who in any case have long since left the scene.

The images of Iraqi babies with horrific birth defects are too awful to describe, except that the world needs to know the graphic results of the evil of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others! Innocent infants are seen with the single eye of a cyclops, with heads so enlarged as to hardly be recognizable compared to a normal child, and with limbs and internal organs scattered across what should be a human body in ways that are impossible to imagine!

And cancers increased in the general population from 40 out of 100,000 people in 1991 in Iraq to 1,600 out of 100.000 in 2005!

When I became a war resister against the Vietnam War, I knew that I was risking my freedom. Images of children with the burnt skin of napalm attacks, bodies of men, women, and children massacred in ditches at My Lai, and the dead and wounded of my own generation at Kent and Jackson State were very powerful and moved me to action and resistance. It was said that the U.S. war against the Vietnamese was immoral because this nation had never been attacked by Vietnam. How different are the innocent of Iraq, where the U.S. inflicted unspeakable horrors on an entire people in the name of regime change and oil?

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He can be reached at howielisnoff@gmail.com.

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Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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