America’s Toxic Legacy In Iraq

Stephen Lendman

America’s Gulf War, intermittent bombings in the 1990s, the 2003 war, and aftermath left a toxic legacy in Iraq.

According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, Australian anti-nuclear advocate: “America’s two Iraq wars “have been nuclear wars because they have scattered nuclear material across the land, and people, particularly children, are condemned to die of malignancy and congenital disease essentially for eternity.”

Iraq is a toxic wasteland. Scores of pollutants include dangerous chemicals and metals, oil, gasoline, pesticides, bacteria, other poisons, and irradiation. Widespread depleted uranium use caused it.

US bombs, missiles, shells and bullets use solid DU [depleted uranium] projectiles or warheads. They’re de facto nuclear bombs. Their widespread use is more harmful than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Inhaled or ingested DU particles or dust is highly toxic. They’re designated illegal weapons for good reason. America prioritizes their use. Iraqis suffer horrendously.

Radioactive contamination is virtually everywhere. DU’s half-life is 4.5 billion years. Contamination is permanent. From 1991 – 2008, the incidence of birth defects and childhood cancer spiked sevenfold. Over one-third of US Gulf War vets are dead, seriously ill, or permanently disabled.

Science Daily said widespread “carcinogenic material across Iraq suggests the public health legacy of the two Gulf Wars is only going to get worse.” It does so annually.

Miscarriages are frequent, hundreds of newborns have cleft palates, elongated heads, overgrown or short limbs, and other malformed body parts, and some are too gruesome to view.

Deformed Iraqi newborns are commonplace, as are virtually every known illness and disease. They’re inordinately frequent. They range from severe headaches, muscle pain and debilitating fatigue, to serious infections, cardiovascular disease, brain tumors and numerous type cancers.

They include leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease and multiple myeloma. Others affect the bile ducts, bones, brain, breasts, colon, prostate, esophagus, gall bladder, liver, lungs, pancreas, pharynx, ovaries, salivary glands, small intestine, stomach, thyroid, urinary tract, and pelvis.

Cancer’s been around a long time. In October 2010, headlined “Cancer: an old disease, a new disease or something in between?”  It said a “striking rarity of malignancies in ancient physical remains might indicate that cancer was rare in antiquity.”

University of Illinois School of Public Health/Cancer Prevention Coalition Chairman/Professor Emeritus Samuel S. Epstein titled his 1978 award-winning book “The Politics of Cancer.” Twenty years later, he updated it. It’s called “The Politics of Cancer Revisited.”

He’s an internationally recognized cancer expert. He calls it a growth industry. Over recent decades, the incidence of numerous types skyrocketed.

He referred to doing so in modern societies. Iraq and other US war theaters are different. Iraq, perhaps, is in a class of its own, as vast parts of the country are irradiated.

Science Daily recently headlined “Cancer and Birth Defects in Iraq: The Nuclear Legacy,” saying: Ten years after the 2003 war, Mosul-based scientists “detected high levels of uranium contamination in soil samples at three sites in the province of Nineveh which, coupled with dramatically increasing rates of childhood cancers and birth defects at local hospitals.”

Four new studies link “one of the most severe public health crises in history” to America’s two November 2004 assaults on the city. Cancer rates and birth defects spiked dramatically.

Cancer expert Dr. Chris Busby studied the conditions. He called Fallujah’s crisis “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied.”

In some respects, Basra replicates it. Its neural tube defects (aka “open back”) incidence is unprecedented, and the numbers keep rising.

Hydrocephalus (water on the brain) cases among newborns are sixfold higher than America. US munitions bear the full responsibility.

The Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (BECT) headlined “Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities.”

Evidence that it reported was damning. From October 1994 – October 1995, congenital defects per 1,000 live births in Basra’s Maternity Hospital was 1.37.

In 2003, it was 23. It represented an “astonishing 17-fold (increase) in the same hospital.” From 2003 – 2011, annual evaluations were conducted. Congenital birth defect occurrences and types were reported.

Metal levels in hair, toenails and teeth were provided. Children with birth defects had nearly three times more lead in the enamel portion of deciduous teeth than others living in unimpacted areas.

Following US bombings, contamination increased dramatically. Cancer, other diseases and birth defects followed. They’re at epidemic levels. They keep rising.

Populations in war zones suffer horrifically. Radiation-affected theaters compound it. The BECT said nationwide, Iraq ill health reports suggest greater crisis ahead.

Internal pre-Gulf War data showed cancer incidence at 40 per 100,000. By 1995, it was 800. By 2005, it doubled to 1,600. Annually, the numbers increase.

Iraq’s a cauldron of disease, malformed newborns, pain, suffering, misery, deaths and despair.

Daily violence, extreme poverty and unemployment, malnutrition, repression, dysfunctional infrastructure, permanent occupation, and other imperial priorities compound other problems.

Media scoundrels don’t explain. US media hail  Iraq [as a] success story. In August 2008, The New York Times called “Iraq a remarkably safer place than it was when” Petraeus arrived. Violence “plummeted” significantly. Streets “are flourishing with life. The worst, for now, has been averted.” America’s toxic legacy was ignored.

Violence then was more than acknowledged. Today it’s out-of-control. Resource theft, ecocide, human misery, and health crisis conditions go unreported.  

News most fit to print is suppressed. Official fabrications substitute. It’s standard scoundrel media practice. They understate the problem’s severity. Cancer and birth defect rates are likely much higher.  Most Americans don’t know what’s been done in their name. It’s true in all US war theaters. They don’t ask. They’re not told. It happens every time.

-This report has been edited by The Islamic Post

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