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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

September, 2006

 


Doing the Wrong Thing in Afghanistan: Depleted
Uranium: The Definitive Moral Paradox
By Michael Clarke

It is Canada Day evening, and I can barely hear the whistles, booms and bangs of the fireworks. It sounds a bit like distant bombs exploding, reminding me of the incredible moral paradox our federal government's aggressive military role in Afghanistan has created for all Canadians.
Our government, military, newspapers, television and radio media are efficiently dispersing the official sound bytes: "our troops in Afghanistan have the moral authority"; "Canada is doing the right thing"; "it's a noble mission"; and, "we are just spreading freedom and democracy".

But, they are not telling us that there is something else we are spreading around Afghanistan that any truly moral person would instinctively consider immoral and evil. It is something very real, but some governments refuse to recognize it even exists. Despite their duplicity, it certainly brings to the table a supreme criminal culpability that historians may someday benchmark as the definitive moral paradox marking the failure of Western democracies to resist the rise of global corporate fascism.

After the Taleban resistance fighters' ambush in May killed Capt. Nichola Goddard, Canadian troops called in a US B-1 Lancer stealth bomber which dropped a 500-pound bomb on a nearby residential compound, killing an estimated 15 to 20 people. According to the US Air Force, that was just one of nearly 2,000 air strikes that were conducted in Afghanistan between March and May 2006.

Tragically, every air strike uses bombs and missiles that are encased and ballasted with depleted uranium (DU) which aerosolizes upon impact, instantaneously being released into the atmosphere as insoluble ceramic uranium oxide nanoparticles. Its gaseous characteristics allow DU to remain suspended in the air and be distributed around the earth as a radioactive component of atmospheric dust, contaminating the environment and indiscriminately killing, maiming and causing disease in all living things wherever rain, snow and moisture remove it from the atmosphere.

Nuclear experts agree that DU is a weapon for killing lots of people that keeps on killing forever. It meets the US. government's own definitions of weapons of mass destruction. And there is no way to ever clean it up.

An estimated 900 tons of DU was released in the initial 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. The approximately 2,000 air strikes this spring could easily have released another 250 tons of DU into the air and onto the ground, water and crops. According to the White House website a total of 24,000 bombs were used in the first year of operations in Afghanistan, which would suggest a minimum of 3,000 tons of DU was aerosolized in only the first 12 months of conflict. There is a lot of deadly radioactive DU around there.

According to one nuclear expert, Leuren Moret, the United States and its willing accomplices like Canada have effectively staged a nuclear war in Afghanistan by using dirty bombs and missiles that "slip the nukes under the wire". As quickly as the DU aerosols are produced they will permanently contaminate vast areas and slowly destroy the genetic future of populations throughout the region. The permanent radioactive contamination and environmental devastation is unprecedented, resulting in huge increases in cancer and birth defects which will increase over time due to chronic exposure, increasing internal levels of radiation from DU dust and permanent genetic effects passed on to future generations. Of course, DU weapons have also been used in Yugoslavia and the Iraq wars with the same devastating consequences.

Studies to monitor the Afghanis have been carried out by the Uranium Medical Research Center, which has sent several field teams to Afghanistan since 2002 to check the contamination and health conditions around specific locations that are known to have been bombed. Approximately 30% of those interviewed in the affected areas displayed symptoms of radiation sickness, including congenital problems in newborns. In Kabul those who were exposed to US-British "precision bombing" showed extreme signs of contamination consistent with uranium exposure. In Nangarhar every person donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium contamination. The researchers were stunned by the astoundingly high levels of widespread contamination. Their report warned, "The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by uranium."

Using the same calculation method that the UK Atomic Energy Authority employed in their 1990 projection of potential DU consequences in Iraq, the estimated 250 tons of DU from the 2,000 recent air strikes carried out in Afghanistan from March to May 2006 could result in as many as 2,500,000 cancers within the next ten years. The bomb dropped near Capt. Goddard produced 250 pounds of DU that could cause as many as 1,250 cases of cancer in that village within the next ten years. But, the bombing in the initial 2001 invasion could cause as many as 9,000,000 additional cancers within ten years. These horrible estimates tend to support Leuren Moret's contention that this has been a genocidal plan from the start; this was not a war in Afghanistan, but a war against Afghanistan. And Iraq, and Yugoslavia.

However, the laws of war prohibit the use of weapons that have deadly and inhumane effects beyond the field of battle, or remain active or cause harm after hostilities cease. The military use of DU weapons violates international humanitarian law (Hague & Geneva), violates the principles of international environmental protection and contradicts the right to life established by the UN Subcommittee on Human Rights. The UN Human Rights Commission determined a decade ago that DU is a weapon of mass destruction that should never be used. These rulings mean that the use of DU is intrinsically immoral as well as illegal.

Of course, there will always be wags who insist that DU is harmless so there really is no problem. Robert Jensen, a professor of journalism at UT Austin, recently delivered a speech at the Brisbane (Australia) Social Forum titled "The Threats to Sustainable Democracy" in which he said, "Éthere is no power so convinced of its own benevolence as the United States. The culture is delusional in its commitment to this mythology, which is why today one can find on the other side of the world peasant farmers with no formal education who understand better the nature of US power than many faculty members at elite US universities."

Leuren Moret dramatically proved his point in an article published in World Affairs - the Journal of International Issues (July 2004) when she wrote, "Éeven uneducated Afghanis understand the impact these [DU] weapons have had on their children and on future generations:

"After the Americans destroyed our village and killed many of us, we also lost our houses and have nothing to eat. However, we would have endured these miseries and even accepted them, if the Americans had not sentenced us all to death. When I saw my deformed grandson, I realized that my hopes of the future have vanished for good, different from the hopelessness of the Russian barbarism, even though at that time I lost my older son Shafiqullah. This time, however, I know we are part of the invisible genocide brought on us by America, a silent death from which I know we will not escape." (Jooma Khan of Laghman province, March 2003)

Genocide? The word fits too perfectly! The statistical potential for numbers of DU cancer deaths in Afghanistan with the passage of time easily surpasses the Holocaust victim total and sets new upper limits for satanic crimes against humanity. When government tells us that we are in Afghanistan with full moral authority they are being disingenuous, because genocide can only spring from immoral authority. Dr. K. Yagasaki has calculated that the US has used more DU since 1991 than the atomicity equivalent of 400,000 Nagasaki bombs, and it has been spread all around the planet. Despite the fact that Depleted Uranium weaponry will eventually annihilate all species on earth, our "leaders" continue to deploy it with full knowledge of its destructive potential, even as they say there is no DU problem. Throughout the history of this world there has been no greater atrocity against the people and the planet. Dr. Bartell coined the term omnicide to reflect DU's supreme immorality. Jooma Khan will never believe that the foreign troops occupying his province have any moral authority. It is no coincidence that a major international Pew poll last month showed that the majority of Muslim society around the world believes Western countries are immoral.

So, here's the moral paradox for all Canadians: How can the Conservatives, the military, the corporate media and the regressive Liberals possibly be correct when they tell us that Canada's mission in Afghanistan is noble and moral if our soldiers initiate the deployment of illegal nuclear DU weapons that deliver horrific radioactive genocide and cause the permanent destruction of the environment?

The paradox is instantly resolved. Simply by requesting air strikes with illegal radioactive DU weaponry Canadian soldiers are, by definition, perpetrating immoral crimes against humanity. Therefore, it is logically impossible that our mission in Afghanistan is the "right thing to do". To the contrary, Canada has become a state sponsor of terror just like America which is the very wrong thing to do, and the DU problem we have become involved with due to our unwise military commitments to the US and NATO implicate us in terrorist acts much worse than 9/11. The Muslim world is astute. Western society is immoral. Our supposedly superior democratic institutions have allowed the DU atrocities to be perpetrated globally free from any threat of international prosecution. In fact, the Canadian government has suppressed those who would attempt to bring war crime charges of torture against the United States, a far lesser crime in comparison.

Take action now. Demand an international public enquiry about DU war crimes and demand that Canada bring our troops home immediately and stop expanding the killing fields.

But, be wary, because democracy around the world has had a complete breakdown. The Depleted Uranium insanity is the definitive moral paradox that marks the triumph of global corporate fascism over the world's weak and easily corrupted democratic institutions. Those who understand that fundamental morality must begin with serving humanity and stopping the destruction of Gaia must rise up in resistance. And they will call us terrorists even though we strive for the highest moral standards and the greatest good and, ironically, respect the Nuremburg Principles.

As Robert Jensen warned the Brisbane Social Forum, "The world is at risk."

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