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Children of War

American arms pacified Fallujah—and may have poisoned a generation.

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama declared, “the Iraq war is coming to end”—at least for Americans, leaving “with their heads held high” because “our commitment has been kept.”

For millions of Iraqis, however, the war is far from over—in fact, for a growing number of families in cities that were nearly destroyed during the years of insurgency and counter-insurgency, the crisis is only beginning. Whether we take responsibility for our role in it will determine whether we can hold our “heads high” in foreign policy ever again. As one Iraqi-American told TAC, “just because we don’t pay attention, doesn’t mean the rest of the world isn’t paying attention.”

According to studies and eyewitness accounts over the last few years, Fallujah, an Iraqi city that was practically obliterated by U.S. heavy artillery in two major offensives in 2004, is experiencing a staggering rate of birth defects among its local population. The situation echoes similar reports from Basra that began to circulate after the first Gulf War in 1991.

The litany of horrors is gut-wrenching: babies born with two heads, one eye in the middle of the face, missing limbs, too many limbs, brain damage, cardiac defects, abnormally large heads, eyeless, missing genitalia, riddled with tumors. Upon touring a clinic in Fallujah in March of last year, the BBC’s John Simpson reported, “we were given details of dozens upon dozens of cases of children with serious birth defects … one photograph I saw showed a newborn baby with three heads.” Later, at the main U.S.-funded hospital in the city, “a stream of parents arrived” with children who had limb defects, spinal conditions, and “other problems.” Authorities in Fallujah reportedly warned women to hold off on having babies at all.

Dr. Ayman Qais, the director of Fallujah’s general hospital, told The Guardian that he was seeing two affected babies a day, compared to two a fortnight in 2008. “Most [deformities] are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs,” he said. “There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of [children] less than two years with brain tumours. This is now a focus area of multiple tumours.”

The pictures and video available with a quick Google search are simply shocking.

But there is nothing simple about this issue. On one hand, it is widely accepted among scientists, doctors, and aid workers that war is to blame. The presence of so much expended weaponry, waste and rubble, massive burn pits on U.S. bases, and oil fires has left a toxic legacy that is poisoning the air, the water, and the soil in Iraq. Add highly controversial armaments that the U.S. has only hinted at using in this war—such as depleted uranium—and you get a potentially radioactive landscape giving rise to doomed children and stillborn babies.

“I think we have destroyed Iraq,” says Dr. Adil Shamoo, a biochemist at the University of Maryland who specializes in medical ethics and foreign policy. Shamoo, an Iraqi-American, believes it’s “just common sense” to link Iraq’s troubled health situation to the relentless bombing of its towns and cities and the polluted aftermath of fighting and occupation.

The Department of Defense disagrees, rejecting claims that the military is to blame for chronic illnesses, birth defects, and high rates of cancer among the local population and its own service members exposed to the same elements in theater. (DoD officials did not return calls and e-mails to respond to the specific charges made in this story.)

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has done little to address the public-health crisis in Fallujah and elsewhere. Authorities cannot afford, and seemingly lack the will, to clean up the festering pollution around the country’s population centers while many Iraqis still clamor for clean drinking water and basic medical supplies.

“It’s not even on their radar,” offered Geoff Millard, an Iraq War vet who was about to embark this winter on an aid mission with Iraqi Health Now, which raises money for hospitals, clinics, and refugee camps. “If you have a mature democracy with a stable government, you can start to think about the environmental impact. You don’t talk about environmental impact when there are death squads roaming the streets.”

Nevertheless, a joint study by Iraq’s environment, health, and science ministries last summer found 40 sites in the country that are contaminated with high levels of radiation and dioxins—residue, the study claims, from three decades of war. Critics believe there are hundreds of other locations just like these.

Areas around urban centers like Fallujah and Basra accounted for 25 percent of the contaminated sites. The pollution of Basra dates back to at least 1982, when Operation Ramadan, the biggest land battle of the Iran-Iraq War—in which the U.S. was on Iraqside, supplying Saddam Hussein with billions in weapons, “dual-use” materials, training, and support—shook the desert outside the city. But in the 20 years since the first Gulf War, Basra has seen a marked increase in childhood illnesses. According to researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health, the rate of childhood leukemia doubled in Basra from 1993 through 2007.

“This is a serious public health crisis that needs global attention. We need independent and unbiased research into the possible causes of this epidemic,” declared American environmental toxicologist Mazhgan Savabieasfahani, co-author of the most recent report on birth defects in Fallujah.

But fathoming the source of this scourge is hard; Iraq is a quick study in environmental malpractice. For example, reports indicate that waste from heavy industry, tanning and paint factories, and hospitals—even raw sewage—is still being dumped into the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and seeping into drinking water. Yet there is little doubt about the toll that 30 years of war and economic sanctions has taken here. Looking at the photographs of babies barely recognizable as human, of toddlers frighteningly tiny, limp from their own deformities, the toll of war and the conditions it creates is evident.

What Happened to Fallujah?

In December, a report in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health declared that since 2003 “congenital malformations” were observed in 15 percent of all births in Fallujah in 2010. Heart defects were the most common, followed by neural tube defects, which cause irreversible and often fatal deformities such as anencephaly, in which the infant is born with parts of the brain and skull missing.

By comparison, major birth defects affect only an estimated 3 percent of every live birth in the U.S. and an average of 6 percent of all births worldwide.

The December study focused on births in Fallujah General Hospital during the first half of 2010. In May, it found that 15 percent of all 547 deliveries presented birth defects. That month there were also 76 miscarriages, 60 premature deliveries, and one stillbirth. Researchers saw similar numbers in the first four months of 2010.

The study explored the health histories of four families in Fallujah—four fathers, each with two wives, and their 39 offspring. Of the children, three were miscarried, three were stillborn, eight had birth defects and skeletal malformations, and three—by the same mother and father—had leukemia. All of these abnormal births occurred after 2003, save for one child born with leukemia in 2002 and two miscarriages for one mother in 1995.

“The timing of the birth defect occurrences suggests that they may be related to war-associated long-term exposure to contamination,” the report states. “Many known contaminants have the potential to interfere with normal embryonic and fetal development.” The report also suggests that metals such as depleted uranium associated with “augmented” and “targeted” weapons “are potential good candidates to cause birth defects,” but the authors insisted further research was needed to establish a direct cause.

Another recent article, “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009,” published in the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health last July, undertook a door-to-door survey of 4,843 Fallujah residents in 711 houses. Acknowledging that such surveys have their limits—responses cannot be independently verified, for example—the authors nonetheless highlighted three compelling findings, including a significant 18 percent reduction in the male births in the group after 2004 and a spike in infant mortality—13 percent of live births from 2009 to 2010, compared to 2 percent in Egypt and 1.7 percent in Jordan. Lastly, the frequency of cancers related to radiation exposure, particularly leukemia, between 2005 and 2010 was “alarming” in comparison with national rates in Egypt and Jordan. (The study noted that Iraq still doesn’t keep official cancer statistics.)

“The results reported here do not throw any light upon the identity of the agent(s) causing the increased levels of illness and although we have drawn attention to the use of depleted uranium as one potential relevant exposure, there may be other possibilities,” wrote the authors. Indeed, other possible contaminants are manifold—but depleted uranium has long been a prime suspect.

Depleted Uranium

Depleted uranium (DU) is a dense, highly toxic, radioactive heavy metal that is regularly used by the military for shielding and penetrative capabilities. The Army’s Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles have it in their armor and in their ammunition.

In addition to their long-range penetration abilities, DU-tipped weapons can cause further damage by instantaneously setting their targets on fire. According to GlobalSecurity.org:  “On impact with a hard target (such as a tank) the penetrator may generate a cloud of DU dust within the struck vehicle that ignites spontaneously, creating a fire that increases the damage to the target.”

After battle, the carcasses of tanks and remains of exploded or unexploded DU munitions produce radiation, while tiny particles of heavy metal get into the dust and can travel long distances in the air. This dust can be deadly when inhaled, doctors and environmental scientists say.

While minimizing the external radiation dangers of DU, a 1994 U.S Army Environmental Policy Institute study conducted in the wake of fears that Gulf War soldiers had been contaminated in “friendly fire” incidents acknowledged that “toxicologically, DU poses a health risk when internalized” and that “using DU on the battlefield poses potential environmental consequences.” It ultimately recommended, however, further study and risk-management, rather than forgoing the use of DU altogether.

The U.S. left an estimated 320 metric tons of DU on the battlefield after the first Gulf War. DU rounds conferred a distinct advantage over the Iraqis, destroying some 4,000 of their tanks, many which still pollute the desert landscape. “The invisible particles created when those bullets struck and burned are still ‘hot.’ They make Geiger counters sing, and they stick to the tanks, contaminating the soil and blowing in the desert wind, as they will for the 4.5 billion years it will take the DU to lose just half its radioactivity,” wrote Scott Peterson in the Christian Science Monitor.

Later Peterson documented evidence of DU in Baghdad after the 2003 war, checking  “hot spots” around battle debris with a Geiger counter. He noted that the Air Force had admitted that its A-1 “Warthog” planes had shot 300,000 rounds during the “shock and awe” phase of the invasion. Typically, the “normal combat mix” for the 30-mm cannon on the A-1 is five DU bullets to one high-explosive incendiary round.

“The children haven’t been told not to play with the radioactive debris,” Peterson wrote. He saw only one site where U.S. troops had put up handwritten warnings in Arabic for Iraqis to stay away. “There, a 3-foot-long DU dart from a 120 mm tank shell, was found producing radiation at more than 1,300 times background levels. It made the [Geiger counter] staccato bursts turn into a steady whine.”

Getting an accurate picture of how DU has been used by American forces in Iraq since 2003 has been impossible. But the military hasn’t always been so tight-lipped. On the eve of the war, noted California-based researcher Dan Fahey, the Pentagon was engaging in its own pro-DU propaganda. “The campaign had two goals: to justify the use of DU munitions as a military necessity, and to dismiss concerns about the health and environmental effects of use,” wrote Fahey in 2005.

Indeed, in a March 18, 2003 press briefing, two days before the invasion, Col. James Naughton of the U.S. Army Material Command boasted that Iraqis “want [DU] to go away because we kicked the crap out of them” in the tank battles of 1991.“Their soldiers can’t be really amused at the idea of going out in basically the same tanks with some slight improvements and taking on Abrams again.”

The bragging stopped after “shock and awe.” Officials now merely insist that DU exposure is not responsible for serious health problems in Iraq. When confronted with the evidence of birth defects in Fallujah, Pentagon spokesman Michael Kilpatrick told the BBC last year, “no studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues.”

The Pentagon is backed up by selected studies, like the one conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2010, which examined soil, water, and vegetation in four areas—including Basra but not Fallujah—and concluded “the radiation doses from DU do not pose a radiological hazard to the population at the four studied locations in southern Iraq.” The report takes for granted that DU was indeed used throughout the war theater.

Interestingly, both the IAEA and the Army have acknowledged the importance of handling weapon fragments and vehicle scraps as radioactive waste. “They specifically told us not to climb on tanks that have been shelled,” says Geoff Millard, who got a brief warning about DU as a young soldier in 2000.

The exact composition of the munitions expended during the fighting in Fallujah in late 2004 remains unknown. But the scale of the pollution can be gauged by the magnitude of the bombardment. According to Rebecca Grant, writing for Air Force Magazine in 2005, the U.S. conducted relentless air assaults in the First Battle of Fallujah from March through September 2004 and launched a second phase that November. She describes a “steady pace of air attacks” in a mostly urban “manhunt” using AC-130 gunships and fixed-wing aircraft, even after commanders were told early on to scale it back due to political considerations over collateral damage. F-15 jets would swoop down and strafe insurgents to provide ground cover while Marines called in strikes on cornered insurgents from GPS-guided missiles like the new 500-lb GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition), which could “pluck” buildings “right out of the middle of very populated areas.”

What Grant’s account does not include is the use of DU and even white phosphorous, which, when it comes into human contact, sizzles flesh right off the bone. A year after doctors in Fallujah began reporting the telltale burns, a Pentagon spokesman admitted to the BBC that that white phosphorus was indeed “used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants” in 2004. (Initially, the military had insisted it was only used for battlefield illumination.)

“When they went in they basically pulled out all the stops,” said investigative journalist Dahr Jamail, who was on the ground in Fallujah in late 2004. He told TAC that he is not surprised by the birth defects in Fallujah today, having seen the aftermath of presumed DU use in “massive quantities.”

As for its effect on reproductive development in Fallujah, there is no consensus among researchers, but there is plenty of material to pore over. Critics among the scientific community can point to a decade of studies about DU’s detrimental effects upon health, including a 2006 report that found DU exposure led to gene disruption in laboratory rats and similar experiments suggesting exposure could lead to low birth weight and skeletal malformations.

Other Contaminants

The problem with trying to identify a primary contributor to birth defects in Iraq is that the country is a cauldron of contamination. Aside from the polluted water, there are the ubiquitous toxic plumes from burning waste on U.S. bases, as well as oil and gas fires dotting the landscape. (No fewer than 469 incidents of oil and gas blazes, mostly from insurgents blowing up pipelines, were recorded between 2003 and 2008.) Military researchers have also been looking to heavy metals—both naturally occurring and otherwise—in the dust kicked up in the desert after so many battle-driven ruptures of the earth.

Saddam himself used chemical weapons against his own people and allegedly directed his men fleeing the 2003 invasion to sabotage the old water treatment plant at Qarmat Ali, just north of Basra where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet, by littering it with an anti-corrosive powder containing huge amounts of hexavalent chromium, a chemical known to cause cancer.

April 2011 cover [1]Some of the Oregon National Guard soldiers who later worked and lived at the plant—assured by defense contractor Kellogg, Brown, and Root that Qarmat Ali was safe—are now so sick they can barely walk. “This is our Agent Orange,” veteran Scott Ashby told The Oregonian in 2009, referring to the herbicide sprayed by U.S. forces over huge swaths of the Vietnamese countryside from 1961 to 1971. A 2003 Columbia University study estimates upwards of  4.5 million people were exposed; the Vietnamese government has estimated 480,000 deaths and 500,000 born with birth defects as a result. American veterans had to sue to get attention for illnesses relating to AO exposure.

In a sense, what is happening throughout Iraq today is the 21st-century’s Agent Orange. As in Vietnam a generation earlier, Americans have rushed to the emotional exits in Iraq, chalking the war up to a blunder best resigned to the history books. Ignoring the “steady whine” of their moral Geiger counters, the U.S. public neatly tucks away photographs of deformed Iraqi babies next to the fading memories of Vietnamese children and American veterans scarred by battlefield chemicals. Collective denial has turned out to be empire’s best friend, as a Southeast Asian foreign-policy disaster has given way to a 30-year catastrophe in the Middle East.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance reporter and a columnist for Antiwar.com [2].

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30 Comments (Open | Close)

30 Comments To "Children of War"

#1 Comment By Jane Marple On March 7, 2011 @ 10:50 am

Now we can also add horrendously high levels of birth defects among Iraqi children to the list of George W. Bush’s real legacy.

#2 Comment By Dan On March 7, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

Thank you for your article. These birth defects in Iraq have caused me to question how a just and merciful God has allowed such evil to be inflicted on the most innocent of all. As Jane notes above, these horrific crimes against nature and humanity are George W. Bush’s real legacy. May I live to see Bush and the neocons brought before tribunal to answer for what are the most heinous crimes imaginable. Let us not also forget that these same monsters will turn these weapons, or secretly dispense sterilizing or epigenetically modifying chemicals, on Americans as readily as they did it to exterminate Iraqis. We are a captive people led by monsters.

#3 Comment By Tom Blanton On March 7, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

All of this makes me wonder at what point do the activities of the American Government become not OK anymore to the average rube in America. Apparently, it is OK to have what amounts to a surveillance/police state domestically. It seems to be OK to leave massive debt and unfunded liabilities to our children and grandchildren. It is even acceptable to create mutant babies in nations that never threatened America.

Americans that proudly continue to vote for Republicans and Democrats should be shunned as enablers of evil. We have met the evil empire and the evil empire is us. What this empire is doing at home and abroad is not OK, it is pure evil.

#4 Comment By Jim Evans On March 8, 2011 @ 1:43 am

Depleted Uranium is not only dangerous & deadly for enemies and non-combatant civilians (innocent people), but also for American (our own) military personnel.

American military service personnel are coming down with health issues that are of unknown origin, according to some medical doctors, but for other medical doctors and those experienced with identifying the effects of Depleted Uranium, the conclusion is clear:

Depleted Uranium is killing our own American military personnel and veterans, as many of the health issues from DU takes years to manifest.

The U. S. military must stop using DU, for the environment, for the innocent civilians. but most important:

For our men & women who wear the uniform and are veterans.

This is not the way a grateful country treats its soldiers.

Sadly, this may be only the tip of the iceberg of what the U. S. government has done and is doing against its own citizens…

#5 Pingback By In the Wake of War « Caelum Et Terra On March 8, 2011 @ 5:21 am

[…] The children of Iraq: [5] […]

#6 Comment By Steve On March 8, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

Dan,
We have a just and merciful God, but there is also an unspeakable evil, satan, and those like George W. Bush who do his work on the earth. Their reign will come to an end soon, don’t lose faith but pray that we minimize the damaged lives they take with them to hell.

#7 Comment By NY Teacher On March 8, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

Hey — don’t forget Obama has escalated the Bush atrocities; an accomodating media just doesn’t splash tragic pics of innocent victims anymo’

Indeed, let’s not stop praying — even if the “tribunals” won’t be anytime in our life cycle. At least prayers will redeem the self, as we largely contributed to this killing machine, conscously or through being willing dupes.

#8 Comment By Null Void On March 8, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

This isn’t a left-right issue. This is not something to score political points off of, like so many issues in this country. Fellow commenters, we can all agree; this is something for our country to feel genuinely ashamed off. That so many in our country subscribe to one form or another of the myth of exceptionalism, when our country’s leaders have committed such travesties, gets in the way of coming to terms and accepting responsibility.

I am an atheist, but I long for the day our country ceases these atrocities and, in the words of Jesus, go and sin no more. Our leaders cannot (and will not) make the world as it was before they screwed it up; all they should do is to stop making it worse.

America can never be a shining city on a hill…but, it is no shame to merely be a good neighbor. Over time, though never forgiven or forgotten, America can earn respect by refraining from doing wrong. As for us, the citizens who ultimately put these leaders in power…as individuals and groups, without arrogance or publicity, let us exercise our own efforts in helping to rebuild the lives of our fellow human beings that our leaders have ruined. Yes, they aren’t “Americans”, nor are they all Christians…that doesn’t matter; they are fellow passengers to the grave, who’s lives were devastated by a nation run by leaders that presumed they could rule the world. We didn’t do it, but we enabled those that did. And, as the founder of genuine, honorable conservatism Burke once said, “All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

While I am a libertarian, not a rightist, I also hope more conservatives will take his cautions against imperialism to heart.

#9 Comment By Russell On March 9, 2011 @ 3:52 am

It would appear that the author has neglected to compare the natural concentration of (undepleted) uranium in Iraqi – and American topsoil with the quantities her article discusses.

As a helpful hint, it is reckoned in tons per square mile

#10 Comment By Majumder On March 9, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

U.S. President Bush II, VP Dick B. Cheney, SOD Donald Rumsfeld, and British PM Tony B-Liar are yet to be held accountable for war crimes in Iraq.

#11 Comment By Stephen On March 9, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

I will be 62 in one month. I have arrived at the conclusion that virtually everything that I believed about man, government, religion, and my country was a lie. I began being force fed these lies as a child and it has taken six decades and a gradual wearing thin of my ability to deny the nose on my face for me to arrive at this conclusion…this state of shame. What a sad, myopic creature we are. That old saying about a dirty bird and its’ own nest comes to mind…ah, well, it appears to be not at all subject to change.

#12 Comment By thomas On March 11, 2011 @ 1:10 am

I will be 68 in two months. I too have arrived at the conclusion that virtually everything that I believed about man, government, religion, and my country was a lie. I began being force fed these lies as a student in school and by my parents who believed them too……and it has taken me six decades and a trip around the world to wear thin my ability to deny the nose on my face for me to arrive at this conclusion…this state of shame. Omar Khadir is the name of shame for me…. For the REAL WAR CRIMINALS who KILLED a MILLION to take this 15 year old captured CHILD and try him for WAR CRIMES must anger EVEN GOD… Shame on Obama, Shame on America Shame on us all….. and shame on me too for doing so little to stop our madness…!!!

#13 Comment By Lori K On March 11, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

I have to wonder though… does anyone besides a few of us care? Do other republicans have disdain for war mongers? Do other democrats seek peaceful resolution to the world’s problems?

I’ll never understand why Bush went into Iraq. I’ll never understand the people who supported that decision. After seeing I had no power to stop the mistake before we went to war based on the Bush Doctrine, I’ll never trust that I can stop the next mistake.

What can we do to prevent these atrocities? When will men do better?

#14 Comment By Nicholas Kramer On March 14, 2011 @ 6:43 am

It is easy to blame Bush, or Obama, or whoever else, but the responsibility for these atrocities lies with all of us. As I wrote recently ( [6] ), I am to blame for allowing this to happen – and I am so sorry.

#15 Comment By don nash On March 14, 2011 @ 9:50 am

Well done Ms. Kelley. What you’ve written about are atrocities on a staggering scale. Atrocity is a war crime. Given the illegal war of naked aggression unleashed on Iraq by the Bushco, that would probably mean that American government is war criminal. Even now under Obama. Seems the US is still in Iraq. I believe that is the case.
Aren’t war criminals supposed to be held to account? Yeah yeah I know, awfully dang naive of me to pose the question. So the Third Reich was raked over the Nuremberg coals, how is the US above a war crimes tribunal?

#16 Comment By dsmith On March 14, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

I wonder if we sent this piece of journalism to the NY socialites, Couric and Sawyer, or to the Ken Doll Brian Williams, with a note that we would like to see this tragedy exposed, if it would ever see the light of day on any of the three networks? I think I will try, anway.

#17 Comment By Geronimo On March 15, 2011 @ 9:14 am

I wonder if the poisoning of US troops by DU and strange chemicals was deliberate? To ensure that the vets, who have combat experience, weapows and may be annoyed with the cleptocracy in Washinton, would be too sick to rebel?

#18 Comment By Bud Ramsey On March 16, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

In the end, the responsibility for all of this lies entirely with every American citizen of voting age. Others certainly have culpability – especially the Fourth Estate. Freedom of the Press is included in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights having been necessary for ratification by the States. I know of no media outlet that deserves a grade of A on this topic – not even this one.

To blame Clinton (46), Bush (54), and Obama (47) misses the point, externalizes responsibility, and thus diminishes each individual’s responsibility. These three most recent Presidents were younger when they were inaugurated than the two gentlemen, Stephen (61) and Thomas (67), who posted above and within whose age range I (65) fall. Stephen and Thomas might allow these recent Presidents the same freedom to be wrong that they themselves have manifested.

However, regarding the last two Presidents, President Obama has done nothing consistent with what he campaigned on with respect to these issues. Mr. Obama, for whom I voted, either stated, or gave the obvious impression, that he would end all of this craziness. He was more clear about this early in the primary campaign than he was during the general election, but many who voted for him made that decision when I did – early in the primary campaign. It has been argued in The American Conservative and elsewhere that he has actually escalated the atrocities.

George W. Bush, at least, did what he said he was going to do during the 2004 election campaign. Thus, if we now disagree, it’s us – not President Bush – who entirely own the responsibility, as another commenter, Nicholas, argued previously in this section. In general, I prefer people who do what they say, even if I disagree, than people who have no intention of so doing.

#19 Comment By Thyme Zone On March 19, 2011 @ 3:05 am

Mr Ramsay, above, is mostly correct. America is a bellicose nation,because the people voted for governments that pursued bellicose policies for the last 70 or 80 years. That is the whole truth of it.

As for Obama and the idea that he “escalated” the atrocities, that is just nonsense. It is a proof-by-assertion argument, and it is preposterous on its face. The Cheney administration was a horror show of unprecedented scale and proportion, and nothing has been escalated. If there is an argument with facts to support such a claim, it has not been made here …. or anywhere else that I am aware of. Loud barking does not make the dog right.

#20 Comment By donna On March 23, 2011 @ 7:21 am

Ah, there we go again, blaming GOD. It is NOT God who does this, but he allows it, because we are not faithful to HIS commandments.
Man dominates man to his OWN injury. You will find that in the bible. When we start living lives of integrity, and getting past the machinations of man and evil deeds, then we will see the blessing of the “true” God.
It takes everyones participation, not just a few.

#21 Pingback By Kelley B. Vlahos | ANOMALY RADIO On March 23, 2011 @ 10:05 am

[…] Antiwar.com columnist and contributing editor for The American Conservative magazine, discusses the toxic legacy left by the US in Iraq, particularly in Fallujah and Basra; the numerous and severe birth defects […]

#22 Comment By Rad Rak On March 23, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

The aftermath of bombing Serbia has not yet been acknowledged. 2400 civilians were killed.
And now we go on a new expedition, to Libya. God, have mercy on our politicians!

#23 Pingback By Look who’s back, shady’s back (Cedric) | thecommonillsbackup On March 24, 2011 @ 4:21 am

[…] B. Vlahos explores the realities of what’s been done to the land and future of Iraq in “Children of War” (American Conservative). Scott Horton discussed the article with her on Antiwar Radio. […]

#24 Pingback By katha, a pig, and power | thecommonillsbackup On March 24, 2011 @ 4:27 am

[…] B. Vlahos explores the realities of what’s been done to the land and future of Iraq in “Children of War” (American Conservative). Scott Horton discussed the article with her on Antiwar Radio. […]

#25 Pingback By Eunomia » Killing Our Way To a Better America On March 29, 2011 @ 9:51 am

[…] of the three, but if the U.S., allied and rebel forces end up doing to Sirte what U.S. forces did to Fallujah it will be […]

#26 Comment By Lawrence On June 12, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

I can’t envisage anything that we the people can do about the problem of depleted uranium. Since the military use it in their amour and in all the bombs and bullets they use, the usage is too widespread and there is no way they will give up using it or even admitting its long term harmful effect. The only thing we can do is to prevent further wars, that is, occasions in which military can spread depleted uranium on our vulnerable planet, and petition the military in gradually phasing out the usage of it during the long term.

The reasons why we have gone into Iraq and Central Asia, as anyone who have been following obscure news on the Internet for years should know, is to establish military bases in the Middle East and Central Asia. For its oil, to counter Russia and China’s influence in their back door, for Israel… Although the Democrates don’t have the same agenda as the Neocons, when they came to power they can do nothing other than perpetuate the lies with which their previous Neocon administration has fed us, because, otherwise, the world view of the people would have to change so radically that they will completely lose confidence in the government. It’s as if you have to suddenly tell the believers of faith that God doesn’t exist! Can they handle it? This is to answer Stephen.

#27 Comment By Hurriya Iraqia On August 23, 2011 @ 5:43 am

I’m an Iraqi and I would like to thank you for this article and for exposing the crimes of the war of OIL that was waged against us .
This article exposes a small fraction of what we are suffering in Iraq, we lack basic human necessities , our air , water and soil are contaminated , we are ruled by a bunch of thieves and criminals who are masters in arresting Iraqis and abusing, raping and torturing them (whether men or women or kids) . They ‘re also practicing organ trading of the detainees. They are stealing our budget, no projects are accomplished in Iraq, the country is like ruins .
The cancer patients increased sharply !!
most importantly , WE HAVE NO DEMOCRACY , it’s all LIES ! Our politicians are corrupt and criminals , they have more blood on their hands than Saddam ever had ! The US government replaced one dictator with a whole bunch of dictators ! We have the same politicians since 2003! They are just changing positions ! And they are All criminals !
And now the US wants to extend the occupation of Iraq !! Aren’t your president Obama ashamed of his lies ? Didn’t he win the election with his promise of “Change” and pulling the troops out of my country? Isn’t it enough what your governments have already done to us? Are you willing to live with this burden and criminal legacy ? Could you live with it?
Shouldn’t you pull out your troops just for your own benefit ? To cut on the expenditure ! Aren’t you in economic crisis? don’t you have millions of homeless people?
Just Leave us Alone please !!! We don’t want your troops on our lands ! Stop the destruction ! Demand that your president does what he has promised ! Don’t you have “Democracy”?

#28 Comment By Hurriya Iraqia On August 23, 2011 @ 5:52 am

P.S : It’s not “may have poisoned a generation”
It DID poison all the generations to come .
It is uranium , and there are studies that say it was not depleted !!

#29 Comment By scott craig On August 24, 2011 @ 5:00 am

Matthew 18:6 But whoso offend (harm?) one of these little ones which believe in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. For Americans that believe in this quote of Christ, do you think He is being unpatriotic and doesn’t support our troops?

#30 Pingback By Fallujah: Where the War Persists « Antiwar.com Blog On January 9, 2012 @ 9:51 am

[…] columnist Kelley B. Vlahos wrote a brilliant piece in April 2011 in The American Conservative cataloguing the scientific support behind the conclusion that this ongoing suffering in Fallujah is […]