Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ross Caputi

What of the victims of the city of Fallujah (Iraq) During US occupation? Any health remedies?
Mariam Yasir was 6 of age in 2009 and she suffers from a birth defect.
Children of Fallujah

Photograph: Muhannad Fala’ah/Getty Images
Ever since two major US-led assaults destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, the people in Falluja have witnessed dramatic increases in rates of cancers, birth defects and infant mortality in their city.

Are the victims of Fallujah’s health crisis stifled by western silence?

Is it a moral imperative to research a possible link between US bombardment (with Not just depleted uranium, but slightly enriched uranium bombs) and rates of birth defects and pediatric cancer in Iraq?

Ross Caputi published in The Guardian on Oct. 25, 2012:

“Four new studies on the health crisis in Fallujah have been published in the last three months. Yet, one of the most severe public health crises in history, for which the US military may be to blame, receives no attention in the United States.

Dr Chris Busby, the author and co-author of two studies on the Fallujah heath crisis, has called this “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied“.

In the years since the 2004 sieges, Fallujah was the most heavily guarded city in all of Iraq. All movement in and out of Fallujah was monitored by the occupying forces. The security situation made it nearly impossible to get word out about Fallujans’ nascent health crisis.

One of the first attempts to report on the crisis was at the 7th session of the UN Human Rights Council in the form of the report, Prohibited Weapons Crisis: The Effects of Pollution on the Public Health in Fallujah by Dr Muhamad Al-Darraji.

This report was largely ignored. It wasn’t until the first major study on the health crisis was published in 2010 that the issue received mainstream media attention in the UK and Europe.

To this day, though, there has yet to be an article published in a major US newspaper, or a moment on a mainstream American TV news network, devoted to the health crisis in Fallujah. The US government has made no statements on the issue, and the American public remains largely uninformed about the indiscriminate harm that our military may have caused.

The report presented at the seventh session of the Human Rights Council gave anecdotal evidence gathered at the Fallujah General Hospital. It included a stomach-turning collection of pictures of babies born with scaly skin, missing and deformed limbs, and horrifying tumors.

Two years later, Dr Busby and his team of researchers sought to verify the claims in this report. What they found was that, in addition to shocking increases in pediatric cancers, there had also been an 18% reduction in male births. Such a finding is a well-known indication of genetic damage. The authors conclude that:

“These results support the many reports of congenital illness and birth defects in Fallujah and suggest that there is evidence of genetic stress which appeared around 2004, one year before the effects began to show.”

In a follow up study, in which Dr Busby was a co-author, hair, soil and water samples were taken from Fallujah and tested for the presence of heavy metals. The researchers expected to find depleted uranium in the environmental samples. It is well known that the US used depleted uranium weapons in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf war.  And Iraqis, at least, are well aware of the increases in cancers and infant mortality rates in the city of Basrah, which was heavily bombarded during Desert Storm. However, what the researchers found was not depleted uranium, but man-made, slightly enriched uranium.

Dr Busby has been the most visible scientist behind these studies, and for that reason, a lot of criticism has been directed at him. He is considered by many to be a “controversial” figure, which only means that his research has often challenged official government positions. His studies on Fallujah have similarly earned the title of “controversial”.

Many journals were afraid to publish his second study because of “pressure” from “outside people“. “Outside people” means types like Roger Helbig – a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force who is well-known for publishing online attacks on those who take a critical stance against uranium weapons – and pressure groups with similar agendas.

Some have criticized the methodology of this study, and they have used this as an excuse to dismiss the entire issue. But as other experts have noted:

“The role of ‘quick and dirty’ studies like this one, conducted under difficult conditions, is not to inform policy, but rather to generate hypotheses about important questions when resources are not yet available and other research methods are not possible.”

Busby is not the only researcher who takes “controversial” positions. His findings are complimented by the work of Dr Dai Williams, an independent weapons researcher. Williams has been investigating what he calls “third generation uranium weapons” (pdf).

Dr Dai Williams has found patents for weapon systems that could use nondepleted uranium, or slightly enriched uranium, interchangeably with tungsten, either as a dense metal or as a reactive metal. Undepleted and slightly enriched uranium have also been found on other battlefields (Afghanistan (pdf) and Lebanon). These findings lead researchers like Dr Williams to believe that there is a new generation of weapons being used, possibly by the US and Israeli military, that could have serious indiscriminate health effects on the populations living near bombing targets.

Many people have dismissed these hypotheses as speculative, and with that, they dismiss the research, the issue and the suffering of the people on the ground. What these naysayers fail to understand is that hypotheses are always speculative to a degree – they are informed, but they are claims intended to be verified or falsified. This is the nature of the scientific method:

First, you observe certain phenomena in the world, then you come up with a hypothesis to explain those phenomena.

Second, you conduct an experiment to test your hypothesis.

Many of these naysayers have not responded to these studies by calling for more research and investigation to test the hypotheses of Dr Busby or Dr Williams. Rather, they dismiss these hypotheses because they don’t like their moral and political implications. In doing so, they show a great deal of antipathy for the scientific method and the pursuit of truth.

But more importantly, the  naysayers also dismiss the suffering of the people of Fallujah, and all people affected by these issues.

One weapon system that may use uranium, in some form or another, is the SMAW-NE (Shoulder-fired Multipurpose Assault Weapon – Novel Explosive). My former unit battle-tested this weapon for the first time in Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004.

It is not my intention irresponsibly to lay blame on the US military, but there is a potential connection between this weapons system and the health crisis in Fallujah – and this connection needs to be investigated.

There are other avenues of investigation besides uranium weapons. One recent study examines the possible contributions of mercury and lead to the health crisis in Iraq. Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Defects in Iraqi Cities, by Al-Sabbak et al, compared the levels of lead and mercury in hair, nail and teeth samples from Fallujah and Basrah. The study found that the population studied in Fallujah had been exposed to high levels of “two well-known neurotoxic metals, Pb and Hg“.

In Basrah, the authors found even higher levels of lead exposure than in Fallujah. Basrah has the highest ever reported level of neural tube defects, and the numbers continue to climb. The authors of this study note:

“Toxic metals such as mercury (Hg) and Pb are an integral part of war ammunitions and are extensively used in the making of bullets and bombs … the bombardment of al-Basrah and Fallujah may have exacerbated public exposure to metals, possibly culminating in the current epidemic of birth defects.”

The conclusion of this study is not abstract, and it is not merely an intellectual or medical issue. It has real world importance. The modern means of warfare may be inherently indiscriminate.

This is a scientific finding worthy of discussion at the highest levels of academia, politics and international affairs. While it may yet get some attention outside the borders of the United States, its “controversial” nature (its implications of the US military’s guilt in creating possibly the worst public health crisis in history) ensures that it will be ignored at all costs by the callous and corrupt US government and its subservient media establishment.

Ultimately, it may not be the case that either lead alone, or uranium alone, is the sole cause of the health crisis in Fallujah. It could be a combination of the two agents, or something different entirely. But this is an empirical question that demands further investigation.

Methodology and proper science are important, but we must remember that science is a means to an end, and not an end in and of itself. The welfare of the people of Fallujah should be our ends, and our goal should be to help them.

Those who choose misguided political allegiance over the pursuit of truth, and those who use methodological flaws to dismiss real-world suffering, have already lost their humanity.

What we need to do to help the people of Falluja is clear. More studies need to be done to figure out what is harming those poor children, and then steps need to be taken to ensure that this never happens again.

But first, we must find a way to overcome the stifling silence of governments.

Note: You may read details on Fallujah on https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/where-is-this-fallujah-in-iraq-what-the-us-marines-were-doing-there/

Plutonium depleted bombs effects? Ask the Iraqis, Palestinians, and Afghanistanis

Last week a US “rogue soldier” massacred in Afghanistan 16 civilian victims, nine of whom were childrenThis soldier is to face trial and defense minsiter Paneta think that the soldier will ultimately be sent to death row

Ross Caputi wondered in March 13: “Why aren’t Westerners equally outraged when drone attacks kill entire families?”

 
 
Caputi wrote (with slight editing and sentences in parenthesis mine):
 
“This incident has elicited rage among Afghans and westerners alike. But why are westerners not equally outraged when drone attacks kill entire families?

Drone attacks that kill civilians usually fall into our category of “collateral damage”, because the dead civilians weren’t specifically targeted, and we treat this category as an unfortunate consequence of war, not murder.

Afghans see little difference : their loved ones are dead because of the conscious actions of NATO forces. Is the distinction between collateral damage and murder come down to the question of intent?

 Thomas Aquinas was one of the first to hone in on this distinction with his doctrine of double effect, which is still used today to justify collateral damage. It is believed in the west that some innocent death is excusable in war, as long as the deaths are not intended, and even if those deaths are foreseeable.

But if civilian deaths are foreseeable in a course of action, and we take that action anyway, did we not intend them? (They were surely intended to die!)  I doubt Afghans would feel much consolation knowing that their family members were not directly targeted, an unfortunate side-effect of war?

Yet, western audiences feel reassured knowing that most of the civilian deaths in Afghanistan were not intended; and they only become outraged when marines and soldiers clearly target civilians and kill women and childrenurinate on their bodies, and plunder their body parts as trophies.

From Abu Ghraib, to Fallujah, to Haditha, and now to Panjwai, US forces have committed massacres against civilians. These incidents stand out in the western mind, but to Afghans and Iraqis, they are no different from the daily slaughter of civilians by drones, air strikes, depleted uranium and stray bullets.

Tell a mother from Fallujah whose children have been horribly deformed by uranium weapons that her childrens’ suffering was unintended, even though the health effects of uranium-based weapons are well-known. (Are you aware of the effects of phosphorous bomb?  Kids re-igniting after fire is supposedly put down?)

Tell the survivors of drone attacks that their dead family members were not targeted, and that their deaths were an unfortunate consequence of war. Is their pain any different from the father whose entire family was murdered in this most recent atrocity?

If collateral damage is foreseeable, if it is really a fact of war (do you believe it?), is it not a crime to engage in war when it will inevitably kill innocents?

Is there really a morally significant difference between murder and collateral damage?

The “consequentialist” will argue that the good results outweigh the bad, that democracy, freedom and the liberation of Afghan women will improve the lives of Afghans so much that the deaths of a few are justified.

This is an easy judgment for westerners to make from the comforts of their own homes; but it stinks of the same patriarchy and arrogance of the white man’s burden that justified colonialism for so many years.

Has anyone consulted Afghans and asked them if they think the good that the west has promised will come of this occupation is worth the lives of their family members?

The occupation of Afghanistan is an “atrocity-producing situation”, as was the occupation of Iraq, and we have signed Afghans and Iraqis up for this against their will.

The nature of these occupations fosters atrocity. The invented enemy, the lack of a battlefield void of civilians, the supposed moral superiority of the occupiers, the obscure goals of the mission, the methods of training that prepare soldiers for occupation, and the methods of warfare all make the murder of civilians unavoidable.

In modern warfare, 90% of the casualties are civilian, but this is a reality that the West civilization likes to ignore.

(Drone attacks reminds me of the saying of an officers: “Kill them all. God will knows who was the innocent…”) 

Where is this Fallujah? In Iraq? What the US marines were doing there?
Do you know where is this godforsaken city of Fallujah in Iraq?
It is a city of vast majority Moslem Sunnis who were pretty angry with the US invasion of their country Iraq.
I read a couple of versions of what took place, how it happened that the US troops engaged in this genocide. It happened in 2003, a couple of months after the US troops entered the Capital Bagdad.
A group of “private security guards” hired by the US military to doing the “dirty jobs” got lost and entered the city of Falluja, a city they were warned never to enter.  The signal was sent in the city and 3 fighters managed to ambush the convoy and killed a couple of “private guards” and burned the body of one of them.
The US military decided to “avenge” the burning of a “guard”, simply because the video of the scene made the round of the social platforms.
How many civilians in Falluja were killed, and how they were killed? An eye-witness US marine veteran wrote part of the story:
US soldiers return to their barracks at a military base outside Fallujah

US soldiers return to their barracks at a military base outside Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004. Photograph: Stefan Zaklin/EPA

 published this piece in the guardian.co.uk, on Thursday Dec. 22:

“It has been 7 years since the end of the second siege of Fallujah – the US assault that left the city in ruins, killed thousands of civilians, and displaced hundreds of thousands more; the assault that poisoned a generation, plaguing the people who live there with cancers and their children with birth defects.

It has been 7 years and the lies that justified the assault still perpetuate false beliefs about what we did.

The US veterans who fought there still do not understand who they fought against, or what they were fighting for.

I know, because I am one of those American veterans.

In the eyes of many of the people I “served” with, (they want to believe) that the people of Fallujah are terrorists, and not fighters resisting for their survival. But unlike most of my counterparts, I understand that I was the aggressor, and that the resistance fighters in Fallujah were defending their city.

It is also the 7th anniversary of the deaths of two close friends of mine, Travis Desiato and Bradley Faircloth, who were killed in the siege. Their deaths were not heroic or glorious. Their deaths were tragic, but not unjust.

How can I begrudge the resistance in Fallujah for killing my friends, when I know that I would have done the same thing if I were in their place? How can I blame them when we were the aggressors?

It could have been me instead of Travis or Brad. I carried a radio on my back that dropped the bombs (of the fighter jets and helicopters?) that killed civilians and reduced Fallujah to rubble.

If I were a Fallujan, I would have killed anyone like me. I would have had no choice. The fate of my city and my family would have depended on it. I would have killed the foreign invaders.

Travis and Brad are both victims and perpetrators. They were killed and they killed others because of a political agenda in which they were just pawns. They were the iron fist of American empire, and an expendable loss in the eyes of their leaders.

I do not see any contradiction in feeling sympathy for the dead US Marines and soldiers and at the same time feeling sympathy for the Fallujans who fell to their guns.

The contradiction lies in believing that we were liberators, when in fact we oppressed the freedoms and wishes of Fallujans. The contradiction lies in believing that we were heroes, when the definition of “hero” bares no relation to our actions in Fallujah.

What we did to Fallujah cannot be undone, and I see no point in attacking the people in my former unit.

What I want to attack are the lies and false beliefs. I want to destroy the prejudices that prevented us from putting ourselves in the other’s shoes and asking ourselves what we would have done if a foreign army invaded our country and laid siege to our city.

I understand the psychology that causes the aggressors to blame their victims.

I understand the justifications and defense mechanisms.

I understand the emotional urge to want to hate the people who killed someone dear to you. But to describe the psychology that preserves such false beliefs is not to ignore the objective moral truth that no attacker can ever justly blame their victims for defending themselves.

The same distorted morality has been used to justify attacks against the native Americans, the VietnameseEl Salvadorans, and the Afghans. It is the same story over and over again.

These people have been dehumanized, their God-given right to self-defense has been delegitimized, their resistance has been re-framed as terrorism, and US soldiers have been sent to kill them.

History has preserved these lies, normalized them, and socialized them into our culture: so much so that legitimate resistance against US aggression is incomprehensible to most, and to even raise this question is seen as un-American.

History has defined the US veteran as a hero, and in doing so it has automatically defined anyone who fights against him as the bad guy. It has reversed the roles of aggressor and defender, moralized the immoral, and shaped our societies’ present understanding of war.

I cannot imagine a more necessary step towards justice than to put an end to these lies, and achieve some moral clarity on this issue.

I see no issue more important than to clearly understand the difference between aggression and self-defence, and to support legitimate struggles.

I cannot hate, blame, begrudge, or resent Fallujans for fighting back against us. I am sincerely sorry for the role I played in the second siege of Fallujah, and I hope that some day not just Fallujans but all Iraqis will win their struggle.” End of quote

Note 1: This piece was originally run on stopwar.org.uk

Note 2:  From this account, it appears that the US dropped toxic and highly poisonous bombs and “depleted uranium”, internationally prohibited like burning phosphorous bombs and biological bombs, that the civilians died for days, months, and years later…

A cousin of mine in Canada was attending mass, and the Falluja story was fresh and the preacher got it all wrong about Falluja.  My cousin burst out of church shouting: “Falluja! Why don’t you dare saying what really happened in Falluja? Thousands of civilians slaughtered in Falluja…”

Note 3: This update on Jan. 16, 2014: Falluja is now under siege by the Iraqi army. The city has surrendered to the extremist Islamist Da3esh faction and the Iraqi government is demanding from the tribal clans to quick out of the city these “intruders” who were actually welcomed by the city. The Iraqi army is trying to recapture its authority in the Anbar province, to close the passages for the volunteered Islamists going to fight in Syria.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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