Green Prophet writer Arwa has been hot on the trail of the war’s devastating environmental impact on Iraq. She created a profile of environmental problems caused in part by the war and talked to conservationists Nature Iraq about the requisite steps to restore Iraq’s marshlands.
But the true extent of one of the war’s most horrifying legacies has been kept from the international public’s view. In an excerpt taken from The American Conservative, UTNE describes how the American army has left behind untold (but high) quantities of depleted uranium (DU) that is the most probable cause of babies being born with three heads and other devastating defects.
UTNE lists a variety of cases of Fallujah babies in particular that born with defects. Some reported defects include:
- Babies born with only one eye
- Babies born with missing limbs or too many limbs
- A higher than normal incidence of babies with brain damage or tumors
- Cardiac defects
- Missing genitalia
John Simpson, a world-renowned journalist, was presented with a photograph of a newborn with three heads when he toured a Fallujah hospital in March, 2010. And Ayman Qais, director of Fallujah’s general hospital, told the Guardian that “Most [deformities] are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs.”
Authorities have gone so far as to advise women to not have babies at all, at least for now.
Everyone – scientists, doctors, and aid workers – is pointing to the war and the bevy of weaponry, waste, rubble, burn pits, and oil fires left behind as the culprit of this travesty. Some are calling depleted uranium (DU) this war’s agent orange (an herbicide that caused similar deformations in Viet Nam).
“DU is a dense, highly toxic, radioactive heavy metal that the military uses for its shielding and penetrative capabilities,” according to UTNE, that will not be completely eradicated for 4.5 billion years.
The U.S. left behind 320 metric tons of DU after the first Gulf War, but there’s no real sense yet of how much will be left behind this time. One journalist traveled through Iraq with a Geiger counter that detects radioactivity and found plenty of it, including where children play among the rubble.
The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health verifies the notion that congenital malformations can be attributed to war-associated long-term exposure to contamination, but the U.S. Department of Defense denies responsibility.
The consequence of George W. Bush’s decision wage war on Iraq, for all the wrong reasons, are immediately felt by 15% of all new babies born in Fallujah. And they will continue to be felt for literally billions of years.
More on Iraq’s environmental problems:
image via James Gordon