Globalization and terror: Moloch’s jellybabies
by toni solo
May 12, 2007
The United States militarist plutocracy wrangled in recent weeks over assigning more than 500 billion of worth-less-and-less foreign creditors’ US dollars to its imperialist war machine. The corporate media tried to foment vain interest in what terms the plutocrats may end up negotiating among themselves for that budget’s approval. To confirm the essential obscenity of the US government and the rubber-stamp-with-vaudeville US legislature, their injustice system has just set free a terrorist – Luis Posada Carriles – despite a formal request from Venezuela that Posada Carriles be extradited for bombing an airliner, killing over 70 civilians.
Inherently inhuman, since it is deliberately operated to prioritize corporate profit, the US political system is geared to generate indiscriminate slaughter and death. Serious counting of people absent by death stopped long ago. Most-favoured-genocides, like Darfur, get a reckoning. US generated slaughter does not. Hence the Bush regime’s dismissal of the authoritative Lancet report on Iraq’s lost hundreds of thousands. In Diyala this week a US helicopter killed at least six school children in a strike on a primary school. Might be more, might be fewer – the US authorities could hardly care less. Remember Colin Powell’s reply to a request for a total figure of Iraqi casualties during Desert Storm, “It’s really not a number I’m terribly interested in.”
Powell’s role in the destruction of Iraq is a bit-part in the wider drama of corporate imperialism’s drive to remake colonialism under the guise of globalization. The main coercive components of that drive are gross trade inequities along with heavily conditioned debt and “aid”, accompanied by constant psychological warfare in the corporate media. When the standard components fail to generate sufficient power, covert action or outright aggression are used. Imperialist terror constantly shadows globalization, purposefully shaping and baiting enemies by way of self-justifying propaganda. Corporate media news manufacture and its atomization of information are among the most pernicious and insidious of the strategies involved.
The systemic terror inflicted on countries like Iraq, Haiti, Afghanistan, Palestine and Somalia is a continuation of unfinished colonial business. The terror system is active within countries too. From Mexico to Egypt to the Philippines to the imperial centres themselves, authorities keen to collaborate in the globalization project replicate imperialist terror strategies on a local rather than a global scale. Even the bitty, piecemeal clues thrown out by the corporate news machine make clear the depth and breadth of the challenge to humanity presented by the United States and its European and Pacific allies.
Depleted Uranium – horror by stealth
The deliberate degradation of Iraq’s health system via years of UN sanctions and subsequent maladministration under military occupation is news in the sense that it provides headlines like “Infant mortality in Iraq soars as young pay the price for war” in the Independent of May 8th. Perhaps a more complete contextual report is the World Socialist Web Site article of May 9th “Iraqi infant mortality soars by 150 percent—a damning revelation of US war crimes”. Both help complete part of the overall picture’s foreground but omit the horrific detail and controversy around depleted uranium-provoked cancers and genetic deformations.
Naturally, the US and British governments deny and where possible censor the steadily accumulating evidence of the horrific effects of their criminally reckless use of depleted uranium munitions in the two Gulf Wars. It is certain these munitions have not only irreversibly damaged the health of many hundreds of US and collaborating troops and mercenaries as well as many thousands of Iraqi military and civilians. They have also condemned future generations of the affected multitude to cancer and deformation. Despite its neutral and heavily technical emphasis, the Wikipedia entry on depleted uranium makes two very pertinent points.
Firstly, “DU is considered both a toxic and radioactive hazard that requires long term storage as low level nuclear waste. DU is relatively expensive to store but relatively inexpensive to produce or obtain. Generally the only real costs are those associated with conversion of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) to metal. DU is extremely dense, 67% denser than lead, only slightly less than tungsten and gold, and just 16% less dense than osmium or iridium, the densest naturally occurring substances known. Its low cost makes it attractive for a variety of industrial and military uses.”
Thus, DU poison costs a lot of money to store safely. Cheaper than tungsten and other expensive metals for producing effective armour piercing shells, DU weapons manufacture solves two problems at once. It camouflages the dispersal of nuclear waste and increases shareholder profits all round by removing high storage costs and converting the poisonous trash into expensive munitions. As so well-signalled by incidents like the Bhopal Union Carbide chemical plant disaster and innumerable other cases, human health has next to no place in the corporate profit equation. Costs of any health care for people suffering the effects of DU radiation exposure can be postponed through decades of obfuscation and denial and finally defrayed onto national governments. Arms corporations ultimately externalize potential health and legal costs by passing them on to forever-deceived taxpayers.
A second point in the non-commital Wikipedia article, here in relation to the link between DU, cancer and genetic defects is, “In general, the prevailing scientific view on the matter is that such data, and other scarce data available, do not conclusively prove a poisoning effect of depleted uranium; but that the possibility exists and cannot be ruled out either, and so a precautionary principle would suggest to suspend the use of such weapons.” But the war criminals who launched their illegal aggression against Iraq in March 2003 explicitly and deliberately trashed all international norms by appealing to their factitious, bogus “war on terror”. With them or against them, human life counts for little or nothing. Witness the Walter Reed hospital scandal and the generally despicable treatment of war veterans. If they treat their own side so callously, what can Iraqis expect? Iraqis bear witness to and suffer the terrifying answer day after day.
Figures from the Spanish group Research Collective on Radioactive Weapons (1) suggest that now in Iraq as many as 20 babies in every 4000 are born eyeless. This source argues that the figure in a normal population should be 1 in every 50 million. The article notes, “In Iraq, they call doomed pregnancies “bellies of jelly”. With reason, since from 1991 unformed lumps of meat have been born with deformations never seen before.” The article cites a report from Al-Jazeera reckoning that since 1991 the incidence of cancer in Iraq has increased tenfold and birth defects fivefold, “due to the use of uranium weapons”.
The response of the US and British authorities has been to repress awkward testimony about the facts of their deployment and use of DU armaments. The same article quoted above notes the case of Riyadh Lafta, an internationally recognised Iraqi epidemiologist highly critical of DU munitions and their use. Riyadh Lafta ” tried fruitlessly for six months to get a visa to travel to Seattle to give a conference in Washington. The British government then refused him a 4-hour transit visa from the Middle East to Canada, where he was invited for another conference.”
Back in 1999, four years before the second Gulf War, Felicity Arbuthnot (2) reported the case of Professor Asaf Durakovic “He is one of the world’s leading experts on radiation, and sees a familiar pattern. ‘Any doctor who becomes involved in this subject is pressurized, fired; records and samples go missing…’ ” Durakovic wrote of his concerns about DU munitions to President Clinton in 1997. “Shortly afterwards his senior position at the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the Veterans’ Administration Authority in Wilmington, Delaware, was terminated.” Arbuthnot goes on to note how at the same time in Britain, Iraq war veterans Ray Bristow and Colin Purcell Lee, returning from research in Iraq, “arrived home ‘to find we had been called traitors by a senior Cabinet Minister’ and that their homes had been raided by Ministry of Defence Police.”
Craig Etchison of Global Research argues “I suspect the military-industrial complex will stonewall admitting the effects of DU for as long as possible to avoid accepting responsibility, not to mention liability, for their reckless actions. When John Hanchette, a founding editor of USA Today tried to publish stories about DU, he received a phone call from the Pentagon asking him to desist. He was later replaced at USA Today. The World Health Organization’s chief expert on radiation and health had his report on DU suppressed. “(3)
Read the rest here.