Liberal paranoia and Fallujah

The city of Fallujah, Al Anbar Province, Iraq,...Image via Wikipedia

A study examining the causes of a dramatic spike in birth defects in the Iraqi city of Falluja has for the first time concluded that genetic damage could have been caused by weaponry used in US assaults that took place six years ago.

The research, which will be published next week, confirms earlier estimates revealed by the Guardian of a major, unexplained rise in cancers and chronic neural-tube, cardiac and skeletal defects in newborns. The authors found that malformations are close to 11 times higher than normal rates, and rose to unprecedented levels in the first half of this year – a period that had not been surveyed in earlier reports.

The findings, which will be published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, come prior to a much-anticipated World Health Organisation study of Falluja's genetic health. They follow two alarming earlier studies, one of which found a distortion in the sex ratio of newborns since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – a 15% drop in births of boys.

"We suspect that the population is chronically exposed to an environmental agent," said one of the report's authors, environmental toxicologist Mozhgan Savabieasfahani. "We don't know what that environmental factor is, but we are doing more tests to find out."

The report identifies metals as potential contaminating agents afflicting the city – especially among pregnant mothers. "Metals are involved in regulating genome stability," it says. "As environmental effectors, metals are potentially good candidates to cause birth defects.

The findings are likely to prompt further speculation that the defects were caused by depleted uranium rounds, which were heavily used in two large battles in the city in April and November 2004. The rounds, which contain ionising radiation, are a core component of the armouries of numerous militaries and militias.

Their effects have long been called into question, with some scientists claiming they leave behind a toxic residue, caused when the round – either from an assault rifle or artillery piece – bursts through its target. However, no evidence has yet been established that proves this, and some researchers instead claim that depleted uranium has been demonstrably proven not to be a contaminant.

Shortly after the Marines evicted the terrorist from Fallujah there were scare stories about white phosphorous killing people without leaving burn marks, something that is impossible. While I would not argue that there have not been problems with defects, I suspect one of two causes neither having anything to do with the rounds used by the Marines. It is possible that some of Saddam's WMD was released in the course of the fight, particularly when insurgents were resisting in warehouses. It is also possible the terrorist may have deliberately released WMD in hopes of stopping the Marine attacks.

The theory about depleted uranium doesn't make any sense because Marines and other US troops do not use spent uranium in their assault rifles. Some tank rounds have spent uranium, but they are usually directed at other tanks where you use the spend uranium to penetrate the heavy armor of the enemy tanks. I am not aware of any enemy tanks in Fallujah. There are also no reports of similar defects in areas where tank battles took place in Iraq.

It is also possible there were some other pollutants lingering in Fallujah from industrial uses by the Saddam regime. While my speculation is just that, it does make more sense than the theory propounded by the Guardian.
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  1. The theory that some of "Saddam's WMD was released in the course of the fight" is an interesting one, since there were no WMD's in Iraq. If you have information that there were, please let the CIA know, for they have revised their reports. Check out "Iraq: No Large-Scale Chemical Warfare Efforts Since Early 1990s"

    Depleted uranium (DU) has been used extensively by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan (as has white phosphorus and napalm). To deny its destructive health impact is to deny the suffering of the victims, from children overseas to those suffering veterans--and their families--here at home. Check out "The Tiny Victims of Desert Storm," a Life photo essay on the children of Gulf War I veterans.

    And the hits just keep on coming:
    "Is an Armament Sickening U.S. Soldiers?"

    "Court Hearing on Suit Filed by Iraq Veterans Contaminated with Depleted Uranium Against U.S. Military."

    DU is this generation's Agent Orange. Are the effects of that carcinogenic chemical weapon "liberal paranoia?"


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