The Birth Defects We Caused in Iraq:
Let us end this week where so many have looked back with regret on the Iraq War on the 10th anniversary of its start. But as we move into history, we can be assured that the story of how we stumblefucked our way into war will be looked at as one of the epically misguided and just downright stupid decisions a nation has ever made. How do we know this already? Because of the state of the nation we were supposed to be saving. Iraq is now a divided country with a pitiless regime (now Shia instead of Sunni, so that's different) that uses rape, torture, and execution to punish its internal enemies; a place where terrorist bombings occur with frightening regularity; and a place where they haven't even gotten the electrical grid back to where it was before the war. But, hey, at least Saddam Hussein isn't running the joint, right?
Of course, we still haven't discussed the birth defects and cancer.
Yeah, see, during the war, the coalition (or, you know, the United States) used depleted uranium munitions, including, literally, billions of bullets (or, as one Pakistan newspaper put it, "That is 250,000 bullets per 'insurgent' killed in Iraq and Afghanistan." So, you know, no points for accuracy there). And that's not to mention the bombs used this time or the DU left behind after the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
This has created a legacy for the people of Iraq that will long, long outlive whatever good or other ill the war might have done. In Fallujah, the city that we bombed back to the pre-Stone Age, the number of birth defects is staggering: "the incident rates of congenital malformations remained around 14 percent." That includes "babies born with cleft pallets, elongated heads, a baby born with one eye in the centre of its face, overgrown limbs, short limbs, and malformed ears, noses and spines." And this is not to mention the birth defects to the heart at a rate 13 times that of Europe and to the nervous system at 33 times Europe. Parents in Fallujah are reported to be afraid to have children. And if you had a better than 1 in 10 chance of giving birth to a cyclops, you'd be scared, too. In Basra, the rate of birth defects increased by seven times between 1993 and 2004. And then there's the cancer. Between 1993 and 2007, the rate of leukemia in children increased fivefold in Basra.
Essentially, we turned large areas of Iraq into Hiroshima and Nagasaki when it comes to the long-term effects of our bombardments. And, remember, we're just a decade from the start of the war, not the end. The peak of the effects occurring won't be for another few years. Happy anniversary.