Radioactive Iraq

Voniel Brown, Reporter

pg 3, pic 1 (300x299)Disturbing news has been coming out of Iraq recently, about a spike in the number of children being born every year with different birth defects. Hospitals do not have the staff, adequate equipment, or training required to deal with the rising problem. Many people believe the blame for the spike in congenital birth defect, in Iraq, is the result of U.S. military actions in the country. Evidence has been found that the use of uranium grade weapons by American soldiers is one of main causes for the birth defects.

The discovery of the environmental pollution problem was due to the amount of patients being rushed into hospitals around the country. Lots of these patients were later diagnosed with radiation poisoning. At first, it was a mystery to the doctors as to why so many different individuals came down with radiations poisoning. The doctors later found out that the victims were going to scrap heaps containing destroyed military vehicles and other items that were radioactive.

The city of Fallujah was the scene of the fiercest fighting throughout the occupation of Iraq. A massive amount of property was destroyed during the many fights that took place in the city. In 2004, the nightly bombing of the city with artillery created by using depleted uranium was highly radioactive. The radiation from the explosions would then enter the environment and contaminate everything from the drinking water to the food that civilians ate. The reason that there are more cases of children being affected by the radiation, is because children (or the fetuses), do not have the same detoxifying mechanisms as adults. This leaves children to be more susceptible to the harmful effects of the residual radiation in the city. According to a 2010 study conducted by the largest and most important hospital in Fallujah, Fallujah General, 1 in every 20 babies born in the hospital had some form of birth defects. To put that into perspective, this is 12 times greater than the rate of birth defects reported in the neighboring country of Kuwait.

The Iraq War has caused many innocent civilians to suffer without any proper cause. Weapons of modern warfare are more devastating than their predecessors. The weapons used today have a longer lasting effect, which can be felt for generations after the war. This made the period after the war as deadly as it was during the war. Such weapons came into use during the Second World War, where the Axis Powers and the Allied Nations were scrambling to destroy each other. It was during that time the world saw the first use of uranium weapons, in the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb killed thousand in the matter of seconds, and it is still impacting survivors today.

Another deadly use of chemical warfare, that still affects people today, was the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The U.S. military sprayed about 19 million gallons of the substance, together with other herbicides, aiming to remove the thick tree leaves that serve as cover for the enemies. However, Agent Orange had adverse effects on the civilian population of Vietnam, and the American soldiers, that came into contact with the chemical cocktail. The impact of the chemical was felt in the many children being born in Vietnam and the children of veterans who came into contact with the substance. There were children being born with Anencephaly, Down Syndrome, Hydrocephalus, and Spina Bifida.

Another thing that both Agent Orange and the use of uranium depleted weapons in Iraq have in common is the fact that the military refuses to spearhead a proper investigation into the after effects of the wars. Critics believe that the military does not want to lose such a valuable weapon in its arsenal, even if it harms innocent people.  Iraq is just another repeat of the mistakes that were made in Vietnam.  For the people of Iraq, the war goes on, even though Bush Jr. claimed, “Mission Accomplished.”