than a dozen European veterans of the Kosovo war, fighting
on the NATO side, have died of leukemia, and more are ill.
Death appears to be among the health consequences for the
"victors" of their "victory." The proud "democracies" rained
their spears on Belgrade in the name of humanity, declaring
that theirs was a "humanitarian intervention," a felicitous
phrase invented by the news anchors at CNN and echoed around
the world. Who could have known that their spears were dipped
in poison? As a metaphor for the consequences of our recklessly
interventionist policy in the Balkans, one could not have
found a better one than a mass poisoning.
this story has been percolating for years and finally broke
through to the surface back in March 2000, when the UN task
force wrote to secretary general Kofi Annan and warned that
the sites of around 100 NATO targets were dangerously contaminated.
As I wrote in a
column at the time:
a half-life of 4.5 billion years, twice as dense as lead,
depleted uranium is radioactive and ultra-toxic. The San
Francisco Examiner, which broke the story, informs us
that "depleted uranium burns when it hits a target, contaminating
the tank and the surrounding area." Depleted uranium
the napalm of America's post-millennial Vietnam."
WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
monstrous effects of DU are nothing new to regular readers
of Antiwar.com, who are always ahead of the curve:
to the former
Yugoslavia, we have covered this issue from the beginning.
But there was no real public outcry: the story remained
well beneath the media's radar screen, in spite of increasing
evidence that linked DU to the so-called Gulf
War Syndrome. But that was back in the bad old days
before any sign of leukemia or cancer in a single European
soldier was detected. The announcement of the UN task force
that 8 out of 11 sites sampled needed to be decontaminated
"seems certain," writes Marlise Simons in the Times,
"to fan a rapidly spreading sense of fury and panic across
Europe about the well-being of soldiers sent to serve in
is almost incredible that the US and its allied governments
to this day refuse to acknowledge the horrendous effects
of DU on their own military personnel, as well as innocent
civilians, and continue to deny its link to Gulf War Syndrome.
As the soldiers of Belgium,
etc., fall ill and die from the effects of NATO's DU-bombing,
the power of the poison metaphor becomes even more appallingly
apparent: we have poisoned not only our enemies but also
ourselves, our own sons and daughters, who are dropping
like flies in the face of official denials. But these denials
ring hollow, as the relatives and loved ones of the poisoned
soldiers cry out for justice. They ring especially hollow
when even official
military publications detailing the handling and use
of DU emphasize the dangers posed to anyone who comes in
contact with it.
years, everyone ignored the horror stories coming out of
Iraqi hospitals: birth defects that seemed to mirror the
demonic power of the Anglo-American assault. In an article
posted here, Raed Battah, part of a "Voices
in the Wilderness" delegation to Iraq, described a visit
to a hospital, where he saw the horrific effects of DU on
of the more pleasant side effects of DU exposure is the
high instances of congenital birth defects among Gulf War
Veterans, both Iraqi and Coalition. These defects include
babies born with no heads, no genitals, no faces, limbs
grown together, webbed feet, and stunted limbs. At the Basra
Children's Maternity Hospital, Dr. Jinan Galeb Hassan showed
me and other 'Voices' delegates album after album of horrifying
such atrocities occurring in the Third World are hardly
sufficient to awaken the Western conscience: there is, after
all, an embargo against all information coming out of Iraq,
in tandem with the economic blockade, and so the information
was summarily dismissed as propaganda by Western news agencies
and ignored. But now that these same allegations are coming
out in the Western European media that DU has caused
and is causing incredible damage to a whole generation of
soldiers and millions of noncombatants the dangers
of DU have been suddenly "discovered."
TO CARLA DEL PONTE
late than never, but it is instructive to note that no one
is raising the same amount of concern for the biggest victims
of the NATO poisoners the people of the former Yugoslavia,
especially in Serbia proper, where the sheer volume of the
NATO bombardment hit hardest. What will be the health consequences
for these innocent civilians and has anyone
told Carla del Ponte, the chief inquisitor of the International
Tribunal investigating war crimes in the Balkans, about
this? Perhaps the mass poisoning of an entire people will
be enough to divert Her Honor away from her exclusive obsession
with proving alleged Serbian war crimes, although I doubt
signaling what we might expect from the incoming President,
Dubya's foreign policy advisors have given the impression
that they intend to start withdrawing troops, slowly
but surely, over the next four years. The news that
Bill Clinton poisoned not only Kosovo but also large sections
of Bosnia with DU, causing long-term and possibly fatal
consequences for the occupiers as well as the occupied,
gives Dubya every reason to speed up the withdrawal
process considerably from four years to four days.
If the new President knows what's good for him, he'll hightail
it out of Kosovo and environs but fast, or
face the righteous anger of the same veterans groups that
once supported him.
LONG, OH LORD HOW LONG?
long must we all pay for Bill Clinton's sins? That is
the question that must be put to anyone who now continues
to believe that we ought to maintain a military presence
for one more week in the poisoned lands of the Balkans.