The impact of war on health and the environment especially is an oft forgotten issue. More than two decades of American war on Iraq has resulted in sharp rises in congenital birth defects and illnesses that were not previously seen in Iraq affecting the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. Scabies and cholera, for example, were foreign to Iraq and now they are a significant health problem. Localized disease like malaria also began appearing in regions previously free of it. There has also been a steep rise in Leukaemia, renal and anaemia, especially among children. Miscarriages and premature births have also spiked, most notably in areas like Fallujah and Basra, sites of heavy US military operations. And of course, lung and bone cancer rates soared.
Prominent doctors and scientists all contend that these increases are the result of contamination from Depleted Uranium munitions and other military-related pollution. Before the Gulf War, cancer rates in Iraq were 40 out of 100,000 people. The biggest concern for pediatricians was childhood obesity. In 1995, after a few years of Clinton’s bombardment, cancer rates had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people. In 2005, it had increased to 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Estimates show a rising trend that continues to this day. It should also be noted that these statistics are likely much lower due to inadequate research (the WHO has also been accused of suppressing information).
Dr. Savabieafahani, a toxicologist in Ann Arbor, found that the majority of the population remained in contaminated homes and buildings where exposure to lead, uranium, mercury and other metals continue. Many others built on top of the contaminated rubble and used materials savaged from the site.
It has been found that between 2002 and 2005, the US armed forces expended more than six billion Depleted Uranium bullets in Iraq, but that is on top of the 6,000 sorties and 1,800 bombs dropped during Clinton’s administration which dusted Iraq with Depleted Uranium for nearly a decade (at least a million of Depleted Uranium bullets were used during the Gulf War, and untold numbers used after up until 2002 as well). This has caused considerable damage in farming areas around Basra, for example, contaminating the food and water supply and it will continue causing environmental and health problems in Iraq years after the United States leaves (if they ever do). Because of this contamination babies are being born missing eyes, with numerous tumors, deformities, two heads, arms sticking out of their chest, crippling and complex nervous system problems… Democracy Now has a report.
During the Gulf War, 88,000 tons of explosives were dropped on Iraq (equivalent to nearly five Hiroshima-sized bombs). The energy released from these bombs caused an ionization of the Iraqi atmosphere resulting in toxic free radicals. When inside living cells these cause life threatening diseases and depletion of the immune system, leading to the spread of infectious diseases. This is but one of the many reasons, along with cruel economic sanctions leading to malnutrition, that child health problems went from obesity to death from simple diarrhea in such a short time frame.
Acid rain has plagued many parts of Iraq due to indiscriminate bombing of infrastructure like oil wells, storage facilities, delivery vehicles and more, releasing toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and water. The air quality was close to soot at times, and the rain was black as sulfuric and phosphoric acids, ammonia, insecticides, and heavy metals fell from the sky. Pollution levels are 1,000 percent higher than those recommended by the World Health Organization.
Environmental stability has been threatened as bombardment led to significant destruction of Iraq’s flora, fauna, and life cycle. Many arable regions have become unusable as damages led to massive alterations in soil composition and plant cover. Sand storms have raged across the country covering arable land and creating new sand dunes, as well as covering roads and buildings. The reason why this is the military’s fault is because bombs and military traffic destroy the hard sand cover preventing loose sand from being picked up. These problems cannot be addressed because Iraq’s power plants, drainage systems, sewage and water treatment centers, desalinization stations, and other farming equipment have been destroyed in whole or part, time and time again. Biodiversity is changing as rats and scorpions have dramatically increased, bringing with them their own problems. And other animals have been destroyed in large numbers.
The brutal occupation, crippling sanctions, and war on Iraq from the Clinton administration until today has resulted in the slaughter of more than 2 million Iraqi civilians. Under Bush’s war alone, the conservative mainstream media estimate is that 4% of Iraq’s population is dead from US sanctions and war. Had a foreign nation slaughtered 4% of the population in the United States that would be 12 million dead. This is an American genocide of the Iraqi people.