Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cancer - The Deadly Legacy of the Invasion of Iraq

Forget about oil, occupation, terrorism or even Al Qaeda. The real hazard for Iraqis these days is cancer.Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq. Thousands of infants are being born with deformities. Doctors say they are struggling to cope with the rise of cancer and birth defects, especially in cities subjected to heavy American and British bombardment
Here are a few examples. In Falluja, which was heavily bombarded by the US in 2004, as many as 25% of new- born infants have serious abnormalities, including congenital anomalies, brain tumors, and neural tube defects in the spinal cord.
The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009 according to Al Jazeera English.
In Basra there were 1885 diagnosed cases of cancer in 2005. According to Dr. Jawad al Ali, director of the Oncology Center, the number increased to 2,302 in 2006 and 3,071 in 2007. Dr. Ali told Al Jazeera English that about 1,250-1,500 patients visit the Oncology Center every month now.
Not everyone is ready to draw a direct correlation between allied bombing of these areas and tumors, and the Pentagon has been skeptical of any attempts to link the two. But Iraqi doctors and some Western scholars say the massive quantities of depleted uranium used in U.S. and British bombs, and the sharp increase in cancer rates are not unconnected.
Dr. Ahmad Hardan, who served as a special scientific adviser to the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Iraqi Ministry of Health, says that there is scientific evidence linking depleted uranium to cancer and birth defects. He told Al Jazeera English, "Children with congenital anomalies are subjected to karyotyping and chromosomal studies with complete genetic back-grounding and clinical assessment. Family and obstetrical histories are taken too. These international studies have produced ample evidence to show that depleted uranium has disastrous consequences."
Iraqi doctors say cancer cases increased after both the 1991 war and the 2003 invasion. 
Iraqi family. © James Gordon (Flickr)Abdulhaq Al-Ani, author of "Uranium in Iraq" told Al Jazeera English 
that the incubation period for depleted uranium is five to six years, which is consistent with the spike in cancer rates in 1996-1997 and 2008-2009.
There are also similar patterns of birth defects among Iraqi and Afghan infants who were also born in areas that were subjected to depleted uranium bombardment.
Dr. Daud Miraki, director of the Afghan Depleted Uranium and Recovery Fund, told Al Jazeera English he found evidence of the effect of depleted uranium in infants in eastern and southeastern Afghanistan. "Many children are born with no eyes, no limbs, or tumors protruding from their mouths and eyes," said Dr. Miraki.
It's not just Iraqis and Afghans. Babies born to American soldiers deployed in Iraq during the 1991 war are also showing similar defects. In 2000, Iraqi biologist Huda saleh Mahadi pointed out that the hands of deformed American infants were directly linked to their shoulders, a deformity seen in Iraqi infants.
Many U.S. soldiers are now referring to Gulf War Syndrome #2 and alleging they have developed cancer because of exposure to depleted uranium in Iraq.
But soldiers can end their exposure to depleted uranium when their service in Iraq ends. Iraqi civilians have nowhere else to go. The water, soil and air in large areas of Iraq, including Baghdad, are contaminated with depleted uranium that has a radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years.
Dr. Doug Rokke, former director of the U.S. Army's Depleted Uranium Project during the first Gulf War, was in charge of a project of decontaminating American tanks. He told Al Jazeera English that "it took the U.S. Department of Defense in a multi-million dollar facility with trained physicists and engineers, three years to decontaminate the 24 tanks that I sent back to the U.S."
And he added, "What can the average Iraqi do with thousands and thousands of trash and destroyed vehicles spread across the desert and other areas?"
According to Al Jazeera, the Pentagon used more than 300 tons of depleted uranium in 1991. In 2003, the United States used more than 1,000 tons.
By Jalal Ghazi, New America Me

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


“There have been demonstrations in New Zealand,
Moscow and St Petersburg protesting against 
my son Joe’s imprisonment and unjust treatment 
at the hands of the MoD [Ministry of Defence] and
British Government. We remain strong in the 
knowledge that Joe is right.”   Sue Glenton, 
shown with Against The War York (UK)

Joe Glenton is the first soldier in Europe to publicly refuse to fight in Afghanistan.  He was sent there with the British army in 2006: while politicians claim that troops were there ‘to help’, he saw that the Afghan people were against them. He went AWOL) in 2007 and handed himself in two years later.
Last November, he was jailed for a month, then released on condition that he does not speak in public. His mother Sue and his wife Clare have carried on speaking for him and against the war and occupation.  On 29 January, as a result of international support within and outside the military, the military court dropped the most serious charges which carried a 10-year sentence. However, in spite of being diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, on 5 March Joe will be put on trial for going AWOL, facing two years in jail. This amounts to mental torture.
Joe Glenton is one of thousands of men and women around the world who refuse to serve in the military—a crucial part of the international anti-war movement.  To defend Western interests, NATO troops have ravaged Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world. The majority of casualties are women. In 2004, the UN estimated that of the 1.5 million people killed in conflicts over two decades, 300,000 were children. This bloodshed must stop.  Those responsible for the crime of war should be tried, not those who refuse to kill.  REFUSING TO KILL IS NOT A CRIME!


Saturday, February 20, 2010

More than 17,000 episodes of troops going Awol since 2003

By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent  The Independent  February 20, 2010

Macho culture blamed for soldiers running away rather than asking for help

British soldiers have gone on the run from their posts on more than 17,000 occasions since the start of the Iraq war, The Independent can reveal.
As resources for the armed forces remain stretched to cope with Britain's commitments in Afghanistan, official figures from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) show that there were more than 2,000 cases of soldiers going absent without leave (awol) last year, with 17,470 incidents recorded since the Iraq invasion in 2003.
The internal Government statistics, released to The Independent under the Freedom of Information Act, show that 375 soldiers remained at large at the end of last year, although MoD sources insisted that the figure has since fallen. Army officials are battling hard to tackle the problem that has persisted throughout Britain's gruelling operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Domestic problems and stress have all been blamed for the awol figures. There is also a trend for soldiers to not return from holidays. But support groups and politicians also warned that the extent of Britain's overseas commitments was playing a part, with soldiers having to go on repeated tours closer together than in the past.
The number of awol cases each year has remained at more than 2,000 for the past decade. In response, the army is carrying out research on the problem to gain "a full understanding of the issues" behind it. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that most incidents are caused by soldiers' domestic circumstances, eg family problems, rather than any wish to avoid military service," an MoD spokesman said.
Julie McCarthy, chief executive of the Army Families Federation, said that while help was offered to soldiers considering going awol, a "macho culture" within the barracks quite often put off young recruits from seeking advice about their problems. "Young soldiers in particular can feel that they cannot open up and take the help on offer, so when they have problems at home, they take the option of just dropping everything and leaving," she said.
"Anecdotally, we do hear of more serious issues of mental health, with some soldiers feeling that it all gets too much for them. I don't know what effect the number of operations that Britain has taken part in has had, but it must be a factor." Liam Fox, shadow Defence Secretary, said: "These figures are very concerning. There is a possibility that the current overstretch and high tempo of operations have contributed to this high level of awol soldiers."
Joe Glenton, 27, is facing up to two years in prison after last month admitting going awol. His solicitor said that Mr Glenton, who disappeared between June 2007 and June 2009, was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and had refused to fight in Afghanistan as he saw it as an illegal war. "Joe is delighted that he is no longer facing the higher charge of desertion," said his solicitor, John Tipple. "Soldiers are told to stand up for themselves when they are told to do something they believe to be wrong. That is just what Joe did and it was a brave thing to do." Mr Glenton is due to be sentenced on 5 March.
Two other soldiers picked up by police last year said they went awol after being bullied. Privates Andrew Jones and Andre Treble, both 22 when they walked out of Buckley Barracks in Wiltshire, said they had been attacked by fellow soldiers.
Local police forces are usually contacted by army officers to catch missing soldiers once they have decided to pursue an absconder, according to the MoD. Decisions to prosecute soldiers are taken on a case by case basis.

Source: Refusing To Kill

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Afhanistan Coalition Military Fatalities: Latest Report

photo courtesy of

Afghanistan Coalition Military Fatalities By Year


Sunday, February 14, 2010

4698 Soldiers Died in Iraq Says Latest Report

Photo courtesy of


Iraq Coalition Military Fatalities By Year


Monday, February 8, 2010

No Regrets

Kids died in a war they got nothing to do but hey! "No regrets "

Friday, February 5, 2010


Tony Blair is a great showman - the most talented actor-politician of modern times, with the exception of Bill Clinton.
All his skills of presentation and manipulation were on display on Friday when he appeared before the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war.
Tanned and wearing make-up, his hair thinner and much greyer than during his last days as Prime Minister, he performed brilliantly.
But it was a performance all the same.
He was in control, as fluent and articulate as when he was making the case for war in 2002.
He seemed to have the five committee members just where he wanted them - feebly starstruck, helpless to challenge or wound.
Blair spoke with the zeal of a man who believed that he had done the right thing. "Saddam was a monster," he said. "A threat to the world."
At the end of the long day's questioning, Blair was asked by Sir John Chilcot, the Whitehall mandarin heading up the inquiry, whether he had any regrets.
Any person of compassion would have said that he regretted the deaths of the 179 British soldiers killed in Iraq as well as more than 100,000 Iraqis.
But Blair turned his answer into another extended riff of self-justification.
We have learned important lessons about nation-building, he said, as well as about the threat posed by Iran and al-Qaeda.
Sir John pushed him again: "So no regrets?" No, Blair said.
Chilcot is the fourth inquiry into the Iraq war. That there have been so many, each exploring much the same territory, is testament to the war's bitter legacy.
For the Americans, the war was never about whether or not Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction.
It was about "regime change", clear and simple.
It was about the taking out of an enemy of the US and of the US's strategic Middle East ally, Israel - an enemy that also happened to be an oil-rich state.
The al-Qaeda attacks of September 11 2001 on New York's Twin Towers had created the conditions in which the Americans could complete the unfinished business of the first Gulf War of 1991 and topple the despised Saddam. Post-war British foreign policy has been predicated upon our being America's number one ally.
But Blair was not compelled to support the Bush regime so unequivocally.
After all, in the 60s Labour premier Harold Wilson rightly refused to send British troops to fight in Vietnam, as Australia did.
No, Blair chose the course of war because in his view "it was the right thing to do", and because he believed himself to be on a kind of divine mission.
Remember how at the Labour Party conference of 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks, he had spoken of how the time was right to reorder the world.
"This is a moment to seize," he said. "The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux.
"Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder the world around us..."
Our soldiers are still dying in distant lands because of Blair's messianic dream of reordering the world through bloodshed rather than seeking the disarmament of Iraq through consensus and the United Nations.
Blair will go to his grave believing that history will judge him kindly. "I'm ready to meet my Maker and answer for those who have died as a result of my decisions," he has said.
But he will never escape censure on this Earth. He exaggerated the threat that Saddam posed to the UK.
His actions brought Islamic terrorism to our streets.
He took Britain into its worst foreign policy disaster since the then Suez crisis in 1956.
And the war resulted in a breakdown of trust between the people and the politicians - between those who govern and the rest of us.
That is a terrible legacy.
How badly will Labour be hurt by Chilcot? I don't think it will make very much difference to their present position or to Gordon Brown.
For a start, the party has learned the lessons of Iraq and, under Foreign Secretary David Miliband, has a new multilateral foreign policy.
In the end, the Iraq war was, above all else, Blair's war.
Brown as Chancellor might have signed the cheques to fund it, but ultimately Blair is culpable.
I'm sure his Maker is looking forward to that conversation.

By Jason Cowley, Editor of New Statesman

No Regret Says Blair

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Short relives the day Blair silenced her for criticising the Iraq war

By Michael Savage
Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Tony Blair was prepared to "deceive" Parliament over Iraq and freeze out opposition within his Government because of his unshakeable belief that it was right to topple Saddam Hussein, a former cabinet minister has said.
Clare Short, who was the International Development Secretary before resigning shortly after the March 2003 invasion, also revealed that she was "jeered" by cabinet colleagues and told to be quiet by Mr Blair when she attempted to dispute the legality of the war. She added that Gordon Brown had complained to her that Mr Blair was "obsessed with his legacy" and was determined to use a short, decisive victory in Iraq to secure it.
In the most ferocious attack on Mr Blair's style of government heard by Sir John Chilcot's inquiry to date, Ms Short said the former Prime Minister had ignored warnings that post-war preparations were not ready because he was "frantic" to give his backing to President Bush. Plans on Iraq were decided by a small group of his "mates", while she was frozen out during the summer of 2002.
"I'm not saying he was insincere," she said. "I think he was willing to be deceitful about it because he thought it was right."
Ms Short, who became the first MP to be given a round of applause after her evidence, told the Iraq Inquiry that Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General who gave the legal green light for military action, misled the Cabinet in doing so. While Lord Goldsmith told the Cabinet on 17 March that the war would be legal, just 10 days earlier he had advised the Prime Minister that while a "reasonable case" could be made for the invasion's legality, he could not guarantee that a court would agree. "I think for the Attorney General to come and say there's unequivocal legal authority to go war was misleading," she said.
She also directly challenged Lord Goldsmith's claim that ministers declined the chance to debate the legality of the war. Ms Short added that Lord Goldsmith had been "leaned on" and excluded from decisions in an attempt to force him to change his mind over the legality of the war, something he has denied.
She said that Mr Blair used "secretiveness and deception" to take Britain to war, while the checks on his power had "broken down quite badly" during his drive to join the US-led invasion. In particular, she said a tactic to "blame the French" for vetoing any further action against Saddam was "a deliberate lie". Ms Short added that France and other UN members may have backed military action at a later date.
"I noticed Tony Blair in his evidence to you kept saying, 'I had to decide, I had to decide.' And indeed that's how he behaved. But that is not meant to be our system of government," she said. "When you add secrecy and deceit the system becomes positively dangerous."
A letter published by the inquiry yesterday showed that Ms Short had warned Mr Blair before the invasion that preparations for the reconstruction of Iraq were not ready and that military action should be delayed. In the correspondence, sent two weeks before the war, she warned of a "possible humanitarian crisis" unless planners were given more time.
She said that the US body overseeing the post-war strategy was "under-staffed, under-resourced and under-prepared for the scale of the challenge" as the war approached. "You should be aware that the US and the international humanitarian community are not properly prepared to deal with the immediate humanitarian concerns," she wrote. "A little more time would make the US much better able to deal with some of the humanitarian consequences of conflict."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Model for Haiti: An Excerpt from The Shock Doctrine

By Naomi Klein - January 22nd, 2010
Posted on

As if disasters aren't bad enough on their own, they often precede an even more chilling aftermath, argues Canadian journalist Naomi Klein. In The Shock Doctrine, published in 2007, Klein contends that disasters leave populations vulnerable to carefully calculated policy changes that would never pass muster under normal democratic circumstances. The following is an excerpt from the conclusion of The Shock Doctrine, outlining steps other groups have taken to prevent "disaster capitalism" from prevailing post-crisis.

Despite all the successful attempts to exploit the 2004 tsunami, memory also proved to be an effective tool of resistance in some areas where it struck, particularly in Thailand. Dozens of coastal villages were flattened by the wave, but unlike in Sri Lanka, many Thai settlements were successfully rebuilt within months. The difference did not come from the government. Thailand's politicians were just as eager as those elsewhere to use the storm as an excuse to evict fishing people and hand over land tenure to large resorts. Yet what set Thailand apart was that villagers approached all government promises with intense skepticism and refused to wait patiently in camps for an official reconstruction plan. Instead, within weeks, hundreds of villagers engaged in what they called land "reinvasions."
They marched past the armed guards on the payroll of developers, tools in hand, and began marking off the sites where their old houses had been. In some cases, reconstruction began immediately. "I am willing to bet my life on this land, because it is ours," said Ratree Kongwatmai, who lost most of her family in the tsunami.

The most daring reinvasions were performed by Thailand's indigenous fishing peoples called the Moken, or "sea gypsies." After centuries of disenfranchisement, the Moken had no illusions that a benevolent state would give them a decent piece of land in exchange for the coastal properties that had been seized. So, in one dramatic case, the residents of the Ban Tung Wah Village in the Phang Nga province "gathered themselves together and marched right back home, where they encircled their wrecked village with rope, in a symbolic gesture to mark their land ownership," explained a report by a Thai NGO. "With the entire community camping out there, it became difficult for the authorities to chase them away, especially given the intense media attention being focused on tsunami rehabilitation." In the end, the villagers negotiated a deal with the government to give up part of their oceanfront property in exchange for legal security on the rest of their ancestral land. Today, the rebuilt village is a showcase of Moken culture, complete with museum, community centre, school and market. "Now, officials from the sub-district come to Ban Tung Wah to learn about 'people-managed tsunami rehabilitation' while researchers and university students turn up there by the bus-full to study 'indigenous people's wisdom.'"

All along the Thai coast where the tsunami hit, this kind of direct-action reconstruction is the norm. The key to their success, community leaders say, is that "people negotiate for their land rights from a position of being in occupation"; some have dubbed the practice "negotiating with your hands." Thailand's survivors have also insisted on a different kind of aid—rather than settling for handouts, they have demanded the tools to carry out their own reconstruction. Dozens of Thai architecture students and professors, for example, volunteered to help community members design their new houses and draw their own rebuilding plans; master boat builders trained villagers to make their own, more sophisticated fishing vessels. The results are communities stronger than they were before the wave. The houses on stilts built by Thai villagers in Ban Tung Wah and Baan Nairai are beautiful and sturdy; they are also cheaper, larger and cooler than the sweltering prefab cubicles on offer there from foreign contractors. A manifesto drafted by a coalition of Thai tsunami survivor communities explains the philosophy: "The rebuilding work should be done by local communities themselves, as much as possible. Keep contractors out, let communities take responsibility for their own housing."

Uniting all these examples of people rebuilding for themselves is a common theme: participants say they are not just repairing buildings but healing themselves. It makes perfect sense. The universal experience of living through a great shock is the feeling of being completely powerless: in the face of awesome forces, parents lose the ability to save their children, spouses are separated, homes—places of protection—become death traps. The best way to recover from helplessness turns out to be helping—having the right to be part of a communal recovery. "Reopening our school says this is a very special community, tied together by more than location but by spirituality, by bloodlines and by a desire to come home," said the assistant principal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


The following editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, Jan. 14:

Haitians have long been prey to hurricanes and coups, their nation ravaged by erosion and corruption, mudslides and marauders, poverty and violence. Now the few economic and political gains made over five years of relative stability have been buried along with thousands of corpses in the rubble of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The presidential palace, parliament, government ministries and hospitals - indeed most of the capital of Port-au-Prince - are in ruins. An already dysfunctional state now lacks even the edifices of government. Gone too are some of the buttresses: the archbishop and his cathedral; the head of the U.N. mission and some of his top aides, who died when their headquarters collapsed.
Not even a developed country could completely withstand such a powerful temblor so close to the Earth's surface and city center. Yet the full extent of Haiti's devastation is a result of its broken state, where 80 percent live below the poverty line. Port-au-Prince quadrupled to nearly 3 million people in the last 25 years as Haitians fled a denuded countryside in search of food and work. They built shanties out of watered-down concrete on precarious hillsides. They didn't have water and electricity, let alone zoning and inspectors to insist on safety. The international community has made some headway in building a civilian police force to provide security, but not as much in bolstering a civilian government to provide for its people. A school to train magistrates was to reopen this month; parliamentary elections were to be held in March and a presidential election in December. Tentative investments were trickling in to tourism and industry. All of that came to a screeching halt in seconds.
Of course the United States and the international community must respond to the terrible emergency first. They must tend to the wounded, provide shelter for tens of thousands of homeless and bury the dead. But they also must plan now for rebuilding the capital and, even harder still, creating a functioning state. Yes, that's nation-building. It is the urban planning that never took place. It means working with the government to build adequate housing and schools. It requires job creation - and not necessarily in the capital. This is an agricultural country that must be able to farm and feed itself.
For decades, the United States has turned its attention to Haiti only sporadically, only in times of crisis, when too many boatloads of hungry Haitians washed onto Florida shores or when a government was about to fall - but then lost interest to another crisis. If the U.S. has the will and resources to build up governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, even Yemen, surely it can show leadership in building a functioning country on an island just a few hundred miles from the coast of Florida. Enough is enough for this failed state.