NATO's Medical Miracle: Depleted Uranium Cures Cancer
Richard W. Rozoff, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Chicago, United States
It may be difficult in a world in which the defense establishments of major Western powers, and the compliant media that reflexively serve them, have depleted the attention span of their populations far more effectively than they've depleted their weapons of radioactive content, to recall the controversy surrounding uranium weaponry of a few weeks ago.
Hysteria, panic, crisis were terms not atypically used to describe the debate about the effects of depleted uranium (DU) weapons in NATO's Balkans campaigns over the past half decade.
The implication was that those drawing attention to the problem were guilty of sowing fear and ungrounded worry, when in fact they'd been laudably patient and even indulgent with the apologists of the use of these weapons.
Now that these uncomfortable alarms have temporarily receded into the background of news reporting - not because they're not urgent but because they're inexpedient to those who would deny their importance - it might be easy to forget what led to this increase in interest in what is, after all, the crucial issue of the day.
A short chronology is in order, if for no other reason than to keep the current information contest even-handed.
It's also required in order to guarantee a recognition that no news is not necessarily good news - and in fact is just the opposite.
When much-belated and long-ignored evidence of the health crisis provoked by NATO's use of weapons containing depleted uranium and other, even more dangerous, fission process by-products and waste from uranium ore enrichment, in the Balkans began to surface late last year, the mass media in Europe was swept up by the furore that erupted among the population of those nations who had stationed troops in Kosovo and Bosnia.
Daily reports detailed leukemia and other cancer cases among hitherto healthy young soldiers from Portugal, Italy, Belgium and, soon, a dozen other countries.
The English language Portuguese The News, in reference to the total Portuguese NATO contingent in Kosovo, even ran a news story with the title "Balkan Radiation: 10,000 Portuguese Could Be Affected." Major daily newspapers in Southern Europe in particular, as troops from Portugal and Italy as well as from several Eastern European nations had been stationed in areas with the highest concentration of DU contamination, ran regular features on and interviews with the family members of deceased soldiers, whose testimonies were as fraught with anger toward their governments as they were with devastation over their losses.
As the death toll mounted in the south of Europe, cases of DU-linked malignant diseases and deaths began appearing in the northwest also, with Belgium and Holland losing servicemen to leukemia and other DU-associated ailments.
In direct connection with the multi-party democratic tradition in respective countries, opposition parliamentarians in Europe raised the uranium munitions issue in public debates, pressed for medical tests for former SFOR (Bosnia) and KFOR (Kosovo) troops, and demanded a thorough investigation of and ban on the use of uranium weaponry. Several prominent medical doctors and scientists who had warned governments and the public alike beforehand of the health consequences of DU and related arms, including the U.S. Pentagon's former advisor on the issue, Dr. Doug Rokke, were finally allowed a brief forum for discussing the question, after being ignored for years.
Other specialists who had studied the disastrous oncogenic, neurological and genetic effects of DU weapons used in the 1991 Gulf War were also granted interviews during what turned out to be an all too brief Brussels Spring.
Alerted and encouraged by this sudden openness in the west of Europe, similar incidents of suspicious cancer, renal and other diseases began surfacing throughout Eastern Europe, with Hungarian, Romanian and other troops formerly stationed in the Balkans being diagnosed with often fatal illnesses.
Continuation Of War By Other Means
The public uproar over the crisis, especially as it was directed towards governments that knew (or should have known) the probable effects of deploying their citizens to what were indisputably danger zones, immediately led to rancor within and between NATO member states.
Parliamentary debates raged, in Portugal right on the eve of a national election yet, and the Permanent War Council in Brussels was in a panic. The mounting public outrage over the DU crisis at home reinforced an already growing sense of distrust and betrayal about the entire Balkans war of 1999; one in which NATO launched a massive attack against a defenseless nation - and populace - on the basis of a succession of threadbare pretences, each one of which was subsequently exposed as the attempt to create war hysteria that it was.
The nadir of internecine NATO squabbling, potentially lethal to an alliance that has no valid reason for existence to begin with and depends on a shared delusion for its continuation, occurred in January when German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping felt the heat from various domestic constituencies on the DU crisis.
Not being in a position to condemn outright the use of so-called depleted uranium munitions, having raised no objection during the seventy eight days of their use in 1999, Scharping seized on the then current revelation that U.S.-produced DU shells and bullets also contained enriched uranium and plutonium and, to employ the obligatory but hardly credible language of formal diplomacy, demanded an explanation from his American ally.
This posturing was a mere gesture of political self-preservation and was no doubt understood as such by the Pentagon and NATO Headquarters in Brussels. But the very fact that it was engaged in at all was an indication of how grave the crisis had become.
Time To Deplete The Fire
The concerted counterattack was ordered immediately after Scharping's contretemps with his American counterparts.
Having abandoned its earlier policy of plausible, if not total, denial, NATO now fell back to the redoubt of acknowledging that, yes, its otherwise pure DU weapons may have somehow become adulterated with non-depleted radioactive elements; and that the concerns - not the health problems, but the concerns - of its citizens might have some validity and, to demonstrate the paternal interest it entertained toward the public welfare, would conduct examinations of any soldiers who requested them. Understand, the tone and substance of the Western governments' pronouncements left no doubt that they considered such tests unnecessary and even frivolous. Reverting to an earlier tactic, one best exemplified by a Canadian official who said that Balkans Syndrome was really --and only-- the fear of Balkans Syndrome, NATO and its individual members implied that whining about DU-incurred ailments was in some way unmanly. Definitely unsoldierly.
The counteroffensive intensified and even assumed a retroactive force with the dismissal of leukemia and other claims by former KFOR troops, instead explaining them away as essentially pre-existing conditions or produced by various co-morbidities.
This campaign reached its most absurd, and offensive, length when, as was observed by Polish-Canadian environmental researcher Dr. Piotr Bein, a Romanian soldier returning from the Balkans - and to a diagnosis of leukemia - had his case dismissed by government authorities who affirmed that the soldier in question had already been diagnosed with the disease prior to being sent on active duty abroad. Not a common practice in the Romanian, or any other army, to be sure.
Quite The Contrary
Quite the contary, quipped a Western defense official several weeks ago when asked if DU weapons presented health hazards for soldiers and civilians exposed to their effects.
Half surreal, half monstrous, this comment is emblematic of the stonewalling strategy of NATO itself as well as the governments of its constituent members and the media that faithfully echoes its press releases.
And on the level of public information, generally, it's been successful. The above-mentioned Romanian leukemia case, along with an attenuated report of a French soldier three days ago which was summarily dismissed as "unrelated to the use of depleted uranium," no further stories of DU-related cancer or other illnesses have appeared in the Western mainstream media in several weeks.
Which is curious as, being forced to acknowledge the anomaly of so many previously healthy troops returning home to die of malignant diseases, the NATO line then was an epidemiological smokescreen. That is, if the normal rate of cancer among population group A over time period B is C, then we can expect a corresponding amount of cancer cases among A whether or not any individual member of the group was stationed in the Balkans.
Yet now, knowing how alert the world is to reports of such ailments among former Balkans troops, it's been weeks since any have been mentioned. Are we to believe that the normal rate of leukemia among - primarily - males of military age who served in the Balkans has now dropped to zero? That the 'in fact the contary' has been proven accurate? That counter to all common sense and evidence alike Balkans veterans, and Yugoslavians, exposed to uranium and plutonium particles directly and through the food chain and water supplies are actually healthier than those not exposed, that they're more resistant to cancer?
As a veritable epidemic of leukemia explodes among ethnic Serbian civilians exposed to DU weapons near the Sarajevo suburb of Hadjici some five years ago; as prominent scientists like England's Malcom Hooper warn of uranium poisoning spreading into food and water sources in Scotland as a result of DU weapons used on firing ranges there; as the British journalist Andrew North details the DU ravages among the Iraqi population in and around the city of Basra, especially among the most innocent and vulnerable, the infants born with grotesque and horrid birth defects in numbers well-defying the epidemiological norm.
And as yesterday's local press reports, that the Bush administration is planning to severely cut back on an already inadequate budget for inspecting the Paducah, Kentucky plant that manufactures U.S. DU weapons found contaminated with plutonium,; as all this is known - and this is only the beginning - NATO's false assurance concerning the miraculous disappearance of leukemia and other fatal illnesses seems premature.
In fact, to the extent that politically (and economically) motivated cover ups on this issue are relayed by major media outlets and are believed by those most affected by DU contamination, the assurances aren't so much premature as catastrophic. And as criminal as catastrophic.
DU at work in Iraq ten years later (WARNING: Extremely Disturbing)
(copyleft: reproduce and acknowledge the source)