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<nettime> Depleted Uranium Update
Are Flagan on Sun, 6 Apr 2003 05:40:12 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Depleted Uranium Update


Although embedded reporting, mostly done by army reservists defending the
freedom of the press for the cable giants, has met with some criticism,
there was perhaps only a matter of time before that proverbial slip of the
tongue would offer something newsworthy. And so it was with CNN's Walter
Rodgers yesterday. Recall the depleted uranium story excellently compiled
for nettime by Phil Graham? Well, in the ongoing battle for Baghdad airport,
a mere 12 miles from the city center, Rodgers described how Marines had
fired a series of depleted uranium shells in the general direction of an
Iraqi position. He then paused, trying to figure out how to explain why said
ground was not stormed and held, in keeping with the brave. His explanation
was telling: Marines do not immediately enter the area where such munitions
have been deployed. By more than an indirect inference, this indicates
chain-of-command decisions on DU, based collectively on munitions
production, training, strategy and orders. The effect radioactive weapons
have on enemy soldiers at the point of impact and the surrounding population
for generations to come, as well as any blue forces exposed to the fallout
(Gulf War Syndrome), is a matter of disturbing fact. Clean up, as documented
in Graham's links, is near impossible over larger areas and extremely
costly.

Much has been made of weapons of mass destruction, of the chemical variety.
These are in contrast relatively easy to defend against for anyone with gas
masks, equipped with the requisite filters, and suits featuring a carbon
lining that prevents the penetration of chemical agents. Personnel leaving a
contaminated area are, to put it bluntly, simply showered and their soiled
equipment disposed off, unless it is safely cleaned. Analysts rightly argue
that it would have little or no effect on a battlefield comprised of modern,
equipped armies. In addition, every soldier carries antidote injectors to be
used if symptoms of exposure occur. The standard drill is to mask up and
then stab your thigh with the auto-syringe. It is fair to say that chemical
weapons belong to another era of warfare; today they pose little more than a
strategic inconvenience and, arguably, a psychological intimidation of an
invisible threat.

Consider, then, the invisible threat of the radioactive weapons now being
used: a threat not only to those present at the site of the explosion but
the genetic strain inhabiting the land (and the nearby city of Baghdad) for
several "civilizations" to come. To what extent DU is used and spread will
probably never be known, but we do know, thanks to Rodgers, that it is being
launched on this trajectory toward victory. That by itself is a significant
material fact with regards to foresight. The cold war seems to have left its
legacy intact: you must destroy the earth to save, or liberate, it.

I leave you with a direct quote from Col. Oliver North's (he's embedded)
dispatch to FOX News this morning:

"A 25mm round was fired into the car, killing the general, his driver and
unfortunately a dog."


-af

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