when is the end of a war not the end of a war, part two: "toxic legacy of fallujah worse than hiroshima"

Further to my thoughts on the not-over war in Iraq, in the car yesterday, I happened to catch the news on Jazz FM. The reporter said that the last 50,000 "combat troops" had been moved from Iraq to Kuwait, thereby ending the war (and inspiring last night's post). After the report, the host said, "It's been a long haul for the US in Iraq, and a dangerous one. I can't imagine how those guys and gals must be feeling to be going home."

You might have thought he was talking about World War II. And I thought, this is it, then. This is the spin - the rebranding - the load of crap - that the mainstream is buying. The guys and gays are going home.

Except 50,000 of those "guys and gals" - properly called men and women - and another 75,000 or more private mercenaries aren't. And another few-hundred-thousand are in Afghanistan. And tens of thousands are still being stop-lossed, forced to serve their second, third or fourth tour.

The occupation of Iraq has been "a long haul" for the US, has it? For most people in the US, it's been nothing. Well, that's not entirely true. As two simultaneous occupations drain most of the US treasury, increasing numbers of Americans are feeling the costs of war - although they may not make the connection between their dilapidated country and the destroyed countries so far away. But in general, unless they are military families, most people in the US are not affected by the war in any direct way.

When the radio host said, "it's been a long haul for the US," my stomach turned over. What's it been for the Iraqis, whose country was invaded, destroyed and remains occupied?

Here's another way the war on and occupation of Iraq does not end. From The Independent (UK):
Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah 'worse than Hiroshima'

The shocking rates of infant mortality and cancer in Iraqi city raise new questions about battle

By Patrick Cockburn

Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study.

Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents.

Their claims have been supported by a survey showing a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s. Infant mortality in the city is more than four times higher than in neighbouring Jordan and eight times higher than in Kuwait.

Dr Chris Busby, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster and one of the authors of the survey of 4,800 individuals in Fallujah, said it is difficult to pin down the exact cause of the cancers and birth defects. He added that "to produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened".

US Marines first besieged and bombarded Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, in April 2004 after four employees of the American security company Blackwater were killed and their bodies burned. After an eight-month stand-off, the Marines stormed the city in November using artillery and aerial bombing against rebel positions. US forces later admitted that they had employed white phosphorus as well as other munitions.

In the assault US commanders largely treated Fallujah as a free-fire zone to try to reduce casualties among their own troops. British officers were appalled by the lack of concern for civilian casualties. "During preparatory operations in the November 2004 Fallujah clearance operation, on one night over 40 155mm artillery rounds were fired into a small sector of the city," recalled Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, a British commander serving with the American forces in Baghdad.

He added that the US commander who ordered this devastating use of firepower did not consider it significant enough to mention it in his daily report to the US general in command. Dr Busby says that while he cannot identify the type of armaments used by the Marines, the extent of genetic damage suffered by inhabitants suggests the use of uranium in some form. He said: "My guess is that they used a new weapon against buildings to break through walls and kill those inside."

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