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Toxic Intervention: Are NATO Forces Poisoning Libya With Depleted Uranium as They “Protect” Civilians? March 27, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Libya, Nuclear weapons/power, War.
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Wednesday 23 March 2011

by: Dave Lindorff  |  This Can’t Be Happening | News Analysis

Toxic Intervention: Are NATO Forces Poisoning Libya With Depleted Uranium as They "Protect" Civilians?
On a tour led by an official of the Libyan government, a girl is seen next to a house covered in shrapnel marks on the eastern outskirts of Tripoli that government officials said was targeted by western air strikes, March 25, 2011. (Photo: Moises Saman / The New York Times)

President Obama’s criminal launch of an undeclared and Congressionally unauthorized war against Libya may be compounded by the crime of spreading toxic uranium oxide in populated areas of that country.

This is latest concern of groups like the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, which monitor the military use of so-called depleted-uranium (DU) anti-tank and bunker-penetrating shells.

Images of Libyan civilians and rebels celebrating around the burning hulks of the Libyan army’s tanks and armored personnel carriers, which had been hit by US, French and British aircraft ordinance in the early hours of the US-led assault on the forces of Col. Muammar Gaddafy, could well have been unknowingly inhaling the deadly dust of the uranium weapons favored by Western military forces for anti-tank warfare.

Specifically, the British-built Harrier jets used by British naval air forces and also by US Marine pilots, are often equipped with pod-mounted cannons that fire 20 mm shells–shells that often have uranium projectiles designed to penetrate heavy armor.

So far, the US has not introduced its A-10 Thunderbolts, known also as Warthogs, into the Libyan campaign, probably because these sub-sonic, straight-wing craft, while heavily armored, are vulnerable to shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles which Libyan forces are known to possess in large numbers. Once the air-control situation is improved by continued bombardment, however, these specialized ground-attack aircraft will probably be added to the attacking forces. The A-10 has a particularly large automatic cannon which fires an unusually large 30 mm shell. These shells are often fitted with solid uranium projectiles for attacking tanks, APCs or groups of fighters holed up in concrete bunkers.

A-10s were heavily used in the Balkan conflict, and officials of Kosovo were dismayed to learn that some 11 tons of uranium weapons were fired there, leaving dangerous uranium dust fallout in their wake.

The US military is fond of DU weapons because the material, made from uranium from which the fissionable U-235 has been removed, because it is extremely heavy, and, in alloy form, also extremely hard. Because of its mass, such projectiles can penetrate even the heaviest armor. Then, in the heat caused by the collision with an object, the uranium bursts into flame at extreme heat, causing an explosive (and toxic) inferno inside a tank or other vehicle, which usually also ignites any ammunition being carried. Soldiers inside a target vehicle are incinerated. The problem is that the resulting uranium oxide produced by such explosions, besides being highly toxic chemically, is also a microscopic alpha-emitter, which if inhaled or ingested by human beings is extremely carcinogenic and mutagenic.

Cities in Iraq where DU weapons were heavily used, such as Basra, Samara, Baghdad, Mosul and probably especially Fallujah, which was virtually leveled in a November 2004 Marine assault, are showing high rates of birth defects, many of which, along with unusually high rates of leukemia, medical experts say are emblematic of fetal radiation damage.

A University of Michigan peer-reviewed study of births in Fallujah published in December 2010 found that of 547 births in Fallujah General Hospital in May of 2010, six years after the all-out US assault on that city of 300,000, in which DU weapons were reportedly used widely, 15% of babies had birth defects–a rate more than five times higher than the global average of 2-3%.

It would be a tragic irony if rebels in Libya, after calling for assistance from the US and other NATO countries, succeeded in overthrowing the country’s long-time tyrant Gaddafy, only to have their country contaminated by uranium dust–the fate already suffered by the peoples of Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. 

Obama’s Libya War: Unconstitutional, Naïve, Hypocritical March 21, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Barack Obama, Libya, War.
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Published on Monday, March 21, 2011 by The Progressive
by Matthew Rothschild

Our founders would be appalled that a President of the United States could launch the country into an armed conflict half a world away without a formal declaration of war by Congress, much less barely any discussion of it by the House or by the Senate.

Article 1, Section 8, of our Constitution is unambiguous: Only Congress has the authority “to declare war.” James Madison warned that allowing the President to take the country into war would be “too much of a temptation for one man.”

At this point in the warping of our system of checks and balances, a President can wage war almost whenever he feels like it — or at least whenever he can cobble together some “broad coalition,” as Obama put it, or a “coalition of the willing,” as his predecessor put it.

Sounding just like George W. Bush when he attacked Iraq exactly eight years ago to the day, Obama said that military action against Libya was not our first resort.

Well, it may not have been the first resort, but it sure is Washington’s favorite resort.

We, as Americans, need to face facts: We have a runaway Executive Branch when it comes to warmaking.

And Obama appears naïve in the extreme on this one.

It is naïve to expect U.S. involvement in this war to be over in “days, not weeks,” as he said.

It is naïve to expect that he can carry this out without using ground troops.

It is naïve to wage war that is not in response to a direct threat to the U.S. national security.

It is naïve to expect millions of Libyans to cheer as their own country is being attacked by Western powers.

It is naïve to expect civilian casualties not to mount as a result of his actions, which he said were designed “to protect Libyan civilians.”

And it is naïve to expect the world to go along with the ruse that this is not a U.S.-led act of aggression.

Finally, Obama’s stated reasons for this war, which he refuses to call by its proper name, are hypocritical and incoherent.

He said “innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.”

That’s true of the people of Yemen, our ally, which just mowed down dozens of peaceful protesters.

That’s true of the people of Bahrain, our ally, which also just mowed down dozens of peaceful protesters.

Then there’s the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, our chief Arab ally and a repressive government in its own right, which just rolled its tanks into Bahrain.

In the Ivory Coast today, another country on good terms with Washington, a dictatorial government is brutalizing its people.

And a brutal junta has ruled the people of Burma for decades now.

There is no consistent humanitarian standard for Obama’s war against Libya. None whatsoever.

Obama has now pushed the United States to a place where we are now engaged in three wars simultaneously.

He’s a man, and we’re a country, that has gone crazy on war.”

© 2011 The Progressive

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