Alexander The Great

December 27, 2007

Gulf War Syndrome, From US WMDs

Filed under: Ethics,Modern Life,Terrorism — alexanderthegreatest @ 12:11 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

George HW Bush made nuclear weapons cool again.  This isn’t a partisan fact, Bill Clinton is known to have used more depleted uranium than tainted cigars, and George W Bush (Junior) carries on the torch.  DU (short for depleted uranium) is “weakly radioactive” just as gravity is a “weak force” compared to electro-magnetism.

It’s true that DU has only 60 % of the radiation found in natural uranium – it’s also true that a single alpha particle is all that’s needed to “infect” a person with cancer, and that a gram of DU emits 14,000 alpha particles per second.  Such a gram is smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.  Unsurprisingly, the US, British, and German armies are saying that harm from DU is impossible, yet the facts and even the anecdotes tell a very different story.

Remember Gulf War Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue, nausea, birth defects, cancer, leukemia – just like the lesser known Balkan War Syndrome.  The BBC reports

“Anecdotally, in a discussion with a military doctor, he told me that early indications from official surveys are that there’s a higher incidence of Thalidomide-type abnormalities in the children of Gulf veterans.”

Thalidomide, of course, was a medicine to prevent morning sickness, at the expense of paraplegic children.  Many were born without limbs, just as many gulf war veteran’s children.  The same is starting to show up for Kosovo and Yugoslavia vets.  Birth defects in Kosovo are 166 % more common than before the US war.  In Iraq, the figure is currently much harder to measure, but estimated at a 700 % to 1000 % rise.

Official Denials

Iraq has been concerned since the initial Gulf War.  Italy – who sent volunteer peace keepers to the Balkans – has been echoing this worry

To his parents, he was the perfect son. At 23 years old, Dalvatore Vaccha was fit, healthy and happy. Until he went to Bosnia, that is. In 1999, he died from leukaemia, and his family suspect that the cause of his illness was depleted uranium.

Still more of the denial over the deadliness of DU comes from lack of data, aka ignorance

“And there’ve been massive birth defects in some cases. In one unit, 67% of children born to US Gulf veterans had severe illnesses or birth defects.”The Pentagon says studies of the group with the highest DU exposure show their levels are “still well below occupational exposure limits”.But it acknowledges that, of all the US troops sent to the Gulf, it has tested just 36 for DU contamination.

Casting doubt on the official denials, the EU has banned depleted uranium. Israel denies having used it to quelle the Palestinian intafada, although they have no qualms with the tactic of “targeted killings.” This alone should give one pause.

Why do we use It?

Depleted uranium is cheap. Instead of properly storing its nuclear waste, a country can start a war of choice and turn another country into a dumping grounds.

DU is very effective, in part for its weight (1.7x that of lead) and in part for its other metallurgic properties. Where other metals (like tungsten) dull themselves much like mushrooms when they reach impact, uranium tends to sharpen itself. A single round can pierce a tank like a knife through hot butter.

The trouble is, on impact, the uranium vaporizes. It turns into very fine dust particles on impact, which can easily be carried by the wind. Again contrary to official claims, DU has been found up to 43 km from an industrial accident in DU, showing a keen ability to travel and spread contamination. The particulate effect causes athesma with lesser substances, although in this case it may be the least of our worries. Still, it should be noted that DU is probably more dangerous as a chemical weapon than as a radioactive dirty bomb, even if its use was first suggested during the Manhattan Project.

The spread of disease and birth defects is very worrying, and corresponds perfectly with depleted uranium use.  DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, which is only slightly shorter than our planet’s age, and far more than our life expectancy as a species.

DU is a WMD

Of course the bitter irony is that George Bush Junior declared war on Iraq (in violation of international law) and willfully polluted a nation almost to the point of inhabitibility, all for the guessed-at existence of weapons of mass destruction, not unlike depleted uranium.



  1. […] astray? When did we go from the “Beacon on the Hill” to a bully, ready if not eager to use nuclear weapons against weaker nations? When did we decide to cease being a shining example of democracy, and instead take up our place […]

    Pingback by From Noble Birth « Alexander The Great — January 2, 2008 @ 10:47 pm | Reply

  2. Well Mr Alexander the Great — why not post a means to actually contact you and find out where you get all this misleading information and what you get out of posting it. The leading anti-DU crusaders enjoy travelling around the world and speaking to adoring audiences; they have developed a very polished show, but it is nothing more than a show, just like your article. I do hope that you are not profiting by it. Doug Rokke and Leuren Moret are con artists who are. Rokke claims to be a disabled combat veteran yet never saw combat from his office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He has more recently claimed to have had a Pentagon office; he never did. The bulk of Rokke’s career was in the Illinois National Guard and the Army Reserve at home in Illinois. He was activated for Desert Shield/Storm and served in Saudi Arabia. He had no knowledge of DU when he was sent to Saudi Arabia and he was not asked to clean up the DU mess. He was attached to a small team of experts from the United States who assessed and decontaminated armored vehicles that had been hit by DU munitions. He did not lead this team and none of the team ever got sick or died from being exposed to DU. Rokke is the one who claims that DU dust can penetrate a gas mask. It can’t; it also basically lies there on the ground or inside the tank or other armored vehicle that was hit by the kinetic energy penetrator. The IAEA experiments in Kuwait proved that DU in desert sands does not really go anywhere in the wind. See the link in my prior post.

    rwhelbig at gee mail dot com

    Comment by Roger Helbig — January 3, 2008 @ 3:56 am | Reply

  3. Just like with the Holocaust, there will always be Deniers.

    It’s very hateful of you to call a veteran of our Armed Forces who actually served his country in Saudi Arabia a “con artist” from the convenience of your Yahoo Group. And to suggest that I’m profiting somehow, this is the type of straw man argument that shows your dishonest agenda for what it is. Regardless of your agenda, science is only beginning to show the truth on this matter, in the form of birth defects, cancer, and leukemia rates.

    Why you’re so eager to play the Devil’s Advocate for a radioactive and chemical weapon of mass destruction is anyone’s guess.

    Comment by alexanderthegreatest — January 6, 2008 @ 5:17 am | Reply

  4. Wherever anyone questions the logic of using DU weapons, you will find Roger Helbig arrives to chastise them for it. This is why most every anti-DU campaigner and activist believes he is on the payroll of the military or perhaps the DU-producing weapons companies such as Alliant (ATK). (Here is some interesting news regarding Alliant and one man’s personal and instant decision to quit his job after Alliant bought out the company he worked for:

    Just Google Roger’s name to see what comes up.

    Here is the first of many commentaries on Roger that I have written.

    DU is a complicated issue. I would like to see the defenders of its use required to categorically prove that it is not dangerous as a contaminant. Of coure, they think they have done just that, but their studies are often flawed according to critics, and they seldom if ever address those criticisms. Their MO seems to be keep on saying that if we can’t find uranium in veterans’ urine, there must be no problem. But like you say, it’s not hard to imagine small amounts getting lodged in the lungs of vets or innocent Iraqis, and even small amounts still radiate alpha particles. Each of those emmissions stands a tiny chance of smashing a strand of crucial DNA in such a way as to cause a mutation that causes tragedy. Alpha particles are by far the deadliest kind of radiation inside the body because of their relative size, each being an entire helium nucleus. Common sense indicates this is not a saafe form of pollution, especially considering that a DU shell gets partially incinerated on impact resulting in extremely fine oxides and dusts dispersed into the surrounding surface area.

    But I’m glad Roger does what he does. It keeps us sane folks motivated to press forward on this issue.

    If you have time, please explore my Website which presents arguments from both sides of this “debate.” I have faith that most people given representative information will come down on the side of prudence and join the chorus calling for a stop to these sadistic, indiscriminate weapons.

    Comment by Peter Dearman — February 17, 2008 @ 5:55 am | Reply

  5. A single alpha particle to “infect” someone with cancer?
    That is a bit of a stretch.

    You (and everybody else) are exposed to radiation every day. Most everything is radioactive to a certain degree.

    Yes alpha particles can cause problems, when inhaled. But, alpha radiation can be blocked by a sheet of paper, your clothes, your skin.

    Let’s start with, what is an alpha particle? It is a helium nucleus. Two protons, two neutrons, no electrons emitted as a result of nuclear fission (whether natural decay or a stimulated reaction). Most smoke detectors, including the one in the room are in, contain americium 241 which emit alpha particles.

    Gulf war syndrome is more likely the result of a combination of things:
    – small amounts of chemical and neurological agents released when destroying bunkers
    – breathing the particles of uranium its decay products
    – breathing particulate pollution from explosives (most explosives are pretty toxic)
    – exposure to non-native bacteria
    The actual incidence of lung cancer in gulf war syndrome sufferers suggests that radiation is not the primary antagonist. The difficulty that medical personnel have in pinpointing the condition suggests that there are multiple antagonist and not just a single one.

    Comment by Paul — February 21, 2008 @ 11:19 am | Reply

  6. I noticed that this is not the first time at all that you write about the topic. Why have you decided to touch it again?

    Comment by Random T. — April 21, 2009 @ 10:47 pm | Reply

  7. Why is Roger Helwig threatening websites publishing negative information on DU?

    What is Roger Helwig so scared of?

    Why did he write this email to the webmaster of trying to get the website shut down?

    On Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 10:34 PM, Roger Helbig wrote:
    “In case Karen no longer reads her mail – if you don’t either, then I am going to find your host and get this site taken down – I have no tolerance for lies or liars and you have embraced them.”

    This isn’t a guy who is interested in scientific discourse. This is a bully and an obsessive nutcase whose actions have rendered everything he says suspect.

    Comment by PaiaGirl — June 8, 2009 @ 11:50 pm | Reply

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