If Ukraine Uses Depleted Uranium, Then It’s Already A Nuclear War

Source: Medical Association for Prevention of War presentation on Depleted Uranium, 2006

My late friend Cecile Pineda wrote a powerful book arguing that nuclear war was already with us. As I wrote in my eulogy for CecileDevil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step (Wings Press, 2013) argued a thesis that acted as a tsunami demolishing my lifelong dread of nuclear war. It’s not that I don’t still dread it (and notice it creeping closer with each passing day), it’s that I followed Cecile’s carefully reasoned argument that nuclear holocaust is already here. Constant pollution from radiation leaks, accidents, and deliberate use of ordnance composed with depleted uranium already have global cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketing. Continuing to build nuclear weapon systems without any meaningful plans for containing the waste is collective suicide. 

On March 22, China and Russia issued a joint statement of their intention to avoid the use of nuclear weapons.

Within days, Great Britain announced it will ship DU ammunition to Ukraine for use in the proxy war against Russia. Meanwhile, research physicist Chris Busby published data showing elevated levels of uranium in the atmosphere over the British isles. That’s a fact, and his hypothesis about causation is that DU is already present in munitions used by Ukraine.

The British government’s announcement has had several consequences.

☢️ Some commenters wondered if the plan to irradiate Ukraine’s prime agricultural land would sit well with big corporate players like Monsanto that have been buying up real estate there.

☢️ Russia announced it plans to move nuclear weapons into Belarus this summer. (Naturally the U.S. and NATO nations are crying foul without acknowledging that they already have nuclear weapons in position in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye if not Poland, too.)

☢️ More attention was paid to data on the long term effects in Serbia of being bombed with DU munitions by NATO during the Clinton administration e.g. “5,500 out of every 100,000 Serbs suffer from some kind of carcinoma, a rate nearly three times the global average.”

☢️ Same for data on the use of DU by the U.S. and NATO in Iraq, especially concentrated in the area of Fallujah. Clusters of birth defects occurred early there attributed to DU, and these persist. 

The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) condemned the UK decision to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine and elaborated thus:

A byproduct of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, DU emits three quarters of the radioactivity of natural uranium and shares many of its risks and dangers. It is used in armour piercing rounds as it is heavy and can easily penetrate steel. However on impact, toxic or radioactive dust can be released and subsequently inhaled. 

DU shells were used extensively by the US and British in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, as well as in the Balkans during the 1990s.

It is thought that the extensive use of these shells is responsible for the sharp rise in the incidence rate of some cancers like breast cancer or lymphoma in the areas they were used. Other illnesses linked to DU include kidney failure, nervous system disorders, lung disease and reproductive problems. However, a lack of reliable data on exposure to DU means no large-scale study on its true impact exists. 

DU sidesteps frying its targets to a crisp. In other words, the thermo part of thermonuclear is absent. And that is a good thing.

My friend Fang used to protest during the Iraq war using a sign that said D.U. = war crime. I used to tease him about what passing motorists made of his message, guessing that they read D.U. as the Homer Simpson exclamation, “Duh!”

Maybe I was underestimating how informed the general public is, but after watching highlights of the congressional hearings about Tik Tok this week I don’t think so. 

To end this grim post on a lightly humorous note (and the promise to do another geography quiz post soon):

Link to tweet if embedded video does not work for you: https://twitter.com/caitoz/status/1639087482380910594

Pro-War Propaganda Loves Claiming Harm To Children

Recently the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Russian officials including President Putin for allegedly kidnapping and interning thousands of Ukrainian children. 

The U.S. has not signed on to the ICC (nor have Russia or Ukraine) and in fact at one point the U.S. threatened to arrest and sanction ICC judges if anyone in the U.S. were to be indicted for war crimes in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, the corporate media that serve as stenographers to the government have widely promoted the ICC news and President Biden used it as a pretext for further vilifying Putin.

Eva Bartlett, a Canadian journalist who covers the war in Ukraine from on site, interviewed a refugee mom in Russia about the alleged kidnappings. The woman shared that her own mother-in-law had heard such claims circulating in Ukraine (where the older parent remained) and was alarmed about her grandchildren’s safety. The kids’ mom reassured grandma that they were fine and allowed to move freely in and out of the refugee camp where they’re staying now.

Link to tweet with video if embedded version doesn’t work for you: https://twitter.com/EvaKBartlett/status/1607465857386414081

War propaganda often spreads claims of harm to children by evildoers on the other side. Claims of kidnapping, atrocities, or babies thrown out of incubators are bread and butter propaganda tropes that warmakers never tire of using. Because inflaming emotions with assertions about alleged harm to kids work on an audience driven by sentimental thinking but lacking a clear analysis of facts on the ground.

One of the reasons I have little interest in examining war atrocities reported on either side in the Ukraine war is that I know 1) truth as seen through the fog of war is murky at best; and 2) all armies commit atrocities against civilians in warfare. Just ask the villagers who survived the U.S. Army’s My Lai massacre.

Let’s talk about another real harm to children: recruiting them to fight in wars for conquest.

AOC, a Democrat who represents some of the low income youth of color who reside in the Bronx, is advertising her desire to “be of service” by connecting them with military recruiters.

One of the best essays I’ve read about this was featured in the military publication Stars & Stripes, “The First Casualty Of War Is Truth: Iraq 20 Years Later” by retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Joe Plenzler. An excerpt:

a former U.S. Central Command commander, recently retired,.. at a closed door meeting in a large, empty conference room with the [1st Marine] division’s officers..shocked many of us when he said, “Marines, there is no ongoing WMD program in Iraq, but you are going to war anyway.”

He paused, and with an exasperated look on his face, said gravely, “The administration is cooking the books on the intel about WMD in Iraq.” 

This was a leader who had been in charge of all U.S. military activities in the region for more than three years and had the highest of security clearances.

He let that thought hang for a moment — that the administration was cooking the books — and then continued, “But if you don’t go through the Iraqi Army like a hot knife through butter, I’ll disown every one of you.”

So who’s really guilty of harming children — those who throw them gleefully into the gears of the imperial war machine, or those who escort them and their parents out of war zones? 

My friend Pat Taub who lives in Maine wrote to me this morning, “the local NPR station announced for a future series on the military they were soliciting stories from locals re: their military service.  I had fantasies of the Pentagon sending out a directive to all NPR stations to broadcast these stories.”

I suspect the mechanism is more likely one of the many new narrative management agencies  that Matt Taibbi has been reporting on, but the end result is the same.

Let’s hope the ICC considers who has been shelling civilians in the Donbas since 2014 (that would be the government of Ukraine) as they examine the inflammatory claim of wartime kidnapping. 

Then they might move on to indicting someone for half a million Iraqi children dying as the result of sanctions. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, heard here, is dead now, but plenty of the neocons responsible are free, and none have been held responsible for this war crime of mammoth proportions.

Link to video if embedded version doesn’t work for you: https://youtu.be/RM0uvgHKZe8

Or the ICC could still indict someone for “Operation Babylift” in which 3,000+ Vietnamese children were flown to the U.S. and put up for adoption. 

Vietnamese babies on a flight from Saigon to the U.S. during the mass evacuation of children at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Photo credit: Jean-Claude FRANCOLON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Now that we’ve emerged from the fog of those wars, what’s stopping the ICC from seeking justice? Unless they’re just a NATO political tribunal as some people claim.