American troops arriving to reinforce divisions already bogged down in the agony and anarchy of post-"liberation" Iraq are advised to bandage all cuts, keep their overheated rubber suits zipped tight, and stop breathing. It is dust, not sniper bullets that will likely pose the most lethal consequences to their invasion of Iraq.

  Much of Iraq remains radiologically "hot" following undeclared nuclear attacks that have randomly distributed lethal air and food-borne radiation – without any mushroom clouds. The same type of Depleted Uranium-tipped cruise missiles that have carried cancer into Bosnia and Afghanistan have only added fresh "rems" to the radioactive dust of this distant desert land. 

DU shells retain 60% of the radioactivity of unspent "hot" uranium. Radiobiologist Dr. Rosalie Bertell warns that "it can be breathed in by anyone: a baby, a pregnant woman, the elderly, the sick."

A speck of Uranium-238 from these "radiological dispersion devices" sends atomic particles shoot out in all directions to penetrate steel, flesh, and human cells. If the cell is in the process of division it can be knocked into a rogue state of random proliferation – cancer results.

Foremost expert on radiation sickness, Dr. Helen Caldicott explains that DU dust is a potent radioactive carcinogen, emitting a heavy alpha particle that can lodge in open wounds, the lungs or the stomach depending on its pathways of ingestion.

  Caldicott warns that "these tiny particles travel long distances when airborne" – infecting distant populations, peacekeepers, and the entire food chain. "Pentagon studies prior to Desert Storm warned that aerosol uranium exposure under battlefield conditions could lead to cancers of the lung and bone, kidney damage, non-malignant lung disease, neurocognitive disorders, chromosomal damage and birth defects," she told the San Francisco Chronicle. [Oct. 10, 2002]

These devastating diseases are already surfacing in Afghanistan and Bosnia, while continuing to decimate the survivors of what the City Council of Detroit condemns as "genocide" in Iraq. With a half-life of 4.5 million years, Caldicott says that dust-laden winds in Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia and Afghanistan "will remain effectively radioactive for the rest of time."

Dr. Alim Abdul-Hamid, dean of medicine at a major medical college in Baghdad, says he has "plenty of first-hand experience with Iraq's unprecedented plague of cancers and birth defects." Dr. Alim is seeing breast cancer among women in there 20s. "In their 20s!" he repeats. "There are increased incidences of colon cancer, thyroid cancer – in addition to, of course, leukemias and lymphomas." [Counterpunch Dec. 28, 2001]

Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to the effects of radiation than adults. Today more than half of all cancers in Iraq are occurring among children under the age of five.

  Since the misnamed "end" of Desert Storm, pediatricians in Basra have watched childhood leukemia and cancer increase up to 12-times peacetime rates. Hospitals throughout Iraq have reported as much as a 10-fold increase in birth defects since cities and countryside were strafed with radioactive munitions.

  Pointing to a map of Basra, Dr. Abdul-Hamid demonstrated the dose-response relationship between DU and cancers, saying, "Areas which have got the higher level of background radiation have higher levels of cancers."  

Because Depleted Uranium is unmatched as a shield and a weapon, international efforts to ban DU continue to be ignored by the U.S., Canada and Britain.

  Young "grunts" deployed to Iraq have been told that ingesting and inhaling radioactive uranium is perfectly safe. So, they were told, was being injected with mycoplasma-spiked anthrax vaccine during Desert Storm. Today, at least 200,000 veterans on record as suffering from "Gulf War Illness I" are about to be joined by tens of thousands more comrades afflicted with "GWI II".  [Bringing The War Home by William Thomas]

Dr. Doug Rokke was an American physician in charge of dealing with DU contamination in post-war in Iraqi. "'Oh my God' is the only way to describe it. Contamination was all over," he told reporters after Desert Storm. "That whole area is still trashed. It's hotter than heck over there still. This stuff doesn't go away."

Rokke says the biggest danger is the dust given off when a Depleted Uranium shell detonates. In heat fierce enough to melt armor plating, up to 70% of a DU round oxidizes. "This aerosolized power - uranium oxide - is the really dangerous stuff. Particularly when it is inhaled."

Over the past decade, 30 members of Rokke's 100-man decontamination team have "dropped dead". Rokke's own radiation counts are 5,000 times maximum "safe" levels. The physician suspects that, like hundreds of thousands of Iraqi adults and children, radioactive uranium oxide dust is permanently trapped in his lungs. Rokke also has lesions on his brain. Pustules protrude from his skin. He suffers from chronic fatigue, and cannot stop wheezing for breath and coughing. His fibromyalgia inflicts chronic pain in his muscles, ligaments and tendons.  

The misery of radioactive warfare extends to those who produce it. Serious health effects have been documented among DU processing workers and their families in Kentucky, Ohio, New Mexico, Tennessee, Washington state, New York, Tennessee, Iowa, Massachusetts, and the Four Corners area of southwest Colorado. In Yugoslavia, Depleted Uranium fired into agricultural areas has irradiated food. Scottish scientists recently verified that residents of the Balkans exposed to fallout from DU-tipped cruise missiles are excreting uranium in their urine. [Counterpunch Dec. 28, 2001]    

In preliminary announcements of what may later be called "Gulf War Illness II", Reuters reports that "Veterans groups on both sides of the Atlantic say up to one in three soldiers has fallen ill after taking the vaccine, and six of them died in the United States."

  "Two and Three Parachute Regiments have had anthrax injections. At least a third come down with flu-like symptoms and have been very poorly," says British-based National Gulf Veterans and Families Association coordinator James Moore. "In the United States, over 30 percent have come down with symptoms and six have died after taking the vaccine." [Reuters Jan. 8, 2003]

  This is a war even the victors have lost.