This powerful and appalling account of some the consequences of Operation Iraqi Freedom hasn’t gotten much attention yet, but the facts it records belong on American news screens. The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn describes the Iraqi city of Fallujah six years after the Marine assault. US forces surrounded Fallujah and pounded it with artillery, much of it apparently uranium enriched explosives. Six years later, the health consequences are dramatic, comparable to Hiroshima, according to an international team of researchers which has compiled and studied the data. A dramatic rise in infant mortality, birth defects and childhood cancers, striking increases in leukemia and lymphoma. Operation Iraqi Freedom will apparently be a gift to the Iraqi people that keeps on giving.
Childhood cancers and birth defects evoke particularly strong emotions. In fact they were one of the “talking points” brought up by those who sold the Iraq war. In 2002, Jeffrey Goldberg, back from his volunteer stint in the Israeli Army, regaled Slate readers and CNN viewers with accounts of Saddam’s “weaponized aflatoxin” whose “only value is to cause liver cancer, primarily in children.” Goldberg was spinning of course—Saddam had developed no weaponized aflatoxin– but he recognized that childhood cancer was a heart-wrenching way to goad Americans to back an invasion of Iraq. He got the invasion he wanted, and the Iraqis have their childhood cancers. If Goldberg has his way, we can only imagine what will be visited on Iranian children.
Other Americans will read the reports from Fallujah and, as Jefferson said, tremble for their country when they reflect that God is just.