The Pentagon must surely believe the old but very foolish saying that what you don't know won't hurt you. To prove it they nearly always go to great lengths to conceal what they do know so we won't find out. That's especially true when what they know is bad news or hazardous to our health or that of our troops. That's certainly the case regarding the real and deadly threat from exposure to the toxic effects of depleted uranium (DU) poisoning. The public has precious little information about this crucial issue because it's been willfully and deliberately suppressed to conceal just how potentially great and irreversible a threat it is.
Is it any wonder then that most of those people who've heard about DU have been seduced by the Pentagon cover-up and stream of lies and are taken in enough by them to believe what little information they hear and read in the mainstream. I know those individuals never heard of one of the two greatest and most highly esteemed US print journalists of the last century. His name was I.F. Stone, and I've read nearly all his important books. Stone once told a class of aspiring journalists always to remember "All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed." Another time he simply said "All governments lie." If I were asked to address a group of students, I'd be even more emphatic than Stone and say governments only lie and never tell the public the truth, especially about the most important issues affecting us all. I'd also quote Stone and recommend the students paste his maxim to their bathroom mirrors so they never forget it.
Government propaganda, lies and deception are more extreme and sophisticated now than in Stone's day. Those unaware of it remind me of a poker player looking around the table to assess the competition. He doesn't realize when he can't find who the mark is it's him. But in a real life game of high stakes poker when it's you against the "power structure" and their corporate media allies, unless you know how the game is played, you surely are their mark and they'll eat you alive.
I know of nothing more dangerous to a free society than a deficit of real information on the most vital issues affecting everyone. It's impossible getting it from government sources or the dominant corporate media in league with them because supplying us with it would subvert their interests. It's true on all important issues without exception. So, if the public knew the full truth about the potentially nightmarish effects of exposure to DU munitions that will only likely get worse unless exposed and stopped, it would be impossible for the Pentagon to continue using them. Only their cover-up has allowed them to be able to recklessly and criminally use them in four wars since 1991 including the two of them ongoing now. And they couldn't possibly ever consider raising the stakes further, as they now have claimed the exclusive right to do, to fight future wars with industrial strength nuclear weapons that could lead to a nuclear holocaust.
What we already know about the deadly effects of DU munitions use alone is clear and growing, unreported in the dominant media, and thus largely concealed from the public. Those unaware of it, taken in by Pentagon propaganda, or choosing to ignore the few facts about it they do know should welcome and praise the impressive work done on this issue by Irving Wesley Hall. He's a man I personally know and have had contact with. I've also collaborated with him as he was preparing his extremely important series of articles on this growing menace that may eventually affect everyone. Irving has made an important contribution, and I respect and admire him greatly for it. His articles should be widely read and those doing it should encourage others to read them as well for their own safety and welfare. Having written on this subject myself, I know from my own research how valuable Irving's work is to expanding the knowledge base about DU and its harmful effects.
What Depleted Uranium Is and How It's Being Used
Depleted uranium is a derivative of the uranium enrichment process required to produce fuel for commercial reactors. This process is then followed by gaseous diffusion in two streams - one is enriched and the other depleted. Before a use was found for it, DU was just stored in vast amounts as a byproduct. All that changed when it was discovered that solid "dense metal" DU projectiles (in all forms) greatly increased their ability to penetrate and destroy a target. That was irresistible to the Pentagon that wanted to use them in bullets, bombs, shells and missiles and now has done so freely in four wars since they were first used in the Gulf war in 1991 (except for one test in the 1973 Yom Kippur war).
There's a problem with these weapons, however - a serious downside never discussed and which great pains are taken to conceal. These weapons in all their forms leave in their wake an irremediable irradiated and chemically toxic landscape far more deadly than the death and destruction to the targets struck. How deadly and toxic the fallout is varies only with the amount of these weapons used. Hundreds of tons of them were used beginning for the first time in the Gulf war in 1991. A likely similar amount was used again in Yugoslavia in 1999 and up to 1,000 or more tons so far in Afghanistan since 2001. Any use of these weapons is reckless and was effectively banned by common consent (and common sense) and never used until 1991 in Iraq (except for that one test). However, their usage ballooned in successive wars to over 3,000 tons so far since the US introduced them on a large and sustained scale again in Iraq in March, 2003.
Put in perspective, since first used in 1991, the US military has willfully and criminally spread deadly toxic radiation across a vast area of three countries as well as everywhere else affected by the fallout. It's caused permanent irremediable contamination with a half-life of 4.5 billion years or forever by my reckoning.
One more important fact is these numbers increase daily as since last December US forces have been conducting four to six daily bombings of target sites in Iraq alone that we know about using DU munitions and an unknown likely less frequent number in Afghanistan. We also have a new terror weapon we claim the right to use routinely called "bunker-buster mini nukes" that aren't mini but sure are nukes. These are industrial strength nuclear bombs that can be produced to any desired potency but are likely to be used in strengths of between one-third to two-thirds the destructive force of a Hiroshima bomb. Pentagon propaganda falsely says these are little more than king-sized hand grenades that are perfectly safe when used as designed. They're supposed to penetrate a target site deeply before exploding on the false theory that their radiation will be contained underground and thus are environmentally safe. Testing of these bombs are planned in the Nevada desert and may be now underway, but at least one already carried out and observed proves otherwise. What was seen on explosion is hardly reassuring that the toxic fallout will be contained when used in combat. Clearly visible was a huge black mushroom-shaped cloud (sound familiar) that rose thousands of feet in the air and was shown to be deadly and toxic when ground radiation measurements were taken following at least this one test. There may have been others as well we haven't heard about.
The Pentagon always deliberately spreads false and misleading information on its controversial activities, but especially something as outrageous as the lingering, spreading and deadly effects from DU contamination which never end. Those exposed to it and their loved ones with whom they have intimate contact and their offspring are henceforth vulnerable to a vast menu of virtually any illness, disease or disability imaginable often leading to early death or at the least a lifetime of pain, suffering and great expense. It's no exaggeration to say that DU is the deadly and unwelcome gift that keeps on giving, disabling and killing.
DU weapons aren't just toxic and deadly, they're illegal according to the standards and binding international law under the Hague Convention of 1907 and 1925 Geneva Protocol and other succeeding Geneva Weapons Conventions that specifically outlaw the use of any chemical and biological agents in any form for any reason in war as well as any poison or poisoned weapons. DU weapons in all their forms are radioactive and chemically toxic and clearly fit the definition of poisonous weapons banned under these binding international laws to which we are signatories. As such, the US, having used them in four wars, has violated our sacred treaty obligations which are the supreme law of the land and is guilty of repeated war crimes. That minor detail doesn't bother the Bush administration that considers the Geneva Conventions and all other international laws inconvenient to its plans just "quaint" and "obsolete."
The Public Is Largely Unaware of the DU Threat Or Prefers to Believe Pentagon Propaganda Instead of Known Scientific Fact
Most people get their so-called news and information from the dominant corporate media mostly on TV which, as everyone by now should know, never gives them what they tune in for. Instead they get state approved propaganda, lies and deception cleverly disguised as the real thing. It's almost always true that what they don't report is lots more important than what they do. Of course, the reason this goes on is that if the public knew and understood what our government was up to, they'd never stand for it. So it's all kept under wraps, and most people are never the wiser. It's very easy to be influenced by the slick state and corporate-friendly messages because they're transmitted effectively ad nauseam round the clock on air and in print. The repetition has a powerful effect. It clouds the mind, blocks out the truth and distracts enough to prevent those mesmerized by it from seeking it. Why would you not want to believe the friendly news anchors you've grown to know and love over the years. Would they ever lie to you? Darned right they would if they want to keep their high-paying jobs.
I comment on this often for one reason. It's the most important of all issues I know. Unless people know and understand the truth about what's happening around them on the vital issues affecting their lives, they're defenseless against the onslaught of fraud and deceit delivered through the dominant media. It allows government to get away with the most egregious acts as agents for giant corporations and the "money changers" who buy and pay for their services. This alliance is hostile to the public interest as it allows these corporations and financial institutions (including the US Federal Reserve which is a private for-profit entity and not a government run one as commonly believed) free reign to pursue their predatory quest for greater profits and world dominance and do it at our expense.
The Disturbing Truths about DU the Pentagon and VA Are Taking Great Pains to Conceal
Those truths are emerging slowly and convincingly, but emerging they are. It's quite true we don't have all the answers yet, and there's still much more to be learned before we know for certain just how harmful DU is in all respects and how widespread its contamination has spread. However, all the new evidence coming out points in one direction and leads to an increasingly clear conclusion. It's the same one I first heard told me by an eminent man in a required college natural science course I took in 1953. The man was George Wald, distinguished professor of biology and later a nobel laureate in 1967. Dr. Wald had many admirable qualities I admired greatly, but I still remember verbatim the dramatic statement he made one day in class. He told his young students that "there is no such thing as a safe amount of radiation." He understood what Albert Einstein did even earlier, and both these men spoke out forcefully against the genie out of the bottle that emerged once the atom was first split in 1938 in a Berlin laboratory. From that time to now, it's been known beyond dispute how dangerous and deadly radiation is in all its forms and in any amount to all those coming in contact with it even for short periods of time. However, for those exposed to it daily like our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan where it's contaminated a vast area, it's a possible death sentence or at the least a lifetime of likely misery from the poisoning that increases each day.
Some Documented Facts On the Effects of DU Poisoning
The greatest damage from DU comes from the radiation residue after its use. When a DU weapon strikes a target, it penetrates deeply and aerosolizes into a fine spray which then contaminates the air, soil and water around the target area. The residue is permanent, and its microscopic and submicroscopic particles are then swept into the air from the tainted soil and are carried by winds to distant areas as a radioactive component of atmospheric dust. That dust falls indiscriminately everywhere over the area it reaches. It causes radiation contamination that affects every living thing and cannot be remediated. As mentioned above, the poisoning from the contamination causes every imaginable illness and disease from severe headaches, muscle pain and general fatigue, to major birth defects, infection, depression, cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer and brain tumors. It also causes permanent disability and death. Months ago I personally alerted my own medical providers to be on the lookout for any unexplainable symptoms in their patients, especially if they had served in the military in the Middle East, Afghanistan or Yugoslavia.
I reported all this in a major, detailed article I wrote on this subject a few months ago and available on my blog site - sjlendman.blogspot.com. In it I went on to explain that all military and civilian personnel at or near target areas were and are most adversely affected by DU contamination, especially if they remained in those areas for an extended time. During the six week Gulf war about 150 of our forces were killed and 467 were reported injured. However, the real effects of that war weren't apparent until years later. We're beginning to get lots of information on it now but not without great difficulty to make it as complete and accurate as possible.
Because of that problem, there's great variance in the numbers I've seen. But somewhere between about 30 - 75% of the 696,841 military personnel who served in the Gulf from August 2, 1990 to end of July, 1991 have filed claims for or have been reported by the Veteran's Administration (VA) to be on some form of disability in 2004. It's likely the true number is closer to the lower percentage, but I've chosen to report the range in case later on we learn things were far worse than we now can imagine. We do know an additional 11,910 vets have died as of early this year. There's a problem compiling accurate data because the VA has been complicit with the Pentagon in the cover-up about DU and has said very little about the true number disabled or how many of the disability total were the result of DU poisoning. They could easily find out by administering blood tests and doing other proper examinations. Instead they've done as little as possible just as for years in the 1990s they denied the existence of "Gulf war" syndrome (most likely from DU poisoning) and told suffering vets it was all in their heads. They certainly were there if any of those heads were afflicted with brain tumors or their early stages.
We can only speculate about how many of our military personnel post 2001 are now the victims of DU poisoning, but it's likely the number is large and growing with more coming down with disturbing symptoms daily. We know many returning vets are already seeking treatment for health problems, and that medical professionals in hospitals and other facilities providing it have been threatened with $10,000 fines and even jail if they speak out about what those problems are. Think how outrageous this is - that a nation that sent hundreds of thousands of its young men and women to fight in two illegal wars of aggression, then turns its back on them when they return home with serious illnesses they may never recover from or that may kill them. And making matters even worse, the Pentagon and VA are complicit in a cover-up and denial a problem even exists. They might as well be saying "let 'em suffer and die." So think of it. This is the "model democracy" we hold up to the world to emulate. In fact, it's a deadly and sinister model all nations should reject and condemn.
Documented Evidence On Recent DU Fallout
In February, 2006, after I wrote my article on DU, Irving Wesley Hall wrote his carefully researched and extremely important series on DU and its harmful effects. His findings were widely posted, and all of it is available on his web site - notinkansas.us. Irving's work is so important, readers should visit his site, review his series carefully and likely learn for the first time how serious and deadly a threat DU contamination is to everyone coming in contact with it.
Here's a sample of the information included in the series which needs as much resonance as possible. I've added some of my own comments to it. Irving has made an important contribution, and I'm proud to be associated with him and his work. He wrote that Dr. Chris Busby, scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, reported on official UK radiation levels in the wake of the "shock and awe" assault against Iraq in 2003. Dr. Busby documented that uranium particles traveled 2,400 miles in nine days from Iraq to Aldermaston, England. The invisible cloud quadrupled Europe's atmospheric radiation clearly showing that despite Pentagon denials, DU contamination spreads far beyond the target sites struck. Once again the Pentagon's mendacity and indifference to its forces and the rest of us is revealed in plain sight for all to see if they'll bother to look.
The widespread contamination is even more dangerous and deadly than formerly believed. But apparently one emailer in particular, with little knowledge to support what he wrote, attacked Irving's findings and shamed and embarrassed himself in the process. I read his response and know the facts. They clearly contradict virtually everything he said and his conclusions overwhelmingly. The emailer not only put his ignorance on public display, but he also arrogantly and insolently attacked the honesty, honor and integrity of a man of the highest stature.
His shameless act reminded me of a "show-stopping" moment I saw on US TV in June, 1954. It was during the so-called Army - McCarthy hearings when chief Army counsel Joseph Welch gave his famous retort to the soon to be disgraced US senator, who became infamous from his witch-hunting, self-serving search for communists in government without ever finding any. Welch and his reply are still remembered to this day, and I clearly recall him making it. In defense of his client under McCarthy's malicious attack he asked the senator on national TV: "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency." Not long after that memorable moment the McCarthy hearings ended inconclusively, the senator's reputation was shattered, he was censured by the Senate, and he died a disgraced man a few years later. We can only hope for a similar denouement for the band of rogues in charge of US policy today who are making so many people around the world the worst for it.
I won't try to match Joe Welch, but I'll just ask the emailer: aren't you ashamed enough to flaunt your ignorance to a world audience without compounding it by shamelessly attacking a distinguished man of the highest integrity and honor. Like "Tail-Gunner" Joe (a moniker referring to one more dark side of the tainted senator), have you no sense of dignity, or just plain no sense at all?
Additional Expert Scientific Commentary Reported by Irving Wesley Hall
Here's more from Irving's articles on the DU threat. He learned about the work of Leonard Dietz who's a retired physicist from the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in New York state. Dietz pioneered the technology to measure uranium isotopes, and Irving quoted what he said: "Anyone, civilian or soldier, who breathes these particles has a permanent dose, and it's not going to decrease very much over time....In the long run....veterans exposed to ceramic uranium oxide have a major problem."
Irving reported an even more dire assessment that came from another study of the materials currently in the DU munitions used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The study found that in addition to U-238, today's DU weapons contain plutonium (the most toxic of all known substances), neptunium, and the highly radioactive uranium isotope U-236. According to a 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, these elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than the U-238 in DU. It only takes the most minute, nearly unmeasurable amount of this substance in one's body to be fatal.
One other expert must be mentioned as well. His name is Dr. Doug Rokke who was the director of the Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project. He was assigned by the US Army to be their chief biological, chemical and nuclear weapons safety officer and expert in the Gulf war. Irving interviewed Doug, and I, too, spoke to and corresponded with him. Doug's extensive work as director of the project led him to conclude that "Uranium munitions must be banned from the planet, for eternity, and medical care must be provided for everyone - those on the firing end and those on the receiving end." Rokke understands the problem well from his extensive study of it and his own personal and tragic experience. He and his staff of 100 were all devastated by exposure to DU contaminated dust. Thirty of them have since died, and Rokke now suffers from serious health problems including brain lesions, lung and kidney damage, reactive airway disease, permanent skin rashes, neurological damage and cataracts. It's quite clear Dr. Rokke didn't contract this nightmarish stew of mostly very serious health problems from an unhealthy life style, bad diet or lack of exercise.
A Grim Assessment the Evidence Points To
So what can we make from all this. From the Gulf war in 1991, at a minimum many tens of thousands of the US military forces sent there for a short period of time have had health problems or are now on some form of disability. But the worst is yet to come. In the Afghanistan war beginning in late 2001 and the Iraq war from March, 2003, about 1.3 million US military forces have served in combat and occupation in these countries. They were all assigned long tours of duty and most of them have served two or three deployments to what are beyond question the most dangerous and toxic environments on earth. Somewhere between 30 - 75% of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm are now on some kind of disability or have died. If those percentages are applied to the 1.3 million of our military now serving or having served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, between 390,000 - to 975,000 vets may end up on disability or die from exposure to the far more toxic DU munitions used in these wars, the many other poisonous pollutants they've been exposed to, and the much longer and multiple tours of duty they've had to undergo.
In simple terms, it's likely we can expect an eventual catastrophic human disaster of epic proportions and one being covered up because of its enormity. And it's in addition to the far greater one we've inflicted on 26 million innocent Iraqis discussed below. Should the truth about all this come out fully, what sane young men and women would ever volunteer for military service knowing they were either signing their death warrants or at the least likely assuring themselves a lifetime of devastating and/or debilitating health problems. And add to that the mass outrage by the US public and the people of other nations that joined with the US in sending contingents of their military to be part of an illegal occupying force.
The effect of all this has finally reached the US Congress, but it's unlikely anything meaningful will emerge there to reveal how dangerous and deadly exposure to DU contamination really is. Still on May 11, the House passed legislation that includes an amendment by Rep. Jim McDermott (himself an MD and once a practicing psychiatrist) ordering a comprehensive study of possible health effects from DU exposure on US military forces and their children. It's almost certain this amendment will never get through the Senate or certainly won't ever be signed into law by George Bush. Still kudos and an A for effort to Rep. McDermott even though it's almost certain it will all be for naught.
The Devastating Toll on Iraqis Since 1991
As bad as it's been and still is for our troops and their families, try to imagine the nightmare 26 million innocent Iraqis have been living through since January, 1991. The Gulf war began the malicious destruction of a once modern state. It caused 100,000 or more Iraqi deaths in just weeks and destroyed essential infrastructure like electricity and clean water facilities vital to the health, welfare and the safety of the people. It also began the spread of deadly toxic radiation across the country from the first use of DU munitions in combat as well as a harmful stew of other pollutants responsible for rampant illness and disease. This living hell is what US illegal aggression based on lies and deceit brought to this most highly developed and well-functioning of all states in the Middle East now unable to cope against a brutal occupier determined to destroy and control it for its own imperial purpose and gain.
The sacking and plunder of Iraq began in January, 1991. But although the war formally ended after six weeks of one-sided fighting, the bombing and brutality against the people never did. Air attacks continued sporadically throughout the 1990s (ordered by Bill "I feel your pain" Clinton) destroying more infrastructure, causing more deaths and adding to the spread of deadly pollutants including the toxic radiation from the DU weapons used. What also followed the formal end to hostilities was a dozen years of brutal economic sanctions that ravaged a population helpless to cope with their horrific effects. The result was a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions that never ended. Besides the physical and human toll, the economy was destroyed as is evident from the following data. The per capita annual income of Iraqis declined from a 1979 level of $2,313 to $255 in 2003 and $144 in 2004. Further, the college of economics at Baghdad University estimated that unemployment rose to a level of 70%. Even the so-called "oil for food" program did little to relieve the crisis prior to the 2003 invasion. In fact, it was never intended to as the US planned all along to inflict the greatest possible hardship on the people hoping their misery would encourage them to rise up and topple Saddam. It turned out it had the opposite effect despite the severity of the toll. Instead of blaming Saddam, Iraqis relied on him for whatever relief they could get. It wasn't much or nearly enough because the US allowed him little to give.
The combination of war and economic sanctions caused widespread illness and disease that was devastating and still is. Even by conservative estimates, it likely caused the death of at least one million Iraqis including 500,000 children. Some estimates put the number as high as 1.5 million and some others far higher still. When Denis Halliday resigned in 1998 as UN head of Iraqi humanitarian relief he said he did so because he believed he'd been instructed to implement a policy of genocide and refused to do it. He added that 5,000 Iraqi children were dying needlessly every month. Hans Von Sponek, who took on the UN relief job after Halliday, also resigned in frustration and disgust in 2000 voicing similar sentiments when he left.
But bad as conditions were then, they got far worse following the US illegal aggression beginning in March, 2003. The daily toll of death and destruction since then is unknown precisely, but even conservative estimates are appalling and shocking. The British Lancet earlier reported by their "conservative assumptions" an Iraqi toll of about 100,000 "excess deaths" post March, 2003. They recently updated their initial estimate (three years later) to a now likely 300,000 and rising daily as we all should know. Other estimates place the number far higher, up to 500,000 in one estimate I saw a few months ago. Whatever the true number is, the US inflicted disaster on Iraq and its people for over the past 15 years is truly of epic proportions. It clearly warrants the label genocide and makes all those in the US at the highest levels of three administrations responsible for it guilty of egregious war crimes and crimes against humanity.
What May Lie Ahead
Iraq and Afghanistan are in ruins, and the US is hopelessly embroiled in two wars it has no possibility of winning. Both of them will go on without end as long as we remain occupiers in countries where we're not wanted and will never be tolerated. Further, both countries have a long history of expelling invaders regardless of how long it took them to do it. It will be no different this time, but it's shocking to imagine the human toll that will result on all sides before they finally do end, the final tally is estimated years later, and the many years it will then take to rebuild these shattered countries.
So with two out-of-control wars ongoing, it would seem unthinkable the US would now be planning one or two more. How can that be possible, and what sane planners would ever contemplate such an irrational course? We don't have the troop strength, and our military budget (on and off the books) is off the charts and running up huge deficits even the new Fed chairman is alarmed about. Logic and fiscal sanity should indicate it would be folly to compound the current mess with a still greater mess. But that's exactly what appears to be in the works, and the preliminary and softening up stage of a planned attack against Iran is already underway just as it was leading up to the March, 2003 "shock and awe" assault against Iraq.
For many months, Iran has known the US has been flying unmanned aerial surveillance drones to help select target sites. There have been some scattered but unconfirmed reports that one or more of these intruders have been shot down. It's also a not so hidden secret we've sent special forces or combat personnel into Iran under cover along with reconnaissance teams to collect similar information on the ground as well as link up with anti-government elements we hope will help our efforts. The Iranians know all this, and you can bet they're trying to snare a few of them, but if they have neither side is letting on. I wouldn't want to be one of the illegal infiltrators and get caught in the act. I don't think the Iranians will be very hospitable or understanding nor should they be. So what's likely to happen next and when.
I have no timetable, but it's been responsibly reported, and I believe the reports, that George Bush has signed off on a "shock and awe" attack against Iran and is intending to do it using industrial strength nuclear weapons. They're deceptively called "bunker-buster mini-nukes" which I explained above are nukes but not mini ones - they're likely to be from one-third to two-thirds as powerful as a Hiroshima bomb. But they can be produced to any potency and some likely will be and used. I also explained that the Pentagon has lied (do they ever do anything else) that the radiation emitted from these earth-penetrating munitions will be contained below ground and thus are safe to use. Not so, and the Pentagon knows it.
Our apparent intentions toward Iran are also based on more lies and deception as we accuse that country of violating international law by having a secret nuclear weapons program. There's no evidence whatever Iran has one, but they'd be irresponsible not to be taking every measure possible to defend itself against a hostile US intending to bring down its government by any means including nuclear war. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and so far as known is in full compliance with it. As such it has every legal right to enrich uranium for its commercial nuclear industry as does every other country following NPT rules.
US hostility to Iran has nothing to do with its enrichment policy or even its form of government. It's the result of Iran's intent to remain independent of US dominance and go its own way. It's been that way since the uprising that overthrew the repressive and US installed and supported Shah in 1979 after which Iran no longer was willing to continue relinquishing its sovereignty and remain subservient to US interests. The result has been continued hostility between the two countries that may now be culminating with a US planned attempt to oust the country's leadership forcibly since we've given up trying to achieve that goal by other means short of war. The strategy won't be any more successful in Iran than it's been in Iraq. What US planners may succeed in doing is engulfing the whole Middle East in flames without a realistic notion of what the outcome of that may be. It certainly won't be a good one, but that never before deterred an administration that's often wrong but never in doubt.
The US way of doing things is to engage other nations like a schoolyard bully. It's especially true in our dealings with the developing world where we generally treat the countries in it on the basis of an "our way or the highway" policy. We can't unleash our full force bullying against most developed ones in the Global North, but we do that freely and often, directly or through proxies, against all others that forget "who's boss." When that happens, that "highway" is usually strewn with unwarranted economic sanctions, coup attempts, political assassinations, or death and destruction from war. The US follows this hostile course to bring "outlier" nations in line with our policies, but also to deter others from deviating from them as well. It's a bloodstained legacy that puts to rest the myth that the US is a peace loving, benevolent democracy only wanting to spread those principles to other nations that don't practice them. But let me state clearly something I haven't said elsewhere before but should have. By the US I don't mean the people. I mean the leadership of both major political parties and their corporate and elitist allies all of whom work against the public interest everywhere and only for their own.
The US and Iranian public interest won't be served by what our present leadership apparently has in mind for that country - regime change the hard way. It looks like the plan is to make it extra hard by upping the ante to send a clear and decisive message to the Iranians and all other nations going their own way that we will nuke you into submission unless you come around willingly. So far we've only used nuclear weapons below the radar with DU munitions that alone have caused unspeakable harm. But should the US go further and attack Iran with industrial strength nuclear bombs, we will have crossed an inviolable threshold, moved the nation one step closer to tyranny and brought the world a lot closer to a possible eventual nuclear holocaust. In my judgment, that's what's now at stake unless a way is found to stop this aggressive juggernaut before it goes further and it's too late to act.
Iran is First in the US Target Queue Followed by Venezuela
Unimaginable as it may seem, high-level leadership and planners in Washington may have in mind not just a third conflict but a fourth one as well. I've written about this several times, and recently wrote a feature article titled "The US Now Planning A Fourth Attempt to Oust Hugo Chavez." Based on my knowledge and ear to the ground observing and listening to the steady and intensifying drumbeat of anti-Chavez rhetoric coming from top US officials through the corporate media (all of it the usual litany of lies and deception only), I have no doubt whatever a fourth attempt to oust President Chavez and his government is planned and likely now being implemented under the radar. Precisely how and what will be unleashed won't be known until the fireworks begin. But make no mistake about it, they will begin, and this time they may include attempted assassinations and open conflict with DU munitions or even full-scale nuclear bombs if that's part of the plan. If that happens, the nuclear nightmare will have arrived in the Americas and come ever closer to the US Southern border.
By whatever means the US has in mind in its latest attempt to unseat Hugo Chavez, its intentions toward him and his government are clear, unmistakable and written in stone. The US will settle for nothing less than full control of his country's vast hydrocarbon reserves and a government willing to hand them over to us. Those reserves are far more vast than once thought as the best estimates of the country's oil reserves (including the extra-heavy kind more expensive to refine) are thought to be about 350 billion barrels or even higher. That compares to Saudi Arabia's estimated reserves of about 262 billion barrels of (at least mostly) the preferred and more easily refined "light sweet" crude. It takes no mental exertion to see the two countries at the head of the US target queue have vast amounts of the essential commodity the US wants most and is willing to go to war if necessary to secure control over everywhere it feels it's worth the cost and effort. There's no doubt the US feels that way about Iran and Venezuela just as it did about Iraq.
The US decided Saddam had to go not because of his oppressive rule or his "now you see 'em, now you don't" WMDs. It was because of his unwillingness to surrender his nation's sovereignty to the US. Same old story, and it's the same again in Iran and most of all in Venezuela that has to be the greatest prize of the three. It's especially tricky for the US there as that nation happens to have a democratic leader loved by the great majority of his people. It's because Hugo Chavez is fiercely and proudly independent, as he has every right to be, and puts the needs of his people ahead of the US and its Big Oil interests. Chavez was twice democratically elected and then prevailed in an August, 2004 recall referendum (the third coup attempt by ballot box means) that was a contrived act of desperation cooked up by his right wing opposition in league with US corporate interests. It was a flop as Chavez's supporters flocked to the polls giving him a decisive victory. He deserved and earned it and his other electoral victories as he proved he's the rarest of political leaders who actually delivers on his promises to the people. Try finding a US politician who's done that, especially one with any power to follow through. You'll need a high-powered version of that lamp Diogenes once used used looking for an honest man.
It's Hugo Chavez's intention to serve the interests and needs of his own people and not those of his dominant Northern neighbor that has him once again high on its target list for elimination. Hugo Chavez will remain there until the US finds a way to remove him which it certainly will keep trying to do. Chavez is well aware of it and so are the Venezuelan people who love and support him and are likely to fight to keep him in office. They know what their lives were like before he became their president and what a vast difference he made once he came into office. He promised to serve the people and proved it by instituting a vast array of social programs the majority of the US public might only dream about if they knew what's available now to the Venezuelan people.
They include free, comprehensive and high-quality health and dental care for all as well as free education through the university level to all those who wish it and can qualify. Compare that to what's available in the US - a health care system available only to those who can afford its high and fast-rising cost and a deliberately degraded inner-city public education system as well as a costly one at the university level unavailable to lower income families that can't afford it for their children. Now try to imagine what the US has in mind for Venezuelans. It won't tolerate a developing nation's leader who'll institute such essential social services for the people and will try to end them even if it takes nuclear war to do it. Try to think of appropriate language to describe the leader of a nation who would unleash such an attack and do it for power and profit. Do the words tyrant and war criminal come to mind?
Get Ready for the Long Knives, the Marines Again in Action to Go Along with A Little Or Maybe A Lot of "Shock and Awe."
The plans for two "outlier" countries are set, the wheels are in motion, and we now must wait and see what will unfold in the next chapter of the ongoing drama of an aggressor and imperial US against the world with Iran and Venezuela numbers one and two in the US target queue.
Several times before I spelled out in some detail what I feels lies ahead unless a way is found to stop it. I fear two more conflicts are ahead for starters to add to the ones now ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still others will follow against other countries to be named later and by whatever timetable and means we have in mind. The result may be that the US is near to crossing an inviolable Rubicon in two deadly and dangerous ways - first by unleashing the nuclear genie in an industrial strength way, and second by suspending the Constitution and declaring martial law at home in the wake of a likely inevitable second major terror attack that may be as much an inside job as was the first one on September 11.
Unless the US public awakens to these very real threats, we face the same fate as did the Germans who lost their model democratic state after the ascension of Adolph Hitler. Good German people let him steal it from them while they weren't paying attention or bought into his false rhetoric that he was serving their interests and protecting them from an outside threat - that never existed. We also have no outside threat from any other nation, but we've been effectively scared to death and conned by the false rhetoric that's made us feel we do. The result is we're getting too close for comfort to the point of no return. There's still time to act if we're bold enough to do it. Think of the choice I think we face. Act together in our collective self-interest or do nothing and see us pass from a once proud but now tattered republic
to tyranny. It can happen here as it has elsewhere unless we act to prevent it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.