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Fwd: War's Remains
by Adam Starr
21 April 2002 21:12 UTC
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Note: forwarded message attached.

Adam T. Starr
Undergraduate of Political Science, UVic
3009 Quadra Street, Victoria, British Columbia
V8T 4G2 Canada
(011) (250) 472-1223
adam@hornbyisland.com or reunitedhornby@yahoo.com

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Wednesday, April 17, 2002
Susan V. Thompson, ed.

Read online or subscribe at:

1. Introduction: A Legacy of Death
2. Depleted Uranium
3. Landmines
4. Cluster Bombs
5. Take Action
6. Get Involved
7. About the Bulletin

Afghanistan has more landmines than any other country in the
world. The US spent millions on demining the country prior
to 9-11, and according to the US government, no new mines
are being laid in the current war. However, the US is using
cluster bombs, and it is estimated that thousands of these
bright yellow bomblets now lie unexploded on Afghan soil.
Along with the hidden landmines, they'll pose a deadly
threat to the civilian population there for years to come
(and no, the US has not yet changed the bright yellow food
packets to a different color to distinguish them from these
bombs). The bunker busters that have been much touted for
use in destroying the cave hideouts of Al Q'aeda cells also
contain depleted uranium, a radioactive material that has
been blamed for birth defects, cancer, and other serious
health problems in Gulf War veterans.

The problem is that cluster bombs, depleted uranium shells
and landmines can't discriminate between an Afghan or a US
soldier, between an Al Q'aeda operative or a child, between
"good" and "evil". They never get a ceasefire order or
understand that a war has ended - they just keep on killing
and maiming anyone who crosses their path. In a war that has
generally been described as a "just" war, meant to help root
evil out of the world, the use of such weapons seems to
indicate that there is little concern about differentiating
between "justified" and accidental targets. Also, despite
repeated claims that the US military is taking pains to
prevent civilian deaths through the use of "smart" weapons,
the use of cluster bombs and DU belies a lack of concern
about the fact that innocent civilians will still face the
possibility of becoming "collateral damage" in the so-called
war on terrorism long after it has moved on to other fronts.

This week, we will explore the history and use of these
types of weapons, both in Afghanistan and around the world,
with the hope that this information will help garner support
for grassroots efforts to investigate and rid the world of

Next week: Humanitarian aid.

Depleted uranium is a radioactive material that is used in
weapons in order to allow them to more easily pierce armor
and ground. However, there is little known about the
long-term effects of the use of DU. While the idea that
spreading radioactive waste around a battlefield could cause
health problems may seem like simple common sense, the
governments who use DU have been reluctant to investigate
its effects. They've discounted anecdotal and statistical
evidence that cancer, birth defects, and health problems
found in civilians and soldiers are related to DU exposure.

The World Health Organization's report on DU, which
concludes that investigation into the effects of DU weapons
is warranted.

Doctors at the Basra Pediatric Hospital just north of Kuwait
have documented an extremely high number of cancer deaths,
birth defects, and other serious medical problems which seem
to have a direct correlation to the DU weapons used in the
Gulf War. The controversial Gulf War Syndrome may also be
closely related to the use of DU, although Canadian, US and
British officials vehemently deny it.

British soldiers who served in the Gulf War report a high
number of "Thalidomide-type" defects among their children.

This excellent article focuses on the use of DU weapons by
the Pentagon, and the various concerns about them. The
article notes that it would cost billions to clean up the
Gulf, although the Pentagon is maintaining that the US has
no responsibility for doing this.

Tests done by a team of American and Canadian scientists
show that American Gulf War soldiers are suffering from
uranium poisoning, a fact which is embarrassing for the
Ministry of Defense (MoD) and American Defense Department.
Both have refused to test Gulf War veterans for DU.

DU is also a concern in the Balkans, although "Balkans War
Syndrome" is being under-reported in the mainstream media.

DU is in the bunker bombs used on Afghanistan.

Landmines are a major problem in many parts of the world.
They can continue to maim and kill people decades after a
conflict has ended, and their removal is both slow and
expensive. The Canadian-led 1997 Mine Ban Treaty has helped
reduce this threat significantly; however, several
countries, including the US, Russia, China, North Korea,
India and Pakistan refuse to ratify.

The historical development and use of landmines and some
possible alternative weapons.

A brief summary of landmine problems worldwide. It is
estimated that landmines injure or kill 26,000 civilians a
year, many of them children.

A map of the world showing where landmines are concentrated.

UNICEF has called for a ban on all landmines. This article
describes how harmful landmines are, especially to children,
and includes a section on the different types of landmines.
(Note that Afghanistan contained more landmines than any
other country in the world, even prior to the current war.)

Canada has taken the lead in banning landmines. In 1996,
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy created
the Ottawa Process, an international challenge to ban all
landmines. He invited all nations back to Canada in 1997 to
sign an international land mine ban treaty. Jody Williams,
the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner, commended Canada for this
largely successful campaign.

Human Rights Watch notes the fact that the US has opposed
almost every multilateral international treaty, especially
those dealing with arms reduction. The section on landmines
is excellent, especially since it summarizes the status of
the Mine Ban Treaty up until last November.

The US rationale for refusing to sign the Mine Ban Treaty is
basically that the American government may need to use them
one day.

The US also refuses to sign the treaty partly out of an
outmoded concern over North Korea invading South Korea.

Lately, even Hollywood seems to have been sending the
message to ban landmines. "In an era of ever more precise
smart-bomb technology, landmines are the ultimate in
imbecilic weaponry. They are the psycho-killers of modern
arms: Cross their path and they blow you away -- for
absolutely no reason whatsoever. "

A list of all the countries that have not joined the Ottawa

For more background information on this issue, including a
report on Afghan landmine survivors and updates on the
current campaign to get the US to ratify the Mine Ban
Treaty, you might want to browse the articles at this site.

This excellent article explains how unexploded cluster bombs
are as dangerous in the long-term as landmines. It includes
details of American use of the bombs, such as how many have
been dropped on Afghanistan and how the bombs work, as well
as information on how unexploded bomblets still threaten
civilians in countries such as Kosovo. The article also
notes that there are grassroots efforts to have cluster
bombs banned.

Human Rights Watch has called for a national moratorium on
cluster bombs, citing the fact that they cause "unacceptable
civilian casualties" both during and after conflicts. This
article contains a large amount of detailed information on
the bombs and their use.

In America, contact your U.S. Representative to ask him/her
to sign onto the letter to President Bush urging support for
a U.S. ban on landmines.

If you would like us to include an action, news article, or
source for more information in the bulletin, please write to
bulletin@9-11peace.org and describe your item in the subject

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