Thursday, August 22, 2013

The War on War

The world's leaders hum and hah over the Ba'ath assault on its own population with chemical weapons because chemical warfare has been a platform of UK and US weaponry at least since 1991 and deployed in the Gulf and in the Balkans in hundreds of tons. Many of us want to believe that Obama is a decent man, trying to do right in a wrong world. So perhaps he can't stomach the hypocrisy. Depleted uranium is not 'chemical' in only the most bureaucratic sense: it's nuclear, but it interacts chemically at the cellular level. Given testimony like Malcolm Hooper's 1999 lecture on the aftermath of Gulf war uranium shelling, the US Dept of defense and its UK equivalent waited till 2008 to make any kind of admission, and then only in the most guarded language, and in relation to their own forces, not the civilians still living where the material (half-life 4bn years) is. As Rob Nixon writes, this slow violence never figures in accounts of the 'surgical' strike and the 'hundred hours war', reported as spectacle and celebration, vaunted as humanitarian.

JFK's war on poverty was such a success that Reagan decided to wage a war on drugs. When that was such a huge success, Bush declared a war on terror. Today it seems the US is ready to declare war on war. God help us all.

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