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Happy 20th Anniversary to the "End" of the 1991 Gulf War...the War That Never Actually Ended

Five ugly facts you need to know about a not-so-clean and continuing war.

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Mostly, the Allies aimed at civilian facilities—shelters, mosques, homes, schools, hospitals markets,  commercial and business districts, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches, shelters, factories, office buildings, vehicles on highways, bridges, and roads.  Though estimates of civilian deaths during the war range from 25,0000 to over 100,000, all count children at above 50% of the immediate casualties.

Iraq's infrastructure--which people lived in, worked in, drove on, received medical treatment in, studied in, prayed in, and shopped at—was bombed, leaving the most sophisticated of Arab states in a primitive and catastrophic state.

By most accounts, at least one hundred thousand people died soon after the war from dehydration, dysentery, malnutrition, starvation, and illnesses, from contaminated water, starvation, and exposure to impure water,  hunger, cold, and shock.  In the period between the end of Desert Storm and the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the degraded environment and sanctions  led to the death of an estimated million more, half of them children. Medicines, food, baby formula—these were among the essentials kept from the Iraqi people in the initial and ensuing stages of the war against Iraq. these were among the essentials that sanctions under both Bush Presidents and Clinton kept from the Iraqi people, constituting Nuremberg Crimes Against Humanity and the Crime of Genocide under  international and U.S. law, according to legal scholars.   

5. A System of Censorship Was Established to Hide the True War from the Public, Including Killing of Our Own and the War's Launching of al Qaeda  

In the lead-up to war, U.S. media organizations, with rare exceptions, had begun to back away from investigative reporting and journalistic scrutiny. Once the war began, government censorship combined with this self-censorship produced a media blackout. The restrictions on the press were tighter than during any earlier American war. Journalists could not travel except in pools with military escorts, and even then most sites were off-limits. Department of Defense guidelines stated that stories would not be judged for "potential to express criticism or cause embarrassment," but journalists weren't taking any chances. When news anchors weren't hosting retired generals and pundits, or screening eerie green images of the coordinates of the day's targets, they were praising the military on a job well done.

Pentagon censors had to clear all war dispatches, photos and footage before they could be released. Two months after the war ended, the editors of 15 news outlets protested to Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney about the Pentagon's control. But the damage had been done. The real war was never reported to the American public.

As for our own, we saw no images of returning coffins filled with U.S. service members, nor, in the days and months after the war, coverage of the war's aftermath: The almost 300,000 troops who returned profoundly ill from Gulf War illness, a profound physical illness caused by toxins that we released in Iraq, sickening and killing the Iraqi people and our own troops. It took 18 years for a Congressionally-mandated scientific panel to report that the conditions affecting the skin, stomach, minds, hearts, lungs and every other organ of hundreds of thousands of American veterans was not psychological, as the government had insisted for almost 20 years. ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, disabling neuropathies, heart attacks, difficulty breathing, walking standing—all these, we now know, were caused by neurotoxins including experimental anti nerve gas pills soldiers had to take or risk court martial, insecticides and pesticides that the military administered recklessly, sarin and other gases released into the air when we bombed an Iraq military storage facility, with a growing body of evidence regarding the role of depleted uranium. To date, in all the iterations of war in the region, almost a million troops have become patients in the VA system, many with systemic illnesses like those inflicted on millions of Iraqis and our own soldiers in the first Operation of the war against Iraq

 
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