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What No One Is Saying: The Horrors That Would Be Unleashed By a Strike on Iran

Nobody seems to care about the consequences of a US or Israeli strike on Iran, which could include the release of radioactive materials into the Middle East.

 A grim joke made the rounds in late 2002 and early 2003, in the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq. The version I recall went something like this:

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney go into a Texas bar. Over a couple of beers they plan the invasion of Iraq, taking out Saddam Hussein and taking control of Iraq’s vast oil reserves. The big question, though, is how Americans might react to their starting another war, with victory still elusive in Afghanistan. They decide to do an impromptu sampling of public opinion, and invite an average, all-American looking guy standing at the bar to join them for a friendly drink.

“What would you think of us invading Iraq and taking over their oil fields, if you knew that 30,000 Iraqis and one American bicycle mechanic would be killed if we do it?” Bush asks.

The fellow slowly sips his beer, his brow furrowed. He mulls the question and looks troubled. Finally he asks, “Why should an American bicycle mechanic have to die?”

Cheney slaps the table and grins triumphantly at Bush. “I told you no one would give a damn about the 30,000 Iraqis!”

A decade later, no one seems to give a damn about Iranian lives either.

The U.S. legacy in Iraq

As we now know, far more than 30,000 Iraqis and one American have died since the US invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003. The number of documented Iraqi civilian deaths from violence since the onset of the “Second Iraq War” now totals between 105,000-115,000, according to the continuously updated  Iraq Body Count database. It also notes that according to the  WikiLeaks Iraq war logs, the figure may be 13,750 higher still.  Official Department of Defense statistics as of mid-December, as compiled by  Margaret Griffis at, reveal that 4484 members of the US military deaths and 1487 private military contractors have lost their lives since the war began, as well as 319 “Coalition” troops, 348 journalists and 448 academics. Estimates of the number of Americans wounded range from an official count of 33,000 to estimates of over 100,000.

Iraqi physicians are seeing an upsurge in cancers and birth defects, which they blame on the usage of depleted uranium in the shells and bombs used by US and British forces in the 1991 Iraq war and the 2003 invasion. An  estimated 300 tons of depleted uranium were used to attack Iraq in the First Gulf War. Abdulhaq Al-Ani, co-author of  Uranium in Iraq: The Poisonous Legacy of the Iraq Warshas been researching the health effects of depleted uranium weaponry on Iraq’s civilian population since 1991 and explained in an  interview with Al Jazeera that the effects of depleted uranium on the human body don’t even begin to manifest until 5-6 years after exposure. Al-Ani points to a spike in Iraqi cancer rates in Iraq in 1996-1997 and 2008-2009.

Dr. Ahmad Hardan, who has served as a special scientific adviser to the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Iraqi Health Ministry, has been monitoring the effects of depleted uranium exposure on adults and children, which include multiple cancers and serious birth defects.  He told reporter Lawrence Smallman that “Depleted uranium has a half life of 4.7 billion years and that means thousands upon thousands of Iraqi children will suffer for tens of thousands of years to come.” Leukemia has become the third most common cancer throughout Iraq, with children under 15 especially vulnerable. “This is what I call terrorism,” he said.

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