Brisbane Bloggers’ Consensus

Or, The End of Empire Part Two

John Quiggin has an excellent take on the US Imperial overstretch I commented on in an earlier post.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Snapper
Snapper
2022 years ago

Try not to cheer too loudly Mark. It doesn’t become you.

Quiggin’s argument has bigger holes than George Michael’s leather trousers but some people are too blind to see, and thankfully, too insignificant to matter.

John
John
2022 years ago

“but some people are too blind to see, and thankfully, too insignificant to matter.”

I always love this kind of thing coming from someone who is apparently so important they have to hide behind a pseudonym in order to avoid compromising national security.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

And these holes would be….?

I would have thought the redeployment of the Black Watch in Iraq would have spoken volumes about the curent ability of the US to move troops around.
People will also recall how senior officers in Afghanistan complain every so often that their resources have been redirected to Iraq.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

I would suggest that the hole in John’s thesis could be corrected by the use of the find/replace command, with the words cant and wont being replaced.

The US could do all it wanted if Bush was prepared to show some political leadership. There’s nothing wrong with the US budget, for example, that saying no to corporate interests and pork-barrelling Congressmen wont fix. He could ‘shock horror’ even ask for tax increases if he thought it was so important.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Just finished Tom Holland’s “Rubicon” a bouncy, witty and racy take on how Sulla, Pompey and then that Julian guy hijacked the Roman Republic. It’s as good as James/Jan Morris’ “Pax Brit” trilogy, eg: serious learnin’ and a keen eye for human foibles, turned into a rip-roarin’ narrative of empire.

Some many parables are uncanny:
Sibylline prophecies = bible bashing:
Dynasties of Roman equestrians rigging the popular vote in ways that weren’t technically illegal but show a fine grasp of human nature:
Carthage = Iraq, as a rabblerousing military adventure:
Rome as a military/fiscal/mining empire = the US as military/fiscal/consumer-mining empire; and
Tony Blair = Cleopatra

However, one thing becomes clear. Julius Caesar would kick Bush’s butt (pere et fils), even almost without noticing it.

If we are heading for a new post 20th century empire, I want a real maximum proconsul like Caesar, who actually was a decorated war hero at 24 and then a great general, a brilliant public speaker, a master politician and a bisexual dandy

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Gluteus Maximus for President?

C.L.
2022 years ago

The left really is hilarious.

Let me get this straight: you’re now arguing for the US to crush one of the Axis of Evil powers? And if it doesn’t, it shows the days of hyperpower are over?

Undergraduate bollicks.

Also John: Some of us blog or comment pseudonymously because we’re not professional talking heads and our amateur lives as cyber-commentators are incompatible with our real lives on more than one score. You will, I presume, now inform your many pseudonymous readers that they’re no longer welcome at your web-site.

Yes?

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Nah C.L. Wrong end of the stick.
I don’t think anyone here was arguing for America to crush one of the three axes of evil.

It is the US who has been saying it’s a hyperpower and then running into problems when it tried to act that way. It has discovered that it isn’t one.
That’s what the whole inability to fight two wars simultaneously is all about. There is nothing inherently wrong with America’s claim (and strategy) of being able to fight two wars at once – unless, of course, you include that little neccesity of occupation.
America cannot carry out two wars if it is involved in one occupation already. Since invading Iran will involve another occupation they can’t go in.
They could probably occupy North Korea, because (as was pointed out on John Quiggin’s thread) they have large forces that can’t be moved from that theatre of operations. However, they don’t seem to keen on invading North Korea now, do they?

Somebody called America’s bluff on their stategy and ironically it was the Bush Administration that did it.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Harry: America invaded Iraq just 19 months ago. They won. They removed Saddam and they’ve facilitated the establishment of democracy.

The ‘insurgents’ are – paraphrasing something The Onion once said of Marilyn Manson – now reduced to going door to door to find teenaged Iraqi policemen, other Moslems and insufficiently militant clerics to terrify or kill.

Probably the most successful war in modern history.

Oh, they did the same thing in Afghanistan simultaneously. At the time, Afghanistan was described by the left as “another Vietnam.”

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Except, CL, that a lot of the actual fighting in Afghanistan was in effect contracted out to warlords aka the “Northern Alliance”, incidentally the same mob who now control most of the country. A rather nasty lot by all accounts. And the subsequent task of pacification is a NATO effort, with the US transferring forces to Iraq.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

I think that in 10-15 years we will all look back on the current angst over Iran and wonder what it was all about. There is huge generational transformation in the wings which looks likely to turn Iran into a moderate, fairly westernised secular(ish) Islamic state, possibly similar to Turkey. Iran has a huge young population, and it seems unlikely that the mullahs can keep the lid on it much longer. In fact there are signs that they are loosening the strings, lest they lose control completely.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Hi C.L,
This is where you and I differ horrendously.
Yes, America militarily won in Iraq. That was never in doubt. What they haven’t won – and this was always the main fuel for the anti-US-unilateralists – is the peace.
You say “they’ve facilitated the establishment of democracy.” No, they haven’t: there is no democracy at all in Iraq right now. Iraq isn’t even a functioning country – let alone a democratic one. Whose propaganda are you reading?

You wrote “The ‘insurgents’ are now reduced to going door to door to find teenaged Iraqi policemen”. This is what insurgents do! They try and destabilise the country. There are still running street battles with insurgents (however you define them) as well as the roving murder gangs who take out Iraqi police etc. This is a normal Insurgency ala France in WW2 and Vietnam.
And as everyone has learned (Napolean in Spain; the Germans in Russia and France; the French in Indochina; the Americans in Indochina; the Soviets in Afghanistan) insurgents cannot be beaten by conventional military forces.

‘Probably the most successful war in modern history.’ Again, no. Wars are successful if they achieve their objectives. So far the only objective met has been the removal of Saddam – and, as I wrote above, this was the easy part. The ‘trigger’ objective (for want of a better word) was the WMD, and we haven’t heard a thing about Iraqi WMD for a very very long time, so what does that say about that objective?

Dude, you really need to check your military history.
DesertStrom was a successful war: it met it’s objectives: returned Kuwait to the Kuwaitis and neutralised Iraq from any further incursions into their neighbours.
The Falklands was a succesful war: the Argentinians kicked out of the Falklands and South Georgia.

Would you say the Russian war with Chechyna has been a success?

“Oh, they did the same thing in Afghanistan simultaneously” No they didn’t. Afghanistan started in OCtober/November 2001. Iraq was invaded on March 20, 2003. Add Mark’s stuff about contracting the fighting to warlords.
Alqaeda was not destroyed, Osama Bin Laden was not captured or killed hence it didn’t meet it’s objectives.
Heroin production is now at an all time high. The drugs are filtering through the Pakistan border where the profits go into Alqeada coffers.
So, on a strategic level the attack on Afghanistan has been a faliure too.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Oh, I forgot: The first Gulf War was the left’s ‘good’ Iraq war. Wasn’t at the time, though. At the time the left called it – yup – “another Vietnam.”

Desert Storm didn’t stop Saddam from his attacks against the Kurds and Marsh Arabs. But, then, these genocides are the only ones in history approved by the Western left.

Iraq isn’t a democracy and is doomed y’say? I actually said the US facilitated the establishment of a democracy, not that it was already Athenian but nice try. Another leftist orthodoxy: dune coons can’t handle democracy and shouldn’t have it. It’s doooomed! Racism pure and simple.

If you believe Saddam had no intention of acquiring WMD, then I have to assume you’re just being silly intentionally.

Dude.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

C.L. Where do you get off? I haven’t put words in your mouth; don’t put them in mine. Answer the questions rather than trying to ridicule me.

In none of my posting have I expressed support or non-support for Desert storm.
For the record this leftie was all for DesertStorm. You seem to be conveniently forgetting the vast numbers of lefties who called for Saddam to be taken down, but by a UN multinational force. Being left does not automatically mean being antiwar at any cost. In fact, I think you’ll find that there are plenty of lefties calling for action on Dafur just as there were lots calling for action in Kosovo.

“Desert Storm didn’t stop Saddam from his attacks against the Kurds and Marsh Arabs. But, then, these genocides are the only ones in history approved by the Western left.”
Um yeah right man. You seem to have forgotten the angry leftwing voices demanding what the north and south no-fly zones were for if they weren’t to protect the Marsh arabs and kurds.
There were no objectives in Desert Storm concerning the Marsh Arabs or Kurds.

“these genocides are the only ones in history approved by the Western left” This is extremely wrong and unfair of you. It is like me saying you were all for chemical weapon use by Iraq on Iran during the eighties.
Agreed?

“Iraq isn’t a democracy and is doomed y’say?” No I didn’t. When did I say it was doomed?

“I actually said the US facilitated the establishment of a democracy, not that it was already Athenian but nice try.” FACILITATED is past tense. By using past tense you _have_ said that democracy has been established. You should have used the word facilitatING ie present tense.
I can only use what you’ve posted. I can’t go into flights of fancy as to what you might have written.

“dune coons can’t handle democracy and shouldn’t have it. It’s doooomed! Racism pure and simple.” When did I ever say anything at all like this?!?! We were talking about the objectives of the invasion, not about the ability of Iraqis to handle democracy.

Look, how about you answer the questions that I posit or argue the points I bring up, rather than ignoring most of what I write and resort to some loony left blueprint that doesn’t apply to me. Stop making straw men.

I ask again: Is the Russian war on Chechyna a success?

“If you believe Saddam had no intention of acquiring WMD, then I have to assume you’re just being silly intentionally.”
We weren’t even talking about this. We were talking about the stated objectives of the Iraq invasion. At no point did I opine whether the weapons existed or not. I merely pointed out that the silence on this front (and our discussion was about Objectives mind you, not whether these objectives were based in fact) was telling, ergo, this cast doubt on the successfullness of the war.

“Dude.”
So convince me that this invasion of Iraq has been the most successful war in recent history.

Here’s another one for you (it’s a two parter): The Soviets kicked the Nazis out of Hungary in 1944/45. In 1956 the Hungarians had an uprising.
1) Why?
2) How analogous is this to Iraq right now?

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Harry by a KO.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Thanks Nab but Bill Hayden’s famous words after receiving a wordy serve come to mind: “Like being savaged by a dead sheep.”

The US said Iraq had WMD and acted accordingly. Who said Iraq had WMD? The United Nations. I’m happy to provide you with the relevant information if you’d like it. As it happens, Saddam didn’t have such weapons.

Only a strategically narrow-minded person would therefore conclude that the war was a failure according to that stated objective. As everyone knows, Saddam was gaming the system and had every intention of acquiring WMDs. He played it cute and got crushed. Oops.

Hilarious to read your reference to Russia/Chechnya in light of the accusation of straw-man building. Erm, the original post was about the alleged demise of American hyperpower. Fair enough Dudeski?

The Falklands War – against the *snigger* Argies – was about who had sovereignty over a goat island. Please.

I recommend you don’t compare the Hungarian Uprising to the actions of murderers and terrorists in Iraq today – not in the company of those who were in Hungary at the time. That just demonstrates the shallowness and amorality of your worldview. Without a doubt, THE silliest analogy I’ve ever read on this question. (since Moore’s ‘Minuteman’ nonsense).

Most successful war in modern history.

Negligible casualties, ridiculously brief, conventional army and ‘elite’ forces liquidated within weeks. Leadership captured or killed, dictator imprisoned. Original threat – namely, a WMD-armed Iraq – removed. Now remember that when the US went in to Iraq the left was warning it could turn into – **drum roll** – “another Vietnam.”

The point about the facilitation of democracy is just pettiness. I didn’t use the past tense – “facilitated” – because democracy had been set up – all done, complete. I used it to convey what any reasonable person would have understood by the usage: to wit, the processes, structures and timetable had been established. The US has therefore facilitated – past tense – “the establishment of a democracy” (as I originally said).

Iraq is a sovereign nation according to international law. Its ‘insurgents’ are therefore terrorists. They will continue to do much damage unfortunately but they will never take control of the country and they cannot win what they want. That’s why they’re now killing female aid workers. (I dare you to tell your Hungarian friends that they would have done the same).

Close but no stogie.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

No further comment on Afghanistan, CL?

harry
harry
2022 years ago

In what kind of world do we live when not even dead sheep can get direct answers?

“Who said Iraq had WMD? The United Nations. I’m happy to provide you with the relevant information if you’d like it.”
# Yes please.

“Hilarious to read your reference to Russia/Chechnya in light of the accusation of straw-man building. Erm, the original post was about the alleged demise of American hyperpower.”
# It was in direct response to your claim that OperationIraqiFreedom was the most successful war in modern times. Not strawman building at all. More later in post.

“The Falklands War – against the *snigger* Argies – was about who had sovereignty over a goat island. Please.”
#Hey, let’s play by your rules: I recommend you don’t ridicule fighting the Argentinians – not in the company of the families of the 255 British servicemen killed. ooh, look! I didn’t advance the discussion at all.
So, was the Falklands war a success or not?

“I recommend you don’t compare the Hungarian Uprising to the actions of murderers and terrorists in Iraq today – not in the company of those who were in Hungary at the time.”
# And I thought it was only us lefties that had bleeding hearts. You were in Hungary at the time?
Please explain why the Hungarians were freedom fighters and the Iraqis are terrorists? They both are after all, according to your legal definition, insurgents.

“That just demonstrates the shallowness and amorality of your worldview.”
# And your answer shows the convenience of labels.
By drawing parallels between Hungarian freedom fighters and Iraqi freedom fighters I am being less shallow than your black/white view, to whit: “Iraq is a sovereign nation according to international law. Its ‘insurgents’ are therefore terrorists.” Ooh look – Hungarian freedom fighters are terrorists.
Why are you bringing up international law now, you don’t seem to have a problem with the original invasion being in breech of it?

Now, come on humour me: answer my two questions about Hungary.

“Without a doubt, THE silliest analogy I’ve ever read on this question. (since Moore’s ‘Minuteman’ nonsense)”
# Well if it’s so silly you would obviously have a rock solid rebuttal. Go for it.

“That’s why they’re now killing female aid workers. (I dare you to tell your Hungarian friends that they would have done the same).”
# Now, what did I say about putting words in my mouth?
They are killing aid workers so that the NGOs pull out, so that the aid is denyed, and those who want to can blame the US for not controlling the situation in Iraq. Killing aid workers is part of a strategy to isolate the US forces as much as possible. And yes, I agree with you, it is a despicable thing to do. It is also a risky strategy to play, but it does serve a purpose.

“The US has therefore facilitated – past tense – “the establishment of a democracy” (as I originally said).”
#Oh ok. I’ll concede that one. Wait and see on how that one turns out. I don’t know how it’s going to go. Far more Iraqis want a nationalistic strongman to be elected, rather than a representative government.

“Now remember that when the US went in to Iraq the left was warning it could turn into – **drum roll** – “another Vietnam.””
# Yep. Tell me how it’s all going in 2 years time. 14 September, “Strategically and politically, the situation in Iraq is worse than it ever was in Vietnam”, former US abmassador to UN, Richard Holbrooke.

Operation Iraqi Freedom Mission Objectives
from http://dcgop.com/cgi-data/doc_gop_principles/files/13.shtml
The Washington DC Republican Commitee website.

1. Steal underpants (oh, ok. I joke. Couldn’t resist.)

1.End the regime of Saddam Hussein

2.Identify, isolate, and eliminate Iraq’s WMD, systems, and facilities

3.Capture or drive out terrorists sheltered in Iraq

4.Collect intelligence on terrorist networks and on Iraq’s illicit WMD activity

5. Secure Iraq’s oil fields and natural resources for the Iraqi people

6.End sanctions and immediately deliver humanitarian relief and assistance

7.Help the Iraqi people rapidly transition to a representative form of self-government that does not threaten its neighbors and is committed to the territorial integrity of Iraq

Okay, so 1 is complete.
2 is… well one position is that even if Saddam had WMD he has hidden them so well that they can’t be found. The other is that he never had them. So, we’ll count that as a half.
3 not so good. Especially since Bush now says that Iraq is the new frontline in the War on Terror.
4 Dunno.
5 not going so well.
6 Slight problem with all the NGOs pulling out.
7 Wait and see

Now, I reckon the Russian campaign in Chechnya is at about the same point.
So.
Is the Russian Campaign in Chechnya a success or not?

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

While there is a pause in hostilities I thought I’d mention that I heard one of those ubiquitous experts on the radio recently point out that the only successful put-down of an insurgency in recent times was the Brits in Malaya in the late 1950s. But they were said to have succeeded because they morphed into a policing situation and put in enough manpower to do the job.

On another tack, I wonder how quickly the GW2 would have gone if the Americans had not used nuclear weapons. The extraordinary firepower of their tanks, for example, is in no small part due to depleted uranium. It’s very nasty stuff, also used in Afghanistan, GW1 and Kosovo.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

“On another tack, I wonder how quickly the GW2 would have gone if the Americans had not used nuclear weapons.”

Most of the depleted uranium penetrators come from the A-10 Warthog tank-hunting aircraft. They spew out 30mm shells at 3,900 rounds a minute. They took out about 3500 vehicles during desert storm. The funny thing is the depleted uranium slugs were cleaned up from Kuwait, but weren’t from Iraq. It is easy enough to find reports of vast increases in cancer and birth deformities in areas where A-10s were active. I would have thought that cleaning up Iraq would have been a good idea, making Saddam foot the bill of course, to show that the war was not against the people of Iraq but the leadership.
This would no doubt help if, say, you ended up occupying the country at a later date.

If the Yanks hadn’t used any depleted uranium munitions I reckon it would have taken about 5minutes more to acheive the same result in GW2. The Iraqi army couldn’t operate at night, and they were completely outranged and outgunned anyway.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

“It is easy enough to find reports of vast increases in cancer and birth deformities in areas where A-10s were active” – but are they accurate reports? I doubt it. After all, these munitions are *depleted* (ie no longer so radioactive) uranium. The time frame is also not sufficient for increases to be evident, let alone *vast* increases. Further, if they were so hazardous, wouldn’t they have their worst effects on the A-10 crews, who are sitting next to them for hours or days?

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Hi Alex,
Just type “Birth defects in Iraq” into google.

When the munitions hit they explode and produce depleted uranium dust. The dust is the problem.
The effect from sitting on an unused round is minimal – they are usually coated in aluminium anyway.

On page two of the google list you will see http://www.mod.uk/issues/depleted_uranium/middle_east_2003.htm the British MoD guidelines for dealing with DU munitions – both in loading/storing situations and then lots on how to deal in areas where DU munitions have been used and exploded. The difference is telling.

As for the time frame: it’s been 13years.
The increases in cancer and birth defects are clustered around where most DU munitions were used.

They are talking a ten fold increase in cancer and birth defects from pre DesertStorm days. I consider an order of magnitude to be vast.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

OK harry, I thought you were referring to effects from GW2, not GW1. I’m sure there is some effect from the GW1 weapons. Not sure if you can isolate the effects of GW1 depleted uranium munitions from the environmental vandalism perpetrated by Saddam’s regime in the same areas, though. I would rate a ten fold increase as significant, but not vast. Simply mho, though.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

“Not sure if you can isolate the effects of GW1 depleted uranium munitions from the environmental vandalism perpetrated by Saddam’s regime in the same areas, though.”

It would be easy enough to do. It would just require a large study in Iraq comparing sites around the country – which no government in question seems keen on doing. What environmental vandalism were you thinking of? Do you have some links I can look at?

The worrying thing is that they used twice the amount of DU munitions in Operation Iraqi Freedom than in Desert Storm. I was surpised by that (I would have thought far less would’ve been used because Saddam lost most of his vehicles in round one), but the figures don’t lie.

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

harry and Alex

At one stage I thought of writing something on depleted uranium. But I don’t have time. My understanding is that after impact it becomes a very fine dust and is active for hundreds of thousands of years. That’s after it generates great heat and instantly fries everything around.

After GW1 Doug Rokke (google him) was assigned to clean up the joint. The only way they could do it was to gather everything up and take it back to one lab in the US. It was hopeless, but in a short space of time some of his team members became very sick and some died. The effects on military personnel were pretty horrendous. Some went home with lumps of DU on chains around their necks.

Rokke turned his hand to writing manuals for the army on how to handle the stuff. In the end the army didn’t want to know and they still don’t.

There is a lot more to the story. It includes Afghanis with concentrations 5,000 times normal. It also includes some involvement by the legislature in the US in mandating testing personnel before and after engagement. I understand it just didn’t happen. The requirement was met by getting people to fill out a form.

The problem seems to be that if any-one gets interested in the subject they become pretty passionate and end up being considered nuts. No-one can believe it could be as bad as it actually seems to be.

My own problem is that I’m not a scientist and I find it hard to believe also. Nevertheless, if Iraq is ever pacified it won’t be on my tourist map.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

On DU munitions, the most balanced coverage I can find is in New Scientist, here http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993627
The gist of the article is that there is some evidence that the radiation and toxic effects of DU *may* act in a synergistic fashion, to create greater health risks than would be expected from each effect acting in isolation. However, this is fairly inconclusive at this stage and far more work needs to be done to assess the true extent of the health risks.

On the issue of environmental damage under Saddam’s leadership, a brief article appears here http://www.abetterearth.org/article.php/762.html

chico o'farrill
chico o'farrill
2022 years ago

So Alex, can I extrapolate from that reading that the very BEST scenario would have my local doctor recommemding that at all costs, I keep my family as far as is humanly possible from DU?

And that is best…I’ll await your reading on worst.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Chico, I wasn’t suggesting that DU munitions were good for your health, just that the evidence at the moment doesn’t exactly support the contention of “vast increases in cancer and birth deformities” due to DU munitions.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Chico and harry, check out this link for more on DU munitions health effects http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1344023.stm

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

And more on DU here (in Kosovo this time) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1217816.stm

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago
harry
harry
2022 years ago

Ok Alex, just say that it’s not DU. What is it?
There is something going on here.
How much more smoke needs to come from this gun?

None of your three articles cited mentioned birth defects.

What else ties Gulf War Syndrome with the increase in cancer and birth deformities in Iraq?
Nothing else , apart from DU, is presented as a plausible link.
One side says “DU did it”
The other side says “DU is safe.”
What the other side doesn’t say is, if DU didn’t do it, what did?
This is a glaring ommision.

Sounds like the global warming debate to me.
Vested interests anyone?

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Alex, that first article you referred to was mostly about low level effects and recommended safe limits of contamination. The point was that the safe limits may be lower than previously thought because of synergy between the radiation and the toxicity of DU. Also genetic effects may only turn up several generations later.

The rest of the article and most of the rest of the stuff you cite stays pretty close to the party line coming from the British and American armed forces who, I think, are the only ones using DU.

Against this there is a body of literature, especially from US vets experience, that points the finger quite strongly at DU.

As an example you could look at a 2003 ‘Yes Magazine’ article ‘The War Against Ourselves: An interview with Major Doug Rokke by Sunny Miller’.

Rokke knows a thing or two about DU and no doubt has cause to be biassed, having seen many of his friends get sick and die. In fact he says that in 2002 221,000 of the vets from GW1 had been awarded disability. Birth defects have been very unsettling. He says:

“Studies have found that male soldiers who served in the Gulf War were almost twice as likely to have a child with a birth defect and female soldiers almost three times as likely.”

He does say that there was a lot more than DU flying around, which the army no doubt uses to rubbish the DU theory. But you have to remember that the army clearly loves DU. Doug Rokke did too at one time as the army’s main man on DU. But he changed his mind.

Read about it at http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=594

Given my lack of scientific knowledge I can’t have a definite view about it all, but I sure as hell wish some-one with the relevant knowledge would do a job on it and tell us about it.

Come to think of it, there are a few that have and have written books as a result, only to be then ridiculed as nutters.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

harry, I agree it sounds like the global warming debate. The main reason is similar, in that there isn’t enough conclusive knowledge about what’s going on, so people tend to polarise and become dogmatic based on their ideology/convictions.

Brian, I don’t deny that there may be “a body of literature, especially from US vets experience, that points the finger quite strongly at DU”. But I doubt if the analysis in it goes much beyond the anecdotal, and is certainly unlikely to have been conducted on a rigorous scientific basis. At this stage, I’d prefer to go with the likes of New Scientist and the Royal Society in saying that more work needs to be done, but the present state of our knowledge suggests the dangers are less than the alarmists have implied.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

“I agree it sounds like the global warming debate. The main reason is similar, in that there isn’t enough conclusive knowledge about what’s going on, so people tend to polarise and become dogmatic based on their ideology/convictions.”

No, it sounds like the global warming debate because those with financial vested interests say there isn’t enough evidence, whereas those who are suffering from it and the vast bulk of the scientific community are saying there is enough evidence to stand up against the most rigourous tests detractors can come up with.

You remember SARS, right?
The first guy to recognise that this was something big was a pneumonia specialist. He had treated four people with severe pneumonia-like symptoms that, when he thought about it, simply didn’t fit the pattern. He made some calls and got other doctors to start looking for recent cases of pneumonia that were atypical. They did so. They realised this was something different and dangerous and they sounded the alarm.
Net result 800 people dead.

Now, if they’d waited for absolute rock solid evidence that would convince the most staunchly set guy who was convinced doctors always cried wolf then what do you think would have happened?
You’ve heard of Spanish flu, right?

Now, they stopped SARS and only 800 people died because they took ‘analysis that didn’t go much beyond the anecdotal’ seriously.

There is more evidence for Global Warming than there is for Gravity.

So I ask again, if it isn’t DU what is it?

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

thanks, harry, I think you’ve proved my point.

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“At this stage, I’d prefer to go with the likes of New Scientist and the Royal Society in saying that more work needs to be done, but the present state of our knowledge suggests the dangers are less than the alarmists have implied.”

Alex, of course more work needs to be done and of course the dangers would be less than SOME aver. Meanwhile it seems clear that if you get a good dose of DU in your lungs you are likely to be in big trouble. It also seems clear that in ground combat troops are likely to get a good dose of it in a variety of circumstances. Furthermore it seems certain that civilians are likely to be adversely affected without knowing it in wars like Iraq and Afghanistan.

And we don’t know what it is going to do to the groundwater and other aspects of the environment over the next billion years or so.

So I say the Americans and the Brits should stop using it until they (and we) can be certain it is as safe as they imply. Especially if harry is right in saying that DU only shortened the war by five munutes or so.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Alex,
So you think I proved your point.
Well, I know for sure that you didn’t answer my question.
Twice in fact,

So, If it’s not DU, then what is it?

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

My point is, I don’t know, you don’t know and neither does anybody else. We don’t really even know that there is an “it” that needs to be explained, or if there is, what the nature and extent of the “it” is. You appear to be asserting that you do know there is an “it”, but you haven’t produced any evidence. Therefore I assume that you’re arguing for dogmatic and ideological reasons.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

“My point is, I don’t know, you don’t know and neither does anybody else.”
How postmodern of you. I assume the “anybody else” are all those who, like me, think there is something that needs to be looked into and have a best guess that the line of inquiry should feature DU.
Dude, this is how things get done! At this point I’d like you to read the SARS example from before.

What sort of evidence do you want, Alex? A newspaper artciles saying “US Government admits DU mutates foetuses?”
It’s not going to happen.

If DU is safe then why does the MoD recommend that people stay more than fifty metres away from a vehicle hit by it?

I compared the argument around DU to Global Warming. That was stupid of me. There was a far better comparison: Agent Orange.
In fact, you could almost substitiute DU for Agent Orange in most of the articles.
The official US Government position is that Agent Orange is not harmful.
So, Alex, is Agent Orange harmful?

Why is everyone so concerned about ‘dirty bombs’?
Radiological bombs use medical and industrial nuclear waste. Since DU is safe does that mean dirty bombs made from DU are actually dangerous?

For a government that habitually treats it’s veterans appallingly, and having a current attitude that deep penetration nuclear warheads are a reasonable avenue of research regardless of the political message this sends, is it any surprise that the conclusion from government sponsored inquiries into DU are inconclusive and that independant reports that say more study needs to be done are not followed up upon by said government?

Yes, I am being idealogical: smoking guns should be examined as a matter of principle. Also I am idealogically opposed to people getting f@cked over.
No, I am not being dogmatic: I have asked you to explain what is happening if it isn’t DU.
Yes, I am being dogmatic: and I would be just as dogmatic arguing with someone who claims we didn’t go to the moon.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Hi harry,

I didn’t think this was about the merits or otherwise of US treatment of its veterans, or its policy on deep penetration nuclear warheads, or its position on Agent Orange. Stop muddying the waters.

I agree that there are claims of increases in rates of cancer and birth defects in southern Iraq. I don’t think these claims are necessarily true. I agree that they need to be further investigated. I agree that DU is one of the things that should be given priority in the investigation. I don’t agree that DU is definitely the culprit (if these claims are proved correct).

As to what other possible causes there might be, I’ve already referred to other sources of pollution as a legacy of Saddam’s regime. Then there is whatever weapons his regime used to crush the southern rebellion after the first Gulf War, and the widespread malnutrition caused by his diversion of the oil for food funds.