EFFECTS OF IRAQ WAR
Drekmeier, February 22, 2003
Environmentalists Against the War had a press conference in San Francisco
and released the following statement. I thought you might like
to see it.
Reasons Environmentalists Oppose an Attack on Iraq
and individuals working for the environment and environmental justice,
we have watched with increasing concern as the US government moves closer
to an all-out attack on Iraq. We raise our voices in opposition to this
war and invite others to join us in support of peace. We oppose an attack
on Iraq for the following reasons:
- An attack
on Iraq could kill nearly 500,000 people. Most of the people killed
would be innocent civilians.
In November 2002, Medact, the British health professional organization,
warned that as many as 260,000 Iraqis could die immediately from
a US attack, while another 200,000 deaths would result from famine
and disease. The UN fears that an attack would create a flood
of 900,000 refugees.
- War destroys
human settlements and native habitats. War destroys wildlife and
contaminates the land, air and water. The damage can last for
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has documented
lasting damage from the 1991 Gulf War. Oil, chemical and radiological
pollution still contaminates the region. More than 60 million
gallons of crude oil spilled from pipes. Some 1,500 miles of coast
were tarnished with oil and cancer-causing chemicals. The deserts
were scarred with 246 "lakes" of congealed oil. More than 700
oil wells burned for nine months, producing toxic clouds that
blocked the sun and circled the Earth.
In the aftermath of the Gulf War, more than a dozen countries
submitted environmental claims to the United Nations totaling
- US clusterbombs,
thermobaric explosions, electromagnetic bursts and weapons made
with depleted uranium are indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction.
In the 1991 Gulf War, US forces reportedly fired nearly a million
rounds of depleted uranium (DU) bullets and shells, leaving 300
tons of DU scattered across Kuwait and southern Iraq. According
to the Army Environmental Policy Institute, ingesting DU "has
the potential to generate significant medical consequences." The
World Health Organization (WHO) warns "children could receive
greater exposure to DU when playing in or near DU impact sites.
Typical hand-to-mouth activity could lead to high DU ingestion
from contaminated soil." In the aftermath of the profound chemical
and radiological contamination released during the 1991 war, cancer
and leukemia rates in southern Iraq have increased six-fold.
- Bombs pollute,
poisoning the land with unexploded shells and toxic chemicals.
Bombs can't locate or neatly destroy hidden chemical or biological
weapons (CBW), but they can cause the uncontrolled spread of deadly
According to Saudi Foreign Policy Advisor Adel al-Jubeir, the
1991 US attack on Iraq destroyed "not a single chemical or biological
weapon." That may have been fortunate. On March 10, 1991, after
the Gulf War had ended, US troops destroyed several weapons bunkers
at Khamisiyah in southern Iraq. Five years later, the Pentagon
admitted that the explosion released a cloud of CBW agents, exposing
100,000 US soldiers to mustard gas and sarin nerve gas.
a war for oil is ultimately self-defeating.
Our fossil-fuel-based economy pollutes our air, fouls our lungs
and contributes to global climate change. The world needs to burn
less oil, not more. Earth's remaining recoverable oil reserves
are expected to peak soon and decline well before the end of the
century. Waging wars to control an energy source that is finite
will never achieve long-term national security. Oil-based economies
must be replaced by technologies powered by clean, sustainable,
attacks are acts of aggression.
A "pre-emptive attack" would constitute an attack on the rule
of international law, the dream of world peace embodied in the
United Nations Charter, and the promise of environmental security
enshrined in a host of global treaties. Attacking a city of 5
million people with hundreds of cruise missiles would constitute
a war crime and a crime against humanity.
The CIA has concluded that Saddam Hussein would only be provoked
to use chemical or biological weapons in self-defense - if the
US launched an invasion bent on replacing him. Attacking Iraq
would increase the probability of chemical, biological, and radiological
attacks directed against US cities.
military spending (to control access to the fuel that powers our
oil-based economy) drains funds from critical social, educational,
medical and environmental needs.
The war (and subsequent occupation of Iraq) is projected to cost
as much as $200 billion. Meanwhile the economy teeters and unemployment
soars while the administration cuts funding for environmental
stewardship and basic human needs.
and the war on terrorism are eroding America's freedoms at home.
The US PATRIOT Act has been used to persecute immigrants and fuels
an atmosphere of racism and fear. The terrorist threat has been
used to justify removal of public information databases that provided
communities with critical data on industrial hazards. There has
been a clampdown on the Freedom of Information Act, a valuable
tool that had been used to hold polluting corporations accountable
for their actions. The PATRIOT Act criminalizes legal forms of
political opposition to controversial government policies, thereby
threatening legitimate political and environmental activism.
- The US has
threatened to strike Iraq with nuclear weapons - the ultimate
weapons of mass destruction.
In December 2002, a US strategy report claimed that the US "reserves
the right to respond with overwhelming force - including through
resort to all out options - to the use of WMD (weapons of mass
destruction) against the US, our forces abroad, and friends and
allies." Bush administration officials stated that the threat
of a nuclear first-strike did not constitute a policy change.
Bush's 2002 Nuclear Posture Review called for development of new
nuclear weapons including earth-penetrating "bunker busters" and
five-kiloton "mini-nukes" (four "mini-nukes" would contain the
explosive force of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima).
If nuclear weapons are used in Iraq, Medact fears that 3.9 million
people would die. The radioactive fallout would eventually circle
the planet, dooming even more people to an early death.
Against the War
(650) 223-3306, email@example.com
(as of February 20, 2003)
Abalone Alliance Safe
Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters
Bay Area Earth Day
Bay Area Nuclear (BAN) Waste Coalition
Bay Area Wilderness Training
Boreal Footprint Project
Butte Environmental Council
California Communities Against Toxics
California League of Conservation Voters
Californians for Radioactive Safeguards
Earth First!, Bay Area
The Ecology Center
Environment & Health Committee Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility
Environmental Law Foundation
Foundation for Global Community
Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice
INOCHI/Plutonium Free Future
International Rivers Network
Mid-Peninsula Action for Tomorrow
People for Livable and Affordable Neighborhoods
People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights
Rainforest Action Network
Redwood Action Team at Stanford
Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
Sacramento Area Earth Day Network
Sacred Land Film Project
Safe Food and Fertilizer
San Bruno Mountain Watch
San Francisco Green Party
Save Open Space Gilroy
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
Southern Rockies Watershed Network
Stanford Open Space Alliance
Sustainable Mill Valley
West County Toxics Coalition
World Sustainability Hearing Project