One of the legacies of the twentieth century was the invention of fourth-dimensional warfare. Formerly, war had been restricted to the here and now of the battlefield or subsequent sacking of civilian property and attendent atrocities by invading troops. Everything changed with the perfection of modern weapons systems. Land mines, unexploded ordinance and the like continued the killing long after the combatants had signed the papers and gone home; they have added an additional dimension, one of time.
In the pursuit of better killing power, the most diabolical weapons conceivable were imagined, created and robustly employed on civilian populations (e.g. the two fission bombs used in the end of World War II), ones that would continue to kill through genetic damage to civilians. If one lives in America, one could be under the impression that World War II was the only nuclear war.
Sara Flounders of the International Action Center's Depleted Uranium Project was in town Saturday with a movie, Metal of Dishonor, and book of the same title to give the lie to that popular misconception. Nuclear war is very much with us, via the soon to be world-wide distribution and use of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition (www.iacenter.org/depleted/du.htm).
The results of the ammo, while not as dramatic as a fission explosion, are the same: Distribution of tiny particles of radioactive DU enter the environment as well as any humans that come in contact, with disastrous result to the born--and unborn (www.web-light.nl/VISIE/extremedeformities.html).
But don't look for any substantive discussion of the ethics of the use of DU in the U.S. There is none, not in the mainstream, anyway. The subject of depleted uranium is too hot (so to speak) and too damning of American leaders' war crimes for public discussion.
This leaves Americans in a state much like Soviet citizens, forced to meet in small, obscure rooms to view material not available ordinarily--samizdat, American style. In this case, 25 or so met on a blustery and chilly night in a small, obscure room at N.C. State to view the film and discuss ways to bring about the end of DU's use. The People's Video Network, a film crew from New York, was on hand to capture the discussion.
DU is just a part of the what the International Action Center does. Flounders says that the IAC's focus is larger: the totality of the United States' war making ability, the corrupted and evil system that makes it possible--and its casualtites.
"This is not just about D.U.," she says, "It is the whole system and the victims--including U.S. solders--basically being used as guinea pigs." Besides the damage to in-country noncombatants, U.S. veterans of conflicts are showing increasing symptoms of DU poisoning, and so are their children. Politically, the use of DU enables the military to avoid the political fallout of high casualties by making U.S. armor nearly impervious--the payback (casualty lists) comes down the road when the injured servicepeople are (like Agent Orange survivors) out of the limelight. The IAC is fomenting an outreach educational program aimed at servicepeople to tell them what the generals won't.
The IAC has actions planned in the future, the next one on March 20 to mark the anniversary of the war in Iraq. For local info and to order the informative and deeply disturbing movie/book, contact the IAC, www.iacenter.org.
For a past Indy article on DU, go to indyweek.com/durham/2003-02-19/eichenberger.html