Toxic Saturation and Health Devastation in Iraq: The Indelible Damage of War (Part 1)

Carly A. Krakow

More than seventeen years since the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, and more than thirty years since the beginning of the 1990–91 Gulf War, legislation has been introduced in US Congress that would remove the “burden of proof” to “establish a direct connection” between certain health conditions and exposure to toxins in numerous overseas conflicts for US military veterans who are seeking benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans who were deployed to Iraq as part of either the “Global War on Terror” or Gulf War would become eligible for VA benefits for listed diseases.

An obvious—though neglected—question lingers: If the dangers of wartime toxic exposure for US veterans who were deployed to Iraq are finally being acknowledged, what about Iraqi civilians, for whom toxic exposure was not part of temporary deployment overseas, but rather an ongoing and tormenting daily reality?

Toxic contaminants that were introduced to Iraq by the US military include burn pits and depleted uranium (DU) weapons. The severity of toxic living in Iraq renders an existing framework of toxic exposure insufficient—exposure to toxins is not adequate language. Exposure suggests forced contact with toxic substances. In Iraq, people are not merely exposed but are rather drenched or saturated for years in inescapable conditions of confinement in which their health is constantly under siege. Using a concept I identify as “toxic saturation,” in what follows I demonstrate the urgent need for the US government to address ongoing environmental injustice in Iraq.

About this situation, Sinan Antoon, Iraqi novelist, poet, and scholar, told me, “We, the people of the United States, are getting more information of the damage done to Iraqi bodies only because the bodies of veterans are getting attention.” He cautioned against the danger of understanding the current situation in Iraq only through the lens of toxic exposure’s impacts on veterans. “There is a hierarchy of human worth . . . even our access to information about the lives and deaths of others goes through the more valorized bodies of non-civilians.” [1]

What about cleanup and reparations for Iraqi civilians who have been saturated in war toxins, and not merely exposed to them? What about justice for Iraqi civilians, who have been subjected to ceaseless toxic saturation with no escape—who have been forced to live in a destroyed present, and have been denied hope for a more just future?

If the dangers of wartime toxic exposure for US veterans who were deployed to Iraq are finally being acknowledged, what about Iraqi civilians, for whom toxic exposure was not part of temporary deployment overseas, but rather an ongoing and tormenting daily reality? . . . What about cleanup and reparations for Iraqi civilians who have been saturated in war toxins, and not merely exposed to them?

Neither a Mere “Blunder” Nor a Bright Flash


A set of videos was recently circulated on social media by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). These videos were posted in the months before the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was entered into force in January 2021. (Though seen as a major step towards stigmatizing the possession of nuclear weapons, none of the world powers known to actually possess nuclear weapons, including the United States, are parties to the treaty.)

One video was shared with a preamble that reads, “There’s no plan. No team of heroes coming to save you. We simply couldn’t cope if the nuclear bomb is used again.” The video goes on to show a gripping illustrated imagining of what the immediate aftermath of a nuclear strike would look like: disaster, death, injury. Cutoff water and electricity. Destroyed ambulances and hospitals that cannot aid survivors. Maps that do not matter because borders and boundaries delineating neighborhoods and cities have been wiped away. And, there is the ethical dilemma of how to send in medical professionals and teams to assist survivors, when radiation exposure is guaranteed for all who enter the affected areas. 

The other video also shows the immediate effects—blinding white light and immense heat—but then quickly jumps to the future. At one week, it says, hospitals are overwhelmed and people are dying of acute radiation sickness. At one year, radiation has seeped into the water and the soil and the food supply is contaminated. In ten years, many are dying from leukemia and various cancers that have developed. And in thirty years, those who managed to survive worry about passing on the effects of radiation exposure to their children and future descendants. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-2&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1320250014506061830&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.jadaliyya.com%2F&siteScreenName=%2FDetails%2F42486%2FEngaging-Books-Series-Hoopoe-Selections-on-New-Fiction-from-the-Middle-East&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=550px

An ICRC video posted on Twitter to recognize a fiftieth state ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, enabling the treaty to be entered into force in January 2021. Video: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) via YouTube.


The videos are clearly meant to evoke the horrors of the August 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities—typically recognized as the only times nuclear weapons were used in armed conflict to date. A different situation, however, came to my mind: Iraq, and the health devastation Iraqis have experienced in the aftermath of decades of US-led invasion, and the occupation that began in 2003. Specifically, the fears of passing on radiation poisoning to the next generation bring to mind horrific cases of cancer and birth defects in Iraq.   

A single blast with a bright flash of blinding white light did not occur in Iraq, where toxic saturation is protracted over years rather than traced to a single event. The rate of children born with birth defects in Fallujah, however, has been believed for years now to be higher than the rate of birth defects in Hiroshima after 1945. And yet, the slow, dangerous, and ongoing trajectory of toxic contamination in Iraq (as documented by scholars such as Omar Dewachi and Kali Rubaii) has been obfuscated by the US government’s narration of the 2003 invasion as, at worst, a “blunder,” as Sinan Antoon notes. This is a dangerous narrative that blurs the clear linkages between the Iraq War and the health devastation experienced by Iraqis, as countless children are born with disastrous and often-fatal cancers, deformities, and malfunctioning vital organs.

Iraqis are victims of neither a mere “blunder,” nor an easily identified “bright flash”—but a dangerous and slow-burning form of environmental injustice that has become a reality in the context of invasion and occupation.                                             

Toxic Saturation: “From the Minute They Are Conceived Until the Minute They Die”


To understand the impact of both burn pits and depleted uranium, it is useful to consider two definitions.

Burn pits: “In Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas of the Southwest Asia theater of military operations, open-air combustion of trash and other waste in burn pits was a common practice.” (A variety of waste is disposed of and combusted in burn pits, including chemicals, medical waste, human waste, aluminum cans, munitions, petroleum products, plastics, rubber, wood, and food waste.)

Depleted uranium (DU): “a byproduct of the Uranium (U) enrichment process where natural U from the earth’s crust is ‘enriched’ with higher energy U isotopes to produce U suitable for use in nuclear reactors. The U remaining is ‘depleted’ of about 40 percent of its radioactivity, but retains the same chemical toxicity as natural uranium. . . . DU is a potential health hazard if it enters the body, such as through embedded fragments, contaminated wounds, and inhalation or ingestion.”

These definitions, which plainly emphasize the danger of burn pits and DU weaponry, come from the VA. In light of evidence clearly demonstrating the danger of burn pits and DU, why has the US government taken no major action to clean up toxic waste in Iraq? Knowledge of the dangers of DU in Iraq dates to at least the Gulf War, which physician Helen Caldicott identified as “the second nuclear war” in history. DU is “extremely dense and capable of penetrating heavily armored vehicles” and “spontaneously burns on impact,” creating tiny, aerosolized particles that are “small enough to be inhaled” and that “travel long distances when airborne.” [2] DU, John Catalinotto writes, “makes shells that penetrate and shields that block.” [3] As the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) explains, DU’s high density means it can be used both to make armor plating, and to pierce armor plating.

As documented by the Dutch peace group Pax and reported in The Guardian, in 1991, an estimated 782,414 rounds of DU are believed to have been fired, primarily by US forces. In 2003, more than 300,000 rounds of DU are believed to have been fired, also predominantly by the United States (and a smaller portion by the United Kingdom).

A 2019 study published in the journal Environmental Pollutionfound that residential proximity to Tallil Air Base, a US military base near Nasiriyah, a city approximately 225 miles southeast of Baghdad, is associated with increased likelihood of congenital anomalies in infants and children. As the study notes,

In Iraq, war contamination is the result of dispensed bombs, bullets, detonation of chemical and conventional weapons, and burn-pit emissions by US bases. . . . Thorium is a radioactive compound and a direct depleted-uranium decay-product. Radioactive materials, including depleted uranium, are routinely stored in US bases and they have been shown to leak into the environment.

The study focused on infants with conditions including neural tube defects (such as spina bifida, anencephaly, hydrocephalus, and meningocele), congenital heart diseases, and musculoskeletal malformations (including lower limb anomalies, missing right hand, paralyzed clubfoot, and cleft lip). These are severe, life-altering, and often fatal conditions. Anencephaly, for example, is when a child is born with an underdeveloped brain and an incomplete skull. Hydrocephalus involves a build-up of fluid that puts pressure on the brain and enlarges the head. Symptoms may include headache, impaired vision, cognitive difficulties, loss of coordination, and incontinence. Meningocele involves disrupted development of the spinal cord.

An image of an Iraqi child from the Environmental Pollution study, “Living near an active U.S. military base in Iraq is associated with significantly higher hair thorium and increased likelihood of congenital anomalies in infants and children” by M. Savabieasfahani, F. Basher Ahamadani, A. Mahdavi Damghani.


The US Congress bill introduced in September 2020, Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act of 2020, aims to entitle veterans who served in any one of thirty-four countries listed, including Iraq, to receive benefits due to a list of service-connected diseases ranging from cancer of any type to emphysema, asthma, lymphoma, pulmonary fibrosis, and several others.

The bill, which aims to “streamline the process for obtaining VA benefits for burn pit and other toxic exposures,” arrives following years of advocacy to pressure the US government to recognize illnesses experienced by veterans who served in the many overseas wars of the past three decades. Since the 1970s, when the VA began denying claims from veterans sickened by Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, anti-war activists and veterans’ rights advocates have fiercely critiqued the US government’s neglect of its own veterans, and its denial of the links between exposure to toxins during military service, and numerous catastrophic and fatal diseases.

The bill would amend Title 38 of the United States Code, which outlines veterans’ benefits, and would specifically amend “the same section that provided for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.”

I spoke with Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist and co-author of the Environmental Pollution study about congenital anomalies in Iraqi infants and children. She explained the profound vulnerability of Iraqi children and pregnant women exposed to burn pits and abandoned weaponry: 

Young children, growing fetuses, [and] pregnant mothers are multiple times more sensitive to pollution than US military forces, [often] thirty or forty-year-old grown men. It is a well-known fact that growing fetuses are highly sensitive to exposure to contaminants. A thirty-year-old . . . has much more protection than a growing baby. [5]

As Omar Dewachi has demonstrated, the effects of decades of US-led sanctions and invasions in Iraq have been “nowhere more obvious than in the collapse of the country’s medical establishment and the slipping away of lives in the hospital setting.” [4] This collapse has contributed to production of a medical context in which desperately needed care for children with such severe conditions is lacking. 

In Iraq, in addition to burn pits and DU, “Abandoned tanks, trucks, and military hardware, in large graveyards, are also a source of metal and radioactive contamination.” Savabieasfahani emphasized the severity of suffering for Iraqis, and the urgency of cleaning up to prevent further illnesses and disabilities:

[The United States is] really sentencing the people of Iraq to live without any choice, to live with this incredibly toxic material from the minute they are conceived until the minute they die. . . . If we do not force the United States to clean up the mess they have left in Iraq, we are condemning the people of Iraq to live with this massive, gigantic, everlasting pollution from before they are born until they die—if they manage to survive and be born.  

A US Marine Corps tank north of Nasiriyah, 2003. Image: Scene Camera Operator SGT Paul L. Anstine Ii, USMC/The National Archives. 


What can we learn from similar patterns of neglect that have played out before—protracted suffering for victims of war left saturated in toxins long after the peak of a conflict has passed, or after the majority of US troops have been pulled out?

Repeated History


Vietnam, where civilians are dealing with the repercussions of Agent Orange more than forty-five years since the war’s end, and Japan, where civilians have dealt with generations of illness following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are two of the most severe examples of toxic saturation’s indelible damage in the context of war.

In our conversation, Mozhgan Savabieasfahani emphasized what the United States should have learned from Vietnam in order to prevent the situation in Iraq. The US government must be held accountable, she said. She does “not want to see another Iraq” in the future.  

As Savabieasfahani explained to me, existing research has demonstrated a clear link in Iraq between civilian illness and the toxicity of war. She emphasized that, ideally, without restrictions on time, budget, or access, she would love to conduct long-term, increasingly expansive research on Iraq. There is enough information at present, however, to know that action must be taken and the United States must clean up the damage. Given the choice between additional research and cleanup, “she would prefer to spend [funds] on cleanup.”

Savabieasfahani repeatedly referenced a precedent: the devastation caused in Vietnam by dioxin, the chemical component of Agent Orange and numerous other herbicides used to destroy the forests of Vietnam, and the long-overdue cleanup for small parts of the country.


A US helicopter spraying defoliant during the Vietnam War, 1969. Image: Brian K. Grigsby, Department of Defense/The National Archives.


In a 2017 essay in The New York Times, Bao Ninh, a Vietnamese novelist who served in the North Vietnamese Army from 1969 to 1975, described the “dreadful nightmare of dioxin”:

In the spring of 1971, when we were stationed west of Kon Tum, we were sprayed repeatedly with Agent Orange. . . . We understood all too well its horrible destructive force. As soon as the Caribous passed over us, the sky would turn dark with a strange, thick, milky rain. The jungle canopy broke apart, ulcerated and fell to the ground. Leaves, flowers, fruits, even twigs, all silently dropped. Green leaves turned black, crumpled. Grass withered and died. I witnessed many cruel scenes in the war, but that brutal massacre of nature is what comes back to me most often and disturbs my sleep.

Given the long and intractable nature of the fight for care for US veterans affected by dioxin, and by burn pits and DU, the struggle for justice for Iraqis looks to be filled with prolonged denial. Could the fight for justice gain any additional traction with the start of Joe Biden’s presidency?

President Joe Biden has spoken openly about possible links between cancer in US veterans, and exposure to burn pits. Commenting on the 2016 book The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers by US veteran Joseph Hickman (which devotes a chapter to Biden’s son Beau who died of brain cancer in 2015), in a 2018 PBS New Hour interview Biden noted, “There’s a whole chapter on my son Beau in there, and that stunned me. I didn’t know that.” [6] Biden described how Hickman “went back and looked at Beau’s tenure as a civilian with the US attorney’s office [in Kosovo] and then his year in Iraq. And he was co-located in both times near these burn pits.” Biden also commented that “science has recognized there are certain carcinogens when people are exposed to [burn pits] and “depending on the quantities and the amount in the water and the air, [they] can have a carcinogenic impact on the body.”

Biden qualified his statement, noting there is “a lot of work being done” but not yet “direct scientific evidence” of a link between the burn pits and cancer, although he compared the situation to recognized instances of environmental injustice, noting “we know now you don’t want to live underneath a smoke stack where carcinogens are coming out.”

Iraqis are in dire need of recognition and medical attention—there is no room for lofty idealism or speculation about what the US government might do. Can recent attention paid to the impacts that burn pits have had on veterans’ health provide a new opportunity to put pressure on the White House to take action in response to Iraqi civilians’ needs?

Urgent Calls for Cleanup


The urgency of the situation in Iraq cannot continue to be obfuscated by claims that the direct link between birth defects and toxic contamination has not yet been established. As Mozhgan Savabieasfahani described, there is immense danger in spending years endeavoring to pinpoint the exact carcinogens and toxins making Iraqis sick, while a situation in need of immediate attention continues to worsen. She noted that if the US government spent “a tenth” of the amount of funding spent on invading Iraq to clean up Iraq, this would be a major contribution towards rectifying the injustices to which Iraqis are continually being subjected. (Considering the US taxpayer cost of the Iraq War is estimated to be around two-trillion dollars, “a tenth” of that amount would be two-hundred-billion dollars—certainly enough to make headway.)

As Sara Flounders and John Catalinotto demonstrate in the book Metal of Dishonor, Depleted Uranium: How the Pentagon Radiates Soldiers and Civilians with DU Weapons, lower numbers of in-combat casualties for soldiers during the Gulf War were seen by the US military as key for ensuring “less domestic resistance to future conflicts.” [7] By attempting to sever the link between deployment to Iraq and veterans’ eventual deaths from disease months or years later, the US government maintained an image of a commitment to a low-impact war—if impact was calculated solely in terms of military lives lost, without regard for civilian deaths and illnesses. Furthermore, the use of DU weapons, as Toby C. Jones argues, is often “deliberately obscured from view.”

There is also, of course, the economic factor. “How can [the US military] resist, no matter how dangerous, a raw material that is available free of charge?” Flounders writes. Irreparable damage to the Iraqi environment, and illness and death for soldiers and millions of Iraqi civilians, has long been deemed an “acceptable cost.” [8] A waste product of the nuclear industry, created during the production of both nuclear weapons and energy, DU is “more or less free.”

Cost estimates for recent efforts to clean up areas of Vietnam from Agent Orange are in the range of eighty-two-million dollars to 1.4 billion dollars. The cost of recovery begins to pale in comparison to the cost of inflicting damage in the first place. Savabieasfahani explained the urgency of cleanup, noting,

I would like to see the United States forced to clean up every scrap of stuff left in Iraq, because all of this turns into contaminants of soil, of air, and of plants.

The studies that I have done have shown us [Iraq is contaminated by] some neurotoxins, some radioactive stuff, and all of that is like a dirty soup that needs to be cleaned up. Now, how much of the effect comes from depleted uranium, and how much comes from mercury? These are the things that could be of interest. . . . To me, the important thing is I have shown the devastation. I have made the link between health and proximity to [the contaminated sites], and I want to see that cleaned up.

A still from a video by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), providing information about the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.


How exactly should the US government get Iraq “cleaned up,” and what about compensation for the victims whose health and lives have already been irreparably damaged by toxic saturation? How will the US government address the damage that is being continuously done while cleanup is further delayed? If Vietnam is an indication of what is to come for Iraq, intense political pressure and public interest have the best potential to force lawmakers to take action in the months and years ahead. Does international law offer any additional, or more expedient, means of achieving justice?

A “Relentless War on Life”


International law has evolved in the period following the Vietnam War. As the ICRC notes in their new (September 2020) “Guidelines on the Protection of the Natural Environment in Armed Conflict,”

The international effort to better protect the natural environment in armed conflict first gained traction in the 1970s, when the severe damage caused by the extensive use of herbicides such as Agent Orange during the Vietnam War triggered an international outcry and underlined the need for improved and specific protection of the natural environment in such circumstances. This prompted the adoption in 1976 of the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD Convention).

It is worth noting that while the ICRC guidelines address the Gulf War and water weaponization in Iraq by the Islamic State, neither DU weaponry nor burn pits are explicitly addressed. Following the Vietnam War and prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, international humanitarian law regarding the environment was further strengthened through developments such as Article 55 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions (1977), which prohibits “widespread, long-term and severe damage” to the natural environment and “the use of methods or means of warfare which are intended or may be expected to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby to prejudice the health or survival of the population.” But the existence of these laws did not prevent the current situation in Iraq.

As the legal scholar Antony Anghie has asked, “What does it mean to say that ‘international law governs sovereign states’ when certain societies were denied sovereign status?” And, “What continuing effects follow from this exclusion?” [9]

A community need not be legally denied sovereign status, at present, in order to suffer from the types of harms and exclusions Anghie describes. Legacies of colonialism persist, even if communities formerly subject to colonial injustice have since been granted legal status. What meaning can legal recognition and status possibly have for a population saturated in unsurvivably toxic conditions? As Sinan Antoon explained to me, given the United States’ history of unlawful intervention and invasion abroad, “race and empire must always be the prism through which we understand” the situation in Iraq, and so many other situations worldwide.

When the United States’ invasion of Iraq, and violation of Iraqi sovereignty, are brought into the picture, it becomes clear that not only is international law not positioned to play an uncomplicated, ameliorative role for addressing toxic saturation in Iraq, but international law is implicated in the creation of an international system within which it was possible for Iraq to be invaded and devastated, and for Iraqis to be displaced en masse and left trapped in conditions of toxic saturation.  

In his famous Discourse on Colonialism, which charts the barbarism that is intrinsic to all colonial projects, Aimé Césaire wrote, “no one colonizes innocently” and “no one colonizes with impunity either . . . a nation which colonizes . . . a civilization which justifies colonization—and therefore force—is already a sick civilization.” [10] Can international laws that grew problematically in the context of colonial projects evolve to be part of achieving authentic environmental justice? Can international law offer remedies for toxic calamity such as in Iraq? The precedent of Vietnam suggests that international law’s role in achieving pragmatic and tangible justice may be limited, and that pressure on the US government is the best route towards environmental cleanup and civilian compensation in the near future.

Toxic saturation is inextricably entwined with the broader context of the wars in Iraq and the injustice of invasion and colonialism. In Sinan Antoon’s poem “To an Iraqi infant,” he asks a child whether they know that their “tomorrow has no tomorrow,” that their “blood is the ink of new maps,” and that they are subsisting on their mother’s milk which is “bursting with depleted uranium.” [11] In her celebrated work on toxic contamination in the United States, Silent Spring, scientist and writer Rachel Carson wrote, “The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.” [12] If we apply Carson’s standard as a barometer to measure the actions of the United States in Iraq, how does the United States’ creation of toxic saturation, refusal to acknowledge or adequately address this saturation, and production of a generation whose blood has been used as “the ink of new maps,” measure up?

Carson flips the colonialist, orientalist notion of “civilization” on its head here—detaching the use of chemicals from ideas of growth, commercial progress, and advanced “civilization,” and instead identifying the use of these chemicals as barbarous and self-destructive.

When applied to the Iraqi context, Carson’s analysis suggests that not only are the United States’ actions in Iraq unjust, they once again, as in Vietnam, put into question, à la Césaire, the “health” of any government that would produce, and prolong, conditions of such cruel toxic saturation. As Sinan Antoon told me, “What haunts me is the destruction of the future, not just the destruction of the present.” 

Featured image: A poster by the NGO Handicap International warns Iraqis about explosives in Baghdad in 2003 after the US invasion. Image: “About Baghdad” documentary, Arab Film Distribution, directed by Sinan Antoon, Bassam Haddad, Maya Mikdashi, Suzy Salamy, Adam Shapiro. Courtesy of the filmmakers.


This is Part 1 of a series by Carly A. Krakow on toxic saturation in Iraq. Part 2 is forthcoming.

Posted on Al Jadaliyya February 17, 2021


[Acknowledgements: 
I am grateful to Mozhgan Savabieasfahani for generously sharing information about her research. I owe my sincerest appreciation to Sinan Antoon for being interviewed for this piece, for offering his profound insights about Iraq, and for graciously reviewing an earlier version of this work. I wish to thank Huma Gupta for her thoughtful and helpful comments on an earlier version. Thank you to my fellow organizers and participants in the October 2020 roundtable event, “Environmental Justice in the Middle East: Activism, Resistance, and Decolonisation,” at which aspects of this analysis were presented.]

___________________________________

[1] Sinan Antoon, interviewed by the author, 7 January 2021. All subsequent quotations from Sinan Antoon refer to this same January 2021 interview unless otherwise noted.

[2] Helen Caldicott, “A New Kind of Nuclear War,” in Metal of Dishonor, Depleted Uranium: How the Pentagon Radiates Soldiers and Civilians with DU Weapons, ed. John Catalinotto and Sara Flounders of the Depleted Uranium Education Project (New York: International Action Center, 1999), 18–20.

[3] John Catalinotto, “A Tale of Two Syndromes: Vietnam and Gulf War,” in Metal of Dishonor, Depleted Uranium: How the Pentagon Radiates Soldiers and Civilians with DU Weapons, ed. John Catalinotto and Sara Flounders of the Depleted Uranium Education Project (New York: International Action Center, 1999), 56.

[4] Omar Dewachi, Ungovernable Life (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2017), x.

[5] Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, interviewed by the author, 1 June 2020. All subsequent quotations from Mozhgan Savabieasfahani refer to this same June 2020 interview unless otherwise noted.

[6] Joseph Hickman, The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers (2016; repr., New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2020).

[7] Sara Flounders, “The Struggle for an Independent Inquiry,” in Metal of Dishonor, Depleted Uranium: How the Pentagon Radiates Soldiers and Civilians with DU Weapons, ed. John Catalinotto and Sara Flounders of the Depleted Uranium Education Project (New York: International Action Center, 1999), 7. Also see Catalinotto, “A Tale of Two Syndromes: Vietnam and Gulf War,” in Metal of Dishonor, Depleted Uranium: How the Pentagon Radiates Soldiers and Civilians with DU Weapons, 55–60.

[8] Flounders, “The Struggle for an Independent Inquiry,” in Metal of Dishonor, Depleted Uranium: How the Pentagon Radiates Soldiers and Civilians with DU Weapons, 9.

[9] Antony Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 7.

[10] Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (1955; repr., New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000), 39.

[11] Sinan Antoon, “To an Iraqi infant,” in The Baghdad Blues (Brownsville: Harbor Mountain Press, 2007), 10–12.

[12] Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962; repr., New York: Mariner Books, 2002), 99.

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