Imagine this: walking through a blinding sandstorm, scattered machine fire going on around you, with visibility reduced to three feet. The sand stings your eyes, muffles your ears, and is ground into your teeth. You do not even hear the muted shout of, "Incoming!" , before your body is torn to shreds by an RPG. Or, instead you lay your life on the line willingly for your country, and live to tell the tale, only to be die a pointless back in the good ol' USA caused by a mysterious disease, with symptoms such as: chronic fatigue, pains in the joints, digestive problems and headaches, because of the untested "anti-body" injections that were given to you by your superiors as well as "inadvertent" exposure to chemicals and radiation.
These are the two unique fates of the soldiers involved in the Gulf War of 1991. It was a war of lies and half-truths against the American people, filled with innumerable injustices for the soldiers and civilians of both Iraq and the US. One of the most deceitful wars in our nation's history, the fight to save a "democracy" was nothing more than a greedy grab for oil. Thousands of our soldiers have died for this unworthy cause, as well as a greater number of Iraqi people. And yet despite all of the knowledge we have about the pro da fed to the American people to feed the war fervor and the unjust treatment of soldiers on both sides of the conflict, we have not even begun to scratch the surface. Our leaders should be held responsible, and after reading the following paragraphs you will understand why.
Winston Churchill once said, "Truth is always the first casualty of war". , and: "Sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies". How very true that statement is in concern to the Gulf War. The Gulf War was a time of unprecedented media censorship, as well as the usual "white lies" from the US about the reasons necessary for war. It happened in Vietnam with the Gulf of Tonkin, and it happened in WWII with the "ambush" of Pearl Harbor. The only difference this time is that there was no real evidence. All the "evidence" that our leaders presented was hearsay, as well as a lot of "classified" photos and documents.
However, there are a few instances that are far more well know than others. One of which was the "massive buildup" of Iraqi forces on the Saudi Arabian border. Before the start of the Gulf War, President Bush claimed that a huge Iraqi force was threatening to invade Saudi Arabia. With the aid of "top-secret" satellite images, Pentagon officials estimated by September that 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks stood on the border, and were a direct threat to a key US oil supplier.
The St. Petersburg Times acquired two Soviet satellite images of the same area, that were taken at the exact same time; however, this photo showed no Iraqi troops visible near the Saudi border; there was only empty desert. After the war, General Colin Powell admitted that there had not been a massive build up of Iraqi forces. Also, a US senior commander told Newsday, "There was a great disinformation campaign surrounding this war". (1) In addition to this, our government lied about the atrocities committed by the Iraqi army. This of course was necessary in order to stir up enough hatred towards the Iraqi people that we could justify slaughtering them by the thousands.
One of the most memorable was a piece of testimony presented to congress. Before the war, members of Congress were presented with the saddening testimony of a 15 year old Kuwaiti, identified only as Nayirah. She claimed to be a volunteer in a Kuwait maternity ward and described in detail how she had seen Iraqi troops break into her hospital, steal incubators, and leave the 312 babies that had been in the incubators "on the cold floor to die". Seven US Senators later mentioned the story during debate; because of this the motion for war passed by the slim margin of five votes.
In the weeks following Nayirah's speech, President Bush senior refered to the incident more than five times, claiming that such "ghastly atrocities" were like % revisited". Shockingly, Nayirah was found to actually be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and thus had absolutely no connection whatsoever to the hospital in Kuwait. She was coached, along with a few others who would verify her story, by executives of the Washington law firm of Hill and Knowlton, which had signed a contract worth more than $10 million dollars with the Kuwaiti government to plead the case for war. (2) In addition to all of these egregious lies, the CIA also lied about the strength of the Iraqi army, which at the start of the ground war was found by the Pentagon to be only 183, 00, less than half of the CIA's estimate.
Yet, despite all of this, the biggest lie of all was our false support of democracy. One of the main arguments Bush used which is still heard today is the fact that we were fighting to free Iraq of a dictator and install a democracy. This is simply flat out wrong. What the US government was hoping for was a military coup, with one dictator replacing another, not a popular uprising. Inevitably, Saddam received unexpected help from the US.
Even as the rebellions, such as the Shiite uprisings in the South, were taking place the US allowed the Iraqi military to fly helicopters in the no-fly zones that the US had established over Iraq. They were supposedly there to help protect the Shiites. While US planes patrolled and watched nearby, Saddam's generals utilized helicopters to firebomb small towns and afterwards fleeing rebels as well. A similar situation occurred in the North, and there the Kurdish rebellion was overwhelmed.
US support for Saddam was "the most significant factor in the suppression of the uprising". According to Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress: "They made it possible for Saddam to regroup his forces and launch a devastating counterattack with massive firepower on the people". (3) Unfortunately, these lies of war-time were not the worst of the infractions committed by our government. The infamous "Gulf War Syndrome" has killed many former fighters of the Gulf War. Unfortunately for those fallen soldiers, Gulf War Syndrome was caused nearly entirely by the government they were fighting for.
This Gulf War Syndrome, or GWS, is caused by a variety of sources: radiation given off by anti-tanks rounds, chemicals released by the saturation ing campaign, and experimental vaccines administered to the soldiers by doctors. The first cause, the anti-tank rounds, should have been basic knowledge to US Generals. These rounds are made of depleted uranium, or DU. These shells ignite on impact and burn through even the toughest armor.
They were used by "warthog" aircraft employed by the US army to knock out Iraq's armored force. These anti-tank rounds were very successful, but they were also a source of radioactive contamination to US troops, who were not told of this danger by their superiors. The Department of Defense still alleges that DU radiation is relatively harmless. When correctly encased, DU gives off so little radiation, the Pentagon says, that a soldier would have to remain around it for 20 hours to receive the same amount of radiation as one chest x-ray. But once a DU round had been used, that casing is destroyed.
One DU anti-tank round without its casing emits more radiation in one hour as 50 chest X-rays. (4) Because of our troops' prolonged exposure to this unshielded DU, many are now suffering from symptoms ranging from loss of motor skills to bleeding gums. The Iraqi civilians have suffered much worse fates: radiation poisoning and hideous birth defects caused by their prolonged exposure to these radioactive craters made worse by the fact that their children who have "played" in them since the war were never told the truth. The second cause of GWS, exposure to chemical weapons, could have easily been prevented had the soldiers been adequately equipped or warned. The allegation of troop exposure to chemical weapons was first brought about by Patrick Eddington, a CIA analyst during the Gulf War. His career at the CIA, as well as that of his wife Robin, has since been terminated.
Eddington and his wife, investigating on their own, uncovered more than 60 incidents where nerve gas and other chemical weapons were released in the vicinity of American troops. In all instances this was caused by the US ardent of Iraqi facilities. They also state that the CIA and the Pentagon repeatedly attempted to hinder their investigation, and when they continued to pursue it over the objections of executive officials, their careers were, in effect, destroyed. According to Eddington the logs of the 101st Airborne Division from January 1991 showed that in a period of two to three hours, "one unit repeatedly detected chemical agents" using the kits that were issued to every soldier.
The logs were of the declassified variety. In addition, he referred to 59 classified intelligence reports, some of which were "very specific", about the location of chemical weapons in southern Iraq and Kuwait; Iraqi forces occupied this area until they were expelled in late February of 1991. (5) These claims have since been verified by a variety of sources from the CIA and the Department of Defense. In April 1996 the director of the CIA still feebly claimed that "there is no compelling evidence" of any release of chemical weapons during the Gulf War, Soon thereafter, however, due to the constant pressure by numerous sources, the truth finally began to leak out.
In June of that year, the Pentagon proclaimed that it had evidence of 300 to 400 American troops that may have been exposed to chemical weapons. By December 1996, the number had risen to 20,000. (4) All of these instances coupled with the mountains of proof show conclusively that the US government is guilty of lying to their troops, as well as to the nation. The Gulf War was a war of lies to America... but now America knows about the lies that their leaders told.
Fortunately for seekers of the truth, our government was not perfect in the cover up of their deceit. As in most cases with massive cover-ups, they left loose ends in too many places, and this allowed the truth to come out. It is vital that you know the truth and remain educated. Questioning what you are told to believe is not only a right in the United States, it is your duty as a citizen. Only by constantly questioning what you are told and seeking the truth will you keep those with power in check. This is truly what it means to be a patriot..