Power worship is what the corporate media does best, and there has been plenty of that on display in recent Libya coverage.
Donning his “white man’s burden” hat, Peter Hartcher, in the March 22 Sydney Morning Herald, responded to the United States/European Union bombing by saying: “To the relief of millions in Libya and millions more around the world, the West has unsheathed the sword against [Gaddafi’s] resurgent forces.”
Such comments are the background noise that has lent a veneer of legitimacy to the West’s imperialist adventures since the end of the Cold War.
Among the ecstatic descriptions of the swift destruction of Gaddafi’s tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other items of military hardware, there has been virtually no consideration given to a question that logically presents itself: is the West once again using depleted uranium (DU) weaponry in its aerial assault?
The spectre of lethal fallout from the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan has rightly captured world attention — but there could also be an unreported nuclear disaster unfolding in North Africa.
The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) said in a March 21 statement: “There is no definitive evidence that depleted uranium munitions have been used in … attacks on Libya.
“However there is potential for them to be used [and the] ICBUW is concerned that the current use of US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier ground attack aircraft could lead to DU contamination should their cannon be deployed against ground targets.
“ICBUW is also concerned that the potential for contamination may increase significantly as the conflict develops if US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack aircraft are deployed.”
Utilising the spent fuel from nuclear reactors, DU provides armour-piercing shells with a penetrative capacity unprecedented in the history of modern warfare.
Developed by Pentagon researchers in the 1980s, it was first used by US forces in the 1991 Gulf War. This led to the wide dispersal of radioactive contaminants in desert battlefield areas.
Thousands of US military personnel developed “Gulf War Syndrome” most likely as a result of their exposure to DU. The Iraqi civilian population was badly affected — just as the civilian population was affected when DU was used against Serbian military installations during the US intervention in the mid-90s Balkan conflict.
Those wars were also billed as selfless humanitarian missions — as was the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
DU was wantonly unleashed by US forces invading Iraq in spite of incontrovertible evidence pointing to its negative impact on the environment.
It is a dirty weapon, but very effective. Having spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars developing this technology, the US and allied military forces are addicted to this battlefield trump card.
With a half-life of billions of years, DU never goes away. Wherever it has been used, it continues to produce birth deformities and cancers on a catastrophic scale.
The use of DU in the West’s recent wars makes a mockery of the official “humanitarian” justifications that accompany the high-tech violence aimed at securing Western hegemony over resource-rich areas.