Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 24, 2007

Deadly Reaction to 'Terrorism'

There is a typical chain of events when some terrorism scare is involved:

  • some incident happens that is related to "terrorism"
  • the media, nudged on by authoritative commentary from the government, sensationalizes the event
  • immediate cover-your-ass measures are implemented by the authorities
  • secondary effects of these measures turn out to be worse than the original incident
  • hardly anyone in the media explains the causation.

A deadly example of this scheme is currently taking place in Mesepotamia.

Cholera is spreading throughout Iraq. It is transmitted by dirty water and is deadly especially to children and elderly people:

In its most severe forms, cholera is one of the most rapidly fatal illnesses known: A healthy person may become hypotensive within an hour of the onset of symptoms and may die within 2-3 hours if no treatment is provided. More commonly, the disease progresses from the first liquid stool to shock in 4-12 hours, with death following in 18 hours to several days without rehydration treatment.

In the Kurdish provinces alone some 13 people have died and overall tens of thousands of cases have been registered. Given the general situation in Iraq it is likely that many cholera related illnesses have not been recorded and many dead not registered as cholera related.

The Iraqi government and the World Health Organization are fighting the epidemic. The solution is simple:

“We urgently need chlorine as many governorates have run out of it and water is being distributed without purification. This can lead to an outbreak [of cholera] in other provinces in central and southern Iraq [where sanitation is already poor],” Adel Muhsin, the health ministry's inspector-general in Baghdad, said.

But

A shipment of 100,000 tons of the water purifier has been held up at the Jordanian border over fears the chemical could be used in explosives.

Beginning in October 2006 some 13 chlorine tankers were blown up by resistance groups in Iraq.

Such "WMD attacks" looked bad in the U.S. media, but while lots of people got sick, nobody was killed from the chlorine effects of these bombs.

Still, the immediate reaction by the authorities (likely the U.S. military) was to prevent further chlorine shipments. Thus a deadly cholera epidemic.

Lesson: Beware any "quickfixes" to such overplayed "threats".

(via Eric Umansky and the Armchair Generalist)

Posted by b on September 24, 2007 at 13:45 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Public health itself and public health data are a lost dream in Iraq. I’m very surprised they haven’t had cholera outbreaks till now (if that in fact is true, it really is impossible to know.) We see that the ‘terrorism hype’ extends the sanctions on Iraq - dual use and all that.

Palestinians also have a water, clean water problems.

Zyklon B isn’t necessary. Filthy water and no electricity, no money for better, that is bottled if available, or purifiers, etc. will do an admirable job. Dead children demoralize parents big time. Knock out health care, any semblance of piping, utilities, etc.

It is perfectly acceptable to many. I read a comment to a public health blog that castigated Iraqis for not boiling, for not cleaning their children, for not washing kitchen ware, etc. Exactly as if Iraqis were on a camping trip in the Great Outdoors in the Land of the Free.

Anyway, it is all the fault of terrorists and insurgents.

Posted by: Tangerine | Sep 24 2007 17:04 utc | 1

The City in the Crosshairs:

Certainly, the extravagant project of a neoconservative “New American century”, based on continuous expeditionary and urban warfare, seems mortally wounded after Iraq. But this doesn't mean that U.S. and western imperialism will cease or wither. The Caspian Basin oil reserves are the biggest geopolitical prize of the early 21st century. With ‘peak oil’ this prize will only grow. So, the struggle between U.S., Russian and other interests to control geopolitics of oil in the Middle East will only intensify. The key here will be the age-old colonial tactic of establishing and maintaining corrupt, client regimes and proxy armies rather than full-scale invasion and occupation. In the case of the U.S., this is likely to be backed up by large-scale private military corporations, supported by a small, elite military presence relying on high-tech surveillance and targeting within what the Pentagon is calling the ‘long war.”(...)

When war becomes a purely corporate activity, the monopoly of violence long seen as a characteristic of modern western states withers away. Instead, the US state military, in particular, increasingly shepherd a vast array of private military, security and ‘reconstruction’ corporations – as well as proxy armies. These are utterly unregulated and unscrutinised and able to perpetuate civilian atrocities and absorb their own casualties almost invisibly whilst the western media continues to fetishise about dreams of ‘clean’ war through new technology.(...)

...state-backed infrastructure disruption is far more damaging than anything that infrastructural insurgents or terrorist could ever hope to achieve. With wholesale carpet bombing of civilians now illegitimate, militaries such as the US and IDF now bring coercive pressures to bear on whole city populations by demodernising cities and deliberately ‘switching off’ the circuits essential to modern urban life. This is justified because urban infrastructures are deemed to be ‘dual use’ in international law. This has been called the strategy of ‘bomb now, die later’ or the ‘war on public health’.(...)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 24 2007 17:21 utc | 2

A commenter on Juan Cole's blog, with a screen name of ivorybill, if I remember correctly, and who works in Kurdistan, said that all serious diarrhea cases in KRG are being counted as cholera in the statistics. One should be cautious about how many cholera cases there really are.

But of course conditions are horrendous, with all sorts of crap getting into the rivers.

Posted by: Alex | Sep 24 2007 18:27 utc | 3

yes, that might be so. those things happen when public health breaks down and one or the other party has another agenda, or is simply left space to hype, or tick random boxes on an unreadable form.

Posted by: Tangerine | Sep 24 2007 18:31 utc | 4

They are saying the chlorine is accross the border:

Iraqi authorities, meanwhile, said a shipment of chlorine had crossed the border from Jordan after concerns were raised about shortages of the chemical needed to prevent an outbreak of cholera from spreading.

Well maybe not:

Naeem al-Qabi, the deputy chief of Baghdad's municipal council, said warehouses in the capital were preparing to accept the chlorine, which would help purify water supplies.

"There is some administrative work needed to be done and it will be finished very soon," al-Qabi said.

Why is this happening in the Kurdish region where we are told the occupation is a success story:

Iraq now has a total of 1,652 confirmed cases of cholera after three new cases were confirmed in Salahuddin province, according to an update on the World Health Organization's Web site on Sunday.

I had to find a new link from the one I found early this morning that doesn't work any more:

Forcing children to drink feces in their water is protecting America

Reminds me of Halabja where they cancelled the scheduled drinking water upgrade and built a monument in memory of Saddam gassing the Kurds so world powers could go their and gloat over how they saved the Iraqi people. The locals burned it down in disgust.

Posted by: Sam | Sep 24 2007 23:10 utc | 5

I am just paranoid enough to suspect that the chlorine gas attacks were false-flag operations designed to get the Iraqi government to give up maintaining clean water supplies.

While it is indeed possible that an insurgent organization might do this to discredit the government, it seems more likely to be an American strategy for depopulation--since the only way the US can now hope to get its hands on Iraqi oil is if the population is eliminated. It is no secret that for several years now the US has been getting expert Israeli advice on how to do this.

Posted by: Gaianne | Sep 25 2007 21:42 utc | 6

I am just paranoid enough to suspect that the chlorine gas attacks were false-flag operations designed to get the Iraqi government to give up maintaining clean water supplies.

While it is indeed possible that an insurgent organization might do this to discredit the government, it seems more likely to be an American strategy for depopulation--since the only way the US can now hope to get its hands on Iraqi oil is if the population is eliminated. It is no secret that for several years now the US has been getting expert Israeli advice on how to do this.

Posted by: Gaianne | Sep 25 2007 21:44 utc | 7

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