Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Depleted Uranium: Slow Motion Nuclear War

It is often the case that the worst and most persistent evils of an age are overlooked. The obvious, fast acting, policy is condemned, but there only later does the unmitigated evil of a quiet, almost unquestioned policy come to light. So it is with the use of Depleted Uranium on the battlefield.

Its widespread use in ordinance of all kinds, from 20mm cannon rounds up to 120mm tank sabots, has resulted in the contamination of battlefields around the world with nuclear waste that will have health consequences for millenia to come. This is not only immoral, it is illegal under international law. It is one very likely reason that our ancestors will despise us as a pack of irresponsible moral monsters.

This sort of thing has happened before. An industrial waste product which has a useful property, whose health and environmental effects are not well-established, or are borderline carcinogens, is marketed as a beneficial product. This saves the cost of disposal and may turn a handsome profit besides.

MTBE and flouride also fit this pattern. The reason is the immoral nature of the corporate incentive structure. If a profit can be made by marketing a potential health hazard, it must be done. The officers and managers of a corporation really haven't any choice in the matter. The law regulating corporate governance leaves them little choice but to chose profit over prudence. How much better then, when your market is the military, which is exempt from much of the environmental regulation of the civilian economy?

Corporate malfeasance is the root cause that feeds the sicknesses of greed, corruption, and fascist politics that are destroying the American dream. The story of DU allows one to trace this malignancy from root-tip to noxious flowering.


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