Children of War

American arms pacified Fallujah—and poisoned a generation

| July-August 2011

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    Brian Hubble /

  • children-of-war

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama declared that “the Iraq war is coming to end”—at least for Americans, leaving “with their heads held high” because our “commitment has been kept.”

For millions of Iraqis, however, the war is far from over—in fact, for a growing number of families in cities that were nearly destroyed during the years of insurgency and counterinsurgency, the crisis is only beginning. As one Iraqi American said, “Just because we [Americans] don’t pay attention doesn’t mean the rest of the world isn’t paying attention.”

According to studies and eyewitness accounts over the past few years, Fallujah—an Iraqi city that was practically obliterated by U.S. heavy artillery in two major offensives in 2004—is experiencing a staggering rate of birth defects. The situation echoes similar reports from Basra that began to circulate after the first Gulf War in 1991.

The litany of horrors is gut-wrenching: babies born with one eye in the middle of the face, missing limbs, too many limbs, brain damage, cardiac defects, and missing genitalia.

Upon touring a clinic in Fallujah in March 2010, the BBC’s John Simpson said, “We were given details of dozens upon dozens of cases of children with serious birth defects. . . . One photograph I saw showed a newborn baby with three heads.” Later, at the main U.S.-funded hospital in the city, a stream of parents arrived with children who had limb defects, spinal conditions, and other problems. Authorities in Fallujah reportedly warned women to hold off on having babies at all.

Ayman Qais, director of Fallujah’s general hospital, told the Guardian that he was seeing two affected babies a day, compared to four a month in 2003. “Most [deformities] are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs,” he said. “There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of [children] less than 2 years old with brain tumors.”

steve eatenson
7/13/2011 8:35:52 AM

When a pregnant woman is exposed to severe stress her body is flooded with stress hormones. These stress hormones are taken in by her unborn child and cause birth defects including stunted mental development, autism, all sorts of learning disabilities and self-regulation problems. When infants and young children are exposed to stress of traumatized parents and caregivers, exploding munitions, they are flooded with stress hormones and their mental development is stunted or altered. Children whose parents have been killed and are not able to bond with a gentle, loving primary care giver often develop behavior problems, learning problems and social problems getting along with others. The chemical exposure problems this article describes is only the tip of the iceburg. One can go to Arlington National Cemetary and view all the graves of dead soldiers and feel a sense of national pride or one can view the graves and conclude that all war is a stupid, bad idea. "Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn?"

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