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Consider long-term effect

Margo Shafer
Sunday October 28, 2001


Those who are calling for a Berkeley city boycott, and others who oppose the Berkeley City Council resolution calling for an end, as soon as possible, to the bombing of Afghanistan should consider the following: 

Regardless of political persuasion, the people of the United States need to come to terms with the fact that the weapons in the U.S. arsenal are extremely toxic. They include depleted uranium, among other harmful chemicals, and the residues will continue killing the people of Afghanistan for generations to come. 

As in Iraq, the people of Afghanistan can expect high rates of cancer and birth defects as a result of these attacks. Doctors in Iraq report sharp increases in all types of cancer, especially childhood leukemia, and the hospitals around Basra report many babies born with birth defects. Of those babies, approximately two each day are severely deformed, such as babies born with no limbs or no recognizable facial features. The damage to the Iraqi gene pool is permanent, and the land can never be cleaned up. 

In addition to the environmental and genetic damage, the bombing in Afghanistan is creating a humanitarian crisis of immense proportion. Numerous international aid agencies serving Afghanistan are calling for a cessation in the bombing so that essential supplies can be delivered into the area before winter sets in. It is estimated that 7 million people, almost a third of the population, will perish without these supplies. Many of those who die will be children, as half of the population of Afghanistan is under the age of 16. 

As our nation mourns, we must question the wisdom of inflicting this horrific and lasting damage upon the people and environment of Afghanistan. 


Margo Shafer