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Ignoring any humanity (and the fallout) in waging war

Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Murray, writing on Information Clearing House, correctly, asks why it is that those who call for and initiate war, have no regard for the human cost and any sort of humanity making the decision to wage war.    Take the drum-beats for an attack on Iran getting louder and louder - especially from the Israelis and Americans.

"As Israeli leaders engage in frenzied posturing over a possible military strike on Iran, we again have pundits, experts and commentators speculating how an Israeli offensive would play out. They search for the meaning behind the inflammatory rhetoric of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ponder the impact of a war on Western political, strategic and economic interests.

As with the war games I attended at the War College 10 years ago, their narrow focus on strategic and tactical aspects of a potentially serious conflict conveniently avoids the fact that we are talking about the mass murder and maiming of Iranian civilians, as well as many others in the region.

In a thought-provoking piece on this subject, Professor Marsha B. Cohen, a specialist on Iranian-Israeli issues, notes that a 114-page paper commissioned in 2009 by the Center for International and Strategic Studies, “Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Development Facilities,” devoted just two pages to the subject of anticipated human losses (pp 90-91).

The study says that “any strike on the Bushehr nuclear reactor will cause the immediate death of thousands of people living in or adjacent to the site, and thousands of subsequent cancer deaths or even up to hundreds of thousands depending on the population density along the contamination plume,” adding that “Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will be heavily affected by the radionuclides. ”

In other words, the paper acknowledges that since the spread of nuclear radiation does not stop at national borders, civilian populations throughout the region, including those of U.S. allies, will be forced to suffer the horrific consequences of any Israeli military adventures in Iran.

The paper charts the range of human suffering and death from radiation according to the degree of exposure, ranging from 0-50 Roentgens — “no obvious effect, possibly minor blood changes,” all the way to 5,000 Roentgens — “incapacitation almost immediately; all those exposed will be fatalities within one week.” An accompanying map of the region displays prevailing wind patterns, indicating where the radiation is likely to drift.

Without further discussion of the humanitarian dimension, the next page goes on to talk about the varying technical attributes of the Israeli and Iranian missile systems."

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