Poor old Dante Alighieri, were he around today, I am sure he would find it difficult to find the words to describe the evils visited by so-called civilised nations on the defenceless of the planet, assuming that is, he was fully informed of what is going on.
I know I shouldnâ€™t be surprised but nevertheless I am. Surprised firstly that I live in a barbaric culture that has been able to masquerade as civilised and secondly, that it has been able to persuade the world that it possesses civilised credentials in the first place. And thirdly, that it has been able to carry off this illusion for well on five hundred years.
Most of us associate the idea of being civilised with learning and with respect for culture, though the root of the word is that of the city dweller.
â€œMissiles struck storage tanks at the petrochemical plant [in Panchevo, northeast of Belgrade], sending over 900 tons of highly carcinogenic vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) surging into the air. By sunrise, clouds of VCM poured through the town, registering as high as 10,600 times the permissible limit for human safety, and billowing clouds from the plant were so thick that residents were unable to see the sun. VCM is dangerous enough on its own, but when it burns, it releases phosgene gas as a by byproduct, a substance so toxic that it was used as a poison gas in the First World War. Raging fires discharged chlorine gas, another substance that was employed as a poison gas during World War I, along with a host of other harmful chemicals, such as naptha, ethylene dichloride and hydrochloric acid. More than 2,000 tons of highly toxic PVC dichloroethane washed onto the ground, necessitating a long-term ban on eating root vegetables grown in the town. A poison rain spattered the region, and hundreds of tons of oil and chemicals soaked into the soil and poured into the Danube River. After a missile narrowly missed hitting a tank of liquid ammonia, workers panicked at the fearsome consequences an explosion on the tank would have, and dumped the liquid ammonia into the Danube.â€
As if the use of high explosives during â€˜ordinaryâ€™ bombing of men, women and children which â€˜merelyâ€™ tear one limb from limb were not bad enough, what I call ecocidal warfare, is not as immediately visible in its devastating effects not only on people but over the generations, on entire ecologies, the long term effects of which we have only the vaguest understanding except that it can only be disastrous for our descendents.
The range of ecological weapons used by so-called civilised nations is devastating enough but because the targets themselves quite often contain toxic and carcinogenic substances, ecological weaponsâ€™ effects are multiplied through the chemicals released into the environment.
It is inconceivable that the war planners are not aware of the consequences of targetting modern industrial plants, the contents of which when released render the environment effectively uninhabitable, perhaps for generations. When accidents happen at equivalent plants in Western countries, all hell breaks loose, contingency plans swing into operation, entire communities are evacuated; exclusion zones are established, clean-up crews move in utilising the latest techniques to minimise the environmental damage.
Not so for the unfortunate inhabitants of Yugoslavia, Iraq and the Lebanon, where the targetting of electric and chemical manufacturing and storage locations are part and parcel of a deliberate policy of terror, for not only does it impact on the people who live and work in the location but it also endangers the entire population through the destruction of water treatment and distribution systems, the loss of electrical power for hospitals, indeed the entire fabric of modern society grinds to a halt as a result.
Just as devastating is the almost total silence of the Western media which has consistently and deliberately withheld information from the public about the awful effects of these nightmare weapons on literally millions of people. â€˜Fire and forgetâ€™ takes on an entirely new meaning.
The use of these weapons on industrial targets constitutes a war crime of such absolutely devastating dimensions that itâ€™s conceivable that our domestic populations, were they truly aware of the scale and impact of these WMD would react with horror and revulsion that such destruction was being committed not only in their name but by societies which claim to be civilised. No wonder the MSM have hidden the reality from us.
â€œThe half-life of depleted uranium is 4.5 billion years, essentially ensuring the permanent contamination of affected areas. To grasp just what this means in terms of time, consider that the age of the Solar System is only slightly longer â€¦ DU weapons have the added side benefit of being an effective means of disposing of nuclear waste. By the time of the NATO war [on Yugoslavia], the U.S. had stockpiled over a billion pounds of waste from the production of nuclear weapons, and the Pentagon provided the material cost-free to weapons manufacturers â€¦ [A] single particle of DU lodged in the lung [is] equivalent to an hourly chest x-ray for life.â€
The Western media, using false NATO claims that DU did not result in increased radiation, claims based on the use of geiger counters which in fact do not measure the alpha radiation given off by DU, has been able to shrug off the acusations that DU is dangerous to life.
Much play has been made of the use of cluster bombs but an even more deadly variation is the graphite bomb used against electrical transformer stations, designed to knock out a nationâ€˜s electricity supply.
â€œ[These are] small containers filled with small coils, wrapped with silicon threads. The silicon threads were covered with aluminum, to be [electrically] conductive â€¦ When this cluster bomb explodes over a transformer plant, a kind of web is made and that web falls over the plant. Itâ€™s a kind of solid water. The effect is the same as if you would throw huge amounts of water over these distribution plants. They would cause short circuits, etc., and all these plants go out of operation. But much more of this material was spread into a fog of tiny particles of silicon. As you know, glass is made of silicon. Glass wool is also made of silicon. Glass wool was forbidden twenty years ago. Itâ€™s very carcinogenic. Iâ€™m talking about people living in the areas where those bombs have been dropped. A thick fog had been hanging over there for hours. People have been inhaling these particles of silicon.â€
Arenâ€™t humans ingenious when it comes to devising methods of killing us off. That millions of highly skilled people are engaged in inventing these horrific means of murder should have us in open revolt against our governments for committing such unmitigated acts of evil against our fellow humans and all in the pursuit of private profit.
Such is the degree of alienation brought about not only because scientists and engineers in far-off offices are totally disconnected from the effects of their ingenuity but because we all inhabit a culture that has been mis-educated for generations into accepting the idea that we occupy some higher niche in the â€˜evolutionary treeâ€™, so poisonous is our conception of â€˜civilisationâ€™.
How much longer can we go on avoiding our tacit complicity in mass murder by virtue of thinking that we have some kind of clearance from â€˜on-highâ€™, from a God that can talk of mercy and compassion in the same breath as it condones the use of terror as a means of spreading â€˜civilisationâ€™, Western-style?
Ultimately, the real reasons, hidden from public view, are economic. Yugoslavia, the last bastion of social ownership in Eastern Europe, had to have its domestic economy reduced to rubble, thus under the guise of destroying â€˜militaryâ€™ targets, every factory and warehouse of any significance, all infrastructure, electrical, water, sewage treatment, communications and transport was bombed, often over and over again, regardless of the consequences. And make no mistake, NATO plans made it clear that the Yugoslav economy was to be sold off to Western capital.
â€œThe Western-sponsored Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe called for widespread privatisation and Western investment â€¦. The New Serbia Forum, funded by the British Foreign Office â€¦ brought Serbian professionals and academics to Hungary on a regular basis for discussions with British and Central European â€œexperts.â€ â€¦. The Forum advocated the â€œreintegrationâ€ of Yugoslavia in the European family,â€ a euphemistic phrase that meant the dismantlement of the socialist-oriented economy and implementation of a privatization campaign for the benefit of Western corporations.â€
In reality, â€˜civilisationâ€™ is actually a code-word for capitalism, Western-style, that justifies the use of mass extermination and terror on any country which resists its demands.
1. George Monbiot, â€œConsigning Their Future to Death,â€ The Guardian (London), April 22, 1999.
Tom Walker, â€œPoison Cloud Engulfs Belgrade,â€ The Times (London), April 19, 1999.
Mark Fineman, â€œYugoslav City Battling Toxic Enemiesâ€, Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1999.
2. Scott Peterson, â€œDepleted Uranium Bullets Leave Trail in Serbiaâ€, Nando Media, October 5, 1999.
â€œUse of Depleted Uranium (DU) Weapons by NATO Forces in Yugoslavia,â€ Coghill Research Laboratories (UK), April 1999.
3. Interview with Dushan Vasiljevich by delegation, Belgrade, August 7, 1999.
4. â€œBritain Trains New Elite for Post-Milosevic Era,â€ The Independent (London), May 3, 2000.