Oct 10, 2002
Pres. George Bush
President of the United States of America
Dear Pres. George Bush,
I’m May Obial, a college student from the University of the Philippines, Manila. I believe right now your government is planning to make military actions against Iraq. I am writing you a letter to voice out what I feel about the matter.
It was said that Saddam Hussein is a proven threat to international security because he is interested in developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. We all know how unsafe these weapons are. What alarms me most is that if the war between your country and Iraq will pursue, I do believe that your country will use the same weapons to crush your enemy. This may be possible since it was reported that U.S. is the only one accountable for arming Iraq with chemical and biological weapons during its war against Iran between 1980 and 1988. If that is so, it strongly implies that your country is developing the same dangerous weapons that your present administration considers as a threat to the international security.
What concern me also are the impact it would cause to innocent people as well as its impact to the environment. Despite the modernized and high-tech equipments your country have, it will not guarantee that innocent people and other forms of life will be spared of the bombs and missiles that you will soon fire towards Iraq. Heavy air strikes undoubtedly disturb and kill animals in the area. Bombing and ground fighting affects other species such as migratory birds. Disturbance from bombing, aircraft flyovers and other troop activities can drive the birds from these staging areas in which they may face possible death from exhaustion and starvation. Like what happened in Afghanistan, troops on the ground need food and resources with a resulting increase in the hunting of wild animals. Poaching may then be possible.
Of course, what will be the worst effect of wars is the displacement of people and the large number of refugees. The arrival of large numbers of refugees in an area previously containing few or no people creates intense pressure on the environment. The dependency that each refugee camp has on the natural resources in the immediate area will greatly outweigh the available resources like what had occurred in Afghanistan’s already depleted environment. Deforestation, soil erosion from overgrazing of refugee livestock and water contamination all has an impact on the health of wildlife and of the refugees themselves. A secondary effect of refugees is that mobile species will be driven from suitable habitat into less habitable areas. Even after refugees return home, the land around the camps will remain degraded for some time. This puts a burden on local “host” communities who are forced to use whatever resources remain just to survive. This continues the downward cycle of destruction as what an NGO concerning on environmental issues reported.
It was also reported that Gulf War battlefield remains radioactive and toxic. I’ve read from an article that the Gulf War battlefield is littered with more than 300 tons of radioactive dust and shrapnel from the 1991 Gulf War. Another war will only increase the radioactive and toxic contamination on the said area. Radioactive and toxic contaminations have adverse effects not just on present generations but also to future generations to come. If exposure to depleted uranium (DU) ammunitions in the past Gulf War caused cancer to rats, what more to humans? Depleted Uranium greatly affects human lungs and kidneys. Aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects. A low-level alpha radiation emitter, which is linked to cancer when exposed, causes internal and chemical toxicity causes kidney damage. Short-term effects of high doses can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been linked to cancer. This is what Science and International Corporation reported last July 1990. Soldiers may be incidentally exposed to DU from dust and smoke on the battlefield and may therefore be very harmful to them as US Army Environmental Policy Institute reported last June 1995. Some midwives from Iraq are also concerned with its effect on the newborn babies. Some deformities are believed to be due to DU. Also, another war will just contribute to the alarming state of air pollution. Remember how greatly damaged our ozone layer is at present. Do you want to give your future grandchildren a legacy of toxic wastes, nuclear contaminations and a degraded environment? I guess not.
I am not Saddam Hussein’s avid fan. He may be a tyrant and a human rights violator as your administration sees him, but I guess pursuing another war is in fact an act of violating human rights itself. What our world right now needs is peace, equality and harmony. War will do no good to the people, to our countries and to mother nature. Let us not forget that we are responsible for our acts here on earth. Whatever harm we cause to ourselves, to our fellowmen and most especially to nature will harm us more. Nowadays, your government is giving much of its priorities to warfare, which is greatly damaging earth, rather than on ways on how to protect and preserve it. Let us not be selfish and protect only our self-interests. We must always put in my mind that the earth is the only place we can live in; therefore, we should give much importance to it.
Thank you very much and may God bless you!
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2002