Suuuuure it’s the Depleted Uranium

Via Clayton Cramer’s blog comes this New York Times story about intermarriage in Iraq. (Registration required.)

Iraqi Family Ties Complicate American Efforts for Change

Iqbal Muhammad does not recall her first glimpse of her future husband, because they were both newborns at the time, but she remembers precisely when she knew he was the one. It was the afternoon her uncle walked over from his house next door and proposed that she marry his son Muhammad.

“I was a little surprised, but I knew right away it was a wise choice,” she said, recalling that afternoon nine years ago, when she and Muhammad were 22. “It is safer to marry a cousin than a stranger.”

Her reaction was typical in a country where nearly half of marriages are between first or second cousins, a statistic that is one of the more important and least understood differences between Iraq and America. The extraordinarily strong family bonds complicate virtually everything Americans are trying to do here, from finding Saddam Hussein to changing women’s status to creating a liberal democracy.”

Clayton comments:

We’ve heard a lot for several years from the leftist Hussein apologists about horrifying birth defects in Iraq, supposedly caused by use of depleted uranium shells during Gulf War I. I wonder: is the birth defect rate in Iraq unusually high because of too much in-breeding?

Good question. But if you’re interested in seeing some of the Depleted Uranium hysteria, try these sites:

Extreme Birth Deformities

Common Dreams


Hell, just do a Google search on (Iraq “birth defects” “Depleted Uranium”)

Then go read the FACTS on Depleted Uranium, which is no more dangerous than lead, just denser.

Federation of American Scientists

World Health Organization

Or, if you want it explained to you clearly, Steven Den Beste does a good job in this piece.

I noted several articles that claimed a significant increase in birth defects after the 1991 Gulf War. Two questions:

1) How do we know for sure that there really was an increase (totalitarian regimes tend to use whatever propaganda they can,) and

2) Aren’t some chemical weapons teratogenic?

But I think Clayton’s on to something.

What Clayton didn’t comment on was the last couple of paragraphs in the NYT story which illustrates the level of trust in Iraq.

Sheik Yousif and his sons said they put no faith in American promises of democracy — or any other promises, for that matter.

“Do you know why Saddam Hussein has not been captured?” asked Saleh, the oldest son of Sheik Yousif. “Because his own family will never turn him in, and no one else trusts the Americans to pay the reward.” Saleh dismissed the reports that Americans had given $30 million and safe passage out of Iraq to the informant who turned in Mr. Hussein’s sons.

“I assure you that never happened,” Saleh said. “The American soldiers brought out a camera and gave him the money in front of a witness, and then they took him toward the Turkish border. Near the border they killed him and buried him in a valley. They wanted the money for their own families.”

Culture clash. “We behave this way, so everybody behaves this way.”

We’ve got a long way to go over there.

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