The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Germ Warfare Used on Civilians ... In Iraq

Nov 5, 2001

The recent anthrax incidents leave people fearful that terrorists have launched germ warfare on the U.S. population. In fact, germ warfare HAS been used systematically for nearly 11 years–but not in this country. The victims of this campaign of bioterrorism have been Iraqi civilians, particularly children.

Bush may try to cover it over, but this germ warfare cannot be denied. The Defense Department’s own website ( has posted declassified documents dating from 1991 which document and explain the policy.

The Gulf War supposedly carefully targeted not civilians but military and government structures for bombing raids. In fact, among the structures so targeted and hit were Iraqi water and electricity systems. Once the bombing knocked them out, the subsequent embargo kept them down.

The purpose of destroying these systems was explained quite openly in a Defense Intelligence Agency document titled “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,” dated January 22, 1991–that is, the week after the war began there. It describes how Iraq will be prevented from supplying clean water to its citizens because the country will not be able to replace water treatment plant parts nor will it be able to obtain essential chemicals, particularly chlorine. As the document puts it, “Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease.” The document goes on to explain that “unless the water is purified with chlorine, epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis and typhoid could occur.” And, according to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, reports indicated that the chlorine supply was critically low because of the embargo on chlorine. Moreover, the U.S. military expected that food and medicine would also be affected: “Food processing, electronic and particularly pharmaceutical plants require extremely pure water that is free from biological contaminants.” A month later, another document, “Disease Outbreaks in Iraq,” predicts: “Conditions are favorable for communicable disease outbreaks, particularly in major urban areas affected by coalition bombing.” This document lists the “most likely diseases during the next sixty-ninety days (descending order): diarrheal diseases (particularly children); acute respiratory illnesses (colds and influenza); typhoid; hepatitis A (particularly children); measles, diphtheria and pertussis (particularly children); meningitis, including meningococcal (particularly children); cholera (possible, but less likely).”

Did the U.S. government, which understood clearly how many diseases would ravage the population if the water was left untreated, offer the means to repair what its bombing had destroyed? Of course not. Just the opposite.

Almost 11 years after this war began, the U.S. government continues to block the importation of parts and chemicals which could allow Iraq to rebuild its water system. The result, according to U.N. estimates, is that 5,000 Iraqi children die every month from preventable diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid.

In fact, more than a million Iraqi people have lost their lives since the 1991 Gulf War, but Saddam Hussein, the very brutal dictator who supposedly was the aim of the U.S. war, is still in power. The U.S. government never brought down their supposed target. What it did do is use a simple form of germ warfare to kill the civilian population, particularly the most vulnerable–the children and the elderly.

Of course, we don’t need declassified documents on the Internet to know what the U.S. government has been doing to the people of Iraq. The U.S. has never even made any attempt to deny, or gloss over, this ongoing mass murder. When asked by a journalist if it’s worth it to kill so many Iraqi children, Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, bluntly answered, “Yes, it’s worth it.”

This was a conscious policy carried out by the U.S. government, maintained for the past 11 years. It was terrorism against a civilian population, and all the more terrible because it was carried out by the most powerful state force in the world.