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Consequences of War

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To the editors:

Some of us thought that the real consequences of the U.S. led destruction of Iraq would take time to become clear. We were way off on this. As Tom Johnson's interview with Dr. Louise Cainkar [May 10] makes clear, the consequences of the Gulf War, at least for the Iraqi people, are immediate and obvious.

When the war ended I received a couple of letters at the local office of Physicians for Social Responsibility criticizing us for "grossly overestimating" the number of casualties we thought could occur if war broke out. In retrospect we were wrong only on the U.S. casualties; if anything, we underestimated the number of Iraqi casualties.

In the days before the war we said: "A Gulf war could create hundreds of thousands of refugees, destroy transportation, hospitals, housing, food supplies, clean water and sanitation, and increase the risk of epidemic cholera and typhoid." We were right not because we had a crystal ball but because we used numbers we pulled from government and military sources. The government had the same information we had, and they knew the short- and long-term consequences of their actions.

Dr. Cainkar makes a very important point when she describes the result of Allied bombing as "biological war." This devastation of Iraqi society continues its ugly way with the continuation of sanctions. Numerous independent reports are showing the truth of Cainkar's descriptions, and many organizations, including International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War--with which PSR is affiliated--have called for an end of those sanctions.

The Reader did well to print the Cainkar interview, and I hope this kind of journalism will lead to some well-needed evaluation of the priorities our society has been setting.

Wayne Heimbach

Executive Director

PSR/Chicago

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