Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Samantha Power, the Monster, and the Libyan Intervention.

by Frank Schnittger Thu Sep 8th, 2011 at 09:55:24 AM EST


Update] First published Thu Mar 31st, 2011.

I thought it might be useful to republish this diary now that the Libyan intervention appears to be entering the end game phase of regime change. As expected "protecting civilians" morphed into regime change, but a major deployment of "boots on the ground" was avoided. We still don't know what the new Libya will look like or precisely how the transition will be accomplished. Have the interventionists like Smantha Power been vindicated by the outcome to date?[End update]

Samantha Power is Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the Staff of the National Security Council. Born in Ireland in 1970, she emigrated to America with her mother aged 9, and went on to study at Yale and then Harvard. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her book A Problem from Hell, a study of the U.S. foreign policy response to genocide and then wrote a second book called Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations Special Representative in Iraq who was killed in the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad.

front-paged by afew


An early supporter and foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama when he became a Presidential candidate, she is credited with sparking his interest in the Darfur conflict and human rights issues more generally. In March 2008, during the heated Democratic Primary campaign against Hillary Clinton, she had this to say about their adversary:
'Hillary Clinton's a monster'

"We f*** up in Ohio," she admitted. "In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio's the only place they can win.

"She is a monster, too - that is off the record - she is stooping to anything," Ms Power said, hastily trying to withdraw her remark.

Ms Power said of the Clinton campaign: "Here, it looks like desperation. I hope it looks like desperation there, too.

"You just look at her and think, 'Ergh'. But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive."

Samantha Power was forced to resign from the Obama campaign for that candid assessment of the Clinton tactics, but her long-standing relationship with Obama meant that she did manage to secure a senior position on the National Security in the Obama Administration -  though not, of course, in Clinton's State Department. Now, together with Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, and Hillary Clinton, she is "credited" with being part of a troika of powerful women who have beaten Secretary of Defence Gates, Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, and John Brennan, Obama's counter-terrorism chief in the argument over intervention in Libya.

Rwandan genocide still haunts Clinton

Three women are being cited by opponents of the intervention in Libya: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, and Dublin-born Professor Samantha Power, a senior adviser at the National Security Council (NSC).

My friend Kevin Myers blames them for feminising foreign policy; others deem them warmongering harpies; yet more think them ignoramuses who -- unlike men -- don't understand the realities of war and are dragging the West into a quagmire; and, of course, others think them heroines who understand right from wrong.

I don't think the three women have particularly defined themselves by their gender, nor are they necessarily aligned on other issues.  It seems that the overwhelmingly male US Military and Foreign Policy establishments have made their gender an issue because they don't like to be beaten at their own game and it suits their purpose to frame their opponents as women who have never been at the sharp end of a military conflict.

What is perhaps of greater interest is the fact that their advocacy for the Libyan intervention reunites two very diverse strands in US foreign policy - the liberal interventionist tradition of presidents Wilson and Roosevelt and the neo-conservatives of more recent vintage who advocated for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  Against them are ranged the isolationists and "realists" who argue that the USA should only get involved in foreign affairs when vital US national security interests are clearly at stake. For the latter two strands, the fate of civilians at the hands of Gaddafi isn't the USA's problem. Many on the US left, including Booman, have joined the isolationist camp in response to the experience of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

So this isn't a simple argument of Left versus Right. Obama has shown himself as a realist on many issues, pushing back against liberal attempts to chart a more progressive course and counting "realist" Republican Senator Dick Lugar as one of his mentors on foreign policy. President Clinton is said to have been haunted by his failure to intervene in the Rwandan Genocide and Samantha Power has written critically of Bystanders to Genocide [Rwanda]. Many critics point to the inconsistency of intervening in Libya and not in any number of strife torn and human rights abusive countries around the world.

So what really tilted the balance in favour of a limited intervention in Libya and not elsewhere?  The support of key Europeans allies and the Arab League? The possibility that the intervention truly could be time and scope limited? The possibility that there really could be a foreign policy success here in contrast to the disastrous interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq? Obama has been criticised for not explaining his war aims either to Congress or the American people and is due to make his first major speech on the conflict tonight - 9 days after the military intervention began.  Is it regime change as Obama has hinted, or simply an effort to protect civilians as stated in the UN resolution?

The truth is that foreign policy is ever a complex and nuanced business with few certainties or issues which can be accurately defined in black and white terms. No doubt Clinton, Rice and Power succeeded in raising the human rights dimension to the conflict, but few know what sort of regime is likely to replace Gaddafi should he be successfully toppled.  Protecting citizens can easily morph into regime change and attempts at "nation building" in the image of some idealised notion of democracy.  Beyond wanting to get rid of Gaddafi, few insurgents appear to have clear ideas on what the new Libya should look like.

Libya could represent a good test case of what Obama and the US establishment have learnt from Afghanistan and Iraq.  The first few lessons appear to have been:

  1. Avoid Unilateral engagement
  2. Build a broad based coalition.
  3. Don't take the lead unless it is clearly in your national interest.
  4. Limit the scope of the intervention
  5. Devolve the primary responsibility for the peace after the conflict to the Libyans themselves - sooner rather than later - without trying to interpose yourself as a nation builder.

Where this gets really messy if it looks like a prolonged stalemate might ensue and civilian casualties mount up in any case. What if reducing civilian casualties can only be achieved by regime change and regime change cannot be achieved without "boots on the ground"? What if the conflicts in Yemen, Bahrain and/or Syria become even more messy?  Sooner or later we will reach the limits of effective military intervention and have to recognise that political problems cannot always be resolved by military means. We will be back to boring old diplomacy, sanctions and UN peace keeping missions being the faltering instruments of choice, to the disgust of the more macho militarists of the neo-conservative right and the military industrial complex who think that might is not only right, but that escalating military action is the only effective tool-kit for international relations.

If the Libyan conflict helps to achieve a more sophisticated and nuanced US foreign policy, it may not have been entirely in vain - whether or not Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi is ultimately toppled by the Nato led intervention.

Display:
Now also available in Orange

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 28th, 2011 at 08:28:14 PM EST
"As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I have made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies, and our core interests. That is why we are going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country.

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security - responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America's problems alone, but they are important to us, and they are problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world's most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

In such cases, we should not be afraid to act - but the burden of action should not be America's alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all. "

A nuanced policy distinction?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 28th, 2011 at 09:39:18 PM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 07:24:07 AM EST
I think there is a discussion to be had about these "interventions". When we see these situations develop in other countries, invariably countries which we consider lesser than our own and so feel a patrician concern over, the natural humanitarian empathy finds expression in the Blairite phrase of "liberal muscular intervention" where hand-wringers lament that "we must do something". Often, the cheapest, easiest and quickest something we can do is bomb the shit out of them (however we define "them"). It's certainly the one that gets the front-pages salivating.

Of course, there is the counter argument that, for better or worse, we should allow countries the same self-determination we expect for ourselves. Although as we see in countries such as Burma, Zimbabwe or Libya, we have supplied arms to the ruling despots so liberally (sic) that it is almost impossible for a popular uprising to unseat them. So self-determination devolves into allowing the populations of said countries to live in the misery of hopeless oppression.

Whilst I probably side with the liberal interventionists, I am reluctant to support such actions when they are chosen to suit our own interests first and foremost. We hate the dictator Gaddafi and want Libyan oil, so we intervene. Yet we like the dictators of the House of Saud and, since they've told us to sod off from their backyard, so we leave the uprisings against the dictators of Yemen and Bahrain alone. Meanwhile we leave Mugabe and a score of other bastards alone cos they haven't got any oil. So their populations don't matter cos our interests aren't involved.

And that means that "liberal muscular intervention" is a sham, it's just an excuse for doing things that are in our Corporate Overlords interests. And if that were the only view then I don't like it.

However, all of these things is a balance and what is being balanced is a discussion we should have. If we can't/won't help everywhere, does that mean we shouldn't help anywhere ? And who makes that decision and on what grounds ? Is there a metric of humanitarian and self-interest factors we can calculate ?

We should definitely wonder why it is that our interventions involve using DU weapons that will poisonously contaminate the environment that these people we want to help will inhabit. Which seems a little counter-productive to me.

but as for the rest of it.....dunno


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:38:06 AM EST
using DU weapons

To my knowledge we are not using A10 Warthogs, whose primary weapon uses DU rounds. But some/all of the "smart bombs"/anti-tank weapons may involve DU. I am not very current on this issue.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 11:28:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I saw a diary on dKos which said they were being used. I am not in a position to tell, but usually dKos is so full of ex-military that errors would be quickly fixed, so I tend ot believe them.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 11:55:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DU would most likely be used on anti-tank missiles. If the French have been using US missiles on their Rafales they could have DU warheads and if the USA has been attacking armor and artillery units likewise.  Uranium is not nearly as toxic as plutonium, provided that a good separation of radioactive isotopes has been performed, but I don't know what the standard is there.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 02:00:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is indeed less toxic than the most toxic substance ever discovered or invented.  

Now that we have that out of the way:  

DU is another of those dark medical secrets--research is routinely suppressed.  

U238 is radioactive--not safe at all to ingest despite its long half-life.  If you don't ingest it, fine, but the point is that it spontaneously burns in air (if either heated or pulverized, and both happen when a DU round hits its target) to create a fine powder that is readily dispersed by wind or insinuated into food and water.  And, by the way, DU includes some U235 as well as U238.  

Uranium is a very active chemical poison.  It is not clear which effects are due to radioactivity and which are due to chemical effects.  We can be confident that it is much, much worse than lead.

In addition to a host of exotic maladies, DU causes cancers and birth defects.  The latter are far and away the more important.  DU is active essentially forever--the damage continues centuries after the war is over and perhaps even forgotten.  You don't use DU in territory you expect to inhabit afterward.  So far, the US doesn't, using DU only in lands where temporary resource extraction is the goal of the military action.  

DU does have history, not just theory.  It is the prime suspect in Gulf War Syndrome and in the spectacular increase in birth defects that have turned up in Fallujah Iraq following the two massive assaults there in the first year and a half of the Iraq War.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no scientific proof for these claims. Rather, the scientific consensus is that there is proof depleted uranium does none of these things. But I suppose that's because there a worldwide conspiracy suppressing the research...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 03:11:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you prove or evidence your assertion that Starvid:
the scientific consensus is that there is proof depleted uranium does none of these things

Scientists tend to be very cautious about definitive statements that there is proof that something does or does not cause something else.  They are far more likely to say there is no evidence, or insufficient evidence, or there hasn't been enough research done to prove etc.

It's not unreasonable to suspect that the arms industry has no great interest in sponsoring or publishing research which shows statistical correlations between radiation linked diseases and the use of DU weapons. Also those populations on the receiving end of DU weapons don't tend to be in a position to fund large scale research.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 03:26:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quackwatch has a summary of the research, where the authors conclude that the most parsimonious explanation for Gulf War Syndrome is post-traumatic stress disorder (inasmuch as GWS actually exists - for a number of the claimed symptoms, deployment to Iraq was not a measurable risk factor). Depleted uranium exposure was specifically tested as a possible risk factor, and no relationship was found.

Not being familiar with the relevant primary literature, I cannot evaluate the claim in detail, but Quackwatch is usually reliable on matters where I can evaluate their statements.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 03:43:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However the greater risk from DU would be for resident populations exposed for many years rather than troops on rotating deployments and housed remote from the impact zones?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 04:52:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, let's try to put some ballpark figures on this risk. There's been on the order of a thousand air strikes made during this conflict. An air strike involves dropping on the order of ten tons of powder on somebody. Let's say they've been dropping powder on Tripoli and at the front, in roughly equal measure. That would mean five thousand tons of powder dropped on Tripoli.

How much of that is depleted uranium is anybody's guess, but to get a ballpark figure, let's say between 1 and 10 %. Call it fifty to five hundred tons. Let's say that between one and ten percent burns or otherwise enters the environment before cleanup. So between 0.5 and fifty tons. Tripoli has a ground area of 400 km. Let's say that all the uranium oxide gets concentrated in the lowest 100 m of atmosphere. That gives you 40 cubic km of air, or between 10 microgram and 1 milligram per cubic meter.

That's in the same ballpark as particulate matter pollution. And our assumptions have been fairly pessimistic, so you can probably shave off another order of magnitude if you go through them with a fine-toothed comb. On the other hand, a similar concentration of uranium pollution may well be a greater problem than particulate pollution, so conservative estimates are in order.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 03:18:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with what JakeS said.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:25:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U238 is radioactive--not safe at all to ingest despite its long half-life.

If you ingest enough U238 to raise your background dose by a tenth of a percent, then you have rather bigger and more immediate problems than radiation poisoning.

In addition to a host of exotic maladies,

For which there is little in the way of evidence that uranium exposure is a risk factor. In fact, for several of the more - ah - exotic maladies occasionally attributed to uranium exposure, there is no evidence that the disease exists.

DU is active essentially forever

But this is irrelevant, because it does not remain in the biological environment forever. Heavy metals don't work that way - if they did, we'd still be seeing low-level lead poisoning from pre-1980 lead pollution.

So far, the US doesn't, using DU only in lands where temporary resource extraction is the goal of the military action.

Since the US has only fought colonial wars since it began deploying DU rounds, this is not proof of any policy other than that of fighting colonial wars.

It is the prime suspect in Gulf War Syndrome

Well, no. GWS is almost certainly PTSD. PTSD is a real and serious condition, but it is not a reaction to chemical exposures.

Uranium exposure is linked to cancer and birth defects, but you are not doing your case any favours by inflating the threat with spurious health risks. Birth defects are quite serious enough.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 04:09:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fukushima Trouble Headlines to Chris Busby, where he gives a nice summary.  

UO2++ binds to DNA, where it absorbs ambient radiation with several orders of magnitude higher cross-section than other substances, and scatters the energy back out into the tissues to cause genetic damage.  

Uranium is implicated in cancer, including leukemia, birth defects, and inflammation of virtually any organ in which it becomes embedded.  I called these syndromes exotic because they are new, relatively unstudied, and assuredly not yet completely catalogued.  

You are certainly confused about Gulf War Syndrome, which was noted for mysterious and alarming but very physical effects, which, further, were slightly transmissible.  It is thus unlike Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is characterized by more psychological and behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, depression, mood swings, insomnia, nightmares, and flashbacks.  

How long uranium persists in the environment is certainly unknown.  No theory can be trusted on this.  But if you could get your hands on the old Soviet data from the Chelyabinsk disaster, you could probably get the beginnings of a picture.  

***

Yeah, the US may not actually have a policy about where to use this stuff.  Given typical American hyper short-range thinking, it may well be that the military expects to use it everywhere.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:00:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are certainly confused about Gulf War Syndrome, which was noted for mysterious and alarming but very physical effects,

Which, however, were not actually present in any greater frequency in the population of gulf war veterans than in the general population.

What're you going to try to sell next? A vaccine-autism connection?

How long uranium persists in the environment is certainly unknown.  No theory can be trusted on this.

Because clearly uranium behaves completely differently from all other subgroup metals with similar electron structure. Give me a break. It's not like we have no experience with heavy metal pollution on which to base predictions.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand the presentation referenced by by Gaianne below correctly, Uranium is uniquely genotoxic because of the manner it is absorbed by the body and the degree to which it absorbs external radiation - proportionate to the fourth power of its atomic number - and concentrates it in very vulnerable parts of the body.

This has nothing to do with marginal increases in background radiation due to Uranium dust dispersal and everything to do with how even tiny concentrations of DU absorbed by the body amplify the absorption of external gamma radiation out of all proportion to its own (relatively low) level of radioactivity.

It seems to me this is a very specialised field of research and which should be careful about overgeneralising from related fields. According to the Video, the chief radiation advisor to the WHO was sacked for raising the issue, and so it may not be an entirely politics free area of research either.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 09:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. But what I'm not seeing there is anything to suggest that uranium is many times more problematic than lead, which we have some experience with to use as a basis for modelling.

Now, it may indeed be that we have been underestimating the toxicity of particulate lead. But as long as uranium is roughly comparable to lead (give or take an order of magnitude), historical data on the health effects and lifetime of lead pollution should still give estimates for uranium that are at least in the right ballpark. So the wild claims that uranium pollution makes an area uninhabitable for millennia need to be taken with a teaspoonful of salt.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 02:23:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a very specific claim which is that the European ECRR recommended multiplying radiation doses by 1000 in the case of Uranium in the body, and Chris Busby does not contest that number. He does say that, were that factor applied to the specific AREVA's environmental impact study he's discussing, it would make the project exceed legal safety limits... One would have to read the report to see if this is going from 90% of the legal limit to 900 times, or from 0.2% to 2 times the legal limit.

In any case, one interesting feature of lead poisoning is that

No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered--that is, there is no known amount of lead that is too small to cause the body harm.
Specifically,
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization state that a blood lead level of 10 μg/dL or above is a cause for concern; however, lead may impair development and have harmful health effects even at lower levels, and there is no known safe exposure level.

...

The levels found today in most people are orders of magnitude greater than those of pre-industrial society. Due to reductions of lead in products and the workplace, acute lead poisoning is rare in most countries today; however, low level lead exposure is still common. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that subclinical lead exposure became understood to be a problem. During the end of the 20th century, the blood lead levels deemed acceptable steadily declined. Blood lead levels once considered safe are now considered hazardous, with no known safe threshold.



So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:02:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to model it?  Scandium?  One of the lanthanoids?  Uranium is in the Actinoid series, and how much does that tell you?  All are similar, but different.  Model away!  

I think there is yet no reliable model for this.  Experience would be worth more.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:38:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gaianne:
Follow the link at (none / 1) Fukushima Trouble Headlines to Chris Busby, where he gives a nice summary.  

This one?



A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 08:30:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the information on health effects that Busby talks about has appeared elsewhere, but his summary is very good.  The use of gold in radiation treatment for cancer I had already encountered, but not the method of its action, nor the implications for uranium poisoning.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 04:53:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree this is very interesting. So, is enhancement of ambient radiation a generic factor in heavy metal poisoning?

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:47:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's an appealing hypothesis for low-dose, chronic exposure. High-dose acute exposure, not so much, since you can to a considerable extent reverse the damage by reducing the heavy metal concentration with chelating agents. If the acute damage was radiological, this removing the metal should not reverse the symptoms.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:05:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
If the acute damage was radiological, this removing the metal should not reverse the symptoms.
So empirical studies about the effects of chelation therapy on acute metal poisoning should shed light on this.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 04:50:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
seems to be implied.  By the fourth power rule, lead should be 3/5 as active as uranium.  

But: he makes a big point of how UO2++ likes to bind to DNA.  Other elements might not do that, and that would matter.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:58:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, if you like, Uranium should be 60% more poisonous than Lead as a heavy metal. Chris Busby does stress repeatedly that Uranium's radioactivity is minute (having a half-life of the order of the Earth's age).

Now, lead bullets have been phased out from civilian (hunting) use because of their toxicity and because bullets fragment and it is difficult to ensure that all of it is removed from hunted animals so it doesn't go into the food chain.

Now, this is interesting: Bullet materials

  • Armor piercing: Jacketed designs where the core material is a very hard, high-density metal such as tungsten, tungsten carbide, depleted uranium, or steel. A pointed tip is often used, but a flat tip on the penetrator portion is generally more effective.[3]
  • Non toxic shot: Steel, bismuth, tungsten, and other exotic bullet alloys prevent release of toxic lead into the environment. Regulations in several countries mandate the use of non-toxic projectiles especially when hunting waterfowl. It has been found that birds swallow small lead shot for their gizzards to grind food (as they would swallow pebbles of similar size), and the effects of lead poisoning by constant grinding of lead pellets against food means lead poisoning effects are magnified. Such concerns apply primarily to shotguns, firing pellets (shot) and not bullets, but reduction of hazardous substances (RoHS) legislation has also been applied to bullets on occasion to reduce the impact of lead on the environment at shooting ranges. United States Environmental Protection Agency announced that the agency does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product (lead bullets) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), nor is the agency seeking such authority. NRA-ILA :: EPA Denies Ammo Ban Petition
Potentially (and wrong-headedly) one could use depleted uranium munitions for hunting since lead pellets are banned because of their toxicity?

Then there's this

Some jurisdictions are acting on environmental concerns and banning hunting with lead shotgun pellets. This creates issues for shooters because stainless steel pellets are considered to behave sub-optimally in flight (don't fly right) compared to lead. The element bismuth is a safe alternative whose atomic mass is closer to lead than steel, and ammunition made from it is becoming ever more widely available.
How can Bismuth be "safe" if it is in the same chemical group as Phosphorus and Arsenic, and has basically the same atomic number as Lead?

Bismuth

Bismuth has unusually low toxicity for a heavy metal. As the toxicity of lead has become more apparent in recent years, alloy uses for bismuth metal, as a replacement for lead, have become an increasing part of bismuth's commercial importance

...

Scientific literature concurs with the idea that bismuth and its compounds are less toxic than lead or its other periodic table neighbours (antimony, polonium)[28] and that it is not bioaccumulative. Its biological half-life for whole-body retention is 5 days but it can remain in the kidney for years in patients treated with bismuth compounds.[29] In the industry, it is considered as one of the least toxic heavy metals.

Bismuth poisoning exists and mostly affects the kidney and liver. Skin and respiratory irritation can also follow exposure to respective organs. As with lead, overexposure to bismuth can result in the formation of a black deposit on the gingiva, known as a bismuth line.[30]

Bismuth's environmental impacts are not very well known. It is considered that its environmental impact is small, due in part to the low solubility of its compounds.[31] Limited information however means that a close eye should be kept on its impact.



So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 04:39:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lead bullets are not phased out from hunting, as the lead is not dangerous to the meat. The only limitations on lead ammunition here in Sweden is that you can't use lead ammunition for shotguns when you're hunting in swamps, where it is felt (though the science is in no way clear) that there might be leakage if the lead shot is deposited underwater.

Steel ammunition for shotguns create large tensions on the shotgun barrels, and steel ammunution for rifles is out of the question due to the reduced lethality and increased risk of penetration (the same reason it's illegal to hunt with full metal jacket, only expanding ammunition is allowed (except when hunting certain birds whcih would explode if hit with expanding ammunition)). For these very reasons we have replaced lead with steel in our military ammunition. And using anything but full metal jacket is contrary to the laws of war.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 06:42:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are depleted uranium rounds full-metal-jacket, too?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 06:51:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I bet they are. DU is used for its armour-penetrating characteristics including in rifles, where uranium (or tungsten) covered rounds are used to penetrate body armour. It would be insane to waste the armour penetration by using an expanding bullet. The heavier and more energetic the bullet, the easier it will penetrate the armour, but the easier it will also penetrate the body, which means less energy is deposited inside it and less damage is caused. When using full metal jacket the exit hole is often almost as small as the entry hole. An expanding bullet (soft-point and to an even greater degree hollow-point) will splash and flatten out against body armour, often not penetrating and not doing any more damage than a massive bruise, like if you were hit by a sledge hammer. However, if you are not wearing armour the exit hole, if there even is one, might be the size of a balled fist.

This is why you must use full metal jacket in war but must use expanding ammunition while hunting: hunting is about killing as efficiently and quickly as possible, while in war you wan't to avoid killing the enemy if possible, the goal is just taking him out of action. Not only does that mean that you'll be better of if hit yourself, but a wounded enemy soldier is a bigger drag on the enemy resources than a dead one is.

Furthermore, when we're talking about autocannon or tank shells, it would be completely useless to use anything but full metal jacket. Anyone hit by one of those is torn to pieces due to the heavy caliber and massive kinetic energy, no matter the design of the tip of the shell, not to mention that autocannon shells are often explosive. APFSDS are not, but due to the massive kinetic energy they'll turn your body into a fine red mist if you're hit.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 08:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
uranium (or tungsten) covered rounds are used to penetrate body armour
But that is the problem: uranium cover is more toxic than lead cover. I was thinking more uranium core and steel cover.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:22:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Woops! Seems I miswrote again. The core is uranium or tungsten, while the covering material is often teflon.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:27:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you want to repost the comment? I'll hide the original :P

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:28:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see no real reason to hide my ignorance and confusion. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 10:02:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet phosphorus shells are banned by some treaties and conventions, while the phosphorus that remains after an incendiary strike will eventually be turned into fertilizer.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 07:25:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Depleted Uranium should go the way of White Phosphorus.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 05:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WP shells are as far as I know not banned by any widely adopted treaties, especially not the chemical weapons treaty.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 08:49:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And another problem is the fine particles created, both inside the tank or other target and by the projectiles that miss and strike rocks, etc. Given the bio-toxicity of DU these projectiles, as described by Chris Busby, should be far higher on the list of things to be banned than landmines. A landmine is bad and can maim or kill anyone who detonated it accidentally, but they stay where they are placed. DU can be picked up and blown around the earth in sand storms.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 04:37:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that Uranium burns spontaneously is seen as a desirable property be weapons manufacturers, so DU rounds are not only deep penetrators, but incendiary.

But when Uranium burns it generates Uranium Oxide dust, which is much more hazardous than metallic Uranium.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 06:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
KE penetrating shells aren't steel jacketed

Kinetic energy penetrator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

To maximize the amount of kinetic energy released on the target, the penetrator must be made of a dense material, such as tungsten carbide or depleted uranium (DU) alloy (Staballoy). The hardness of the penetrator is of less importance, but is still a factor as abrasion is a major component of the penetrator defeat mechanism. As DU is itself not particularly hard, it is alloyed with nickel, zinc, or both. DU is pyrophoric; the heated fragments of the penetrator ignite after impact on contact with air, setting fire to fuel and/or ammunition in the target vehicle, thereby compensating for the lack of an explosive warhead in the penetrator. Additionally, DU penetrators exhibit significant adiabatic shear band formation. A common misconception is that, during impact, fractures along these bands cause the tip of the penetrator to continuously shed material, maintaining the tip's conical shape, whereas other materials such as unjacketed tungsten tend to deform into a less effective rounded profile, an effect called "mushrooming". Actually, the formation of adiabatic shear bands means that the sides of the "mushroom" tend to break away earlier, leading to a smaller head on impact, though it will still be significantly "mushroomed". Tests have shown that the hole bored by a DU projectile is of a narrower diameter than for a similar tungsten projectile


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 10:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why don't you folk use flint-tipped arrows like normal people?

<ducks>

Though one had to use a deer horn and lots of muscle to penetrate a well-made shield. Plus, you were then close enough to be forced to see the enemy's eyes/face. Made one think before acting.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 10:58:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At last, a voice of sanity.  Why are we discussing the military efficacy of various types of warheads and projectiles on ET?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 11:07:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're discussing their toxicity.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 12:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't this a diary on Liberal Interventionism?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 12:56:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I'm just a bit squeamish about people using their intelligence to design weapons optimised to maximise  death and suffering and opposed to the arms industry in general.  Of course in the "real world" you have to live with these things and accept they are part of "conflict resolution".  I prefer to concentrate on alternative non-violent processes.  Call me a wimp.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 01:37:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I won't call you a wimp. Just a non-hunter. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 09:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are correct in guessing I am a non-hunter, however I am also not sure what firing DU shells from several miles range has to do with hunting.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 05:25:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, my point was that being a hunter gives you a basic interest in different kinds of ammunition, especially as there are so many regulations covering what kind of ammunition you are allowed to use at different kinds of game. :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 08:52:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They aren't steel jacketed, but my point is that they certainly aren't of the expanding variety. They use materials even harder than steel for improved penetration.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 09:52:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, rereading this I spot an error. The reason that the Swedish army went from a lead core in its service ammunition to a steel core obviously had nothing to do with penetration, as no matter what the core is made of the bullet is still full metal jacket and hence has high penetration. The reason rather was a way to save money on the cleaning up of shooting ranges, as the environmental rules for letting steel lie around are far more lenient than those for lead.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:04:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd have thought that U cores on rifle bullets would have avoided the point. in the last couple of decades military ammunition has become smaller and lighter. partly because fighting has increasingly become urban, and so fighting ranges have dropped, partly to enable soldiers to  carry more ammunition, and partly on the callous calculus that if you only injure an opponent, you will in effect take three men out of the battle, one who's injured and two to carry them to the aid station.

A U core would both weigh more, and require more propellant to push the mass up to a velocity,  which would both reduce the amount of ammunition that can be carried, and increase the wear and maintenance needs of the weapon.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 10:30:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree on the use of small caliber because it makes you able to carry more ammunition. Urban combat however works in the opposite direction. In urban combat you want 7,62 battle rifles instead of 5,56 assault rifles, as the former is much better at shooting through walls. Our specialised urban combat batallions (if they haven't been cut yet) still use our old 7,62 battle rifle instead of the more modern 5,56 assault rifle.

Uranium cores for infantry weapons are quite rare (except when used by cops and robbers), but heavy metal ammunition is not. AP-ammunition has been manufactured for machineguns carried by the infantry, and then tungsten is usually used, IIRC.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 10:00:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found the comparison with water extremely strange.

He gave a value for water of approximately 3.

The atomic number of hydrogen is 1, and the atomic number of oxygen is 8. So, what is he doing? Averaging

1 + 1 + 84 = 4098 = 3 * 1366 = 3 * (6 + 1/12)4

So where does the 3.something for water come from?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 06:20:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is found in his writings: The Secondary Photoelectron effect
In principle, the Secondary Photoelectron effect may provide a mechanism to explain the observed toxicity of heavy metals.


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 09:15:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See also: Uranium toxicity: Advanced biochemical and biophysical effects [PDF] from http://www.baltic21.org/

What do heavy metals have in common chemically?

Answer:

Nothing

They have different chemistry, valency, affinity, redoxequilibria, normal ionisation states, reactivity, Lewis acidity, ionic radii, energy levels, colour, work functions, solubility, melting points, boiling points, etc. etc.

No physical chemist would understand the concept of a `heavy metal'.

But the highest atomic number elements have catalytic activity when finely divided (e.g. Pt, Pd, U)

Further:
The graph below is from the Royal Society Report. It shows that a continuous daily ingestion of 1μg will result in kidney concentration of 12μg/l . At this concentration DNA will be saturated with UO2++.
and
For the Group II metals, which bind to the DNA phosphate strongly, the i.v. LD50 (soluble salts) in rats is:
Mg, Ca:>2000harmless
Sr:540mg/kgsome toxicity
Ba:20mg/kghigh toxicity
This is the background for the youtube above. It has some of the same hand-drawn diagrams, and considerably more detail.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 09:32:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not like the danger of Uranium poisoning is so controversial, either:

Depleted uranium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The chemical toxicity of depleted uranium is about a million times greater in vitro than its radiological hazard.
I think the fact that Uranium is radioactive allows people to dismiss concerns about the health effects of depleted uranium by arguing "but it is barely radioactive so it must be safe!".

The point is that Uranium is

  1. radioactive
  2. a heavy element
  3. a(n inner) transition element

All of these have biophysical effects, and the radioactivity is the least of the problems here.

Irrational fear of radiation actually leads people astray here by making us focus on the intrinsic radioactivity.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 07:11:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The other issue is whether there are adequate quality controls to ensure DU contains the absolute minimum of u-234 and u-235 (and u-236 in the case of spent fuel rods).  Presumably there is a cost factor in assuring purity and thus short cuts might be taken by less scrupulous manufacturers.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:51:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depleted uranium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The chemical toxicity of depleted uranium is about a million times greater in vitro than its radiological hazard.

The specific claim is:

Depleted uranium (DU) is a dense heavy metal used primarily in military applications. Published data from our laboratory have demonstrated that DU exposure in vitro to immortalized human osteoblast cells (HOS) is both neoplastically transforming and genotoxic. DU possesses both a radiological (alpha particle) and a chemical (metal) component. Since DU has a low-specific activity in comparison to natural uranium, it is not considered to be a significant radiological hazard. In the current study we demonstrate that DU can generate oxidative DNA damage and can also catalyze reactions that induce hydroxyl radicals in the absence of significant alpha particle decay. Experiments were conducted under conditions in which chemical generation of hydroxyl radicals was calculated to exceed the radiolytic generation by one million-fold. The data showed that markers of oxidative DNA base damage, thymine glycol and 8-deoxyguanosine could be induced from DU-catalyzed reactions of hydrogen peroxide and ascorbate similarly to those occurring in the presence of iron catalysts. DU was 6-fold more efficient than iron at catalyzing the oxidation of ascorbate at pH 7. These data not only demonstrate that DU at pH 7 can induced oxidative DNA damage in the absence of significant alpha particle decay, but also suggest that DU can induce carcinogenic lesions, e.g. oxidative DNA lesions, through interaction with a cellular oxygen species.


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 06:31:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:22:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
((*youtube FfNyZ9Kryb8))



Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 05:57:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a nice writeup of Busby's argument on the Low Level Radiation Project websute: The Secondary Photoelectron effect
It appears improbable that the reported effects depend on the intrinsic radioactivity of Uranium. The hazard is more likely to be mediated by a mechanism known as the Secondary Photoelectron effect (SPE) in combination with the affinity between atomic Uranium and the DNA molecule.
The content is essentially that of the video. For instance,
ICRP, in considering gamma ray absorption, models the human body as water, H2O. It has been proposed (2) that the baseline of absorption in uncontaminated tissue should be established using Oxygen - the most massive of the atoms in the water molecules in the ICRP phantom. The atomic number of Oxygen is 8. 84 = 4096. The atomic number of Uranium is 92. 924 = 71639296. 71639296/4096 = 17490. This is the enhanced ability of an atom of Uranium to absorb incident gamma or X-rays, relative to an atom of oxygen. Energy absorbed in this way is re-emitted in the form of photoelectrons indistinguishable from beta radiation, potentially causing tissue damage.
I actually find it better than the oral presentation.

Now, there are a couple of papers on this: Enhancement of natural background gamma-radiation dose around uranium microparticles in the human body

Ongoing controversy surrounds the adverse health effects of the use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions. The biological effects of gamma-radiation arise from the direct or indirect interaction between secondary electrons and the DNA of living cells. The probability of the absorption of X-rays and gamma-rays with energies below about 200 keV by particles of high atomic number is proportional to the third to fourth power of the atomic number.
Note that here it's "third to fourth power" where in the LLRC's summary it is "at least 4th".
In such a case, the more heavily ionizing low-energy recoil electrons are preferentially produced; these cause dose enhancement in the immediate vicinity of the particles. It has been claimed that upon exposure to naturally occurring background gamma-radiation, particles of DU in the human body would produce dose enhancement by a factor of 500-1000, thereby contributing a significant radiation dose in addition to the dose received from the inherent radioactivity of the DU. In this study, we used the Monte Carlo code EGSnrc to accurately estimate the likely maximum dose enhancement arising from the presence of micrometre-sized uranium particles in the body. We found that although the dose enhancement is significant, of the order of 1-10, it is considerably smaller than that suggested previously.
LLRC criticises this research:
From 2008 the UK Health Protection Agency has engaged with LLRC in a limited dialogue on SPE. HPA has used inappropriate methods and has obstructed the dialogue. (14) A paper by Pattison et al. (15) has been criticised for inappropriate criteria on particulate Uranium, for inappropriate methodology, and for failing to address those aspects of the SPE hypothesis which involve atomic Uranium. (16)
Indeed the same mass of Uranium will be more contaminating if it is divided into finer particles. If the LLRC talks about molecular uranium dioxide while Pattison et al. talk about micrometre-sized uranium particles, they can shout past each other all day long and both could be right. Here's another paper: A MONTE CARLO ANALYSIS OF POSSIBLE CELL DOSE ENHANCEMENT EFFECTS BY URANIUM MICROPARTICLES IN PHOTON FIELDS
Uranium microparticles (radii: 50 nm-1.25 μm) were modelled surrounded by tissue and exposed to natural background radiation, in order to investigate potential dose enhancements from photon interactions. Generally, the results depended on the microparticle size. For a 0.5 μm radius microparticle in an isotropic field, it was found that the combined photon/electron doses deposited in 1 and 10 μm radii shells around it were raised by factors of ∼3.8 and ∼1.1, respectively; for a typical background photon fluence rate, these would correspond to increased energy depositions of a few 10s and a few 100s of eV y−1, which are far less than the likely deposition rate resulting from the radioactive decay of a 238U microparticle. The health hazard from uranium microparticle interactions with background photons was concluded to be negligible.
Again, is the risk from uranium microparticle much less than the risk from atomic uranium?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2011 at 09:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. A10's have strafed two small Libyan naval vessels, while a P-3 Orion blew up a bigger one with a Maverick missile.

  2. DU is very much like lead when it comes to it's chemical and radiological toxicity. If someone fires DU shells with an autocannon at you, the problem is the shells, not if they're made out of DU or lead.

  3. DU is not used in AT missiles, as they usually use shaped charge warheads. DU is used in cannon shells and as heat shields at the tip of ICBM's. It's also used as ballast in sail boats.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 02:45:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Furthermore, what is DU? It's uranium with most of the U-235 stripped out, leaving it essentially U-238. Which isn't dangerous, not more than lead.

A few years ago, a number of Italian soldiers came down with leukemia after having been stationed in Kosovo, and it was suspected that they had been exposed to U-238 (DU dust in knocked out Serb armored vehicles etc). Because of these worries, a study was performed on Swedish soldiers who had been in Kosovo where the amount of uranium in their urine was measured. The troops who had been stationed abroad were found to have radically lower levels of uranium in their urine compared to the ones who hadn't been there. This was somewhat confusing. It was then found that the uranium came from the tap water in Sweden.

Sweden and Finland seems to be quite unique in this that we have high levels of uranium in our tap water. Maybe because of the ice age or something. The leading research on the health risks of uranium in tap water is done at the University of Uppsala, as Uppsala (the city where I live) have the highest levels of uranium in the water of any community in Sweden and possibly(?) in the world, even if some private wells have even higher levels. There are some countermeasures like filtering out the uranium, but all have drawbacks, like removing certain salts and minerals from the water, which due to their high concentrations are hypothesised to explain the unusally low levels of heart disease in Uppsala. Ironically, the danger posed by this uranium is not radiotoxicity - it's rather thought that high levels of uranium in the water might cause kidney damage due to chemical heavy metal toxicity, just like lead does.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 03:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very informative! I knew that the U238 isotope was pretty stable but was concerned with its biological toxicology. It would seem that chelation therapy might be appropriate periodically in Sweeden to guard against heavy metal poisoning through accumulation. (B-12 has some chelation potential.) But do you know the allowable contamination of DU ordinance with U235, Plutonium, in its various isotopes, and other long lived fission products?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 04:07:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My understanding is that DU is used in warheads because it is extremely hard (unlike lead), and thus good at armour busting.  It is also a handy way to get rid of a somewhat dangerous by product of fission.  Its radio-toxicity is presumably dependent on how depleted it is, and I doubt the military are too concerned at maintaining particularly high quality standards for ordinance that is intended for the enemy except insofar as it might also constitute a hazard for their own personnel.

The issue then becomes the implications for the civilian population living in war zones for extended periods where DU ordinance has been used.  It shouldn't be too hard to clear up the battlefields if the welfare of the civilian population is truly a concern. The scrap metal from the Falklands made an Irishman a multi-millionaire.

I suspect the dust from an exploded DU warhead is the major problem especially if it is inhaled. However anyone within breathing distance of such an exploded warhead is probably already dead!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 04:26:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
particularly hard, but they are heavy, which is a virtue in a penetrating projectile weapon.  Uranium is very heavy.  That it burns spontaneously means it doubles as an incendiary weapon, so that after penetrating the tank it burns out the tank from the inside.  

How hard is it to clean up fine, scattered dust?  Very.  Clean-up is possible if the Uranium oxide has not been widely scattered.  

Always, ingestion is the main issue.  Of course the tank crews die from burning, but anyone wandering by a day or a year later can be harmed by breathing or swallowing the dust.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 04:11:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gaianne:
Neither lead nor uranium are (none / 0) particularly hard, but they are heavy, which is a virtue in a penetrating projectile weapon.  Uranium is very heavy.
In fact, uranium is so heavy that it can be used to penetrate any non-radioactive metallic armor...

The fact that if is pyrophoric seems to be neither here nor there, despite the fact that white phosphorus is known to be very toxic and there's controversy over whether it should be considered banned already by existing non-conventional-weapon bans. So with "depleted uranium".

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 04:35:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no plutonium or other fission products in DU. DU is the leftovers from the uranium enrichment process, the discarded uranium, which never has and never will enter a reactor.

(Except in a possible future where fertile DU can be packed around a fissile core in a breeder reactor, where the abundance of neutron radiation will transmute the DU into fissionable material.)

Chelation therapy is expensive and not proved to be effective (or ineffective) as of yet, but there are some big studies being done IIRC and the judge is still out. The best filter idea the researcher have figured out can leave all those nice minerals, but also leaves somewhat radioactive filters (a pile of wet uranium I suppose), which the local water plant people have no competence to deal with. Maybe they could ask the people at the Westinghouse nuclear fuel factory in Västerås for help? I can't see how it should be a huge or complex operation. Maybe they could even sell the recovered uranium. :)

One last option is to just ignore the problem, except in those special private wells with extremely high concentrations. After all, the problem with uranium in the communal water is so small that no one had even noticed it before that study was done on those soldiers. We've after all been living around here for more than a thousand years without getting any noticeable medical problems from this uranium.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 04:31:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please ignore my comment on the inefficiacy of chelation therapy in heavy metal poisoning situations, I mixed it up with use in non-poisoning situations.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 04:33:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DU is the leftovers from the uranium enrichment process, the discarded uranium, which never has and never will enter a reactor.

So, the contaminants would be typical of the ore from which it was refined? Or just how pure is this stuff? If it has passed through a UF6 chemical process and through a gas diffusion process I could imagine that it has rather low contamination, but I could imagine that other minerals could also react with Fluorine to make a gas and thus pass through this process.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U-238 has an half-life of 4.5 billion years. So yes, I think we can class it as "pretty stable". ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 04:36:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depleted uranium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Depleted uranium (DU) is uranium primarily composed of the isotope uranium-238 (U-238). Natural uranium is about 99.27% U-238, 0.72% U-235, and 0.0055% U-234. U-235 is used for fission in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Uranium is enriched in U-235 by separating the isotopes by mass. The byproduct of enrichment, called depleted uranium or DU, contains less than one third as much U-235 and U-234 as natural uranium. The external radiation dose from DU is about 60% of that from the same mass of natural uranium.[2] DU is also found in reprocessed spent nuclear reactor fuel, but that kind can be distinguished from DU produced as a byproduct of uranium enrichment by the presence of U-236.[3] In the past, DU has been called Q-metal, depletalloy, and D-38.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:54:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the devotees of St. Constantine that sing "Onward, Christan Soldier". At such times Jesus resumes his seat at The Right Hand of God.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 11:31:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or is put back on the Cross by those self-same soldiers

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 04:13:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Via the miracle of trans-substantiation into wood, no doubt.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 05:43:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The ambivalence of those decisions is apparent as much as the outcome is not. I remember seeing S. Power appear in "No End in Sight" being in favor of 'intervention' in Iraq or at least going all the way during the first Iraq war. Fortunately the interventionists have dialed back their ambitions from a full-out serial dictator removal program downwards to a genocide intervention or revolution assistance program. But that could backfire as well.

I think humanitarian values have over time been co-opted to support the status quo or purposes which in fact are imperial. The entry point is the fear of genocide - the thread that pulls the rope behind it. In the long term Western powers won't have the resources to keep doing 'nation building', 'stabilization missions' etc. As if they didn't have enough problems of their own to chew at. Failed states will be the norm, and what do you do if the Maghreb, Sahel, or Sub-Saharan Africa start losing it. Then there is the Middle East, South Asia, and South/Central America.

That will end the age of large scale interventions. Hopefully Libya will stay a deluxe mini mission. And afterwards the Europeans should think very long and hard how their security policy will look like when they can't whip out the guns at every turn.

by epochepoque on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 01:59:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the long term Western powers won't have the resources to keep doing 'nation building', 'stabilization missions' etc.

I don't know that we ever did. At best they were holding missions while we secured the assets/minerals we were after and then got the heck out. In that, at least, Bush et al were honest; they didn't do "nation building". It was just a pity that they said that after they'd smashed Iraq to bits.

That will end the age of large scale interventions.

If only. There may be no money for frivolities such as housing, the sick or the poor, but there's always money for a military adventure.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 02:28:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but there's always money for a military adventure.

I heard Obama pulled the 'exceptionalism' canard in his speech. Declining empires have an amazing stubbornness to persist in military adventures to prove their self worth. He knows they can't keep doing this kind of thing. But the heat of the moment sometimes prevails. Then there is the benefit of God-given powers enabling messianic missions - leading to a preordained benevolent future.

I hope I'm wrong, but this could really be the moment that tipped the Obama presidency towards lower-mediocre on the scale.

by epochepoque on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 06:23:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah.  If it goes south now, it will all be NATO's fault - those cheese eating surrender monkeys...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 06:54:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh come on, the USA isn't even  a decade into having reality constricting its ambitions. France and the UK have been living with this humiliation for at least 55 years (post suez) and our elites still haven't learned a damned thing.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 09:00:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
vital in the Libyan case. Perhaps that's why they're on board, in fact : it probably would have gone ahead without them; and they are not in the front line, unless I've missed something.

In that respect, the US role is a symbol of Obama's muted, nuanced, cautious foreign policy. Entirely appropriate in the modern "multipolar" world. And especially so in the context of the Arab spring; a prominent role for the USA would be singularly unwelcome.

Syria worries me the most. The US is following the same line as it did in Egypt, praising and encouraging the regime while others are condemning it. Regime change is obviously problematic for them, with respect to Israel.
But that didn't save Mubarak...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 08:53:29 AM EST
I don't see America's participation as especially vital in the Libyan case.

Well, they're certainly doing a lot of something, seeing as they've flown more bombing sorties over Libya than the European powers combined during this crisis.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 09:10:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is US satellite intel also vital to the accuracy and planning of missile strikes and bombing runs?  Do France/UK have a satellite over Libya?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 04:33:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Swedish Colonel Pellnäs who served in Bosnia, wrote an article after the Kosova war where he explained that only the US has good data, which means everybody else has to take their word as gospel (and points out a number of inaccuracies regarding the Kosova war). I do not know if this has changed.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 08:36:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and, according to the Canard Enchainé all military decisions are made by the Pentagon. France tried hard to do things on its own (or with the UK) but failed. It's all run by the US, even if they are more discreet about than usual.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:37:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Samantha Power can't really come out and explain the decisions regarding the war in detail. The bosses are doing that (coherently?). She has already laid out her thinking in previous writings. Though "and the Fight to Save the World" sounds a bit presumptuous. On the other side of the Atlantic a pop philosopher named Bernard-Henri LÚvy is making the rounds to drum up support for this 'whatever it is' operation while denouncing the war opposition. Excerpts from an interview with Die Zeit:

DIE ZEIT: The West is now partly responsible for what happens in Libya after the intervention. What if there are acts of revenge after the ouster of Gadhafi?

Bernard-Henri LÚvy: Try to prevent them, naturally. We would have a "responsibility to protect", too. But I don't see that coming. I could be wrong. But I have seen those young fighters, their commanders, their political leaders. I think they are good people. And they know the world is watching them. If there was a wave of repressions political initiatives would be sufficient - and certainly no larger military contingents.

ZEIT: But maybe in Syria where a Libyan scenario is possible?

LÚvy: "We can't be everywhere so we better be nowhere." That's a trap. The operation in Libya has to successful. If we are successful in Libya then other dictators will start thinking. If we don't succeed, the other bastards will be on the upswing. The intervention in Libya is practically an intervention in Syria.

... ZEIT: How could Germany limit the damage?

LÚvy:... But if you think of Libya as an important event at the beginning of this century, if you think that Europe is at a turning point in its relations with Arabia and the Mediterranean, then you'll have to make notice of who is drawing closer to and withdrawing from whom. So why shouldn't the grand inter-party coalition of those who believe in the obligation to intervene and criticize the delay be given a form. I don't know what form but some form. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

... ZEIT: What words?

LÚvy: I told him: if Gadhafi comes to Bengazhi there will be a blood bath and the blood will sully the French flag that was raised on the shores of that city. I reminded him of the beautiful gesture of Mitterand meeting the Bosnian president Izetbegovic and the faintheartedness of Chirac who didn't want to meet Massoud...

... ZEIT: A revolution. In your latest book you wrote it's not about changing the world but

LÚvy: repairing it. Sure! That's what the Arab democrats are doing. But we shouldn't become blind and turn away from our duty as sentinels. There will be setbacks and misdevelopments. The Arab spring can be cause to be enthusiastic and concerned, to be enraptured and perplexed.

Florid language and grand thinking. "Our duty as sentinels", "Turning point", "I think they are good people", "blood will sully the French flag", "The intervention in Libya is practically an intervention in Syria"

What 'grand coalition' is he thinking of? The Internationalists 2.0? History is tragic and most attempts to engineer history will turn it even more tragic. It's weird that I'm defending Westerwelle but the abstention from war is not about some "popular pacifism" that he derides but about realism. We have been running around the Arab world for a long time and almost always it has been in circles and disastrous. Time to let go, Bernard.

by epochepoque on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 07:29:05 AM EST
He sounds almost like a European Neo-con, with a God given mission to help civilise the world.  I agree we should limit the grandiloquence and concentrate on a few limited practical steps to reduce the risk of massacres on a grand scale.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 07:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Devils We Don't Know: Who Are the Libyan Opposition?

Hi. You don't know me. See that big guy over at the bar? I'm going to pick a fight with him. Wanna back me up?

That's what we, the American people, are being asked to do in Libya. We're not picking sides. Picking sides implies that we know what's going on. We don't.

Give George W. Bush this: he respected us enough to lie us into war. Obama wants us sign a blank check, no questions asked.

by das monde on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 11:08:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 02:58:14 AM EST
Deserves a diary all of it's own!  Needs to look at armaments industry as a factor (superset of the lot?).  Egypt deserves credit for being a staunch ally of Israel...tunnels to Gaza notwithstanding.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 04:55:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC - Adam Curtis Blog: GOODIES AND BADDIES

The idea of "humanitarian intervention" which is behind the decision to attack in Libya is one of the central beliefs of our age.

It divides people. Some see it as a noble, disinterested use of Western power. Others see it as a smokescreen for a latter-day liberal imperialism.

I want to tell the story of how this idea originated and how it has grown up to possess the minds of a generation of liberal men and women in Europe and America.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 08:21:43 AM EST
Excellent.

I was just thinking that all of this story takes place in less then 45 years, and most of the major players are still alive and politically active.

To us, the details of how this changed from decade to decade matter. But I'm trying to imagine how it will be summarised when the movement is not 40 but 400 years old.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 08:34:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It'll probably be filed under "early developments in the ideological justification for the colonial expeditions of managed democracies."

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 08:44:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember the moral obligation to purge Africa of Arab slave traders, even if it meant to carry the white man's burden to stay a while and civilize the place.

I think in the long run "humanitarian intervention" will be sorted in a long tradition of propaganda to motivate war.



A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 03:50:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed I did not mean to suggest that "early developments" referred to justifications for colonialism. It was meant to refer to the fact that we are still early in the life of managed democracy, and the propaganda and other management tools will presumably become more sophisticated with time.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 09:08:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC - Adam Curtis Blog: GOODIES AND BADDIES
But you get a sense from the footage of the impotence of the UN Dutch soldiers. It is the record of a terrible moment of moral failure.

Impotence is immoral in a world were the only moral position is that of benevolent world ruler.

BBC - Adam Curtis Blog: GOODIES AND BADDIES

Fantasies that persist today, and which our leaders still cling to - because they give the illusion that we are in control.

And large swats of the population of the western countries also cling to, because they are then by proxy in control, potent and benevolent rulers of the world.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 03:41:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the direction the discussion on this diary has taken, it might make sense to try and re-start the diary on more focused lines.  There doesn't seem to have been much discussion of liberal humanitarian interventionism in this diary, and certainly not at any length.
by Zwackus on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 05:21:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
which sets out both the naivete and cynicism often at the root of interventionism anywhere - from humanitarian assistance in Biafra to military intervention in Libya. The reality is that war is itself an evil, which dehumanises all who engage in it, and the best you can do is support the slightly less evil side without ever imagining that some sort of utopia will result should they win.

It is ironic that Gaddafi was himself a leading proponent of humanitarian interventionism whose methods gradually became worse than those he was opposing.  Think Mugabe.  Nothing better illustrates the dehumanising impact of violence on both victim and aggressor - or the immorality of the arms industry which feeds it all.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 06:32:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO's Fascist War
by Fidel Castro Ruz

Never before was a large or small country, in this case of barely 5 million inhabitants, the victim of such a brutal attack by the air force of a military organization which has at its disposal thousands of fighter planes, more than 100 submarines, nuclear aircraft carriers, and sufficient arsenal to destroy the planet countless times over.  Our species has never experienced such a situation and nothing like it existed 75 years ago when the Nazi bombers attacked targets in Spain.

Now, however, the discredited and criminal NATO is to write a "beautiful" story about its "humanitarian" bombing.

by das monde on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 01:23:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When you're being criticised by a communist dictatorship, you know that you're at least doing something right.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 07:15:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, all kind of fascists were right?
by das monde on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 09:43:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fidel, a few days ago.
Carter did what he could to reduce international tensions and to promote the establishment of Cuban and US Interest offices. His administration was the only one that took a few steps towards easing the criminal blockade imposed against our people.

The circumstances weren't exactly favorable given the complexities of our world at that time. The existence of a genuinely free and sovereign nation in our hemisphere was incompatible with the ideas of the fascist rightwing in the United States. This faction maneuvered to cause President Carter's plans to fail; plans that would make him worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. Nobody gave it to him for free.

If a communist dictatorship sarcastically criticises Obama's Nobel prize (in that last phrase), you know that he probably deserved it....
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Apr 6th, 2011 at 03:30:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]