Film review: The Hidden Wars of Desert Storm
by Stephen Hewitt | Published 17 March 2003 | Last updated 13 December 2020
The Hidden Wars of Desert Storm, produced by Gerard Ungerman, Audrey Brohy, 2000
There is a wealth of material in this documentary, covering many topics. These include the health problems of soldiers who served in the 1990-1991 Gulf war (Gulf War Syndrome) and so-called “depleted” uranium, but not military vaccines. It contains interviews with Douglas Rokke, Dennis Halliday, Ramsey Clark, Scott Ritter, Norman Schwarzkopf, soldiers, a US State Department official called David Welch, an lawyers representing Gulf war veterans, doctors in Iraqi hospitals, and more.
The film starts by briefly reviewing the history of US involvement in the Middle East, which it says is motivated by oil. It notes that Saddam Hussein was put in power in Iraq by the US government.
It presents the hypothesis, with evidence, that the American government deliberately provoked the Iraqis into invading Kuwait. One interviewee says “It's a trap and unfortunately Iraq fell into it.”
Next the film presents evidence that the American government deceived the Saudi Arabians into believing that an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia was imminent. The putative object was to station American troops in Saudi Arabia.
One piece of deceit that isn't mentioned in the film is the false story of Iraqis throwing babies out of incubators in a hospital in Kuwait. These lies were told to a US congressional committee by the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US while she was pretending to be a nurse from Kuwait. The company Hill and Knowlton coached her in this. (See The disinformation campaign , Phillip Knightley, Guardian, 4 October 2001). Also not mentioned is a border dispute with Kuwait.
The documentary next turns its attention to the suspicious decision to halt the war when the American forces could easily have advanced to Baghdad. This allowed Saddam Hussein to put down extensive rebellions which had broken out against him.
It includes an extensive section on economic sanctions, the continuing aerial bombardment of Iraq by British and US aircraft, UNSCOM, (the UN weapons inspections)
A German journalist from Bildzeitung says “On 17 January 1993, Bush sent 42 missiles on Baghdad. One of them hit Arisheem hotel when I was there”.
It reports a statement made by US State Secretary Madeleine Albright, broadcast on The Sixty Minute Show, 12 May 1996. She was asked about the deaths of Iraqi children as the result of economic sanctions. She replied “the price is worth it”. The film says that it has since been “censored by CBS under political pressure”. What exactly that means is not explained, but it seems to mean that there is no clip of Albright saying these words.
The last topic of the film, is so-called “depleted” uranium. In this war the US military used munitions made from radioactive waste for the first time. It mentions contamination with plutonium in passing, but does not investigate the significance of this. Doug Rokke is described in a subtitle as a “Fmr contractor”.
The film presents figures for American veterans: of the 696,628 who served, 186,629 had filed for disability and 9,592 had died.
A few years after this film was made, another reporter, Gary Matsumoto, published an extensive investigation into the connection between military vaccinations and the health problems of Gulf war veterans in a book VACCINE A: The Covert Government Experiment That's Killing Our Soldiers And Why GI's Are Only The First Victims. (Vaccine A reviews on goodreads.com)
This is a lawyer representing veterans in the USA:
[unclear] military there are early reports on this issue -you know - this is one from July 1990 they say the most exposed individuals are soldiers who went on the battlefield after D.U rounds are shot - saying that civilians and soldiers may er suffer health effects from the inhalation and ingestion of DU dust and even saying that once people realise the health and environmental effects of this weapon, there may be a move to ban it. And this is July 1990. And this is just six months or so [unclear] at war. So you're not going to wonder why no warnings were ever disseminated to the ground forces prior to the war. Even if its just to say stay away from the vehicles that have been hit. Don't go climbing on the [unclear].
In an interview a US veteran says:
Because we didn't know about the radioactive waste being used as ammunition, people were just picking up things in the desert whatever they could find, [unclear] and I think if they would have known, they wouldn't have touched it.
- Uranium toxicity in The Merck Index The Merck Index, ELEVENTH EDITION, (MERCK & CO., INC. RAHWAY N.J., 1989) page 1551
- Private Eye article: DU: A BURNING ISSUE Private Eye, No. 1056, 14 June - 27 June 2002, p26
- Review: Talk by Iraq eyewitness Hani Lazim 26 January 2005, Birmingham
- Film review: Dreams of Sparrows (Iraq, 2006) 10 July 2006 shown in Cambridge, director Hayad Daffar. Life in post-invasion Iraq.
- Rosi on filming real-life confessions of a drug hitman in Mexican police 21 May 2017, Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, Regent Street
- UCL Prof John Dickie talk, questions and film, promoting ‘Mafia Republic’ 13 May 2013, Cambridge
- Hora Chilena, a film about Cambridge life of refugees from 1973 coup in Chile 20 Oct 2014 screening and discussion in Cambridge
- Military charity street collection in Cambridge Saturday 25 March 2017
- The Observer article: Gulf veteran babies 'risk deformities' Nic Fleming and Mark Townsend, The Observer, Sunday 11 August 2002
- The Globe and Mail article: Iraqi MDs blame U.S. for deformities Timothy Appleby, The Globe and Mail, 13 March 2002
- Guardian article: The disinformation campaign Phillip Knightley, Guardian, 4 October 2001 (Covers 1990 Gulf war lies about babies in Kuwait incubators)