Chlorine and Cholera in Iraq
Excellent blog post:
“We are suffering from a shortage of chlorine, which is sometimes zero,” Dr. Ameer said in an interview on Al Hurra, an American-financed television network in the Middle East. “Chlorine is essential to disinfect the water.”
[A World Health Organization representative in Iraq] also said some 100,000 tons of chlorine were being held up at Iraq’s border with Jordan, apparently because of fears the chemical could be used in explosives. She urged authorities to release it for use in decontaminating water supplies.
I understand why Iraq would put restrictions on dangerous chemicals. And I’m sure nobody intended for the restrictions to be so burdensome that they’d effectively cut off Iraq’s clean water supply. But that’s what looks to have happened. What makes it all the more tragic is that chlorine — for all the hype and worry — is actually a very ineffective booster for bombs. Of the roughly dozen chlorine-laced bombings in Iraq, it appears the chlorine has killed exactly nobody.
In other words, the biggest damage from chlorine bombs — as with so many terrorist attacks — has come from overreaction to it. Fear operates as a “force multiplier” for terrorists, and in this case has helped them cut off Iraq’s clean water. Pretty impressive feat for some bombs that turned out to be close to duds.
I couldn’t have said it better. In this case, the security countermeasure is worse than the threat. Same thing could be said about a lot of the terrorism countermeasures in the U.S.
Another article on the topic.