Gulf War Syndrome is the popular term given to a variety of ailments experienced by veterans of the Persian Gulf War and their children. Symptons run the gamut and include, but are not limited to, the following:

Short Term Memory Loss
Chronic Fatigue
Respitory/Breathing Difficulties
Joint and Muscle Pain
Sleep Disturbances
Menstrual Disorders
Birth Defects

Causes responsible for Gulf War Syndrome have not clearly been identified. Some of the more popular ones that have been hypothesized include:

Biological Warfare
Depleted Uranium radiation
Chemical Warfare
Prophlyactic Vaccines and medications given to troops against biological and chemical warfare agents.
Fumes from oil well fires
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It's estimated that over 1 miillion U.S. citizens took part in the Gulf War. Official numbers supplied by the Pentagon list about 697,000, but that number does not include non-military participants.Between six and seven percent, or roughly 45,000 veterans have reported an ailment they believe is linked to their service in the Gulf.

The syndrome has sparked debate from a diverse group that question it's existence such as veterans groups, Senate investigators and the military. Topics of the debate have included accountability, treatment, and compensation for those afflicted with the syndrome.

Gulf War Syndrome is any subset of a nice big ball of symptoms occurring in lots of people who are veterans of the Gulf War*. Anything like this that is sufficiently generic, has a preponderance of anecdotes and very little data, and is denied by the government is, of course, fodder for conspiracy theories. These theories range from the relatively reasonable "our troops breathed radioactive dust from spent uranium shells" to the possible "something badly synergistic happened between the local environment and our anti-chemical agents" to the almost certainly false "our troops were experimented with light versions of biological weapons".

In my private stash of conspiracy theories I have several about this syndrome, but my personal favorite I will dedicate to Roninspoon because it involves, if not him, then at least many people who are very like him.


In an effort to support our troops, the Coca-Cola corporation sent bazillions of cases of Coke, Diet Coke, and many other coke products to the troops for free. These cans were not refrigerated when they were stored, they were simply cooled prior to being served.

A little known fact about aspartame, the sweetening agent in NutraSweet, is that it begins to devolve into methyl alcohol (aka wood alcohol) above 85 degrees farenheit. Wood alcohol poisoning has many similarities to Gulf War syndrome, which means that Monsanto colluded with the military to poison our troops!!!!!

Isn't that great? It has all of the hallmarks of a great conspiracy theory - large multinational corporations, the military, fuzzy motives, Americans dying because of their own government, and it is completely unverifiable! I love it! So remember: don't drink warm Diet Coke, don't cook with Equal, and, whatever you do, don't forget your tinfoil hat.

* - Let's be clear: I'm speaking of Gulf War: A New Hope here. As of this writing, Gulf War: The Empire Strikes Back (known as either episode 2 or episode 5 depending on how you want to talk about these things) has not had any troops return home, so we don't know if they are afflicted yet.

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