Just Above Sunset
November 28, 2004 - It's not OUR fault!

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

The Washington Post gives us this on Saturday, November 20 -


Acute malnutrition among young children in Iraq has nearly doubled since the United States led an invasion of the country 20 months ago, according to surveys by the United Nations, aid agencies and the interim Iraqi government. After the rate of acute malnutrition among children younger than 5 steadily declined to 4 percent two years ago, it shot up to 7.7 percent this year, according to a study conducted by Iraq's Health Ministry in cooperation with Norway's Institute for Applied International Studies and the U.N. Development Program. The new figure translates to roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from ‘wasting,’ a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein.


Eric Alterman says this the following Monday -


So the next time some one asks you if you’re glad that we’ve removed Saddam Hussein from power, you might want to ask them if they’re glad that, after we’ve spent 200 billion dollars and killed tens of thousands of people, 400,000 Iraqi children are now suffering from acute malnutrition. That and oh yeah, the world hates us and the pool of Al Qaeda recruits has been vastly increased. And oh yeah, I’m betting on a draft.


I say Eric has a bad attitude.

But he’s not alone – Jeanne at Body and Soul adds this -


The main reason seems to be continuing lack of access to clean water, which can cause chronic diarrhea. Other things hurt as well: humanitarian organizations like CARE and Doctors Without Borders have had to leave as it became more and more dangerous to work there; Iraqi doctors are prime targets for criminals. But mostly children are malnourished because we've done a worse job than Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War in getting clean water to them.

News like this continues to stun me because even though I opposed the war, and even though I realized, after reading about the neglect of Afghanistan, that no one in the Bush administration knew or cared anything about humanitarian work, and even though I worried about the way they were undercutting NGOs before the war even began, I thought that repairing the infrastructure would be a high priority - one that we paid more than we should for, because there had to be a little sugar on top for the FOGs (otherwise known as the Friends of George), but nevertheless I was certain that even the FOGs realized that they had to do a better job than Saddam Hussein at filling basic human needs.

I was horribly nave. I thought they were con artists, not thugs.

The war fans will whine that there's nothing we can do while we're under attack, but that's getting everything backwards. If you're taking credit for "helping" Iraqis then the first priority - the only real priority - is getting food, water, and medicine to people who need it. Nothing else matters if you don't succeed at that. No excuses are acceptable.

… the only interest this story has generated is among conservatives condemning the Washington Post for blaming America for problems caused by insurgents.


So it’s not OUR fault - if you believe the guys we reelected for their moral values.

Yep. Right.

And this?

It Hurts, but Don't Stop
Michael Kinsley, The Washington Post, Sunday, November 21, 2004; Page B07


Has there ever before been a war that so many people disapproved of but so few wanted to stop? Have the reasons for starting a war ever been so thoroughly discredited without turning into reasons for ending it?

[ … fascinating body of text follows that argues there is no anti-war movement because after Vietnam we decided we had to “support the troops” and now we cannot oppose, or even criticize, any war we get into, however stupidly we get into it, no matter how badly it’s run and no matter how much real damage it does, because we have to support the troops … ]

… The lead headline in last Monday's Los Angeles Times was "Iraqi City Lies in Ruins." That would be Fallujah, a metro area of 300,000 people that many Americans had never heard of until we felt impelled to destroy it. And our reasons were neither trivial nor contemptible. They followed with confident logic from the premise that Saddam Hussein was an intolerable danger to the United States. If so, he had to be taken down. And if that destabilized the country, we had to occupy it for a while and calm it down. And you can't run a national occupation with rebels occupying a major city, so you have to besiege the city and kill a lot of people and leave the place "in ruins."

An American general in Vietnam famously said, "We had to destroy the village to save it." This has become the definitive expression of the macabre futility of war. Last week we destroyed an entire city to save it (progress!), but our capacity to find that sort of thing ironic seems to have become shriveled and harmless.


We’ve been here before.  We’re here again.  But we have no antiwar movement.  But we have messed up.  Big time.

A friend of mine is fond of saying that it’s time to start a revolution, and line them all up against the wall.  I see her point.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....