Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Our self-centered national debate

"Given that the last remaining justification for the Iraq war is the replacement of a tyrant with a democratic government," Chris Toensig writes in the LA Times, "the stubborn solipsism of the American debate on Iraq is more than a little odd. But the ultimate measure of how self-centered our national conversation about Iraq has become can be found in what is not measured. No attempt is being made by the U.S. military to count civilian deaths in besieged Fallujah – nor were such records kept during the major combat operations last year. And no one is monitoring maternal and child mortality rates since Hussein's defeat. Such statistics were carefully kept by the old regime as well as the United Nations and independent researchers during the economic sanctions of 1991-2003. Alaa Yusuf, a doctor whose hospital I visited, was both philosophical and bitter. 'Maybe the statistics were part of the old regime's propaganda,' he said. 'Maybe the new propaganda requires no statistics.'"