Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Unbelievable Numbers

The situation on the ground in Iraq is incredibly discouraging. It has been on my mind not only because it is such a crucial issue faced by our nation, but also, more personally, because I have a student who has a parent about to be sent there.

The Iraqi civil war too the lives of another 42 persons on Tuesday. The most horrible attack was in the Shaab district of the capital. Two minibuses attacked a market. The first shot 7 persons down, then when a crowd gathered, a second minibus detonated its payload near a petroleum truck. The truck became a fireball, killing another 17 Iraqis and wounding at least 38. (Aljazeera is reporting the death toll from this attack at over 40.)

I fail to understand how this is not generating more discussion in the US. How can we find this situation tolerable? How many Iraqis and American soldiers must die before we demand a change in policy?

At least 17 Iraqis were killed in other attacks in and around the capital and two police officers shot dead in the northern oil hub of Kirkuk.

It is the responsibility of the United States to secure that nation. Saddam was a terrible tyrant. But we cannot simply ignore the unspeakable violence and death in Iraq with the simple justification that Iraqis are better off without him in power. They are. But they would be better off still if US policy makers did the necessary job to secure the nation. I doubt the parents of the seven year old girl killed by a guerilla mortar yesterday feel particularly satisfied today with their lives after Saddam.

Al-Zaman reports that hundreds of Iraqis are fleeing Basra for Baghdad every day because security is even worse in the southern port city than in the capital. The armed gangs that dominate the city are also interfering with oil exports. The paper's sources say that thousands of Iraqis once resident in Basra are living with relatives in Baghdad, waiting for the security situation to improve in the southern port city. Wealthier Basrawis, fearful of being assassinated or kidnapped by the gangs, have come up to Baghdad and rented homes for their families.

We broke it. We own it. We haven't fixed it. Iraqis have electricity only a few hours a day in the capital. Malnutrition is on the rise because people cannot keep food. Attending mosque is a fearful event because of sectarian attacks. No Iraqi could have any rational feeling of safety.

Death squads are responsible for the 700 to 800 assassinations during the past month in Basra.

This situation should be considered intolerable by all Americans because this situation is our responsibility. As we enter a political season, any candidate who wishes to be credible must lay out a plan for how we will secure Iraq for its people, and give them a chance to have lives the approach normal. We should accept nothing less from any national politician.

--Statistics and figures come from the website Informed Comment ( which is one of the best available on the web regarding the conditions in Iraq.

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