Media pipe-puffers made such a big deal over the weekend about the fact that U.S. casualties in Iraq hit the 1,000 mark.
“How many deaths are too many?” James Dao asked in the top think piece in the Sunday New York Times Week in Review.
There was not one word in Dao’s story about the number of Iraqis killed in this senseless invasion and occupation. The Department of Defense, of course, has steadfastly refused to release body counts.
For that info, you have to go to sites like Iraq Body Count, which reports that the number of civilians killed in Iraq ranges between 11,797 and 13,806.
By the way, Iraq didn’t commit terrorist acts in the United States, and four times the number of innocent Iraqis have been killed by us than the total number of innocents who died in the WTC attack. Did we mention that those hijackers were Saudis? The Times‘ Dao matter-of-factly writes that, according to “military experts and historians,” “the stark experience of 9/11 and the belief among many Americans that the fighting in Iraq is part of a global conflict against terrorism have made this war seem much more crucial to the nation’s security than Vietnam.” He neglects to say that many “military experts and historians” dispute that our invasion of Iraq was justified. And of course, the source of that “belief” was, at best, public-relations bullshit to justify a pre-emptive strike.
It’s sad enough that many of our own troops in Iraq have either died in noncombat situations or killed themselves. (See my April Voice story, “Day by Day, Death by Death.”) But enough talk. What exactly is this democracy we’re forcing on the world? It’s time for more statistics, thanks to NationMaster.com, where you can type in your own topics and create your own rankings, charts and figures—from established sources, not out of thin air. (Yes, yes, all of the following stats can be disputed, but at least these numbers are the result of what looks like a credible effort by the NationMaster people to find legitimate sources.)
Here are a few:
¶ Presidential election turnout: The U.S. ranks 19th—from the bottom—at 49.3 percent of the voting-age population in 2000. That’s in a list of 100 countries. We’re just ahead of Ireland (47.7) and Burkina Faso (46.9); we trail the likes of Mexico (60.0) and South Korea (92.5).
¶ Prisoners per capita: We’re No. 2! In the U.S., 7.15 out of every 1,000 persons is a prisoner, trailing only Rwanda (14.34).
¶ Exports of conventional arms: We’re No. 1! But that’s only in the grand total of dollar figures. Per capita, we’re 10th; Sweden is first, followed by Jordan, Norway, Israel, and Angola.
¶ Education spending: We’re No. 47! We spent 4.7 percent of our gross domestic product (1990–99), compared with No. 1 Moldova’s 10.3, No. 3 Denmark’s 7.7, and fellow arms exporter Sweden’s 7.1, which ranks eighth.
¶ Reading literacy: We’re No. 15! We trail such countries as No. 1 Finland, No. 6 South Korea, and No. 14 Norway.
¶ Murders with firearms (per capita): We’re No. 8! South Africa is No. 1, followed by Colombia, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Costa Rica, Belarus, and then—yay!—us.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 13, 2004