We Break Kids


Iraqi kids try to be cheerful amid the rubble in Rawah. I installed a warning sign, but it won’t ease the suffering.

Bad news really does come in threes. The Iraq Debacle and the continued hounding of Afghans are said to cost $10 billion a month, according to CNN. Working my abacus, I come up with $333,333,333 a day.

Where’s the money going? Over at the excellent site, Robert Parham, executive director of the Nashville-based Baptist Center for Ethics, breaks down the breakdown in Iraq and talks about the human cost:

Every minute the United States government spends $200,000 in Iraq, as human suffering worsens, not counting the violence of suicide bombers and roadside bombs. So, where is the United States spending its tax revenue in Iraq?

Ending malnutrition among children isn’t an answer. Providing an adequate water supply isn’t an answer. Ensuring decent sanitation isn’t an answer. Slowing the growing humanitarian crisis isn’t an answer. Advancing fundamental human rights isn’t an answer.

Digression: Meanwhile, George W. Bush is fighting against the spending of a relatively piddling $47 billion — spread out over five years — to provide health coverage for poor American kids. Five months of war or health care for American kids? Tough choice.

Back to Parham and Iraq’s kids: He leans on a just-released Oxfam report, Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq, that is required, if depressing, reading. Here are the deadly truths Parham plucks from the report:

Oxfam International and the Non-Governmental Organization Coordinating Committee in Iraq released a report on Monday that painted a bleak picture of the humanitarian situation, which, if not addressed, will make Iraq even more unstable. Here are some of the facts:

• “Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 percent before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to 28 percent now.”

• “More than 11 percent of newborn babies were born underweight in 2006, compared to 4 percent in 2003.”

• “Forty-three percent of Iraqis suffer from ‘absolute poverty.'”

• “Bereavement is … a major cause of poverty. Most of the people killed in Iraq’s violence — perhaps 90 percent — are men. Their deaths leave households headed by women who struggle to survive the loss of the main breadwinner.”

• “The two million internally displaced people … have no incomes to rely on and are running out of coping mechanisms.”

• “The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since 2003.”

• “Eighty percent of Iraqis lack effective sanitation.”

• “Of the 180 hospitals countrywide, 90 percent lack key resources including basic medical and surgical supplies.”

• “More than two million Iraqis are estimated to have fled to neighboring countries … . Approximately 40,000-50,000 Iraqis are leaving their homes to seek safety inside and outside Iraq on a monthly basis.”

• “Christians — who comprise between 8 to 12 percent of the Iraq population — are increasingly reported to be experiencing discrimination in accessing labor market or basic social services, and are particularly fearful of the attacks by militia.”

• “Iraq is … losing its educated public-service workers in massive numbers … .At least 40 percent of Iraq’s professional class, including doctors, teachers, and water engineers, have left since 2003.”

Oh, wait, my mistake. We’re not spending $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s actually closer to $12 billion a month. Forget that folk saying about bad news coming in threes. The working figure for bad news is about $399,999,999 a day.