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Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Health care in Iraq: the limited memory of The New York Times

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the unfulfilled (to put it mildly) "promise" of the United States to build 142 health clinics in Iraq. Today The New York Times editorializes on the subject, calling on the U.S. to keep its promise. But the Times' has rather selective memory of the past:
Recent decades have been cruel to the children of Iraq, a country that was a regional leader in health care 30 years ago. Then came Saddam Hussein's diversion of Iraq's wealth into weapons, wars and palaces, 12 years of crushing international sanctions and finally, the invasion, occupation and insurgency. More children have probably died from lack of clean water and sanitation, malnutrition, and lack of health care than from the missile, bomb and rocket attacks of invading armies and insurgent militias.
Errors of commission and omission abound. First, the claim that it was "30 years ago" that Iraq was a regional leader in health care is bogus; that was the case up until the U.S. assault on Iraq and the subsequent sanctions. And why? The Times accurately mentions "lack of clean water and sanitation," but they left out one detail -- the water purification plants of Iraq were deliberately (and illegally) bombed and destroyed during that war by the U.S., with foreknowledge of what the consequences would be -- genocide on a massive scale. And what was that scale? The Times doesn't bother to remind us, but the answer is that more than a half-million children under the age of five died as a result of the deliberate U.S. actions. I'm sure you all remember -- that was the "price" that was "worth it" according to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The Times left out that little detail as well.

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