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Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The hidden victims of the Iraq war

I was only half-listening to TV as I made a cup of tea, and it doesn't seem to be online (to my surprise, actually), so this won't be the most carefully documented of posts. CNN was doing its "Fallen Heroes" segment, where they show the picture, name, and hometown of soldiers recently killed in Iraq, and say something about them. The first one that caught my attention had a 2-year old son. The next one had a pregnant wife. The next a brand-new wife, who for all we know will turn out to be pregnant as well. The story is repeated day after day, and, clearly, magnified ten-fold for Iraqi families, though of course we never see their pictures on CNN or hear their stories.

The number of victims of this war, not even counting the victims of misplaced economic priorities, is vastly greater than shows up in any count. Back in economics class in college, I remember learning about the "multiplier effect." A similar thing occurs in war. Unfortunately, it involves subtraction as well as multiplication.

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