So... what's eating you today?
May 9, 2006 4:47 AM   Subscribe

UN reports "vast" levels of hunger for Iraq's children. The World Food Programme is reporting that a "dismal shortage of cash" is jeopardizing the health of over 3 million Iraqis, over half of them children. The organization cites "a growing negative impact on the most vulnerable". Last year, a survey indicated that over 27 percent of all Iraqi children under the age of five were chronically malnourished. This was before reports came out, indicating that food rations have been cut off, and reports of food prices escalating sharply. Some Iraqis have resorted to selling their blood for money to make ends meet. Approximately 400,000 Iraqi children now suffer from "wasting," a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein. Iraq now has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world, just ahead of Afghanistan.
posted by insomnia_lj (55 comments total)

 
The quickest way to hearts and minds is through the belly with kindness, not through the chest and skull at high velocity.
posted by Drexen at 4:55 AM on May 9, 2006


So peace, health, prosperity and happiness does not come from the barrel of a gun? Who'da thunk it...?
posted by spazzm at 5:15 AM on May 9, 2006


The prosperity was supposed to trickle down to the Iraqis from the reconstruction money distributed to American businesses. For some inscrutible reason, they transformed it into profit instead.
posted by solipse at 5:25 AM on May 9, 2006


Mission accomplished.
posted by meehawl at 5:27 AM on May 9, 2006


But the UN's irrelevant anyway, right? Right?
posted by slater at 5:29 AM on May 9, 2006


> For some inscrutible reason, they transformed it into profit instead.

and still ended up with a poor economy!

Deary deary me this is bad on all sorts of levels.
posted by catchmurray at 5:50 AM on May 9, 2006


Heckuva job Donnie!
posted by nofundy at 5:58 AM on May 9, 2006


Freedom never tasted so good.
posted by furtive at 6:02 AM on May 9, 2006


Iraq now has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world, just ahead of Afghanistan.

Oh great. I'm afraid to ask what country has the leading infant mortality rate.
posted by orange swan at 6:10 AM on May 9, 2006


Yes, but now they're starving to death democratically.
posted by scody at 6:19 AM on May 9, 2006


Send them a can of tuna, and starve the dolphins.
posted by Eekacat at 6:36 AM on May 9, 2006


Imagine if the US government pumped 1 trillion into the rural Mississippi. Or into blighted Detroit. Instead, it's going into Exxon's newest sandbox as SUV drivers buy another magnet to "Support the Troops."
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 6:46 AM on May 9, 2006


And if starvation wasn't enough there's also the cancers and the birth defects.
posted by piscatorius at 6:51 AM on May 9, 2006


"[Ahmedinejad's letter] questioned whether the world would be a different place if the money spent on Iraq had been spent to fight poverty.

"Would not your administration's political and economic standing have been stronger?" the letter said. "And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever-increasing global hatred of the American government?" - Via.
posted by The White Hat at 7:11 AM on May 9, 2006


I'm afraid to ask what country has the leading infant mortality rate.

Liberia, according to TFA w/ about 6%. Their numbers for max infant mortality rates are far lower than appear in the CIA World Factbook, FWIW -- there, Angola is listed as having an IM rate of 18.5%, Sierra Leone 16%, Afghanistan 16%, and Liberia 15.6%. I have no idea which is more trustworthy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:13 AM on May 9, 2006


I think it's safe to say we've reached the point where it's clear the Iraqis were better off with Saddam in charge. That's a hell of an assessment, and I thought I'd never see it. The ineptitude of the execution of this occupation continues to astound anew.
posted by squirrel at 8:40 AM on May 9, 2006


In the case of Afghanistan I'm at least prepaired to beleive that the US invasion hasn't done that much to change it.
posted by Artw at 8:48 AM on May 9, 2006


"[Ahmedinejad's letter] questioned whether the world would be a different place if the money spent on Iraq had been spent to fight poverty.

"Would not your administration's political and economic standing have been stronger?" the letter said. "And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever-increasing global hatred of the American government?"


Another nothing-but-net, diplomatic three-pointer from the whack-job in Iran.

More easy points over the outstretched arms of the flat-footed and clueless Dr. Condolezza Rice.
posted by three blind mice at 9:04 AM on May 9, 2006


Iraq now has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world, just ahead of Afghanistan.

But not to be outdone, the world's richest democracy has second worst newborn death rate in modern world.
posted by three blind mice at 9:13 AM on May 9, 2006


I'd like some supporter of this administration to tell me something: Where is the honor in this?
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:16 AM on May 9, 2006


I'd wonder about the mortality figures based on 24 hour rates, versus birth failure rates. How many are being born based on overwhelming medical efforts, only to die in the 1st 24 hours? As opposed to other countries where the births fail right off? Lies, damned lies and statistics it sounds like...
posted by wkearney99 at 9:27 AM on May 9, 2006


I think it's safe to say we've reached the point where it's clear the Iraqis were better off with Saddam in charge. That's a hell of an assessment, and I thought I'd never see it. The ineptitude of the execution of this occupation continues to astound anew.

They were always complaining that the sanctions were killing people, but I think that was mostly hype, to try to get the sanctions removed.
posted by delmoi at 9:41 AM on May 9, 2006


And why is the war still going on? Saddam was captured over two years ago, yet the U.S. occupation of Iraq goes on. To what end? Until all the "insurgents" are dead? How is this not a massacre?
posted by disgruntled at 10:00 AM on May 9, 2006


Hell, I'm still waiting to see the pics of all the shiny new schools and hospitals my tax dollars have built (and that have gone more than six months without being bombed back into rubble).
posted by bardic at 10:31 AM on May 9, 2006


They were always complaining that the sanctions were killing people--

Actually, that was probably true, at least until the oil-for-food program got started in March 1997.
posted by russilwvong at 10:34 AM on May 9, 2006


The Lancet reported that sanctions were responsible
for the deaths of 227,000, through increased child mortality.
Columbia University (Garfield) placed the number of deaths
of children at 350,000 (including those children killed during
the bombing of Gulf War I).
Is this an improvement? 400,000 kids with chronic and
pernicious protein deficience, in only 3 years, instead of
227,000 to 350,000 children being dead in 8 or 10 years?
posted by the Real Dan at 10:36 AM on May 9, 2006


I'd wonder about the mortality figures based on 24 hour rates, versus birth failure rates. How many are being born based on overwhelming medical efforts, only to die in the 1st 24 hours? As opposed to other countries where the births fail right off? Lies, damned lies and statistics it sounds like...

If this were the case, one would expect an indication of lower mortality in underprivileged populations, however, this quote seems to belie that notion:

The report, which analyzed data from governments, research institutions and international agencies, found higher newborn death rates among U.S. minorities and disadvantaged groups. For African-Americans, the mortality rate is nearly double that of the United States as a whole, with 9.3 deaths per 1,000 births

So it would seem to me that the supposed improvement of healthcare would NOT be the cause of such a discrepency. Is my logic faulty?
posted by symbioid at 10:40 AM on May 9, 2006


.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 10:42 AM on May 9, 2006


You can’t break an omelet without making a few eggs.
...no, waitaminute...

“And why is the war still going on?” - posted by disgruntled

I can see how one could argue that this is a process and it is the opposition (’insurgents,’ terrists) that is at fault here.
But that facade argument aside - there is an excellent strategy at work here - to make anything ‘better’ you have to break it down, make the situation worse, so as to bring about positive change otherwise change won’t occur.

Take for example in an earlier post here on running.
Steve Bethune gets up at 4:30 in the morning and runs miles and miles in the rain and the freezing cold to train for greater hardships in running.

If Bethune stayed comfortable in bed, he would not be ready to make the greater change and serve the greater goals.

If the Iraqi people weren’t suffering much, they would resist change. In the United States we have many people clammoring for change but because enough folks are comfortable enough, there is great resistance to change.

Now, an excellent strategy or technique doesn’t justify anything.
I could use excellent technique in hand to hand but if it’s directed at an old lady to separate her from her purse...

I would make the same assertion here. The Iraqi people are being made to suffer by design.
The looting by business, while accurate, is not the end aimed at here.
What those ends are can be debated.

I don’t see much that could justify this however.
And, even granting that the whole of mankind depends on these kids dying by shitting out their intestines, I would have to question the execution of the technique as well.
Creating suffering is typically used by terrorists and not-so-well-heeled revolutionaries.
There are less horrific ways to foster dependancy and create change - particularly to large wealthy countries.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:45 AM on May 9, 2006


Is my logic faulty?

Symboid: What I suspect is happening is, many underpriviliged moms aren't getting any prenatal care and may do things (smoking, drinking, other drugs) that are not good for the fetus. Nearly everybody in the US gives birth in a hospital nowadays - so their first contact with the medical establishment happens when they're in labor. The baby may be born prematurely, or with other problems - but the hospital manages to keep the baby alive <24 hrs, so it goes down in the stats as an infant death. In a poorer country, without the resources of the hospital, the result of the same pregnancy may be recorded as a stillbirth.

Just my surmise. I have nothing to back it up.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:30 AM on May 9, 2006


These starving Iraqi kids are brought to you, in part, by Monsanto!
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:39 AM on May 9, 2006


Insomnia, while the merits of corporate agriculture can be debated, I'm guessing that the problems in Iraq are not likely to be solved with all the seed banking in the world.

Selfmedicating, look at the 1 year infant death figures and see if they track. If the discrepancies are radical, that would imply that your logic is, at some level, correct.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2006


Motherfucking Monsanto.

Literally.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:50 PM on May 9, 2006


"[Ahmedinejad's letter] questioned whether the world would be a different place if the money spent on Iraq had been spent to fight poverty.

"Would not your administration's political and economic standing have been stronger?" the letter said. "And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever-increasing global hatred of the American government?"


It wouldn't have worked. If we'd put our resources entirely into humanitarian aid instead of fighting insurgents, we'd have had another Somalia-style disaster. The insurgents would have seized supplies and used them to feed their own troops, as well as selling them on the black market for funds. Also, human rights workers would have been kidnapped and murdered.

What we should have done if we wanted to win this war was do both at once; ensure security with our military while providing sufficient humanitarian aid. Unfortunately, this would have raised the cost of the war substantially, and I cannot guarantee it would have worked. What we really should have done is not get involved in this idiotic mess at all.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:54 PM on May 9, 2006


Well, Monsanto and Dow sure are responsible corporate citizens. Helping the poor Iraqis grow food must just be their way of giving back to the global community. But of course, they aren't charities, so it's only natural that they expect a small fee in return.

From the makers of Agent Orange comes Shut Up and Pay Us Or You Fucking Starve!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:36 PM on May 9, 2006


Mitovarr, I believe he was saying, what if you hadn't entered the war at all, but used those funds for the poor and starving instead.
posted by cell divide at 3:19 PM on May 9, 2006


"I'm guessing that the problems in Iraq are not likely to be solved with all the seed banking in the world."

I absolutely agree with you. That said, the Monsanto-izing of Iraq has been funded by US taxpayer money, and it's yet another example of highly misdirected, US-backed solutions which simply aren't appropriate under the circumstances.

Iraq never needed, wanted, or asked for America to rebuild their country. Rather, they needed the help of the world to let a once-thriving (and relatively educated) Arabian country rebuild themselves.

They certainly needed the jobs and the fruit of the reconstruction expenditure to flow primarily into Iraqi hands, rather than out of the country and into the pockets of multinationals.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:48 PM on May 9, 2006


Nutrition accomplished.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:50 PM on May 9, 2006


cell divide: Mitovarr, I believe he was saying, what if you hadn't entered the war at all, but used those funds for the poor and starving instead.

To help which poor, though? If we tried to help Iraq's poor before, Saddam would have simply seized the food and used it to feed his army or sold it on the black market. That's true of any seriously corrupt country, which is where most of the world's starvation and the worst poverty occurs. Mass starvation is nearly always a result of a corrupt regime trying to dispose of an inconvienient group of people (Ethiopia being a notable exception.) You can't fix that with more food.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:56 PM on May 9, 2006


"If we tried to help Iraq's poor before, Saddam would have simply seized the food and used it to feed his army or sold it on the black market."

Basically, I suspect that we should've:

1> Let UNSCOM have the time to verify that there were no WMDs or active WMD programs.
2> Worked to guarantee full access for future inspections.
3> Guaranteed access for targeted humanitarian aid, bypassing the whole oil-for-food mechanism and directly serving the Iraqi people.
4> Worked on methods to increase access to non-governmental Arabic and Western media inside Iraq.
5> Made a deal -- free, internationally monitored elections and an establishment of term limits (or an agreement for Saddam to step down after __ years) in return for a lifting of sanctions.

The trick, really, would've been to work with the entire international community to force Saddam into a series of double-binds, offering him ways to help his people if he does things that empower them too. If he rejects, he'd just look worse in the eyes of his people.

If such methods failed over the course of years and sanctions were still killing innocent people, it might've been a good idea to consider expanding the no-fly, no-troops zone in the south, in the same way that already existed in most of Iraqi Kurdistan... basically giving more Iraqis de-facto self-rule.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:52 PM on May 9, 2006


insomnia_lj: The trick, really, would've been to work with the entire international community to force Saddam into a series of double-binds, offering him ways to help his people if he does things that empower them too. If he rejects, he'd just look worse in the eyes of his people.

Oh, COME ON! Saddam was a dictator! He ruled with an iron fist! He didn't give a crap what his people thought about him and since the elections were done at gunpoint it didn't matter anyway.

All of your ideas operate on the principle that Saddam would not interfere with them. Saddam could have easily thrown out the inspectors as spies (didn't he already do that once?) How do you guarantee access for aid without fighting? Saddam could just close down the borders. Saddam could have easily interfered with your media plan, and it didn't really matter what the people thought anyway since he had such utter control. Saddam would have fallen over laughing at your deal. You're assuming he cared whether or not his people starved, and I think history has conclusively proven he didn't.

The fact is, if there was some simple way to change Iraq's regime without fighting, we'd have done it. Personally I think we should have stayed out because there was no legitimate threat to us and therefore no reason to attack, but if such a threat had existed, there was not really any alternative (maybe assassination, but he had people waiting to take over that were as bad as him.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:22 PM on May 9, 2006


Mitrovarr -

"The fact is, if there was some simple way to change Iraq's regime without fighting, we'd have done it."

But we had him contained. Saddam was America's invention from day one, and with some work he would have happily been so again.

Bush didn't want peace with Saddam. Bush couldn't care less about Saddam's abuses of his people. Bush didn't go there to protect America or free Iraqi's.

He went there to take Iraq - plain and simple.
posted by rougy at 8:03 PM on May 9, 2006


Yeah, I know. I'm just saying that if Bush would have had some easier way to topple the regime and put in a friendly puppet government, he'd have done so. The war is bullshit and always has been, but it wasn't like there was an easy diplomatic way to oust Saddam and fix Iraq's humanitarian crisis.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:19 PM on May 9, 2006


Mitrovarr -

I guess I'm missing your point - because ousting Saddam was just the rouse, and Bush could not care less about Iraq's humanitarian crisis.

Those are Bush's talking points, lies.
posted by rougy at 9:14 PM on May 9, 2006


Mitrovarr:

You're almost there, but you haven't taken the final logical step:

Bush was not interested in "ousting" Saddam, or fixing Iraq humanitarily. These are not goals; they're fronts - just like the WMDs were.

The goal was to secure American control of the natural resources of the region. Everything else; everything else is a front.
posted by odinsdream at 9:20 PM on May 9, 2006


I think you combined my two points when I didn't intend that. I agree that Bush was just in it for the oil, but I think he would have happily installed a friendly despotic government (like the Saudis) as opposed to fighting a war over it. Maybe not; the war thing may have been to bring him in support as a 'war president'. I wouldn't put it past him.

The other point was that no friendly diplomatic way of getting Saddam out was possible. The humanitarian crisis didn't really have any ending there but in a war, and our war has actually made things WORSE. They needed a revolution and got an occupation.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:27 PM on May 9, 2006


Mitrovarr -

I guess what's tripping me up is the "diplomatic way of getting Saddam out" that you keep mentioning.

Murderous despots have never really been high on the list of Bush concerns - unless they were sitting on all that yummy oil.

Saddam probably would have "played nice", like Kadafi is doing now, but I think you're on to something by Bush wanting to be a "war president" because it automatically gave him so much more power.

Basically, everything else I agree with.
posted by rougy at 10:03 PM on May 9, 2006


"The fact is, if there was some simple way to change Iraq's regime without fighting, we'd have done it."

But there were, and we were, and we did!

Inspections were working, and we were getting very significant cooperation from Iraq on all fronts.

A great example of this are the missiles that Iraq destroyed shortly before the US invasion. These missiles were designed to be able to carry a payload at ranges close to but slightly under the maximum distance allowed for Iraqi missile systems under the ceasefire agreement. They were long since declared to inspectors, who knew about their presence for years.

However, the US, obviously looking for even the slightest hint of a violation of the ceasefire agreement, pointed out that if the missiles weren't loaded with any payload, they would potentially be able to exceed the maximum allowed missile range by a few miles. As a result, Iraq was pressured into destroying tens of millions of dollars worth of their best missiles... that's how much they were whipped.

We had them under pressure, and they folded repeatedly on numerous major issues... and to top things off, we also had the UN security council whipped too! Sure, they weren't prepared to rubber stamp an immediate (and legally questionable) invasion of Iraq, but they *WERE* willing to approve the Canadian option, which would've given the inspectors just one more month to report "substantial co-operation", or else.

At that time, the US was in a great position to dictate a comprehensive, tough, UN-approved plan which would clearly lay out how Iraq could avoid invasion. If we had done so, and had maintained a military presence on the Iraqi border for a year or so to provide a credible threat and see the agreement through, then the US would've been seen today as tough, fair, credible, and, above all, effective.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:10 PM on May 9, 2006


Oh... and need I say, a comprehensive UN agreement on the resolution of the Iraq situation would've allowed us to actually have full international and UN support, should military intervention have been made necessary through Iraq's non-compliance?
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:14 PM on May 9, 2006


None of what you said has anything to do with changing their regime, just keeping them from having their nonexistant WMDs. Although I'm starting to think that Bush just wanted a war with someone, anyone. Oil was just icing.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:21 AM on May 10, 2006


Mitrovarr -

You're still taking it as gospel that changing the regime was somehow relevant to the war.
posted by rougy at 12:31 AM on May 10, 2006


rougy: You're still taking it as gospel that changing the regime was somehow relevant to the war.

Well what the hell else was the point? Depending on who you listen to, we went over there to take the oil over, build a base, stop the WMDs, get saddam out, or liberate the Iraqi people. EVERY one of those reasons involves changing the regime.

The only other alternative was that Bush wanted a war, which I already addressed.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:24 AM on May 10, 2006


"None of what you said has anything to do with changing their regime, just keeping them from having their nonexistant WMDs."

Not true. A comprehensive, UN-backed roadmap to the removal of sanctions for Iraq could've easily included some sort of demand for UN-monitored elections within a certain timeframe, which is something I mentioned previously.

Certainly, much could've been done to lift the burden of Saddam from Iraqis in many parts of the country. The idea that somehow nothing could be done is a foolish and often-repeated canard, as *something had already been done* in the autonomous Kurdish north, with complete UN approval.

Why bother with regime change, per se? Wasn't effective military castration of Saddam and the de facto liberation of most of Iraq's non-Sunni population a valid goal too?
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:52 AM on May 10, 2006


It is something you already mentioned, and something I already shot down. Saddam was a brutal dictator. He didn't give a damn about how much the sanctions hurt his people, and his main concern was staying in power. He would never have left his office for any reason other than being dead, or perhaps the imminant threat of being dead. You could not extricate him diplomatically.

We might have tried to cripple Saddam's hold over his citizens, as we did in the north, but when you started to really interfere with his power, you'd have had two problems. First, he wouldn't have stood for it, and you're right back to war and occupation again. Second, revolutionary groups in the occupied parts would have built up power and possibly started a civil war. This wouldn't have been the kind of revolution that is beneficial; it would have just been another ethnic group taking the country over and imposing Saddam-style rule themselves. They needed a unified revolt against Saddam.

As for whether we needed to institute a regime change or not, I don't think we did; they weren't a threat, and we weren't prepared to commit enough people and resources to actually improve the region. My point was just that your happy diplomatic solutions wouldn't have worked.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:32 AM on May 10, 2006


"It is something you already mentioned, and something I already shot down."

...by saying, essentially, that Saddam wouldn't cooperate, and that it would be impossible to guarantee that such a program would work without fighting.

I'm sorry, but that's not "shooting down" an argument, especially one which was supported by the facts on the ground in the run-up to the invasion. The simple fact is that Saddam faced credible pressure, both militarily and diplomatically, and he flinched, bigtime.

While I agree that no reforms in Iraq could've been absolutely guaranteed without fighting, the fact remains that the Bush administration had a historic opportunity to push those reforms through the UN, and it absolutely failed to pursue such options, choosing instead to pursue military action and a risky occupation.

Lots of people saw the risks of war ahead of time. I know I did:

"War against Iraq could perhaps be easily winnable... or it could be a war fought by urban guerrillas, where US troops must fight through the streets of every major Iraqi city, reminiscent of the battle of Stalingrad or the battle of Berlin, followed by a lengthy, dangerous, expensive occupation and rebuilding process."

... but the Bush administration did essentially what you did in this thread. They dismissed the arguments offhand, not on the basis of the facts on the ground, but on the basis of truthiness.

Gee, and it felt *so good* to suggest that Saddam (and with him, the rest of the Iraqi people) couldn't be dealt with short of invasion, too.

Really, has their ever been an enemy of the United States who *hasn't* been painted as impossible to reason with short of military force?

Conflict is a sad addiction that this country has. If we weren't so busy fighting others, we'd have to fight ourselves. (Not that we don't do enough of that on our television news.) America thrives on "stab 'em in the back" reality TV, and shows specifically designed to breed conflict, not consensus. Why? Conflict sells. So does war, of course.

Really, it's a bit like watching Homer go back to the Kwik-E-Mart for another batch of tainted meat.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:41 PM on May 10, 2006


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