Published yesterday by the Toronto Star under the title The Shape of World War IV, By Number.
Never before has liberation seemed so perilous.
“Overcoming evil is the noblest cause and the hardest work,” declares U.S. President George W. Bush. “And the liberation of millions is the fulfillment of America’s founding promise.”
It’s Thursday. Bush is addressing a boisterous contingent of Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C. As he squints into the radiant sky, he pauses more than 35 times to allow for bursts of cheering, fist pumping and clapping.
This is the sight and sound of freedom.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, 91 million kilograms of explosives – more than were used in the entire first Gulf War – have already thundered from the heavens, erupting into a blur of fireballs and smoldering craters from Basra to Baghdad to Mosul.
By yesterday, the civilian death toll was estimated at between 600 and 760. To these people, the coalition cause may not seem so noble. Because liberation managed to do something the treacherous regime did not: It killed them. As Bush talks, my attention is diverted to an e-mail, with links to distressing pictures of civilian casualties.
Children missing eyes. Splayed and broken limbs. Skulls crushed like walnuts. Internal organs spilling from mangled torsos. These broken images will endure long after the evil is overcome.
It’s tough to judge this “preventive” war, since no historical comparison exists. James Woolsey, the former CIA director, says World War IV is upon us – “World War III” was the Cold War. What the rest of the world can’t figure out is who started it. And why.
There are many reasons to be skeptical about what is happening right now. But, sometimes, numbers say more than words. Here are a few that have caught my attention.
Iraq War Index
77: Percentage of Americans who support military action against any country believed to be linked to 9/11 terrorist attacks, even if innocent civilians are killed in those countries.
69: In a 2002 poll, percentage of Americans who said they believe Iraq has nuclear weapons.
O: Number of nuclear warheads in Iraq.
53.9: Estimated number of U.S. troops over the age of 20 deemed to be overweight by federal obesity standards.
$850 billion: Estimated military spending in the world in 2002.
50: Percentage spent by U.S.
0.0015: Percentage spent by Iraq.
50 per cent: Spending increase on U.S. national defense projected between 2000 and 2007.
320 metric tonnes: Amount of depleted uranium left in region after 1991 Gulf War.
200,000: Estimated number of U.S. soldiers said to be suffering from Gulf War Syndrome.
700: Between 1991 and 94, percentage increase in cancer rates in Iraq.
1 in 6: Chance the U.S. bombed Iraq on any given day last year.
9: Percentage of U.S. munitions dropped during the first Gulf War that were classified as precision-guided.
75: Percentage used during current war.
98: During the first Gulf War, the reported “success rate” (or percentage of accurate strikes) by Tomahawk cruise missiles.
10: Pentagon’s estimated “success rate” after the war ended.
$750,000: Unit cost of one Tomahawk cruise missile.
725: By Thursday morning, number of Tomahawks used in Iraq.
6: Of the 10-member commission created to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the number who have direct links to the airline industry.
$3 million: Budget given to commission.
$9 billion: Estimated monthly cost for U.S. to sustain war in Iraq.
$100 billion: Estimated cost of Iraq “reconstruction.”
$7.4 billion: Amount U.S. will spend on missile defense research and development this year.
70: The percentage increase in wealth gap between the top 10 per cent of American families with highest incomes and the 20 per cent of families with lowest incomes between 1998 and 2001.
400: Number of French products and companies suggested for boycott on several Web sites.
18: Number of times France has invoked its veto in United Nations history.
76: Number of times the U.S. has used its veto.
1,200: Number of American historians who signed a petition last year demanding the Bush administration respect the U.S. Constitution with respect to declaration of war.
54 to 67: By 2020, estimated percentage of crude oil that will come from Persian Gulf.
2: As a measure of proven oil reserves, ranking of Iraq among all countries.
6: Percentage of the world’s population living in the U.S.
30: Percentage of the world’s energy resources used in the U.S.
89: Percentage of Americans who rely on television as their first source of news during war in Iraq.
92: Between Sept. 14, 2002 and Feb. 7, 2003, percentage of news stories airing on NBC, ABC and CBS that originated directly from White House, Pentagon or State Department.
67: Between March 25 and 27, percentage of U.S. television viewers who said they felt “sad watching the war coverage.”
83: Percentage of U.S. television viewers who say they now want a return to entertainment programming.
236,202: The number of times Osama bin Laden was mentioned in international media reports between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 11, 2002.
57, 667: The number of times Osama bin Laden was mentioned between Sept. 11, 2002 and today.
66,648: The number of times Saddam Hussein was mentioned between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 11, 2002.
225,147: The number of times Saddam Hussein was mentioned between Sept. 11, 2002 and today.
Oct. 2, 2002: Date the American Gulf War Veterans Association called for the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after he denied the U.S. sent biological weapons to Iraq during the 1980s.
38: In a 2002 poll, percentage of Americans who said Canada should be annexed.
13: Percentage of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 who could find Iraq on a map prior to the war.
16,000: Number of inactive military ranges in the U.S. that have unexploded munitions that pose serious environmental hazards.
1.5 million: Number of Internet “hits” the Iraq Body Count Web site has had since the war began.
52: Percentage of these visitors who are from the United States.
50: Percentage of weapons entering the global market that come from American firms.
10: Percentage of U.S. military spending that would provide global population with basic necessities.
1: Number of countries that have used nuclear weapons against another country.
Copyright 1996-2003. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited
Sources: U.S. Department of Defense, New York Times, Opinion Dynamics Corporation, Factiva Database, Leger Marketing, Center for Media and Public Affairs, Medact, Pentagon, Znet, U.S. Surgeon General, National Geographic, Environmental Protection Agency, United Nations, World Health Organization, National Energy Policy, Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace, Iraqi Body Count, Advertising Age, The Pew Research Center, Congressional Budget Office, BBC News, Washington Post, Amnesty International.
Thanks to Common Dreams for the link.