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Iraq not safer than driving in Atlanta

Your recent article expressed the opinions of Col. Merrill and Ms. Dakak [farragutpress June 7] about terrorists in Iraq and the current state of affairs in that country.

Perhaps they have been so close to the conflict that they have lost their perspective. How about a few facts to help them regain it.

Col. Merrill states that “terrorist activities aren’t being caused by Iraqis. They’re being caused by foreigners coming into Iraq.” But his observation is directly contradicted by those who have studied the problem seriously. Foreign militants are less than 10 percent of the insurgents according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Pentagon seems to agree.

Ms. Dakak says “Children can get a clean drink of water since America helped overthrow Saddam.” But she is mistaken. The Iraqi Municipalities and Public Works Minister says instead that of 17 million Iraqis, 30 percent have no access to drinkable water. And many more are diseased from drinking unsafe water routinely.

Merrill then minimizes the risk of death in Iraq when he states that 3,500 troops have been killed in Iraq, while 210,000 are killed in traffic deaths in the United States in 2006. Alas, the U.S. traffic death toll in 2006 was 43,300, not 210,000. Meanwhile the Iraqi death toll in 2006 was 34,000 (United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.) Per capita, the Iraqi toll would be equivalent to 600,000 deaths in the United States in a single year.

“I’m happy knowing I’m twice as safe in Iraq as I am driving in rural Atlanta,” boasts the colonel, whistling past the graveyard.

The situation in Iraq is uncontroversially grave. Even the Republican leadership and the Pentagon acknowledge it these days. Merrill and Dakak’s observations (who, to their credit admit that “this isn’t the army’s position”) can only lead us farther down the primrose path. Let’s not follow them.

May we begin instead by enlightening ourselves, which is our responsibility as citizens in a democracy.

Jan Nielsen

Via e-mail


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