September 03, 2003

New Beruit Daily Star Colum...

that. Despite post-war tales of for-the-cameras propaganda, some people are still making the same old inaccurate claims. Still, it's positively striking that the disastrous under-five mortality rates in Saddam-controlled regions seemed to remain the same during the lucrative oil-for-food years, and U.S. officials are discovering what a humanitarian nightmare they have on their hands. For those interested in the subject, David Rieff wrote a gloomy, must-read piece in The New York Times Magazine five weeks ago. I am increasingly persuaded that the U.S. & international community need to come up with a different tool, harder than a slap on the wrist and softer than war.

Posted by at September 3, 2003 11:04 AM
Comments

Great column. Cool that you're writing for the Daily Star. It's a good newspaper, and I recently discovered the editor's blog Beirut Calling.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 3, 2003 01:55 PM

New tool: Fairness.

Posted by: Warren Celli at September 3, 2003 08:02 PM

Hey Matt -- I'm curious, does UNICEF not want to comment on this anymore? This was a nice update to the earlier articles you did on this subject, but I was hoping to know what they'd say now, what with the bad statistics still circulating everywhere.

Posted by: Nik at September 3, 2003 09:50 PM

Nik -- I don't know; didn't ask. Will look around when I have the chance, and give a report.

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 4, 2003 02:53 AM

Much thanks, sir. Coincidentally, when I followed the link from your original article on the Iraqi babies to your blog, it was the first time I read a blog, or at least the first time I realized I was reading one. So I offer my two-years late thanks for the accidental blogosphere introduction.

/props

Posted by: Nik at September 4, 2003 11:15 PM

You know Matt, I know we were closer to the same side back when I sent you links for your Reason article. But you must see that there is an explosive flaw in your conclusion.

You lay blame on Saddam for not giving up his WMD. The problem is, as we now know, there was no WMD. There was no earthly way for Saddam to lift the sanctions, short of shooting his nuclear scientists and then committing suicide.

If the US knew this, and still kept the sanctions on, then somebody was committing mass murder. I don't know if Bush 1 or Clinton or Madeleine Albright knew, but somebody knew.

Posted by: Eric M at September 7, 2003 11:01 PM

Coherent Argument, Meet Matt Welch
Having debunked nothing, he thinks himself Galileo

http://www.antiwar.com/barganier/ba090803.html

Posted by: Ryan Dunne at September 8, 2003 10:28 AM

"He [Welch] then invokes a 1999 study by Richard Garfield, a nursing professor at Columbia University, which sets the 1991-1998 death toll between 106,000 and 227,000. This debunks the myth of a half million, right? Not exactly. Garfield's updated estimate for the entire 1990-2002 period is actually 350,000 to 530,000. In other words, the authority Welch uses to contradict UNICEF and other purveyors of what he calls "the Iraqi babies scam" says that total deaths could be 6% higher than the "scammers" proclaim!"

Ouch!

Posted by: MaB at September 8, 2003 03:56 PM

Sigh. In talking about the numbers, there are two issues -- how many "excess" under-five deaths have there been, and who's to blame. The UNICEF study said answered "500,000, between 1991-98," and "a whole lot of different factors, including sanctions and Saddam." The only "debunking" I recall doing in this latest update is of the endlessly repeated lie that the UNICEF study blamed its number 100% on sanctions. (As for the 6% figure, Garfield's updated numbers measure 12 years, as opposed to UNICEF's eight.)

So, MaB, I don't feel your pain.

At any rate, the number of dead innocent kids is appalling, and ought to (I think) give policymakers extreme pause before considering the tool in the future. Which is a point I've been making from the beginning.

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 8, 2003 04:29 PM

If Saddam was in charge during the '80s when the baseline for "excess" deaths was established, how can his rule or the Iran/Iraq war be considered competitive cofactors with the sanctions as a locus of blame for 350,000 to 530,000 dead babies?

Posted by: MaB at September 9, 2003 08:15 AM

I think the problem Matt is your misplaced attention. How can you look at the difference in lies and focus on the bad things the lefties did. They didn't kill anybody.

We're talking about the difference between statistical exaggeration and mass murder.

Even your lowball of 300,000... that's like filling up 100 world trade centers with little kids and flying airplanes into them.

For one-one-hundredth of that, we started two wars, and spread death and destruction all over the Muslim world in a fit of rage and impotence. Impotence why, because we could never punish the guys who did it.

But the guys who did the Iraqis are still alive. Some of them are even on the governing council. Talk about committing genocide against your own people!

Posted by: Eric M at September 9, 2003 08:20 AM

Matt wrote:

"At any rate, the number of dead innocent kids is appalling, and ought to (I think) give policymakers extreme pause before considering the tool in the future. Which is a point I've been making from the beginning."

Um, have you just edited your initial reply, Matt?

Posted by: Ryan Dunne at September 10, 2003 03:03 PM
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y "debunking" I recall doing in this latest update is of the endlessly repeated lie that the UNICEF study blamed its number 100% on sanctions. (As for the 6% figure, Garfield's updated numbers measure 12 years, as opposed to UNICEF's eight.)

So, MaB, I don't feel your pain.

At any rate, the number of dead innocent kids is appalling, and ought to (I think) give policymakers extreme pause before considering the tool in the future. Which is a point I've been making from the beginning.

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 8, 2003 04:29 PM

If Saddam was in charge during the '80s when the baseline for "excess" deaths was established, how can his rule or the Iran/Iraq war be considered competitive cofactors with the sanctions as a locus of blame for 350,000 to 530,000 dead babies?

Posted by: MaB at September 9, 2003 08:15 AM

I think the problem Matt is your misplaced attention. How can you look at the difference in lies and focus on the bad things the lefties did. They didn't kill anybody.

We're talking about the difference between statistical exaggeration and mass murder.

Even your lowball of 300,000... that's like filling up 100 world trade centers with little kids and flying airplanes into them.

For one-one-hundredth of that, we started two wars, and spread death and destruction all over the Muslim world in a fit of rage and impotence. Impotence why, because we could never punish the guys who did it.

But the guys who did the Iraqis are still alive. Some of them are even on the governing council. Talk about committing genocide against your own people!

Posted by: Eric M at September 9, 2003 08:20 AM

Matt wrote:

"At any rate, the number of dead innocent kids is appalling, and ought to (I think) give policymakers extreme pause before considering the tool in the future. Which is a point I've been making from the beginning."

Um, have you just edited your initial reply, Matt?

Posted by: Ryan Dunne at September 10, 2003 03:03 PM
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