Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

IRAQ: Where’s context for all those statistics?

Letter by Michelle M. Ryder, Lake Tapps on Dec. 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm with 7 Comments »
December 5, 2011 2:23 pm

The Associated Press article about Camp Victory (TNT, 12-3) notes Saddam Hussein’s “convoluted” view of the world. I agree with that sentiment entirely, but in kind, I ask you to take note of the convoluted view your paper inadvertently promotes.

You print statistics with questionable sources (from the Brookings Institute that peddled the war and the Pentagon that fought the war), quote incomplete figures (the electricity statistic), and use curiously evasive language (why are only Iraqis displaced within Iraq called refugees, and not those who fled its borders?). Even worse, you printed these statistics without context.

I am disturbed that the shoddy reporting that got us into the ill-gotten Iraq war in the first place continues to this day. So let me make a suggestion: Don’t print volleys of statistics concerning real human beings without context.

Iraq, a nation we devastated though decades of U.S.-led sanctions, two U.S.-led invasions and nine years of occupation, deserves better.

Here’s some honest-to-goodness context for you: According to the reputable Mercer 2011 Quality of Living Survey, of more than 220 cities around the world,  Vienna is the best place to live, and Baghdad is the worst.

Yes, Baghdad – a place we liberated – is the worst place to live in the world.

Baghdad is still waiting. And so am I – for solid, contextualized, honest reporting on a nation we’ve utterly destroyed.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. muckibr says:

    I think the letter writer could stand to be a little more “honest” in the context of her own letter. For instance, she writes, “I am disturbed that the shoddy reporting that got us into the ill-gotten Iraq war in the first place continues to this day.”

    Shoddy reporting did not get us into the War in Iraq. That was politicians twisting the facts in order to justify an unprovoked invasion, based on false claims of WMDs.

    Let’s just get out of Iraq and be done with it, okay?

  2. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Terrible letter. Iraq is quantifiably better off today.

  3. alindasue says:

    concernedtacoma7 said, “Iraq is quantifiably better off today.”

    I wonder how many Iraqis would agree with that sentiment…

  4. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Since I was there last year, can tell you. Leaders and the average guy overwhelmingly felt the situation was better.

    Markets were packed, roads were open (and safe), sectarian violence drastically down, power increased to a level never seen there before, and everyone had a cell phone. Elections are safe and they vote as a percentage of population much higher than us.

    How many Iraqis have you spoken to?

  5. Concerned – I guess that is why the Iraqis told us to get out. How many have you spoken to?

  6. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Hundreds, if not more. 3 years spent there.

  7. To my detractors: I suggest clicking on the link I included. That survey, and others like it, measure all crucial indices that shape quality of life: safe streets, public services and health, economic and political stability, recreation and natural environment. Every survey I have encountered the last five years repeatedly ranks Baghdad as one of the worst, and my Iraqi friends confirm that finding with their feet, they will not return — and fear they may never be able to. (I have always talked to, listened to and read Iraqi voices, because they are the ones that count, it’s their country.)

    How can one say, and ironically with a sense of accomplishment, that a place has improved despite being ranked one of the worst places in the world to live? I say it hasn’t improved enough, there’s obviously a long way to go before we can rest on our laurels. Using a war-torn, devastated Iraq as the standard in which to measure the present war-torn, devastated Iraq against is ridiculous, criminal I think. Raise the bar! Iraqis deserve better!

    concernedtacoma7: So Iraq is better off now compared to what? 2004-2007 when the insurgency raged and Baghdad was cleansed of most Sunnis? Is it better now compared to when it was at its worst? Doh! That’s not a fair, honest nor brave comparison. Before the US led sanctions and numerous US-led wars, Iraq was arguably one of the most developed, modern, advanced states in the Middle East. I have several adult female Iraqi friends who are highly educated, including doctors, engineers and teachers, and that is not unusual. Iraq was not Afghanistan. I repeat: not Afghanistan.

    And if Iraq is so much better off now, why haven’t internationally displaced Iraqis returned home in droves? And why are there still massive bombings in market places and assassination attempts against the Prime Minister Maliki? You can google any of these items. Why do we assume Iraqis can tolerate and live with such indiscriminate, astronomical levels of violence? and that we can simply gloss over it by calling it “normal” or “better than before”? It’s racist to think Iraqis don’t want exactly what everyone wants: real peace and stability. Could you imagine a single bomb going off in a Safeway here? It’s unimaginable, but we call it normal there.

    muchibr: Yes it was the politicians! But you are missing an important link, the political class’s relationship with the media and its role and obligation to critically report and investigate what our politicians are up to. The media is the so-called fourth estate and it’s often our last defense against the scheming power elite. We need access to credible, reputable information, and in the run up to the Iraq war the media did not maintain its independence or critical distance. It mostly, passively, reflexively reprinted the statements coming out of the White House. The press failed us by taking on the spineless, yellow-bellied role of stenographer – an infamous example of this is Judith Miller at The New York Times.

    But you are also missing one more piece of the puzzle: The general public. We failed to engage each other and the world, and educate ourselves. Instead we got misled into an illegal war. And we are still failing to hold our leaders — and ourselves — to account.

    – Michelle

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0