The Corner

The Questions Frank Rich Ignored

From Frank Rich’s column in Sunday’s New York Times: “These days the bombings [in Iraq] are more frequent and often more lethal.”

The assertion strikes me as worth evaluating. Can anyone produce a chart or graph of car bombings and other acts of terrorism in Iraq over the last year or 18 months? Have they indeed become more frequent? More lethal? Has anyone mapped the acts of violence? (My suspicion: That in recent months terrorist acts have indeed increased in frequency and deadliness, but that such acts are mostly confined to the Sunni triangle, and, within the triangle, to a handful of locations, notably Fallujah.)

How do Iraqi casualties in recent months compare with the number of Iraqis who died of unnatural causes each month under Saddam? (The UN put the number of Iraqis who died each month as a result of the international sanctions that Saddam brought on his nation at five thousand.) Are there any estimates of economic activity in Kurdistan? In the Shiite south? In Baghdad itself? We know that Iraqis have adequate food and water, that more electricity is being generated now than before the war, and that oil revenues are now being used for the good of the overall population rather than being siphoned off by a madman to build palaces and to bribe the Russians and the French. (My suspicion, once again: That the Kurds have already been able to generate modest economic growth, while the material measures of life in the Shia south are, on balance, at least as good as they were under Saddam.)

Frank Rich does nothing but bloviate, demonstrating the very lack of intellectual curiosity of which he accuses George W. Bush–nowhere in his column does Rich support his assertion with a single figure or statistic. But we Cornerites? I’ve just posted the questions Rich ignores. As the answers come in—and I particularly invite emails from those with military and economic expertise—I’ll post them, too.


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