The Breakfast Table

But Seriously


I wish the financial reporting about Social Security were as lyrical as your words about the effects of Detroit’s economic downturn; we’d all get more involved. Do you feel like divulging the photographer’s name? He sounds like the same person whose work the Chicago Historical Society has been collecting recently. Has he chronicled Chicago public housing?

Change of subject: I’ve been thinking about post-attack reporting on Iraq. Now that the smoke has blown away from the U.S. and British bombing of Iraq, it appears that the bombing was not only pointless in general, it may have even shored up support for Hussein inside and outside Iraq, or at least for the people Hussein is ruling. In Europe and the Middle East, some question the form and/or continuance of eight years of economic sanctions that have punished ordinary Iraqis, but have not destabilized Hussein’s regime. And for Iraqis, things might get worse before they get better, since Iraq announced today that it is bucking the U.N. oil-for-food program.

I have no idea how we and the Iraqis can get rid of Hussein. But as a U.S. citizen–who like all other U.S. citizens is implicated in what the sanctions and bombs are doing to Iraqis–I want to know about changes in daily life in Iraq. This is what I want to read about in the newspapers, not whether Trent Lott made an ass of himself questioning the timing of the bombing (as if there was anyone who didn’t question the timing of the bombing).

What I’m building up to is this: I think Stephen Kinzer’s articles in the New York Times on life now in Iraq are great reporting and heartbreaking reading. Through his interviews with men on the street and children in the hospital (today’s article), Iraqis are quoted directly. They say they don’t have enough food or medicine, and they have no power to influence let alone overthrow their government.

Hearing from individual Iraqis as well as from Kinzer and other journalists on overview points is exactly the kind of news we need to assess the results of our policies (necessary since we presumably do have influence on our government). Kinzer, explains, for example, that while the cure rate for leukemia in developed countries approaches 70 percent, in Iraq today, due to lack of medicine and medical equipment, it is near zero. And he gives quotes like this from Dr. Mazin in Baghdad, “It’s very difficult to work very hard on a patient, try to care for him, and then lose him because you can’t get some silly thing that you could pick up in a drug store in any other country.”

Until tomorrow, Maud