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Obama's 10,000 dead:
© Jack Cashill
Our friends on the left show a truly mind-boggling indifference to numerical reality on any number of issues, but none more critical than that of war and peace.
Case in point: Two weeks ago tomorrow night an F-5 tornado roared through a friendly little Kansas town called Greensburg.
Before the bodies had been pulled from the rubble, Kansas’s Democratic governor Kathleen Sebelius was blaming the war in Iraq for the slow response to the disaster.
Her rush to judgment would have played better save for one inconvenient truth: the state and federal response was conspicuously swift and purposeful.
By Monday morning, Sebelius had backed down from her DNC-germinated accusations. Senator Barack Obama, however, either did not learn about her about-face or, more likely, did not care.
"In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas,” Obama told an excited crowd in Richmond, Virginia the next day, “Ten thousand people died—an entire town destroyed.”
Minor problem here, twelve people died. There are only 3,000 people in the whole of Kiowa county. Worse, Obama used these preposterous numbers to bolster an already discarded canard.
"Turns out that the National Guard in Kansas only had 40 percent of its equipment,” Obama dissembled, “and they are having to slow down the recovery process in Kansas.”
To the degree that the major media covered Obama’s seeming slip, it was to blow it off. The video clip, however, does not show a “tired” candidate making a “faux pas.” It shows an aspiring demagogue making a dramatic accusation.
The people on stage behind Obama didn’t blink at the 10,000 reference. The audience did not gasp. The anti-war folks have grown so used to lying to each other, they likely did not even notice.
In the manufacturing of bogus numbers to justify war and/or peace, Obama is merely honoring a venerable tradition of the American left. Had our progressive friends followed their own logic, such as it is, and their own numbers, such as they are, they should have welcomed this war.
Consider the following 60 Minutes exchange between reporter Lesley Stahl and then U.N. ambassador Madeleine Albright in May 1996 on the effect of the U.N.’s economic sanctions against Iraq.
Says Stahl, “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
Replies Albright, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.”
Stahl was likely alluding to a 1995 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report that 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five had died as a result of the sanctions.
The numbers, of course, flirt with absurdity. The 140,000 annual deaths represent roughly a 10 percent toddler mortality rate each year between 1991 and 1995.
During that same period, Iraq’s population grew from about 18 million to 21 million. And unless you count terrorists, like World Trade Center bomber Abdul Rahman Yasin, there was not a whole lot of in-migration to swell the population.
Nevertheless, these were the numbers that the U.N. produced, that the media echoed, and that Albright heartlessly conceded. However cooked the numbers may be, once the agitprop mill gins them up, Democrats are reluctant to challenge them.
After the notorious oil-for-food program was launched in 1997, the numbers of dead toddlers dropped to 50,000 a year, at least if one believes UNICEF, which most on the left are inclined to do.
Bottom line? In eight years, the “price is worth it” Clinton administration enforced the sanctions that snuffed out the lives of some presumed 760,000 Iraqi toddlers.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration, which lifted the sanctions and spent countless billions repairing the damaged infrastructure, gets no credit for bringing the U.N. approved baby killing to a halt.
Nor does the White House get any credit for ending Saddam’s unhappy habit of burying his own subjects in mass graves. These numbers tend to get inflated too, but there were indeed scores of very real mass graves and multiple thousands of victims therein.
In the left’s moral calculus, however, President Bush gets no credits, only debits, like the alleged 15,000 violent deaths a month in Iraq—four times higher than official Iraqi death counts—bruited about by The New York Times and others.
As the 1999 Kosovo action proved in spades, the left’s numbers are even less reliable when promoting a war than when attacking one.
To bolster public support for the bombing of Yugoslavia already in progress-- President Clinton had not bothered to seek congressional approval before starting-- the administration began a drumbeat about mass graves, ethnic cleansing and even genocide.
There was, after all, no other reason for this war. Yugoslavia had no WMDs, no terror arm, no ambitions on its neighbors, no grudge against us, no sheltered terrorists, not even any oil.
The State Department’s David Scheffer was the first to claim publicly a six-figure death count, specifically “upwards of about 100,000 [Islamic] men that we cannot account for" in Kosovo. A month later, the State Department upped the total to 500,000 Kosovo Albanians missing and feared dead.
On CBS Face the Nation Secretary of Defense William Cohen repeated the 100,000 figure and claimed that the war “was a fight for justice over genocide.” President Clinton compared the work of the Serbs in Kosovo to the German “genocide” of the Jews during the Holocaust and assured America that “tens of thousands of people” had been murdered.
The New York Times helped Clinton amplify his message. No fewer than 375 articles would contain the combination “Kosovo” and “genocide,” most of those making a direct equation.
In the war’s wake, however, international teams could find no signs of genocide. The ethnic Albanian dead numbered in the hundreds, not in the hundreds of thousands.
Spanish forensic surgeon Emilio Perez Pujol would tell the British Sunday Times that the talk of genocide was “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines, because we did not find one—not one—mass grave.”
As to the missing ethnic Albanians, a platoon of them showed up in South Jersey last week plotting to attack Fort Dix. Had they done so, they may very well have impaired the fort’s ability to respond to future tornados.
And somehow, I am sure, that would have been Bush’s fault too.
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