Friday, January 11, 2008

A Few Updates

President George W. Bush is on his first trip to the Middle East – three years into his second term of office. Look for a phrase in the State of the Union speech January 28 – maybe multiple phrases – to the fact that he has seen with his own eyes and spoken with people who live in the West Bank and Gaza and in the Gulf states that he visited on his 10 day trip.

That is to say, he will claim “street credibility” – which will be true compared to those who have never been to the area (like me).

President Bush said that he is confident that the Israelis and the Palestinians will sign a peace treaty before either the end of calendar 2008 or the end of his time as president. If the former, that will be in 355 days. If the latter, 375 days. I can only think of the saying: “If you want something bad enough, that’s how you will get it.”

Total U.S. fatalities in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq hit 4,400 yesterday; there will be more. Given that the generals have apparently turned to a massive aerial bombing campaign, the question is how many local people will die before the operations north and south of Baghdad end.

The World Health Organization (WHO) published a study of the number of Iraqi civilians who have been killed in war-related violence between March 2003 and June 2006. The WHO estimates that 151,000 Iraqis were killed. By comparison, the nonprofit Internet website of the Iraq Body Count says 47,668 Iraqi civilians died because of the war in the same period. The Brutish medical journal Lancet said last year that there have been about 600,000 excess deaths between March 2003 and July 2006. The WHO relied on personal interviews and judges the study’s accuracy at 95 percent.

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