Doing the Numbers

There’s a whole lot going on right now – too much to track, really. I’m going to try to give you the best overall look at what’s happening, in a little different format than usual (with apologies to Harper’s Index). Ready? Here goes…

18,000: The number of pounds of “high explosive” carried in the “Mother of All Bombs” that the U.S. Air Force tested in Florida yesterday. “This is not small,” said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to today’s New York Times article. On the contrary, it’s the biggest non-nuclear bomb (hence the name) we’ve ever made. And not a moment too soon, either. The Boston Globe’s article, “Big bomb sends loud message” (p. A14) included this line: “Military officials suggested the test was held to send a message to Iraq.” I’m thinking the message was intended for a much wider audience.

2: The number of patriotic Congressmen who, according to a front-page story in today’s Times (!), had the word “French” removed from all menus inside the House of Representatives. Our hard-working lawmakers now can order “Freedom Toast” and “Freedom Fries,” thanks to the bold actions of Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and Walter Jones (R-N. Carolina). Interestingly, the Boston Globe ran a story entitled, “In a tight House schedule, war rarely takes the floor.” Said Congressman John Tierney (D-Massachusetts), “We’re the only democracy in the world that’s not debating the Iraq situation.” The French embassy’s response to the menu amendments: “I wonder if it’s worth a comment. Honestly. We are working these days on very, very serious issues of war and peace, life or death. We are not working on potatoes.”

10: The number of days that have passed since a British newspaper broke the story that the U.S. government had bugged the phones at the U.N. in order to get as much useful information as possible out of their fellow Security Council members. You know, just in case they needed to be persuaded to cast a favorable vote on a U.S. proposal at some point in the future. Believe me, the story is all over the press in the rest of the world, but for some reason, we just don’t read or hear about it here. The intrepid “Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting” released a statement yesterday about the Times’ (and other major news organizations’) failure to investigate the story.

2: The number of U.S. diplomats who have tendered their resignations over the impending invasion of Iraq. Yesterday, John Brown joined John Kiesling to become the second person to resign in protest from the foreign service. According to the New York Times, an Australian intelligence officer has also resigned from his country’s service, claiming that “the United States had not shared all the intelligence it has had on Iraq.”

1: Number of “rocky” phone calls President Bush had with Recep Erdogan, Turkey’s Prime Minister-to-be. According to the article in today’s Times, an anonymous Bush administration official said: “It was not a great phone call. The Turks weren’t as responsive as we’d hoped.” Bush was trying to pressure the Turkish leader to “help speed approval” of a second proposal to base U.S. troops in Turkey through the Parliament. “It’s not going to be easy,” said O. Faruk Logoglu, the Turkish ambassador to Washington.

62: The percentage of respondents to a London Times survey who do not think that “Britain and the United States had put forward a convincing case for war,” according to another front-page story in today’s Times. The article, “British Dissent Over an Iraq War Imperils Blair’s Political Future,” contained this interesting quote from a Labor Party MP named Tam Dalyell: “I don’t think it is possible to exaggerate the degree of concern abut the illegality of what is proposed.” The significance of the quote will be clear in a second…

18: The number of judges that were sworn in to the International Criminal Court yesterday. According to the article in today’s Times, the court’s creation has been “fiercely opposed by the Bush administration.” The article states that while “neither the United States nor Iraq” are members of the court, Britain is, and British troops “could in theory be vulnerable in case of abuses.” Also of note is this quote from Benjamin Ferencz, an 82-year-old lawyer who took part in the Nuremberg trials at the end of World War II: “[the current American leadership] seems to have forgotten the lessons we tried to teach the rest of the world.” The court is charged with prosecuting major human rights violations, including war crimes.

“at least 20 billion”: The number of U.S. taxpayer dollars that will be spent each year to pay for the occupation of Iraq, according to a panel of senior officials from previous administrations. There will also need to be a deployment of “75,000 to 200,000 troops to prevent widespread instability and violence against ofrmer members of Saddam Hussein’s government.” If the number of troops required is closer to the 200,000 end of the spectrum, the amount of your dollars being spent on “postwar reconstruction” will “be much greater.” One panel member, James Schlesinger, who was in Nixon’s Office of Management and Budget, said: “It is not clear to me that the American people understand we are engaged in the long haul if we are to be successful.” In other words, get your wallet out. Living in the Bush/Cheney Empire is going to get even more expensive.

4: The number of things that Gerald Seib, writing in the Wall Street Journal’s “Capital Journal” column, advises Bush to pledge to do after invading Iraq. They are: 1) “Truly address the Palestinian situation.” 2) “Reduce the big U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia.” 3) “Deal with the North Korea threat diplomatically.” And 4) “Hold no grudges.” I don’t know about you, but I think President Bush is probably going to do exactly none of those things. Seib begins his article by acknowledging the obvious: “This isn’t working: The image of President Bush scratching and clawing for international support is proof enough that he hasn’t made a winning argument that attacking Iraq will make America safer now, and the world a better place down the road.” Seib isn’t the only one taking note of the Bush administration’s flawed case for war…

 “single digits”: The level of support for a unilateral invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and its allies in most of the 41 nations who were part of a recent Gallup International poll, according to Derrick Jackson’s op-ed in today’s Globe. The opinion piece, “Marching toward war as the world says no,” reflects the same doubt that Seib’s column does: “The polls around the world show that the public is not naive about Saddam Hussein. Everyone understands him to be an evil despot. It is just that Bush, Blair, and their supplicants have not explained why Hussein is such an imminent threat that we have to devastate a nation to get him out.”

66: Editions to date of the “Daily Grasshopper.” Still going strong. Hope you’re finding it informative.

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