Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Matter of Perspective

Today's New York Times includes an article titled, "Senate Committee Seeks Audit of How Iraq is Spending it's Soaring Oil Windfall." Senators Carl Levin and John W. Warner, from the Armed Services Committee, have written a letter asking for an accounting of how Iraq is spending its oil money to further the reconstruction in Iraq. Apparently, the Iraqi government isn't spending much of it and are instead relying on U.S. money for reconstruction.

As upsetting as that is, I was thrown for a loop when I got to the last two paragraphs of the article.

"Finally, Senators Levin and Warner ask the question looming over the entire rebuilding effort: 'Why has the Iraqi government not spent more of its oil revenue on reconstruction, economic development and providing essential services for the Iraqi people?'
Also on Friday, Iraqi security forces discovered a mass grave containing the remains of about 100 people in Diyala Province, said Maj. Winfiel Danielson, a spokesman for the Mutlinational Forces-Iraq."

Ok, hold the phone. 100 dead people? Mass grave? At the end of an article about oil money? I guess the connection is that both of these things happened in Iraq, but isn't this a little bit like the New York Times ending its "the price of grain is really rising" (also in today's paper) with something like this, "Oh yeah, btw, mass grave found in Northern Indiana." Doesn't a mass grave warrant it's own teeny little column?

So I went to Iraq Today to check it out, which led me to a BBC article and a Washington Post article about the mass grave. The BBC article explains that the bodies have probably been there since pre-invasion and the Washington Post article says that hundreds of mass graves have been found since the March 2003 invasion.

The thing is though, scrolling down through the info on Iraq Today (and reading that Washington Post article), I can kind of see why the mass grave part got buried in the NY Times article. Mass graves and incredible amounts of violence (please note that all those links are from this past week and I got them from Iraq Today) are the norm in Iraq. That's not what the scoop is anymore. I'm glad that Levin and Warner want to get to the bottom of where that oil money is going in Iraq. But I'm sad that instead of our politicians demanding answers being the almost un-reportable norm, we are expected to be so blaze about the discovery of 100 (more) people dead in Iraq.

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