Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Knowledge is power

But therein lies the rub - that in Iraq today, insecurity has made it almost inhumanly difficult to conduct proper research on the harms and benefits of war. Indeed, what both media and pundits seem to never highlight as a deeply troubling anomaly is that, were it not for the work of a few courageous researchers such as the Hopkins/Mustansiriya University team, or the painstaking work of concerned members of the citizenry such as the Iraqi Body Count project, quantifying the effects of the U.S.-led intervention on human health would largely be a matter of divination.

Twenty-four hours later, the Lancet study is fast disappearing off the news headlines. Dismissing and, worse, ignoring this and other alarming findings simply because "they sound wrong" is no way to move forward - if they can't be proven wrong (or partly wrong) on scientific grounds, they must certainly stand, until better evidence emerges.
From an article reviewing, briefly, the reaction to the Lancet published study of deaths in Iraq. The article concludes with what can only be considered commonsense:

Indeed, coalition powers should, in the interest of public accountability and the very success of their mission in Iraq, promote and facilitate more accurate and transparent monitoring of all humanitarian law violations, and of the true effects of violence on Iraqi civilian health.
But transparency seems to be precisely what the coalition powers do not want.

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