Are we worrying about the right problem?

Terrorism kills people. Saddam Hussein kills 50 people a day for every day he has been in control. (1) War might stop some of this killing but it has taken the lives of 100 American and British soldiers, 10,000 Iraqis, and cost 200 billion dollars.

The acquired benefits will be more freedom for the Iraqi people, some reduction in terrorism for the world. Did we do the best job possible with these resources?

Is there some place to expend 200 billion dollars for larger benefits. Consider that 1,750,000 people die each year from disease from drinking unclean water. (2) 200 billion dollars could produce a supply of clean water (3) and prevent those deaths for 125 years. 200 million lives could be saved.

From a benefits point of view, the choice between providing water or war should be a no brainer. How did we ever choose war?

Why should the war in Iraq push the clean water conference now being held in Japan off the front page. They have met to discuss the prediction that in 50 years 7 billion people will live with inadequate water.

Since when did the threat of terrorism out weigh the certain deaths of hundreds of millions of people and the thirsts of 7 billion?

What does this miscarriage of common sense say about about the workings of our minds?

Are we crazy? Ignorant? Irresponsible? or do we lack the cognitive tools to see what is going on in the world around us?


1) Atlantic Unbound | April 2, 2003 Politics & Prose | by Jack Beatty

2) WHO, Nature March 20th 2003 page p243

3) 1000 dollars per person per year @ 1700 cubic meters per person
Desalination/Raw%20Files/Corpus/PPM.pdf pages 3-5


Jack Alpert (Bio)     mail to:      (homepage)      position papers

  (more details)