Dilip Hiro writes: When a war ends with a clear-cut result, the victorious side makes an estimate of the damage it has done to the military infrastructure of the defeated nation–as well as its economic infrastructure. There is no reason to believe that the Pentagon failed to follow this procedure after the Iraq War. Yet little effort has been made so far by journalists or lawmakers to obtain this crucial statistic. Meanwhile, for an intelligent guess, one should examine the available figures for the 1991 Gulf War, consisting of a thirty-nine-day air campaign followed by a brief ground campaign. The US-led coalition mounted 106,000 air sorties, dropping 141,000 tons of explosives, and fired 315 cruise missiles. According to Sadoun Hamadi, deputy prime minister of Iraq, the damage to the country’s infrastructure during the first twenty-six days of the war was $200 billion. Later, the Arab Monetary Fund estimated Iraq’s aggregate losses at $190 billion. Allowing for an exaggeration by Hamadi, let us put the total damage to the Iraqi infrastructure during the forty-two-day war at $200 billion. During the first four weeks of the Iraq War, the Pentagon mounted 37,000 air sorties, launched 23,000 precision-guided missiles, fired 750 cruise missiles and dropped 1,566 cluster bombs. To the resulting damage must be added the losses caused by the relentless looting and arson that the victorious Anglo-American troops allowed to go unchecked in Baghdad and elsewhere. My conservative estimate of the damage done to Iraq’s civilian and military infrastructures is $100 billion–more than five times the $18.4 billion Congress allocated for Iraq’s reconstruction.
JEWELL HANDY GRESHAM
Our friend Jewell Handy Gresham died in August, aged 82. A brilliant, strong-willed woman, with a salving sweetness and sense of humor, in 1989 she came to us, typically, with a challenge: The Nation must carry on the values of its Abolitionist founders by publishing a special edition she had conceived to counter the pathological images of the black family featured in the national media. It was to be written and edited by black women and produced by Nation editors. After a contentious gestation (in which the disputes had to do with space–or lack of it–rather than race), “Scapegoating the Black Family: Black Women Speak” (July 24/31, 1989) appeared. It was nominated for a National Magazine Award and became one of our bestselling issues. Until her retirement in 1987, Jewell had pursued an active academic career. She was married to Robert Nemiroff, former husband of, and producer for, playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Nemiroff’s death in 1991, Jewell served as executor of Hansberry’s estate and was active in the successful 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway.