A polite, but somewhat irate reader of this column wrote a letter to me a few weeks ago asking me to say something nice about the United States. I won't reprint the whole letter (columnists usually reserve that trick for when they're about to go on vacation and need some quick filler), but the gist of it was that he used to enjoy these columns but was increasingly ticked at what he perceived to be this column's unfairly high gripe-to-praise ratio. Fair enough. I'm gripey. I'll fess to that.
So this week, I'll start off with praise of my country — specifically the government and how it operates. This one's for you, Mr. Positive.
I love how easy the U.S. government makes it to find useful information now.
For example, back in the day if you wanted to learn how to analyze a turkey's diet through its fecal matter, you needed a live turkey, rubber gloves and patience.
Or you had to trek to a large research library, rummage through the card catalogs or the microfiche, be shshsh'd by the librarian, etc.
Today, all you have to do is go to the Government Printing Office website and look up Mark A. Rumble's 1993 research paper for the U.S. Department of Agriculture titled "Evaluating the microscopic fecal technique for estimating hard mast in turkey diets."
And say, for example, turkey fecal matter is only one of your interests. Say, just hypothetically, you're curious to know whether the War On Terror™ is succeeding in reducing the amount of terrorism in the world.
Or you can go to the State Department's website and find Country Reports On Terrorism and find a closer approximation of the truth.
Truthful and truthy information about the war is regularly published by offices of the executive branch of our government, the same branch that sends people to podiums (or is that podia) every day to spin us and lie to us. It sucks that we're lied to, but it's good that truth is out there and, thanks to the Internet(s), easier-than-ever to find. Hooray for America.
Country Reports On Terrorism is published each spring by the State Department. The State Department doesn't do it out of the goodness of its bureaucratic heart. The report is mandated by Congress.
CR on T is an ugly catalog of who's blowing up whom and it's not pretty.
Is the War On Terror™ reducing terrorism? Here's what the report says:
Last year, 22,685 people were killed in terrorist attacks around the world. That's up from 14,616 people in 2005 and 3,547 people in 2001 — the year of the 9/11 attacks. For those of you who aren't mathematically inclined, I just whipped out my calculator. It tells me that since the War On Terror™ began, there has been a six-fold increase in the number of deaths caused by terrorism.
The main reason for the explosion in the number of explosions that kill people is Iraq.
Of the 22,685 people killed in terrorist attacks last year, 60 percent (13,600) were killed in Iraq, according to the State Department. That number does not include people killed by U.S. or Iraqi government forces, nor does it include bystanders killed during attacks on the U.S. military in Iraq.
Terrorism is also a boom industry in Afghanistan. The first country to experience the joys of the American War On Terror™ has seen terrorist attacks and fatalities rise every year since the United States began shifting its attention to Iraq in 2002. Last year 4,673 people were killed, injured or kidnapped by terrorists in Afghanistan, up from 1,540 in 2005.
Unless you're a defense contractor, an undertaker or you're employed in the exciting field of blood-stain removal technology, the War On Terror™ is not a success. That government websites provide indisputable evidence the War On Terror™ is a colossal failure, despite the protestations of White House officials, is a good thing. Not as good as not bungling the war. But it's something.