Monday, March 9, 2009

Casualty Footprint of Conflicts

Fascinating study via Augean Stables. Conclusion: the media is disproportionately obsessed with Israel.


Stealth Conflicts has an excellent illustration of what one might call the “casualty footprint” of conflicts. (I suggested a similar procedure with the media footprint of conflicts.) This is a visual way to bring forward the strikingly low casualties of the Arab-Israeli conflict. H/T: Honest Reporting

Illustrations based on figures discussed here.

Figure 1.

congo israel-palestine
Figure 2.

As a contribution to the issue of media footprint, Stealth Conflicts has a post entitled: How many people have to die in the DRC to appear in the New York Times?

Stealth Conflicts suggests this is the death toll comparison between the conflict in the DRC and the Palestine-Israeli conflict (Figure 2 above). I am sure that this estimation (based on known figures) is very close to the real figure.

We live in a globalized world, where any information shows up on a webpage in a matter of minutes. But the DRC rarely appears in the frontpage of the most important newspapers. With its absence, the media are sending us a message: depending on where you are born, your life is worth more, or less.

This is so evidently unfair and painful.

My only hope is that, forty years from now, this scandal will be seen as a problem of the past. As a symptom of the problems of a society -our developed one- that, with time, changed for better. I hope to talk about it to my grandsons in the same way afroamerican grandparents talk nowadays about Rosa Parks. Like talking about an evident problem that finally, one day, one person dared to face. And changed for good.

We need our own Rosa Parks to raise this issue. I hope she will come soon.

My guess is that you’d have to reverse the figures and increase the difference by a magnitude of 10 or even 100 to get at the media footprint. That is, it takes only the smallest casualty figures for something from the Arab-Israeli conflict to make the NYT and many column inches of the NYT, while it would take massive casualties to even get a column inch for the Congo.

These are astronomical differences: between Earth and Jupiter (casualty footprint), between Earth and the Sun (media footprint). They demand explanation.

I think that the casualty footprint can only be explained by the exceptional commitment to Israelis to human life, even among its enemies. Given the vast superiority of fire-power the Israelis have, were they desirous of killing civilians (as are the Sudanese and the Congolese), they could do massive damage.

Only the Israeli will keeps them from causing more casualties, certainly not their capacity; whereas, with these other conflicts (and with the Palestinians), one gets the impression that it’s the opposite: only their limited capacity prevents further casualties, not their will.

What a red spade for the black hearts.

UPDATE: Very witty and biting use of these graphics at Breath of the Beast


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