Media’s Afghan ‘Metrics’ Exclude ‘Value of Human Life’

As “official Washington is buzzing about ‘metrics'” of success in the U.S. war on Afghanistan, Norman Solomon (ZNet, 8/13/09) notes of media’s persistent question, “Can the war in Afghanistan be successful?”–“Don’t ask the dead”:

On August 7, under the headline “White House Struggles to Gauge Afghan Success,” a New York Times story made a splash. “As the American military comes to full strength in the Afghan buildup, the Obama administration is struggling to come up with a long-promised plan to measure whether the war is being won.”

Don’t ask the dead. They don’t count.

The Times article went on: “Those ‘metrics’ of success, demanded by Congress and eagerly awaited by the military, are seen as crucial if the president is to convince Capitol Hill and the country that his revamped strategy is working.”

But, Solomon says, “routinely, the dominant political and media calculus renders the dead as digits and widgets, moved around on spreadsheets and news pages. The victims of war are hardly seen as people by the numbed sophisticates who can measure just about anything but the value of a human life.” Thus prompting Solomon’s question to all of us: “The dead can’t speak up. What’s our excuse?”