The Lancet isn’t just any medical journal, it’s one of the big three that you used to â€” and probably still do â€” find in common rooms in hospitals all over the UK (along with the British Medical Journal and sometimes the New England Journal of Medicine). It is not noted for publishing random speculation, agitprop, and crank letters â€” it’s the top journal of record in its field. Getting an article into The Lancet is like getting one in Nature, or Science: it’s a big one.
This morning, for example, I heard President Bush and one of his big shot generals dismissing this report because they’ve never heard a number bigger than about 50,000, so this 650,000 estimate MUST be wrong.
Now, before you go doubting my source, I know Charles Stross is an author, not an expert in military excursions or whatever. But we are bringing the qualifications of The Lancet into question here, not Stross. The Lancet was founded in 1823. When a scientific journal is that old, one guesses that it has not made a habit of inventing numbers more than 10 times the number we’d heard previously just for kicks.
So, NPR followed that with a little bit telling how Bush has made absolutely sure that we associate North Korea with terrorism. The only thing North Korea has in common with Al Qaeda is that they have been making a nuisance of themselves (And by “making a nusiance” I of course mean “testing nuclear weapons”) at the same time as we are fighting a war that we like to think has something to do with Al Qaeda.
I suppose it is fair to lump North Korea in there with Iraq, though. There’s probably just as much chance of finding Bin Laden in North Korea as finding him in Iraq.
I was a Republican during the Clinton administration. By the end of this administration, I expect to be huddled on the floor in a corner, rocking back and forth and mumbling something about “the days of yore”.