Root causes

Published: Saturday, January 3, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 2, 2004 at 11:21 p.m.

If the U.S. government continues to refuse to give any funding for family planning in Iraq, it will continue to lose the battle.

The $87 billion that Congress approved to help defend and rebuild Iraq is fatally flawed in at least one respect. Not a dime of that money will go toward family planning services. This despite the fact that Iraq's population is expected to double in the next 25 years, at a pace much faster than the nation's fragile economy will be able to sustain.

"On our televisions we see huge numbers of young men and boys roaming the streets of Iraq. In a country where half the males are ages 15 to 29 and unemployment is at 70 percent, will doubling the number of unemployed young men make Iraq . . . a safer place," observes the Population Coalition, a group that advocates more funding for family planning and birth control programs.

"We know that over population creates conditions of unrest and instability in places already overburdened by poverty, disease and natural resource depletion. Much of the world's terrorism is rooted in these conditions," the group added.

U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., has called the $87 billion package "a monument to failure." The real failure is in Washington's refusal to spend a single penny of that massive aid package on family planning in a country whose rapid population growth fairly breeds poverty, discontent and, of course, terrorism.

Billions for guns and bullets, not one penny for contraceptives. That really is a prescription for fighting a losing battle in the war against terrorism.

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