Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fishing for Excuses

How sad it is, after almost three years, that supporters of the invasion of Iraq must fish for justifications for the war; but it happens. The American Spectator (admittedly, not the brightest star in the neocon firmament) has an attempted justification today. The article, by Christopher Orlet anticipates the upcoming war crimes trial of Saddam Hussein. "Depending on whom you ask, Saddam was responsible for the murder of between 300,000 (U.S. government figures) and one million Iraqi civilians (Iraqi politicians' figures), in other words, for the extermination of as much as 10 percent of the Iraqi population, according to the Iraqi Forum for Democracy."

I have problems with Orlet's article, other than his math -- obviously, one million is far short of ten per cent of Iraq's approximately 25 million people. As I have pointed out before, we invaded Iraq in order to dispatch a "grave" and "gathering" threat from Iraq that was so severe that the Bush Administration dared not fritter away its time worrying about how things might go after we "won" the war. Sure, the president mentioned human rights concerns when building a case against Saddam. Who wouldn't against such a monster? But it is obvious that the animating reason for going to war was an alleged "threat" against the US by Saddam.

Orlet has a bizarre quantitative obsession. ". . . the former Iraqi president still ranks with the most savage of mass murderers of the 20th century, the bloodiest of all periods. If Saddam failed to keep pace with Stalin and Lenin (62 million killed), Mao (32 million), or Hitler (20 million), it was not for lack of trying. In fact, if the antiwar gang had gotten their way, Saddam would still be piling up bodies, well on his way to surpassing the totals seen in the Armenian genocide of 1909-18." As if his level of evil is measured purely in numbers. Once he is evil, he is evil-- he doesn't get another stripe for every 100,000 killed. Orlet may not have noticed that, though the killing is much more decentralized, the bodies are still piling up in Iraq.

The biggest omission from Orlet's article is the name, "Reagan." For Republican/conservative war supporters, this is always a problem. During Saddam's murderous peak the Right's patron saint was in the Whitehouse, "tilting" towards Iraq in its aggression against Iran -- one of Saddam's more Hitlerian moments. He even infamously sent Don Rumsfeld to Baghdad to play kissyface with Saddam. It is fair to ask, If Saddam was Hitler, what role did Reagan play? Orlet doesn't say, although he does make a disparaging reference to a president distracted by an "intern's plump thighs." This being the American Spectator, everything always comes back to Bill Clinton.


Existential Journalist said...

You're right, it is sad. Why is it so hard to make the case for taking out a fascist dictator guilty of crimes against humanity and with nuclear ambitions? Shouldn't be, but it is.....I think that's crazy...

You seem to confuse supporting the military operation to take out Saddam with being Pro-Bush or pro-Republican. I support "The War" because it is the morally right thing to do and would feel dirty if America stood by while Saddam remained at large thumbing his nose at the weapons inspectors while collecting nuclear weapons. And don't confuse the policies of the Cold War-era with those of the Post-Cold War, Post 9/11-era.

About the math. Wasn't mine. I attribute the figure to the Iraqi Forum for Democracy, who should know.

I am now working on a piece about whether the post-war planning was botched. I am not so sure it was. There is always bound to be an insurgancy, particularly in Islamic countries. There is always bound to be anti-war sentiment at home. It is impossible to guard against roadside bombs and Arabs sneaking across the borders to join the fight. I think we've done well, considering how our hands are tied in the fight for hearts and minds.

I won't apologize for Reagan. No excuse for him not intervening to stop the Kurdish genocide. That is my point. America must intervene...Should have intervened in 1988. Should have taken out Saddam in the First Gulf War two years later. Should have intervened before Saddam got nuclear weapons and used them on...the Kurds? The Saudis? The Israelis? The US? Oh, wait, we did. Thank God.

Anonymous said...

"About the math. Wasn't mine. I attribute the figure to the Iraqi Forum for Democracy, who should know."

You couldn't conclude on your own that 1 million isn't 10 percent of Iraq's population? Or that anyone who throws out such a figure is not credible?

Andr? Kenji said...

If Saddam is Hitler, Bush is FDR.

Richard said...

"would feel dirty if America stood by "

I am glad you can now feel squeaky clean at the expense of your countrymen who now reside in cemeteries. Oh, not to mention all those collateral Iraqis.

Of course, if all your writing comes after getting off patrol in Sadr City, then you have my apologies.

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