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.