Saddam’s Black Book

by Daniel on February 18, 2004

I didn’t think this was going to be a difficult question to answer, but it’s stumped me, so I’m asking for help.

Is there any authoritative source (for fairly low standards of “authoritative”; as the title suggests, I’m looking for something no worse than the Black Book of Communism) telling us how many people Saddam Hussein killed and when?

Ought to be a simple question to answer, isn’t. It’s important for me, because as regular readers will know, my position on the war was what I called “Anti This War Now”. Thus, I was in favour of allowing Saddam to remain in power for a short period (waiting for a coalition of people I trusted to be assembled).

Clearly, therefore, my moral culpability (and thus the extent to which I am prepared to take crap from pro-war lefties) is very heavily dependent on what might have happened in Iraq during that period of six months to a year. Would the period 2003-5 under Saddam have looked like 1943-45 under Hitler (clearly very bad) or like 1993-95 under Suharto (not very bad at all)?

The issue is this; general Google searches seem to drag up a figure of 300,000 as roughly consensus (it would make Saddam only a bit less bad than Suharto under Indonesian estimates, about half as bad under credible non-Indonesian). But I have two problems with this number:

1) It isn’t used very precisely at all; sometimes it appears to only refer to the mass graves and obviously there were many more murders.

2) It’s much too small to bear the moral weight that’s put on it. The 300,000 number includes 200,000 Kurds killed in the 1988-91 uprisings and 50,000 Shia revolutionaries killed in 1991. I do not want for one minute to minimise the enormity of this crime, nor to suggest that these peoples’ deaths did not merit punishment, but it isn’t credible to regard events which happened in 1991 to be part of the rationale for a war in 2003.

Subtracting them from the total gives a figure of 50,000 Iraqis murdered, which averages out at just over 4,000 a year between 1991 and 2003; given that many of these murders would have been committed early in the period 1991-2003, the death toll could have been as low as 2,000 a year during the period in which war was being seriously discussed. Since we might have killed as many as 10,000 Iraqis by accident during the liberation process, the numbers don’t stack up. So there must be a lot of other deaths attributable to Saddam.

In which case, it’s pretty surprising that they haven’t been better publicised. Here and the US and UK government dossiers that I managed to find. Straight away, before anything else, I have to say that, even speaking as somebody who reads a lot of Amnesty International material, the FCO dossier in particular is an utterly vile record of an extremely evil regime. Not to minimise that at all. I apologise unreservedly to anyone who thinks my approach here is callous; to be honest I cut my teeth in these matters by arguing with people over the original Black Book, and can remember being worried at the time about how desensitised I was becoming.

But in terms of actual murders carried out by Saddam’s regime, the numbers in the FCO and State Department human rights dossiers seem to more or less agree with the residual estimate I made above; extra-judicial executions and disappearances in Saddam’s Iraq were in the region 2,000 a year.

While that’s horrible, it’s not horrible by the standards of a lot of the world, including a lot of countries with whom we have decent relations. I would very much like to be able to put some definite figures to this, because at the back of my mind is preying the suspicion that the case for the unique awfulness of Saddam, as opposed to the case for his awfulness which can be taken as read, seems to be based on the conflation of very large but old atrocities with more recent but much smaller ones, with the effect of making the moral case for immediate war appear much stronger at the time than it actually was. Pointers please in the comments below; I’ll post an update in a couple of weeks’ time.

(Footnote: Here’s the context for the Clinton/Suharto photo linked above. I hope the point isn’t lost on people; there was a very strong moral case indeed for military action against Suharto’s Indonesia in 1976-77, but not much of a moral case at all twenty years later. And it’s possible to say that without for one second diminishing the moral hatred which it is correct to feel against Suharto).

{ 66 comments }

1

LizardBreath 02.18.04 at 8:14 pm

Thanks for posting this: during the lead-in to the war I had tentatively reached the same conclusion that you mention, that if you discount the mass killings of 1988-1991, the ongoing death rate attributable to Saddam’s government was, while unacceptably high, unremarkable by world standards of awful governments. I reached this conclusion based on the fact that I never saw a war supporter quote any death-toll numbers that did not include the 1988-1991 deaths.

I’d really appreciate some information that would either support or overturn the conclusion: as it is it isn’t well enough supported for me to rely on it in argument, and I’d like to change that in one direction or the other.

2

Mark 02.18.04 at 8:27 pm

The numbers will be very different if you include premature mortality due to economic/medical deprivation. With respect to children,

“The two most reliable scientific studies on sanctions in Iraq are the 1999 report “Morbidity and Mortality Among Iraqi Children,” by Columbia University’s Richard Garfield, and “Sanctions and Childhood Mortality in Iraq,” a May 2000 article by Mohamed Ali and Iqbal Shah in The Lancet. Garfield, an expert on the public-health impact of sanctions, conducted a comparative analysis of the more than two dozen major studies that have analyzed malnutrition and mortality figures in Iraq during the past decade. He estimated the most likely number of excess deaths among children under five years of age from 1990 through March 1998 to be 227,000. Garfield’s analysis showed child mortality rates double those of the previous decade.”

That leads to the contentious argument about whether the sanctions or Sadaam are to blame. Amongst the Shiites, and Marsh Arabs in particular, premature mortality was so much higher than in Sunni areas that a politically motivated policy of selected resource allocation seems likely. The Kurds, who administered the “oil for food” revenues apart from the central government, fared very well during the period of sanctions, which to me suggests the responsibility lies primarily with Sadaam. Deliberately depriving populations of the necessities for survival in my opinion is tantamount to murder. Most of the Armenians in WWI died from starvation or disease after the Turks instituted their policy of “relocation” to the deserts of Northern Syria. When the Turks defend their actions by claiming they did not commit “murder” or “genocide” I think it’s reasonable to say bullshit.

3

BP 02.18.04 at 8:30 pm

I would be surprised if the number of people Saddam Hussein killed exceeded 500. He’s no John Matrix.

4

No Preference 02.18.04 at 8:36 pm

Considering conditions in Iraq, it may be a very long time before any figures more reliable than the ones we have now are available.

For the time being, I wish that people would stop repeating that “300,000 victims have been found in mass graves”. The 300,000 figure is an estimate from Human Rights Watch of the number who may be buried in mass graves. This estimate may turn out to be accurate, but nowhere near that number have been found yet.

5

No Preference 02.18.04 at 8:53 pm

Mark’s point about the favorable experience of the Kurds under sanctions has been addressed by anti-sanctions groups. For example, CASI says that reasons why the Kurds did better are fairly obvious. These include the fact that the region under Kurdish control had 50% of Iraq’s arable land; the Kurds got 22% more per capita from the oil-for-food program, and were given more flexibility in spending it; and that sanctions were applied far more stringently in the areas under Saddam’s control.

6

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.18.04 at 8:59 pm

” Thus, I was in favour of allowing Saddam to remain in power for a short period (waiting for a coalition of people I trusted to be assembled).

Clearly, therefore, my moral culpability (and thus the extent to which I am prepared to take crap from pro-war lefties) is very heavily dependent on what might have happened in Iraq during that period of six months to a year. “

Huh? Who was really coming on in six months to a year if their experience over 11 years wasn’t enough? Just because the ‘very very no seriously we mean it’ last delay before the war was advertised by the French as being six months to a year doesn’t mean there wasn’t going to be further delays later. There had been other ‘last’ chances previously.

Also we should note that inspectors apparently weren’t going to be finding WMD–the ONLY issue that the UN cared about.

So in your counterfactual world, if the only variable changing is Bush’s willingness to leave the UN behind, we are left with Saddam in power until his natural death (or I suppose until one of his sons killed him and took his place).

7

TeamCanada 02.18.04 at 9:04 pm

Surely there has been a conflation of figures to make the case for Iraq morally palatable. I, however, do not understand your premise. The metric by which you opposed the war would paradoxically constrain you from ever committing to any action against Saddam– unless of course, as you contend,we wait for a coalition of people I trusted to be assembled. But, still, after this proviso is fulfilled, your contention that “but it isn’t credible to regard events which happened in 1991 to be part of the rationale for a war in 2003” would unnecessarily dissolve any future rationale, by your agreed upon on coalition, to “take care of Saddam.”

Further, since the amount of murders per year in Iraq from 1991-2003 have remained relatively “low” by international standards, would a coalition of trusted people only be permitted to wage “liberation” when those numbers went up? After this “short amount of time” what rationale would you have used that would have either been superficially or materially different? — WMD notwithstanding. I hope you don’t mean to say that 2000 murders per year are beneath the moral threshold, but only because you lack confidence the administration waging the war. However, if your politics are similar then 2000 murders per year is too high on the moral threshold.

It seems, to me at least, that you would deny others the rationale that you and certainly everyone will naturally use. If you’re “Anti this war now”, then why and for what reasons would you be pro War in a short amount of time? And let’s be honest, France, Russia, Germany, and China were not in any “short amount of time” considering to “take care of Saddam”.

8

telebol 02.18.04 at 9:04 pm

“Bodycounts” are always difficult.

Before the war, the UN estimated that ca. 250,000 killed lie in mass graves. A recent AP report cited forensic scientists (working for the Coalition), saying that the number could be as high as 400,000. This number usually covers all those killed between ca. 1980 up to 2003. (Try to Google these numbers with keywords like Saddam, Iraq, killed etc., and you get relevant hits).

Then there are ca. 2,000,000 dead Iraqi soldiers and civilians who died as a consequence of the Iraq-Iran War 1980-88 and the Iraq-Kuwait War 1990-91. Both wars were started by Saddam. (Try to Google, or take a look at the COW database at Michigan).

This means that up to 2.4 million Iraqis died as a direct consequence of Saddam Hussein’s actions (at least since 1980; data before that is almost impossible to get nowadays).

Then there are those who died needlessly because of indirect consequences of his actions. So you could include those 300,000 dead infants which UNICEF said died because of the sanctions regime. Moral responsibility is difficult to identify here; sanctions were in place because Saddam did not fully fulfil his obligations under the 1991 ceasefire agreement; also, medicine and food under the later oil-for-food programme were primarily channelled to the Republican Guard and Baathists, not to those who needed it most.

Whatever the final bodycount, it’s quite a horrific number.

PS on the time issue: Moral responsibility or guilt is timeless, so should be punishment. Even if most of these crimes were committed a couple of years ago, this does not alter the moral argument (it may only alter the practical argument).

9

BP 02.18.04 at 9:09 pm

Mr Holsclaw, the irony is evident when you say “WMD was the only issue the UN cared about” when it is the only issue *you* care about.

If after 6 months to a year no significant casus belli had been found then there would have been no point in goin to war, now would there?

On the other hand if the 50,000 liters of anthrax, nukes with 45 min readiness et al et nauseum had been found, there would have been few who didn’t say “Go get em Tiger!”.

But the WMD weren’t there, now, were they?

Remains the human rights issue as casus belli. Number of corpses per capita and so forth. Which is the question Mr Davies is exploring here.

10

BP 02.18.04 at 9:12 pm

Mr Telebol

You admirably state that moral guilt is timeless and must always be punished, yet you undoubtedly do not fail to notice that Mr. Hussein is alive and well, and several thousand Iraqis are not, as a result of Operaition Iraqi Liberation. So the question must be asked, who exactly is being punished here, and in what way did O.I.L constitute a punishment expedition?

11

BP 02.18.04 at 9:17 pm

Mr Teamcanada
Surely, unless you consider war against Saddam to be a preordained outcome looking for a rationalization, you will agree with Mr. Davies that if a coalition of the trustworthy found that Saddam was not harboring any WMDs, nor was he exceeding the approved international quota for executions and secret murders, that a $100 billion war would have been very hard to justify?

Whereas if the Coalition of the Trustworthy had determined that Saddam was busy with nefarious acts beyond the wildest nightmares of Perle and Wolfowitz, that the French and Germans would have given the US the thumbs up to charge in and slay the dreaded monster?

12

telebol 02.18.04 at 9:31 pm

To bp:

I’m not necessarily saying that moral punishment is a good reason for going to war. But if you make an argument that Saddam was horrible in the past and therefore Iraq would be a better place without him in the future (and that’s the position I think Daniel advances in his post), then this consideration must be timeless (i.e. whether he was bad 20 years ago or 2 years ago should make no difference). Whether such an argument constitutes a “just cause” (which then would partially justify the deaths your actions produce in the name of a higher better goal) is, of course, an altogether different question…

13

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.18.04 at 9:36 pm

“Mr Holsclaw, the irony is evident when you say “WMD was the only issue the UN cared about” when it is the only issue you care about.”

Huh? Finding intact WMD has never been my major concern. (Please note that the link predates this discussion by months.) And the idea that there is no other casus belli would be your idea not mine. And even if I agreed to your idea that would still leave Saddam in power indefinitely now wouldn’t it? Which tends to detract from D^2’s anti-this-war-now argument somewhat significantly I would say.

14

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.18.04 at 9:40 pm

“Whereas if the Coalition of the Trustworthy had determined that Saddam was busy with nefarious acts beyond the wildest nightmares of Perle and Wolfowitz, that the French and Germans would have given the US the thumbs up to charge in and slay the dreaded monster?”

Nope, this part I don’t believe. I suspect that the French and Germans would have opposed the war unless nuclear weapons within a couple of months of activation had been found. Their opposition was more about reining US power than worrying about Iraq. I especially don’t think they would have changed their positions based on evidence of mass killing at a threshold that was less a few hundred thousand per year.

15

BP 02.18.04 at 9:42 pm

Mr Telebol

I must confess to being unable to follow your reasoning. I agree that Saddam was horrible in the past. Whether Iraq will be better off without him in the future is, of course, dependent on how things play out. One hope things will improve, but there is no automatic “therefore”.

Let us say for arguments’ sake, that Saddam was cranking down his executions rate in his old age, and that no more than a couple of thousand graves would be filled annually as a result of his endeavours. Let us suppose that O.I.L leads to a bloody civil war, balkanization, and eruptions of violence West-Bank style for the next 50 years. Are such scenarios of no consequence when considering the “timeless” nature of Saddam’s crimes?

16

BP 02.18.04 at 9:49 pm

Mr. Holsclaw

I’ve read your screed. Summarized, it goes something like this:

“Containment measures were failing”
“911 blah blah blah not an acceptable risk”
“Arab failure”
“911”

Insofar as sanctions actually bothered you, it would seem that that was merely due to the resentment they stirred up in the Arab world – resentment which in the light off 911 blah blah blah.

17

BP 02.18.04 at 9:51 pm

Mr. Holsclaw

Any evidence for your assertion, given you have already stated elsewhere that you think (i) the sanctions were killing lots of innocent Iraqis and (ii) the French Germans and Russians wanted the sanctions stopped?

Or the current todo about Haiti, for instance?

18

Mike 02.18.04 at 9:52 pm

Once again Sebastian proffers a revisionist history to conform to facts on the ground. Bush and Powell sold their war to the American people solely based on the threat that WMD posed to our post-9-11 security. They even said that WMD was the one reason for war that everyone could agree on. Bush’s contempt for human rights and the suffering of Iraqi’s is evident by the photo of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand back when Saddam was gassing his own people.

19

kevin 02.18.04 at 10:15 pm

The reason body counts matter is because if they are used for justification, then the next question is “How do these ongoing body counts compare to other ongoing atrocities in the rest of the world?” Was Saddam really worse – in 2003 – than any one of a dozen nations the US is quite chummy with?

As for “he would still be there”, possibly — but the chances of the brutal dictator of Uzbekistan being removed are no almost non-existent for the foreseeable future, because of its service to Bush’s government. So, in terms of present depredations — was that a good trade off or not?

This also brings up the question of the war as a tactic. Was killing 10,000 civilians and creating a situation where low level violence kills hundred more a year for the foreseeable future really the best way to go about replacing Saddam?

if you are going to use numbers of dead to justify the war, then those are the kinds of questions that have to be asked. Unfortunately, as Daniel pointed out, real quantification of what was actually happening in Iraq appears to be lacking. Instead, we get “300,000” repeated over and over gain. That can only be done for two reasons: as a claim that Saddam needed to be punished for his actions, or in the hopes that people would think another 300,000 would die in the ear term if Saddam had been left alive. The second argument, again, begs the question: what was actually happening.

The first argument established the odd precedent that we should kill innocents to punish someone who once killed innocents in large number. And it leads right back into the original set of questions.

20

TeamCanada 02.18.04 at 10:24 pm

Ms/Mrs/Mr Bp

You went “Meta” on all of us. Understandably it’s an intellectual morass even trying to engage these issues. A psychological dissonance sets in, testing not only argumentative rigor but ontological firmness. Engage with me if you will: Mr. Davies, it is rightly assumed, would have been willing to “slay the dreaded monster”(ipso facto) in due time (Anti this war now); yet you pejoratively deign me holding the same conclusion: “unless you consider war against Saddam to be a preordained outcome looking for a rationalization”.

Mr. Davies, much like those willing to engage, was looking for a rationale as well. You, however, seem to be against the war period. That is not to say you prefer “the dreaded monster”; but you reject the epistemic foundations of the argument per se, and, let’s say, US foreign policy generally. This surely is not a problem but a preference, since Chomsky is always Meta; but obviously not in any practical way— an instructive way, yes. Mr. Davies can choose the standard by which he feels war in necessary. But it’s slightly dishonest to deny others a rationale you yourself would use.

You will undoubtedly disagree with my characterization and many of my premises; but I would not expect otherwise, since your cant would be “Anti War all The Time… Anti… Anti… Anti “. For intellectual reasons you do not have to engage the argument; since you’d be of the opinion that there was no need ever to “take care of Saddam”. Again let’s be honest the French and Germans would have never agreed to this or any war; it’s sheer fantasy to believe otherwise.

An aside; Bp writes:

“if a coalition of the trustworthy found that Saddam was not harboring any WMDs, nor was he exceeding the approved international quota for executions and secret murders, that a $100 billion war would have been very hard to justify?”

Of course it would have been hard to justify, that’s my whole point. This would make Mr. Davies rationale to ouster the “dreaded monster” even more tenuous. And let’s agree on this: Mr. Davies wanted the “dreaded monster” taken care of whether by war or any other feasible measure. It’s obvious that you’re glib about any one making a judgment call on when the “dreaded monster” be taken out—and by what standard— so it surprise me that “you” would not take Mr. Davies to task for making the same judgment call, although counter-intuitively provisional. But again, you’re unwilling to engage.

21

BP 02.18.04 at 10:29 pm

Mr. Teamcanada

I think it would be obvious by now that I like my wars based on fact, not presupposition. If Saddam had looked like a fearsome dragon from a distance, but turned out to have been a mangy dog at closer inspection, then I would have opposed the war.

Conversely, if Saddam had appeared non-threatening to begin with, but further inspections had in fact revealed him to be a massive danger, I would have supported war immediately.

War “for” or “against” certain nations are not events I root for on the basis of instinct, like basketball games, Mr Teamcanada. If I read Mr Davies right, he is asking *in hindsight* whether the human rights situation in Iraq was so exceptional as to warrant war or not.

PS: If you must refer to me by title, “Your honor” will do.

22

dsquared 02.18.04 at 10:33 pm

And let’s be honest

Sorry, bp, teamcanada, I don’t know either of you. And therefore before you demand any soul-bearing or specific position statements from me, you have to put up and “be honest” yourself. I want a few admissions that there were no WMDs and that Saddam posed no threat to the UK or US. Then I’ll be more confident that this honesty isn’t one-sided.

Sebastian; I said, in writing, at the time, that I’d be happy to support a war if the Democrats were in charge in the US. I’d actually have supported even Bush, plus a less token multilateral force. You seem to be taking the USA’s ludicrous failure of diplomacy and throwing it at me as if it were my fault.

23

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.18.04 at 10:34 pm

You like me so much that you are rapidly careening off topic. BP, I think your summary is a bit simplistic, but even so you will see that finding weapons of mass destruction after the war wouldn’t have been a huge concern for me.

Daniel’s position is that he wasn’t for this war now. He defends it by asserting that the war to get rid of Saddam would have gone forward in a few months to a year. That assertion is as yet unsupported by evidence or even strong suggestion. I, and the 1991-2003 history of the UN ‘dealing’ with Iraq, suggest otherwise.

Feel free to look up Amnesty International and HRW reports on sanctions. I don’t have infinite time to source well documented facts.

“the French Germans and Russians wanted the sanctions stopped?” Give me a break. Look up news reports in January of 2002. For that matter research the positions of those countries under Clinton. Once again I’m happy to source arcane facts. Questioning well known facts is just a whining game. And no, I’m not going to be suckered into wasting 20 minutes of my life tracking down news reports for things that anyone who has been paying attention to foreign affairs ought to know. If you want to believe that Iraq sanctions did not cause damage to the Iraqi people and that Russia, France and Germany did not recently oppose sanctions just say so, reveal your ignorance to everyone and we can move on. If you want to make a tough argument, assert that sanctions didn’t stop Saddam from getting WMD at all, he had really given up. Then we can talk about the Kay report and other developments that are actually contested by people who pay attention.

“Bush’s contempt for human rights and the suffering of Iraqi’s is evident by the photo of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand back when Saddam was gassing his own people.” Huh? Please tell me who was president at the time of the picture and explain what that has to do with Bush.

Anyway my main point is that knowing what we know now, the UN would never have allowed an invasion of Iraq. If the US wasn’t going to defy the UN, Saddam would have stayed in power indefinitely. Therefore, pretending that he would be gone in 6 months to a year is fooling yourself. The balance is war vs. indefinite Saddam rule. It isn’t war in 2003 without France vs. war in 2004 with France participation. That was my whole point. Feel free to dodge it again, of course.

24

BP 02.18.04 at 10:42 pm

Mr Holsclaw

Read your own statements more carefully. On the same page, no less, you indignantly claim that the sanctions caused much Iraqi suffering, and the Axis of Weasels therefore wanted the sanctions lifted. In the next breath you claim that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would not have moved the Axis to approve US action, sans WMD, presumably because of their indifference to Iraqi suffering. The two do not match.. I dispute no facts, I point out your own self-contradictions.

25

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.18.04 at 10:43 pm

Dsquared, not your fault at all. The fault was with France, Germany and Russia. Three nations which opposed the war even when they thought Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and had some form of nuclear programs.

The only thing I blame you for is not being honest about the choices. Knowing what we know now about the state of WMD programs there would have been no UN sponsored war. Therefore your choice is between a US war getting rid of Saddam or NO ONE getting rid of Saddam. Since you focus on killing per year that means you have to add more than 6 months or a year.

If you are comfortable with no one getting rid of Saddam, just say so and be done with it. But pretending that 6 months would have gotten the UN to do the job is pure self-deception. It would have been self-deception even in March of 2003, before we know what we know now. It is extreme self-deception now that we know the state of Saddams WMD programs.

26

BP 02.18.04 at 10:44 pm

“Anyway, my main point is that knowing what we know now, the UN would never have allowed an invasion of Iraq”

Hit squarely on the head, Mr Holsclaw; I would not dispute it.

The interesting corollary is, of course, that knowing what we know now would the American public have allowed an invasion of Iraq?

27

TeamCanada 02.18.04 at 10:48 pm

Kevin writes:

“This also brings up the question of the war as a tactic. Was killing 10,000 civilians and creating a situation where low level violence kills hundred more a year for the foreseeable future really the best way to go about replacing Saddam?”

Maybe Fighting Apartheid was a bad idea, since there is a lot more violence against the white minority by the blacks. I’ll just sit on my hands and assert a weak counterfactual for any difficult actions.

Kevin writes:

The first argument established the odd precedent that we should “kill innocents” to punish someone who “once” killed innocents in large number. And it leads right back into the original set of questions.

Whaa??? are you even serious with this assertion. By that faulty logic all war would be unjust. And were they killing innocents intentionally? Really? HUH? WHAA???? I’ll just sit on my hands and assert a weak counterfactual for any difficult and sometimes necessary action.
I think it’s fair to disdain and distrust the administration, but let’s not cut off the nose to spite the face; unless of course you reject the ideological structure of the face. Which, although not entirely practical, is instructive.
How does that Blake aphorism go again: I have to create my own system, or be enslaved by another man’s.

28

dsquared 02.18.04 at 10:49 pm

Knowing what we know now about the state of WMD programs there would have been no UN sponsored war

I utterly disagree. The fact that the diplomatic effort was fucked up was the specific fault of the Americans. It could and should have been handled better, and it is wrong of you to completely let your own government off the hook. The only reason that the UN ended up in the position it ended up in was the intransigence of the negotiators on the other side.

You’re also being highly disingenuous yourself in playing fast and loose with the concept of sanctions; someone’s already pointed out to you that all-encompassing sanctions weren’t needed to stop WMD development. I had a couple of posts on d2d in this in the early days.

29

james 02.18.04 at 10:56 pm

you’ve also got to throw in Saddam’s responsibility (in so far as it went) for the deaths in the catastrophic wars he started – Iran and Kuwait. Also torture and general oppression on a massive scale.

General costs of misrule and maldevelopment have to be taken into account. I’m a bit wary of making no distintion between an active, violent genocide and an economic genocide – couldn’t we characterise US, EU and Japanese agri-subsidies as genocidal otherwise? Those subsidies, like sanctions against Iraq, or Cuba, impoverish by definition, and poverty kills…

In any case the idea that there was a better coalition waiting to do the job in 6, 12, 18 months is fantastic. It just isn’t the way the world works – maybe it logically should, but you can’t ignore the political dynamic.

30

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.18.04 at 11:09 pm

“On the same page, no less, you indignantly claim that the sanctions caused much Iraqi suffering, and the Axis of Weasels therefore wanted the sanctions lifted. In the next breath you claim that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would not have moved the Axis to approve US action, sans WMD, presumably because of their indifference to Iraqi suffering.”

You were doing fine until ‘presumably’. Sanctions killing Iraqis is the US hurting people in the Middle East–worthy of opposition by European governments. Saddam killing his own people is like Syria shelling Palestinians to cause tens of thousands dead; not nearly interesting enough to require action.

31

adoherty 02.18.04 at 11:13 pm

For what it’s worth, Human Rights Watch recently took the position that there was not “mass slaughter” sufficient to justify humanitarian intervention in Iraq as of March 2003. See their web site for an essay by a Ken Roth. The tone of the essay is rather off-putting, with its focus on numbers (“Is one enough? Are six too many?” as an old advertisement used to say.) Still, they are taking the issue seriously & beginning to struggle towards criteria, and also recognizing that the current UN test of genocide (which would allow a brutal ruler to kill lots of people so long as he wasn’t exterminating them because of their race) is too narrow.

32

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.18.04 at 11:19 pm

“Knowing what we know now about the state of WMD programs there would have been no UN sponsored war

I utterly disagree. The fact that the diplomatic effort was fucked up was the specific fault of the Americans. It could and should have been handled better, and it is wrong of you to completely let your own government off the hook. The only reason that the UN ended up in the position it ended up in was the intransigence of the negotiators on the other side.”

Is this really your position? It is hard to believe that you are really saying this. We couldn’t get a UN authorization for war when France, Russia and Germany believed that Iraq had banned weapons. You think that we would have been able to get an authorization if we knew he didn’t? How does that logic work?

The diplomatic effort of the US failed because we couldn’t convince France, Germany and Russia that Saddam was a threat even when they thought he had some banned weapons and some banned nuclear programs. How were we going to convince them that he was a threat if we found out that he was a lesser threat than France thought in 2002?

No, your position leads to Saddam remaining in power. That is fine. You can argue that he wasn’t a threat. Go for it. But do not pretend that your position leads to getting rid of him. It absolutely does not. And whining about US diplomatic failure changes that not one single iota.

33

TeamCanada 02.18.04 at 11:19 pm

Your Honor writes

“If I read Mr Davies right, he is asking in hindsight whether the human rights situation in Iraq was so exceptional as to warrant war or not.”

Really…. that’s what you “Read”? Remember when he wrote, “Anti this War “now”.” So by that I guess he meant to say— or you read— “: Anti this War “now” and maybe never if the death count and human rights situation is tolerable to warrant no war, since as yet I’m undecided; but I do believe Saddam should go, but where I’m not sure and with force, oh my.. well…uh…oh wait yes.. what was the question again” Ok maybe Mr. Davies wouldn’t say that; but he did say “Anti this War “Now”. Which means Pro “some” War, along these lines, soon (Bientôt).

34

john c. halasz 02.18.04 at 11:29 pm

Let me begin by saying I don’t think there is cause for self-righteousness, whatever one’s political orientation, moral sympathies and opinion about the Iraq War, on the part of people who are sitting far away, in no way directly implicated or at risk in the current awful and threatening situation in Iraq, and who have not had to suffer and endure the countless years of terror and misery befoehand. One’s opinion, no matter how well-informed or argued, is just an opinion with no real stakes involved, save perhaps come election time. That said, my own position beforehand was roughly anti-war/why are they doing this and why now?/ let the inspections work and then play the next hand- to lay my own cards upon the table.

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was an evil man, a psychopath and a well-entrenched psychopath, heading up a vile regime. This is a given; responsiblity for moral/political judgment in how to deal with such an evil belongs with those who exercise such judgment and act on it, one way or another, and not with the given evil. In other words, there is no point in vilifying Saddam, as a justificatory reason: that is a redundancy, hard as such a brutal fact may be to swallow. The ending of the first Gulf War puzzled me at the time; rarely in history has a regime been so thoroughly defeated militarily and yet left standing. Did Bush 1 simply fail to plan for the contingencies of the end-game, (in which case that’s hereditary, too)? Were they doing the Saudis’ bidding-(my guess at the time)? At any rate, to have encouraged the uprisings among the Kurds and Shiites, only to stand back and let them be slaughtered, was exceedingly cold-blooded. And to simply blame the deprivations of the sanctions on Saddam,- though, in the light of what we now all “know”, his behavior was exceedingly perplexing-, begs the question of whether they were, as designed, the best possible policy, whether they were well-designed for their ostensible end- (and, as far as getting rid of Saddam, such sanctions tend to strenghten the power of a dictator, by weakening the relative power of his people)-, and whether the U.S.A. was ever willing to countenance their lifting as a result of compliance- (yes, the irony). So I don’t think Western power can be absolved of complicity in the Iraq horrors, even leaving aside anything before 1990. And now having initiated a war, motivated apparently by sheer ideological delirium, conducted with massive incompetence in its contingency planning- (though there are plenty of institutional U.S. government reports that show the permanent government apparatus does have the capacity to realistically size up the situation and plan for the required resources and projects)- without a shred of international legitimacy and without the multi-lateral assistance to support and sort out the aftermath and gain some sense of legitimacy for a new Iraqi regime,- not to mention having damaged the whole framework of international and multilateral constraints by which to deal with crises and dire problems, acute or endemic, (which, one suspects, was not outside the purview of these ideologues)-, Iraq stands on the verge, perhaps, of a civil war, always a forseeable danger. Whether Saddam could have been removed by some other means and why this was not coherently attempted, in spite of its being officially declared policy, will be a question that is always left hanging. To be sure, Saddam ran a highly leveraged state-terrorist regime with a maze of security apparatuses to be manipulated together with the purse-strings, but one can guess that his consensual support was virtually nil, outside of his tribe and hangers-on. (One could guess that if the Blix boys had been allowed to complete their work, Saddam would have stood revealed as a toothless tiger, such that, with some new targeted sanctions, controls and constraints of a military nature and with some economic revival for the Iraqi people, his power would have ebbed away until some final explosion. But who knew?) I think many of us were left wondering and are wondering still what the “real” reasons for this war were; it makes all those historiographical works, carefully and rigorously deliniating multi-factoral causes, look like so much indecipherable, antedeluvian scribbling. What hangs in the balance is what are the real costs of having removed Saddam through this war, since it seems to have thus far accomplished little else, versus the sunken costs of its preceding history.

I do have a question for anyone out there who may know of an answer or where to find one, which is tangential to, but not quite off, this topic. Does anyone know what the final accounting of the casualties in the Kosovo War were, specifically the estimated number of Kosovars killed by Serbian military/paramilitary forces versus the collateral casualties among the Kosovars from the NATO bombing and the Serbian casualties, “collateral” or otherwise, resulting from the bombing of Serbia proper? We were told that there was a terrible genocide occurring, but, in the aftermath, the reported estimates of Kosovars murdered was in the 1 to 2 thousand range. Of course, we are not just counting beans here. I never saw an accounting of this in the media, although I also have not done due diligence. My point, aside from wanting an answer, is the role the mass media, manipulated by the power apparatus, plays in legitimizing such exercizes of violent power. It is not who makes the best argument or case, but who controls the agenda and its framework that decides these matters, such that everyone is suddenly called on to have an opinion and the reasons and beliefs by which the majority of the population give their consent often has very little to do with any close examination of the case that is made.

35

kevin 02.18.04 at 11:42 pm

teamcanada:

I am not actually sure there is an argument there. The comparison to apartethied is rather silly, as no one invaded South Africa to liberate the blacks, as we did in Iraq. Not too mention the fact that their is no doubt that South Africa is now a freer place, with much less in the way of political killings than before. The ultimate end of Iraq is still very much in doubt. The question with a war of choice is that given the inevitable damage wars casue, is it the best route to achieving the particualr end. In this case, there are two end to considerd: the freedom and bettement of the Iraqi people, and the freedom and betterment of people around the world. The answer to the first question is still in doubt, the answer to the second is almost certianly no. It is bad form to say “look at all the people we saved over here” while ignoring the damage you did in saving the to people over their. In fact, I would go so far to say it is morally dishonest. If you wish to trumpet the hummanitarian aspects of the war, then you must take into account the entire hummanitarian picture. If you don’t, then your argument is a fancy form of “i killed them because I wanted to.”

As for this:
“By that faulty logic all war would be unjust”

No, not if you actually applied logic. Do you now propose going to war to remove Pinochet from whoever has him? How many Indonesians would it have been all right to kill to get Suharto in 1996? If you go to war to punish a ruler for something he has done in the past, then you are accepting the fact that you are going to kill innocents to get that person. The question of deliberate or not is a red herring: dead, my friend, is dead, and it hardly matters to a parent who killed their child and why.

36

Jason McCullough 02.18.04 at 11:48 pm

“Highly leveraged state-terrorist regime?” What, he was in hock to bond traders?

37

TeamCanada 02.19.04 at 12:47 am

Kevin writes:

“It is bad form to say “look at all the people we saved over here” while ignoring the damage you did in saving the to people over their. In fact, I would go so far to say it is morally dishonest. If you wish to trumpet the humanitarian aspects of the war, then you must take into account the entire humanitarian picture. If you don’t, then your argument is a fancy form of “i killed them because I wanted to.”

Kevin, I follow what you’re saying. But it would lead to infinite regress. Certainly one would be remiss in neglecting mention of counterfactuals, adding context, and recognizing unintended consequences. So let’s no kid ourselves, there is enough context. When I speak of the “world” there are assumptions entailed; I don’t have to explain ever thing in the world intricately— this wouldn’t be morally dishonest. Your compassion reeks of false idealism. You seem content on judging a realist approach with your superfluous moral metric. The entire humanitarian picture is duly noted, but does this mean we cannot move unless the loss of life is minimized to nil? It’s a happy fantasy to think that ever conflict will be amicably resolved without the loss of life: but it’s also intellectually dishonest. In the same vain with your moral equivalency, what of the people on the other side who die? You sit on your hands because you do not want to cause the death of innocent life, but feel content that as long as you’re not causing it you’re not morally culpable— there is no need for moralizing.

Kevin writes

“The question of deliberate or not is a red herring.”

Seriously; when someone intentionally or deliberately kills innocents, as opposed to accidentally killing innocents, it’s a red herring. IT’S NOT EVEN A FALSE DELLIMA. It’s poor reasoning on your part…
Egregious….. !!!!!!!!!!

Kevin writes:
“Then your argument is a fancy form of “i killed them because I wanted to.”

Well, sometimes on planet earth Kevin, that’s what it boils down to. Except it’s a bit more sophisticated.

38

Donald Johnson 02.19.04 at 3:08 am

Um, did anyone present the evidence behind the numbers commonly cited for Saddam’s murder record? If anything, we may have harder numbers for the sanctions, and those numbers are contentious enough.

BTW, whatever Saddam’s role in increasing the death toll under sanctions, it’s apparent that the US originally intended them to be murderous. Barton Gellman wrote a piece on this for the Washington Post on June 23, 1991, where Pentagon targeting planners for the Gulf War said they hit civilian infrastructure with the idea that it couldn’t be repaired under sanctions. And Pollack (page 125-126) talks about how the US expected the intense suffering under sanctions to cause Saddam to either comply with UN demands or be overthrown. This was the one point made by prowar liberals that made some sense –the sanctions as actually applied were killing children and it’s odd to hear from some (not all) war critics who cry over the 10,000 civilian deaths last year and yet say that the sanctions were “working”. A morally consistent antiwar position which still allowed for the need to keep Saddam contained would have called for “smart sanctions”, which is the policy the Bush Administration claimed it was beginning to favor before Sept. 11. Some antiwar people did take this position, some called for the complete lifting of sanctions , but centrists and some partisan Democrats didn’t seem to care much about sanctions deaths. After all, Clinton supported sanctions.

39

Andrew Northrup 02.19.04 at 3:10 am

In order to calculate the number of people killed by Saddam over the years, you at least need to add in the millions of Iraqis and millions of Iranians killed in the 80’s, the thousands of Iraqis and Kuwaitis and others killed in Gulf War 1, as well as the aforementioned Kurds, and Marsh Arabs, and so on. In order calculate the number of people Saddam would have killed had he not been removed, you need to pull a number, with a flourish of hand-waving and pseudo-mathematical justifications, out of a convenient bodily oriface. which number makes you feel best about yourself? I’ll bet it’s that one.

40

bad Jim 02.19.04 at 4:00 am

Going with the off-topic drift, is it really so hard to imagine an alternative to invasion? Perhaps the sanctions could have been eased as the inspections progressed. It does appear that the threat of invasion did impel the Iraqis to admit once more to inspection, and that threat could perhaps not have been sustained indefinitely, but some level of threat above the maintenance of the no-fly zones could have been.

The calculus of casualties is not as simple as the choice among no sanctions, continued sanctions and invasion.

41

dsquared 02.19.04 at 7:29 am

Andrew and others who made this point:

you’ve also got to throw in Saddam’s responsibility (in so far as it went) for the deaths in the catastrophic wars he started – Iran and Kuwait.

No you don’t. One doesn’t add the total casualties of the Second World War to Hitler’s tally, nor the total casualties of Russian wars of aggression to Stalin’s. This is the convention followed in the Black Book of Communism, for good reasons. Furthermore, sensible people very much disagree whether either the Iran/Iraq war or he Iraq/Kuwait war could be considered to be the personal responsibility of Saddam Hussein. I am completely nconvinced by this argument.

Andrew in particular:

In order calculate the number of people Saddam would have killed had he not been removed, you need to pull a number, with a flourish of hand-waving and pseudo-mathematical justifications, out of a convenient bodily oriface. which number makes you feel best about yourself? I’ll bet it’s that one.

Don’t be so fucking sllly, or so fucking patronising. This is a good faith attempt to establish a fact of considerable historical importance. Despite what you think, there are such things as historical facts independent of political preferences, and your affectation of world-weary postmodern cynicism impresses nobody except perhaps your girlfriend.

42

Matthew 02.19.04 at 8:37 am

Actually dsquared, whilst I applaud your initiative, and think that you are right (it was the Human Rights Watch article that made me think on similar lines, plus the realisation that certain bloggers seemed to accuse me of supporting genocide each time I made an anti-war comment, despite the fact that they arrived at the party after about 99% of Saddam’s victims had already died) tallies of Hitler’s victims do often include those killed in his aggressive wars, such as Soviet POWs. Indeed waging aggressive war was an indictment at Nuremberg.

43

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.19.04 at 9:14 am

Calculating this number is fine, but the reason you want to calculate it as presented in this post is unconvincing. Saddam would have been in power indefinitely without US action independent of the UN. You want to compare US action at the time with UN action 6-12 months later. That is non-sensensical especially since you posit UN inspections that find nothing. The comparison would be between US action to remove Saddam and the non-removal of Saddam. In that case, the calculation you seek is merely academic.

44

bad Jim 02.19.04 at 9:31 am

Grieving mothers, fathers, siblings, sons and daughters may disagree. They may have preferred a course of action with a different result.

45

Matthew 02.19.04 at 9:35 am

This article from teh Mail on Sunday claims they are overstated, though it isn’t particularly illuminating.

http://www.antiwar.com/rep/laughland18.html

46

Matthew 02.19.04 at 11:29 am

In order calculate the number of people Saddam would have killed had he not been removed, you need to pull a number, out of a convenient bodily orif[i]ce.

That’s what happened when I assisted to a pro-war conference (incidentally sponsored by an INC off-shoot, make of that what you will). They basically said: “Saddam killed millions of people, it was horrible. If we don’t let the US have its war, 1 million people more will die!!!” No idea where they got this number from, but you can guess…

Oh and Daniel, I think you mis-read Andrew, I think he actually agrees with you.

47

dsquared 02.19.04 at 11:48 am

. Saddam would have been in power indefinitely without US action independent of the UN

Rather like “I believe in fairies”, “The cheque is in the post” and “This never usually happens to me”, saying this over and again doesn’t make it true.

The French, German and Russian positions were nowhere near as immovable as you suggest; their opposition only hardened when it became clear that the US was going to go to war without a resolution. France and Germany would not have vetoed a resolution of the full Security Council, and the US and UK were very close (but not close enough quickly enough for their own tastes) to getting one. The US and UK made a tactical and diplomatic error in putting troops on the ground before establishing political rationale, meaning that they had to drive the process faster than it could have been driven.

The historical record of contemporary newspapers is pretty clear on this; the French, Germans and Russians told the truth throughout, and regularly shifted their position in the direction of compromise. The US and UK regularly lied, spied and bullied and never moved even the slightest bit in the direction of compromise. Against the evidence, your bald and unsupported assertions that the diplomatic failure was anything other than mishandling by the UK and US look pretty phony.

48

Armando 02.19.04 at 12:09 pm

“Saddam would have been in power indefinitely without US action independent of the UN”

Isn’t there also something convenient about this? I mean, “Saddam would have been in power indefinitely therefore there were a potentially infinite number of victims” works as a justification for war as long as you don’t pretend to ever apply it consistently.

This is the point, surely. No one disputes, I think, that there were strategic reasons for the war in Iraq. But these weren’t and aren’t presented as justification because it makes the war seem like a war of aggression. Instead, we are presented with humanitarian and security reasons for war.

Leaving aside security for now, if the humanitarian reasons for war are reasons that would apply to half the globe, including states supported by the US and UK, then that is simply insufficient. Why Iraq and why then? I think the answer is fairly obvious and don’t for a second think the diplomatic failure with the UN is some kind of accident.

But I’m interested to hear justifications from the pro-war people that don’t simply beg the question.

49

Donald Johnson 02.19.04 at 1:37 pm

Anybody know if there is a basis for the figure of millions of Iranians and millions of Iraqis killed in the 80’s? I’ve seen that war compared to WWI in tactics and brutality, but not in actual death toll. Hundreds of thousands dead, possibly as much as one million total is what I’ve always read, and
“possibly as much” also means quite possibly not.

50

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.19.04 at 4:22 pm

“The US and UK made a tactical and diplomatic error in putting troops on the ground before establishing political rationale, meaning that they had to drive the process faster than it could have been driven.”

I hate to be rude, let us analyze one pointed question. Why did Saddam allow inspections after 4 years of not allowing them? It was the troops on the ground. So let us not call that a tactical error unless you don’t even believe in inspections at all.

The 11 year historical record of UN positions, especially of France is crystal clear. No invasion in 1991, no invasion when the inspectors were hampered in the early 1990s, no invasion at all. We all know that the best way for France to say NO was to say Maybe indefinitely. That is precisely what they are doing.

My justifications for the war are all over the freaking web so I won’t bore you with a recap. But that has very little to do with this post. Daniel made the completely ridiculous suggestion that in six months to a year, after more inspections, France and Germany and Russia would have authorized a war. All of the arguments YOU ALL are making show that to be false. If inspections had continued, it is now clear they would not have found any stockpiles. As such, the most France would have called for was more inspections. They still wouldn’t find enough. More inspections.

The point of this post was a calculation of per/year murders attributable to Saddam with the purpose of seeing if a 6 month to a year delay in deposing him (a delay to gain French and German and Russian support) is ‘worth it’.

If you want to argue that Saddam was not a threat, and should not have been invaded at all, the discussions above make sense. But arguing that the UN would be more interested in invasion after a year of inspections turned up very little is to ignore the fact that they did not get more interested in the inspection period that really did exist. Nearly a 5 month period.

So, if you want to argue that Saddam would have been deposed with UN sanction at that point anyway, you have made an enormous leap of logic.

I don’t mind defending the US policy. I think it was justified. But that is not Daniel’s topic in this post. So today I’m not going to get sucked into a side debate about the defensibility of the US policy. I’m just saying that any position which assumes that the UN would be more interested in Iraq invasion after a year more of unsuccessful inspections is incoherent. Daniel doesn’t want to be left with the reality of Saddam staying in power without US action outside of the UN. But he is. Or would be if he really looked at the likelihood of UN action.

If you believe that in six months to a year the UN would have authorized invasion, please tell me on what grounds? Remember we now know that the inspections would not have found much…..

Far more realistic would be another proposal like the Jan. 2002 proposal to lift sanctions and end all containment measures. Which is fine, if that is what you want. But I don’t think Daniel is comfortable with that.

51

dsquared 02.19.04 at 5:11 pm

Daniel made the completely ridiculous suggestion that in six months to a year, after more inspections, France and Germany and Russia would have authorized a war

Actually, I made the not very ridiculous suggestion that France and Germany would not have vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution authorising a war. The US and UK only needed to win over a few smaller states; for much of early 2003 they thought they were going to manage it. You need to defend the assumption that Chile and Ghana would never have voted for war.

52

lawnorder 02.19.04 at 5:58 pm

Most neocons cite the “millions killed by Saddam” from articles like Ann Couter’s Jan 2003 criticism of Clark (The Democrats Idea Of A General)

Ann Coulter put this doozie on her web site and it seems to be making the rounds, despite being obviously false.

Here it is:
>> In humanitarian terms, Milosevic didn’t hold a candle to Saddam Hussein. Milosevic killed a few thousand Albanians in a ground war. Hussein killed well over a million Iranians, Kurds, Kuwaitis and Shias, among others. Milosevic had no rape rooms, no torture rooms, no Odai or Qusai. He didn’t even use a wood chipper to dispose of his enemies, the piker. < < I digged out a couple of links debunking it from respected genocide historian Rummel and others. Fell free to use this material to counter Neocon revisionist history ------------------ Not even the White House site exagerates like Ann ------------- Allegations of prostitution used to intimidate opponents of the regime, have been used by the regime to justify the barbaric beheading of women. Documented chemical attacks by the regime, from 1983 to 1988, resulted in some 30,000 Iraqi and Iranian deaths.... According to Human Rights Watch, "senior Arab diplomats told the London-based Arabic daily newspaper al-Hayat in October [1991] that Iraqi leaders were privately acknowledging that 250,000 people were killed during the uprisings, with most of the casualties in the south." http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/news/20030404-1.html

———————–
Saddam not even on Top 5
————————

Stalin – 60 million dead http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE4.HTM
Mao – 35 million dead http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE2.HTM
Hitler – 20 million dead http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE3.HTM
Pol Pot – 10 milion dead http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP6.HTM
Bosnia, Rwanda, North Korea – close to 1 million each http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

———————————–
Rwanda

According to the UN, at least 250,000 women were raped in Rwanda in 1994. Most are not alive to tell their tales, while others are dying of AIDS contracted through the rapes. There are, according to aid organizations, close to 5,000 children in Rwanda today who were born of the 1994 rapes.
http://www.peacewomen.org/news/Rwanda/newsarchive03/ontrial.html

Books
http://www.holocaustbookstore.net/sections/genocide/genstudy.htm

Bosnia
http://www.haverford.edu/relg/sells/reports.html

North Korea

North Korea famine
It is estimated that the North Korean famine [killed] 2 to 3 million people [since 1995 ] Currently, 15% of children under the age of five are diagnosed as malnourished
http://www.worldvision.org/worldvision/comms.nsf/stable/global_hotspots_north_korea

Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea’s gulag
A series of shocking personal testimonies is now shedding light on Camp 22 – one of the country’s most horrific secrets
Antony Barnett
Sunday February 1, 2004
The Observer
In the remote north-eastern corner of North Korea, close to the border of Russia and China, is Haengyong. Hidden away in the mountains, this remote town is home to Camp 22 – North Korea’s largest concentration camp, where thousands of men, women and children accused of political crimes are held.
Now, it is claimed, it is also where thousands die each year and where prison guards stamp on the necks of babies born to prisoners to kill them.
Over the past year harrowing first-hand testimonies from North Korean defectors have detailed execution and torture, and now chilling evidence has emerged that the walls of Camp 22 hide an even more evil secret: gas chambers where horrific chemical experiments are conducted on human beings.
Witnesses have described watching entire families being put in glass chambers and gassed. They are left to an agonising death while scientists take notes. The allegations offer the most shocking glimpse so far of Kim Jong-il’s North Korean regime.
Kwon Hyuk, who has changed his name, was the former military attaché at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing. He was also the chief of management at Camp 22. In the BBC’s This World documentary, to be broadcast tonight, Hyuk claims he now wants the world to know what is happening.
‘I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber,’ he said. ‘The parents, son and and a daughter. The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.’
Hyuk has drawn detailed diagrams of the gas chamber he saw. He said: ‘The glass chamber is sealed airtight. It is 3.5 metres wide, 3m long and 2.2m high_ [There] is the injection tube going through the unit. Normally, a family sticks together and individual prisoners stand separately around the corners. Scientists observe the entire process from above, through the glass.’
He explains how he had believed this treatment was justified. ‘At the time I felt that they thoroughly deserved such a death. Because all of us were led to believe that all the bad things that were happening to North Korea were their fault; that we were poor, divided and not making progress as a country.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/korea/article/0,2763,1136483,00.html

Major Atrocities and Wars
http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstats.htm

War casualties
http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/ops/war/index.html

—————
Bosnia
———————-
Read the Milosevick trial documents. Saddam never told troops to rape women just to “purify their womb” with a Serbian child.

…When C-17 arrived there, he saw three members of Red Berets assaulting a local Croat whose house they had just burnt down. They kicked him like a ball down the road until he died, the witness said. The witness’s observations appeared to show that Milosevic’s secret service held power over the JNA and that the Red Berets in particular were in charge.
To further support those allegations, C-17 said that he saw a document bearing Milosevic’s signature ordering Perisic to disband a paramilitary unit … [by] killing a number of civilians. The witness recalled how one man was pushed into a manhole and a grenade thrown in after him.
After the attack on Mostar, in an operation supported by the Yugoslav army, the Red Berets, along with a newly-arrived paramilitary group, the Vukovarci, attacked a village north of the town called Bijelo Polje. C-17 said survivors were killed by the Red Berets, and described how one pararmilitary cut off an old man’s ears and threw his body in a pool of water, “He then started throwing bricks at him until the man sunk.”
But worst was to come. In early June… he said he saw Serb troops killing the men with pistols, knives, guns and “all kinds of other things”.
C-17 also testified that Red Berets kept women in one of the bungalows in the camp, which they had frequently visited. “I don’t know what happened to them, but I saw Red Berets members going in and out of their bungalow,” he said.
The witness later became a member of the White Wolves… C-17 said that the paramilitaries helped take UN soldiers hostage in the spring 1995 when NATO bombed Bosnian Serb positions around the capital. The order to do so, C-17 said, came from the office of Momcilo Krajisnik, the president of the Bosnian Serb parliament.
In the cross-examination, Milosevic accused C-17 of concocting the story …C-17 rebutted the former Yugoslav president’s allegations with seemingly irrefutable evidence. “There are over one hundred graves in Mostar bearing the names of the people killed that day,” he said.
http://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/yugoindx.htm

53

Donald Johnson 02.19.04 at 6:23 pm

I hate citing Rummel on anything–you can dig up your own order of magnitude statistics on any particular atrocity easily enough from the web or from books and it’s not like Rummel is a primary source. Besides, how could one possibly be a genocide scholar? If I want to know what happened in Stalinist Russia I’d read the specialists in that area (and it’d help if the historians team up with demographers). But just collecting death toll estimates and guessing which ones are plausible–heck, I can and have done that.

The Black Book of Communism, btw, attributes 20 million total to the Soviet era–that’s apparently Stalin and Lenin combined, and I think it includes the 1920 War Communism famine that supposedly killed 5 million. (Anne Applebaum also cites relatively low figures for Stalin’s era in the appendix of her recent Gulag book). The moral here is that even for supposedly well-studied periods of history the estimates range over factors of three. Possibly in this case it depends on how one classifies deaths.

And the number cited for Pol Pot is probably a misprint. There weren’t 10 million Cambodians to kill in 1975-1979. The usual numbers are around 1.5-2 million.

Back on Dsquare’s original point, as someone else mentioned Ken Roth has already put forward an antiwar argument of the sort dsquared seems to have in mind. Most of Saddam’s murders (whatever the actual number) were committed in the 80’s,with maybe tens of thousands more added in 1991 right after the Gulf War. According to Roth, you can’t legally justify killing thousands of civilians in a war to overthrow a murderous thug whose genocidal period was 13 years or more in the past.

54

Sebastian Holsclaw 02.19.04 at 7:11 pm

“Actually, I made the not very ridiculous suggestion that France and Germany would not have vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution authorising a war.”

That was not France’s publically stated position. They stated they would veto. But if you believe in your deepest of your deep private heart that France was just bluffing I suppose I cannot argue with your instinct. You are effectively ‘arguing’ that France would have vetoed when they thought Saddam had weapons, but would not have vetoed after a year worth of inspections failed to turn up weapons. That makes no logical sense, but since we are reduced to arguing your gut feeling I will defer to your amazingly accurate instincts. I humbly regret my foolishness in mistaking this for an intellectual exercise instead of an emotional one.

55

Anthony 02.19.04 at 7:21 pm

d^2, your faith in the good will of the French, Germans, and Russians is rather touching. Those countries opposed an invasion for three reasons – to help establish a principle that the US may not act unconstrained in the world (a principle that none of the three is willing to guide their own actions by), to protect their oil interests in Iraq, and to protect the source of quite a lot of bribe money.

Bush leading a coalition of all the unbribed states of Europe is a pretty convincing demonstration of his belief in multilateral action. Should we instead have tried to outbid Saddam’s bribe-masters to get the French et al on board?

56

dsquared 02.19.04 at 7:40 pm

Sebastian is distorting the record here, although I don’t blame him as he is only repeating a lie which originated with Blair’s office. France’s public position was that they would veto any proposal which included the automatic use of force; in other words, any resolution which took the final decision away from the UN Security Council. And they only moved to this position after weeks of fruitless negotiation during which it was clear that the US and UK were not acting in good faith.

Anthony and Sebastian are allowed their views on the relative mendacity of France, Germany and Russia. I would simply make the following two points:

1) The only countries which can be proven to have lied, spied and bribed in the UN discussions were the US and UK (Turkey famously put the US in the humiliating position of having a bribe turned down!), so asking us to believe the worst of France and the best of the US is perhaps counterintuitive.

2) Sebastian and Anthony are nevertheless entitled to their view. They are not, however, entitled to use it as a premis in an attack on me, since I don’t accept it, and haven’t been given any reason to accept it which wasn’t either bald assertion or not true. By analogy, I would defend to the last man the right of Sebastian and Anthony to, if they so wished, lick their arses and call it chocolate, but they are not entitled to insist that I eat it.

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Sebastian Holsclaw 02.19.04 at 8:41 pm

So, to be clear.

You are acting under the foreign policy assumption that after a year of fruitless inspections, France, Germany, and Russia would not have obstructed an invasion of Iraq?

Furthermore you are acting under the assumption that the UN could have been convinced to authorize an attack AND that these countries would have helped out (because without their help the authorization is paper only).

My assumption would be that France, Germany and Russia would continue their opposition to an invasion of Iraq. This assumption is based on the actual position of these countries as expressed by their ministers. It would also be a continuation not a change (unlike your assumption). Knowing what we know now about the probable results of inspections it is a continuation which would would strengthen an argument for a continuation of their policies rather than strengthen an argument for a change in their policies.

For the sake of argument you are of course allowed to make any assumptions that you desire. Lets just be clear about what they are: you assume that after a year of inspections finding nothing, French, German and Russian resistance to an invasion would decrease. You offer no evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, for this highly counter-intuitive view.

P.S. Your stress on the ‘automatic’ phrase ignores the history of UN ‘threats’ which would always postphone discussion about punishment until the issue dies of neglect. France’s main tactic was to say no by taking a long time saying maybe. I don’t think you are so naive as to be unable to recognize the technique, perhaps you just haven’t thought about it in the context of French opposition.

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Antoni Jaume 02.19.04 at 9:20 pm

France acceded to military intervention in Yugoslavia. And she did not ask for WMD in Milosevic hands.

“Bush leading a coalition of all the unbribed states of Europe is a pretty convincing demonstration of his belief in multilateral action. Should we instead have tried to outbid Saddam’s bribe-masters to get the French et al on board?”

Apart form the UK all the rest of the countries were acting on bribes from the USA, or on menaces. As a Spanish citizen I know too much about Aznar to be a dupe on his personnal viewpoint. He was a member of the Spanish equivalent of the Baath, and it was against his wishes that Spain forged ahead to get some democracy. He never condemned the crimes of Franquism, and whenever there has been demands to do so, he has opposed it. We are still discovering mass graves from the civil war and the repression that followed it. So no, no one who go hand to hand with Aznar cares in any way about human issues.

DSW

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dsquared 02.19.04 at 10:27 pm

As recently as a year ago, both those assumptions were shared by Tony Blair.

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Sebastian Holsclaw 02.19.04 at 10:34 pm

Tony Blair shared which assumptions? That France would come along if the inspectors found nothing? Blair thought (or at least said publically that he thought) France would come along in February 2003, but he was proven wrong.

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Crackhead 02.20.04 at 12:20 am

Armando writes:

“Leaving aside security for now, if the humanitarian reasons for war are reasons that would apply to half the globe, including states supported by the US and UK, then that is simply insufficient. Why Iraq and why then? I think the answer is fairly obvious and don’t for a second think the diplomatic failure with the UN is some kind of accident”

“Leaving aside security for now”, yes because that makes sense. But following your silly logic: WHY DO ANYTHING ANYWHERE?

Short answer, start somewhere.

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Gordon G 02.20.04 at 12:24 am

Why let France, Russia, and Germany corner the market on Iraqi oil? When the US and UK can.

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armando 02.20.04 at 1:13 am

““Leaving aside security for now”, yes because that makes sense.”

No, I meant that it is a separate issue. I doubt you’ll agree with me but I thought that, moving past the well known rhetoric, the imminent threat of Saddam’s Iraq wasn’t at all credible. I await the next threat to rival Hitler with baited breath.

“Short answer, start somewhere. “

Indeed. Military power needs its expression, after all.

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L 02.20.04 at 2:56 am

Saddam only a bit less bad than Suharto

But Indonesia has 10 times the population of Iraq. Do you believe in absolute numbers?

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ahem 02.20.04 at 7:24 am

Blair thought (or at least said publically that he thought) France would come along in February 2003, but he was proven wrong.

In what sense, exactly? Do you still have problems with the modifier ‘ce soir’?

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Donald Johnson 02.20.04 at 5:30 pm

If we’re playing the relative vs. absolute numbers game, East Timor lost about one quarter of its population during Suharto’s (American and British-supported) invasion, putting Suharto in the same relative numbers league as Pol Pot.

With respect to his own people, the estimates for Suharto’s mid-60’s killings go from low hundreds of thousands to well over a million, out of about 100 million at the time, I think. So the high end is one percent, like Saddam killing 300,000 out of 25 million Iraqis. But this is a ghoulish parlor game. The point was that Suharto’s biggest killings were in the mid 60’s and late 70’s and Saddam’s were in the 80’s and in both cases they were the allies of the US at the time. So it seems a little odd to hold up these crimes many years later as a justification for a war, when the killing rate has dropped to levels typical of other brutal thugocracies.

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