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imperialism & war | prisons & prisoners

Iraq Under Saddam Hussein is Stalinesque.

THE Bush administration now plans to charge Saddam Hussein and a dozen members of his inner circle with crimes against humanity.
A formal indictment is long overdue, though Saddam is unlikely ever to face any kind of justice unless the proposed war to unseat him does indeed take place.

Saddam's Iraq is all too often dismissed, especially by pundits opposed to the war, as a "run-of-the-mill evil dictatorship"-to quote the fatuous phrase used by Michael Kinsley in his Slate column.

It is in fact a staggeringly cruel, genuinely totalitarian regime with more in common with Enver Hoxha's ghastly Albania than with a heavy-handed autocracy like Egypt or a tinpot tyranny like Nicaragua under Somoza (or the Sandinistas).

* Nearly 200,000 people are "missing" in Iraq, most of them Kurds who vanished during the ethnic cleansing of the 1988 Anfal campaign. Compare that to the 9,000 who were disappeared by the Argentine junta or the 3,000 "desparacidos" of Pinochet's Chile. Or, for that matter, the 10,000 Albanian dead in Kosovo.

* The regime is know to have executed 4,000 Iraqis in the last four years, including 130 women beheaded for "prostitution" - three of whom were doctors who had criticized the regime's policies.

* In just one month in 1991, the regime killed 30,000 civilians during the uprisings that followed the Gulf War.

* To ensure the loyalty of the rest, Saddam has killed 20,000 members of his ruling Ba'ath party during his years in power. Total membership is 400,000: He's killed 5 percent of his closest supporters.

* Meriting his own indictment is Gen. Ali Hassan Majeed - known as "Ali Chemical" for his use of poison gas in the 1988 genocidal campaign against the Kurds of northern Iraq.

Yet many people let their antipathy towards President Bush afflicts them with a moral blindness when it comes to Saddam's regime. People who were rightly horrified by the Argentine junta's atrocities or Slobodan Milosevic's murderous aggression in the former Yugoslavia are remarkably sanguine about worse repression on a vaster scale in Saddam's Iraq.

They are all too willing to take Saddam's gestures, like his recent prison amnesty, at face value. Yet he did not free most of his political prisoners - and there are still large numbers despite the thousands of executions carried out in "prison cleanups" by Saddam's son Qusay in the late '90s.

The notorious Al Radwaniya jail, grim home to thousands of Shiites arrested after the 1991 uprisings, apparently did not open its doors. According to the International Alliance for Justice (Web site:

www.i-a-j.org), there are more than 300 detention centers in Iraq, many of which are secret ones where torture and murder are practiced on a wide scale. But the cameras were invited only to one, Bagdhad's Abu Ghraib.

On the other hand, the fact that the amnesty took place at all may be a positive sign. It does not herald Iraqi glasnost, but it may mean that the regime is rattled by President Bush's aggressive rhetoric. Clearly, there are Iraqis who see it that way - among them the newly released inmates of the Abu Ghraib prison who jubilantly shouted praise of Bush to foreign reporters.

If they are right, then those in the West who are appalled by Bush's bellicose rhetoric as dangerous, counterproductive etc., are dead wrong. Certainly the point of view of these men - and the open anguish of those Iraqis whose sons, husbands and brothers are still missing after the amnesty - ought to be at the center of the debate about the war.

It's true that in recent years American governments have cared little and done less about Saddam's ghastly regime. Yet to dismiss or play down the Stalinesque conditions that prevail in Iraq because it is George W. Bush pushing war - or because his father mistakenly kept the regime alive, or because George W. may have impure motives - is morally insane.
does this mean reagan and bush get indicted? 04.Nov.2002 09:17


i hope this means reagan and bush sr. get indicted too for helping him kill all those people in the 80s/early 90s..

Like every other Evil Regime... 04.Nov.2002 09:25

Patrick Angstrom Poore

The standard reply to arguments like these - the US has some moral obligation to intervene, is, "why don't we intervene in other more horrid situations." Rwanda's a great example....

Of course, I know what the standard answer is to Rwanda, too - "It's too messy, it won't be possible to do anything, we won't succeed, not enough of the world community is working with us" Rwanda is just one example. You can probably think of a few hundred more. Even North Korea, millions have died from hunger. We could have fixed that, American style, decades ago. If it was in the interests of the Global elites.

The moral argument to go into Iraq (always accompanied by comparisons to hot button evildoers like Stalin and Hitler (however accurate) is always a bit specious. Obviously, nations fight wars in the interest of their ruling classes, not for the people of the aggressor or defender country.

And that's even if the facts you mention above are all true, or tell the whole story (a few sources would be nice). These are pretty knock down arguments of Hussein's evilness. So, why do we have to work so hard to convince the rest of the world? Maybe Russia feels, despite its overwhelming concern for the poor people of Iraq, that they've got something to lose with the US controlling a major, resource-rich, and strategically well-placed country in the Middle East. Maybe France and China feel that way, too.

We may not have murdered 200,000 civilians, but we have murdered a lot with sanctions and continual bombing over the last 10 years. We are far more powerful, far more aggressive, far more destructive, far more likely to use WOMD on another culture. Far more culturally imperialistic than any other nation on the planet.

Kissinger would proud. The US is pulling a naked power grab, right in front of the eyes of the world. And we still have articulate people like you doing the grunt work you're doing - for free! - aiding and abetting the most successfully tyrannical country (in a global sense) that has ever existed. Congratulations. May your car run without a hitch.

Bomb the fuck out them to "save" face?? 04.Nov.2002 18:18

atomic frog

Let's start with a million....that's right a million more prison inmates now than when bushit1 and his puppets handlers bought the laws to reintroduce slavery. Corporate prison factorys. iran/contra also flooded the ghettos with cheap coke. The War on Drugs, manditory sentancing, asset forfeiture, and now no parole, will enrich the rich, and destroy unions. Greed is $3 a minute phone calls. 1 fat leech owns the rights to the system and gets to keep it all.
Crime stats. show a huge drop in violence since the 80's.
By and large this million is nonviolent at least when entering the beast, and are doing time for a personal choice. Corrections burden the budgets of all states. Privatization is a certainty. The loop will then be complete. One private firm profits greatly every step of the way. From setup, arrest, prosecute, prison records, and the phone system. They are also paid to "monitor" low cost housing. Paid by the head, dyncorp has grown along with the overcrowding. dyncorp was on duty 9-11 at Andrew's AFB. Now they manage airforce 1 and 2 as well as congressional aircraft. The main man at dyncorp was finance committee chairman and top dog at enron also. he brought A Andersen in to legitimize the bastard.