Tuesday, April 01, 2003


In this atmosphere of superlatives, I pause before making the statement I plan to make here. We are told that this has been the fastest assault in military history. The longest supply lines, The most bombs. The most planes. I am not sure if these statements are true. But they sound true. So here goes: We are witnessing the most selfish act in the history of the human race.

Never in the course of human history has one man, for reasons of his own personal aggrandisement, caused and allowed so many people to die and suffer. We compare Saddam to Hitler, but at least Hitler had a chance of success. Some might say that he did, indeed, accomplish something. After all, he did preside over the murder of European Jewry, in perhaps the most successful genocide we know about. And Hitler might actually have won his war. But Saddam? He has absolutely no shot to accomplish anything more at this point, other than a paragraph in a history book, and he would get that anyway.

Once he prosecuted the Anfal Campaign, Saddam lost the right to govern. The world community (if there is such a thing) should have put him down then. For those who might have missed this historical detail, a sample (from Human Rights Watch):
The campaigns of 1987-1989 were characterized by the following gross violations of human rights:

mass summary executions and mass disappearance of many tens of thousands of non-combatants, including large numbers of women and children, and sometimes the entire population of villages;

the widespread use of chemical weapons, including mustard gas and the nerve agent GB, or Sarin, against the town of Halabja as well as dozens of Kurdish villages, killing many thousands of people, mainly women and children;

the wholesale destruction of some 2,000 villages, which are described in government documents as having been "burned," "destroyed," "demolished" and "purified," as well as at least a dozen larger towns and administrative centers (nahyas and qadhas);

the wholesale destruction of civilian objects by Army engineers, including all schools, mosques, wells and other non-residential structures in the targeted villages, and a number of electricity substations;

looting of civilian property and farm animals on a vast scale by army troops and pro-government militia;

arbitrary arrest of all villagers captured in designated "prohibited areas" (manateq al-mahdoureh), despite the fact that these were their own homes and lands;

arbitrary jailing and warehousing for months, in conditions of extreme deprivation, of tens of thousands of women, children and elderly people, without judicial order or any cause other than their presumed sympathies for the Kurdish opposition. Many hundreds of them were allowed to die of malnutrition and disease;

forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of villagers upon the demolition of their homes, their release from jail or return from exile; these civilians were trucked into areas of Kurdistan far from their homes and dumped there by the army with only minimal governmental compensation or none at all for their destroyed property, or any provision for relief, housing, clothing or food, and forbidden to return to their villages of origin on pain of death. In these conditions, many died within a year of their forced displacement;

destruction of the rural Kurdish economy and infrastructure.
From 1989, Saddam had forfeited his right to rule. After his invasion of Kuwait, it is a crime that Bush and the U.N. failed to remove him. But as of 2 weeks ago, he knew that the game was up. There is no force on Earth that can save his power for him. And that is what it is all about. His Power. Nothing else.

He could have gone to any number of places and live out his days in luxury. Surely Saudi Arabia would have let him live in the mansion next door to Idi Amin, the former dictator of Uganda. Up until two weeks ago, surely the U.N. Security Council would have granted him some kind of binding immunity. Right up until two weeks ago, he could have spared the world, his own people, and himself, the consequences of the war and its aftermath. But no. Not him.

I know that I rail a lot about the illogic that drives many events. I try to point out that the Emperor has no clothes, when seemingly no one will see that he is, indeed, naked. But it seems to me that this one fact is so clear, that everyone should be saying this: Saddam Hussein is Mad. The killing can stop now. He must go. But no. For whatever reason, various groups and individuals find the continued existence of this monster to be useful. The ruling class in Iraq need him for their reflected power and glory to continue. The ruling despots in the rest of Arabia need him as an example against whom their own monstrosity looks rather tame. The anti-war left needs anything that might make Bush look bad. The Islamic world needs a champion, whatever that is (when your champion is a mass murdering psychopath). So the killing goes on. And in war, there is no winner. There are only different levels of loss. Everyone loses. But one thing we do know.

When the smoke clears, the biggest loser will be So Dumb Insane. And those who supported him.