Remember why we’re there

Piss and moan all you like about the state of affairs in Iraq. Ignore the daily reports of actual, measurable progress being made in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Nod obligingly whenever Murtha or Sheehan makes a public statement condemning their own country, families, military, or government.

But never forget the reason we went there.

We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.

That threat came in the form of one man; Saddam Hussein. WMD’s? He had them and used them, most notoriously on his own people. Mass murders? He committed them and did little to hide the fact beyond creating mass graves to dispose of the bodies. Torture, rape? Staples of his “leadership style”.

In a new book published in France (*gasp*), Le Livre Noir de Saddam Hussein (The Black Book of Saddam Hussein), “The writers – Arabs, Americans, Germans, French and Iranian – have produced the most comprehensive work to date on the former Iraqi president’s war crimes, assembling a mass of evidence that makes the anti-intervention arguments redundant.” Of course, reviews of this book aren’t being broadcast on the evening news – I had to come across over on LittleGreenFootballs it while surfing blogs.

The Australian covers it in depth:,5744,17439165%5E2703,00.html The big black book of horrors

“The first weapon of mass destruction was Saddam Hussein,” writes Bernard Kouchner, who has been observing atrocities in Iraq since he led the first Medecins Sans Frontieres mission there in 1974. “Preserving the memory of the arbitrary arrests that Saddam’s police conducted every morning, the horrible and humiliating torture, the organised rapes, the arbitrary executions and the prisons full of innocent people is not just a duty. Without that one cannot understand either what Saddam’s dictatorship was or the urgent necessity to remove him.”

The obsession of many journalists and commentators with the fruitless hunt for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons has meant much of the evidence of Saddam’s atrocities in liberated Iraq has been under-reported. Sinje Caren Stoyke, a German archeologist and president of Archeologists for Human Rights, catalogues 288 mass graves, a list that is already out of date with the discovery of fresh sites every week.

While we’re all amused at the ex-tyrant’s little outbursts during his trial, this is a man who took and held power through the exercise of terror. Consider that the next time you start questioning the reason we’re there.

In Saddam’s Iraq no one, not even the dictator’s closest relatives and collaborators, was safe. Tariq Ali Saleh, a former Iraqi judge and the president of the Iraqi Jurists Association, writes that during the reign of the Baath party from 1968 to 2003, the security services arrested and imprisoned people without charging them, with no access to a lawyer or contact with their family. Everyone was targeted, including women and children. Torture was systematically used to secure confessions including beating, burning, ripping out finger nails, rape, electric shocks, acid baths and deprivation of sleep, food or water.
“The American war was perhaps not a good solution for getting rid of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. But, as this book shows, after 35 years of a dictatorship of exceptional violence, which has destroyed Iraqi civil society and created millions of victims, there wasn’t a good solution,” Kutschera writes.

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