« hostage situation ends | Main | a moratorium on idiots »

today's reading assignment

today's reading assignment

An excerpt from The Threatening Storm by Kenneth Pollack, read by Sen. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) this month in the House of Representatives.

"This is a regime that will gouge out the eyes of children to force confessions from their parents and grandparents. This a regime that will crush all of the bones in the feet of a 2-year-old girl to force her mother to divulge her father's whereabouts. This is a regime that will hold a nursing baby at arm's length from its mother and allow the child to starve to death to force the mother to confess. This is a regime that will burn a person's limbs off to force him to confess or comply. This is a regime that will slowly lower its victims into huge vats of acid, either to break their will or simply as a means of execution. This is a regime that applies electric shocks to the bodies of its victims, particularly their genitals, with great creativity. This is a regime that in 2000 decreed that the crime of criticizing the regime, which can be as harmless as suggesting that Saddam's clothing does not match, will be punished by cutting out the offender's tongue. This is a regime that practices systematic rape against its female victims. This is a regime that will drag in a man's wife, daughter or other female relative and repeatedly rape her in front of him. This is a regime that will force a white-hot metal rod into a person's anus or other orifices. This is a regime that employs thalium poisoning, widely considered one of the most excruciating ways to die. This is a regime that will behead a young mother in the street in front of her house and children because her husband was suspected of opposing the regime. This is a regime that used chemical warfare on its own Kurdish citizens, not just on the 15,000 killed and maimed at Halabja but on scores of other villages all across Kurdistan. This is a regime that tested chemical and biological warfare agents on Iranian prisoners of war, using the POWs in controlled experiments to determine the best ways to disperse the agents to inflict the greatest damages.

This is the fate that awaits thousands of Iraqis each year. The roughest estimates are that over the last 20 years more than 200,000 people have disappeared into Saddam's prison system, never to be heard from again. Hundreds of thousands of others were taken away and, after unforgettable bouts of torture that left them psychologically and often physically mangled, eventually were released or escaped. To give a sense of scale, just the numbers of Iraqis never heard from again would be equivalent to about 2.5 million Americans suffering such a fate.

Found at both American Kaiser and the Safety Valve.

In the words of Toren, have a nice day.


Sounds more like a "regime of cowards" to have to stoop to rape and torture of women and children to me.

And your proof that all this is not just made up would be...?
You remember the German soldiers impaled babies on their bayonets in
front of wailing, helpless mothers back in 1914, right? Maybe not.
And maybe you don't recall hearing about it in history class because
-- because it didn't happen. But the 1914 equivalent of weblogs
were just full of it back then. I'm not saying Saddam Hussein is
an angel, but Jesus, people, haven't you heard of PROPAGANDA?

I refuse to debate with anyone who is too much of a coward to leave a name and email address. But y'all come back some time, ya hear?

I'm not afraid to leave my name....I'm saying bullshit to most of that until there's some sort of proof to those more egregious statements. Even if it were all true, how exactly does that make Iraq any different from any other country (even ones the US has supported over the years) where they torture and kill people?

Sorting out what's true and what's just boogeyman is difficult, but some of that is just over the top blather from a politico (lowering people into vats of acid? Did he watch the part of Batman where the Joker fell into such a vat or something?). The Kurds have been the pounding blocks of Saddam for a over a dozen years, even if the chemical warfare claim is a little iffy - I'm very surprised that these guys seems to care about it now.

In the end, these little sound bites still don't answer my questions: why do these congresscritters care now when they've been ignoring Iraq for years? Where's the connection to those who committed the terrorist attacks on the US? Why isn't North Korea getting the same treatment for their breaking of an arms resolution? Do they really think installing a democracy is just a matter of snapping your fingers once whatever military action is used is over? Who gets the joy of paying to rebuild the country once we destroy it? And finally, what makes Iraq any different from other countries where the leadership does this sort of thing? If we're so concerned about the horrors visited on the civilian populace by evil leaders, why aren't we just as outraged about those incidents as we are about those incidents that occur in oil-rich areas? I guess it's harder to spook a lot of people about atrocities in, say, Africa than it is about atrocities in the (oil-rich) Middle East.

Ahhh, much better. Sorry to vent that particular steam over here.

I think the reason we need to deal with Saddam is what he or any of his terrorist friends with whom he'd share some of his nasty toys might try to do to us or Israel...
I personally think strikes limited to his weapons plants, if we know where those are, might be a better idea than all-out war. Whatever the case, the song-and-dance he's been giving the UN about inspections makes me really think he's up to magor-league no-good.

I am not rushing off to war for any president. It is not a question of whether or not Saddam is a bad person--all agree to this. But do we premptively strike all countries we think are bad, such as N. Korea, Iran, Syria? How do we single out Iraq? Now the Lefties claim that the war is about oil, and they may be right; but then Franch, in the UN, a staunch defender of Iraq it seems, and the French have the larges of all oil companies in Iraq. Oddly then: those for the war note the oil; the French against the war also seem to have oil in mind.
Note: Saddam does not have "materials" spottedf from the air so that we need not use troops.
Also worth noting: if we go into Iraq, we will station some 30 thousand troops there, permanently, as we have done in Korea. That means Turkey to the N. our ally; Israel to the South, our ally. And the two axis of evil countries, Iran and Syria/Lebanon on the other side. No need then for Arab permission for airfields! Thus all will change in the Middle East when we go in--and we are going in.

Freddie, this is not pre-emption. It is about enforcing exsisting security council resolutions. The US wants the resolutions enforced because Iraq is a likely candidate to pass on weapons and technology to be used by international terrorist organization while remaining safely far removed from the actually attacks. The Iraqi resolutions are passed under chapter 7 and allow for the use of force. If the UN does not enforce it's own resolutions it is an irrelevant international body. If the US disarms Iraq on their own they are upholding the international resolutions already passed. BTW Kosovo did not have a UNSC resolution. The 4 day operation called Dessert Fox did not require the US/UK to go back and seek permission from the SC. Just because the rest of the world doesn't have the backbone to enforce their own mandates does not equal pre-emption if the US/US does. If we just launced an attack tomorrow on NK without an evidence that we were in immediate danger then you would have a case. The best way to ensure that a state like Iraq does disarm which would make a military campaign less likely is to show Iraq a untied and strong willed international body. The threat of force is a tool. The threat of pre-emption is a deterrence. Tell me Freddie how many people would pay their rent if there wasn't a clause in the mortgage outling the consequences of not paying the rent. Should the lender wait until a mortgager does not pay rent and then go for advice on what to do or should they already have an avenue for action in the event this happens? Who would pay their rent if their were no consequences? Nothing wrong with a plan B in place.

The Halabja numbers (15,000) are overstated by about 14,500 -- according to the official source, George Bush's CIA:


Pollack was fooled, we were all fooled. Halabja was a battle, and whatever Kurds were killed were not done in a genocide, they were collateral damage.

That Pollack would fall so hard for this does indeed make the rest of the paragraph suspect.

The fact is, we have reasons to go to war against Iraq, but that's not what Pollack's talking about, I don't believe (taking it out of context, so I know I'm on shaky ground). He's talking about reasons why Iraq's regime is evil. You can hold these things alone and say they do not constitute a reason to go to war, and that is certainly debatable (historically defensible, and even morally so if you believe war is worse than the atrocities in question). You can hold up the WMDs, flouting of UN sanctions, and threat of oil monopolization (an example list of reasons why we might want to go to war) and say that those do not necessarily constitute evil, and that would be debatable as well.

But when you put the two sets of data together, you have both a list of reasons why going to war is in our best interest, and a list of reasons why the enemy we would be fighting is an evil one. That's why it matters. Because all of the reasons we have to pre-emptively strike Iraq have to do with "What would they be willing to do to us if we don't stop them?" The things that they are willing to do to their own people are valid in that context. That's also why we aren't talking about Africa as much... we have atrocities, but no self-interest. Selfish, callous, perhaps hypocritical? Sure. Welcome to the world of We Can't Solve Everyone's Problems, but we can solve our own.

Whether or not it's propaganda is a different issue, and something that should be addressed. I'd be interested in checking Pollack's bibliography. But somehow I doubt that this laundry list of tortures is on par with the baby bayonet thing... for one thing, Saddam won an election by 100%, no protest in the streets (right?). That's impossible without a terrorized population. And a terrorized population is impossible without a terrorizing regime.

Ewin, I don't know about the rest of those gory things, but I do know Pollack with his Halabja number (15,000) goes beyond Jeffrey Goldberg in the New Yorker (5,000) and the official version of "hundreds".

There is no way to know just what is propaganda. If it's printed in the Washington Post, is that not propaganda? Propaganda is when diplomats lie to reporters, and then when they read their lie in the newspapers, believe it is the truth (somebody said).

For instance Human Rights Watch in 1988 claimed that 200,000 Kurds were gassed in the Anfal campaign. After the Gulf War, they rushed into UN controlled Northern Iraq to look for mass graves, and found... none. Now they say the Kurds were trucked south (out of sight)... so is Human Rights Watch an agent of propaganda? How could a liberal investigator possibly accuse them of that? But the facts are that they were misled and passed on the lie.