Tuesday, December 03, 2002

The Case Against Saddam, Again, and Again, and Again

There's just no satisfying some people.

You'd think by now the case against Saddam would have been made to even the most blinkered observers weeks ago. But just for good measure the UK has released another dossier on the Iraqi police state and the only surprises it contains concern the extent of Saddam's nastiness.

According to the report issued today by the British Foreign Office, Saddam Hussein’s Baa’th regime has perfected the art of systemic torture against political opponents. In a record remarkable even by 20th century standards, the Hussein Administration granted itself the power to suppress dissent with impunity.

A decree from the Revolutionary Command Council dated 21 December 1992 guarantees immunity for Ba'ath party members who cause damage to property, bodily harm and even death when pursuing enemies of the regime.

The RCC, issued a series of decrees establishing severe penalties (amputation, branding, cutting off of ears, or other forms of mutilation) for criminal offences.

In mid-2000, the RCC approved amputation of the tongue as a new penalty for slander or abusive remarks about the President or his family. No doubt this edict had a particularly “chilling effect” on free speech in Iraq.

The report catalogs a gruesome variety of brutal practices and includes sidebars on Uday Hussein’s private torture chamber, which he charmingly calls “The Red Room,” the business card of a professional rapist, and a memorandum chiding some overzealous local official for beheading a suspect before interrogating him.

The dossier on Iraq comes as U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq near the end of their 1 million Mississippi countdown before shouting “ready or not, here we come.” Yet the propitious timing has Amnesty International in a huff.

The human rights situation in Iraq or elsewhere should not be used selectively. The US and other Western governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and ignored Amnesty International's campaign on behalf of the thousands of unarmed Kurdish civilians killed in the 1988 attacks on Halabja.

So wouldn’t not turning a blind eye now be a good thing??

Not according to AI. No, they're concerned that using military force to stop the human rights abuses may result in human rights abuses.

I guess I see the logic here, although it’s a bit cynical – stamp out all the human rights abusers and the professional scolds at Amnesty International will have to go into market research or something.

So let’s see now. Congress has voted to give President Bush authority to attack Iraq with the goal of toppling Saddam and the voters validated that decision a few days later, the U.N. Security Council unanimously backs a Bush Administration-drafted resolution against Iraq, Nato gives its unanimous consent to using force against Iraq, and a coalition of the United States, Britain and Australia has agreed to use aggressive means to force Iraq’s compliance with U.N. resolutions.

Why do I get the feeling that some multilateralists still aren’t satisfied?

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