Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years And Counting In The 100 Years Iraq War: Thoughts On Bush And Saddam

By Manifesto Joe

Il Doofus, a man with a unique ability to invent his own reality every day, gave a speech at the Pentagon on the fifth anniversary of "Operation Iraqi Freedom." If you take Bush at face value, he's still very convinced of the rightness of his decision. Here's the report from McClatchy Newspapers.

Presuming that we can take this man at face value, let's just, for purposes of argument, do the same regarding the late Saddam Hussein. Saddam seemed quite convinced, to his last hour, that he was the man who "built Iraq." He cussed judges, cussed his guards; he was defiant to the very end. If there was any fear of perdition lurking in the man's heart, he never let it show.

Mind you, there's no doubt in my mind that if there is a hereafter and a God who judges, Saddam is probably in a pretty awful place now. By any objective standard, he was a murderous dictator of the Stalinist type.

But there is the perverse possibility that he really didn't see himself as an evil man. Could it be that he simply embraced that nasty little idea that making an omelet means breaking eggs? (Yes, it's a bad analogy. But it isn't mine.) In other words, that the ends justify the means?

Saddam was guilty of direct and arbitrary enormities that Bush will never match. I know there are lefties out there who may object to that statement. But the very fact that they are blogging, organizing, and able to do any of the above should illustrate the distinction. Even if the contemporary U.S. can be characterized as crypto-fascist -- I think there's a good argument for that -- at least they aren't summarily executing the likes of me, waterboarding me, or opening camps. (Well, not yet.)

It is apparent, though, that Bush & Co. have been personally responsible for a whole lot of death and suffering. Pointing out the nearly 4,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq is typical U.S. ethnocentrism. It's as though the Iraqi deaths, estimated by some sources as close to 700,000, are secondary.

Yes, Saddam was a homicidal thug. The U.S. foreign policy establishment knew that while they were supporting and arming him in the '80s, during his foolish eight-year war with Iran and his genocidal suppression of the Kurds. It wasn't until he started getting uppity against U.S. interests that anybody appears to have had a problem with him being a career sociopath.

A comparison of Saddam with Bush is a long stretch. It's like comparing a seasoned hit man to a dude in an Armani suit who had an underling hire a few killings, then pretended he just didn't know.

But there is the possibility that both men were firmly convinced of their rightness. After five years of preventable tragedy, that may be the saddest part of the story.

The killing will go on for at least another year. And if McCain is elected ... (see post title).

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Marc McDonald said...

This article inspired me to write my own piece on Saddam, which can be read here.

Brother Tim said...

It's all a matter of perspective. Ask the Iraqis.

Bush has been responsible for more Iraqi deaths than Saddam could have ever dreamed of.

Saddam supplied electricity, potable water, and secutity.

He propped up the economy, even under the ruthless US-instigated UN sanctions.

Also, the thing you rarely hear about: It was right after Saddam refused petro-dollars and demanded petro-euros, that the illegal, immoral, un-Godly invasion happened. Which is why, with the opening of the Iranian Oil Bourse, an attack on Iran is imminent.

May God have mercy on our collective souls.

Manifesto Joe said...

Ummm ... yes, Bush's war has been responsible for an awful lot of Iraqi deaths. Now I've read that the estimate goes as high as a million.

Saddam's domestic toll also runs that high by some estimates, and it was perpetrated against his own countrymen. Then you could put the war toll of Iran vs. Iraq on top of that.

The purpose here is not to defend Bush. But Saddam wasn't exactly defensible. It's a question of whether we should have just gone on containing him (YES) or do what Bush & Co. did (MORONIC, even though they thought they were being oh so fucking smart).

Anyway, I think the evidence is that Saddam was indeed a mass murderer, but -- he was one we could well have left for his own people to eventually deal with, as we have done with others. We didn't improve the situation by intervening -- not only was it a mistake, we had no legal right in terms of international law. And then, of course, it continues to be a bloodbath.

Point is, though -- let's not forget, amid the travesty of the war, exactly who Saddam was. Sadly, he was a monster largely of U.S. creation, and we are paying an awful price for that now.

Marc McDonald said...

It seems to be extremely taboo these days to dare suggest that maybe Saddam wasn't the next coming of Hitler.
But I'd like to point out that Saddam's regime was really not any more repressive than most Middle East regimes.
In fact, Saddam's regime (which was secular) was downright progressive compared to Bush's buddies, the Saudis.
In Saddam's Iraq, women could wear blue jeans without being attacked by religious police. They could attend college. They could drive a car.
In Saudi Arabia, women can't do any of these things. They are horribly oppressed there, and treated like cattle.
I have no doubt that if Saddam returned to Iraq in an election today, he'd get millions of votes (including probably 90 percent of the Sunni vote).
I'm willing to admit that Saddam was a tyrant. But as an American who has watched my nation brutalize Iraq in a horrible manner, I feel uncomfortable spending much time condemning Saddam when George W. Bush is such an evil monster.
Bush, after all, is a tyrant. He has contempt for the Constitution and democracy. The only reason he doesn't repress more of us and throw all dissidents into jail is that the current U.S. system won't allow it. At least not yet.