'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

(3) The large-scale killings that followed the failed 1991 uprisings in the north and south of Iraq.

(4) The destruction and repression of the Marsh Arabs

(5) The forced expulsion of ethnic minorities in Northern Iraq during the “Arabization” campaign.

(1) The Anfal campaign took place in 1988, at the time Hussein was considered a valuable US asset. In 1988 the US was providing Iraq with economic aid, military intelligence, and other forms of assistance. The US provided equipment and weapons. The government of the United States did not denounce Saddam Hussein when the Anfal campaign occurred.

(2) There is some question as to whether Iran or Iraq was responsible for the Halabja bloodbath (that I assume this item is referring to). This NYT op-ed piece sums up the facts of the incident.

But let's assume it was Iraq, regarding the use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops and the Kurds, the New York Times ("Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas," 8/18/02) reported, "A covert American program during the Reagan administration provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war." Also, note that the use of chemical weapons, as is the use of any weapon of mass destruction, is surely an atrocity, but in this case it was an atrocity that occurred in the context of a war between Iran and Iraq. I am pleased that the international community, and now presumably the US, views chemical weapon use in warfare as a crime -- hopefully, we will shortly see former US presidents posthumously tried for the use of napalm against the Vietnamese.

(3) The 1991 uprisings were a result of Hussein's defeat in the Gulf War I. If the goal of US foreign policy regarding Iraq was to free the Iraqi people from their dictator then this was the time to do it. Initially Bush I called for the Iraqi people to revolt, but the uprising didn't go as planned; it didn't spread to the military. The nascent civil war probably would have resulted in a popular Shi'ite government rather than a US-backed military dictatorship, thus the Bush administration changed course, and tacitly signaled to Hussein that they would help him remain in power. As Friedman opined in the NYT the "best of all worlds" for Washington would be "an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein."

Bush I didn't just leave him in power, his military actively worked to quell an incipient rebellion that sought to overthrow Hussein. Anti-Hussein forces asked repeatedly to have the arms recovered from the Iraqi army but were refused by the US, which went so far as to blow up arms dumps and even disarmed groups of rebels. The US allowed the supposedly-destroyed republican guard to shell Kurdish-held areas with impunity after the war was officially over. They simply were not interested in supporting a popular rebellion if they didn't get to be in control after it was over.

Here's Wolfowitz on the 1991 uprising:
'No one can read about what's going on there without feeling a great sense of sympathy for what's going on. But that doesn't mean it is in our power to straighten it out. It's a mess that, to be a little harsh about it, is to some extent of their creation, and they are going to have to come up with a solution'.
(thanks to Atrios for the quote, which is from the London Guardian 3/28/91)

(4) My commentary for (3) applies equally well to the destruction of the Marsh Arabs because their fate was a result of supporting the uprising that Bush called for. As Australia's The Age reports

Their water-borne culture survived the Turks, the Persians, the British and successive modern Iraqi regimes. But then, at the short-lived urging of the first President George Bush, they dared to join the revolt against Saddam Hussein in the months after the 1991 Gulf War.

Their punishment was to be dispersed and now the marshlands from which they ran a disorganised guerilla campaign are virtually drained.

A Chicago Tribune story quotes Emma Nicholson, the founder of the international charity, Amar, as saying, "The U.S. bears that burden of guilt." about the draining of the marshes.

There were a lot of stories in the spring of 2003 about the US's plans of the restoring the marshes. Hopefully, it will happen. I haven't seen this project mentioned lately, and these plans are complicated by the fact that there are huge oil reserves under the marshes.

(5) The arabization of Iraq began when the country was created in 1921, but accelerated greatly under Hussein. The results of the ethnic cleansing program are visible in particular in the city of Kirkuk (from Radio Free Europe,10/18/02).

The US has a history of selling out the Kurds. The US double-dealed the kurds once during the 1991 uprisings as discussed above. More recently, it attempted to again during the start of the current Iraq conflict when it agreed to Turkish demands to suppress the development of any sort of Kurdish autonomy in exchange for the use of the Iraq-Turkey border: (from Kurdish Media)

There are no doubts that the main incentive for the Turk rulers “notorious for their ulterior intentions” to accept the US offer was to get that golden opportunity (they have been trying very hard to get) to sour the good relations that the Kurds of South Kurdistan currently enjoy with the US. It is most evident to the whole world that the Turks are against any Kurdish influence anywhere in the Middle East and beyond. They only want to see the Kurds as unnoticeable, powerless, divided and insignificant people who are only good enough to be ruled and brutalized by the barbaric regional “fake” states who “against the will of the Kurdish nation” have shared the occupation of Kurdistan.

The US will try Saddam Hussein for forcefully expelling Iraq's Kurdish population from areas deemed pollitically important, but it looks the other way when Turkey does the same thing: (here's Chomsky)

Everyone knows that Turkey's a leading terrorist state, maybe one of the worst in the world. And again, when I say Turkey, I mean the U.S. and Turkey. In the 1990s, in the area that I just visited, southeastern Turkey, the Kurdish areas, this is the site of some of the worst atrocities and "ethnic cleansing" of the 1990s. It was bad enough in the '80s, got much worse under Clinton. The U.S. supplied 80% of the arms. They peaked in 1997--1997 alone, more arms were sent to Turkey than the whole cold war period put together, up to 1984, when the counter-insurgency campaign began. A couple of million refugees, country devastated tens of thousands of people killed. Far worse than anything attributed to Milosevic, in Kosovo before the NATO bombing.

### posted by Joe

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Monday, December 15, 2003

For What It's Worth

Human Rights Watch lists the following as crimes against humanity for which Hussein should be tried:

(1) The genocidal Anfal campaign against the Iraqi Kurds, which resulted in the deaths of some 100,000 civilians and the destruction of more than 4,000 villages.

(2) The use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops and Kurdish civilians.