Nothing’s Sacred
Iraq: Going with Gilliam

by Kyle Lohmeier

Well, the British government has come out with another dossier, this one outlining the rampant human rights abuses of Saddam Hussein’s regime. While this report is considerably smaller than the fifty-five-page dossier released in September outlining Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction programs, at only twenty-four pages it contains some pretty nasty details. Like the U.K.’s previous dossier, this one too fails to convince me of any pressing need for the U.S. to attack Iraq.

Perhaps the most irritating aspect of this entire situation is that I’m finding myself concurring with the Hollywood big shots that sent a letter to Bush urging him not to wage war on Iraq. The English language scarcely contains the words to adequately describe how little I relish agreeing with the likes of Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Barbara Streisand, Jane Fonda, etc. (the fact Terry Gilliam signed on as well, however, greatly reduces the sting).

However, in light of the evidence supplied by our own media and the U.K.’s pair of dossiers, the case against war on Iraq is extremely compelling.

Make no mistake: if half of what is in the U.K.’s latest release is true, Saddam is nothing short of a monster. Thing is, running a brutal, oppressive dictatorship in no way makes Saddam Hussein unique. Most of the Middle East suffers under a despotic regime of one sort or another. Further east, China executes more of her citizens in a single month than the U.S. does in a year, often for offenses as small as drug peddling.

The dossier is full of accounts of summary executions, institutionalized rape and torture, and the hellish conditions Iraqi political prisoners endure. Prison purges are not infrequent and are performed to make room for new detainees. Even Iraqi athletes are not immune from the abuse that is at the core of Iraq’s system of “justice.”

“In one infamous incident of mass torture, Udayy Hussein ordered the national football team to be caned on the soles of their feet after losing a World Cup qualifying match,” reads a portion of the dossier.

Other forms of torture outlined include placing a pistol muzzle against fingers and toes and firing, acid baths, drilling through prisoners hands, eye gouging, electric shocks, and suspending prisoners from the ceiling by their wrists for hours on end. Rape is systematic in Iraq as a form of torture for women, to the point where Iraq’s government literally employs professional rapists, according to the dossier.

The dossier paints a picture of Saddam’s Iraq that almost seems like a caricature of the worst regimes on Earth rolled into one. It reads like a fictional dictatorship drawn from the influences of Hitler, Pol Pot, and Stalin, so grotesque it can’t be real. The degree and scope of the brutality that is an everyday part of Iraqi life almost strains belief. Can humans be that unrelentingly cruel to each other? If the dossier is to be believed, apparently so.

So, where does the good old U.S. of A. and her mighty military figure into this situation? Does the U.S., with its dubious distinction of being the world’s only true military superpower, have a moral obligation to liberate Iraqis from their murderous dictator? No more so than Holland’s military is obligated to liberate Americans from the oppressive drug laws our government enforces. The plight of Iraqis is not a problem the U.S. government should solve, especially not by dropping bombs on them.

I find it somewhat surprising that the aforementioned Hollywood types, with their hearts typically a-bleeding for the oppressed or downtrodden everywhere, aren’t sufficiently moved by the dossier to endorse a war on Iraq. Then again, with Bush’s own people talking openly about how nice it will be to gain control of Iraq’s oil reserves, perhaps those actors and actresses know what the Bush Administration’s true intentions are regarding Iraq. The Guardian attributed the following quote to Bush’s economic advisor Larry Lindsey in a November third article:

“When there is a regime change in Iraq, you could add three to five million barrels [per day] of production to world supply. The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy.”

As trite as the Gulf War-era slogan “No blood for oil,” sounds, it still applies. As much as I like driving my environmentally unfriendly, politically incorrect SUV around, I don’t want to see the military ordinance I paid for used to help colonize a foreign, sovereign nation to secure access to its oil. Such actions don’t meet the criteria for a just war.

Yes, Saddam Hussein is a monster and I’d shed not a tear if a bullet passed at high-speed through his skull. Few would, I imagine. However, as the U.K.’s September dossier pointed out, Iraq isn’t a military threat to the U.S. at present and likely won’t be capable of threatening the U.S. in any meaningful way for some time. The U.S. isn’t justified in attacking, even under the cover of doing so pre-emptively out of self-defense.

As for the deplorable conditions Iraqis live under, there are ways of addressing those without rolling in the armored columns and the strategic bombers. U.S. intelligence services are in contact with the various opposition groups active in Iraq. Those groups are crawling with people who’d love to put a match-grade .308 slug between Saddam’s bushy eyebrows. To borrow a page from Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne’s playbook, the U.S. could simply offer a five million dollar reward to the guy who successfully assassinates Hussein. For the cost of five Tomahawk cruise missiles, someone in Saddam’s own cadre of bodyguards would doubtlessly whack him for that much loot. Throw in a one-way plane ticket to New York and political asylum in the U.S., and I think there would be aspiring assassins crawling over one another to get the first shot.

As much as I hate to say it, Barbara Streisand is ri—Ahem, on second thought, Terry Gilliam is right; there simply is no justification for the U.S. to attack Iraq.

From: The Texas Mercury

"Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people (the U.S.) designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in this right hand."

General Robert E. Lee to Governor Stockdale of Texas

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