I won't pretend for a second to say that Saddam Hussein didn't deserve his punishment. He is dead at the hands of a nation who he held captive by fear, hanged about 9:00 pm CST (Chicago time). My wife Mary Pat and I had just finished shopping for some "frou frou" (good Americans that we are) to put in our new office space in our home, and we were enjoying a sandwich and a salad at a Houlihan's in Oak Brook, Illinois. At just about the time he was executed, we were discussing, over a glass of wine, the fact that Saddam was not likely to survive into the new year.
I mentioned to Mary Pat that I saw a number of profound ironies in Saddam's fate: how, until the last fifteen years, the United States had supported him in many ways; evidence suggests that the US supported the Ba'athist coup attempt that eventually led to the deposing and execution of Marxist dictator Abdel Karim Kassem; that Saddam may have been on the CIA payroll as early as 1963; that, still stung by the deposing of the Shah of Iran, the hostage crisis, and the "Islamic revolution," the Reagan administration secretly rooted for the Soviet-armed Ba'athist Republic of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war; that despite official US neutrality, we removed Iraq from the list of nations supporting terrorism; by 1983, the Reagan administration began officially supporting Iraq in the war, despite repeated Iranian allegations of Iraqi use of chemical and biological weapons; at the same time, Donald Rumsfeld, acting as a personal envoy of President Reagan's, traveled to Iraq to throw US support behind Saddam's government; that George H.W. Bush's special envoy to Iraq, April Glaspie, all but gave the go-ahead to Iraq to take Kuwaiti oil fields in late 1990; that, throughout the 1980s, the United States, under both the Reagan and Bush (I) adminstrations provided Iraq with "computer controlled machine tools, computers, scientific instruments, special alloy steel and aluminum, chemicals, and other industrial goods for Iraq's missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs," Howitzers, Huey helicopters, and bombs.
I mentioned to Mary Pat that he was convicted of and executed for the murder of 148 Shiites in 1982 following an assassination attempt. I opined that while the total number of his victims certainly dwarfs that body count, it is impossible to say just how many people died at his hands, and I thought it was a travesty that he was being executed before his trial for the gassing of Kurds in 1991. Why? How was justice served by executing Saddam now, before all the trials were completed?
I also mentioned that the number of American GIs killed in Iraq as a result of our invasion will probably reach 3,000 before the New Year, and the number of Iraqi civilians killed is at least 52,000 and perhaps more than 500,000. I have never seen estimates of Iraqi casualties under Saddam as high as that, and have seen no evidence of combined deaths of more than 30,000 under Saddam.
None of this is to dismiss Saddam's brutality. None of this is to say, "Oh, poor Saddam and the poor Iraqi people who mourn him." No one mourns him. No one. He is gone and good riddance.
But, c'mon folks -- here is another monster we created, or, at the very least, helped to create and supported for far too many years. Let's not pat ourselves on the back. Let's hear no self-congtratulatory bullshit from the current administration. We were wrong ever to have supported Saddam, and deposing him -- while throwing Iraq into chaos -- does not exculpate us from our shared responsibility for all the evil that resulted.
America, welcome to the "culture of life."