Why We Fight
December 2, 2002 8:05 PM   Subscribe

'Saddam's men torturted me' A dossier of human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by the Iraqi regime, including torture and rape, has been released by the UK Government. The full report here (pdf). Amnesty International is criticizing the UK government for the timing of the report's release. What do you think? Moral outrage at the servile scum that run Iraq's prisons or calculated manipulation of UK/US public opinion prior to an inexorable war to keep our SUVs?
posted by Zombie (48 comments total)

 
Considering that all of this material had been published before, it really should come as no big shock to anybody familiar with the human rights abuses of the Iraqi regime. Now, one wonders when the companion report about the excesses of the Kuwaitis, the Saudis, and the Pakistanis. Oh, but that's right -- they're our allies.
posted by MAYORBOB at 8:18 PM on December 2, 2002


Seeing as the UK does not have the same interests as the US with the war in iraq, perhaps these reports are true...

I don't know very many brits that are just dieing to "keep their SUVs".
posted by LoopSouth at 8:22 PM on December 2, 2002


Do you really believe this is a war to "keep our SUV's"? The vast majority of people bitching about the fuel consumption of SUV's are also the same people who wholeheartedly opposed the drilling for DOMESTIC sources of oil in Alaska and off the coast of Florida. They also fail to see that half empty public transit busses with engines running all day suck up a whole shitload more of fuel. Besides, we get the majority of our oil in this hemisphere (Mexico, Venezuela, Canada, etc).
posted by sharksandwich at 8:24 PM on December 2, 2002


It seems to me that the US/Europe has enough offshore oil production infrastructure (not to mention untapped domestic reserves...) by now to make the mid-east almost irrelevant...

Could it be that this war is about more then just Big Oil?

Who knows?
posted by LoopSouth at 8:34 PM on December 2, 2002


sharksandwich: It doesn't matter what anyone says. It's All About Oil™
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:36 PM on December 2, 2002


Talk about a puff piece... this thing reads like a bad comic book.

The pattern of defense exhibited by the propagandizers (yes, I just made up that word) is so dull: "How can you possibly say we're doing this for other motives... PEOPLE ARE DYING HORRIBLY HERE, ARE YOU THAT INSENSITIVE?" It's just boring.
posted by zekinskia at 8:38 PM on December 2, 2002


Steve@: It doesn't matter what anyone says. It's all about Evil-Doers.™
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:51 PM on December 2, 2002


"...half empty public transit busses with engines running all day suck up a whole shitload more of fuel."

If a bus is half full, it's using a shitload less fuel than if the passengers were driving SUVs.
posted by Bearman at 9:05 PM on December 2, 2002


As usual on MeFi, it's about SUV's, or Big Oil, or Bush, or anything BUT the actual horrors Saddam Hussain is responsible for. Odd how that topic seems to be so intensely avoided, even when it's explicitly brought up.
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:05 PM on December 2, 2002


You're right, MM. But why attack Iraq and not all the other countries where people are tortured and have no rights?

I looks to me like the UK government want its citizens to feel good about attacking Iraq.
posted by Bearman at 9:17 PM on December 2, 2002


While the timing of the report is probably politically motivated, the fact remains that atrocities have happened and are continued to be inflicted upon people. The problem for justifying a war simply for humanitarian reasons is that it raises the question of why not remove all governments that commit gross human rights abuses. This would include many allies and countries such as China which we do not want to go to war with.
posted by mr. man at 9:35 PM on December 2, 2002


How dare the UK detail these well-known atrocities at a time when suicide bombers are dying every day.
posted by gleemax at 9:36 PM on December 2, 2002


I mean, isn't Saddam the good guy in this mess?
posted by gleemax at 9:38 PM on December 2, 2002


The report timing - and mendacious concern - does seem a bit fishy. Especially given that the UN sanctions against Iraq have been linked over the last decade (controversially) to hundred of thousands of Iraqi deaths, a large number of these children.

Meanwhile, back in neocon land, "...while Iraq provides the immdediate justification, Iran may prove to be the greater threat" - from "Rebuilding America's defenses" (Pdf) available from the "Project for a new American Century" website (Authored by Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Lewis Libby.)

#1 greatest proven oil reserves - Saudi Arabia. #2: Iraq

Year in which US domestic oil production peaked: 1970

% of US oil consumption from foreign sources:50%
posted by troutfishing at 9:43 PM on December 2, 2002


By all means, we should dissolve the UN immediately and try its officials for crimes against humanity.
posted by gleemax at 9:45 PM on December 2, 2002


Amnesty International is criticizing the UK government for the timing of the report's release

Why would AI complain about a report documenting the kind of human rights abuses they're trying to prevent? Do you have a link for this, or have I missed something here?
posted by backOfYourMind at 9:58 PM on December 2, 2002


"Let us not forget that these same governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International's reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq before the Gulf War."
posted by Bearman at 10:09 PM on December 2, 2002


Remember the old SNL skits about the landshark? That tricky shark was relentless in trying ploy after ploy to get the people in the apartment to open the door. Candygram. Girl Scout Cookies. Pizza. Unicef.

I am sad that I can't believe anything our government tells us anymore. Although I do believe that gross human rights violations occur in Iraq, the urgency for war right this instant escapes me, and I feel like Bush et al are playing a PR landshark game with us - what are our hot buttons? Collusion with Bin Laden? Six months away from a nuclear device? Smallpox? Human rights violations? I can't think when we've had a day without a message about Iraq and Hussein...whoever is orchestrating this daily on point, on message scenario is a PR master, drumming it in our heads over and over, if the fear doesn't get to us, maybe the human rights violations will. And it doesn't matter if some issues play a little cavalier with the facts because next day we're on to the next message, look over here now. It's a campaign theme just like the economy was a few years ago - except now "it's Saddam Hussein, stupid."

Perhaps I would be less cynical if we hadn't turned a blind eye to these violations in the past, if we didn't leave the kurds out to dry last time around, if we didn't ignore violations by our friends, if prior to 9/11 we had any indication from this administration that human rights were of any priority in Iraq or any other country.

It may not be all about oil, but this I know: it's certainly not about humanitarianism.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:02 PM on December 2, 2002


You don't need people to support a war to make it happen, but it sure does help, especially if things go bad. There will eventually be a war in Iraq, the Administration is intelligent enough to know that the more people on board now, the easier it will be to keep the campaign going, especially if there are heavy casualties on either or both sides. Look for lots of articles, reports, and tv programs stressing the humanitarian aspects of the war in the weeks to come.
posted by chaz at 12:17 AM on December 3, 2002


The hamhandedness of these propagandists is what interests me, actually. Sure, Saddam's a Bad Man™ and he oughta be taken out and whipped and it may or may not be All About The Oil™ and Bush may or may not be Evil Incarnate™ and so on and so forth....but do those who would clumsily attempt to mold public opinion with stuff like this really believe we are all so easily swayed and roused to a killing heat?

Then again, maybe they're right. Me, I just find it insulting.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:02 AM on December 3, 2002


I don't think there's anybody in either the UK or the USA who doesn't think that Saddam's regime is a pretty nasty one. The debate isn't about whether Saddam is a bad man, the debate is about whether the West has any right or responsibility to do anything about it, and if so, what is the appropiate level of involvement.

The timing of this release just feels manipulative to me. I haven't read what's in it, but I don't need to. I already know. It isn't going to change my opinion of what should be done about him.
posted by salmacis at 2:10 AM on December 3, 2002


Doesn't any body read Fark anymore?

Saddam Hussein's Top Ten (actually nine) Torture Techniques
posted by hama7 at 2:13 AM on December 3, 2002


I don't know anymore about Saddam than I know about Bush. I've never met either of them. I don't know what clandestine deals for blood either of them make. I don't even know if either is concerned about humanity or Earth's ecosystem all that much. Anybody who tells you they do know such and such about one or the other is lying.

Both are, for all intents and purposes, tyrants. Saddam's like a weaker male gerbil when you throw him into a cage with other male gerbils. All male gerbils are tyrants once you get them all together. They'll even maul their own offspring should the aggression drift that direction.

It's abominable that humanity must be held hostage to these elitist dick comparisons.
posted by crasspastor at 2:44 AM on December 3, 2002


Both are, for all intents and purposes, tyrants.

Gerbils? Tyrants? Tyrannical gerbils? Gyrannical terbils?

I take my hat off and genuflect to you, sir.
posted by hama7 at 2:57 AM on December 3, 2002


You're so funny hama7.
posted by crasspastor at 3:01 AM on December 3, 2002


You are too, Your Crassness.

How about 'splainin the similarity between a brutal dictator and an elected President?
posted by hama7 at 3:06 AM on December 3, 2002


Elected president?
&
Hussein wasn't a US/Corporate golden child before he invaded Kuwait?
posted by crasspastor at 3:12 AM on December 3, 2002


the excesses of the Kuwaitis, the Saudis, and the Pakistanis

is it not the case that iraq is an order of magnitude worse than these countries? that was my impression - is there any info from a "reasonable" source that says abuses of human rights in these countries are similar to iraq?
posted by andrew cooke at 3:43 AM on December 3, 2002


I detest your SUV, but I shall defend to the death your right to keep it!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:37 AM on December 3, 2002


Elected president?

Yes, elected president.

Hussein may very well have been a "golden child" before he gassed and boiled the Kuwaitis in acid, but he's the piss-boy now. I have it on good authority that every horrific thing that you've heard about Hussein is but the tip of the golden iceberg, which is neither here nor there.

Walmart and SUVs for the Iraqis! And the Price Club! Super-Saver Discounts too!
posted by hama7 at 5:02 AM on December 3, 2002


As an ethical rather than political point, could it not be argued that the fact that previous administrations of the United States supported M. Hussein's seizure of power, and provided his government with funding and arms despite knowledge of the "human rights violations" (to use a banal euphemism for a horrific state of affairs) going on places a moral burden upon the American administration to remove M. Hussein from power, in order to correct and atone for the unethical actions of their predecessors?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 5:32 AM on December 3, 2002


Compare and contrast:
Brutal dictator. Elected president.
Elected dictator. Brutal president.

Nazis! Everything's like the Nazis! Vibrating Nazis!
posted by digiboy at 5:36 AM on December 3, 2002


Without badmouthing America or British policy, and without claiming Iraq under Saddam is heavenly, I am annoyed by Amnesty International, a group that always seems hell bent on making political statements when they deem it the time to do so. It may be true that the Brits are releasing this report as propaganda, but would A.I. prefer it to be left to that organization to be the only ones who can point fingers at what is deemed wrong or bad?
posted by Postroad at 8:09 AM on December 3, 2002


As an ethical rather than political point...
Your idea sounds eerily familiar to the same argument for reparations...Our forefathers allowed for slavery, so now we ought to correct and atone for the unethical actions of their predecessors? Also, as much as I love to study ethics, I've found that often times as good as an ethical system may sound, its the practicality I'm worried about. Many ethical points seem sound, but hard to implicate. And other ethical ideas seem to be too flawed, yet stare us in the face every day. OK, time to stop the digression.
posted by jmd82 at 8:51 AM on December 3, 2002


It may be true that the Brits are releasing this report as propaganda, but would A.I. prefer it to be left to that organization to be the only ones who can point fingers at what is deemed wrong or bad?

I think they'd prefer Jack Straw not to use selective excerpts from their work in order to imply that Saddam is Uniquely Evil™ at a point where falsely portraying his Unique Evilicity™ is expedient for being dragged into war on Bush's coat-tails. Or as the Indy puts it: 'we should be impatient when ministers, so energetically pursuing the (familiar) case against Saddam, make excuses for the human rights abuses perpetrated by our "friends".'

Also, I'm getting sick of Britain playing apologist-in-chief to the hawks in the US government. It's just a bit unbecoming.

I have it on good authority that every horrific thing that you've heard about Hussein is but the tip of the golden iceberg, which is neither here nor there.

Gosh, care to share your sources? Or is your 'good authority' once more to be identified as Ari Fleischer?
posted by riviera at 9:22 AM on December 3, 2002


I have it on good authority that every horrific thing that you've heard about Hussein is but the tip of the golden iceberg...

Are you suggesting that government and the press are going easy on Saddam? Why would they do that? Maybe the Govt. has evidence so evil that we, the public just wouldn't be able to handle the truth - even if it mean't greater support for the war? I think I may have underestimated George and Tony's respect for their people.
posted by niceness at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2002


It would not surprise me if the atrocities committed in Iraq are far graver than those being reported.

It is similar to what happens in North Korea. Nobody wants to hear the inhumane and horrific things that occur there. Most of what is reported is watered down and when people who have knowledge and information try to disseminate it, very few are interested. This has happened on many occasions. People don't want to hear it because if they don't know what is happening or if they can pretend they don't know, then they have no reason to do anything about it.

It would not matter how horrific the reports released now are anyway. People would just say what is being said about Britain right now. The worse the report, the more shrill the voices decrying its use as a justification for war.
posted by Baesen at 10:43 AM on December 3, 2002


Looks like AI has become a politically-motivated organization--and disgusting at that. How is substantiating the cruel record of Hussein on the eve of removing him anything but proper.

Looks like I'm becoming more American by the day. It looks like, between the Nobel Committee, Keystone UN Inspectors, an Arafat-loving EU, AI, and a panoply of other dubious organizations, the world is going down the moral toilet. This is really disillusioning.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:50 AM on December 3, 2002


While we keep hearing that the only people who want war are those who don't know what it's like, I think the opposite is more likely true: the West, and especially Europe has fostered a generation or two of people so spoiled in comfort that they don't know what oppression and torture is; they don't want to know, because it interupts there pleasant, immediate surroundings; and don't really care that others are enslaved. Well, wake up. Will blowing up a few Airbuses or Eurostar trains be the wakeup call? How about a big blinding flash of light in the port of Marseille?
posted by ParisParamus at 11:02 AM on December 3, 2002


Well....

Saddam supports Osama didn't fly.
Saddam supports terrorism didn't fly.
Saddam has nukes didn't fly.
It's looking like Saddam has WMD isn't gonna fly either.

So now it's just Saddam is a bad, bad man. Who can argue with that? Especially since we have it on good authority that every horrific thing that you've heard about Hussein is but the tip of the golden iceberg... once again (with absolutely no proof, again!)

The Mighty Wurlitzer never stops spinning and I'm so tired of being constantly lied to by my government as if I'm not capable of discernment.

The chickenhawks want war and they don't care what the cost, after all it isn't gonna be their ass gets killed.
posted by nofundy at 11:12 AM on December 3, 2002


Paris - Isn't it odd that the rest of the world is currently feeling disgusted* with the US? Todd Rundgren once did a song called "everybody else is wrong". Is everybody else wrong? Remember, there are many around the world who -with quite convincing logic- would level the "down the moral toilet" accusation at the US.

But name calling is beside the point really - the US has declared that it will do what it wants. So will the US hunker down in North America, armed to the teeth, to venture out occaisonally- in spectacularly destructive displays of it's millitary might, squashing perceived foes, only to retreat back to it's mighty lair to await another threat? Or will Americans choose the path of actually paying attention to what the rest of the world thinks?


*to make a wild generalization, but there's something to it, if I can believe one quarter of what I read, not to mention the many ongoing protests around the world against the US going into Iraq.
posted by troutfishing at 11:19 AM on December 3, 2002


Looks like AI has become a politically-motivated organization--and disgusting at that. How is substantiating the cruel record of Hussein on the eve of removing him anything but proper.

Amnesty are rightly pissed off after banging on about Hussein's human rights abuses for 30 years and being ignored by Govts. who were funding him while Amnesty highlighted his gas attacks. Now that it is politically expedient, their reports are forming the basis for the British Govt's substantiation - the same reports that they have ignored up until now. Amnesty are right to be sceptical at such blatant hypocrisy and it's good to see that the British media have been equally sceptical. Blair's spin has never been so visible.
posted by niceness at 12:02 PM on December 3, 2002


Actually, Paris, what it sounds like is that Amnesty is less political than those who use their reports for various things. An example that might hit close to home was a few months back when they released a report detailing the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity by the Palestinian Authority. Much was made of it on the Israeli side, with the Palestinians silent. The next day, they released their reports on the human rights abuses by the Israelis, and the Palestinians made a big deal about it and of course the Israelis were the silent ones.

Basically Amnesty has one agenda that I can see and that is total committment to human rights. That often doesn't square with the politics that certain people have, and they get accused of favoring one side or the other. In reality it seems that different 3rd parties use their reports for their advantage depending on the situation-- that is far more political than anything Amnesty does.
posted by cell divide at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2002


Looks like AI has become a politically-motivated organization--and disgusting at that. How is substantiating the cruel record of Hussein on the eve of removing him anything but proper.

How is ignoring the cruel record of Sharon on the eve of his re-election anything but improper?

Looks like I'm becoming more American by the day.

I'm sure that the other 250-odd million Americans will take that as the insult it appears to be.
posted by riviera at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2002


For all the talk of substantial human rights abuses in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Iran, there are serious differences between these countries and Iraq, whether or not you believe these differences justify war is another matter.

1) Iraq is the only one of these countries to have started two territorially aggressive wars over the past two decades.

2) Iraq is the only one of these countries to have used WMD both in combat and against its own citizens (whatever the US said or did not say about it at the time.)

3) Iraq is the only one of these countries that has no demonstrable record of an orderly transfer of power (even North Korea was able to transfer power from father to son.)

3) Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are straw men. They have no WMD and despite our differences, closely rely on the US to keep their economies going. Iran, for all its flaws and its own efforts to develop WMD, is also a functioning semi-democracy that accords broad rights to its citizens, broader rights in fact then are present throughout much of the rest of Southwest Asia. Pakistan, while a dangerous and unstable country, is attempting to work with the US and the West on national security issues, and has a proven track record over the past twenty years of NOT USING the WMD that it possesses. This make Pakistan a categorically different threat than Iraq. North Korea is the standout. It is an abusive, secretive regime bent on developing WMD capabilities. And the US is treating it in a similar way to Iraq. It has threatened war (the mid 90s) and is attempting diplomacy.

5) Iraq also has horrific humanitarian abuses, and like what was stated above, I am of the belief that these abuses are more severe than the abuses that occur in these other states.

Is the war about Iraq's human rights record? No. The main reason war is being proposed is to make sure that this dangerous, unstable, unpredictable and aggressive regime does not acquire significant WMD capabilities that could be deployed against the US and the West either now or in the future. But the fact that the man is a horrific tyrant cannot be ignored. And this fact adds some justice to the talk of removing him.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:44 PM on December 3, 2002


Is everybody else wrong?

Actually, the position of European governments on war with Iraq, and war in general, diverges significantly from that of public opinion surveys.

In any case, I stand by my position. Removing Hussein will, in the long run, and probably the short run, will save a lot of lives. The guy is evil. Only a fool would be opposed to his removal NOW.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:00 AM on December 4, 2002


I read this in the Times today, arguing that this information is mere scare-mongering - a view I share. I don't think the link will be active for long though.
posted by Summer at 6:56 AM on December 4, 2002


That governments are using factual information to persuade the eneducated masses doesn't mean their intentions are dishonorable. Let's face it: There are some people out there who make up their mind by reading headlines.

You are allowed to agree with someone even if your logic along the way and your ultimate goals are entirely different.
posted by gleemax at 9:14 AM on December 4, 2002


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