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Remembering Halabja
March 16, 2003 3:43 PM   Subscribe

15 years ago today Saddam Hussein launched an unprecedented chemical weapons attack on 20 Kurdish villages. (warning: disturbing images). I think this speaks for itself.
posted by clevershark (53 comments total)

 
Wow! He sure is a nasty man. Thanks, clevershark!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:52 PM on March 16, 2003


So are we invading Turkey next?

Or do we actually not care about the Kurds at all when it's not convenient?
posted by Space Coyote at 3:54 PM on March 16, 2003


Ah, good. This has only been on the news all day long. I was wondering when someone would post it on Metafilter.
posted by owillis at 3:54 PM on March 16, 2003


There are so many bad people in the world. I'd love to spend my money on dealing with them all. Sadly, I think the process of dealing with them would probably result in the apocalypse. We therefore have to decide who to deal with based on things like whether they are threatening us, or indeed any other country, and whether their theoretical future threat can't be contained through peaceful means.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:01 PM on March 16, 2003


Oh, quit all this fretting about the war kids.

Mr. Rotten put it best:

No future
no future for you
no fufure for me


Embrace it....
posted by jonmc at 4:02 PM on March 16, 2003


O-dub, metafilter is the news. Didn't you get the memo. There's no need for CNN anymore -- it's all right hear for your convenience.
posted by zpousman at 4:02 PM on March 16, 2003


zpousman, I thought it was all leftist here.
posted by LimePi at 4:05 PM on March 16, 2003


Except now some say it was the other side that used the gas.
posted by pyramid termite at 4:07 PM on March 16, 2003


Isn't this rather old news? As in, about 15 years old?
posted by mischief at 4:08 PM on March 16, 2003


One thing is for certain--none of us were there, so we have to trust someone else's word. Narrative a reality does not make.
posted by y2karl at 4:19 PM on March 16, 2003


The United States needs to oppose these horrible countries reasearching and sometimes even using chemical weapons. We would never do such horrible things.*
posted by punishinglemur at 4:20 PM on March 16, 2003


You're all right. Fark 'em all. If we can't get every bad man on the planet let's not bother at all. /sarcasm
posted by clevershark at 4:30 PM on March 16, 2003


Let's start with the bad man in the Whitehouse. Someone else for president in '04!
posted by letterneversent at 4:31 PM on March 16, 2003


A few things:

First:
Oh my god! Are you saying Saddam has gassed his own people! Why haven't we heard more about this!

And now that we have that out of the way, a semantic quibble:
I'm not sure "unprecedented" is the right word here. Chemical weapons were used extensively in World War I, and the Nazis used chemical weapons in the mass murder of civilians. There was certainly precedent for what happened at Halabja.

Finally, some serious geopolitics:
I'm sure if the Kurds in the autonomous region in Northern Iraq had a choice, they would prefer not being invaded by the army of a country that has sold them out (at least) twice previously and which less than a month ago was negotiating to have their land occupied by the military forces of a long-time ethnic rival. They hate Saddam, yeah, but I think they prefer their current freedom to the U.S. Army's strange idea of "democracy".
posted by mr_roboto at 4:38 PM on March 16, 2003


The fact that thousands of Kurds were gassed at Halabja in 1988 is undisputed. However, there is some debate as to whether they were killed by Iraqi or Iranian chemical weapons. Apparently a US military investigation concluded Iran was responsible (although we should bear in mind that Iraq was still more-or-less a US ally at that point). Either way, it's not as clear-cut as Bush and Blair would like us to believe. And of course Saddam has never considered the Kurds to be 'his own people'.

For further information, see this recent NYT op-ed by Stephen Pelletiere, this rebuttal by Spencer Ackerman, and this Marine Corp report from 1990.
posted by Owen Boswarva at 4:43 PM on March 16, 2003


this thread sucks.
posted by angry modem at 4:45 PM on March 16, 2003


Ten long years ago, a small kitten launched a physical attack against a much larger orange tabby. (warning: adorable images). I think this speaks for itself.
posted by zarah at 4:47 PM on March 16, 2003


LOL zars you posted in the wrong thread. you meant to post it in the one where everyone was acting like babies and stan chin wasn't being funny.
posted by t r a c y at 4:54 PM on March 16, 2003


All this time I thought they were saying that he was giving away gas, and that seemed pretty cool. But this is not cool.
So while your filling my empty head, could you tell me what our president did when this happened? Wow, he must have been really pissed.
posted by 2sheets at 5:12 PM on March 16, 2003


Nearly twenty years ago, the US launched an economic attack on the Iraqi government, raining down chemical weapons in gift-wrapped boxes with little silver ribbons. I think this speaks for itself.
posted by riviera at 5:20 PM on March 16, 2003


Gift boxes?

But, those noble French never gave Iraq nothing.

Granted, it was a bit short-sighted to approve 'research' on these things. The US government isn't run by psychics.

Same goes for the French
posted by RobbieFal at 5:50 PM on March 16, 2003


this should speak for itself:

Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas
Patrick Tyler
New York Times
August 18, 2002

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, according to senior military officers with direct knowledge of the program.

Those officers, most of whom agreed to speak on the condition that they not be identified, spoke in response to a reporter's questions about the nature of gas warfare on both sides of the conflict between Iran and Iraq from 1981 to 1988. Iraq's use of gas in that conflict is repeatedly cited by President Bush and, this week, by his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, as justification for "regime change" in Iraq.

The covert program was carried out at a time when President Reagan's top aides, including Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci and Gen. Colin L. Powell, then the national security adviser, were publicly condemning Iraq for its use of poison gas, especially after Iraq attacked Kurds in Halabja in March 1988.

posted by y2karl at 8:47 PM on March 16, 2003


this should speak for itself, too:

When news of what had happened at Halabja broke, the State Department issued a rote condemnation, but Washington continued its courtship with Iraq. As Jim Hoagland rightly predicted on March 26, 1988, “Washington's friendship for Baghdad is likely to survive one night of poison gas and sickening television film. TV moves on, shock succeeds shock, the day's horror becomes distant memory. The Kurds will stay on history's margins, and policy will have continuity” (Washington Post).

“Iraq has not paid much of a diplomatic price for its actions,” the Christian Science Monitor rightly observed on December 13, 1988. Indeed, on September 8, 1988, when Secretary of State George Shultz met with Saadun Hamadi, Iraq's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in Washington, he expressed only “concern” about Halabja. “The approach we want to take [toward Iraq] is that, ‘We want to have a good relationship with you, but that this sort of thing [the Halabja massacre] makes it very difficult,’” explained one State Department official.

In fact, the U.S. continued aid to Iraq, providing hundreds of millions of dollars in export credit guarantees through the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation and the Export-Import Bank. From June 6-8, 1989, a delegation of U.S. businesspeople representing “23 US banks, oil and oil-service companies, and high-tech, construction, and defense contractors, with cumulative annual sales of $500 billion” visited Iraq and had “high-level” talks with the Baathist regime (Christian Science Monitor, August 31, 1989).

On April 12, 1990, five top U.S. senators “arrived in Baghdad on a trip that has received little notice” at the time August 12, 1990. “The senators carried a private message from President Bush that the United States wanted to improve relations with Iraq ‘notwithstanding the record of President Saddam Hussein.’” Three of the five -- Bob Dole, Howard Metzenbaum, and Frank Murkowski -- returned to lead the charge against sanctions against Iraq for its use of chemical weapons.


U.S. Diplomatic and Commercial Relationships with Iraq, 1980 - 2 August 1990
posted by y2karl at 8:49 PM on March 16, 2003


keep talkin'

1984
The SD announced on 6 March that, based on "available evidence," it "concluded" that Iraq used "lethal chemical weapons" (specifically mustard gas) in fresh fighting with Iran.[13] On 20 March, U.S. intelligence officials said that they had "what they believe to be incontrovertible evidence that Iraq has used nerve gas in its war with Iran and has almost finished extensive sites for mass-producing the lethal chemical warfare agent".[14]
European-based doctors examined Iranian troops in March 1984 and confirmed exposure to mustard gas.[15] The UN sent expert missions to the battle region in March 1984, February/March 1986, April/May 1987, March/April 1988, July 1988 (twice), and mid-August 1988. These missions detailed and documented Iraq’s CW use.[16]
According to the Washington Post, the CIA began in 1984 secretly to give Iraq intelligence that Iraq uses to "calibrate" its mustard gas attacks on Iranian troops. In August, the CIA establishes a direct Washington-Baghdad intelligence link, and for 18 months, starting in early 1985, the CIA provided Iraq with "data from sensitive U.S. satellite reconnaissance photography...to assist Iraqi bombing raids." The Post’s source said that this data was essential to Iraq’s war effort.[17]
The United States re-established full diplomatic ties with Iraq on 26 November,[18] just over a year after Iraq’s first well-publicized CW use and only 8 months after the UN and U.S. reported that Iraq used CWs on Iranian troops.


1985

The CIA established direct intelligence links with Baghdad, and began giving Iraq "data from sensitive US satellite reconnaissance photography" to help in the war.

This same year, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to put Iraq back on State Dept. supporters of terrorism list.

The Reagan administration -- in the person of Secretary of State George Schultz -- pressured the bill's sponsor to drop it the bill. The bill is dropped, and Iraq remains off the terrorist list.

Iraq labs send a letter to the Commerce Dept with details showing that Iraq was developing ballistic missiles.

Between 1985-1990 the Commerce Dept. approved the sale of many computers to Iraq's weapons lab. (The UN inspectors in 1991 found that: 40% of the equipment in Iraq's weapons lab were of US origin)

1985 is also a key year because the Reagan administration approved the export to Iraq of biological cultures that are precursors to bioweapons: anthrax, botulism, etc.; these cultures were "not attenuated or weakened, and were capable of reproduction."

There were over 70 shipments of such cultures between 1985-1988.

The Bush administration also authorized an additional 8 shipments of biological cultures that the Center for Disease Control classified as "having biological warfare significance."


This information comes from the Senate Banking Committee's report from 1994. The report stated that "these microorganisms exported by the US were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and recovered from the Iraqi biological warfare program."

Senator Riegle, who headed the committee, noted that: "They seemed to give him anything he wanted. It's right out of a science fiction movie as to why we would send this kind of stuff to anybody."

posted by y2karl at 8:51 PM on March 16, 2003


zarah's link is actually very relevant to this thread, and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki thread: animals of the same species fight among themselves all the time, but serious injuries are rare.

Why are humans different?

y2karl: I'm just going to disregard all the stuff you just posted, because narrative does not a reality make.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:38 PM on March 16, 2003


Slithy Tove: Rhinos quite often kill each other in territorial disputes. There was a male in an African game reserve which had to be killed by park wardens because it repeatedly attacked and killed other rhinos that strayed into its territory. Male hippos will also fight to the death in quite bloody confrontations and have been known to kill females during sex, which you have to agree is very impolite, and crocodiles often kill each other, too.
Lion males will kill each other if they can to claim a pride of females, and then kill any unwanted cubs. As do domestic cats, and, in fact, many wild cat species. Hyaena society is very violent, with the biggest and toughest females dominating--just like MetaFilter!
Right here in Seattle, two bald eagles fought to the death of one over territory. Another narrative for you to ignore as I scoff, with friendly cheer, at your assertions.
posted by y2karl at 11:11 PM on March 16, 2003


I agree, though, that no animal holds a candle to us when it comes to killing our own kind.
posted by y2karl at 11:14 PM on March 16, 2003


Human males, too, have been known to kill females while having sex with them. Alas, here, too, the narrative is so heavily spun and constructed that it is very difficult to piece out 'reality'.

Actually, I did not know that about hippos and rhinos and eagles, oh, my. I was thinking of the pecking-order fights in wolfpacks, or the stomping-ground behavior of antelopes.

I agree that narrative does not make reality. But if you're going to call the photographs of the Kurdish mass murders into question, please do it with links, not appeals to epistemological nihilism.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 12:34 AM on March 17, 2003


Google the following essential article regarding the Iraq Kurds and Iran war.

A War Crime or at of War?
by Stephen C. Pelletiere

It was published as an op-ed in the New York Times Friday, January 31, 2003.

Here is the closing of this article.....
"Before the Persian Gulf war, Iraq had built an impressive system of dams and river control projects, the largest being the Darbandikhan dam in the Kurdish area. And it was this dam the Iranians were aiming to take control of when they seized Halabja. In the 1990's there was much discussion over the construction of a so-called Peace Pipeline that would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel. No progress has been made on this, largely because of Iraqi intransigence. With Iraq in American hands, of course, all that could change.

Thus America could alter the destiny of the Middle East in a way that probably could not be challenged for decades — not solely by controlling Iraq's oil, but by controlling its water. Even if America didn't occupy the country, once Mr. Hussein's Baath Party is driven from power, many lucrative opportunities would open up for American companies.

All that is needed to get us into war is one clear reason for acting, one that would be generally persuasive. But efforts to link the Iraqis directly to Osama bin Laden have proved inconclusive. Assertions that Iraq threatens its neighbors have also failed to create much resolve; in its present debilitated condition — thanks to United Nations sanctions — Iraq's conventional forces threaten no one.

Perhaps the strongest argument left for taking us to war quickly is that Saddam Hussein has committed human rights atrocities against his people. And the most dramatic case are the accusations about Halabja.

Before we go to war over Halabja, the administration owes the American people the full facts. And if it has other examples of Saddam Hussein gassing Kurds, it must show that they were not pro-Iranian Kurdish guerrillas who died fighting alongside Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Until Washington gives us proof of Saddam Hussein's supposed atrocities, why are we picking on Iraq on human rights grounds, particularly when there are so many other repressive regimes Washington supports?

Stephen C. Pelletiere is author of "Iraq and the International Oil System: Why America Went to War in the Persian Gulf."
posted by thedailygrowl at 12:42 AM on March 17, 2003


Or, Mr. Growl, you could just read the MeFi thread on that article; y2karl has already planted that big, sloppy kiss right on Saddam's backside for you. On the off chance you're really interested in what happened, Human Rights Watch has prepared a fairly comprehensive report based on actual eyewitness accounts from both survivors and journalists who witnessed the aftermath. Some key points:Moreover, the chemical attacks have been far from Hussein's only human rights violation concerning the Kurds. For example, after signing an armistice agreement with Iran in 1988, he turned his troops on the Kurdish villages near the Iranian border, bulldozing almost 500 of them to the ground over the following month. While there are no hard numbers, there is no doubt that these demolitions killed thousands and turned tens of thousands of Kurds into refugees. More seriously, over the last 30 years, Hussein has killed, arrested and expelled approximately 300,000 Kurds, Assyrians and Turkomans and given their homes and land to Arab settlers in the oil-rich Kirkuk area under an official policy of Arabization. The latest instance of this policy of ethnic cleansing started last Tuesday and is ongoing.
posted by boaz at 11:44 AM on March 17, 2003


Slithy_Tove, that sentence I wrote was about the fact there were two versions of what happened at Halabja. One was from a CIA study first leaked by the Reagan-Bush adminstration as part of a successful attempt to thwart an effort by Democratic senators trying to pass a resolution condemning our then ally Saddam.

Or, Mr. Growl, you could just read the MeFi thread on that article; y2karl has already planted that big, sloppy kiss right on Saddam's backside for you.

You're unimaginative for a cheapshot artist and dishonest as well. I noted here why I posted the Op-Ed piece from the New York Times:

That was a interesting link, 314, and thank you--I certainly have no doubt Iraq has used poison gas against the Kurds on several occasions.

The hook for me on this op-ed about Halabja was the fact that the incident itself happened during the Iran-Iraq war.

Even more so, the subtext about water caught my eye. I have no idea of the truth or importance of the latter, it's just fascinating.
posted by y2karl at 8:35 AM PST on January 31


If that is planting a big wet kiss on Saddam's backside, then you are fellating Osama.

Also, this was not in the Human Rights Report:

Iraq has already taken 'credit' for the Halabja massacre. In 1991, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, Vice Chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council stated publicly to the Kurds, "if you have forgotten Halabja, I would like to remind you that we are ready to repeat the operation."

I have heard of lies of omission--but a lie of insertion? Very revealing.

languagehat, who I respect, used that quote. I Googled and Googled and have yet to find it--as I noted here:

And where's the source for that remark by Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri? I'm just asking, because I saw that same quote--was it from Human Rights Watch and if so, where'd they get it? Was it a press release? Did it come the Iraqi's themselves? What's the context?

It's just thrown in there after mentioning Human Rights Watch's impeccable credentials but not explicitly sourced to them--you know it's not like there's ever been any disinformation or propaganda involved in the Gulf War and events thereafter.


That quote is from an editorial reply from American Foreign Policy--an e-zine of the Princeton Committee Against Terrorism (PCAT), a right wing student organization.

Now if you could provide a legitimate source for that assertion, I would find it more believable. There is, as I noted, a thing called disinformation--a subject in which you are possibly well versed. Or you might have been too lazy or stupid to actually read the comments or links in that thread. It's hard to tell which at this moment.

This sentence was in the PCAT statement of principles in reference to the attack on the World Trade Center:

No policy of the United States government could justify these horrific attacks upon innocent civilians.

Did you know, by the way, one million North Korean civilians were killed by American forces in the Korean War?

Gosh, that sentence would apply to both situations, wouldn't it?

I did see this sentence in the footnotes of the Human Rights report:

Journalists noted that the lips of many corpses had turned blue.

According to Pelletierre, this is a symptom of cyanide poisoning--a gas which, according to him, Iran used but Iraq did not.

Again, the attack on Halabja took place during a battle between the Iraqis and Iranian and Pesh Merga forces in the Iran-Iraq War.

Actually in the Human Rights Report was this:

Ibid., p. 90 n138. The note goes on to say that Iraq maintains it has never used the weapon "against civilians as part of a program of genocide." It is not clear if that means it might have used it against civilians in a city under siege, as Halabja was at the time.

As noted above, I have no doubt Iraq has gassed civilians on any number of occasions. Halabja seems a little too murky to me--there are two offical sides to the story in succession . Pelletirre's report, as mentioned above, was leaked by the Reagan-George H. W. Bush administration when Democrats in Congress were trying to pass a resolution condemning the Iraq for using chemical weapons against its civilians. Key Republican senators derailed the effort because Iraq was considered an ally then. Ironic, huh?

Another dishonest sentence you wrote above was this:

The latest instance of this policy of ethnic cleansing started last Tuesday and is ongoing.

Refugees fleeing the scene of a potential battle are refugees--they are not being ethnically cleansed. Another dishonest statement on your part.

You also conveniently ignore that when it looked like our 26 billion dollar bribe to Turkey for letting us use it's border with Iraq for a jumping off point for a northern campaign, we'd agreed to let Turkey occupy the Kurdish autonomous zone in the Northern No Fly Zone. We were ready to screw the Kurds again.

Funny, the administration uses the gassing of the Kurds as an example but then agrees to let the Turks to occupy the Kurdish zone--an area under a democratically elected Kurdish civil administration. So much for either the Kurds or democracy.

The Kurds are great for propaganda but the administration sell them out in a heartbeat if it suits their agenda. Is that a way a moral great power acts?
posted by y2karl at 10:51 PM on March 18, 2003


This is what Pelletierre wrote in the Op-Ed piece I linked in my post, boaz, in case you didn't read the link:

I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair.

This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.

And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.

The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent — that is, a cyanide-based gas — which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time.

These facts have long been in the public domain but, extraordinarily, as often as the Halabja affair is cited, they are rarely mentioned. A much-discussed article in The New Yorker last March did not make reference to the Defense Intelligence Agency report or consider that Iranian gas might have killed the Kurds. On the rare occasions the report is brought up, there is usually speculation, with no proof, that it was skewed out of American political favoritism toward Iraq in its war against Iran.

I am not trying to rehabilitate the character of Saddam Hussein. He has much to answer for in the area of human rights abuses. But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war. There may be justifications for invading Iraq, but Halabja is not one of them.


As I said, there are two versions of what happened at Halabja, both originating from the American government.
posted by y2karl at 11:00 PM on March 18, 2003


I apologize for not linking to the Human Rights Watch press release with that lovely al-Duri quote. It is given here and cited to the Washington Post. You might consider brushing up on those Googling skills.

As for your other quibble, if you had bothered to read up a bit starting with the articles I linked, you would have seen that people were fleeing Kirkuk last Tuesday not due to the upcoming war but because Iraqi forces were performing mass searches and arrests there. The pre-war exodus started on Monday after Bush's speech, which, for the temporily challenged was after I posted my comment. No comment on the other 100,000+ that have been expelled just since 1991* though, eh y2karl? Or the nearly 500 Kurdish villages bulldozed to the ground??

As for the accusation of a sellout, even Timothy Noah, who has been titling his ongoing series 'Kurd Sellout Watch', writes that it ain't gonna happen. And his update from yesterday has even more good news for them. I guess the irony is that if Dub was more of a multilateralist concerned with consensus, he would've sold them out just like his dad.

* You know, after the gulf war and Kurdish rebellion had ended.
? You know, after the Iran-Iraq war had ended.
posted by boaz at 6:15 AM on March 19, 2003


Well, I must improve upon my Goggling skills. I was not denying the quote, I was questioning it's origin. Thank you for the clarification.

you would have seen that people were fleeing Kirkuk last Tuesday not due to the upcoming war but because Iraqi forces were performing mass searches and arrests there.

The mass searches and arrests were part of an effort to dragoon men of fighting age.

That still makes the fleeing Kurds refugees--ethnic cleansing is a hot button p[hrase that actually describes the situation where an ethnic group is driven out out of a territory. The Iraqis have dispersed and relocated the Kurds within their territory, have been as brutal or worse as the Serbs to Bosnians and Kosovar Albanians, have tried to 'arabize' the Kurds in much the same way has Turkey suppressed Kurdish culture but 'ethnic cleansing' is an incorrect description of the scene in Kirkuk, is simpleminded self serving spin to justify attacking, on an agenda predating the attack on the WTC, a country that did not attack us on 9/11.

I guess the irony is that if Dub was more of a multilateralist concerned with consensus, he would've sold them out just like his dad.

As for the good news from Tim Noah you noted, it's not as if G.W. wasn't ready to sell the Kurds out:

For now, at least, it appears that the United States will not sell out the Kurds. Chatterbox's read of the situation is as follows. President Bush tried to sell out the Kurds (to Turkey) but lacked the Kissingerian finesse to pull it off. When the Turks spurned Bush's request to allow U.S. troops in, Bush withdrew his offer to allow Turkish troops into northern Iraq. In his fury at Turkey, Bush rediscovered his loyalty to the Kurds.

It's not like G.W. wasn't willing to green light the Turks taking over the Kurdish autonomous zone.

As for the multilateralism, from a recent speech by General Wesley Clark:

We've got to use the international institutions and the international law which we've created at the end of World War II. When President Truman went to the United Nations and gave a speech in May of 1945. He said "We've got to turn on its head our adversary's motto. They say might makes right. We've got to use the United Nations to say right makes might."

International law, that's our creation. We've got to use it. Of course we're subject to it. We should be. We should want to be. And NATO ... I remember a French ambassador came to me one day in NATO and he said "Wesley, you Americans, you ask about France but I'll tell you our problem with NATO is that NATO belongs to you and you will never give it up." I said "No, no, Gerard, that's not true. I mean really, NATO's all of ours and your problem in France is to keep Americans engaged in Europe." He said "No, it's not. You control NATO." Well actually, both points of view are somewhat true. NATO is ours in the sense that we are the leader. But NATO is this enormous powerful engine for bringing people together. You feed in domestic ideas from this country and that country and national concerns and international problems and you grind it through countless committees and meetings and staff papers and breaking of silence and all kinds of inside NATO kinds of slang that's no point even going into. And out of it comes, after a lot of headlines, an agreement that moves the process forward. It's doing what it should do and we've got to use it to do that.

And finally, we've got to understand that in America foreign policy, force is the last resort. Yes, you may have to use it. You may even have to use it preemptively. But the use of force is not the guiding principle of American foreign policy. Military might is not the guiding foreign policy principle. Our principle is that disputes and problems should be resolved peacefully if at all possible. If we take these three principles and put them together, we can use them to shape American foreign policy in the world.


and also:

We were active despite that and we did a lot great things in the 1990s, including fighting that war in Kosovo. It saved a million-and-a-half Albanians and gave them their homes and ended up with Milosevic on trial in the Hague.

But we didn't come out of it with a strategy. Instead, we had an America that had taken advantage of a unique moment in time for a global opening, an explosion of travel and trade and communications coupled with really favorable, incredible engines in the capital market which made America the emerging market and put us in the center of the global economic community in a way we really hadn't been probably since World War II.

We were here. Now it's different. We didn't have a strategy. We've got to put one together. How do we start? Well I think first of all, you start by recognizing what the threat. Three thousand dead in New York and the DC area underscore the primary threat is Al Qaeda. Now, they're not the KGB. They're not super human. But they are there in many different countries. And I'm really proud of the men and women in the American armed forces who took the fight to Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 and got rid of the Taliban. They did a great job but they didn't get Al Qaeda. It's still out there and still dispersed.


They did a great job but they didn't get Al Qaeda. It's still out there and still dispersed.
posted by y2karl at 9:35 AM on March 19, 2003


Ethnic cleansing and refugees are not opposite terms, y2karl. Victims of ethnic cleansing, provided they survive, become refugees just like people who flee during wartime or from more generalized persecution. You can google up "croatian refugees", "kosovar refugees", etc. if you don't believe me. So, when Hussein bulldozes hundreds of Kurdish villages, the fact that the survivors are now "refugees" in no way vindicates Hussein, nor does it when he expels 100,000+ "refugees" from Kirkuk into the Kurdish Enclave for the purpose of setting up an Arab majority in that region. Still, I would hate to overstate the case or use loaded terms, so I will simply pass on without comment Human Rights Watch's description of Hussein's 1988 Anfal campaign against the Kurds, Genocide In Iraq. Sweet dreams.
posted by boaz at 11:43 AM on March 19, 2003


Three thousand dead in New York and the DC area underscore the primary threat is Al Qaeda... They did a great job but they didn't get Al Qaeda. It's still out there and still dispersed.

Sweet dreams indeed, ad hominem boy.

From The New York Times:

Turkey Seeks Troops in Iraq and May Allow U.S. Flights

Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, March 19 — Despite deep American concern about the potential consequences, the Turkish government is insisting on its right to send troops into Iraq if it needs to, a senior American official said late Tuesday night after a delicate meeting here between Turkish government officials and Iraqi Kurdish leaders.

The concern over refugees and possible separatist demands among Kurds in Turkey were among the issues discussed at the meeting between Turkish government officials and Iraqi Kurdish leaders.

The American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the United States continued to believe that "a unilateral action could cause significant problems." Iraqi Kurds are strongly opposed to such an action and have said in the past that it could prompt violence between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Nonetheless, the official said, "The Turks have reserved the right in principle to come in."


So, the Turks may do unilaterally what we were prepared to allow them to do. Kurd Sellout Watch is still up and running.
posted by y2karl at 12:19 PM on March 19, 2003


First, the linkage between al-Qaeda and Iraq is incredibly weak; it's weak when Pres. Bush tries to link them, and it's weak when Gen. Clark tries to link them. After all, does Clark really believe that an armed forces funded to the tune of $340 billion yearly is incapable of walking and chewing gum simultaneously? Like the rubble in Afghanistan, the al-Qaeda rabble had merely been blown apart, er dispersed, to the level where there's no ROI in blowing them apart further.

Second, the Turks can reserve whatever rights they want, and it won't make an ounce of difference in the short run (i.e. the length of a war on Iraq and occupation afterwards). As long as US troops are on the ground with the Kurds, Turkey won't do anything to bring themselves into direct conflict with them, both for political and safety reasons.

Third, I am genuinely curious. Do you deny HRW's claim that Hussein's Anfal campaign was genocidal? I apologize for bringing it up in such a snarky manner, since I would like to know. It seems that they do overstate a bit, but it also seems to me that when the Iraqi forces consistently gas, bomb and shoot anyone who fails to escape as they take over each town, you need a little stronger term than creating refugees.

Fourth, as a point of style, could you please use the <blockquoute> tag for extended quoting? Reading all that italics hurts my eyes; I am not quite as young a boy as you imagine.
posted by boaz at 3:13 PM on March 19, 2003


First, the linkage between al-Qaeda and Iraq is incredibly weak; it's weak when Pres. Bush tries to link them, and it's weak when Gen. Clark tries to link them.

General Clark did not connect Iraq and al Queda. Any third grader reading his linked speech would see that.
I am less than shocked and awed by your reading comprehension.
posted by y2karl at 6:33 PM on March 19, 2003


From Clark's linked speech:
And as we look at where we are in the world today, you have to ask ... here we are on the verge of war with Iraq, we've got North Korea preparing to produce fissile material, Al Qaeda's still there and apparently issuing threats, although they haven't delivered on any of them yet.
In the future, try to be only rude or wrong, because it's quite unbecoming to be both simultaneously.

And pasted from my last post:
Do you deny HRW's claim that Hussein's Anfal campaign was genocidal?
Because that might be a tiny bit more relevant in a thread about the gassing of Halabja. Just saying.
posted by boaz at 7:49 PM on March 19, 2003


You:
First, the linkage between al-Qaeda and Iraq is incredibly weak; it's weak when Pres. Bush tries to link them, and it's weak when Gen. Clark tries to link them.

In the future, try to be only rude or wrong, because it's quite unbecoming to be both simultaneously.
I repeat, General Clark did not link Iraq and Al Queda. His speech--obvious to a third grade reader--was about how we are not fighting who attacked us.

You omitted the crucial next sentence in your misleading and selfserving quote of General Clark:
And as we look at where we are in the world today, you have to ask ... here we are on the verge of war with Iraq, we've got North Korea preparing to produce fissile material, Al Qaeda's still there and apparently issuing threats, although they haven't delivered on any of them yet. And a lot of people, all around this country, have asked me as I travel back and forth "What are we doing and where is it going and why are we doing this?"
General Clark, short answer:
...We didn't have a strategy. We've got to put one together. How do we start? Well I think first of all, you start by recognizing what the threat is. Three thousand dead in New York and the DC area underscore the primary threat is Al Qaeda.
General Clark, longer answer:
...We didn't have a strategy. We've got to put one together. How do we start? Well I think first of all, you start by recognizing what the threat. Three thousand dead in New York and the DC area underscore the primary threat is Al Qaeda. Now, they're not the KGB. They're not super human. But they are there in many different countries. And I'm really proud of the men and women in the American armed forces who took the fight to Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 and got rid of the Taliban. They did a great job but they didn't get Al Qaeda. It's still out there and still dispersed. We've got ten thousand troops in Afghanistan. We've got 4500, 5000 peace-keepers there. The Germans and the Dutch are taking over the mission to lead it.

But we're almost ready to go to war with Iraq. Focus on Al Qaeda. How do we do it? Number one, we take the United States armed forces and we do need to transform those armed forces. We need to be able to strike when we need to with predators or with raids or action teams or snatch teams or whatever you call it, with little notice around the world in the countries, in the areas where there is no governmental authority that supports us and will work with us.

But most of the terrorists are not in those locations. They're mostly in countries that are allied with us and we're not going to drop bombs on those countries and we're not going to send in special forces, raiding teams. There it's a law enforcement problem and here's the great opportunity for us: why can't we take an institution like NATO and broaden it beyond its purely military functionality and let it help us harmonize the international war on terror? That means a common definition of what terrorism is. It means standardizing the elements of proof. It means agreeing on the rules of evidence and what it takes to prove the crime of terrorism.
Creative misreading will always be able to ignore--that obvious-to-a-third-grader-reader--that what General Clark meant by Focus on Al Queda was that attacking Iraq does nothing to protect us from the group that attacked us: Al Queda.

Now again, my comment, quoted now twice in this thread, from what you--leading authority on being rude and wrong--called a big sloppy kiss on Saddam's backside:
That was a interesting link, 314, and thank you--I certainly have no doubt Iraq has used poison gas against the Kurds on several occasions.

The hook for me on this op-ed about Halabja was the fact that the incident itself happened during the Iran-Iraq war.

Even moreso, the subtext about water caught my eye. I have no idea of the truth or importance of the latter, it's just fascinating.
posted by y2karl at 8:35 AM PST on January 31
As pretty generic said, Wow! He sure is a nasty man, testosteronic creative misquoter and selective editor.

Note, again, that our government covered for Saddam's gas attack on Halabja when it suited its purposes and allowed him to buy our anthrax cultures, to boot. And if fighting genocidal or democidal dictators is an excuse for invading countries, I have a long list for you.

Except they are not as easy to conquer as Iraq, which might have had an arsenal to threaten us at some undeternined time in the future. And then again, might have not, had we allowed intrusive UN arms inspections with armed escorts as was proposed. But we wanted to invade Iraq from the git go, for pre-existing reasons not related to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

I remind you again: We were attacked by Al Queda.

For the first time in our history, we are attacking first a country that has not attacked us. An attack, that was two years in the making before 9/11, I remind you, on a country that did not attack us on 9/11 is not the War on Terrorism.

Apart from the existing pre-9/11 chickenhawk agenda, it is , in part, Campaign 2004, or at very least, a distraction to cover the fact that we have not eliminated Al Queda. Much as the Invasion of Grenada was a public relations move for Reagan to distract the American public from the fact he'd gotten 200 Marines killed in Lebanon for nothing and then had peremptorily bailed out of the commitment that put them in harm's way in the first place.

A feel good victory over a weak opponent which did not attack us is not doing anything about--as General Clark spelled out--the para-state entity which attacked us: Al Queda.

Now need I link, for your continued creative misreading, how the Bush Administration allowed an "ally" airlift Al Queda and Taliban fighters from the town of Kunduz in Afghanistan during the real War on Terror for another example of all the things the present administration needs to distract our attention from: How it is bungling its fight against the threat from those who actually did attack us: Al Queda.
posted by y2karl at 9:54 PM on March 19, 2003


Well then y2karl, allow me to quote my whole reply to your Wesley Clark link rather than your selective misquoting:
First, the linkage between al-Qaeda and Iraq is incredibly weak; it's weak when Pres. Bush tries to link them, and it's weak when Gen. Clark tries to link them. After all, does Clark really believe that an armed forces funded to the tune of $340 billion yearly is incapable of walking and chewing gum simultaneously? Like the rubble in Afghanistan, the al-Qaeda rabble had merely been blown apart, er dispersed, to the level where there's no ROI in blowing them apart further.
As that quote shows, my dear reading comprehension tutor, I was in fact responding to the charge that "we are not fighting who attacked us." This is not an either/or proposition and never has been.

Note, again, that our government covered for Saddam's gas attack on Halabja when it suited its purposes and allowed him to buy our anthrax cultures, to boot.

Right, and now that you're covering for Saddam's gas attack on Halabja when it suits your purpose, you have the honor of being wrong too. Pot, meet kettle.

And if fighting genocidal or democidal dictators is an excuse for invading countries, I have a long list for you.

While we're all entitled to our opinions, I could only find 3 areas that HRW used the term genocide to describe: Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegova and Iraq. In only one of those is the leader responsible for the genocide still in power.

For the first time in our history, we are attacking first a country that has not attacked us.

Right, except for Kosovo, Iraq, Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Mexico, England, etc.
posted by boaz at 6:04 AM on March 20, 2003


General Clark:
And I'm really proud of the men and women in the American armed forces who took the fight to Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 and got rid of the Taliban. They did a great job but they didn't get Al Qaeda. It's still out there and still dispersed.
Boaz:
Like the rubble in Afghanistan, the al-Qaeda rabble had merely been blown apart, er dispersed, to the level where there's no ROI in blowing them apart further.
First, you got what Clark said so wrong it's laughable and then you give your opinion that we don't need to worry about al Queda anymore. Right, and now that you're covering for Osama again by repeating we have nothing to fear anymore from al Queda after its attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon when it suits your purpose, you have the honor of being ad hominem slur boy once again. Slime boy meet slime boy in the mirror.

I didn't include your stupid wrong assertion--boo hoo hoo. Believe me, if we are attacked by al Queda on our soil again--and I pray to God it never happens and I never have to do this--I will throw that little quote in your ad hominem assface again and again. Oh, but that would be so unfair? It's nothing to the way you twist things.

When I posted that other thread, cheapshot boy, I was not covering for Saddam. I posted a New York Times editorial that I had just read. I had always assumed Saddam had gassed the Kurds before I read that, and for a fact I thought he had gassed them after--along with the Iranians quite possibly--from what Pelletierre had written. If I recall, the gas attack happened during a battle.

My post was not about any other atrocities committed by Saddam, Osama apologist, it was about Halabja after I had read a version that questioned the party line which I'd not read before, your little slur notwithstanding.

If Saddam is captured alive and tried in the Hague for his atrocities--and I, for one, think he should he will be tried under a convention our government rejects. He will be tried under conventions of internationl law after being captured by a regime which rejects international law. Some irony there.

I have no illusions about Saddam, Osama's Ari Fleischman, and I'm not sad to see him go--but not illegally, not at such cost to us, economic and moral. G.W. Bush has done everything he can to destroy international law so he and his Vietnam-military-service-evading chickenhawk crew can demonstrate to the world we blow things up real good.

This war was not about democracy or genocide --it's an example, the first step in a long long war in which we are going to topple or intimidate what weak governments we can and drive the rest into going nuclear. It endangers our safety and is in that utter folly.

Now, let's see him tell the citizens of this country how long we will be there and what the cost of the war--which we will bear entirely--will be.

PS. You mention Kosovo in your little list but you forgot Bosnia-Hercegovina. I do think President Clinton did the right thing there, where he had not done so in the case of Rwanda. He did something to save lives. He put together an international coalition and was backed by all our European allies. He didn't bungle his international relations, frighten and enrage the world nor make enemies out of allies in his use of the military, which puts him light years ahead of Bush.
posted by y2karl at 5:37 PM on March 20, 2003


Wow, that's a fine rant; you need to find yourself a street corner pronto. BTW, here is an editorial by the director of HRW on his frustrating, futile efforts to get Saddam indicted that I think you will find interesting. It actually ties in quite nicely to what you're saying, only better informed and sans insane ranting. While it's become a bit outdated, it lays out the case against Saddam, the various options for trying him and the shortcomings of each; required reading for international law weenies. Now I must go to face Mecca and pray for the Great Satan's destruction ;)
posted by boaz at 8:07 PM on March 20, 2003


I do, however, owe you an apology for my intimations as to your relation to Saddam's keister. It seems perfectly plausible on reflection that you just did not realize just how disingenuous Mr. Pelletiere's was being. As I had commented earlier, his analysis of the situation just doesn't hold up: there is no plausible reason for Iran to gas a city they had already secured, the fighting had already stopped several hours before the chemical attack commenced (though Iraq had continued to shell the city), the victims included almost no military personnel and the Iraqis took responsibility for it. Further, ignoring the mountains of evidence uncovered after the First Gulf War to demand the administration prove Hussein's "supposed atrocities" exposes him as a demagogue of the lowest order. However, you are not Mr. Pelletiere, and I apologize for equating your position to his so, uh, colorfully.
posted by boaz at 9:24 PM on March 20, 2003


Well, I would take your word for it--except the bonehead misreadings and/or creative misquoting of General Clark make me a bit distrustful. Also, your spin, er, assertions are undocumented. But please--spare me. I'll check it our myself.

And insane rant, Mr. We-Don't-Have-to-Worry-About-al Queda-Anymore? Slippin' another ad hominem in?
posted by y2karl at 10:56 PM on March 20, 2003


Late but...
Fifteen years after the gassing of 5000 Kurdish civilians in the northern Iraqi town of Halabja in 1988, journalist Adel Darwish recalls how American and British governments, and a tame media, stonewalled those who tried to report the atrocity - and the truth it revealed about Saddam Hussein.
If one covers up for a genocidist, doesn't that make him a criminal as well? I mean apart from arming them in the first place? Any of you expect daddy Bush to sit on a war crimes tribunal anytime soon?
Just saying...
posted by talos at 4:50 AM on March 21, 2003


If you claim that my assertions are undocumented, y2karl, that just means you didn't read the documentation I linked (this, this, and this). It's funny how the world has changed in 15 years; truth is now the first casualty of anti-war protest.

Talos, your point is well taken but keep in mind that the full extent of the genocidal Anfal campaign was only revealed after the First Gulf War, when human rights groups were finally able to visit the area. Even if you discounted Pelletiere's CIA report as politically motivated, it was still possible to believe in 1988 that Halabja was merely an isolated incident in a long, ugly war. I hold no love for Reagan's regime and would love to find out if they knowingly covered up the genocide in Anfal, but that doesn't change the fact that we do know what regime committed genocide in Anfal.
posted by boaz at 8:11 AM on March 21, 2003


boaz: I had personally seen photos of the gassed bodies, by September 1988 in various left wing events in Greece for chrissakes. Somehow I cannot believe that what was happening in Kurdistan at the time could have escaped the attention of the people who enthusiastically supplied Saddam with weapons (and that includes, among others, both the US and the UK).
Please keep in mind that "Saddam gassed his own [sic] people" was a mantra well overused by the time the first gulf war started.
Plus, can anyone explain why massacring Kurds with chemicals is an atrocity while decapitating your enemies and the destruction of 3428 villages, is action against terrorism?
posted by talos at 9:16 AM on March 21, 2003


Sorry for not being clearer talos. The gassing of Halabja was very well reported (and photographed) thanks to Iran flying in a bunch of reporters in the immediate aftermath. The larger genocide of the Anfal campaign, of which Halabja was only a very small part, was not publicly reported until after the Gulf War, when human rights groups began investigating. So, while it was widely known that "Saddam gassed his own people" in Halabja in 1988, it was not known until later that he had also gassed at least 39 other locations, bulldozed thousands of villages and arrested from 50-100 thousand Kurds in dragnets, trucked them to remote sites, executed them and buried them in mass graves. And that's just the highlight reel. For all of Turkey's evils, and they are legion, Hussein is the only leader who has perpetrated a recorded genocide and remains in power.
posted by boaz at 2:59 PM on March 21, 2003


Well, now that the Turks are going into northern Iraq, coughheavyarmormassedonbordercough, things should get quite... 3WA?
posted by y2karl at 3:08 PM on March 21, 2003


And, boaz? We aren't invading because of Anfal, any more than we're invading because of the attacks of 9/11, anymore than the adminstration cared about Iraqi democracy before Tony Blair wrote their talking points for them, anymore BubbaDude showed one moment's concern for that same democracy in his blog until the week before his pompous self-serving megatroll post, when someone'd cooked up that dipshit spin/smear anybody-against-the-invasion-as-pro-Saddam 'Iraq democracy' button or any more than you gave a rat's ass about the Kurds until it became a warblog talking point.

No, the invasion was locked in years before 9/11--as the Onion so presciently noted back in January of '01.
posted by y2karl at 3:33 PM on March 21, 2003


For all of Turkey's evils, and they are legion, Hussein is the only leader who has perpetrated a recorded genocide and remains in power.

Well, Kim Jong Il, with whom we will be playing footsie aoon enough, and the People's Republic of China--you know, our trading partners? The people who make us our American flag pins?--come to mind. And by body count, I bet they outstrip Saddam by the five figure numbers.

We aren't invading Iraq our of any humanitarian motive--we're invading because Iraq is a trailer park of a military power which we can whip in time for General Rove's election cycle. The rush to this war isn't because we care about the Kurds or Saddam's a clear and present danger--this is about chickenhawk agendas and 2004. Otherwise, we would have done the wise thing, built a real coalition, and deposed him by assassination or intrusive weapons inspections involving troops.

Al Queda is amorphous and hidden, Saddam is right there--whip him and, whee, we're taken into the land of peace and honey and magical thinking. All this spin about the Kurds or democracy is just spin, spin for the adminsitration, spin for the warbloggers, spin for you. If you cared about lessening the terrorist threat and people's rights you'd be putting your energy into an Israeli/Palestine peace plan. That would get the Arab world off our backs and stop the suicide bombers recruitment machine. In Sa'ana, Yemen, the police are using live ammunition on rioters, we've destabilized Suadi Arabia and Egypt and we're setting the mId East on fire for our quick fix fantasy ''solution''.
posted by y2karl at 4:26 PM on March 21, 2003


Really y2karl. Complaining about spin? Could you kindly point me to the comment you've made in this thread that isn't pure spin? Perhaps you're slavish devotion to Pelletiere's *cough*bullshit*cough* essay? Or your repeated characterization of this war as a re-election ploy, as if on balance you consider leaving in power a Republican president a greater evil than leaving in power a genocidal dictator? Or claiming that it's not a real coalition unless it involves properly bribing France, Germany and Russia, the very countries that HRW discovered would even veto an international war crimes tribunal for Iraq, into forgetting about all the money they make off Iraq? Or calling anything that contradicts your Manichean worldview 'spin'? I guess you could call that last one meta-spin, but it's spin nonetheless.

I suppose someday I might be interested in hearing your Grand Unified Theory on the proper way to remove genocidal dictators from power (I've heard it involves lots of bribing diplomacy and spending only 12 years is a "quick fix fantasy"), but how about I call you when that day comes, not the other way around.
posted by boaz at 11:43 PM on March 22, 2003


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