For those who forget why Saddam presented such a unique threat to the region of Southwest Asia, the Washington Post carries this reminder today. American investigators exhumed the corpses of 113 Kurds, all but five women and children, in southern Iraq, and as many as 1400 may still be buried there — victims of Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds and his other ethnic enemies:
U.S. investigators have exhumed the remains of 113 people — all but five of them women, children or teenagers — from a mass grave in southern Iraq that may hold at least 1,500 victims of Saddam Hussein’s campaign against the Kurdish minority in the 1980s, U.S. and Iraqi officials said this week. …
The non-acidic soil at the grave site preserved layers and layers of distinctive Kurdish clothing worn by many of the victims, suggesting that they may have piled on their best clothes expecting to be relocated, investigators said.
Authorities showed reporters some of the remains, including the skull of an older woman with pink dentures and the skeleton of a teenage girl clutching a bag of possessions.
“These were not combatants,” said Gregg Nivala, a member of a U.S. team investigating crimes committed by Hussein’s government and assisting the tribunal. “These were women and children.”
The Post reports that American investigators developing evidence for Saddam’s trial now can establish that Saddam murdered over a half-million Kurds in retaliation for their opposition during the Iran-Iraq War, and perhaps millions of Shi’a, as National Geographic postulated late last year. The Marsh Arabs also died by the thousands, although perhaps not as directly, when Saddam dried up their habitat and imposed starvation on their population.
Clearly, Saddam made himself into one of the most successful practitioners of genocide in the past century. Not only did he manage to kill millions of people based on their ethnicity and religion, he also engaged the Western liberal elite to defend him and his sovereignty — the same people who swore “Never again!” when genocide involved Caucasians, who bombed Belgrade when Bosnians became the victims but conveniently looked away from Arab genocides such as in Iraq and in Darfur.
If these people had been in charge in 2003, Saddam would still run Iraq with an iron fist and he would still be killing his enemies by the thousands to this day. He would still be filling these trenches with bodies of women and children, slaughtered by the hundreds in sprays of machine-gun fire and dropped into landfills like the trash Saddam considered them to be. That would have been a fine legacy for Western liberalism: the unnecessary deaths of millions of more Iraqis and others simply because too many of democracy’s leaders made money off of Saddam’s kickbacks. Shameful.