When Did Saddam Hussein Become a Dictator?

  1. First I admit my guilt by doing nothing. During the 1990s I was so concerned with the replacement of licensed nurses with untrained & unlicensed personnel (after the 1980s layoff of experienced nursing assistants) the harm the sanctions were causing was not in my central vision. Disappointment that the President basically gave up on healthcare reform I concentrated on family and healthcare concerns.
    I wrote letters fearing harm when we went into Haiti and Bosnia. Sad that people were killed in my name in the former Yugoslavia, yet wrongly less so than if Americans had been killed.

    As one citizen I can do nothing. As a group we can do a lot. First we need a different President.
    Second we need to remain organized to keep hin honest and doing the right thing with courage or answer to the people.

    After all the first words written officially by the US were "WE THE PEOPLE"

    Fri Feb 13, 2004
    When Did Saddam Hussein Become a Dictator?
    He was apparently just first among equals back in 1991, when the U.S. government deliberately destroyed Iraq's infrastructure:

    Among the justifications offered now [shortly after Gulf War I], particularly by the Air Force in recent briefings, is that Iraqi civilians were not blameless for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. "The definition of innocents gets to be a little bit unclear," said a senior Air Force officer, noting that many Iraqis supported the invasion of Kuwait. "They do live there, and ultimately the people have some control over what goes on in their country."

    This passage is quoted in a recent James Bovard essay on the murderous economic/diplomatic war that filled the space between the two invasions. Chew on this: The definition of innocents gets to be a little bit unclear. Americans and Britons: How different are your governments' foreign policies from those of Osama bin Laden? Go ahead and send the hate mail, but give an honest minute's reflection to the question first.

    Iraqi Sanctions and American Intentions:
    Blameless Carnage? Part 1
    by James Bovard, January 2004 (Posted February 9, 2004)
    President Bush's advisors assured Americans that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators-with flowers and hugs-when the United States invaded Iraq. That promise turned out to be one of the biggest frauds of the Iraqi debacle.
    One major reason for the animosity to U.S. troops is the lingering impact and bitter memories of the UN sanctions imposed on the Iraqis for 13 years, largely at the behest of the U.S. government. It is impossible to understand the current situation in Iraq without examining the sanctions and their toll.
    President Bush, in the months before attacking Iraq, portrayed the sufferings and deprivation of the Iraqi people as resulting from the evil of Saddam Hussein. Bush's comments were intended as an antidote to the charge by Osama bin Laden a month after 9/11 that "a million innocent children are dying at this time as we speak, killed in Iraq without any guilt." Bin Laden listed the economic sanctions against Iraq as one of the three main reasons for his holy war against the United States.

    Most Western experts believe that bin Laden sharply overstated the death toll. A United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) report in 1999 concluded that half a million Iraqi children had died in the previous eight years because of the sanctions. Columbia University professor Richard Garfield, an epidemiologist and an expert on the effects of sanctions, estimated in 2003 that the sanctions had resulted in infant and young-child fatalities numbering between 343,900 and 529,000.

    Regardless of the precise number of fatalities (which will never be known), the sanctions were a key factor in inflaming Arab anger against the United States. The sanctions were initially imposed to punish Iraq for invading Kuwait and then were kept in place after the Gulf War supposedly in order to pressure Saddam to disarm.
    Sanctions wreaked havoc on the Iraqi people, in part because the Pentagon intentionally destroyed Iraq's water-treatment systems during the first U.S.-Iraq war:
    * A January 22, 1991, Defense Intelligence Agency report titled "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities" noted,
    Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized and frequently brackish to saline.... Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease.... Unless the water is purified with chlorine, epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid could occur.
    * The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency estimated in early 1991 that "it probably will take at least six months (to June 1991) before the [Iraqi water treatment] system is fully degraded" from the bombing during the Gulf War and the UN sanctions.
    * A May 1991 Pentagon analysis entitled "Status of Disease at Refugee Camps," noted,
    Cholera and measles have emerged at refugee camps. Further infectious diseases will spread due to inadequate water treatment and poor sanitation.
    * A June 1991 Pentagon analysis noted that infectious disease rates had increased since the Gulf War and warned, "The Iraqi regime will continue to exploit disease incidence data for its own political purposes."
    George Washington University professor Thomas Nagy, who marshaled the preceding reports in an analysis in the September 2001 issue of The Progressive, concluded, The United States knew it had the capacity to devastate the water treatment system of Iraq. It knew what the consequences would be: increased outbreaks of disease and high rates of child mortality. And it was more concerned about the public relations nightmare for Washington than the actual nightmare that the sanctions created for innocent Iraqis.

    Pentagon intent
    A Washington Post analysis published on June 23, 1991, noted that Pentagon officials admitted that, rather than concentrating solely on military targets, the U.S. bombing campaign "sought to achieve some of their military objectives in the Persian Gulf War by disabling Iraqi society at large" and "deliberately did great harm to Iraq's ability to support itself as an industrial society."

    The bombing campaign targeted Iraq's electrical power system, thereby destroying the country's ability to operate its water-treatment plants. One Pentagon official who helped plan the bombing campaign observed,
    People say, "You didn't recognize that it was going to have an effect on water or sewage." Well, what were we trying to do with sanctions-help out the Iraqi people? No. What we were doing with the attacks on infrastructure was to accelerate the effect of the sanctions.

    Col. John Warden III, deputy director of strategy for the Air Force, observed,
    Saddam Hussein cannot restore his own electricity. He needs help. If there are political objectives that the UN coalition has, it can say, "Saddam, when you agree to do these things, we will allow people to come in and fix your electricity." It gives us long-term leverage.

    Another Air Force planner observed,
    We wanted to let people know, "Get rid of this guy and we'll be more than happy to assist in rebuilding. We're not going to tolerate Saddam Hussein or his regime. Fix that, and we'll fix your electricity."
    The Post explained the Pentagon's rationale for punishing the Iraqi people:
    Among the justifications offered now, particularly by the Air Force in recent briefings, is that Iraqi civilians were not blameless for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. "The definition of innocents gets to be a little bit unclear," said a senior Air Force officer, noting that many Iraqis supported the invasion of Kuwait. "They do live there, and ultimately the people have some control over what goes on in their country."

    A Harvard School of Public Health team visited Iraq in the months after the war and found epidemic levels of typhoid and cholera as well as pervasive acute malnutrition. The Post noted,
    In an estimate not substantively disputed by the Pentagon, the [Harvard] team projected that "at least 170,000 children under five years of age will die in the coming year from the delayed effects" of the bombing.

    The U.S. military understood the havoc the 1991 bombing unleashed. A 1995 article entitled "The Enemy as a System" by John Warden, published in the Air Force's Airpower Journal, discussed the benefits of bombing "dual-use targets" and noted,
    A key example of such dual-use targeting was the destruction of Iraqi electrical power facilities in Desert Storm.... [Destruction] of these facilities shut down water purification and sewage treatment plants. As a result, epidemics of gastroenteritis, cholera, and typhoid broke out, leading to perhaps as many as 100,000 civilian deaths and a doubling of the infant mortality rate.

    The article concluded that the U.S. Air Force has a "vested interest in attacking dual-use targets" that undermine "civilian morale."