Official - Iraq was safer under Saddam

I'm about to quote from an article written by Jim Krane of the Associated Press. Yeah - I still hate being right:

"Most Iraqis remain less secure than they were under Saddam, less secure even than they were in the first year of the American occupation," said James Dobbins, a former Bush administration envoy to Afghanistan and veteran diplomat who now directs the Rand Corp.'s International Security and Defense Policy Center.

Dobbins supplied figures from the Baghdad morgue that show 1,800 violent deaths in 2002, Saddam Hussein's last full year in power. That number jumped beyond 6,000 in 2003, the first year of the American occupation, and topped 8,000 last year, he said.

"Under Saddam, you usually were OK as long as you kept your mouth shut," said Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq analyst with the International Crisis Group. "Now you might get hurt or even killed almost arbitrarily, given the absence of rule of law, the sectarian fighting, insurgent actions and U.S. carelessness in responding to attacks."


Craig Schwarze said...

1948 Headline in Der Berliner - "Official: Germans more prosperous under Nazi regime"

The big question being - so what?

Craig Schwarze said...

You might be intersted in this site -


Some consider it to be the most accurate count of civilian casualties in the war. It currently estimates between 26,000 and 30,000 deaths.

Anonymous said...

The one thing OSO can never do is to admit just how many Iraqi's our sanctions were killing.

The absolutist stance of OSO’s "Blood on their hands" article has made any reference to pre-Gulf War 2 deaths impossible as it would blur the black and white moral schema OSO has imposed on a very grey situation.

How can OSO ignore the 500 thousand children who died as a direct result of the UN sanctions?

UNICEF's last comprehensive survey of child and maternal mortality in Iraq in 1999 found that 500,000 children under the age of 5 had died of acute respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases and other causes as a direct result of the sanctions.

Or what about the million or so increase in infant mortality (stillborn, newborn babies dying) under sanctions? (Sorry, I've lost the source for that one... am still looking.)

Gerard Alexander puts the case well at the "Weekly Standard". I'll quote directly.

Four months before Saddam's fall, Human Rights Watch estimated that up to 290,000 people had "disappeared" since the late 1970s and were presumed dead. The Coalition Provisional Authority's human rights office estimates that 300,000 bodies are contained in the numerous mass graves. "And that's the lower end of the estimates," said one CPA spokesperson. In fact, the accumulated credible reports make the likely number at least 400,000 to 450,000. So, by a conservative estimate, the regime was killing civilians at an average rate of at least 16,000 a year between 1979 and March 2003.

U.N. economic sanctions were also killing civilians. Critics regularly claimed sanctions caused 4,000 to 5,000 Iraqi children to die per month from poor nutrition and health care. UNICEF attributed some 500,000 unnecessary deaths to the sanctions in the 1990s. The sanctions remained in place as long as Saddam's regime refused to comply with international requirements. Liberation made it possible to lift the sanctions almost immediately--thus saving approximately 60,000 lives a year, if we use UNICEF's numbers.

At some point in the past year, the number of Iraqi civilians who would have been killed by Saddam's continuing rule surpassed the number who died because of the war. We will never know for sure when that moment occurred, whether earlier or later than the six-week mark guessed at by the New York Times's John Burns. But it has long since passed. And that margin will grow with each passing year that Iraqis are free from Saddam. People genuinely motivated by a concern for Iraqi civilians have much to be grateful for. Terrorist bombings inside Iraq since liberation show just how little Baathists value Iraqi civilian lives, and just how ready they would be to resume mass murder if the world let them.


Personally, I feel GW2 is in such ambiguous territory because GW1 ended with an impossible outcome… Saddam in power. While GW1 probably complied with the normal clauses of “Just war theory”, the outcome was unjust and did not comply with “Jus post bellum”.

Jus post bellum concerns the regulation of the process of terminating war, and the transition from war to peace. One of the main proponents of jus post bellum is Brian Orend, who proposes the following rules:
Just cause for termination - A state may terminate a war if there has been a reasonable vindication of the rights that were violated in the first place, and if the aggressor is willing to negotiate the terms of surrender. These terms of surrender include a formal apology, compensations, war crimes trials and perhaps rehabilitation.


What surrender? What formal apology? What compensations and war crimes trials? Saddam built an arch of victory!

We utterly failed the people of Iraq and failed “Just post bellum”. Instead we imposed sanctions on Iraq, and punished the people, not the regime. The Iraqi people suffered “death by sanctions” while the regime and various UN personal illegally siphoned off some of the funds.

The second Gulf War was an inevitable consequence of our failure to apply “Jus post bellum” in the first Gulf War. Separating out the 2 conflicts leads to the illogical conclusions found in “Blood on their hands” and is poor history and negligent theology.

The moral issues here are far more complicated than gloating in hindsight that there were no WMD’s, and condemning some pastors that believed the CIA.

Theteak said...

I was going to interview some Kurds to ask them what they think about this issue.

Craig Schwarze said...

The Washington Post publishes a report showing showing the number of deaths due to Insurgents is about 26,000