13 January 2006

Running with numbers, and other thoughts on Iraq

One of the great problems I have been having is the fact that many individuals seem to be wanting to replicate Steve Jobs's Reality Distortion Field with regards to the history of Iraq, the United States and a few other topics on terrorism and the Global War on Terror.

Who Created Saddam?
The first of these things that badly needs addressing is the often used argument that the US bought and paid for Saddam Hussein and Iraq, supported his regime and generally gave him a boost up in the world. The numbers on this are pretty clear on Conventional Arms sales to Iraq from 1973-1990:
(all $ = US$ Million)


USSR/Warsaw Pact


China (PRC)





%Total by US












































































































































































Granted, the US did supply Saddam's regime with 0.45% of its Conventional Arms, and I think the apology for doing so was taken care of in the First Gulf War. Now there are further claims that the US supplied Iraq with bio-weapons know-how. And indeed the US did supply Iraq with samples of Anthrax, West Nile Virus and Botulinin toxin. These were all conducted above-board via the Centers for Disease Control for public health research. What seems to be missing from this criticism is that the US did *not* transmit the know-how of how to breed virulent strains, mass produce them, put them into a long-term storage form suitable for weapons, weaponize them and provide equipment and knowledge to actually do anything in a bioweapons program. I have yet to see one shred of proof that the United States actively and cooperatively worked with Iraq in the development of biological or chemical weapons. No US scientist has stepped forward with a guilty conscience to claim that. No documents in Iraq or Iraqi scientists that actually *worked* on these things has named names and dates and techniques and places where the US has done so.

Up until the end of the Soviet Union, Iraq was a client state of the USSR for technology and trade. To those of you who have forgotten the 46 year Cold War, let me refresh your memory: being a client state of one of the two superpowers usually meant that you did very little work with the other superpower or its client states, unless you were planning to change sides. As for Iraq, the US saw it as a nice counter-weight to Iran, especially as Iraq started a war with Iran. Iran, by becoming a theocratic Islamic state that did not hew to any western standards (be they democratic or communist) cast itself adrift by invading the US Embassy, taking hostages and generally finding a way to cut itself off from the outside world. In so doing Saddam Hussein saw easy pickings and thought that Iran would be his for the taking and really did not like the line being taken by Iran to try and foster revolution in the Shia's of the south of Iraq. The US *did* play superpower politics in the Iran-Iraq war, but the general feeling of that era was:

  • 'In fact, "American intelligence agencies provided Iran and Iraq with deliberately distorted or inaccurate intelligence data in recent years," the Times reported (1/12/87). The motive, captured in the Times headline: "Keeping Either Side From Winning." Or, as Henry Kissinger coldly put it, "too bad they can't both lose." ' - www.zmag.org article.
The funny thing is that I noticed no one (liberal or conservative) weeping and wailing over the human slaughter going on between Iran and Iraq. To do so today is entirely hypocritical for those of voting age at that time and highly misguided by those trying to apply post-Cold War standards to the Cold War era. To say that the United States 'created' and 'nurtured' Saddam Hussein and gave him the technology for working on WMDs is pure fantasy. Saddam Hussein found his very own scientists, traded for dual-use equipment and generally tried to play both Superpowers against each other for his own advantage. He is a self-made scoundrel.

But it was ALL about WMDs!!
A quick look at the actual congressional language on the Joint Congressional Resolution of the Use of Force on Iraq in 2002. Yes, WMDs are at the top of the list, but do consider what Saddam was actively trying to keep *something* from various inspection teams, actively intimidating them and delaying them, trying to put more and more sites off limits and skimming money off the Oil for Food program while starving his own population. Hostilities did not end after the First Gulf War, and the cease fire required that Saddam destroy and verify the destruction and disarmament of his WMD *programs*. Note, this is not just a weapon's requirement, but, as the second paragraph in the Authorization clearly states:

  • "Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;
The role of the UN was to verify that the programs had been eliminated. Lock, stock and barrel. As in ALL OF IT. To those of you not used to the world of international diplomacy, this may come as a surprise, but 99% is not 100% and Saddam was playing in the single digits of verification. No intelligence agency in the world said that he had totally disarmed and dismantled the Iraqi WMD programs. As in, ZERO. In an era where a little known group had staged a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subways, couple that with the 9/11 attacks and the known fact that terrorist organizations of all stripes shared information and methodologies, having a state actor that was not coming clean on total dismantlement of his CBN programs was and *is* unacceptable. A nice roundup of some things can be found here.

Some other wonderful bits for the edification of the reader:

  • Whereas in Public Law 105-235 (August 14, 1998), Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in ``material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations'' and urged the President ``to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations''; [paragraph 5 of the Authorization]
  • Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolution of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait; [paragraph 7 of the Authorization]
  • Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;[paragraph 8 of the Authorization]
  • Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;[paragraph 9 of the Authorization]
  • Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;[paragraph 10 of the Authorization]
  • Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;[paragraph 11 of the Authorization]
  • Whereas in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1), Congress has authorized the President ``to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolution 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677'';[paragraph 15 of the Authorization]
  • Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;[paragraph 19 of the Authorization]
Paragraph 5 and Operation Desert Fox clearly demonstrate that the President did *not* need congressional approval to deliver military reprimands to Iraq. In this case, it was President Clinton. And that this is cited to let the American people know that this problem had been back-burnered for too long and that the global balance of threat assessment had now made this an intolerable situation (also see paragraphs 16-17 on the Authorization for congressional approval for regime change in Iraq during the Clinton Administration).

Paragraphs 7-8 indicate that the attitude towards the Saddam regime was that he had the infrastructure to build and the will to use chemical weapons against military and civilian targets, including his own population. This was clearly an individual that had no compunctions against using horrible means to gain his ends. He had done so in the past, he was evading in the present and it was fully expected that without a full cleansing of the Iraqi regime, he would do so in the future.

Paragraph 11 only needs a few words on it. World Trade Center Bombing in 1993; Ramzi Yousef. Salman Pak. Saddam's terrorist bonus. Abu Nidal. Iraq as terrorist haven. People's Mujahedin of Iran. Najmedeen of BCCI. Fatah-RC. Abu Abbas. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi at hospital run by Uday Hussein. al-Qaeda.

Paragraph 15 (and previous) had indicated that there was a world-wide acknowledgement that Saddam had to abide by his promises, destroy his weapons programs and stop looking for advanced long-range delivery systems technology. Congress felt, and rightly so, that the UN had provided a world forum that had come to the distinct conclusion that Saddam should be held to his word on stopping WMD programs and be held accountable for his activities. After more than a decade he had not done so.

And paragraph 19 basically says that Congress believes that the US has the right to go after Iraq on the fact that it had not kept to its agreements, had not dismantled its WMD programs, had flouted international resolutions, and had proven itself to be a haven for terrorists that had threatened the US and stability in the Middle East. I find it absolutely incredible that anyone would disagree with that.

Pre-Iraq invasion predictions
From Australia, you get numbers ranging all over the place but the lowest range seems to be 48,000 to 260,000 by Medical Association for the Prevention of War. Of course, that was from *just* the war, another 200,000 post-war could be expected, with maybe another 20,000 on top of that if there was a civil war in Iraq. Greens leader Bob Brown and the Australian Sociological Association both expected about 100,000 civilians to be killed.

Confidential UN document says over 1.2M Iraqi children at risk for malnutrition in case of war. Main link broken, but header sentences here. That same site has Iranian President saying that Iran could not support all the refugees from Iraq in case of war. And the previous page has the UNHCR put the refugees from Iraq at 600,000, but it is granted they were prepared to handle about 60,000 when things started. (what *did* happen to all of those supplies?)

Then the Coalition Against Sanctions in Iraq has the actual UN document for perusal. 16M Iraqis highly dependent upon food supplies likely to be in need of help, 10's of Millions of liters of kerosene, gasoline and diesel needed, 5.4M people in the south in need of intervention, 2M internally displaced persons, 500,000 wounded due to the conflict, epidemic if not pandemic likely, and some 900,000 Iraqi refugees in need of assistance! Wowzer!

And finally a round-up of MSM predictions here. Is it any wonder that the same organization that had cut a deal with Saddam was giving the gloomiest predictions? CNN: all the truth we will never tell you about so we can get 'access'... to whatever. And believe it or not, these are just the MODERATE predictions!

A few other numbers to dwell upon
From HRW:
The number of 'disappeared' in the 1970's in Iraq: 290,000
The number of Kurds dead in 1988 genocide campaign: 100,000 (182,000 by another estimate)
Unaccounted for Marsh Arabs in 1980's in Iraq: 50,000 - 70,000
Barzani males taken from resettlement camps in 1983: 8,000
Feyli Kurdish males deported to Iran in the 1980's: 10,000 or more
Estimated number of Kurds killed from chemical weapons attacks: 5,000
Kuwaitis disappeared and missing after invasion: 600

Mass grave sites found: 53
Number of dead in mass grave sites: 400,000

Estimated Iraqi dead in Iran-Iraq war: 450,000-950,000 (the lowest estimate is 200,000, and no one knows for sure)

From a Frontpagemag article:
Shia's deported to Iran in 1980: 60,000
Number of Iraqi's deported to Iran, total: 200,000 with 50,000 in squalid refugee camps
Shia's killed in Gulf War uprising: 300,000

No one has a guess on the number of Iraqis disappeared for political or personal reasons. At one point Abu-Ghraib held 48,500 in the 1980's. Most never came back.

No one can even begin to guess the numbers tortured, mutilated, terrorized, raped and robbed by the Saddam Hussein regime and its followers.

Death toll of Iraqis by Saddam Hussein's regime: quick low end guesstimate 1.2M, with the highend reaching about three times that. Say he had real power as de facto ruler in 1977 so call in 9,500 days, that gives you 126 Iraqis dead per day due to Saddam Hussein.

On the low side.

[UPDATE] And not to be missed, Gateway Pundit on the predictions in Iraq topic.

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