March 14, 2008


Halabja@20: Saddam Hussein’s horrific 1988 genocide of the Kurds is still having repercussions. (Carter Andress, 3/14/08, National Review)

This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s massacre of an estimated 5,000 Kurds in the Iraqi town of Halabja. The March 16, 1988 attack, using a lethal air-delivered mixture of mustard gas and nerve agent, killed virtually every man, woman, and child in the town. The destruction of Halabja initiated a campaign of mass murder that Saddam named Al Anfal — “the Spoils of War,” from a passage in the Koran. It was the high-water mark of his regime’s genocide against the Kurds.

This campaign, carefully planned and executed, resulted in the deaths of over 150,000 Kurds — women and children included, and in fact specifically targeted. Entire regions of Kurdistan were depopulated, and more than 1,000 villages disappeared from the map of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands more Kurds fled in terror to become refugees within the borders of their historical enemies, Iran and Turkey.

This ethnic cleansing of Kurds, while part of Saddam’s “Arabization” project, also had its pragmatic side: The Kurds were predominant in the oil-rich and strategically important areas of northern Iraq, and oil money could help their separatist movement. Perhaps for this reason, Saddam began his assault on the Kurds in 1979, as soon as he became president of Iraq. But he was no means the only guilty party. The entire Iraqi leadership, as well as tens of thousands of Iraqi army personnel and security forces, were culpable in these sickening crimes against humanity that continued until Saddam was removed from power.

One of the great peculiarities of the Samantha Power kerfuffle was that even though her reputation is based on a supposed opposition to genocide, she was working for Senator Obama, who says he'd have left the genocidal Saddam in place, rather than Ms Clinton, who helped remove him and stop the holocaust. It seems fair to ask whether such folk are not only opposed to the genocides we don't intervene in, their isolationism trumping morality. In which case, who's monstrous?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 14, 2008 8:17 AM

Obamamania just doesn't seem the same any more. Even at the NRO Corner they're taking time from bashing McCain and Hispanics to go after The Rev.

Something's going on here. Not long ago John O'Sullivan intoned on the Corner that he believed Obama's unify-the-country spiel.

Posted by: Casey Abell at March 14, 2008 9:46 AM

I call it "hypothetical heroism".

Like the Bush-hater who told me that he could understand going after North Korea after 9/11... they HAD WMD's! But not Iraq of course.

After I picked myself off the floor from laughter, I realized that I ought to have been insulted that he thought me stupid enough to believe him. This from the "No link between Iraq and Al Queda" crowd.

The fact is such people are always willing to fight the good fight against tyranny... wherever the battle is NOT.

Where the battle IS, is where there are mistakes, not-so--pretty pictures, collateral damage, a small number of soldiers that act like doofuses, flag-draped caskets, kids in the way... all those bad bad things that are all the Republicans fault.

Like so much else, they get their heroism on the cheap. Inside their own toasty warm hearts. No need to let the actualities of this world intrude.

Hypothetical heroism.

Posted by: Andrew X at March 14, 2008 9:51 AM


They thought it was white and black natives vs beaners. But it turns out the blacks hate them.

Posted by: oj at March 14, 2008 12:11 PM

Samantha Power is just another academic bunghole. Now, if she came out for killing Mugabe, the opthalmologist, Chavez, a Burmese general or two, and Nasrallah, then we could talk.

But she thinks meetings stop genocide. Only bombs can do it.

Posted by: ratbert at March 14, 2008 6:35 PM