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RTFirefly
01-02-2004, 05:43 PM
I'm putting this in GD because there seem to be differing opinions.

This morning's Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48220-2004Jan1.html) estimates about 300,000.

At a recent Dopefest, another Doper insisted that the total was somewhere in excess of 2 million, which IIRC what the Doper said, ranked Saddam as the fourth-biggest mass murderer in the past century.

Asking for a cite in the middle of a party didn't seem to make much sense (one of many reasons why I prefer to just stay out of GD-style debates at Dopefests), so I didn't; I'm asking the question here instead of there.

One of the reasons I'm back to the question at all, of course, is that it bears on the moral necessity of invading Iraq for humanitarian motives alone. If Saddam was the biggest killer in the past century, after Hitler, Stalin, and whoever's #3 (Mao? Pol Pot?), then the argument that he was so exceptionally evil that we had to stop him gets ratcheted up. But if he's killed fewer people than have been killed by many other dictators (e.g. Idi Amin) or in singular events (e.g. Rwanda) that we've been content to ignore, it gets ratcheted down.

At least IMHO. But if you want to debate by how much it gets ratcheted up or down, or whether it should make a difference at all, mind waiting until the question of numbers has been hashed out - in this thread, at least?

So, the questions:

1) How many people did Saddam kill?
2) How does that stack up against other persons who organized mass slaughters, or incidents of mass slaughter?

Cites, please.

Aldebaran
01-02-2004, 05:54 PM
You forgot to add the quesiton:

How many people did GW Bush kill since he is in office?


Salaam. A

Jackmannii
01-02-2004, 06:01 PM
Plus one illegitimate beard-shaving.

Michael Ellis
01-02-2004, 06:07 PM
Originally posted by Aldebaran
You forgot to add the quesiton:

How many people did GW Bush kill since he is in office?


Salaam. A

:rolleyes:

Salami. M

Michael Ellis
01-02-2004, 06:13 PM
Oh, and according to the oft-cited R.J. Rummel, the three biggest killers were:

1) Stalin (42,672,000 dead)
2) Hitler (37,828,000 dead)
3) Mao (20,946,000 dead)

Aldebaran
01-02-2004, 06:13 PM
M.Ellis,

Can you give a translation of that word and explain what it adds to the intended debate? Thank you.

Salaam. A

Michael Ellis
01-02-2004, 06:17 PM
No.

Salami. M

Aldebaran
01-02-2004, 06:22 PM
Are you saying that you don't know what it means? Then why do you use it? Seems rather strange to me.

Salaam. A

Bryan Ekers
01-02-2004, 06:41 PM
Micheal's contribution was exactly as useful as your own, Aldebaran.

As for the question at hand, some of the terms have to be defined. Does "kill" include the casualties caused by the Iraq/Iran war? Estimates of Iraqi casualties seem to vary between 350,000 - 1 million. Since the war wasn't one of defense (at least, not on Iraq's side), can it be chalked up to the ambitions of Saddam?

If those are included, you may as well throw in any Kuwaitis killed during the invasion of 1991.

By the most inclusive definitions, I can imagine getting into the two million range.

John Mace
01-02-2004, 06:47 PM
The estimates I've seenn for the Iran/Iraq war are usually 1/2 million on each side, ie, 1M total (http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761580640/Iran-Iraq_War.html).

CyberPundit
01-02-2004, 06:47 PM
I think the issue of when he killed them is also relevant. Most of Saddam's victims were before the no-fly zones were imposed in the 90's.

To justify the war on humanitarian ground you would have to compare the number of Iraqis killed in the years immediately preceding the war with those killed by the war and the resulting instability.

pervert
01-02-2004, 07:08 PM
Or, perhaps, with the number that might have been killed if we had withdrawn our enforcement of the no fly zones without removing him.

John Mace
01-02-2004, 07:10 PM
Originally posted by pervert
Or, perhaps, with the number that might have been killed if we had withdrawn our enforcement of the no fly zones without removing him.
You beat me to the punch, perv.

No worries, though. I'm sure the French would've stepped in to enforce the NFZ if we ever withdrew...

CyberPundit
01-02-2004, 07:38 PM
But there was no plan to remove the no-fly zones. So the relevant comparison is war verus the pre-war status quo with NFZ.

John Mace
01-02-2004, 07:50 PM
Originally posted by CyberPundit
But there was no plan to remove the no-fly zones. So the relevant comparison is war verus the pre-war status quo with NFZ.
I'd quibble with that. I don't see why the US is obligated to maintain the NFZ indefinitely. We wouldn't want to take that kind of unilateral action, you know.:)

RTFirefly
01-02-2004, 08:25 PM
Aldebaran - Michael Ellis was helping answer Q. #2 in the OP. (Thanks, Michael.)

Bryan - I'd meant to exclude war, but must've had a senior moment when writing up the OP. At the least, I think we ought to separate those killed in war operations from killings that aren't the stuff of war. (Distinguishing, for instance, French killed in battle in WWII from French Jews rounded up and killed during the Occupation.) Even wars of aggression are a different thing than the roundup and slaughter of civilians that one already rules. How different is a subject of debate, and surely varies from one war to another. But it's a rare culture that has never, ever regarded a war of conquest as a good thing.

John Mace
01-02-2004, 09:03 PM
According to Tony Blair (http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/page5038.asp), 400k is the lower limit:

The remains of four hundred thousand human beings already found in mass graves.

CyberPundit
01-02-2004, 09:09 PM
"I don't see why the US is obligated to maintain the NFZ indefinitely"
From the US pov. the NFZ was a lot cheaper than the 150+ billion dollars spent on the war. Not to mention the loss of life of US soliders.

pervert
01-02-2004, 09:13 PM
Not if the NFZ was to be in place indefinately. Not to mention that it cost us politically for having troops in the region.





<as I duck>

John Mace
01-02-2004, 09:17 PM
Originally posted by CyberPundit
"I don't see why the US is obligated to maintain the NFZ indefinitely"
From the US pov. the NFZ was a lot cheaper than the 150+ billion dollars spent on the war. Not to mention the loss of life of US soliders.
Well if we're look at cost, lets not forget the cost of deploying our military back in tha fall of 2002 in order to get the inspectors back in. I don't remember the French kicking in for that expense either.
Remember the inpsections that everyone said we needed to allow more time for? Remember that the only thing that made S.H. agree to let them back in was our troop deployment.

CyberPundit
01-02-2004, 09:25 PM
"Not if the NFZ was to be in place indefinately"
Actually even then. I doubt that the NFZ cost more than a few billion dollars a year. The interest you could earn on just 100 billion dollars would be enough to pay for the NFZ pretty much forever.

As for the political cost how is a full-blown invasion better than the much less intrusive NFZ? And there is no guarantee the US will be able to pull out troops from the ME any time soon.

CyberPundit
01-02-2004, 09:34 PM
"Remember that the only thing that made S.H. agree to let them back in was our troop deployment."
This is getting rather far from OP but I would question whether the full deployment was necessary or even helpful to put pressure on SH to accept inspectors. What was needed was the threat of war not the certainty of war. To do that sending perhaps one carrier group and maybe one division as a signal would have been enough. By sending an entire army the US pretty much signalled that it was going to invade anyway reducing any incentive for Saddam to co-operate.

Dissonance
01-02-2004, 09:36 PM
Originally posted by John Mace
The estimates I've seenn for the Iran/Iraq war are usually 1/2 million on each side, ie, 1M total (http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761580640/Iran-Iraq_War.html). One million is usually the high-end estimate for fatalities (as opposed to casualties, which includes wounded and prisoners) that I’ve seen for the Iran-Iraq war, with Iranian deaths being a good deal larger than Iraqi deaths. Not to sound snarky, but the MSN Encarta cite is in general agreement with this.:) Because both Iran and Iraq used irregular military units, attacked civilian populations, and played down their own losses while playing up those of their opponents, reliable casualty figures do not exist. For example, Iran claimed to have lost 200,000 or fewer of its own citizens, while Iraq claimed to have killed 800,000 Iranians. Neutral estimates come closer to the Iranian claim but are uncertain. Because of different battlefield techniques, Iraq’s deaths were probably about half those suffered by Iran. The total number of people killed almost certainly exceeds 300,000. Wounded and captured soldiers push the casualty total over one million, and some estimates of total casualties exceed two million.

John Mace
01-02-2004, 09:49 PM
Originally posted by CyberPundit
This is getting rather far from OP but I would question whether the full deployment was necessary or even helpful to put pressure on SH to accept inspectors. What was needed was the threat of war not the certainty of war. To do that sending perhaps one carrier group and maybe one division as a signal would have been enough. By sending an entire army the US pretty much signalled that it was going to invade anyway reducing any incentive for Saddam to co-operate.
(my bolding) Nope. Bush threatened war for quite some time, but we didn't get any inspectors in until after the deployment was pretty much complete. Did we need to deploy as many troops as we did? Well, we'll never know that will we? But the build-up was not instantaneous, and S.H. didn't respond in the early stages. Of course, the French could've sent just one or two carriers in order to get the inspectors back in, but they didn't.

CyberPundit
01-02-2004, 10:01 PM
"but we didn't get any inspectors in until after the deployment was pretty much complete"
Source for this? Iraq let back the inspectors in November 2002. I don't think the deployment was complete till the early months of 2003.

CyberPundit
01-02-2004, 10:24 PM
In any case getting back to the main issue does anyone know of estimates of how many people were killed by the Iraqi regime in the years preceding the war ie. 2002 or 2001? That would probably be the best indication of the number of people who would have been killed in Iraq in 2003 without a war

Sam Stone
01-02-2004, 10:26 PM
CyberPundit said:


Actually even then. I doubt that the NFZ cost more than a few billion dollars a year. The interest you could earn on just 100 billion dollars would be enough to pay for the NFZ pretty much forever.


You can't count just maintenance of the No-Fly zones. Containing Saddam required maintaining troops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other areas in the Gulf.

But the no-fly zones themselves were very expensive. Aicraft operations alone ran just under a billion dollars a year, and that doesn't count all the ships, support personnel, etc.

In 1999, the U.S. had about 24,000 troops in the Gulf. The Fifth fleet was specifically built for Gulf patrol, and it consisted of one carrier, 36 ships, 15,000 sailors and Marines, and about two hundred aircraft.

The annual cost of Gulf operations in the years before the was has been estimated by the Brookings Institution to be about $50 billion. That's about one third of the cost of the entire war to get rid of Saddam, EVERY YEAR.

How much of that would be saved if Saddam were gone is unclear, because clearly some presence was required regardless. Plus, Gulf operations provided valuable training, which would have had to be done elsewhere.

But clearly a big chunk of this is directly the cost of containing Saddam. For instance, an aircraft carrier alone costs about $500 million per year to operate. A carrier group runs into the billions per year.

Sam Stone
01-02-2004, 10:29 PM
In any case getting back to the main issue does anyone know of estimates of how many people were killed by the Iraqi regime in the years preceding the war ie. 2002 or 2001? That would probably be the best indication of the number of people who would have been killed in Iraq in 2003 without a war


Wow, you're trying to define this awfully narrowly, aren't you? The sanctions regime was crumbling, and I don't think the no-fly zone could be maintained forever. I think you have to look at long-term consequences.

Also, we haven't considered the humanitarian cost of containing Saddam. Wasn't it the left that was arguing for dropping sanctions because so many people were dying under them? The infant mortality rate in Iraq has plummeted in the aftermath of the war, in part because millions of kids are getting innoculations now.

pervert
01-02-2004, 10:30 PM
I'd also like to add, that we now have an endpoint is sight. We can argue if the occupation will require 5 years or even 10. But the establishment of a stable government in Iraq is much more likely now than when SH was in power. He certainly would have died eventually, but that strategy could very well have requried an indefinate commitment. The situation as it now stands at least has an end in sight.

minty green
01-02-2004, 11:30 PM
Originally posted by pervert
We can argue if the occupation will require 5 years or even 10. But the establishment of a stable government in Iraq is much more likely now than when SH was in power. I'm glad you're so confident about that. Me, I'm convinced your optimism is ludicrous.

CyberPundit
01-02-2004, 11:36 PM
. "Containing Saddam required maintaining troops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other areas in the Gulf. "
So what? It is far from clear that the level of US troops in the region will be down any time soon. When do you predict US troops level in the ME will be down to their 2002 level?

"The infant mortality rate in Iraq has plummeted in the aftermath of the war, in part because millions of kids are getting innoculations now."
Source for this? Here is a news article titled:"Babies struggle to survive in post-war Iraq"
http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/mercurynews/news/special_packages/iraq/7285294.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp
"But that stress and worsening violence are causing infant mortality rates to rise, according to maternity ward doctors and nurses. They say they're seeing more non-hereditary birth defects and premature births."


"But the establishment of a stable government in Iraq is much more likely now than when SH was in power"
Exactly why is this the case? How do you know that at some point after the US leaves there won't be be a civil war or another strong man. Certainly it's far from clear at the moment what a stable Iraqi government would look like and how it would resolve crucial issues like the federal structure wrt. the Kurds.

Michael Ellis
01-02-2004, 11:46 PM
Originally posted by RTFirefly
Aldebaran - Michael Ellis was helping answer Q. #2 in the OP. (Thanks, Michael.)

Thanks.

Anyway, here's a link to Rummel's site listing the most murderous regimes of the last century. The statistics only run up to 1987, so where Iraq would fit in I don't really know.

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM

pervert
01-03-2004, 04:02 AM
I really did not want to completely hijack this thread. So I'll post one more response to minty and Cyber and then they can have the last word.

Originally posted by CyberPundit
Exactly why is this the case? How do you know that at some point after the US leaves there won't be be a civil war or another strong man. Certainly it's far from clear at the moment what a stable Iraqi government would look like and how it would resolve crucial issues like the federal structure wrt. the Kurds.Well, I did not say that it definately would be the case. I only suggested that with SH and his two sons out of power, there is a better chance than when they were in power. Also, I'd like to thank you for playing so fast and loos with the time scales in this debate. The war can only be justified by looking at the projected deaths for 2003. And that only by assuming that the NFZ would be in place. But if "at some point" Iraq has trouble again, then they did not form a stable government. I agree that what the Iraq government will look like is not clear. It should not be too clear from our perspective. I'm sure you are aware that it took our founding fathers some years to come up with our governemt, and that had to change (some) several times in our history. If Iraq does not have a working governemtn for the next 5 years I wouldn't even start calling it a failure yet. As far as the federal structure goes, they have the advantage of a lot of experience with the American system of federal government. I'm sure that some federation of Iraqi zones (not sure what they would want to be called) could be established which would ensure both individual rights and local traditions.

Originally posted by minty green
I'm glad you're so confident about that. Me, I'm convinced your optimism is ludicrous.Well, its not really optimism. Just a realization that stability in Iraq is much more likely without SH than it was with him. They certainly have lots of other problems to deal with. The current allied occupation is certainly not the least of them.

OK, I'm done hijacking. One last question for you two. If my sentence was so objectionable, do you really think that SH was better than anything which might result from the occupation? Not the worst case, mind you, but the best case scenario? Or are you only suggesting that he was about to declare freedom for his people? Or perhaps you are of the opinion that SH's regime was stable despite his brutality?

CyberPundit
01-03-2004, 10:59 AM
"The war can only be justified by looking at the projected deaths for 2003."
I never said that. Sure the later years matter as well but we don't know how they will turn out. They could be worse than 2002 if , for instance, there is a civil war. To evaluate the humanitarian outcome of the war we can start by comparing estimates of the deaths caused by the Baathist regime in 2002 with the deaths caused by the war in 2003.

"And that only by assuming that the NFZ would be in place"
Since there were no plans to stop the NFZ that seems a reasonable assumption.

"I'm sure that some federation of Iraqi zones (not sure what they would want to be called) could be established which would ensure both individual rights and local traditions."
Why exactly are you so sure? Iraq is a tinderbox of ethnic hatreds and regional tensions comparable to the former Yugoslavia. The majority Shia have never held power and were surpressed by the Sunnis. So were the Kurds who have their long-term ambitions for their own state which is totally unacceptable to Turkey and Iran. The Kurds want their own super-province within Iraq which would include the oil-rich Kirkuk but you can bet that other Iraqis as well as Iran and Turkey will oppose this because they think it will become a launching-pad for a Kurdish state.

John Mace
01-03-2004, 11:22 AM
Originally posted by CyberPundit
"but we didn't get any inspectors in until after the deployment was pretty much complete"
Source for this? Iraq let back the inspectors in November 2002. I don't think the deployment was complete till the early months of 2003.
No cite, I'm going from memory. You could be right about the timeline. But The US has been the only country taking an active role in that area for the last decade and a half. Without the US there would've been no expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait, no NFZ, and no inspections. I was not in favor of the latest war, but I get tired of the US as being painted as the bad guys in this. We took action that we thought appropriate against a dictator. And the Iraqi people will more than likely be better off in the long run. They think so, and most people around the world think so.

Do you believe they would've been better off if S.H. had been left in place? That is the real issue here, behind the question in the OP. Blair says we've found 400k people so far in mass graves. If that figure is true, it surely represents less than the total number of Iraqis slaughter by S.H. Reports from some sites indicate that some of the people were actually burried alive (no signs of lethal trauma, but the corpses had their hands tied and were blindfolded).

CyberPundit
01-03-2004, 11:46 AM
"Do you believe they would've been better off if S.H. had been left in place?"
I think it could go either way. For instance if there is a Bosnia-style civil war it would be worse that the Saddam regime. My guess is that so far the war has made things worse for the average Iraqi particularly if you factor in the enormous economic disruption which threw millions of people out of work. I hope things get better but it's far from certain they will.

As for the mass graves like I mentioned they mostly represent Saddam's victims of the 80's and early 90's before the NFZ. If you want to evaluate the humanitarian benefits of the war in 2003 ,estimates of victims from more recent years would be far more relevant.

minty green
01-03-2004, 12:00 PM
Originally posted by pervert
Well, its not really optimism. Just a realization that stability in Iraq is much more likely without SH than it was with him. See, that's the ludicrous part I was referring to. The Shiites hate the Sunnis, the Sunnis hate the Shiites, the Kurds--who everybody else hates, including the Turks--want an independent state of their own, a substantial portion of the population wants an Islamic theocracy, there's not even a semblance of a national government, and the whole shebang is held together by nothing more than continued occupation and administration by the American military.

You're entitled to your opinion, but your opinion is ludicrous.

Creative_Munster
01-03-2004, 02:08 PM
Cynderpundit and minty green obviously feel that Saddam should have been left in place, and that the sanctions should have been lifted. That's what I'm getting from the posts at any rate.

You know if I were an Iraqi citizen and I had to choose between going through this period with the hope of living in a society where I wouldn't have to fear being picked up off the street for no reason and tortured and executed, or continue to live under a madman who routinely murdered multitudes on the grounds of nothing more than a remote suspicion, I think I would prefer things how they are now. But maybe you all would love to live in a country where the ones who were crazier than your leader, Saddam, were his sons who would undoubtedly take over his reign

CyberPundit
01-03-2004, 03:03 PM
"Cynderpundit and minty green obviously feel that Saddam should have been left in place, and that the sanctions should have been lifted"
I never said anything about lifting sanctions. I think the administration had the right idea in early 2001 with Powell's proposals for "smart sanctions" for Iraq.

As for the horror stories of before the war, it's just as easy to produce horror stories after the war; those who were killed during the actual fighting, the ensuing insurgency and counter-insurgency, those who died because hospitals were looted, those who died in the crime-wave that followed "liberation", the millions who lost their livelihood after the war. There are plenty of horror stories to go around in Iraq but those who invoke humanitarian reasons for the war tend to be a tad selective about the ones they talk about.

Creative_Munster
01-03-2004, 03:27 PM
With the removal of Saddam there is a possible end in sight with the lawlessness that followed his removal. With Saddam in power, there was no nor would there ever be any foreseeable relief from his terror. Equating state sponsored terrorism against the country's own citizenry, and the confusion and lawlessness following a military action is dubious at best in my opinion. Your position still seems to be that the Iraqi people would have been better off under Saddam's sadistic thumb. I disagree.

CarnalK
01-03-2004, 03:28 PM
pervert said:
... Or perhaps you are of the opinion that SH's regime was stable despite his brutality?

Are you using some different definition of "stable"? SH was in power ~30 years. Also, aiding goverments which enforce stability through brutality has a prominent history in western foreign policy. These are more fact than opinion, you disagree?

minty green
01-03-2004, 05:07 PM
Originally posted by Creative_Munster
Cynderpundit and minty green obviously feel that Saddam should have been left in place, and that the sanctions should have been lifted.At first glance, I thought you were just spewing an idiocy for the sake of painting me as a Saddam-lovin' hater of humanity. But then I thought a bit more about your stupid little strawman, and I realized that there's quite a bit of truth in it.

1. Saddam should have been left in place, at least by the U.S. and the U.K. It's patently obvious that the guy posed no threat whatsoever to us. In light of that fact, Saddam should have been left to the Iraqi people, just as other homicidal dictators have been--and will continue to be--left to their own people to deal with.

2. The sanctions should have been lifted, at least to the extent that the sanctions did not implicate Saddam's weapons programs . Make 'em smart sanctions, as Colin Powell was advocating before 9/11 gave Georgie Boy the excuse he was looking for.

minty green
01-03-2004, 05:10 PM
Originally posted by Creative_Munster
Your position still seems to be that the Iraqi people would have been better off under Saddam's sadistic thumb. Not to put too fine a point on it, but to hell with the Iraqi people. I'm interested in whether we are better off with the pre-invasion status quo or with the current and future boondoggle.

jayjay
01-03-2004, 06:17 PM
I actually went back in the archives to see what the people so gung-ho about removing Saddam now had to say about the American involvement in the former Yugoslavia under Clinton, but some kind of software glitch removed all the names from the posts, so I have no clue who felt what...

Totally blew my back-up for a trenchant observation out of the water.

I'm bummed... :(