Extent of Saddam’s Atrocities?
John Laughland questions UK PM Tony Blair’s assertion that Saddam put 300,000 Iraqis into mass graves. The figure 290,000 victims of Saddam, he says, comes from Human Rights Watch and they admit it is soft in many ways (i.e. not based on actual body counts, which are so far relatively small). I’ve seen 60,000 deaths alleged in the 1987-88 chemical attacks on the Kurds. [An informed reader writes to say that the chemical attacks probably killed 8,000, but another 100,000 were made to disappear Feb.-Dec. 1988, which doubles what I misremembered as the estimate on Kurdish deaths in that period to 108,000 or so.] And another estimated 60,000 dead in the 1991 uprising (though I myself would not be surprised if that total were rather higher). There were other campaigns against the Shiites later in the 1990s. I suspect one is talking of at least 180,000 civilians dead at Saddam’s hands. That is surely bad enough? What other country of 24 million has killed 180,000 of its own civilians in the past 15 years? There have been other massacres even worse, as in Rwanda. Bosnia was probably a bigger killing field if one looks at proportion of population murdered. But Saddam was one of the world’s most egregious butchers of his own people.