As editor of this paper, nothing is more enjoyable than receiving readers’ correspondence accusing me of “Orwellian” editorializing [Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen, “Letters,” April 7], or faulty thinking [Rex Strother, “Letters,” April 7]. Unlike many good people in Utah County, I love a contentious attitude and healthy debate far more than fawning agreement. Dialogue is the medicine of any ailing democracy.
As a weakness, however, I can’t resist adding to my original comments, which were by necessity truncated into a 125-word, March 24 “Hiss” these readers responded to. In it, I wrote that anti-war protesters should at least grant Bush a measure of credit for deposing a brutal dictator. Did we invade Iraq on false charges? You betcha. Did the current administration bungle the aftermath? In large part, it did. I never supported the war with a full heart, but I’m also the sort of person who lives for the silver lining.
Allow me to explain. As someone who supports the liberation of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, it always mystified me that so many so-called “liberals” conveniently excused the atrocities of Saddam Hussein—even as they criticized Israel no end. Surely the freedom to criticize one foreign country for human-rights abuses means the freedom to criticize another, admittedly far worse, abuser. Counting the 1980 war he started with Iran, his 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the mass murder of Shias and Kurds in his own country, and his shameless profiteering of the oil for food program at the expense of almost half a million dead Iraqi children, Saddam’s “kill tally” easily approaches the 2 million mark—probably more. As a footnote, we should probably mention as well the economic terrorism he waged on the Shia Marsh Arabs in 1991 when he executed 200,000 of them after razing their villages and damming the rivers that fed their fragile Mesopotamian marshland, now a wasteland. Proponents of Legacy Highway have nothing on Saddam.
Anti-war protesters know all of this, of course. Yet for some reason they can’t bring themselves to admit that Iraq and the world are better off with Saddam’s absence and a struggling, nascent democracy hopefully on the way. Our government, scared to death of Islamist Iran, supported Saddam through his worst atrocities. Were we not at least partly responsible for removing this tyrant, a man who survived assassination attempts by his own people? After the first Gulf War, our government encouraged a people’s revolt, them left them to be slaughtered by the tens of thousands by Saddam. Our more than 1,500 dead and counting from this second Gulf War will be a small price to pay for what Iraqis suffered for years.
I know the Bush administration used Saddam’s brutality for mere propaganda purposes. I know full well developments there are tenuous. But in a 2004 poll of Iraqis conducted by Oxford Research International, 49 percent believed the invasion was right, while 39 percent said it was wrong. Iraqis were almost evenly split between believing their country was liberated, or humiliated. Protest “the war” all you want. But with events as precarious as they are now, haven’t we’ve reached the point where we can support positive developments?