TOPICS: Never forget Saddam Hussein’s cruelty

President Ahmadinejad of Iran argues that the Holocaust never took place. Presumably, he thinks the concentration camps of Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald, which American soldiers found crammed with emaciated prisoners, were simply figments of their imaginations. The gas chambers stacked with the bones of massacred Jews must have been a delusion. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower wisely summoned American and other Western war correspondents to see them and create a lasting record in words and pictures, “lest we forget.”

Such a museum should be built in Baghdad too, so that the evil and brutality of Saddam Hussein should not be lost in the mists of history. It should include some of the most chilling words you could imagine from Hussein that are coming from beyond the grave. Tapes of what he said long ago were played in a Baghdad courtroom last week as the case continued against some of the six major defendants still on trial. Wrote John Burns, The New York Times reporter: “In the history of war crimes prosecutions against some of the last century’s grimmest men, there can rarely have been a moment that so starkly caught a despot’s unpitying nature.”

As Burns reported, on one recording, Hussein is pressing the merits of chemical weapons on Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, his vice president. Douri asks whether chemical attacks will be effective against civilian populations. “Yes, they’re very effective if people don’t wear masks,” Hussein replies. “You mean they will kill thousands?” Douri asks. “Yes, they will kill thousands,” Hussein replies.

Elsewhere, he can be heard instructing subordinates to execute any internal security officials who failed to stop Iraqi soldiers defecting from the front line with fake passes. “If you arrest them, cut off their heads,” he says. “Show no mercy.” One military officer is heard telling of plans to have a Soviet-built aircraft drop napalm bombs onto Kurdish towns.

“Yes,” replies Hussein, “that would be very useful.” Burns chronicles one significant exchange that revealed the lengths Hussein went to cover up Iraq’s efforts to attain weapons of mass destruction. To the general who dealt with UN weapons inspectors before the US-led invasion in 2003, he urged caution in the figures being divulged about raw materials for chemical weapons so as to disguise the use of unaccounted-for chemicals in the attacks upon Kurds.

Historians will accurately record that the weapons of mass destruction that Bush used to legitimise the US invasion of Iraq were in fact not found. History will also probably show that the postwar US occupation was poorly managed, and the number of troops necessary to build political and economic stability badly underestimated. What nobody should cavil at, however, is that the US rid the world of a tyrant whose inhumanity to mankind was almost beyond imagination in its scope and butchery. That is something that Iraqis who survived, and the rest of the world, should not be allowed to forget.— The Christian Science Monitor