SADDAM HUSSEIN: EVIL TYRANT OR MISUNDERSTOOD PATRIOT?….This morning I got an email asking me to link to a Newsday story about whether or not UN sanctions were really responsible for the deaths of thousands of babies in Iraq, as Saddam Hussein repeatedly claimed during the 90s. It didn’t sound all that interesting to me, but after a second email I decided to go ahead and do it. First, here’s the story:

Throughout the 13 years of UN sanctions on Iraq that were ended yesterday, Iraqi doctors told the world that the sanctions were the sole cause for the rocketing mortality rate among Iraqi children.

….Now free to speak, the doctors at two Baghdad hospitals, including Ibn Al-Baladi, tell a very different story. Along with parents of dead children, they said in interviews this week that Hussein turned the children’s deaths into propaganda, notably by forcing hospitals to save babies’ corpses to have them publicly paraded.

….Under the sanctions regime, “We had the ability to get all the drugs we needed,” said Ibn Al-Baladi’s chief resident, Dr. Hussein Shihab. “Instead of that, Saddam Hussein spent all the money on his military force and put all the fault on the USA. Yes, of course the sanctions hurt – but not too much, because we are a rich country and we have the ability to get everything we can by money. But instead, he spent it on his palaces.”

My initial reaction, and the reason I wasn’t very interested, was that this seemed like non-news. Saddam is a butcher and a thug? Yep. And as long as you’re up, can you get me another beer?

But my correspondent wouldn’t let me get away with that:

It would be helpful to the credibility of left-liberal bloggers in general for their more popular citizens to acknowledge this….Let’s face it, a fair number of left-liberal bloggers, BEFORE the war, did doubt how evil Saddam was, and did question the need for us to get rid of him….Let’s all acknowledge the obvious: reports like these make clear just how evil Saddam was, and that it was appropriate for the US/UK to do the heavy lifting to remove him.

Now, I don’t doubt for a minute that there were some people, bloggers among them, who thought Saddam’s bad reputation was just a product of Amerikan Propaganda. After all, there are also people who think we faked the moon landing.

But aside from the lunatic fringe, were there really any lefty bloggers who claimed that Saddam wasn’t a bad guy? I sure don’t remember reading anything like that from anyone, and I read most of the popular lefty blogs.

So how about it? Saddam Hussein was a cruel, monomaniacal, brutal, thuggish bastard and both Iraq and the world are better off without him. Whether that was a good enough reason to wage war on him is a different question entirely, since the world is full to bursting with other equally odious dictators. There were also questions about whether he presented a genuine threat to the United States, questions that remain unanswered in the light of the missing WMD. And, finally, there were ? and are ? questions about whether our administration of Iraq will improve things for the Iraqi people.

But sticking up for Saddam himself? I don’t remember anyone doing that. How about it, folks?