Better off under Saddam? Former U.N. rights chief says so

Violence is widespread and unavoidable now, John Pace says.

Tim Grieve
March 2, 2006 9:36PM (UTC)

When faced with criticism of the war in Iraq, the Bush administration and its supporters eventually get around to the Saddam Hussein trump card: Are you saying that we'd be better off if Saddam were still in power?

The former United Nations human rights chief for Iraq has an answer to that: Yes.


John Pace, who worked for the United Nations in Iraq until last month, says that the violence there today "extends over a much wider section of the population than it did under Saddam."

"Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK," he explained. "But now, no. Here, you have a primitive, chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want to anyone."

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the former government -- it reminds us, somehow, of those Republican members of Congress who keep saying that civil liberties don't mean much when you're dead. But coupled with warnings that a civil war in Iraq could lead to a broader conflict in the Middle East, Pace's words are another sign that we might want to stop taking it as a given that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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