That '70s Dictator

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The good news is that Idi "Big Daddy" Amin, the murderous tyrant who ruled Uganda from 1971-1979, is in a coma. The bad news is that the man responsible for torturing and murdering as many as 200,000 people is still alive. And reportedly wants to return home from exile in Saudi Arabia (Amin is inevitably described as a "devout Muslim").

Read this AP account for a flashback to the bad old days. A snippet:

Many Ugandans praised him in 1972 for expelling 50,000 non-citizen Asians who controlled Uganda's economy, in turn replacing them with a black working class, and for thumbing his nose at powerful Western interests.

But Amin "committed grave political mistakes. He caused a lot of shock when he massacred people in the open, thereby rendering the country to international ridicule and isolation," according to Ken Lukyamuzi, a Ugandan political scientist.

NEXT: Jumping the Guns?

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  1. are neocons a people or is neocon a philsophy? or a minieral? soo confused!

    and what are old conservatives? conservatives didn’t exist in the US as a movement until the 1950s. do you mean the Old Right? which were just right-liberals and anti-new deal progressives? so conservatism always means right-wing? so confused at all the anti-war.com cut and pastes!

    please help!

  2. when is kevin going to pay back ANSWER by touting North Korea? after all, the left is anti-war so you owe them. the right follows the deal, pro-war means you are an automatic supporter of everything Bush does.

  3. Kevin,

    Just because these are mean, nasty epithets doesn’t mean that they don’t hold some validity. You marginalize yourself with your extremism, not those who call you on it.

    And yes, if you didn’t support the war to remove Saddam Hussein you de facto supported his regime. This might not have been your inention. You might have had any number of watered-down, third-hand Marxist/materialist revisionist history reasons for doing so(i. e. your critique of the Cold War above), but supporting the Saddam Hussein regime, the human shredding machines, the whole thing, was the tangible result of your position. Saying it wasn’t is a little like Nader voters saying they didn’t elect George W. Bush.

    You were given a messy, complicated nasty, real-world choice between two very problematic options (as if often the way in reality): 1) Support for our liberation of Iraq, and the subsequent nation building with all of its attendant difficulties, or 2) Support for Saddam Hussein. There were no other choices on the table. Making up some non-existent third choice (Well, why don’t we invade so and so then?) or bringing up some totally extraneous issue relating to latin American foreign policy 20-50 years ago doesn’t change that fact.

  4. No, Eric. Saddam Hussein was responsible for Saddam Hussein. You sound an awful lot like the people who apologize for criminals by saying “society made them do it.” By your line of reasoning, the U.S. government is responsible for every state-initiated death in the world, if it did not attempt to invade that country and depose its government. Refusing to rule the world does not make the U.S. responsible for the problems of the world.

    Taking this view of the world leads to a god-complex, reqiring a pose of omniscience in predicting all the direct and indirect outcomes of one’s actions, and abolishing the law of unintended consequences. So much for that “humble foreign policy” W. was talking about…

    By your line of reasoning, too, YOU will be responsible for any bad thing that happens in Iraq–for every American who gets shipped home in a box, and for every innocent civilian who dies there–if the American occupation can be even remotely fitted into the causal chain that led to it. If the U.S. occupation forces are there ten years from now fighting a Shiite Vietcong and a Shiite theocratic government in exile in Tehran, you will be responsible.

    I guess when I spend my 50 cents a day on coffee instead of sending it to Sally Struthers, that makes me responsible for one more child’s death. Oh, those heavy chains of causality!every non-action makes you responsible for a whole universe of evil. Gosh, makes me want to put on a saffron robe and read the Bhagavad-Gita, or something.

    And it’s funny you mention Nader, because it had already occurred to me that your “objectively pro-Saddam” line sounded awfully close to the Yellow Dog Demo line that “Nader elected Gore.” In both cases, it’s a form of intellectual bullying in which the bully attempts to limit a choice to two unpalatable alternatives, and selling yourself to a captive clientele as “the lesser evil.” Strange, though: the more people are bullied into choosing the lesser evil, the worse the lesser evil seems to get.

  5. “Strange, though: the more people are bullied into choosing the lesser evil, the worse the lesser evil seems to get.”

    I’m not sure what this means exactly, but the vast majority of Americans wholeheartedly supported the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent nation-building, so it seems the lesser evil was still pretty palpable in this case, despite all that nasty bullying, if that’s what you’re trying to get at.

  6. obviously I meant “palatable” not “palpable”

  7. “By your line of reasoning, too, YOU will be responsible for any bad thing that happens in Iraq”

    you will also be responsible is they are a nice, civilized nation in 20 years and you live in a world free from freedom fight…oops I mean terrorists. how will you feel when the Iraqi people are exploited by coca-cola and disneyland-baghdad? that is the neocon agenda.

    “law of unintended consequences” is neoconspeak BTW…

  8. “‘law of unintended consequences’ is neoconspeak BTW…”

    How is this ‘neocon speak’?

  9. That’s horse-race journalism at its best, calling open massacres political mistakes. Brilliant.

  10. Now there’s a guy who’d be a good candidate for premature sky burial.

    (ie, chopped up and left for birds, like they do in Tibet)

  11. Idi Amin, ill? Must have been someone he ate…

  12. So all of a sudden you guys have a problem with murderous tyrants? Don’t tell me the neocons got to you too. Must not have had the tinfoil hat on tight enough

  13. Good God, man! You can’t massacre people in the open! What will the neighbors say?

  14. I also thought it was amusing that the Ugandan thought the problem wasn’t slaughtering half a million people, but doing it in the open where it would cause ridicule. Murder – whatever. Ridicule – the horror!

  15. I hear Pol Pot wants to share a 2/1 in Thailand. Prefers a non smoker, no cats, drug-disease-indictment free. Leave message.

  16. Egad, you’re right, Eric! Let’s send 100,000 troops now, and let them get bogged down there for years in nation-building, with no end in sight!

    Recognizing that any government in the world, anywhere, is a tyranny, demands the immediate use of American force to right the situation.

    There’s no such thing as a neocon, and what Kristol and Wolfowitz say is right in the mainstream of what conservatives have always believed. There was never a Bob Taft or Garret Garet, just as there was never a Rutherford, Aaronson and Jones.

    All the U.S. government’s stated justifications for its policies can be taken at face value. Governments never have ulterior motives for their policies, and governments never lie. Anyone who believes otherwise is a nutcase in the same league as those who believe Elvis was taken away in a flying saucer.

    *Sigh*

    If that’s the best you can do, maybe you need some tinfoil to shield YOUR brain.

  17. Amin’s under the weather? Pity. I suppose now he won’t be able to have Charles Taylor for dinner.

  18. Kevin,

    Those who marched with ANSWER to support the government of Saddam Hussein (in fact most often the same people who opposed the sanctions, nofly zones, and UN weapons inspections that they later pretended to support) have already mobilized themselves to support a mass murderer. The dodge of bringing up the fact that there are indeed other murderous tyrants in power and we lack the ability to depose all of them speaks not at all to this fact. This simply shows that no theory is perfect and no single doctrine can explain everything. That’s why its not helpful to be so doctrinaire about what “conservative” may have meant in the past.

  19. Amin is dead.

  20. Ah, yes, Eric. The “objectively pro-Saddam” line. So anyone who opposes a foreign intervention must be a supporter of the regime against which war is proposed.

    What it all seems to boil down to, from your perspective, is “So many tyrants to depose, so few resources.” That would be a little more credible if I had any reason to believe in the goodwill of the people making national security decisions. There’s way too long a list of dirty ops, fraternal aid to death squads, and military assistance to dictators who liked to do nasty things to the people in the basement of the Ministry of Interior. And an awful lot of it, while sold as “fighting communism” (and “narcotrafficers” and “terrorism”), seems to have been about making the world safe for United Fruit Company and ITT. But I forget, there is never a hidden agenda. Must be my tinfoil hat acting up.

    Neoconservatism is not just a different, pragmatic application of common values shared with older versions of conservatism. Neocons have a fundamentally different value system, regarding their attitude toward the use of state power to reshape the world. The related terms “national greatness conservative,” “big government conservative,” and so forth, came about for a reason.

    I suppose, BTW, it IS “helpful” to throw in the tinfoil hat canard anytime somebody questions the official rationale for the latest adventure.

    Neosecond (n): The length of time it takes for the first appearance of the term “antisemite,” “tinfoil hat,” or “conspiracy theory,” following a statement on a message board expressing skepticism toward Bush foreign policy or mentioning neoconservatism.

  21. no, the plan is more sinister. it is to oppress the Iraqis with Walmart and Coca-Cola. this is the Neocon plot…and it must be stopped.

  22. The vast majority of the American people support something, huh. Then obviously it must be the right thing and the rest of us should just forget attempting independent thinking and happily follow the masses.

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