Steven Coll, The New Yorker, September 9th issue:
Early in 1987, Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi President, decided to clear out scores of Kurdish villages, in order to undermine separatist rebels. He asked Ali Hassan al-Majid...to lead the project. In tape recordings later produced by Iraqi prosecutors...Majid told his colleagues. “Who is going to say anything? The international community? Fuck them! The international community and those who listen to them!”
On April 16th, 1987, Iraq became the first nation to drop gas bombs on its own citizens...and killed thousands of people.
The Reagan Administration’s decision to tolerate Saddam’s depravities proved to be a colossal moral failure and strategic mistake; it encouraged Saddam’s aggression and internal repression, and it allowed Iraq to demonstrate to future dictators the tactical value of chemical warfare. The consequences of similar passivity in Syria now are unknowable.
Alexander Stille, The New Yorker blog, Thursday, September 5th:
In foreign policy, we might consider a version of the Hippocratic Oath: first, do no harm—that is, don’t act unless you have a clear, obtainable objective and feel that you have a better than even chance at achieving it. Decisive action is much more satisfying for policymakers than doing nothing—it seems to offer a solution to a troubling problem. But, as we saw with Iraq, it’s not so simple.
Chris Hayes on MSNBC's All In, Wednesday, September 4th:
[T]hose of us who oppose military intervention both for practical reasons and on principle, need to have the moral courage to stare into the gaping maw of horror that is the Syrian civil war and the Assad regime and the murder of hundreds of innocent children and say: We can’t make this situation better. We just can’t.
Tavis Smiley on ABC's This Week, Sunday, September 1st:
Dr. [Martin Luther] King would say, were he here, [violence] is not the answer. We cannot worship at the altar of retaliation, Dr. King would say, were he here. It's either...non-violent co-existence or violence co-annihilation.... [W]e can't just [act] like this is connected to Iraq, it's connected to all of our history. And we can't honor the name [of King] with our words and then just dishonor [him] days later with our deeds.
James Carville on ABC's This Week, Sunday, September 1st:
You know, fifty years from now when my grandchildren are studying or great grandchildren are studying American history they will learn that the impact and the ramifications of the Iraq war were longer lasting and more profound than the Vietnam War. Both around the world and here in the United States. This war...the ramifications, it just rings in everybody's ear, all around the world.
Photo: U.S. Senators are shown photographs of victims of alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testified Tuesday, September 3rd, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Chip Somodevilla/Gerry Images.