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RE: [casi] Churchill, gas and the Kurds

Dear List,

I tried to be careful when I answered Chris' message, but
perhaps I wasn't careful enough. So I thought about it
some more. Just by ending up with _Churchill did it, or
or did it not_, may not be enough. There must be something
positive for peace in this discussion.

Reducing or eliminating cultural prejudice is a good way
to secure peace. Without such prejudice, people will be
immune to the fever pitch of war propaganda. And public
support for wars will weaken. To get there, we'll have to
challenge the so-called superiority of "western values"
(ie, the US and THEM or GOOD and BAD syndrome).
Not easy - that goes deep. (Churchill believed in it too.)

Anyway, these were my thoughts when I quoted Churchill
so extensively in my answer to Chris. Sorry if I seemed
to cast aspersions on the "greatest individual". Churchill
is just one example of the western value system, but a very
very colourful one. So he gets remembered for his deeds.
And these deeds are based on 'our' western values.

---Cultural prejudice
In these Churchill quotes cultural prejudice is undeniable.
This prejudice he shared with most of the western world. It
still exists but tends to be latent. It also comes in subtle
forms: 'we' have a religion, 'they' have a superstition; 'we'
have denominations, 'they' have sects; 'we' have affiliations,
'they' have tribes. And 'we' are rational, 'they' are irrational.

So Saddam Hussein gets billed as an 'irrational tyrant'
by 'rational' George W. Bush. Messrs. Mearsheimer and Walt,
two eminently 'rational' political scientists, describe
Hussein as 'cruel and calculating'. This subjective label
could be applied with equal justification to Churchill, Bush,
Blair, and a slew of other western politicians. (Just think
of the 12-long sanction regime: 'cruel and calculating'!)
It's only a matter of degrees.

---Political expediency
It is probably fair to say that cultural prejudice didn't
enter into Churchill's calculations when he decided to
'pacify' rebellious civilians with explosives and
incendiaries in Iraq. But without such prejudice, he
wouldn't have been occupying Iraq in the first place.

One reason people today quote Churchill's intended use
of gas is Halabja - where Hussein used gas against "his
own people", as Bush and Co. keep reiterating. Hussein did
use gas against the Kurds in 1988. Like Churchill, he also
wanted to quell rebellions, admittedly with disastrous
results. The Kurds, though Hussein's "own people", seek
autonomy by force - and are well armed, courtesy of the USA.

Hussein's poison gas and equipment were supplied by Germany.
Four of the death merchants got sued and paid a small
fine - not for complicity in mass murder, but for some export
irregularities. The German government itself denied all
responsibility - this was solely the problem of the Iraqi
government, they said. One of the suppliers, Kolb-Pilot Plant,
came up with this gem: "For people in Germany, poison gas
is a terrible thing, customers abroad are not that squeamish."

So looking at political expediency from different angles,
I see nothing to choose between western governments, past
and present (including Churchill), and Saddam Hussein. For
the sake of expediency, both western and eastern values are
discarded, it seems.

Perhaps we need some heresy to challenge western values - and
western hypocrisy/double standards.

> A word of warning. This site that you quote from:
> Is notorious: it's run by Holocaust deniers. If they said
> that the sky was blue I'd go outside to check.

Thanks. I got there by searching for <+Churchill +gas>.
Result: a memo by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
So I was quoting the words of Churchill.

Besides, this is a (verifiable) primary document,
belonging to the "official papers of Winston Churchill
[stamp, pen] Serial No. D. 217/4". That's why I gave the
reference - for you, Chris.

And what about Churchill?

Whatever else he may have done, or not have done, he always
used his language to perfection. "I never use a Latin word
when an Anglo-Saxon one will do", was one of his dictums.
He also had a definite opinion about composition:

"Just as the sentence contains one idea in all its fullness,
so the paragraph should embrace a distinct episode; and as
sentences should follow one another in harmonious sequence,
so paragraphs must fit onto one another like the automatic
couplings of railway carriages."
[Winston Churchill, _My Early Life_]

There are many sides to a human being: good, bad, and various
shades in between. The same goes for nations, cultures, and
civilizations...I think.

Elga Sutter

-----------Original Message-----------
From: "Chris.Williams" <>
To: "' '" <>
Subject: RE: [casi] Churchill, gas and the Kurds
Date: Tue, 7 Jan 2003 14:18:56 -0000

I don't need convincing that Churchill was prepared to use gas (he was
all very keen on area bombing). I need convicing that the RAF actually did
it. I'm a historian, so as far as I'm concerned, hard information is
sources: documents referring to it, or reliable and authenticated

A word of warning. This site that you quote from:

Is notorious: it's run by Holocaust deniers. If they said that the sky was
blue I'd go outside to check.

Chris Williams

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