The W South Beach has

taken down a piece of art inspired by the image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara after it upset some in the Cuban exile community.

The work by British artist Gavin Turk was taken down from the W South Beach on Tuesday. It featured Turk’s own face but with the scraggly beard, beret and revolutionary garb worn by Guevara in a now iconic 1960 photograph by Alberto Korda.

W Hotels want to be cool, and for some reason I’ve never quite managed to fathom (probably because I’m decidedly uncool), Che Guevara is ‘it’ with the trendy set.

A year ago Mercedes-Benz was associating itself with Guevara, too.

Che Guevara:

  • Helped set up Cuba’s secret police and forced labor camps
  • Was responsible for the execution of thousands of political prisoners
  • Tortured prisoners (this included children)
  • Called himself “Stalin II” (though he felt Soviet totalitarianism didn’t go far enough and preferred North Korea as a model

How is it that a man who pushed for a Cuban ban on rock music and jazz became so culturally hip?

Surely the popularity of Guevara emanates from an ignorance of who the man actually was.

As Alvaro Vargas Llosa reported five years ago, young Argentines have taken to sporting shirts emblazoned with the putdown, “I have a Che T-Shirt and I don’t know why.” The Australian band The Clap sings of the “Che Guevara T-Shirt Wearer” who has “no idea” of who he is.

One imagines that the W South Beach just thought the artwork embodied the warmth of cool, but in removing the artwork they’ve declared the property not just for Stalinists anymore!

(HT: @GlobeTrotScott)

  1. Miles said,

    Rosario, a major city in Argentina, was the home of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. A statue of him is located at the city bus station, and one of the major streets (Pellegrini) also carries the honorary name “Che Guevara Way”. Kind of weird.

  2. theblakefish said,

    Well said, Gary!

  3. Greg Z said,

    Well said! I too am baffled and angered by these idiots wearing shirts of a genocidal maniac.

  4. Scottrick said,

    My future mother-in-law hates visiting the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle beacause of the statue of Lenin, even though I’m sure it’s there more to be mocked than because of any sort of local support for communism. Just another quirky Seattle tourist attraction.

  5. D Wonder said,

    Gary
    Greetings from London
    You are certainly hip and trendy when it comes down to redeeming :)

  6. Matt said,

    I’m not saying its a total apples to apples comparison, but plenty of US presidents could also be considered actual ‘genocidal maniacs’ because of their policies of extermination in regards to the indigenous population of America, yet everyone seems to revere them to the highest degree in the US. I guess one mans hero is another mans murderous psychopath.

    The politics of the Cold War still last to this day, and there were bad guys on both sides.

  7. Ed L said,

    Gary,
    I am surprised that you would bring political views to your travel blog. I wonder if left leaning followers will visit your pages less. I am not going to add any specific comments on this topic.

  8. Dan said,

    @Ed L: Left-leaning readers who are opposed to terroristic violence won’t be offended in the least.

    Let’s hope Starwood realizes that it is not only in Miami that people find Che offense. The rule for T-shirts (and hotels) should be: If you wouldn’t wear a swastika, don’t wear a hammer-and-sick, and if you wouldn’t display a reference to Himmler, don’t display a reference to Che.

  9. JetAway said,

    Good post, Gary. The “hip” community is largely an ignorant one. “Useful idiots,” comes to mind.

  10. Brad said,

    Pretty sure he dropped his pistol and shot himself in the face during the bay of pigs too. He’s the Benny Hill of Socialists…

  11. Matt said,

    Great post and thank you for including some information about Che. I don’t see the shirts much anymore, but when I did, I always wanted to ask the wearer if they would wear a shirt with Hitler or Stalin on it…or would they wear a swastika image.

    Not long ago I was going through security someplace…might have been HNL or perhaps PDX. The young woman in front of me had a purse with the image of Mao on it. I so wanted to ask her why she had a mass murderer on her purse, but figured she wouldn’t understand what I was talking about and probably wouldn’t care.

    I like Dan’s rule for T-shirts…makes all the sense in the world.

  12. AJ said,

    I’m sure a lot of you know about Winston Churchill the WW2 leader and not Winston Churchill the soldier in India and in SOuth Africa. Its not pretty.

    There’s idiots in every community. Even the “Let’s hate on the hippity-hop community” community. :-)

  13. Steve Siedel said,

    As a foreign affairs correspondent I think you’re letting your Americanism get in the way of history. Not defending Che Guevara but the anti-Castro lobby in Florida has openly plotted his assassination, funded a take over attempt on the island, many coups and publicly condoned killing Cubans.

    We trade with communist China and Vietnam and so the only reason this tiny island is a threat is because the right wing Cubans in Little Havana left the island with a lot of money and power.

    Che Guevara was not a saint, but our anti-Cuba blockade has probably caused more suffering and deaths of Cubans that Che Guevara ever did.

  14. Ankit said,

    I love conservative propaganda. It would be funny if it wasn’t so uninformed by facts.

  15. Ankit said,

    @Dan: it’ always sad to see someone display so much ignorance in so few words. Communism and Nazism are completely different philosophies. Please educate yourself before posting nonsense.

  16. Robert Hanson said,

    @Dan +1

    @Matt What US President had a “policies of extermination in regards to the indigenous population of America”?

    The number of people purposely murdered by Communist Dictators over the last century is well in excess of 200 MILLION. Pol Pot was a true genocidal maniac, no scary quote marks needed, who killed over a third of the population of Cambodia. Suggesting that any US President, much less “plenty” of them, is similar in any way is just disgusting.

    @ Ed L Communist leaning readers who follow this blog to find out how to score more bank credit cards in order to fly FC and stay at Park Hyatts? If they quit coming here, I doubt Gary will miss either of them.

  17. Manti Te'o said,

    I was Che Guevara for Halloween

  18. harvson3 said,

    The missing logical link here is “Gavin Turk’s artwork appropriating the Korda image of Guevara” = “endorsement of Guevara’s activities.” That’s quite a leap, and unfounded from the article linked. Apparently members of the Cuban-American community think so, and the W Hotel is in the business of making money and not defending controversial artwork.

    I can’t explain M-B.

  19. Jim said,

    Well said, Gary! And tomorrow, I’m going to tell two more people about this blog!

  20. Julian said,

    Apparently some on the left are willing to ignore the atrocities because they so much hate the rich and capitalism that anything done to destroy it is morally good and justified.

  21. Gary said,

    @Steve Siedel – Absolutely agree that our Cuba embargo and related policies are deplorable. But that has nothing to d with the Che imagery and what it symbolizes (which for most people who appropriate it, they have no idea). Nothing “Americanism” about that.

  22. Gary said,

    @Ed L – I guess I didn’t think this was politics as much as history. Just interesting how the cool vibe of a hotel brand can appropriate imagery, divorcing it from its meaning in the process (although if someone wants to make a case that the piece was somehow transformative or criticism..). But there’s nothing any US Republican or Democrat should hate in this post, I don’t think? Or even anyone left-liberal for that matter, all should deplore Che I’d think.

  23. FlyingBear said,

    @Robert

    Go over board much? 200 million? Considering how large of a(n actual) number it was, it’s amazing that you still managed to over do it to this ridiculous of a degree.

    And err… to name just one US President, let’s go with the more colorful one: Jackson. It’s even part of curriculum in high schools in this country, I recommend you read up on that.

    To Ed’s point, this is indeed a political discussion, regardless of Gary’s intent. Che is a controversial figure not just because of what he did and stood for, but of the way US dealt with him as well. Not a pretty chapter in anyone’s history.

  24. Zz said,

    Many historical figures have a dark side. Look at your funding fathers, many were slave owner, preaching the equality of men. I don’t see anyone having issues with the Thomas Jefferson memorial. He wasn’t the worst slave owner, albeit the richest in VA. There are things to admire about Che, but also to detest. Artists and and especially painters have had a love affair with revolutionists (fighting the establishments) and socialist movements.

  25. Carl said,

    Way to go Gary, nice of you to bring out the Che apologists, who are always a humorous bunch.

  26. Ford said,

    Perhaps Starwood had the good taste/business sense to realize that when it comes to travel, maybe we don’t need politics screaming at customers and offending some.

    Your blog and all but HINT, HINT Gary.

  27. jfhscott said,

    @harvson3 – I submit that the Korda image of Guevera has risen to the level, culturally, as an image of Guevera as a hero. I don’t know how anyone uses that image any other way.

  28. Susan said,

    I was at a hotel in Rome that has pictures of recent US presidents. They had to take down the painting of George W Bush after an Italian court issued an arrest warrene against him and Dick Cheney for torrure. The locals didn’t want to celebrate a “murderer and torturer who flaunted the Geneva Convention.”

    I think this is the same thing but I bet it angers a lot of us in the US.

  29. Denis said,

    Being a South American, I can say that the shirts and images of Che represent one of the few people who had the guts to stand up and fight those who were opressing the people.
    If you watch a football (or soccer, as you call it in the US) match in South America, especially Argentina, Uruguay, and maybe Chile and the South part of Brazil, you will see flags with Che’s face, and they represent bravery, not communism.

    Also, most of the people here doesn’t seem to like genocidals, so I suggest that you read about the right-wing dictatorships in South America, which all had the support of the US. Then you talk about what Che means.
    I in no way believe that communism will ever work, but I understand what Che was trying to do and who he was fighting against.

  30. Robert Hanson said,

    @FlyingBear Hitler 50 Million, as I hold him not just responsible for the Jews and Gypsies he murdered, but for the total deaths of WW2. Stalin is easily 80+ Million, including 7 Million Kulaks in the Ukraine alone. Mao’s great leap forward resulted in the starvation of @50 Million Chinese. Just a few years ago North Korea refused food aid during a government caused famine, and some 2 million North Koreans starved to death, out of a population of only 40 Million. The upper estimates for Communist caused deaths is around 260 Million. But since there is no way to be precise, I just rounded down to 200. Maybe it was really only 125 Million, but to paraphrase Hilary Clinton “what difference does it make now”? It’s still a obscene number of victims.

    @Ankit Communism and Nazism are completely different philosophies? Hardly ! Do you even know what NAZI stands for? National Socialist Workers Party ie. Communism with a Nationalist facade. Perhaps you have forgotten that Hitler and Stalin were best pals, until Hitler foolishly thought he could take over Russia. Up until that point, the American branch of the Communist Party considered Hitler one of them. Sort of like the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, on the same page, but preferring their own leader.

    Once Hitler invaded Russia, American Communists had to explain their abrupt turn about, and came up with the lie of Fascists being “right wing”. When in fact, Communism and Fascism are simply different flavors of Dictatorial Socialism. Read up on Mussolini, he was a renowned Communist scholar, and editor of Avanti {Forward}, which was the offical newpaper of the Italian Socialist Party. He got tired of waiting for the revolt of the masses, and decided he needed to make it happen on his own.

    The comman characteristics of Communism are the submission of the individual to the state, the tyrannical supression of all other power groups “for the good of the people”, and eventual inevitable mass murder.

    Che was merely a vicious but bumbling wanna be Dictator who Castro exiled after he destroyed the Cuban economy. And then failed to inspire any followers, first in Africa, then in Central America, and died the inglorious death of a failed terrorist.

  31. Robert Hanson said,

    @Dennis The legacy of Che is that Cuba, pre-Communism the richest country south of the US, is now the most poverty stricken country there. Average wage is $3, not an hour, a month! Per capita number of political prisoners second only to North Korea and perhaps China. The only reason there isn’t mass starvation is the funds sent from those who have escaped to the US and send dollars home to family members every month.

    Whereas Chile, where the attempt at violent Communist revolution was stopped by the military with less than 5% of the violence and murder that occured in Cuba, is now the richest and freeist country south of the Caribean. Pinochet wasn’t a “nice person”, but true to his word, he rooted out the terrorists, and put the economy back on it’s feet, and then allowed free elections. When he lost, he gave up power to the democratically elected government. Cubans are still waiting for that free election that Castro promise them 60 years ago.

  32. FlyingBear said,

    @Robert

    I do not see a polite way of saying it: your information is ignorant to such a degree, that disputing it would make a book. I’ll do Cliff notes:

    Hitler was not Communist. Not even close. He was anti-communist, his party drew much support on that fact alone. Trying to revise history here is asinine.

    Stalin did not kill 80 million, let alone “purposely murdered” as you said above. Even Mao’s horrific economic mismanagement and purges barely come close to that number. You just made that number up, which appears to be the pattern with you.

    Mixing up deaths during Holodomor (a number in itself ranging from 2 to 8 million) and “kulak” purges, deportations and deaths from hunger due to horrible mismanagement of just about the entire economy of Soviet Union does not do much to support your made up numbers here either.

    The “upper” estimates are yours and yours alone, but nice job trying to build-in back tracking as well.

    The whole “Nazis are Socialists and that’s the same as Communists!” is apparently your way of giving away your ignorance of even the most basic facts on what is what. We’ll just follow your logic and declare all Libertarians immoral, as they are after all almost the same as Libertines and Marquis de Sade was a Libertine!

    There are forums for your type of discourse, I recommend you continue your frothing there, as that’s what they are for.

  33. harvson3 said,

    @jfhscott – I don’t disagree that the Korda image is used to portray Che as heroic. I submit that appropriation/use of the Korda image does not automatically make one a Che booster. See, e.g., Matthew Diffee.

  34. Matt M said,

    @Robert Hanson

    FlyingBear hit you with probably the prime example of American presidential genocide, Jackson. Ever hear of that Trail of Tears? We could also talk about slavery and other ugly marks in our history, but I think I’ve already made my original point.

    The nice thing about not picking sides is that you can call out the wrong on both sides.

    Stop buying into the propaganda and realize that neither side is worthy of sainthood.

  35. Matt M said,

    @Robert Hanson

    I wonder why the people of Chile don’t have the same fond memories of Pinochet as you do?

    I’d guess you also thing the right wing death squads all over south and central America were rooting out “terrorists” as they were slaughtering peasants with the support and funding of the US Govt.

    Must be fun living in your fantasy world where you can ignore half the story.

  36. Denis said,

    @ Robert
    Sorry, but I can’t agree with you. Cuba is very poor, but not the poorest country in Latin America. And half of the blame is on the economical embargo. Cuba still has a good health and education system in spite of everything that has been done against them.
    Also, Pinochet didn’t “allow” elections and didn’t “gave up” the power. And which revolution did he stop? He deposed an elected president. And how many deaths there were during the Cuban revolution? I don’t think there were so many…

  37. Dapon said,

    It’s hard not to laugh reading all this comments. Specially when you have 2 or 3 american presidents on the top list of genocides of the last century.
    At least Guevara has some ideals.

  38. Justin Martin said,

    @ Robert I don’t think Hitler was any fan of communism.

    @Matt M really just because Jackson did a profoundly evil things makes what Che did okay? I think most Americans recognize the relocation of the Cherokee nation as evil and a brutal chapter in the history of this country.

    @FlyingBear really? Just because they were only 10 or 15 million deaths means Stalin and Mao weren’t such bad guys? Good grief. This is how people justify murderous behaviour. It’s ok because someone else did it before

    @Denis they weren’t that many deaths b/c of Cuba revolution. Well if it was your family Iam pretty sure you wouldn’t say that.

    @Dapon seriously? Ideals ? Every genocidal maniac has ideals. Also, I think you need to revisit the word genocide.

    I think all of you should do some soul searching instead of arguing that a bad guy wasn’t so bad because others were worse.
    I think the W did the right thing and the Hotel in Rome did also.

  39. Andrew said,

    Some posting on here fit the descriptions to a T found in “The Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot”.

  40. GuWonder said,

    Cuba was not the richest country south of the US pre- or post-Che Guevara. It was a hotbed of government-cozying crony business favorites exploiting lots of low-skilled laborers and their family members as quasi-indentured servants or worse. The names and the spin changed in Cuba with Castro’s so-called revolution, but it is a rather sad fact that some old habits of the previous ruling class just got amplified by the ruling class that replaced them.

    Either way, this hotel incident is just another sign that some people’s hero is another person’s terrorist. Of course the worst terrorists have always been state actors who act as terrorists while decrying terrorism or whatever subject/object those in governmental power find convenient to exploit while behaving no better and usually much worse than any non-state actors.

    By the way, the Nazis hated the Communists and shut down Communists in Germany and sent them to concentration camps too because the Communists didn’t, amongst other things, buy into the genocidal racism that is a right-wing hallmark way too often. Hitler, like Churchill and FDR, made allies with Stalin for reasons of geopolitical strategic convenience rather than any deepideological kinship. To try to confuse Nazis for Communists is a demonstration in shallow political gamesmanship of a dishonest sort. Both killed lots of people but they had their differences.

  41. DaveS said,

    Che Guevara was a torturer and murderer, and whatever your politics, that’s not the sort of person to be honored.

  42. Andyandy (ThePointsNinja) said,

    @Steve Siedel: “publicly condoned killing Cubans”

    As opposed to, you know, actually killing Cubans?

  43. Matt M said,

    @Justin Martin

    Please point out to me where I said what Che did was “OK”? Do you always debate with people by arguing against a point that they never made and putting words in peoples mouths?

    My point was that one man’s “terrorist” is another man’s hero, quite often. I cited some of our presidents as an example of this. There are often two sides to every story, and rarely is anything as black and white as some people try to portray it as.

    “I think most Americans recognize the relocation of the Cherokee nation as evil and a brutal chapter in the history of this country.”

    Really? You must live in a different America than I do. I’d be surprised if 10% of people even knew what you were talking about if you brought up the “relocation” (AKA death march) of the Cherokee. Not to mention the many other native peoples who were persecuted in the name of the white man’s “manifest destiny” (one of the most genocidal policies of all time).

    Like I said, the nice thing about not picking “sides” in the cold war that continues to this day is that you can call out wrong on both sides. The capitalists and the communists both often fit the bill of murderer and terrorist.

  44. Miguel said,

    @Robert Hanson: LOLOLOLOL
    Ignorance is a really a screwed up thing.

  45. jay said,

    Too bad, Gary, that politics seeped into your blog. You may not have had the intent but you should have known better.

  46. FlyingBear said,

    @Justin Martin

    I am with Matt. Justin, you fight an amazing battle with with the straw men you put up. Bravo.

  47. jamie said,

    Gary – Thanks for the informative post. I’ve never revered Che or worn a shirt with his picture on it, nor did I know anything about him that I didn’t learn watching Motorcycle diaries.

    @Matt M – I mostly agree with you, but I’d hope that more than 10% of us know about the Trail of Tears. We certainly learned about it in school.

  48. Robert Hanson said,

    @Miguel and FlyingBear So easy to just spout “ignorence” and “straw men”, without any facts.

    Pre-Communist Cuba:

    “In 1958 Cuba had a higher standard of living than any Latin American country and half of Europe. I’ll quote a UNESCO report from 1957: “One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class. Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population)than U.S. workers… the average wage for an 8 hour day in Cuba 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 68 per cent. 44 per cent of Cubans were covered by Social legislation, that’s a higher percentage then in the U.S. at the time.”

    Today, Cuba still has ration cards for food, and if you read the reports from European tourists, Cuban women today prostitute themselves, not for money, but simply in exchange for dinner at a “tourist” restaurant.

    According to Wikipedia, each Cuban ration card is good for 1 lb of beef, and 2 lbs of chicken, per MONTH, but only if it is “available”, which often it is not.

    “It was estimated in the early 2000s that the rationing covered between one third and one half of a family’s needs. On top of rationing, the average wage at the end of 2005 was 334 regular pesos per month ($16.70 per month) and average monthly pension was $9″.

    Source: “Wikipedia Rationing in Cuba”.

    Yes, Hitler hated the Communists. In the same way Sunni Muslims hate Shia Muslims, and send their suicide bombers into packed Shia mosques on Shia holy days. Sunnis say that Shias are not “real” Muslims, in the same way that Communists deny that Hitler was a leftist, despite the name Socialist right in the name Nazi.

    But any rational person knows that Sunni and Shia are just competing Muslim sects. In the same way, Communist, Socialist, and Fascist are different political sects of Socialism, all of which place the tyranny of the State over the individual, “for the common good”. {sic}

    In a power struggle for despotic control, those who are most hated are the ones that are most like you. Hitler and the German Communist Party were battling for the support of the same people.

    With both groups aiming for dictatorial control of the country, it was a grudge match between two very similar parties. Hitler simply realized that it was easier to rouse people with Nationalist passion than with the vague notion of a “Workers Utopia” for all mankind.

    Nazi means Socialist hiding behind a nationalist cover. Stalin didn’t hate Hitler, nor did the American and European Communist Parties see Nazism as different from Communism. Right up until the day Hitler invaded Russia. Then it was necessary for the Communists to portray Hitler as evil, and to do that they had to invent a reason why Nazism was different from Communism.

    One of the central characteristics of Communism is to portray competing groups as “revisionists”. The history of the Soviet Communist Party is one of continual Purges of those who lost power by those who won control. The hatred of current Communists for Nazis is because they have purged Hitler from their history, the same way Stalin had purged Soviets literally removed from photos of Party history.

    As for the idea that Communists opposed Hitler for his racial genocide, that is absurd. The left today, in the US and the EU, as was true with the Soviets, is rampant with anti-Semitism. Google Stalin Anti-Semitism, and find out about the thousands of dedicated Jewish Communists that Stalin had purged from the Party, and murdered or sent to the Gulags.

    Che:

    “Promptly upon entering Havana on January 8, 1959 Fidel Castro abolished Habeas Corpus and appointed Che Guevara his main executioner. “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary,” The Argentine Ernesto “Che” Guevara declared. “These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the paredon (the execution wall)”

    “Eighteen thousand bodies would eventually join Howard Anderson’s in mass graves. This tally comes– not from some Cuban-exile scandal sheet in Miami,–but from The Black Book of Communism, written by French scholars and translated into English by Harvard University press, not exactly an outpost of the vast right-wing conspiracy. But this cold statistic doesn’t tell the whole story.”

    “Cuba’s population in 1960 was 6.2 million. According to the human Rights group Freedom House, 500,000 Cubans (young and old, male and female) have passed through Castro’s prison camps. At one time during 1961-62, 300,000 Cubans were jailed for political offenses islandwide. This makes Castro’s political incarceration rate higher than Stalin and Hitler’s.

    {Source: google: “Monster By Humberto Fontova”

    Communism=poverty=political tyranny=gulags=mass murder. Though not necessarily in that order.

    So when one displays a Che image, they are honoring the man who said: “a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate”, and meant it, and spent his life fulfilling that.

  49. Matt M said,

    @Robert Hanson

    People are going to have a tough time trying to debate you when you don’t even know the difference between forms of government and economic systems.

    Do you think the anachronistic blockade that the USA continues to this day has anything (any little bit) to do with the current state of the Cuban economy? I’m not saying communism works, because in practice I don’t think it does, but the United States made sure (through economic sanctions, invasions, etc) that the Cuban experiment would be doomed before it started. Clearly it didn’t work to get rid of the Castros, so why do we still do it? To punish the Cuban people for not rising up? Kind of like we did in Iraq under Saddam when hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children starved to death because of our sanctions?

    Your problem is that your whole being (much like a majority of Americans) is so wedded to the warped, Eurocentric, “America never does wrong” viewpoint that to even acknowledge the other side of the story would shake you to your core. I would suggest next time you use your frequent flyer miles to travel to some glorious destination, talk to the regular people around there and maybe it’ll open your eyes a bit.

    Just realize that most of the world doesn’t think like you. Most of the rest of the world, especially those who have seen the unlucky end of America’s truncheon for not falling in line, doesn’t see the last couple of centuries as a fight between the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’. Just a fight between different sets of elites that resulted in the suffering of millions of innocent people who had little to no dog in that fight.

    I despise the apologists for both sides.

  50. FlyingBear said,

    @Robert Hanson

    “So easy to just spout “ignorence” and “straw men”, without any facts.”

    Hehe, you said it ;)

  51. Robert Hanson said,

    Matt: “Kind of like we did in Iraq under Saddam when hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children starved to death because of our sanctions?” Can’t believe you are still peddling this trope. The figures for dead children came from Baath party members who were trying to gain world wide political support for Saddam. Saddam was famous for cold storing the body of every child who died from disease or accident, or murder by his henchmen, and then bringing them out en masse to claim they were murdered by the US.

    Yes, I know a very left wing magazine took these false claims without any investigation at all, and publicized them to discredit GWB, but that doesn’t make them true. For Saddam’s claims to be true, the US would have to have developed a new bomb that only kills women and children, and doesn’t harm the men. No such bomb exists. And the UN sanctions specifically allowed for Saddam to buy food on the international market, only military items were sanctioned.

    Fact: Saddam started an unprovoked war with Iran, which had let it’s military decay, hoping to steal Iran’s oil fields. The death total from the war was over 1 Million, mostly soldiers. He also continually purged, tortured and murdered any person or group that he feared might be disloyal to his regime. This ranged from his two sons-in-law, to thousands of Kurds killed with chemical weapons, and thousands of Marsh Shia in the South of Iraq.

    Most of the “civilians” killed during the 2nd Iraq war were in fact al Quaeda and Iranian terrorists, who were declared civilans simply because they did not wear uniforms. Getting rid of the butcher Saddam was a great gift to the Iraqi people. Case in point:

    Babies found in Iraqi mass grave
    BBC News

    mass grave being excavated in a north Iraqi village has yielded evidence that Iraqi forces executed women and children under Saddam Hussein.

    US-led investigators have located nine trenches in Hatra containing hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds killed during the repression of the 1980s.

    The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said.

    Someone used this field on significant occasions over time to take bodies up there, and to take people up there and execute them.”

    The victims are believed to be Kurds killed in 1987-88, their bodies bulldozed into the graves after being summarily shot dead.

    One trench contains only women and children while another contains only men.

    The body of one woman was found still clutching a baby. The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face.

    Mr Kehoe investigated mass graves in the Balkans for five years but those burials mainly involved men of fighting age and the Iraqi finds were quite different, he said.

    “I’ve been doing grave sites for a long time, but I’ve never seen anything like this, women and children executed for no apparent reason,” he said.
    Source: google BBC Babies found in Iraqi mass grave

    Once again you are defending a mass murderer and accusing the US Government of a policy of genocide instead. By the way, what was Saddam’s political stance? Well, the mass graves make that quite clear, but I’ll also quote from Wikipedia:

    “The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party was a political party… espoused Ba’athism, which is an ideology mixing Arab nationalist, pan-Arabism, Arab socialist and anti-imperialist interests. Ba’athism calls for unification of the Arab world into a single state. Its motto, “Unity, Liberty, Socialism”, refers to Arab unity, and freedom from non-Arab control and interference.”

    In other words Fascism. Not surprising since it was founded in 1940 in imitation of Nazi Fascism, merely replacing Arab for Aryan in it’s propaganda.

    “Its founders, Aflaq and Bitar were both associated with left-wing politics.”

    Who could have seen that one coming?

    Socialism=poverty=tyranny=mass murder. Though not necessarily in that order.

  52. Robert Hanson said,

    Left this part out:

    There are mass graves like this all over Iraq, no one knows how many, but certainly hundreds of them, maybe thousands. Some have only a few dozen bodies, others a thousand or more.

    In Saddam’s Killing Fields
    BBC News

    “And it’s not just one site. There are other sites being uncovered all the time and not just in southern Iraq, but also in the north.”

    “I was at another mass grave site this week – also in the centre of Iraq – where about 1,000 political prisoners appear to have been shot in the head, executed during the 1980s.”

    Saddam was a butcher who not only started a war that claimed a Million lives, he murdered another Million, this time Iraqi civilians, who belonged to the wrong political party, wrong race, wrong religious sect, or were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was an Arab Hitler wannabe, and it’s a worldwide disgrace that he was allowed to continue his murderous ways for so long.

  53. Andrew said,

    Yep, this comment thread is now off the rails.

  54. Robert Hanson said,

    “I would suggest next time you use your frequent flyer miles to travel to some glorious destination, talk to the regular people around there and maybe it’ll open your eyes a bit.”

    I’ve been to Western Europe dozens of times, always traveling on my own or as a couple, never in a group. Traveling that way, I frequently meet locals, often end up going to dinner with them. Especially in Germany, where it is local custom to share a table with strangers when there are no empty tables.

    I’ve also been to Egypt, Mexico, Greece, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. I took a public bus from Santiago to the coast, the only non-Chilean on it, and spent several hours talking with “regular people”.

    The Chilean people I met were very warm, outgoing and industrious. I took a city bus up into the hills above Valparaiso, not realizing that the hills are where the slums are, since no utilities make it up that far. The bus ended at the top, and I had to wait a half an hour on the side of the road for a ride back down. I felt very safe there, despite being an obvious lone tourist who lost his way.

    I was utterly amazed to see people come out of their one room shacks, without water or electricity, on their way to work. Their appearance very neat and clean, despite the hardships of their lives. They were not going to wallow in poverty, they were going to do their best with whatever they had, however little it was at that moment.

    It gives me a wonderful feeling every time I read about the increasing prosperity in Chile, and I love to buy wine and fruit from there to add my part to it.

    But Egypt, between grinding poverty, government corruption, and the frustrated guy with a Engineering degree whose only life prospect was to continue working as a clerk in a camera store, was very, very sad.

  55. Robert Hanson said,

    @Andrew This comment thread is not about travel, miles, points, or credit cards. Just the first few paragraphs of Gary’s post should have made that clear. So if you don’t find any of this useful or interesting, just don’t keep reading.

    Personally, I’ve been so bombarded with this anti-American disinformation for so many years, occasionally I get so sick of it I need to get my disgust with it out of my system. But don’t worry, this blog will return to it’s regular programming any moment now. :D

  56. FlyingBear said,

    Mmmm, yes, everyone is out to get you. Have you checked your phones for taps?

  57. Matt M said,

    @Robert Hanson

    “Yes, I know a very left wing magazine took these false claims without any investigation at all, and publicized them to discredit GWB, but that doesn’t make them true.”

    Um… you must be confused. I’m talking about the sanctions in the 1990s. And it’s news to me that the United Nations is a “very left wing magazine”.

    And nothing about what I’m saying is “anti-American”. I’m just as American as you and am proud of the bright spots in our past as a country, but I’m also willing to acknowledge the cold hard truths that we’ve (or our gov’t) also done things (or supported people who did things) that can easily be labeled terrorism and whatever dumb word you can use to make this debate emotionally charged.

    You’d with all that travel you just outlined you would have picked up a more global, non-American-centric view of history and the world. The American propaganda system (abetted by a media that never truly questions the government or the centers of power) appears to have done a good job with you. Please tell me about the “city on the hill”, won’t you?

  58. Miguel said,

    “One of the central characteristics of Communism is to portray competing groups as “revisionists”. ”

    You sure seem to know everything about revisionism indeed.

  59. Joe said,

    Good post. Being Cuban I’m always astonished at how many people wear shirts of Che.

  60. GuWonder said,

    Pinochet’s version of Goebbels seems to have found a home here in making up excuses for his favorite kind of violence.

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