According to the USAID website, the numbers represent "a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot's Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II." (Did the writer forget US bombing during the Vietnam War? Anyway, that's another story...)
So what are we to make of this? Undoubtedly, Saddam was evil. Which makes sense really. He was, after all, from early-on the CIA's man in Iraq (to prevent the Iraqi communists from getting power), Rumsfeld's buddy, and the happy recipient of American anthrax and weapons. And this, after he had attacked a sovereign country (i.e., Iran). So the hypocrisy of the Shrub administration astounds me--to say that they opposed Saddam because he mercilessly killed opponents (the initial killings of leftist were based on a list created by the CIA itself!), or that they attacked Iraq because it had attacked Iran. Come on now! And meanwhile, irrigation pipes somehow transform into missile launchers, forged African documents transmogrify into a "nukyalr" program, stadium bleachers into a missile test site, and 5,000 corpses into a holocaust on par with Hitler and Pol Pot. In the end, there's only one sane, rational conclusion: Saddam is evil, and Bush is eviler (the latter is unfortunately powerful to boot). I say we throw the two weasels in the same cell in Abu Ghraib and then toss the key to some bereaved family who has been the victim of US (and Iraqi flunkey) machinations.
Credit to A'changin' Times and The Mail and Guardian Online for pointing me to this story. For Iraqi history, see also Center for Cooperative Research and Roger Morris's March 14, 2003 article (A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making) in the New York Times. See also the Moscow Times article Memory Lane.
On another note, John Quiggin offers some reflections on the morality of the current war in relation to body counts. Last but not least, an apropos quote from Bush, who uncharacteristically speaks with great candor:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." August 5, 2004 in USA Today (via Net Politik)