Sunday, November 05, 2006  

Justice on a rope

Well, it looks like the verdict is in- the one many of us expected, in fact, the only one, the US would probably accept. The reaction is, again, predictably, mixed.

Riverbend has an interesting take on it:

I'm more than a little worried. This is Bush's final card. The elections came and went and a group of extremists and thieves were put into power (no, no- I meant in Baghdad, not Washington). The constitution which seems to have drowned in the river of Iraqi blood since its elections has been forgotten. It is only dug up when one of the Puppets wants to break apart the country. Reconstruction is an aspiration from another lifetime: I swear we no longer want buildings and bridges, security and an undivided Iraq are more than enough. Things must be deteriorating beyond imagination if Bush needs to use the 'Execute the Dictator' card.

She is not the only one who finds the timing suspicious. As various elements of the Republican party implode under their own moral failings (Foley, Jim Allen) and a military publication calls for the dismissal of Rumsfeld, they need something two days before the elections to stave off the potential of a Democratic majority in the house. Is this the "suprise" of which Rove spoke?

The verdict is problematic on so many levels. Saddam is indeed guilty of personally and indirectly condemning 1,000's of people to death, often in horrific ways. This is not new information. This had been known for decades. That he has been tried is amazing. That the trial has been marred by improprieties, questionable strutures and authority, is no suprise, either. Iraq, no matter what Maliki says, is not a sovereign nation. If so, why are the military personnel accused of Haditha, Hamdaniya, etc. before military tribunals in the US? Why are they not before an Iraqi court? They are charged with the murder of Iraqi civilians on Iraqi soil after the hand-over. What is so sovereign about that?

And so, Saddam's trial leaves one feeling ominously uneasy. He has been tried and convicted only on one crime- there are others to follow, I would hope, since so many people deserve what little true justice this procedure metes out.

Then there is the issue of the punishment- a sort of Nuremburg come again. How many times can you kill someone to attone for the murder of 1,000's? On the other hand, leaving Saddam alive in prison in Iraq creates a living martyr around which movements can mobilize- and that's not a particularly desirable thing, either.

There is also the question of additional culpability, raised by so many. So many other governments collaborated or looked the other way when these things were done. And there is the issue of Mssrs Bush, Rove, etc. Surely they deserve a trial for war crimes, for establishing situations in which war crimes could occur, for allowing torture, for the use of white phosphorous... the list is long. How long will we have to wait for justice for the crimes against humanity committed by our current leaders?

I find it extremely sad that neither the US media nor the people questions the MORALITY of putting someone to death...even S. Hussein. Watching US soldiers cheer and celebrate as Saddam's verdict is rendered, and hearing Bush and his acolytes' loud shrieks of victory and self adulation is to me an indecent display of immorality. Can we claim to have reached a higher level of civilization when we indulge once again in our basic instincts, and when committing the ultimate act of violence is seen as complete "justice"? The law should indeed punish Saddam, no one denies that, but the law should also protect us from our basic instincts. The death penalty is as immoral as the acts of the one perceived to deserve it. The US stands alone among western countries to uphold the death penalty and has the indecency to even gloat about it. This shows to me that this society is no better than those it seeks to kill.
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