Saturday, December 30, 2006  

of tyrants great and small

I have very mixed emotions over the execution of Saddam Hussein. I'm looking for last night's Nightline transcript so as to better explain what I mean, but I will very briefly go into it here:

a) Saddam was executed for a relatively small number of murders- ok, 148 is not "small," I know that, (unlike Halabja where 1,000's of people died, or the mass graves areas,etc). But, still. So, what about the rest? Surely, he had more to reveal, more to be confronted with, more victims to recognize. Why the rush?

b) the timing- on the eve of (the Sunni) Eid ul Adha, they execute a Sunni leader. Why? I am sure there are plenty of people running around shouting Eid mabrouk with great happiness-well and good. But whose bright idea was this? That in case people weren't happy enough, you could fob off Eid pictures as happy Saddam is dead pictures?

c) the execution itself- now I don't claim to believe that executions are the sign of a barbaric people(them's D's words)- but I feel that execution itself is the sign of a troubled society and that the fact that Iraq has resurrected the death penalty in the shadow of its US tutor is telling.

d) circling back to A) Saddam Hussein took full responsibility for the crimes for which he hung. But Saddam Hussein is also accused of watonly causing the death of 1,000's of Iraqis, of gassing the Kurds, of invading a sovereign nation and the list goes on.

The US committed war crimes and crimes against humanity- white phosphorous in Fallujah, depleted uranium weaponry, soldiers that rape, kill and assassinate (see the Camp Pendleton trials), 1,000's of detentions that amount to extra-judicial detention and kidnapping, and the list goes on. It is a list to which the US has mostly said, whoopsie, did we do that? Must have been them bad apples over there. Or, the more common, now look what you went and made us do to you. No real accountability- just witnesses rolling over one after the other until one poor shmuck is left to take the rap.

Many people are arguing that Saddam Hussein should have been brought before a tribunal in the Hague. That would have been ideal except the ICC had no jurisdiction over Iraq.

Unfortunately, they have no jurisdiction over the US, either, because we pulled out in a high snit- or so we said, in 2004- rather convenient.

So, while you are rumintaing on Saddam and his crimes (should take you quite awhile- there were LOTS)- you might spare a little time to think about what the US has wrought in Iraq- and ponder why gassing Kurds in Halabja is so much more worthy of a tribunal than using white phosphorous in Fallujah.

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