Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 

Wed

08

Nov

2006

The trial of Saddam Hussein and the coming trials of George W. Bush and Anthony Charles Lynton Blair
Wednesday, 08 November 2006 02:52

by Richard Marsden

 

Sunday's announcement of the verdict in the trial of Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants was, of course, timed to occur on the eve of the mid-term elections to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

To what end?

Clearly, to mobilise and motivate U.S. citizens to vote Republican. But how will this work?

It will work the same way that the invasion and occupation worked—emotionally, as the concluding act of a White House scripted morality play.

I argued in June (Pleasure-in-cruelty: Bush, Nietzsche and Haditha) that the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq was a collective emotive response to 9/11.  The link between 9/11 and Iraq is the moral and emotive connection between suffering an injury and inflicting pain to relieve it. This connection is felt, not thought; it involves all of the body, not just the head.

This logic of equivalence lies at the heart of Judeo-Christian morality. When America experienced great injury and loss of face, President Bush, as a "born-again Christian", felt morally entitled to inflict great pain and humiliation.

On whom did not matter. But preferably a defenceless, Arab nation. It is an understandable impulse (equivalent to kicking the dog because your wife's left you), but one that could and should have been resisted.

Bush and Blair made love to this basest of impulses.



The purpose of this invasion was never to liberate or to disarm Iraq: it was to vent America’s malice; to experience the pleasure of doing ill in the name of doing good; to expiate fear of terrorism by anger toward Saddam Hussein and Iraq. It was a spectacular and prolonged festival of cruelty and humiliation for the “folks” back home, who consumed it like a reality TV show.

They did it because they found it pleasurable, because it helped ease the pain of 9/11.  This is the dirty secret of the war against Iraq. It is the enabling mother of all other motives.

There has been nothing like since the Middle Ages.

The “fall” of Saddam Hussein, his capture, imprisonment and trial has been staged and scripted as the central act in this festival of cruelty and humiliation.  The court which tried him, the Iraqi High Tribunal, was neither independent of the occupying power nor was it impartial. This is the judgement of most independent bodies. Even the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers recognizes this.

He is concerned by the fact that its jurisdiction is limited since it cannot judge those responsible for war crimes committed by foreign armed forces neither during the first Gulf war (1990) not after 1 May 2003. Also, the Tribunal was set up in the context of an armed occupation which is mainly considered to be illegal. Moreover, it should be noted that the Tribunal violates a number of international human rights standards on the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal and on the right to defense. [Link]
This is also the judgment of the majority of Iraqis who viewed the trial as an American puppet show. The mockery of the trial itself humiliates Iraqis. Those privy to its inner workings know that this trial was run by American lawyers in the U.S. Embassy in the fortress-like Green Zone. You need moral as well as legal authority to hang someone and this court had neither. It was not only Saddam Hussein who was on trial, it was also the morality which propelled the invasion and motivated the behaviour and actions of the occupying forces.

It too is guilty.

To be hung is relatively quick and clean. What awaits this morality and its agents is much more unpleasant. If the Iraq High Tribunal cannot be relied upon to make a sound judgment of Saddam Hussein, we must each make up our own mind. When doing so, please note the following: First, only a leader of worth would warrant the volume of righteous defamation heaped upon him by Bush and Blair. It is a safe bet that as many lies have been told about Saddam Hussein as there have about WMD. Aggressors always vilify their enemies, so as to legitimate their own aggression.

Second, Saddam Hussein was an effect of the nature of a Iraq, not its cause.

According to T.E. Lawrence (‘of Arabia’ fame—that British-born, but American-made hero), holding together the fragments out of which Iraq was created by the British after World War One, will take a genius, a prophet, or a great criminal. Time will tell into which category Hussein belongs. Undoubtedly, he is a hard man, but Arabia is a land of hard truths and the British created a country which only a hard man could rule.

Saddam Hussein was a product of Iraq’s bloody history. His will held together these fragments. Observe their coming apart.  Third, Saddam Hussein undoubtedly threatened Anglo-American interests, but not because he possessed WMD or because he sponsored global terrorism—he did neither.  It was because he was unafraid of American military might and the only Arab leader to risk courting Israel’s wrath by actively supporting the Palestinian cause.

Like Iraq itself, he was and is unbowed, despite the Gulf War, 12 years of blockade and bombing and the invasion and occupation.

Defiantly spitting truths at the occupiers and their agents, right up to the moment he received the death sentence, his very existence was a moral threat to Anglo-American interests. That is why Bush wants him destroyed.

 

Fourth, do not judge Iraq justice by that of the United States.
Iraq is a society of families, clans and tribes, governed by the requirements of dignity and honour, in which rights are inscribed in bodies. Its justice system reflects this. The United States of America is a society of monads, who barely touch each other, governed by abstractions.

It is not easy to say which is the more barbaric.

Fifth, a demonized Saddam Hussein and a downtrodden Iraqi people are sides of the same racist sentiment emanating from the Bush administration.  Neither Hussein nor Iraqis, by this account, are to be trusted.  Hussein deceived and lied; he was cruel and ruthless. He had to be stopped.  Iraqis are long-suffering and held-down, afraid and unable to act. They have to be saved.

So President Bush and Prime Minister Blair—casting aside global opposition and warnings—mobilized the most powerful and expensive force in the history of this planet and sent it half-way around the world to win freedom for Iraqis and to build them a democracy.  As if Iraqis were incapable of choosing and fighting for their own future. Perhaps they had chosen to live in an independent country with Saddam Hussein over living in subjugation under an occupying army.

As if present day British and American democracies are not products of revolutions and centuries of bloody struggle.

As if these countries are enviable models of democracy and freedom.

As if "giving" Iraqis ‘freedom’ does not humiliate and insult them.

Any child knows that liberation comes from within and below, not from without and above. Rights which are bestowed are seldom worth having; meaningful rights usually have to be fought for.

Well, thousands of Iraqis have fought and are fighting with passion, tenacity and courage for freedom from foreign domination and the right to self-determination—and these Anglo-American democrats have been killing and maiming them and terrorizing their families. What the Americans and the British have done to Iraqis, their society and their country, and what the “international community” let them do, is an atrocity of Biblical proportions. It has been and continues to be one prolonged act of socially organized evil, made worse by its premeditated and cunning nature.

The Americans have committed, and are committing, more war crimes in a typical month than they accuse Saddam Hussein of committing in a lifetime.

How was it, then, that Saddam Hussein and not Bush and Blair was on trial?

In a word, Power.

But that can change.

Bush really should have heeded that other 9/11, the coup d'état in Chile on September 11, 1973, led by General Augusto Pinochet which deposed President Salvador Allende. Who would have thought then that Pinochet would be arrested, in England in 1998, under an international warrant issued by a judge in Spain, and held accused of committing crimes against humanity? Pinochet now awaits trial.

The arrest of Pinochet in England is regarded by scholars of law as a watershed in international law, an event comparable to the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals. Pinochet's arrest was based on "universal jurisdiction": some crimes are so egregious that they can be prosecuted in any court in the world.

It may take decades of political will, but Blair and Straw, Bush and the White House Iraq Group—Rove, Hughes, Matalin, Card, Wilkinson, Calio, Rice, Hadley, Libby and Gerson—who orchestrated the deaths of over half-a-million Iraqis and blighted the lives of generations to come, will be held to account for what they have done. Americans may be blind to what has been done in their name, but the rest of us are not.

These people had better be very careful in their choice of countries to visit.

Bush and Blair can hang Saddam Hussein, but he knows that he has won. The Americans and the British have been defeated militarily and morally in Iraq—and by men, women and children willing to die for these fragments he held together: Iraq.

 

More from this author:
Ecce Homo—Saddam Hussein (4737 Hits)
by Richard Marsden It’s not often one witnesses the defeat of a morality. But that’s what Saddam Hussein, feet shackled, hands tied, ...
Britain's pride—America's fall? (3807 Hits)
by Richard Marsden Tony Blair believes that the British, whom, to their undoubted displeasure, he embraces as ‘we’, should be immensely...
How the Iraq Resistance Unmasks the American State and the Promise of Zapatismo (4642 Hits)
by Dr. Richard Marsden The state is not the reality which stands behind the mask of political practice. It is itself the mask which prevents our...
Related Articles:
The Bush Magical Mystery Political Capital Tour (10114 Hits)
The Bush War Cabinet is invoking the memory of 9/11 as justification for their systematic shredding of constitutional and human...
Why Bush wants immunity from prosecution for war crimes (239455 Hits)
Although not as widely remarked as the elimination of habeas rights and the consecration of torture, the recently passed Senate torture legislation...
You and What Army? Bush Legions Starting to "Unravel" (12145 Hits)
Is it possible the largest and most advanced military in the history of the universe is ready to bust? According to General Barry McCaffrey (ret.)...
Coming to America: The Disappeared (5625 Hits)
Kissinger and The Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina: America on the Brink of Horror. This blistering Buzzflash editorial deserves to be...
"Boiling Point" - Eroding Freedom: From John Adams to George W. Bush (13587 Hits)
Put a frog into a pot of boiling water, the well-known parable begins, and out that frog will jump to escape the obvious danger. Put that same...


Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Trackback(0)
Comments (3)add comment

Alan Ireland said:

0
Out with the Ba'ath Party mustache, in with the beard.
The beard complements the Qur'an that Saddam holds in the dock, and makes him look religious in Muslim eyes - almost like a sheikh. Shrewd move, and one that Western commentators have not picked up on.
 
November 08, 2006 | url
Votes: +0

Thomas Harpe said:

0
...
Sadam received justace for what he did. The world needs to be rid of his likeness altogether. Freedom of speech is the right of all humans. Greatfully it shows that the minds of those opposed to Bush and Blair have diseased minds and they should destroied and they will in time.
 
November 08, 2006
Votes: +0

setaey said:

0
...
'The world needs to be rid his likeness altogether'.

An interesting statement but seemingly, from the rest of the comment, totally devoid of understanding as who the likenesses are.


http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article1959051.ece

This was a guilty verdict on America as well


So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when Saddam Hussein was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December 2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great day.

Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It couldn't be a more just verdict - nor a more hypocritical one. It's difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows, preferably dispatched by his executioner, the equally monstrous hangman of Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Widad, who would strike his victims on the head with an axe if they dared to condemn the leader of the Iraqi Socialist Baath Party before he hanged them. But Abu Widad was himself hanged at Abu Ghraib in 1985 after accepting a bribe to put a reprieved prisoner to death instead of the condemned man. But we can't mention Abu Ghraib these days because we have followed Saddam's trail of shame into the very same institution. And so by hanging this awful man, we hope - don't we? - to look better than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now than it was under Saddam.

Only so ghastly is the hell-disaster that we have inflicted upon Iraq that we cannot even say that. Life is now worse. Or rather, death is now visited upon even more Iraqis than Saddam was able to inflict on his Shias and Kurds and - yes, in Fallujah of all places - his Sunnis, too. So we cannot even claim moral superiority. For if Saddam's immorality and wickedness are to be the yardstick against which all our iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? We only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered some suspects and carried out a few rapes and illegally invaded a country which cost Iraq a mere 600,000 lives ("more or less", as George Bush Jnr said when he claimed the figure to be only 30,000). Saddam was much worse. We can't be put on trial. We can't be hanged.

"Allahu Akbar," the awful man shouted - God is greater. No surprise there. He it was who insisted these words should be inscribed upon the Iraqi flag, the same flag which now hangs over the palace of the government that has condemned him after a trial at which the former Iraqi mass murderer was formally forbidden from describing his relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, now George Bush's Secretary of Defence. Remember that handshake? Nor, of course, was he permitted to talk about the support he received from George Bush Snr, the current US President's father. Little wonder, then, that Iraqi officials claimed last week the Americans had been urging them to sentence Saddam before the mid-term US elections.

Anyone who said the verdict was designed to help the Republicans, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, blurted out yesterday, must be "smoking rope". Well, Tony, that rather depends on what kind of rope it might be. Snow, after all, claimed yesterday that the Saddam verdict - not the trial itself, please note - was "scrupulous and fair". The judges will publish "everything they used to come to their verdict."

No doubt. Because here are a few of the things that Saddam was not allowed to comment upon: sales of chemicals to his Nazi-style regime so blatant - so appalling - that he has been sentenced to hang on a localised massacre of Shias rather than the wholesale gassing of Kurds over which George W Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara were so exercised when they decided to depose Saddam in 2003 - or was it in 2002? Or 2001? Some of Saddam's pesticides came from Germany (of course). But on 25 May 1994, the US Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs produced a report entitled "United States Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health Consequences (sic) of the Persian Gulf War".

This was the 1991 war which prompted our liberation of Kuwait, and the report informed Congress about US government-approved shipments of biological agents sent by American companies to Iraq from 1985 or earlier. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax; Clostridium botulinum; Histoplasma capsulatum; Brucella melitensis; Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli. The same report stated that the US provided Saddam with "dual use" licensed materials which assisted in the development of chemical, biological and missile-system programmes, including chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans).

Yes, well I can well see why Saddam wasn't permitted to talk about this. John Reid, the British Home Secretary, said that Saddam's hanging "was a sovereign decision by a sovereign nation". Thank heavens he didn't mention the £200,000 worth of thiodiglycol, one of two components of mustard gas we exported to Baghdad in 1988, and another £50,000 worth of the same vile substances the following year.

We also sent thionyl chloride to Iraq in 1988 at a price of only £26,000. Yes, I know these could be used to make ballpoint ink and fabric dyes. But this was the same country - Britain - that would, eight years later, prohibit the sale of diphtheria vaccine to Iraqi children on the grounds that it could be used for - you guessed it - "weapons of mass destruction".

Now in theory, I know, the Kurds have a chance for their own trial of Saddam, to hang him high for the thousands of Kurds gassed at Halabja. This would certainly keep him alive beyond the 30-day death sentence review period. But would the Americans and British dare touch a trial in which we would have not only to describe how Saddam got his filthy gas but why the CIA - in the immediate aftermath of the Iraqi war crimes against Halabja - told US diplomats in the Middle East to claim that the gas used on the Kurds was dropped by the Iranians rather than the Iraqis (Saddam still being at the time our favourite ally rather than our favourite war criminal). Just as we in the West were silent when Saddam massacred 180,000 Kurds during the great ethnic cleansing of 1987 and 1988.

And - dare we go so deep into this betrayal of the Iraqis we loved so much that we invaded their country? - then we would have to convict Saddam of murdering countless thousands of Shia Muslims as well as Kurds after they staged an uprising against the Baathist regime at our specific request - thousands whom webetrayed by leaving them to fight off Saddam's brutal hordes on their own. "Rioting," is how Lord Blair's meretricious "dodgy dossier" described these atrocities in 2002 - because, of course, to call them an "uprising" (which they were) would invite us to ask ourselves who contrived to provoke this bloodbath. Answer: us.

I and my colleagues watched this tragedy. I travelled on the hospital trains that brought the Iranians back from the 1980-88 war front, their gas wounds bubbling in giant blisters on their arms and faces, giving birth to smaller blisters that wobbled on top of their wounds. The British and Americans didn't want to know. I talked to the victims of Halabja. The Americans didn't want to know. My Associated Press colleague Mohamed Salaam saw the Iranian dead lying gassed in their thousands on the battlefields east of Basra. The Americans and the British didn't care.

But now we are to give the Iraqi people bread and circuses, the final hanging of Saddam, twisting, twisting slowly in the wind. We have won. We have inflicted justice upon the man whose country we invaded and eviscerated and caused to break apart. No, there is no sympathy for this man. "President Saddam Hussein has no fear of being executed," Bouchra Khalil, a Lebanese lawyer on his team, said in Beirut a few days ago. "He will not come out of prison to count his days and years in exile in Qatar or any other place. He will come out of prison to go to the presidency or to his grave." It looks like the grave. Keitel went there. Ceausescu went there. Milosevic escaped sentence.

The odd thing is that Iraq is now swamped with mass murderers, guilty of rape and massacre and throat-slitting and torture in the years since our "liberation" of Iraq. Many of them work for the Iraqi government we are currently supporting, democratically elected, of course. And these war criminals, in some cases, are paid by us, through the ministries we set up under this democratic government. And they will not be tried. Or hanged. That is the extent of our cynicism. And our shame. Have ever justice and hypocrisy been so obscenely joined?

So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when Saddam Hussein was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December 2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great day.

Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It couldn't be a more just verdict - nor a more hypocritical one. It's difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows, preferably dispatched by his executioner, the equally monstrous hangman of Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Widad, who would strike his victims on the head with an axe if they dared to condemn the leader of the Iraqi Socialist Baath Party before he hanged them. But Abu Widad was himself hanged at Abu Ghraib in 1985 after accepting a bribe to put a reprieved prisoner to death instead of the condemned man. But we can't mention Abu Ghraib these days because we have followed Saddam's trail of shame into the very same institution. And so by hanging this awful man, we hope - don't we? - to look better than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now than it was under Saddam.

Only so ghastly is the hell-disaster that we have inflicted upon Iraq that we cannot even say that. Life is now worse. Or rather, death is now visited upon even more Iraqis than Saddam was able to inflict on his Shias and Kurds and - yes, in Fallujah of all places - his Sunnis, too. So we cannot even claim moral superiority. For if Saddam's immorality and wickedness are to be the yardstick against which all our iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? We only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered some suspects and carried out a few rapes and illegally invaded a country which cost Iraq a mere 600,000 lives ("more or less", as George Bush Jnr said when he claimed the figure to be only 30,000). Saddam was much worse. We can't be put on trial. We can't be hanged.

"Allahu Akbar," the awful man shouted - God is greater. No surprise there. He it was who insisted these words should be inscribed upon the Iraqi flag, the same flag which now hangs over the palace of the government that has condemned him after a trial at which the former Iraqi mass murderer was formally forbidden from describing his relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, now George Bush's Secretary of Defence. Remember that handshake? Nor, of course, was he permitted to talk about the support he received from George Bush Snr, the current US President's father. Little wonder, then, that Iraqi officials claimed last week the Americans had been urging them to sentence Saddam before the mid-term US elections.

Anyone who said the verdict was designed to help the Republicans, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, blurted out yesterday, must be "smoking rope". Well, Tony, that rather depends on what kind of rope it might be. Snow, after all, claimed yesterday that the Saddam verdict - not the trial itself, please note - was "scrupulous and fair". The judges will publish "everything they used to come to their verdict."

No doubt. Because here are a few of the things that Saddam was not allowed to comment upon: sales of chemicals to his Nazi-style regime so blatant - so appalling - that he has been sentenced to hang on a localised massacre of Shias rather than the wholesale gassing of Kurds over which George W Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara were so exercised when they decided to depose Saddam in 2003 - or was it in 2002? Or 2001? Some of Saddam's pesticides came from Germany (of course). But on 25 May 1994, the US Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs produced a report entitled "United States Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health Consequences (sic) of the Persian Gulf War".

This was the 1991 war which prompted our liberation of Kuwait, and the report informed Congress about US government-approved shipments of biological agents sent by American companies to Iraq from 1985 or earlier. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax; Clostridium botulinum; Histoplasma capsulatum; Brucella melitensis; Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli. The same report stated that the US provided Saddam with "dual use" licensed materials which assisted in the development of chemical, biological and missile-system programmes, including chemical warfare agent
 
November 08, 2006
Votes: +0

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

adsense

Top