Category Archive 'Saddam’s Trial'

29 Dec 2006

Victor’s Justice

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Saddam Hussein was a pertinacious enemy of the United States, a notorious sponsor of international terrorism, and had the effrontery to attempt the assassination of a president of the United States. He brought his own downfall upon himself by persisting in violating the ceasefire agreement which ended the Gulf War.

If the US general in command of the unit which captured Saddam had promptly hailed him before a drumhead courtmartial, stood him up against a wall, and shot him at dawn, I don’t see how anyone could complain of the injustice of US actions.

Turning the vanquished dictator, however, to the petty political opponents he had always previously defeated to be hanged after a show trial is a policy unworthy of a great power. The 19th century was usually more civilized. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena. Even Mexico’s Santa Anna was accorded refuge in New Jersey, where he repaid America’s clemency by introducing Americans to chewing gum.

The United States finds itself divided at home over the war in Iraq. Surely Saddam could be useful in clearing up Americans’ confusion about his role in terrorism and about those missing WMDs, and in elucidating his own plans for the current insurgency. Why not offer the condemned prisoner a deal?

In return for Saddam agreeing to testify fully and frankly about his regime’s relationship with Islamic terrorist groups, possible ties to the 9/11 conspiracy, about his WMD programs, and the evacuations to Syria, if he discloses pre-invasion plans for the current insurgency, and calls for Ba’athists generally to make peace with the new parliamentarty regime, we could offer him clemency and asylum in exile. The information he could provide would be a lot more valuable than the pathetic spectacle of his execution.

11 Dec 2005

Trying Saddam

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PJM is going to have a blogfest on trying Saddam tomorrow. We’re utterly and completely opposed to this sort of nonsense. Trials of defeated war opponents are only hypocritical exercises in victor’s justice, and embody the worst kind of wet, liberal impulses in the direction of internationalism and empty formalism. We ought to behave like rational adults.

When we capture an adversary like Saddam, we ought either to decide to be genteel and humane about the whole thing, and exile el supremo to some remote form of permanent imprisonment on a little St. Helena of his own. Or, we should avoid fooling around, and instruct the US commander on the scene to whistle up a drumhead court martial, followed directly by a firing party, as soon as the malefactor falls into US hands. In cases where we have good reason to eliminate a tyrant with extreme prejudice, we should hang him. C’est tout.

What we do these days is all empty ceremony and folderol designed to humbug ourselves into believing that we have become superior superhuman entities, that we are above mere vengeance. Of course, we still desire vengeance, and fully intend to have it, and enjoy it. But we insist on lying to ourselves and the world, and pretending that, so omnipotent is our materialist and bourgeois way of life, that, by us, even vengeance and killing can be rationalized and domesticated.


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