Wednesday, February 11, 2004

What to do with Saddam Hussein?

Seems to me that the last thing the White House wants is an actual fair trial, at least a trial by western standards. If I was his lawyer and I could call witnesses, I'd start by calling Rummy and George H. W. Bush to the stand. I would establish that the US was well aware of the atrocities he committed in the 1970s and 1980s. As his lawyer, I'd attack the court's definition of crimes against the Iraqi people. Can they be crimes if the US was so willing to support him? Of course, it doesn't change his guilt, but it sure makes us look bad. Perhaps the only person less eager than the White House to see this result would be Jacques Chirac, who was always willing--eager!--to sell nuclear reactors to his old buddy Hussein. So we don't want a trial, but our most vocal opponents on the world stage don't want one either.

War crimes are an interesting topic generally. I recently read an account of the Nuremberg trials and I hope to see the MacNamera movie where he basically states that the US would have been guilty of war crimes had the Japanese won, based on our fire bombing of Tokyo. Churchill was opposed to the idea of the Nuremberg trials. He advocated just lining the Nazis up and shooting them. Justice would be served either way, but he was leery of calling it a trial when it was, in reality, a trial by the victors. (Any trial involving crimes against humanity where the Soviets were the prosecutors must be somewhat farcical anyway...) I'm not prepared to say that Churchill was wrong. At a gut level, his logic has appeal.

It sounds like the Iraqis aren't really interested in having a trial either. Assuming he leaves US custody alive, he'll be dead in weeks, if not days. Churchill would presumably approve.

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