Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Hussein on Trial
The trial of Saddam Hussein has begun, and predictably, the International Intelligentsia is wringing its collective hands. The Belmont Club rounds up some of the reactions, you should follow the link, but I'll summarize:
'Iraqis are incapable of trying one of their own, they need international lawyers, advisors, and judges to show them the way. This is the only possible way to get a 'fair' trial for Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein should not get the death penalty.'
Fair is always in the eye of the beholder of course, but I think in this case, it is safe to say that the only possible fair result is a guilty verdict. I'm sure someone will argue that Hussein walking free is 'fair', but I will leave that to George Galloway.
Essentially the international community (codeword for 'UN') is telling the Iraqis that the very system that enabled Saddam Hussein to get rich, to stay in power and commit unspeakable acts towards human beings, a system that puts Baathist thugs at the seat of its human rights commission, should now be trusted to oversee his trial. Right. I can't imagine that this notion of treating Saddam Hussein nicely - emanating from Western Elites - resonates with the average Iraqi.
The reality is that these international courts are useless. How many former Eastern European communist dictators still roam free? How long has Slobodan Milosevic been on that circus act trial for genocide now? When was the last time that these vaunted international courts convicted any tyrant? Moreso, have they ever convicted any active tyrant that wasn't long 'retired' and now a frail old man?
Is it really a surprise though that the internationalists, who did not wish to see Saddam Hussein deposed in the first place, now argue that a man who murdered millions through war and general barbarism, should not get the death penalty? It's absurd to me, but the world is upside down. I'm not a particular fan of the death penalty per se, but to categorically assert that the death penalty is always wrong is to implicitly say that we, as human beings, do not have the ability to draw distinctions between the depths of depravity of certain horrible crimes. But we do have that ability and to deny it is purely a self-congratulatory indulgence of our own perceived righteousness. Restraint does not equate to enlightenment. Rather than trying to maintain a false sense of moral superiority by opposing death for Saddam Hussein, lets instead try and appreciate the suffering of the actual victims and allow them to decide if he deserves to die for his crimes. That seems more thoughtful to me.
And while we do this, lets take time to remember Saddam Hussein's legacy of terror, and reflect on the horror that the mothers, brothers, sons, and fathers feel as they are finally able to pull their slaughtered family members from crude mass graves.
There are 70 pages of these photos.
More graphic images of Hussein's legacy here, and heartwrenching stories from survivors of mass executions here (starting on page 6 of the .pdf).
How can anyone raise principled opposition to Saddam Hussein going on trial? Leave it to the international left.
UPDATE: From Iraq the Model
While Baghdad’s streets were nearly empty, most Iraqis were glued to the TV and I bet many Arabs were as well.
Our place was full of full of friends today as we decided we would watch the trial together just like we lived what led to this day together; the first thing we noticed was that electricity was much better today and I don’t know if that was an exceptions made to allow more people to watch the awaited show but anyway we already prepared for outages and stored enough fuel for the generator.
We all sat in front of the TV; there were 8 of us hushing each other as we didn’t want to miss a single word of the conversations and we wanted to catch every small detail of the trial just like we suffered every small detail of the disasters brought upon us by the hateful tyrant.
“Does he deserve a fair trial?” this was the question that kept surfacing every five minutes…he wasn’t the least fair to his people and he literally reduced justice to verbal orders from his mouth to be carried out by his dogs.
Why do we have to listen to his anticipated rudeness and arrogant stupid defenses? We already knew he was going to try to twist things and claim that the trial lacks legitimacy or that it’s more a court of politics rather than a court of law, blah, blah, blah…
“Why do we have to listen to this bull****?” said one of my friends.
“I prefer the trial goes like this:
Q:Are you Saddam Hussein?
Then take this bullet in the head.”
Everyone could find a reason to immediately execute a criminal who never let his victims say a word to defend themselves “let’s execute him and get over this” sentiments like this were said while we watched the proceedings which were rather boring and sluggish for the first half of the session.
At the beginning we were displeased by the presentation of the prosecution which was more like a piece of poetry in the wrong time and place and this is what encouraged the defense to give us a worn out speech about objectivity and how the court must not go into sideways; the thing which both the prosecution and the defense were doing.
Anyhow, the prosecutor began reading the facts and figures about what happened in Dijail. The defendants went silent but Saddam objected on some details and then prosecutor said “Do you want me to show the film where you said and did that?” Saddam stopped talking and the prosecutor asked the court to allow showing the film, we don’t know if it was played there as transmission was paused for a while.
As the prosecution went deeper into details and facts, the way we viewed the trial began to change an d those among us who were demanding a bullet in Saddam’s head now seemed pleased with the proceedings “I don’t think I want to see that bullet now, I want to see justice take place as it should be”.
We were watching an example of justice in the new Iraq, a place where no one should be denied his rights, not even Saddam.
Being an actual Iraqi and all, Mohammed's take seems much reliable to me than that of the New York Times etc.