Three Versions of Saddam’s Trial

The MSM is covering Saddam’s trial, which is entering the phase concerned with his gassing of Kurds — Saddam’s genocidal “experiments” on his own people. Ho hum, it’s an inside-page story by now. For everyone but the Kurds, at any rate.

According to The Daily Mail, “It’s Not HIM Who Should Be On Trial” — it is America and the allies she dragged into the war in Iraq:

Of course, Saddam was a violent dictator, but every government in that region is some sort of dictatorship.

Moreover, the violence inflicted on Iraq by the British and the Americans in 2003 to overthrow Saddam has been of a similar magnitude to that which he inflicted on Iraqis to keep his power before then. Many Iraqis will ask where is the difference.

Ordinary Iraqis have suffered bitterly for the last three years. On the first night of bombing alone, in March 2003, the Americans dropped the equivalent of seven Hiroshima nuclear bombs on Baghdad.

There has been fighting and civil war ever since, and Iraq is now a river of blood. The torture committed by the Americans in the main Baghdad prison at Abu Ghraib has come to symbolise the brutality of the whole occupation.

This is breathtaking moral equivalence. Notice the lack of statistics. Notice the shameless moral outrage. Notice particularly the conclusions drawn without the evidence to back them up.

The EuroNews gives some statistics that belie The Daily Mail’s contention:

Seven leading members of the former regime, including Saddam’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, are accused of war crimes against the Kurds in 1987-88, in which it is estimated that 50,000-100,000 people died, many of them gassed. The first witness for the prosecution appeared — unusually for these trials — named and unhidden by a screen. Ali Mustafa Hama told the court how planes had bombed his village: “the gas smelled of rotten apples… releasing greenish smoke”. Then his neighbours began dying in agony.

Umm, just how is this horror “inflicted” on the Kurds by Saddam of similar moral magnitude to the war in Iraq? Oh, that’s right: how could we forget Abu Ghraib? Of course some lewd and humiliating photos are eqivalent to mass graves. I’d love to see the moral compass these people use. It must be quite an instrument.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) filed this opinion piece:

The current case concerns his Anfal (“spoils of war”) military campaign of 1987-1988 against the Kurds, in which tens of thousands are alleged to have been killed and some 2,000 villages razed. The charges include genocide because of the targeting of a specific ethnic group, making Saddam only the second world leader in our recollection to be so formally charged. The first was the late, and unmourned, Slobodan Milosevic.


The horrifying testimony is also a reminder that, despite the current problems in Iraq, the U.S. decision to topple Saddam was an act of pre-emptive global hygiene. The habit of many American liberals is to deplore the thugs of the world from afar but then never do anything about them (see encyclopedia entries under Rwanda, Darfur), or to pass the buck to the U.N. (see multiple entries; in particular Lebanon, current crisis).

In the case of Saddam, the U.S. and its allies finally did act to rid the Middle East of a megalomaniac who had invaded Kuwait, attacked Iran, gassed his own people, tossed out U.N. weapons inspectors, harbored terrorists including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, retained the infrastructure for making WMD even if he lacked stockpiles (see the Duelfer report), plotted to kill a former American President, and harbored a grudge against the U.S. that could have played out in many ways to harm Americans.

Countering The Daily Mail’s contention that Iraqis will ask “where is the difference [between the war and Saddam’s regime], the EuroNews found a different attitude:

Many people questioned in the streets by reporters said they hoped the trials would end soon, as Saddam’s guilt was beyond doubt, and the sooner he was executed the sooner terrorism would end.

I agree with The Wall Street Journal: executing The Butcher of Baghdad will be “an act of pre-emptive global hygiene.”

Too bad it couldn’t have been a more summary form of justice when Saddam was literally run to ground. Had he not survived his capture, we might have gotten our military home sooner. Hindsight is always easier, isn’t it?

Perhaps the next time — and there will most certainly be one of those — we will have learned to do what is best done quickly.

Meanwhile, the trial continues on the inside pages…no one is paying much attention to Saddam anymore. No one but his surviving victims. I, for one, wish him great success in his fast. May it be mortal.

The Glittering Eye’s current council post on Iranian and Turkish shelling of the PKK (the Kurdish Workers’ Party) bases inside Iraq reminded me of a post on Gates from last May: “Are the Kurds a Steam-Valve?”

The heart of the problem is the Kurds…they never give up, they never go away. The Kurds are Sunni Muslims living in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. Their distinct culture has persisted through millennia, and through years of active cultural suppression or the occasional attempt at genocide. In Turkey, till very recently, they weren’t permitted to speak their own language in public. In Syria, where they make up ten percent of the population, they are denied citizenship.

Way back when, in his Fourteen Points, Woodrow Wilson promised the Kurds their own country. In the Treaty of Sèvres, in 1920, they were granted sovereignty. However, Ataturk threw out that agreement in 1923 and the Kurds and Turks have been at it ever since.

At the time, I reported the massing of Turkish forces on the Iraqi border as a springtime ritual of Kurd-killing. Evidently, it’s a late summer festival also.

During my research for that original post on the Kurds, I discovered that Kurds and Jews are quite closely related. Why are we not surprised? A stubborn group perennially survives in the face of death threats from three nations, refusing to succumb or to bend.

Just another subset of God’s stubborn ones.

2 thoughts on “Three Versions of Saddam’s Trial

  1. I suppose the Daily Mail can cite Ted “The Swimmer” Kennedy in equating Abu Ghraib with the brutality of the Hussein regime.

  2. Teddy may not be able to swim, but he sure can float. I wish Massachusetts would permanently beach him. Unfortunately, they believe his soundbites…

    When I lived there I didn’t know anyone who respected him or said they voted for him — and among those people were regular old line Dems. Back when there were such voters.

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