Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Our Man in Washington
In the dictator's curses against "the Americans" and "the Persians," it is impossible not to hear echoes of the time when Hussein was the one who wrote Iraq's history. For years, the Reagan administration gave him military and intelligence support to keep the hated Persians from defeating his outnumbered forces in the Iran-Iraq war. In 1983, Donald Rumsfeld was dispatched to visit Baghdad as a special envoy; he smiled broadly as he shook the tyrant's hand.Any reading of old news articles shows that America was largely nonplussed when Saddam was our friend; and the latest attempt to rewrite history into one neat story arc with the U.S. as the good guys is simply not supported by facts.
Robinson notes that "the dark, remorseless, unflinching cellphone video of [Saddam's] execution...tells an alternate history, one that is neither tidy nor hopeful -- and that demonstrates, not just by its content but by its very existence, that forces other than the current beleaguered government intend to be the final authors of Iraqi history. "
Instead of the impartiality and transparency of the International Criminal Court where international norms would have ruled the process, the sham trial of Saddam was filled with inequities from the dismissal of a judge for showing 'excessive' courtesy and civility to Saddam to murdered defense counsel and anonymous witnesses.
Howling Latina does not deny that Saddam was a brutal ruler that quashed dissent through brutal means; her secular point is that America did not squirm at this fact when it was convenient for them to remain friends with Hussein.
The Irish Times best summarizes the heart of the disreputable and disgraceful saga.
Yes, Saddam's legacy as well as our own.
There is no dignity in legal execution, as countless tales of prolonged final agony in the brutal US system remind us. But a state purporting to espouse democratic values which manifests what many will see as the thuggery that Saddam embodied will undermine further its little credibility.
Today President George Bush continues to take counsel on where to go next in the morass that Iraq has become. And again he will be hearing from those like Vice-President Dick Cheney who said the invasion could be done with the minimum of troops and who are now calling for a "surge" in US troop numbers ahead of a handover to the Iraqi authorities. Neo-conservative wishful thinking will not make it so any more than repeatedly insisting that the court which condemned Saddam was a model expression of an emerging democracy made it so. Saddam's legacy will be yet more spilled blood.