Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Saddam Hussein Execution Fiasco Damages US Foreign Policy

Bush likes to compare his fiasco in Iraq to World War Two. But Saddam Hussein's trial and execution bore no resemblance to the trials at Nuremberg and their largely successful effort to reestablish law. It is a simple fact that Saddam Hussein's execution alone resembled an old-fashioned lynching and has done our foreign policy harm. The Huffington Post noticed what Tom Brokaw had to say about the execution:
Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, who delivered a eulogy at President Gerald Ford's funeral today, appeared this morning on the Don Imus radio show. Brokaw agreed with Imus that it is "difficult to imagine" how the execution of Saddam Hussein "could have turned out worse."

"[W]e portray ourselves around the world as the champions of democracy and the rule of law," Brokaw said, yet Hussein's execution "resembled the worst kind of nightmare out of the old American West." As a result, Hussein, who "had disappeared, in effect, as some kind of a symbol over there, suddenly becomes a martyr."

The Nuremberg trials that followed in the aftermath of the defeat of Germany were not perfect but they came far closer to the idea of what justice can be by several orders of magnitude compared to what happened to Saddam Hussein. We all know Saddam Hussein was a thug and we all knew that the evidence against him was considerable, though the crime for which he was hung was one of his lesser atrocities.

At Nuremberg, evidence for most of the major crimes against the defendents was presented, but there seemed to be a deliberate attempt not to delve too deeply into Saddam Hussein's crimes. That in itself was a mistake. It allows people to assume he took many secrets with him.

At Nuremberg, as I recall, the lawyers survived to the end of the trial. That was not the case in the prosecution of Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqis and Americans might have muddled through Saddam Hussein's execution if his hanging had simply been done according to a sense of respect for the rule of law and the sensitivities of the Sunnis (and there are reports that Americans on the scene tried to mitigate a number of problems ahead of time but received little or no help from Washington—and no help from Maliki). But America's reputation has once again been badly damaged by the Bush Administration's failure to get the job done in a reasonable manner. And it further bolsters the belief that we are in the middle of a bitter civil war and have no place in the chaos that is becoming Iraq. Iraq is a strategic blunder. Iraq is not going to be a model of democracy and respect for legal process and protections any time soon. In fact, Bush, despite his photo ops and slogans, doesn't have a clue about what we're doing in Iraq and what we're trying to accomplish.

Keep in mind that Saddam Hussein is not the issue regarding his execution. The issue is consequence. What are you trying to do? What are the likely consequences if you allow certain things to happen? We now have the Sunnis more furious at us than ever and we have the Shiites furious at us. In overwhelming numbers, both groups want us to leave Iraq. In reality, we have simply become one more confusing and deadly factor for average Iraqis in the middle of the current chaos. It is no wonder than hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are fleeing Iraq, if they can afford it. Most Iraqis cannot.

Bush's incompetence has become the biggest obstacle to peace in Iraq and the broader Middle East. Sending more troops will only prolong the disaster.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Back when Saddam's trial got under way, I wrote that it would make more sense to jail him for life, that there was no sense bestowing martyrdom on him.

As for Bush deciding what to do next in Iraq, based on years of evidence, I fully expect he'll find some extremely costly way to make matters much worse. That is, costly in lives and limbs, as well as money.

I'm weary with disgust where The Decider and his decisions are concerned. I'm recalling scenes from the old Bullwinkle cartoon series.

Boris to Natasha, who's kneeling over a prostrate body: "Remember, out with the good air, in with the bad air. That's it, keep going . . . out with the good air, in with the bad air."

Bush reminds me of Boris Badenov, enthusiastically doing the exactly wrong thing, not with just one prostrate body but with a whole country full of people.

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Craig said...

S.W., that's a great metaphor for describing Bush!

It's going to be interesting to see how the press writes up the troop surge; after repeated failures to do what he's supposed to do or to even understand what's happening, Bush miraculously has it figured out? Suddenly he's smarter than the people with the Iraq Study Group who at least have a record of success? At this late stage, how many Americans will buy that?

10:43 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

No, see, he doesn't have to be smarter than all those ISG people — because he's The Decider and they're not.

12:44 AM  

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