Thursday, December 18, 2003

Is America Safer?

Is America safer now that Saddam is in custody? Not directly. I don’t believe that Saddam himself was directly involved in any terrorism against the United States. Now, that does not mean that I believe that he is innocent of aiding and abetting terrorism against the US.

Apparently documents were found providing a link from Saddam to Mohammed Atta (if there is anyone in the world I harbor hatred against, it is this man. And the fact that he is dead makes no difference in my mind). Atta was in Iraq with the knowledge and approval of Saddam. Not only that, but Saddam contributed monetarily to terrorist activities. I don’t believe for a minute that Saddam had the courage to directly attack the US. He would have allowed others to do the dirty work for him. He would have subsidized them knowing what they planned to do, but turning a blind eye to their activities.

Would Saddam have been happy to see the US crumble? Of course. He and most of the rest of the mid-eastern world hates the US because we do not embrace the Muslim faith. And to make matters worse, we are prosperous and the most powerful nation in the world. We are infidels and do not deserve to live, much less have the power and prosperity we have.

Saddam is a deluded individual who still lives in the world he created over the last three decades. Only now, it’s not Iraq, it’s all in his mind.

Showing the Video – Good Idea or Bad?

The video is, of course, of Saddam undergoing the medical exam after his capture. There are some, such as the Vatican, some Congressmen, Hollywood celebrities and various world leaders who think it was a travesty to show the video.

It had to be shown. It was the only way to show the Iraqi people that Saddam was in custody. And to show the world that he was receiving the same care that any other “person of interest” in military custody would receive. I've heard that the mouth exam was to determine if he had cyanide capsules in his teeth. It makes no difference to me. The reason behind the exam was for his own health and the health of the people who would have care and custody of him. After all, he could have had a contagious illness. Or infested with fleas, or lice. And never forget that we treat our prisoners better than a lot of other countries have treated our people who were prisoners. Americans do believe in doing the right thing.

Some say it was degrading to show the video. This was, after all, video of a former world leader. (Excuse me? Third world, maybe.) It’s not as if we were showing tape of Saddam stripped and being deloused. That would have been degrading and I would be incensed about it. Everyone, no matter what their crime, deserves a certain amount of human dignity. Dignity that Saddam himself did not allow citizens of his own country.

Don't forget this is the man who ordered the gassing of the Kurds. This is the man who under whose reign thousands of Iraqis vanished after daring to disagree with Saddam. This is the man who allowed his sons to kidnap, rape, mutilate, and murder women. This is the man who allowed those same sons to murder people by putting them into shredding machines - alive.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Living in Luxury

Reading back over my last post, I mentioned that Saddam and his family lived in luxury. I don't remember how many palaces they had which were all richly appointed. They had all the toys of the rich and lived a jet-set lifestyle.

Now, let me set something straight. When a person has worked and earned the right to that lifestyle, I don't begrudge it to them. They earned it by the sweat of the brow. Or at least, because they had a service or a product that they made their money with.

Sam Walton is a good example. He started with an idea that eventually became the biggest corporation in the world. It made Sam a multi-billionaire. Most of the people in the US who are millionaires started out with an idea and worked until they were successful. More millionaires in the US made their own fortunes than inherited their wealth. Bet you didn't know that.

Saddam "earned" his lifestyle by overthrowing one government and instilling himself as the "president" of the new government. He then robbed and murdered innocent Iraqi people to keep his acquired position in life.

He didn't earn anything. He stole it. He stole it from the people of Iraq. He tried to steal it from the Kuwaiti people. He never thought the bubble would burst. The trouble with bubbles is they are very fragile. When they burst, there is nothing left.

All that was left of Saddam's bubble was Saddam himself. A whole lot of nothing.
Who Should Try Saddam?

Considering the crimes Saddam committed against his own countrymen, it is obvious to me that the Iraqi citizens should sit in judgment of this dictator. Make sure the judges or jury are Kurds or had a father, brother, sister, mother, or friend, kidnapped or arrested by Saddam's goons. Some of his victims vanished into underground jails where they were tortured and starved to death. He gassed the Kurds, thousands of them. After the first Gulf War, those who had openly supported the Allies were arrested, and if lucky, died a quick death. Many just disappeared. Possibly buried in one of the mass graves uncovered during the early days of the war.

And let us not forget that he allowed his sons, Uday and Qusay, to kidnap women to rape, mutilate, and kill. Anyone who had the nerve to object might end up in shredding machines.

Saddam is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and indirectly responsible for thousands more.

He stole from the Iraqi people so that he, his family, and those he favored, could live in luxury. While he lived a luxurious lifestyle, the Iraqi people lived in poverty. Electricity was sporadic. Running water meant jogging from the local well with a jug of water.

When questioned, he told interrogators that he was a benevolent ruler who ruled fairly and wisely. That his people loved him. I believe that he believes it. He still hears the cheers of the people. People who were afraid not to cheer; that they would be the next to be arrested or just disappear.
Saddam Must Receive a Fair Trial

It is the responsibility of the US and the Coalition, whether we want it or not, to make sure that Saddam gets a fair trial. If there is any question of fairness, and there will be, then any verdict will be questionable.

In the US, lawyers would be asking for a change of venue because he couldn't get a fair trial where the crimes were committed. I can't imagine anywhere in the world that a jury of his peers could be paneled who could set aside their opinions and hear the facts with an unbiased mind.

"Fair" in this case has to be subjective. It's subject to the court he will be tried in. Iraqi courts are different than American courts. There are things required in our courts that are not in Iraq. The trial will be televised and, I predict, will be bigger than the OJ trial. We will see things that we, as Americans, will scream "Objection!" to, that are completely acceptable in Iraqi courts. Perry Mason and Matlock would be hard pressed to defend Saddam in Iraq unless they studied Iraqi courtroom procedures. In the courtroom, sometimes the procedures are as important, if not more so, than the law itself.

I spoke in another post about being "innocent until proven guilty." If you, my favorite reader, will remember, I explained that concept only applies to the judge and jury. They are required to judge the facts of the case and only the facts of the case with a open and unbiased mind. Everyone else in the world is allowed to prejudge the defendant.

I can't imagine a panel of jurors judging the case of The Iraqi People vs. Saddam Hussein. In the first place, I don't know if Iraqi courts even use the jury system. It's my understanding that in some countries, only judges hear cases; juries are non-existent. In the second place, I don't know if he will be tried in the Iraqi courts. He may be tried by a military tribunal - American, coalition, or Iraqi. War Crimes Tribunals are generally heard by a panel of judges. Military tribunals are heard by officers. A tribunal trial may be his best chance to get a fair trial.

In any case, whatever court hears the case has to be as fair as possible. I want the world to know that he received the fairest treatment possible. I don't want any country or person to say that he got less than a fair trial.

It's more than the men, women, and children of Iraq received under his dictatorship.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Ladies and Gentlemen: We got him.

With those six words, an era of brutality has ended. The Bully of Baghdad was taken without a shot being fired. This man, who encouraged his followers to fight against those who freed his people from his 36-year reign of terror, surrendered without a fight.

This is the man who encouraged his troops to fight a jihad against American and coalition forces. This is the man who encouraged his people to fight to the death. This is the man who meekly surrendered to the troops who would take him into custody. The pistol he carried on his hip stayed in the holster.

The Bully of Baghdad showed his true colors. For 36 years, he gave orders to torture and kill innocent citizens of Iraq. He allowed his sons to kidnap, rape, torture, and kill. He ordered the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. And when he had the chance to kill himself, he apparently couldn't do it. Why? I don't know, maybe he was caught off-guard and didn't have the chance. Maybe he didn't have any bullets. Maybe he was disoriented. Maybe he just didn't have the courage.

This bully is like all other bullies. They cave in and become meek and mild when stood up to and they see that they have to show what they are made of. He ran and he hid. When it came to capture, he meekly surrendered. He gave up without a fight. Maybe he didn't have the strength to fight. He's been on the run for eight months, moving two, three, four times a night. Not enough sleep, poor if any medical care, and probably poor nutrition. The stress of being on the run, grief over his sonsÂseparationseperation from his remaining family would cause his physical and mental health to decline.

The film I saw was that of a beaten man. I don't know if once he gets some sleep, medical care, and nutritious food he will return to the swaggering dictator he once was. I don't think so. Now that he is in custody, I think we will find that most of what we thought we knew of Saddam was a fake. All he had was show. There was nothing of real substance behind him. Yes, he had his minions who carried out his orders. I think that's all there was: the fear of Saddam. Fear was enough to keep the people of Iraq under his thumb. How many of us stay in jobs we don't like because of fear? We're afraid to rock the boat. We're afraid of retaliation. We're afraid of the unknown.

The Iraqi people have little to fear today. But I fear it will take a long time to get over the psychological fear that was instilled in them. Once the celebrations are over, the psychological healing can begin.

The Emperor's New Clothes

I had a vision of Saddam as the lead in the children's story The Emperor's New Clothes. He is the Emperor now without his clothes. Everyone can see what he really is: a sad, pathetic little man. Not little in physical stature, but little in the eyes of the Iraqi people and the eyes of the world. He's a little man without his swagger, his bodyguards, and the fear that clothed him.

I now wonder whether there are any weapons of mass destruction. Maybe what we knew of was all there was. He had twelve years to tell the world that he didn't have any WMD, but he didn't want to. He wanted the world to think he had them so that the world would respect him or fear him. If he had WMD, he would become a power, a power that would have to be respected. He would use this power for his own ends. And if he couldn't have respect, fear would do. The rest of the world would be afraid of Saddam and what he might do with his WMD. After all, if he would gas the Kurds, if he would torture and kill hundreds of thousands of his own people, if he had the guts to annex Kuwait, what would he do next?

I now doubt that there were any. I could still be proven wrong. Maybe someday, maybe soon, maybe later, someone will let out that they know the WMD are in Syria, or buried under tons of sand at such and such a location. I think that the WMD we knew of was all there was.

The only difference between the Emperor in the story and Saddam is that the emperor went into public naked. Saddam was figuratively stripped of his clothes.

And it's not a pretty sight.