Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Clark, who served as attorney general under the late President Lyndon Johnson for three years in the 1960s, is a staunch anti-war opponent who has met Saddam several times over the last 15 years. He was considered a friend of Iraq under Saddam when the United Nations slapped an embargo on Baghdad following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Ramsey Clark is one of 25 "lead lawyers" working on Saddam's case. He is 77 years old. He cannot possibly help Saddam's legal team defend the dictator on the substance of the indictment against him. There will be no jury in this case, so he cannot even hope to impress the trier of fact with his gravitas and reputation, such as it is. Clark's only purpose is to score a propaganda victory against the United States. He cannot help Saddam, but he hopes to discredit the United States in the eyes of the world. This may not be treason under the law, but it is nothing less than treason in spirit.
There's no doubt that Saddam will be convicted for crimes against humanity. He's a dastardly megalomaniac.
I'm looking forward to the trial because I want the public to become more aware of the ways that our nation made his reign so terrifically successful through the eighties. It's important to understand that whenever we support murderous dictators there will be murderous consequences.
The Hussein/Rumsfeld handshake ought to be on the cover of every future textbook regarding the War in Iraq.
Screwy, I'm not sure what point you are trying to make.
Yes, America supported Saddam's regime to some small extent -- far less than many other countries -- when he was the only thing standing between revolutionary Iran and the oil fields of the Gulf. We backed one bad guy to contain another. While I am sure there was nobody in American government who affirmatively wanted to back Saddam (unlike Ramsey Clark, who made a point of befriending him), people felt that they had no choice. Also, at the time, Saddam had moved strongly into the "accommodationist" camp on Israel -- he was probably the most vocal proponent of peace with Israel in the early eighties, except for Egypt which had made its separate peace. This made it easier to believe that he was, by Arab standards, a positive rather than a negative force. It turns out that we were wrong, and there has been blowback as a result.
What we do not know, though, is whether the counterfactual result still would not have been worse. Had the revolutionary armies of Iran overrun Iraq, as they threatened to do, would they have pushed on into the Sunni regimes of the Gulf? In the middle of the Cold War, that would have been an unbelievable mess for the United States to contend with. The containment of Iran via support for Saddam -- limited as it was -- may still have been the right decision.
If your point is that the United States is responsible for keeping Saddam in power, then you are conceding, at least, that Iran might well have overrun Iraq. As I said, any principled objection to our diplomacy of that era has to contend with the consequences of Iranian victory.
But finally, if you are right that we are are somehow responsible for Saddam's domestic reign of terror (and I do not agree that we are), does not that increase our moral obligation to remove him from power? If Saddam is "our fault" in some derivative sense, does that fact not compound our obligation to pay the price in blood and treasure to remove him?
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