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Monday, November 28, 2005

The Trial of Saddam Hussein 

Times have changed. Mussolini was lynched and meathooked. Hitler shot himself. Today's fascist tyrants are put on trial, on global television no less. Milosevic and now Saddam are tried for genocide in front of a global audience.

This trial has an inevitability to it which of course robs it of any suspense, really. By now the crimes are well known. Today the trial moved passed procedural wrangling into its storytelling -- in this case, about the massacre of Iraqi citizens of Dujail, punished for an assassination attempt on Saddam in 1982. While a former Baathist Intellignce Officer for Hussein testified that there may have been 12-14 people involved, a far larger number were likely arrested, perhaps tortured and executed. The trial will likely get to the bottom of this isolated case.

What will we learn from all this? Mostly about primitive sorts of justice -- like massive collective punishment. If Saddam was wronged, he punished everybody in town. No surprise there, except to hear it out loud.

We will see two things put on display which will be instructive, I think:

1) Watching an omnipotent psychopath brought low - this may shock people
2) Learning how he intends to defend his actions -- will he deny there occurrence? Will his lawyers simply challenge the legitimacy of any trial as an American occupier's creation? Will he justify his actions as calculated to defend the nation? I suspect the latter two will b e his path, but seeing how he responds will be extraordinary. Blame the outsider, always. It will put on stark display the paranoia which fuels murder and genocide.

The reporting on the Saddam Hussein trial, progress on elections and the continued passage of time will make it clearer that Iraq is well on its way. Politically, it will be dangerous to align oneself in a fashion which has the natural implication of defending Saddam's continued rule.

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