Monday, December 15, 2003


In case you live in a cave (this means you Osama), this morning U.S. forces paraded a scraggly, captive Saddam Hussein before the global media machine. Indeed a momentous turn of events, Saddam's capture raises a number of pressing questions.

(1.) What does this mean for violent resistance to the American occupation of Iraq?

If Saddam was masterminding the resistence of loyal remnants of the Republican, then we might expect the violence to taper off. This is the sore loser scenario oft charged by conservatives who like to gloat over their perceived victories (a charge also levied against tholse in the West who opposed the war). If the resistance arises from oppostion to U.S. occupation, as many many many who opposed the war prophecied, then we should expect the resistance to remain constant or increase.

Here I turn to GWB: "I also have a message for all Americans: The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. " Despite early reports this morning of (a) new intelligence that Saddam was orchestrating the resistance and (b) two new car comb attacks against police stations, it is my impression that Saddam couldn't have been too involved in the resistance. Why do I say this? Mainly because Saddam was living in a hole in the ground. Judging from his mangy dog appearance, it doesn't look like he got out too much. Oh, and his hole isn't like the bunker in Nebraska--with all its computers, analysts and telecommunications infrastructure--where GWB flew to hide out on 9/11, it was just a hole under a farm house.

"Yesterday, December the 13th, at around 8:30 p.m. Baghdad time, United States military forces captured Saddam Hussein alive." Kudos to you, GWB.

(2.) But how are we doing with regards to capturing OBL? You know, the guy who masterminded and financed the attacks on the WTC (twice), the Pentagon, the Whitehouse (failed, thanks to some very brave souls), the S.S. Cole, the Embassies in Africa, and so on.

(3) Okay, we got him. Now what do we do with him? The good folks at the CIA will eventually tire of flogging Saddam with the proverbial rubber hose, and the question of bringing Saddam to justice--where, how, by whom, and for whom--will lurch to the forefront of public intrigue.

It seems there are three options: Try him in Iraq, try him in the United States, or try him at the international court. There is a fourth scenario, too. Saddam could suffer congenital heart failure, fall down a flight of stairs, commit suicide, and so on. I would not rule this out, given what Saddam knows about the involvement of President Reagan, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and a myriad of other Republican hawks in Saddam's rise to power, war against Iran, business deals with U.S. firms to extract oil and develop chemical weapons.

Here we must recall the "logic of the triad." Courts essentially derive their legitimacy from this triad--it??the idea that two parties in conflict refer their dispute to a third, neutral party for resolution. We can see right away that there are many more than two parties at play in this conflict. Here is an inexhaustive listing: the Iraqi people (subjected citizenry), the Kurds (genocidal victims), the Americans (colonial overlords), and the Kuwaitis, Israelis and Iranians (victims of war crimes).

There is a fourth, oft overlooked component to the triad (probably omitted so they wouldn't have to call it logic of the "quad"): the general public who decide on the legitimacy of the third party and the judicial process.

It would seem the international court would be best suited to deal justice to such a diverse group of parties. But that raises the risk for the Bush Administration that information Saddam potentially could divulge would come back to bite them (and previous Republican administrations--including Daddy Bush) in the ass. An American trial would reek of impartiality (and an improper fit to redress the broad breach of justice waged under Saddam's regime). It's safe to say that putting Saddam on trial in the U.S. would evoke outrage from much of the world, particularly in regions where the Bush administration would like to usher an era of democratic enlightenment.

A trial in Iraq, while shunning all other injured parties from the process of justice, would ring most true to the average American. Conveniently for the Bush administration, Iraqi civil society is in such shambles that there is no way a judicial system capable of ruling on international human rights and war crimes laws could be up and running in any foreseeable length of time. Most of the country still has no electricity, let alone the litigation and jurisprudence skills necessary for such an undertaking. "Have I got the solution for you," Paul Bremer is thinking. While a trial by Iraqis would likely earn Bush considerable political capital domestically, in reality it could be no more than a kangaroo court orchestrated by the heavy, invisible hand of the U.S. potentate, which would ensure Bush of the appropriate outcome: Saddam guilty, dirty little Republican secrets stay under wraps.

(4) What about those pesky WMDs? If there is anyone who can, Saddam should lead us once and for all to those elusive missiles, fissile material and biological weapons aresenal. You know, the stuff about which Sec. of State Collin Powell presented the UN with detailed intelligence as to the locations and activities: . Either they were there and now we get them, or Bush lied to the American public and the world. Period.

Yes, there are more questions to be posed and pondered, but for now I need to go earn my keep at my job.


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