Tuesday, December 16, 2003

LET THE CIRCUS BEGIN



Yesterday I wrote that the U.S. would likely move to try Saddam in Iraq for a couple of key reasons. First, viewed from within the United States, the semblance of Iraqis standing up to pursue their own justice for Saddam, most Americans will see it only as a rounding of the circle in Iraq: closure on Saddam, a return to normalcy in Iraqi society, and the roots of democracy taking hold. This story seems to be the most appealing one from the media's perspective, a heart-warming allegory of Iraq's first baby steps on the path to liberalism. Spun this way, the media will confer sufficient legitimacy on the working of the triad, however it will exclude the Kurds, Israelis, Iranians, Kuwaitis, and others from receiving justice for their sufferings under the hand of Saddam. Not to mention justice for the American people who deserve to know how the Reagan and Bush I administrations (and many actors recycled into the current Bush administration) helped Saddam rise to power, gas the Kurds, and acquire and deploy chemical weapons.

The Bush administration/Iraqi governing council yesterday expressed its desire to bring Saddam to trial by next spring. Let's do some math. Next spring falls approximately April 21-June 21. Iraq's first democratic elections are tentatively scheduled for next July. So, Saddam's trial would begin anywhere from one to three months before the Iraqi people have any opportunity to cast votes in a national election. This means that justice will not be apportioned by the Iraqi people, but by the Iraqi governing council, established and loaded with hand picked overseas Iraqis by the U.S. occupational administration.

(Side note: general elections in Iraq will not mean that Iraq has acheived democracy. In the election (if we ever progess that far), the Iraqi people will be asked to choose leaders to fill a political framework engineered by the non-democratic Iraqi council and the U.S. to entrench power in a new Iraqi state in ways favorable to the U.S. and their Iraqi lackeys. Going by political scientist Albert O. Hirschman's astute observation of individuals' options in any given political regime: exit, voice, or loyalty--sometimes also portrayed as disloyalty. ." Exit does not appear a viable alternative for the downtrodden and impoverished majority of Iraqis. If they could get out, they would have previously. In fact, now those who had the resources and connections to get out are coming back to carpet bag. Iraqis have as much voice under the American occupation as they did under Saddam. That leaves us with the options of loyalty to/disloyal resistance to the American tailored regime.)

The second key point is that a trial in Iraq will be a de facto trial by the United States, orchestrated by the U.S. occupation to ensure no juicy, dammaging information is revealed about Saddam's connections with (and potential war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by) Republican officials and operatives

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