Monday, November 06, 2006

Comment: SADDAM'S SENTENCE

The verdict- death by hanging- shouldn’t come as a surprise. The moment Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s Baathist autocrat, was captured by American troops from his Tikriti hideout, betrayed by his own bodyguards, his end had already become a fiat accompli: if anything, it was not so much a question of time as it was of process. To be more precise: what process- procedure- to be followed to bring this former head of state’s head to the scaffold? For his captors, the objective of the whole exercise- ‘charade’, as skeptics are prone to term it- has been to ensure that he doesn’t go down as a martyr: that his death doesn’t become the rallying-point for resurgent pan-Arab, militant ‘Islamic’ fundamentalisms. Did they- the overlords of the ‘War Against Terror’- succeed?

Certain features about Mr. Hussein’s trial need to be noted. First: it wasn’t ‘in camera’. Images of a belligerent ex-dictator, shouting at his judges and questioning their legitimacy to try him, were beamed down ‘live’ to millions of television viewers worldwide. In the ensuing din, the specific charge for which he was being tried- the genocide of 148 shias ordered by him in Dujail in his capacity as head of state in 1982 following a failed assassination attempt- did not get the coverage his captors might have hoped for. Still, there is something to be said for the way his trial was conducted: aside from the murders of lawyers, resignations of judges, death-sentences and the inevitable theatrics, it was a relatively 'humane' affair- sans handcuffs, chains, signs of mutilation and torture etc.- as can be evidenced from the photograph above of the smiling Mr. Hussein, possibly sharing a joke with his co-accuseds. In fact, John Simpson of the BBC noted that he could see a definitive smile on Mr. Hussein's face as he was led out of the courtroom after being sentenced for the simple reason that "he had accomplished exactly what he had come for."

Secondly, Mr. Hussein’s conviction has challenged a fundamental precept of diplomacy, the way nations conduct affairs with each other: the immunity due to a head of state. At the time of the Dujail genocide, he was, beyond all doubt, Iraq’s head of state. What is even more ironical is that when this genocide occurred, his present captors, the Americans, instead of condemning him- or even his government- were actually actively assisting Mr. Hussein’s regime in its war against neighboring Iran. [See photo: Shaking Hands: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983.]

Here, comparisons with his Yugoslavian contemporary, Slobodan Milošević's trial become inevitable:

(a) In Mr. Milošević’s case, he was tried on the specific charge of ‘war crimes’; the charge against Mr. Hussein involves an act undertaken as head of state.
(b) Mr. Milošević was tried by an international court, constituted by the United Nations no less; Mr. Hussein’s reluctant judges, though appointed by an Iraqi administration, are clearly not beyond the reach of America’s sphere of influence.
(c) Mr. Hussein’s charge involves an act of genocide committed against his own country’s nationals (even though shias, despite being in a majority, were treated as little more than second-rate citizens); what Mr. Milošević did was an act against nationals of another country- race, religion- in the aftermath of the balkanization of Yugoslavia.
(d) Unlike in the case of the Kurdish genocide, there was large scale international condemnation for Mr. Milošević’s crimes at the time these were committed.

In this regard at least, Mr. Hussein’s trial seems unprecedented. This, however, is not so much an encroachment of the principle of immunity- and consequently, sovereignty of nation-states against growing internationalism- as it is a doing away with the notion of impunity: that persons, including heads of states, can get away with anything. In the opinion of this blogger, it can’t be such a bad thing after all: theoretically speaking at least, the actions of President George W. Bush of the United States of America can no longer be considered to enjoy immunity or impunity.

Thirdly, the Court constituted to try this case was intended to showcase the best principles of civilized- Western- jurisprudence, by highlighting what is called ‘the due process of law’, in which the accused is afforded every opportunity to defend himself. Unfortunately, Mr. Hussein did not buy into it. The only defense he offered was a copy of the Holy Quran: clearly, his intention is to portray himself as a jihadi, single-handedly taking on the might of the world’s most powerful nation. And while he has every right to appeal against this verdict, it is very unlikely that he will use that right. The only thing that Mr. Hussein has demanded is that instead of being hanged, he should be shot by an armed squad while attired in his military uniform. His purpose is clear: he intends to demonstrate through this the illegitimacy of ‘the American occupation of Iraq’, and project himself as a soldier fighting for his country’s independence. Like Mr. Milošević, he may well end up dying in his cell- possibly by shooting himself- before he can be led up the gallows.

In retrospect, this blogger feels that it might have been better if Mr. Hussein were sentenced under the shariat (Islamic law), and for a crime(s) against fellow Muslims (it would not be farfetched to say that instances of these are fairly numerous), and the only appeal allowed to him, in the form of a reprieve- letter of pardon- signed by members of the victims’ family. In any event, such a procedure would have avoided the pitfalls of ‘the clash of civilizations’ premise, which became all the more pronounced, especially in the Muslim states, as the trial progressed, and which will most certainly escalate with the sentencing. In any event, this should not deter from the task of healing the sectarian strife between Shia and Sunni, and bringing true democracy to the peoples of Iraq.

With the sentencing of Mr. Hussein, the past too must finally begin to be buried even as the Iraqi nation prepares once again to take charge of its destiny. The other alternative, of the Iraqi state withering away into two- even three- disparate entities based on sectarian beliefs, would be a vindication of Mr. Hussein's "fair but firm" style of governance: it will prove decisively that the only way to keep Iraq together is by means of brute force, which is precisely what he did for the quarter of a century he ruled Iraq.

AJ

POST SCRIPT: America did the right thing, the wrong way.

Anyone vaguely familiar with Mr. Saddam Hussein's 'fair but firm' style of governance- involving large-scale genocide of Kurds and fellow muslim Shias, chemical bombings of entire villages, summary executions of citizens, including high officials, who refused to kowtow to his whims et al- would not doubt that his sentence is fully deserved. The question then is not so much about the sentence itself as the process through which he has been sentenced. I have commented at length on this above.

Here, I shall deliberate briefly on whether the American role in Mr. Hussein's sentencing can be justified. In my opinion, the answer must be yes. Here's why. Mr. Bush's decision to invade/liberate (depending on which side you are on) Iraq might have been based on one wrong factor- WMD, as it turned out- but all the same it was a right decision. For two reasons: one, even if the probability of finding WMDs was 0.1%, it was well worth the risk; two, in order to sustain his regime, an increasingly paranoid Mr. Hussein had become an enemy to the majority of his own subjects, as is evident from the numerous instances of human rights abuses that have come to light subsequently. Of course, it would have been far more ideal for the entire international community to have shouldered the responsibility of putting an end to these unchecked state-atrocities in Iraq; but it is clear that besides procrastination, it did little else, leading Mr. Hussein into believing that he could go about acting with impunity. Under the circumstances, America did what any responsible world-hegemon ought to do, even if its intentions weren't entirely altruistic (oil?).

To clarify, allow me to offer an analogy: you see an old woman being beaten by a ruffian; the policeman stands and watches. What do you do, especially if you happen to be powerful yourself?

Where America bungled, in my opinion, is in its trial of Mr. Hussein. The best course would have been to let him be tried- and judged- under shariat, especially since it does not exclude heads of states from having their heads chopped-off, especially for slaughtering fellow muslims. That would most certainly have kept everybody happy.

AJ

16 comments (टिप्पणी):

Anonymous said...

DiD Milosevic Kill himself?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milosevic

Milošević was extradited to stand trial in the The Hague but died after five years in prison with just fifty hours of testimony left before the conclusion of the trial. Milošević, who suffered from chronic heart ailments, high blood pressure and diabetes, died of a heart attack brought on by unclear circumstances.[1] Some of his supporters believe that he was murdered in prison prior to the rendering of a verdict by his accusers.

Amit Aishwarya Jogi said...

@ anon

I thank you for pointing this out. Necessary changes have been made to the text.
Regards,
AJ

Anonymous said...

If Saddam has done some mistakes/brutalities against his people, his punishment should be decided by an independent Iraqi judiciary and not imposed by USA. The USA has atlast found some face saving excuse for itself to leave Iraq. The elections for US senate are due in 2 months and Mr BUSH has to convince people about his Republican Govt. achievement in Iraq. Could anyone find weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological) there? (the reason for sending foreign troops). The ongoing and ever increasing daily clashes between Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and Turks has further complicated and segregated, the fragmented Iraqi society. The superimposed puppet Iraqi Govt. doesn't have any legitimacy, authority or control over events in Iraq. Saddam used to rule with an iron hand. If only Saddam did not have a painful tooth problem, he would not have been coming out of his bunker to purchase medicines, which led to his arrest. Although Saddam will be hanged, but he will remain a martyr in the eyes of majority Iraqis and some Muslims around the world, forever - 007

Anonymous said...

I think drawing parallel with Milosevic is not correct. He was tried in international court due to war crimes. Saddam was tried in Iraqi court, due to crimes against his own ppl. Such a crime cannot be tried in international court.
I totally disagree that head of state should have any level of immunity. Why should a poisition of power give one the freedom to commit crime. And if you talk about diplomatic immunity, that question only arises in case of international disputes. If an Iraqi court tries an iraqi prisioner, where is the question of diplomatic immunity. Its not that an american court is trying a head of a state.
Although, I agree the trial and subsequnet outcome had american influence, but thats how the world will shape when there is one absolute power, and no one to resist it.
Anubhav

Anonymous said...

I don't think death's sentense will solve the Iraq's problem. What's done It's done and It can't be changed just with his death. Revenge is not a good feeling. I hope the USA leave the Iraq alone. USA democracy that Bush is trying to put in Iraq is bad for everyone's health.
Felipe

Anonymous said...

05/11/2006 20:40
The death sentence is bound to exacerbate the already 'civil war' like condition in Iraq. There have been a lot of questions over the trial of Saddam and the legality of the tribunal itself. Another thing that needs to be pondered over is that why is USA selectively pursuing cases against Saddam(ie. the killings in Dujail and the one which is pending)???If he is to be prosecuted, then why not for the much larger crimes like his unilateral invasion of Iran in 1980 and the Kuwait in 1990???

Puneet ( ਪੁਨੀਤ )

Anonymous said...

06/11/2006 05:07
I do support the death sentence awarded to Saddam.. though i have serious doubts over intentions of US on this.. A tyrant like Saddam must be hanged.. so that it comes out as a lesson to the extremists.. At the same breath i wud like to emphasize that I am saying US is no way better.. but just becuase both are criminals. we cannot let go one of them.. if they wanna fight and die among them.. let them do it.
natraj

Anonymous said...

06/11/2006 14:08
I kind of don't want Saddam to be executed.


This is a bad example in an Eye-for-Eye culture.

Really bad.





Shiiiiiiit.

I see more and more stupidity coming.

In fact:

What land was the "Eye-for-eye" thing created?

Where now?

After about three seconds of thought on this:


It's fucking stupid to execute Saddam.

I'd love to see him as a non-martyr. I would love to see him live his life out eating Doritos and playing chess.

This is the limit. I don't wish him to hang. I say this with all honesty, and hope for peace in the future.

Brent

Anonymous said...

06/11/2006 17:43
Samid:
Funny how they brought it out as the mid-terms were nearing.

Anonymous said...

Abhijeet 05/11/2006 23:05
Saddam might have been a fascist, a dictator and a perpetrator of many a genocides, but he was never a religious fundamentalist. Under his regime Iraq was never quite a fundamentalist hub as was the case with other countries in the neighbourhood. Ofcourse for all the crimes he committed, he deserved this punishment.ofcourse his positives will be lost in the dust of time. He had the power to fuck the muslims into a moderate form of that religion, but as always the world picked the wrong end of the thread.

Anonymous said...

In Love 05/11/2006 22:42
150 deaths got justice & 655000 deaths are waiting
What about civilian catastrophe as US bombs Afghan wedding ???????????
Anybody???????????? In the name of Justice
Pleaz for the innocent deaths of children………

• 250 civilians reported dead or injured
• Witnesses say attack lasted 2 hours
• Pentagon: 'One bomb went astray'
The attack occurred in the village of Kakarak in Uruzgan province, in the south of the country, where special forces and other coalition troops were searching for remaining al-Qaida and Taliban fighters on Monday July 1, 2002.
The joke starts when they rejoice on death plenty of killing 148 people in a town.
I feel hate for the killers. No matter from where he belongs.

Its called judicial killing
He was former US ally in In 1985 the U.S. Commerce Department, for example, licensed $1.5 billion in sales to Iraq of American technology with potential military uses. Iraq was then getting Western support for its war against Iran.
It was indeed an expected result
1: The creation of the IHT by an Occupying Power (the United States) violates the Geneva Conventions.
2: The Presiding Judge, Ra’uf Abdel-Rhaman, was biased due to alleged past membership in an anti-Ba’athist organization.
3: The Defense has challenged the authenticity of these and other documents, and argued that the court-appointed experts who affirmed Saddam’s signature on them cannot be trusted as independent because they all have links to Iraq’s interior ministry. In particular, the defense strenuously argued that the document indicating that Saddam Hussein approved the execution of people under the age of eighteen was forged.
4: The IHT will likely spell out in detail those attributes of a fair trial that were lacking in the Revolutionary Court case against the Dujail townspeople. The irony here is that the IHT itself has been accused of violating many of those fair trial principles in the handling of the Dujail and Anfal trials.
5: Related to this is the question of whether comparisons between the Ba’ath Regime’s actions in 1982 and the way the United States has conducted its current war on terrorism (namely by attacking towns in Afghanistan and Iraq and imprisoning suspects at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay) are legally relevant. If the Tribunal concludes that such comparisons are legally relevant, look for its analysis of whether American actions are distinguishable from the Bath Party’s actions in terms of necessity, proportionality, and treatment of subordinates who committed crimes. This may well be the most important part of the Tribunal’s judgment.
6: Some experts are concerned that a death sentence for Saddam could ignite a full-blown civil war, while others are convinced that the sooner he is “removed from the scene” the sooner peace can take hold in Iraq. Victims groups, on the other hand, do not want to see the death penalty implemented in a way that prevents Saddam Hussein from standing trial and facing his accusers in the ongoing Anfal case and in the Marsh Arab case which is scheduled to begin in 2007. In any event, a death sentence would not be implemented until after the conclusion of the Appeals process, which is likely to take several more months.

This is a mockery of justice.
general thread about mass murderers
General mudersers
How Bush relation to Saadam trail is irrelevant?
how this trail is not a reminder of Bush’s own crimes.
obliviously Us and Iraq are the two parties directly involve in this issue.
I hope u understand the relativity of both parties and its like one criminal is punishing another criminal.
Pleaz take a break and reconsider the Bush’s crimes with some geographical changes.

Anonymous said...

So true. And now war on Iraq has un-leashed all the extremist factions of Iraq. More threat to World. Saddam had held them in check.
STJ

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not- iraqi women under Saddam Hussein wore western dresses and looked like spanish senoritas ;)
Abhijeet

Amit Aishwarya Jogi said...

Americans did the right thing, the wrong way.

Anyone vaguely familiar with Mr Saddam Hussein's 'fair but firm' style of governance- involving large-scale genocide of Kurds and fellow muslim Shias, chemical bombings of entire villages, summary executions of high officials who refused to kowtow to his whims et al- would not doubt that his sentence is fully deserved. The question then is not so much about the sentence itself as the process through which he has been sentenced. I have commented at length on this elsewhere http://amitjogi.blogspot.com/2006/11/comment-saddams-sentence.html.

Here, I shall deliberate briefly on whether the American role can be justified. In my opinion, the answer must be yes. Here's why. Mr. Bush's decision to invade/liberate Iraq might have been based on one wrong factor- WMD, as it were- but all the same it was a right decision, for two reasons: one, even if the probability of finding WMDs was 0.1%, it was well worth the risk; two, in order to sustain his regime, Mr. Hussein had become an enemy to the majority of his own subjects, as is evident from the numerous instances of inhuman repression that have come to light subsequently. Of course, it would have been far more ideal for the entire international community to have shouldered the responsibility of putting an end to these unchecked state-atrocities in Iraq; but it is clear that besides procrastination, it did little else, leading Mr. Hussein into believing that he could go about acting with impunity. Under the circumstances, America did what any responsible world-hegemon ought to do, even if its intentions weren't entirely altruistic (oil?).

Here, I would like to offer an analogy: you see a old woman being beaten by a ruffian; the policeman stands and watches. What do you do, especially if you happen to be powerful yourself?

Where America bungled, in my opinion, is in its trial of Mr. Hussein. The best course would have been to let him be tried- and judged- under shariat, especially since it does not exclude heads of states from having their heads chopped off for slaughtering fellow muslims. That would most certainly have kept everybody happy!

AJ

Abhay said...

The Naxal Watchman is pissed with you
check it out the link below

http://naxalwatch.blogspot.com/2006/11/salwa-judum-rss-puppet-ajit-jogi.html

Regards

Abhay

Deepak Sharma said...

when judge started his judgement ,saddam hussain ignored listining and started Chanting" Allah Hu Akabar Allah hu Akabar" without fear .he was the man who only can control iraq .he was hidden danger or kuwait so here kuwaiti was very happy as well as american .

he hanged lots of peoples and finally got same "hang untill Death "
as you sow so you reap

But really i salute his courage

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