[Ed. note: Cross-posted on Vermont: Now and Zen.]
Although this was written by Robert Fisk, one of the truly best journalists covering the Iraq war, and posted on Extra! Extra! early in November, it seems at least as appropriate now, in the wake of Saddam Hussein's hurried execution by hanging early today (6 AM, Iraq time). Here:
"So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas -- along with the British, of course -- yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another 'great day for Iraq'. That's what Tony Blair announced when Saddam Hussein was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December 2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great day.
"Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It couldn't be a more just verdict -- nor a more hypocritical one. It's difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows, preferably dispatched by his executioner, the equally monstrous hangman of Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Widad, who would strike his victims on the head with an axe if they dared to condemn the leader of the Iraqi Socialist Baath Party before he hanged them. But Abu Widad was himself hanged at Abu Ghraib in 1985 after accepting a bribe to put a reprieved prisoner to death instead of the condemned man. But we can't mention Abu Ghraib these days because we have followed Saddam's trail of shame into the very same institution. And so by hanging this awful man, we hope -- don't we? -- to look better than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now than it was under Saddam.
"Only so ghastly is the hell-disaster that we have inflicted upon Iraq that we cannot even say that. Life is now worse. Or rather, death is now visited upon even more Iraqis than Saddam was able to inflict on his Shias and Kurds and -- yes, in Fallujah of all places -- his Sunnis, too. So we cannot even claim moral superiority. For if Saddam's immorality and wickedness are to be the yardstick against which all our iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? We only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered some suspects and carried out a few rapes and illegally invaded a country which cost Iraq a mere 600,000 lives ('more or less', as George Bush Jnr said when he claimed the figure to be only 30,000). Saddam was much worse. We can't be put on trial. We can't be hanged.
"'Allahu Akbar', the awful man shouted -- God is greater. No surprise there. He it was who insisted these words should be inscribed upon the Iraqi flag, the same flag which now hangs over the palace of the government that has condemned him after a trial at which the former Iraqi mass murderer was formally forbidden from describing his relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, now George Bush's Secretary of Defence. Remember that handshake? Nor, of course, was he permitted to talk about the support he received from George Bush Snr, the current US President's father. Little wonder, then, that Iraqi officials claimed last week the Americans had been urging them to sentence Saddam before the mid-term US elections.
Crimes against humanity.
Wholesale destruction of the Iraqi people and their civilization.
These were all terms used to describe the acts for which Saddam was found guilty, sentenced to death, and then executed by hanging.
True of Saddam. But aren't they equally true of the Bush Administration in what they have perpetrated on the people of Iraq since troops first rolled into the country in early 2003?
If true - and I believe very much that it is - why have Bush and his cronies not had just charges leveled against them? This is a most serious question.
It is a question we should all consider at this time, both for the "integrity" of our own process as well as to analyze what messages this very one-sided "justice" transmits both to the people of Iraq as well as the rest of the world.
What say you?