Saddam Hussein, who is being held in American custody, has been tried by an American-appointed court which has ensured that all evidence pertaining to the massive Anglo-American support given to Saddam during the worst years of his savage reign has been completely supressed. The crimes for which he has been sentenced to death were carried out while Donald Rumsfeld was shaking his hand and Ronald Reagan was supplying him with moolah, diplomatic support and direct military intelligence to target his poison gas attacks on Iranian forces and aid his bombing of Iranian cities. The crimes for which he is currently on trial -- gassing the Kurds -- were not only countenanced by George Herbert Walker Bush and his administration (which included Dick Cheney and Colin Powell in key positions), but Bush went on to reward Saddam with showers of money (much of it funneled through secret bank accounts), military hardware -- including dual use technology for WMD -- and agricultural credits, which allowed Saddam to use his hard currency reserves for more weaponry.
Further charges -- moot now -- would doubtless have included Saddam's brutal suppression of the Shiite revolt following the Gulf War: a revolt openly fomented by Bush I who then betrayed the Iraqi rebels, specifically allowing Saddam to break the rules of the post-war armistice and use his attack helicopters on the Shiites, and also using the American forces still in place there to prevent Shiite rebels from reaching buried arms caches. Many of the mass graves over which American officials -- like the unctuous Colin Powell -- have publicly shed salt tears were, again, the result of direct collusion with Saddam by American officials, many of them now in power once more.
(For more background see Scar Tissue: How the Bushes Brought Bedlam to Iraq and Prelude to a Quagmire.)
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The decades-long record of American collusion in the crimes of Saddam Hussein is clear and overwhelming -- and has been documented not only by news organizations like the Los Angeles Times but also by investigations of the United States Congress. Yet not a word of this is breathed in the media or Congress today; it is as if it never existed. And now the American-formed, American-backed government is about to take Saddam from American custody and hang him on an American-built gallows. It's like Al Capone throwing the switch with Frank Nitti in the chair.
Few will mourn Saddam -- a thug enthroned with the help of the CIA and sustained in power for years by the Bush Faction which is now about to kill him. The falling out of thieves ends ever thus. But far more disturbing is the way that the memory of even very recent, very public events can be manipulated and erased for sinister ends: in this case, to justify the mass murder of more than 600,000 innocent people. In the fever dreams of dominance and divine favor that pollute the minds of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, the idea has taken hold that the blood of Saddam Hussein will somehow wash the clotted viscera of dead children from their hands.
It will not. It will lead only to more blood. But this is nothing now to such men. They are each, like Saddam, like Macbeth, "in blood stepp'd so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er. Strange things I have in head, that will to hand."
Strange things indeed are in their heads, and we have yet to sup full of the horrors they are willing into being.
UPDATE: But while we in the West jaw over Saddam's fate, what do actual Iraqis think about the impending execution? Burhan al-Chalabi, former chairman of the British Iraqi Foundation, gives his view in the Guardian: The Trials of Occupation. Excerpts:
The imminent execution of Saddam Hussein is nothing but a smokescreen - a diversion in a series of diversions that will do nothing to address the price of the occupation of Iraq. If the Bush administration truly wanted to curb the cycle of bloodshed, it would come clean and share with the US public, the Iraqi people, and the international community the real goals of this disastrous neoconservative adventure.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq was an act of US imperialism, marketed as a war of liberation. Iraq was chosen ahead of Iran or Syria because it had been weakened by 13 years of sanctions. It provided the opportunity to station US bases in the Middle East, and a vantage point to monitor Iran. Control of the massive oil reserves was not to be sniffed at, either. It was assumed that Iraqis' distaste for Saddam would somehow make occupation acceptable.
It has, of course, proved to be anything but acceptable. It has proven unacceptable to the people of Iraq, the Middle East, and the world over. Today, a country is occupied and its sovereignty violated. The UN's legal and moral authority has been undermined. Iraq's cultural heritage is in tatters, its natural resources squandered, its infrastructure destroyed.
Safety, security and the rule of law are nonexistent. Terrorism is on the rise. This is borne out even in Washington's own reports. More than 3 million Iraqis have fled their homes. More than 600,000 civilians have been killed.
Officials of the former regime are judged and punished - sometimes with death sentences as in Saddam Hussein's case. Regardless of the nature of the crimes, it is only right that allegations should be tested by a properly constituted court of law that meets the basic requirements of justice, fairness and independence. These qualities could not be found in the court in Iraq, established by US viceroy Paul Bremer, who appointed its judges in direct contravention of international law...
The US presents the Iraqi people with this phoney act of accountability, but no one has been held accountable for invading and occupying Iraq or the mass human rights abuses carried out in the process...The occupying forces continue to peddle the nonsense that they cannot withdraw immediately - that this would only spark civil war. I am convinced that the opposite is true: when the occupiers leave, the prevailing civil war will subside. Ordinary Iraqis will have to choose between killing each other or rebuilding the country - which they can only do in an independent, sovereign Iraq.
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