Tuesday, November 07, 2006


"Mr Rumsfeld has said that he "cautioned" the Iraqi leader against using banned weapons. But there was no mention of such a warning in state department notes of the meeting."
~ Julian Borger, The Guardian.

The Anfal trial resumed today with Saddam, in his best Jekyll-and-Hyde imitation, calling for Iraqis and Kurds to love each other. However, it appears that Saddam may not even see the end of the Anfal trial, from the NY Times:

But events outside the court appear to have moved sharply against his prospects of seeing the Anfal trial through. When plans for the trials were laid in 2004, American and Iraqi officials envisaged a series of trials at which the full range of brutalities committed during his 24 years in power would be laid out in court. The plan called for Mr. Hussein to appear as the principal defendant in at least three or four cases, along with a shifting cast of associates drawn from 80 other so-called high-value detainees held with him in American custody at the Camp Cropper military detention center near Baghdad airport.

What has changed the plan is the worsening war. Senior Iraqi officials, including the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, believe that Mr. Hussein, alive, remains a potent rallying point for Sunni insurgents fighting American troops and the American-backed, Shiite-led government. Senior American officials, too, say that using a series of trials to fix Mr. Hussein’s personal responsibility for a wide range of atrocities is now a lower priority in face of the Sunni rebels’ unrelenting fight to regain the power the Sunni minority lost with Mr. Hussein’s ouster.

So the Americans, for the sake of their own interests, are planning on dropping Saddam from the gallows before he drops a dime on them. In other words, it's much safer for the US and the rest of the international community that Saddam be dispatched before evidence of wholehearted support for him sees the light of day in an Iraqi courtroom.

Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens hypocritically attempts to take the moral high ground on the matter by issuing a plea for mercy for Saddam. He references the "merciful" regime in Ankara while failing to mention the renewal of the Dirty War against the Kurds--and America's role in it under the facade of War on Terror®. Rejecting the technicality of the law, Hitchens also rejects "closure," from Slate:

There is another argument that has nothing to do with law. It concerns the bizarre word closure. A better word might be catharsis.[ . . . ] Iraq is a country absolutely febrile with rumor and paranoia: I never cease to be amazed at the way in which people's expressions still change into a flicker of fear when the name of their sadistic former boss is even so much as mentioned. Millions of people will not even start to relax until they are absolutely sure that the great werewolf will not come back. (This salutary effect was also palpable in Romania, once people became certain that the pictures of Nicolae Ceausescu's death had not been faked.) In this sense, you could argue that hanging the chief butcher and torturer would be an act of mass emancipation. But this still seems to me to be more like an exorcism than an execution—a concession to superstition and primitive emotion. And we have enough of both in today's Iraq.

Hitchens tries to make an argument about the possible destruction of evidence as part-and-parcel of the possible destruction of Saddam, but this rings hollow. No one bothered to collect "evidence" at Helebçe, did they? So now we have people suffering tremendously from the effects of the mixture of chemicals used against the people of Helebçe and the surrounding area, and evidence would have helped to make proper diagnoses of them now. Where was all this concern for evidence in 1988? Let's refresh our memories, shall we?

Rumsfeld’s December 19-20, 1983 visit to Baghdad made him the highest-ranking US official to visit Iraq in 6 years. He met Saddam and the two discussed “topics of mutual interest,” according to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. “[Saddam] made it clear that Iraq was not interested in making mischief in the world,” Rumsfeld later told The New York Times. “It struck us as useful to have a relationship, given that we were interested in solving the Mideast problems.”

Just 12 days after the meeting, on January 1, 1984, The Washington Post reported that the United States “in a shift in policy, has informed friendly Persian Gulf nations that the defeat of Iraq in the 3-year-old war with Iran would be ‘contrary to U.S. interests’ and has made several moves to prevent that result.”

[ . . . ]

In March of 1984, with the Iran-Iraq war growing more brutal by the day, Rumsfeld was back in Baghdad for meetings with then-Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. On the day of his visit, March 24th, UPI reported from the United Nations: “Mustard gas laced with a nerve agent has been used on Iranian soldiers in the 43-month Persian Gulf War between Iran and Iraq, a team of U.N. experts has concluded... Meanwhile, in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, U.S. presidential envoy Donald Rumsfeld held talks with Foreign Minister Tarek Aziz (sic) on the Gulf war before leaving for an unspecified destination.”

[ . . . ]

Prior to the release of the UN report, the US State Department on March 5th had issued a statement saying “available evidence indicates that Iraq has used lethal chemical weapons.”

[ . . . ]

In 1984, Donald Rumsfeld was in a position to draw the world’s attention to Saddam’s chemical threat. He was in Baghdad as the UN concluded that chemical weapons had been used against Iran. He was armed with a fresh communication from the State Department that it had “available evidence” Iraq was using chemical weapons. But Rumsfeld said nothing.

Sorry, Mr. Hitchens. Save your moaning from atop Mt. Self-Righteousness for someone else and don't bother to get in your digs at liberals at Kurdish expense, because from our little history lesson, and the NY Times, it looks like the Kurds are the people that every conservative in the world is getting ready to betray. Again.

For more commentary on the Saddam Dujail verdict, see Robert Fisk's opinion at the Independent. Thank you, Lukery.

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