I see that
the New York Times is raising objections to the narrowness
of the charges against Saddam. The paper that declared, in its
headlines, a “mixed result” when Iraqis went in unprecedented
numbers to the polls in their Constitutional Referendum on the
weekend, has equipment to find a fly in any ointment. Ditto, the
entire community in the West, which I characterize as “gliberal
and leftoid”. It is a mark of the intellectual and moral
squalor of their whole outlook on life.
is not a trial at an International Tribune in The Hague. It is
an Iraqi trial, for an Iraqi malefactor. This is partly the reason
for the narrowness of the charges. This, and the political pressure
to get it over with -- for Saddam is, in his surviving person,
a continuing taunt to the new Iraqi state, and an inspiration
to the terrorists of the Sunni Triangle. My impression is that
the great majority of Iraqis would have been pleased to see a
trial along the lines of that offered to Romania’s despotic
Nicolae Ceausescu. Which is to say, no trial; just establish the
man’s identity and blow him away.
For how do
you try a man for crimes committed in the witness of many millions
of people? Whom do you choose for a jury?
the problem the allies faced at Nuremberg. International diplomacy
at that time -- with its need to appease Russian Communist allies
who had themselves committed crimes against humanity on the Nazi
scale -- led to a great deal of cant and hypocrisy in the proceedings.
The whole tradition of “war crimes trials” descends
from that lamentable exercise, in which a show trial was staged
combining a little slapped-together law with a lot of theatrical
not to say surviving members of the Nazi high command did not
merit execution. The danger was not miscarriage of justice to
them. The danger is rather to the whole conception of law, when
criminal trials are made to subserve diplomatic and political
to Nuremberg, or to the endless farcical spectacle of Slobodan
Milosevic on trial at The Hague (which has dragged on for nearly
four years, and will drag on for perhaps another five, in the
current estimation of the chief U.N. prosecutor), the trial of
Saddam will be a model of criminal justice. It will establish
Saddam’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt for a handful of
capital crimes, and then, with any luck, hang him high. That will
achieve some “closure”, even for the several million
surviving relatives of the victims of Saddam’s mass-murders.
(The body count in mass graves dug up in Iraq since the allied
invasion now exceeds 450,000, and more such graves continue to
be discovered every week.)
It is a miracle
that Iraq is in a position to conduct this trial, along conventional
criminal-court lines. To appreciate this miracle, it is worth
recalling the speed with which a democratic constitutional order
has been created. For Iraq has, with the success of Saturday’s
ballot, just set the record for fastest democratic constitution
after a U.S./allied invasion.
technically faster, but that constitution was imposed (one year,
three months after the surrender).
arguably faster, in 1946 (two years, four months after the Normandy
invasion), but the French Fourth Republic was abortive, so we
should really count 14 years, four months to the Fifth Republic
claim two years, seven months, for a tie with Iraq, but that's
counting from Victory Europe. Counting instead from the first
allied landings in Sicily, it was well over four years.
four years even, counting from V.E. Day.
from the Declaration of Independence, the USA itself clocked in
at 11 years, two months, from "self-invasion" to a democratic
on progress against the Iraqi insurgency. On the day of the Iraqi
provisional elections last January, there were 347 terror attacks,
in which 44 were killed. During Saturday’s poll, for which
almost all the security was Iraqi-supplied, there were 13 attacks,
and only three dead (all of them Iraqi soldiers, from one roadside
is a malicious pose. God bless Iraq! And, God bless America!