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Saddam’s sentence, not the only one


There’s an old cliché saying “Life’s funny”, though I am often amused by an old friend of mine who is fond of repeating, half gesturing, half philosophizing, that “THERE AIN’T NO F in Fun”. I suppose it’s a matter of how you look at life but there is no way of escaping from its ironies. This week provided an outstanding example if one is paying any attention to world affairs.

On Sunday, November 5, an Iraqi court found the notorious Saddam Hussein guilty of “crimes against humanity” and handed down a sentence of death by hanging. It was a sentence welcomed by Saddam’s self-appointed arch-enemy, US President George Bush, who had vowed to hound Saddam to justice. Yet, just two days later, on November 7, the American electorate would be poised to deliver judgment of its own on the politics of the same George Bush and his Republican Party in the mid-term Congressional elections.{{more}} What sentence would be handed down by the voting Americans would only be known subsequent to the writing of this article, but from all indications Bush and his cohorts are likely to feel some electoral sanction.

The irony of it all is that Bush has largely staked his political career on war, war against Saddam, war on “terrorism”, war on the sacred right of millions of people, in the United States and without, in keeping with his claim of being a “War President”. Having devastated Iraq, having run Saddam literally into a hole and then dragged him out of it to face a US-supported Court, he was expected to sit back, gloat on his victory and see Saddam come to the inglorious end he so deserves, while basking in the acclaim of the world’s peoples. Things turned out not to be as straightforward as that.

Not that Saddam does not deserve a death sentence for his many crimes against Kurds, Iranians, Shias, even his own Sunnis. I have no room for sympathy for those who so callously disregard the sanctity of human life. But when George Bush and Tony Blair, when the American and British invaders of Iraq (twice time over) sanctimoniously pronounce death sentences for the mass murderer Saddam Hussein, then morality has not just gone out of the window, it has deserted this world altogether. For the blood of those Kurds, Iranians, Shias and Sunnis are not just on the hands of Saddam, it oozes down the steps of the White House, out of the doors of No. 10 Downing Street, flows through the corridors of the Pentagon and British Army Headquarters and seeps from the putrid cracks in the bowels of the CIA and M I5. For those are the persons responsible for giving Saddam the tyrant, the weapons to become Saddam the Mass Murderer.

So much so that Saddam, in captivity became an embarrassment, an acute one at his much publicized trial. Like the Serbian tyrant Milosevic , Saddam had to be silenced, he was not to be allowed to comment on “certain things”. So it was easier to try him for a localized massacre of Shias rather than his wholesale extermination of thousands of Indians and Kurds. Why? Because Saddam could say how, where and from whom he received those chemical weapons, the real weapons of mass destruction”.

Those who care to find out can check on a report (May 25, 1994) of the US Senate’s Committee on Banking, History and Urban Affairs entitled “United States Chemical and Biological Warfare-related dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health consequences of the Persian Gulf War” In it, US government-approved shipments of biological agents by US companies to Iraq were detailed. Nor was the US alone. German companies too provided some of the extermination material and Britain was equally guilty, among its acts of collusion being a 1988 export of a component of mustard gas (used with deadly effect on Kurds and Iranians alike).

Saddam was not alone in his vile criminality. Small wonder that there is a strong feeling that it is not just the small clique who should be in the dock but many powerful men, in politics and industry in the US and Britain for sure. Just ask Rumsfield and Cheney. Yet even as he faces his fate, Saddam, must have a smirk on his face about that quirk of fate. For come this Wednesday that same Iraq war could see the Republicans losing Congressional control and Bush becoming a “lame duck President”. It could see Congress pressured by the American people, forcing him to beat an ignominous retreat from Baghdad. The sands of Mesopotamia are not as favourable as those of Iwo Jima.

Saddam’s downfall, persecution and extermination should all have led to a virtual immortalization of George W. Bush. But the contradictions and hypocrisy, the ignoring of the legitimate aspirations of the Iraqi people have caused Bush’s army to become bogged down in Iraq. That apologist of

an opponent, defeated Presidential candidate John Kerry, has called it “stuck in Iraq”, but rather than have the guts to say that it was because of the “dunce” politics of Bush, he put his tail between his legs and apologized. Yes it is Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield who are largely responsible for the tragedy which faces both the Iraqi people (over 600,000 dead and a country in chaos) and those of the USA. Bush’s foolish insistence in “staying the course” at the expense of the lives and limbs of thousands of honourable soldiers and at the cost of billions to US taxpayers, has put the US in trouble and made the world a far less safer place. He will pay the political price. His one comfort is that he is not alone. Across the Atlantic, the once-beloved leader of Britain, Tony Blair, by a slavish devotion to Bush’s reckless policies has not only earned himself the contempt of many, but it is the same Iraq which has forced his party to also make a “lame duck” of him.

Two years from now there will be no more Blair, Bush or Saddam to dictate policies. But the legacy will be there for all of us to bear. The lessons we draw from the experience will be vital in preventing a repeat.