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Submit Response is a weblog by Jack Mottram, a journalist who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. There are 1308 posts in the archives. You can subscribe to a feed. This post was made on and belongs in the politics category. The previous post was , and the next post is .

Saddam Hussein, Captured

There seems to be something fitting about Saddam Hussein’s last stand, stuffed into a cubby-hole, with, as James Rodgers notes on the BBC Reporters’ Log, a bathetic touch in the form of a packet of sausages for company.

I hadn’t given much thought to his impending capture – predicted recently, with what looks like suspicious prescience to the conspiracy-minded – but expected the former despot to opt for the blaze of glory option, rather than holding up his hands.

Also unexpected is the swift insistence that Hussein ought to be tried, if not by a jury of his peers, then at least in Iraq. Considering the only recent precedent is the trial of Slobodan Milosevic by international tribunal at the Hague, it would seem to make more sense to take that route than hastily equip Iraq with a new legal framework, cherry-pick a judiciary and somehow find representation for Saddam in court.

I suppose an open, fair trial is too much to ask for, since alleged foot-soldiers in a vaguely related non-war are being denied those rights at Guantanamo Bay, and Milton Keynes, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t see a kangaroo court rush to sentence Saddam to death. Not that I don’t think he’s as guilty as a person can be, of crimes against his people as appalling as any dictator’s in the latter half of the last century. The rush to bemoan the apprehension of this man in certain quarters of the left on the grounds that it bodes well for Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign is cringeworthy, and plain wrong. But a fair and open trial is needed, not only to condemn Saddam Hussein for his crimes against humanity, but also to shed light on Iraq’s role (if any) in international terrorism, the still-thorny question of WMD, and the complicity of Western governments in propping up the Ba’athist regime. And it had better be sooner rather than later, too. If, as seems inevitable, the former dictator is left to stew until the proposed handover from the occupying forces to an Iraqi government next Summer (or, to put it another way, after the US election) any revalations will be buried as irrelevant, old news.

Like everyone, I’m also wondering about the impact on the ongoing resistance to the occupation of Iraq. If anyone knows what the main driving force behind the resistance is – Islamic fundamentalism, loyalty to the Ba’ath regime, the Sunni minority’s disquiet at losing power, or plain old patriotic objection to invasion – they’re not telling. I suspect the latter, but without that knowledge, it’s impossible to say whether it’s quagmire time, or time for the mis-managed reconstruction efforts to blunder on unhindered.

One thing is sure, though: from what I’ve seen of the Iraqi people’s response to this news, the news is good: despite the stupid question being asked by one pro-war weblogger, it is perfectly possible to loathe the illegal invasion of Iraq on spurious grounds and the country’s former leader in equal measure.

In case you haven’t tired of the endless analysis in the mainstream media, here’s two collections of links pointing to the reaction to the news on US weblogs. First there’s word from the right, essentially offering variations on the theme of Paul Bremer’s announcement – ‘We got him’ – with extra exclamation points, and heralding a great, historic victory. (It is, of course, more like a footnote – it’s not as if anyone expected Saddam to return to power). On the left, there’s some of the aforementioned tendency to bemoan the propaganda value of the capture to Bush, but mostly resigned contemplation of the effects. I’m pointing to American sites here not only because it’s interesting to see the almost bizarre gung-ho attitudes of the Warbloggers – they really seem to feel that they are at war, which probably seems a bit rich to your average bombed-out Iraqi, or people of my grandparents’ generation, or Vietnam veterans – but also because the British end of weblogging doesn’t seem to have gone in for punditry to such a degree, preferring straight news or vague wonderings like this post.

Finally, of the handful of Iraqi weblogs I’ve read this morning, Salam Pax has a muted response, hoping now to ‘hear all the untold stories,’ and Hammorabi seems representative, first jubilant, then taking pleasure in revisiting afresh their former leader’s carefully constructed image.

Posted at 4pm on 15/12/03 by Jack Mottram to the politics category.
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  1. [Homophobic, idiotic comments deleted]

    Posted by kurt venzuch at 3pm on 03.03.04

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