by Patrick Lang (bio below fold)
Saddam Hussein’s trial will go down in history as a masterpiece of mis-judgment which played directly into the hands of the enemies of the West.
His crimes and brutalities are manifest. He ruled Iraq with a ferocity of method and maniacal cruelty that would justify his execution many times over, but the method and publicity surrounding his trial will make him what he wants to be, a hero for the ages to many, many in the Islamic World. He wants to be remembered not as a persecutor of Iraqi Shia and Kurds but rather as a modern Saladin ( Yusuf Salah al-Din al-Ayyoubi, etc.).
He is positioning himself to be remembered as the man who “stood up to” the Christian imperialists and Zionists of various persuasions. His antics in the court room are intended to establish an argument for the illiegitimacy of the court, the injustice of its actions and the continued existence of the previous government. He believes himself to be president of Iraq. His government never surrendered. He never resigned. No major units of his army surrendered. They dispersed but did not surrender.
He believes that as the decades pass the memory of his misdeeds will fade and that the trial, and his behavior as a defiant example of the kind of “manhood” widely admired in the Arab World will persist and grow into a legend, a legend of the trial and execution of a legitimate Arab head of state by the “occupiers” and their “lackies.”
Are we contributing to this? Yes, we are. This trial, conducted on television, may meet Iraqi standards of probity, but it will not stand up under long term examination in the court of history. The trial is being conducted largely on the basis of testimony by witnesses who thus far have not connected him directly to the massacre in the village concerned. These witnesses are not available for cross-examination except on the basis of questions submitted to the judge who can decide whether or not to allow them, and in some cases they are hidden behind a screen and their voices are disguised.
What happened to a right we Americans hold sacred, the right to confront one’s accuser? People in the Arab World are not stupid. A lot of them want Saddam dead, but they know a shoddy proceeding when they see one.
To add to the drama, someone is killing and attacking members of the defence team. These lawyers are threatening a “walk-out” based on a claim of fear for their lives. The way things are in Iraq, we may see physical attacks on all concerned.
Why are we doing this? We have enemies incarcerated all over the world without trial. This man’s trial, as it is being conducted, is a major long-term victory for our enemies.
Thirty years from now kids will be buying “Saddam T-shirts” in the suqs of the arab World.
Shot in the foot again.
Col. Patrick W. Lang (Ret.), a highly decorated retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces, served as “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism” for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and was later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service. Col. Lang was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point. For his service in the DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” He is a frequent commentator on television and radio, including MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann (interview), CNN and Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room (interview), PBS’s Newshour, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” (interview), and more .
Personal Blog: Sic Semper Tyrannis 2005 || Bio || CV
Recommended Books || More BooTrib Posts
Novel: The Butcher’s Cleaver (download free by chapter, PDF format)
“Drinking the Kool-Aid,” Middle East Policy Council Journal, Vol. XI, Summer 2004, No. 2