The trial of Saddam Hussein is inherently more absurd than that of O.J. Simpson. Simpson’s trial turned into a circus, but Saddam’s is a travesty from the get-go for the simple reason that it should not take place.
The Other Charlotte and I argued vehemently, back when Saddam was pulled from his hidey hole, that this is not a matter for the courts.
The Nuremberg trials, which both FDR and Churchill, preferring summary justice, opposed, were a new way to treat defeated monsters, and TOC and I believe the Nuremberg trials set a terrible precedent.
“I’m with Robert Bork,” TOC wrote shortly after Saddam’s capture, “who argues in his new book, Coercing Virtue, that even the Nuremburg Trials, well-intentioned as they were, were a travesty of justice, paving the way for such legal monstrosities as arresting Pinochet in Britain to be tried in Spain for crimes allegedly committed in Chile. Or the International Criminal Court, which, if we signed on, would get Bush jailed for ’lying’ about Niger yellowcake the next time he went to Belgium.
“War crimes tribunals are show-crimes tribunals, subject to all the abuses associated with show-crimes trials in totalitarian societies, including today’s Cuba, where they are the norm. There’s typically no proper jurisdiction over the defendant (Saddam’s not an American) and no genuine crimes (unfortunately, what Saddam did was legal in Iraq, because he was the law). We won World War II, and we should simply have shot whatever we could find of the Nazi high command. That’s a proper fate for Saddam.”
It would be hard to imagine the New York Times magazine, that bastion of politically correct thinking, endorsing such a sentiment, and it most assuredly doesn’t, but the Sunday magazine features a fascinating piece that outlines some of the unprecedented legal conundrums associated with trying Saddam.
Headlined “Who v. Saddam?“, Sunday’s article, by Peter Landesman, brings up some of the troubling questions TOC mentioned. “Where in the world can you say this is an independent judiciary, with U.S. proxies appointing and controlling judges, with U.S. gift-wrapped cases?” the ex-chairman of the United Nations commission on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia asks.
Leaving aside that the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague is as absurd as Saddam’s in Iraq will be, the fella has a point–there is no way justice can be done in Saddam’s trial.
But justice has been done–we toppled him and captured him. That’s justice.
The rest is postlude–and travesty.