The Two Charlottes have a new ally in their Don’t Try Saddam Movement.
“I believe Saddam’s appearance [in court],” writes National Review’s John Derbyshire, “illustrated another thing as well: the folly of the legalistic approach to war criminals, and our continuing inability to take seriously the threats facing us.”
The Derb shares the dismay of TOC and me at the notion that this represents either justice or civilization.
“I am all for justice, and equally for civilization, but I can’t convince myself that either is being served by this embarrassing spectacle,” write Derbyshire. “In what sense is Saddam supposed to be guilty of crimes? You are guilty of a crime if you have broken a law. What law or laws did Saddam break? There are, in logic, only three possibilities.”
What laws has he broken? Those in place before he came to power? (In that case, the Derb notes, the Founding Fathers were arguably guilty of treason.) Did he break the laws of his era? But he was the law. Or are we trying him retroactively by the laws of 2004? Well, in that case he is being tried by invaders’ laws (as his lawyers will no doubt argue).
“It seems to me that all ’war-crimes’ trials have this quality of spuriousness,” writes Derbyshire . “’Victor’s justice,’ while there is surely a good case to be made for it, is not the same thing as the justice we expect in a settled state under established laws, and we ought not pretend that it is. This was seen rather clearly in the Nuremberg trials, during which Soviet torturers took a break from their labors in the cellars of the Lubyanka to pass judgment on Nazis whose crimes were no greater than their own — with whom, indeed, just five years earlier, they had been cooperating in the rape and pillaging of Poland!”
Saddam’s trial is not justice but a travesty of justice, asking the court system do something it was not designed to do (but the wiggy ones in the Hague are in favor of a power grab that says courts can do even more on the international level than in Massachusetts–this would be called a power-grab in ordinary circumstances).
But what do you do with Saddam? TOC and I have both suggested parading him in chains as Romans did their vanquished enemies (with TOC suggesting that Karl Rove should walk with Saddam whispering into his ear the ancient words, “Sic transit Gloria mundi”). You’ll have to read NR for the Derb’s thoughts on the subject.