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30 December 2006

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Michael

I am also very disappointed that the US is distributing pictures of a dead Saddam Hussein - Didn't the US deplore Al Jazeera's penchant for showing killed US soldiers on TV as 'barbaric'?

Yes, Saddam had to go and had to be accountable for his actions.. but the US could have had a little class in making sure everything was done professionally - and kept the images of his death under wraps.

I can't think of a more transparent and flimsy excuse to knock off an old foe. Bush/Cheney have taken the US down a very dark and sad road that will take years to recover from.

I am at a loss for words.

Lee Brimmicombe-Wood

I made the mistake of thinking the Saddam slaying unimportant, projecting my own lack of concern, until I read one Iraqi blogger's response:

Who gains if they hang Saddam? Iran, naturally, but who else? There is a real fear that this execution will be the final blow that will shatter Iraq. Some Sunni and Shia tribes have threatened to arm their members against the Americans if Saddam is executed. Iraqis in general are watching closely to see what happens next, and quietly preparing for the worst.

This is because now, Saddam no longer represents himself or his regime. Through the constant insistence of American war propaganda, Saddam is now representative of all Sunni Arabs ... The Americans, through their speeches and news articles and Iraqi Puppets, have made it very clear that they consider him to personify Sunni Arab resistance to the occupation. Basically, with this execution, what the Americans are saying is "Look- Sunni Arabs- this is your man, we all know this. We're hanging him- he symbolizes you."

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/2006_12_01_riverbendblog_archive.html#116738820591750213

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

"now he belongs to ages"!?!? ; who was he - another Lincoln? You cannot be serious.

And why do you keep on bringing Iran into this?

It is true that the man, his party, and his government were enemies of the Iranain people and the Iranian states - in that they were fools and none of them exists anymore. That is finished and done with.

Yes, may be he has become a martyr and hero to Sunni Arabs and assorted Sunni Muslims fringe groups. He must be hero to the same goddamned Arab intellectuals and Arab masses that were silent when he was mudering Iraq's opposition figures, gassing Iranians and Kurds while at the same time screaming at the top of their lungs about the plight of the Palestinians. Quite frankly, they deserve each other.

And what reconciliation - there can be none until one side defeats the other.

Let the Sunni Arab supporters of him huff & puff about his supposed martyrdom.

The execution of Saddam Hussein is greatly appreciated by the people and government of Iran and Shia muslims of Iraq.

J

Colonel,

'smarts' doesn't appear to be a strong suite for either the neocons or the bushies.

J

Colonel,

we see the neocons have adopted their stalin forbearers ways. it is apparent that the neocons are still calling the shots in iraq. the whole plethora of the iraq war is laden with strategies that were used in the soviet union and eastern europe. from forged docs to censorship to govt. supplied propaganda, to public executions.

we have a sunni leader who was transferred to a shia dominated puppet govt. and now the puppet govt. announces that the former head of state will be buried in a 'secret location'. during the late 50's the soviets through their hungarian puppet deposed and then subjected them to a show trial that was overseen followed by being executed in secret locations, and buried in secret graves.

the whole process really makes the u.s. shine on the world stage, doesn't it. and i think of the thousands of military and diplomats who worked for years to ensure the u.s. is looked up to on the world stage, only to have all their hard work torn down by the bushies and neocons.

jallabo

The most plausible theory i read so far is that the execution was rushed this way to create a counterpoint to distract the chattering classes from the upcoming kia nr. 3000 (looks like this 'milestone' will be reached today or tomorrow). And this is all you need to know about the quality of strategic thought at work here.

W. Patrick Lang

Babak

You can not disentangle the history of post-revolutinary Ira from that of Iraq. You know that as well as I.

Father Abraham? He was reviled in his own time, North and South and only transformed into the "greatest" president by his martyrdom. He suspended Habeas corpus, would have arrested the Chief Justice if Taney had not died and approved the arrest and imprisonment of much of the Maryland legislature in 1861 to keep them from voting for secession. He approved thousands of summary executions of civilians in Missouri, and then there is the matter of his racist statements in the Lincoln-Douglas debates...

As Shelby Foote said, "he was a very clever politician."

But, at least my great-grandfather survived Cold Harbor, Winchester and any number of other scrimmages. He probably voted for Lincoln. pl

arbogast

"But the Saddam who dominated that courtroom was another figure — haughty, defiant, often beside himself with anger, but, above all, remorseless."

Haughty? Defiant? Often beside himself with anger? Remorseless?

Often beside himself with anger?

Fits him to a "t", doesn't it? Bush, that is.

As for Lincoln, he was an absolutely brilliant "communicator". His speeches and pretty much everything he said and wrote are far, far beyond anything in the history of the U.S.

He chose to fight a war that killed 600,000 people. One soldier died for seven slaves freed. A hundred years of lynchings and "segregation" followed.

These military "solutions" aren't worth a whole lot in my opinion.

zanzibar

OK. End of a chapter. Here's the video. I am sure no one in any part of the world believes that this was the result of justice. It is understood that this outcome is American decision making. The spoils of war! Saddam has been made a martyr. No doubt if there was a transparent trial in The Hague he would have been convicted of murder. But crimes against humanity? Who else would then need to be tried for that? George Bush and Tony Blair and Robert Mugabe and the Burmese junta and Rios Montt and Jiang Zemin.

Its clear that although the west espouses rule of law and liberty and individual rights they do not act by that. Might is right is still the maxim. Justice is for the victors and this has not changed for millenia.

Dictators, tyrants, politicians around the world learned one thing today - the US is fickle. They'll be your ally and friend one day and kill you another day. Saddam came to power with US support. In the 80s Donald Rumsfeld went at least a couple times as an emissary of the US President to insure Sadddam was firmly in our camp and to provide favors. The US supported and acquiesced to his brutality and megalomania. As the video shows he did not die a broken man but remained defiant as an Iraqi and Arab nationalist to the very the end.

The reality of Iraq under the US and British occupation is substantially worse than under Saddam.

A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.

2006 has been, decidedly, the worst year yet. No- really. The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It's like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there.

Despite the tyranny many Iraqis may fondly remember the Saddam era where there was electricity, fuel, food, education and most importantly an opportunity for an upwardly mobile life as long as one toe'd the line and was subservient to the Saddam clique. Sunni and Shia and Christian could benefit. No one knows now how the Arabs will look on Saddam in 50 years. There is no doubt however that the nature of his death will accentuate the mythology of his life that he assiduously promoted.

Will

the NeoKon Likudniks had the policy of dual containment vis a vis Irak/Ian, then dual elimination. Both states thwart their ambition regarding assimilation of the West Bank a.k.a. Judia/Samaria. It matters not that Iran-Irak hate each others guts, the NeoKon Likudniks hate both states and had both slated for elimination and regime change from the gitgo.

They delight when the th Sunni/Shiite squabble and murder each other. Witness Babak damning Sadam Hussein and for very good reason and throwing in the hapless Palestinians for good measure.

The Palestinians were caught between a rock and a hard place as they were supported by Khomeini and SH. Arafat diligently tried to mediate the Iraq/Iran War. I see where Libya has declared three days of mourning. It would be interesting to see Hamas' reaction. It is presently getting Iranian funds.

Whatever you say about him, in spite of the disinformation, watching the cellphone video of his demise, he died w/ dignity.

The phrase "passed to the ages" signifes that he has passed to eternity which is the domain of frozen time and the antithesis of flowing time where life exists. You kind. of have to have a whiff of Bhuddhist duality to get into the drift of that.

I told my wife they had to kill him b/c the risk of a rescue attemp mounted on the emerald city had become too great.

Food for thought. Palestine is the issue that can unite Shiites and Sunnites. SH even in death remained an idealogue and motivator.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I disagree on 3 points.

1- The hostility of the Arab states (and large sectors of the Arab populations) to Iran pre-dates the Islamic Revolution. In 1967, for example, text books in Syria referred to the Iranian province of Khuzestan (Arabistan) as Occupied Arab Territory - just like Palestine. In 1960s assorted Arab states began referring to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. In 1958, if I recall correctly, the Saudi government executed an Iranian pilgrim who had thrown up in Al Haram al Sharif - you see he was a rafizi and had desecrated the place, Even the Shah was mad. Laster Qaddafi also took anti-Iran positions. These are just examples and all of these were long before the overthrow of the Shah. As I wrote before, the Arab States needed some one to kick - whom better than the Iranians (Persians). Their dislike for Iran and the Persian culture and polity is almost visceral - not as bad as Israel but not that far behind.

2- Yes, I agree. Lincoln was certainly able to write a kind letter to a poor widow but was letting Northern soldiers die like flies in the Southern prisons so as to put extra drain on the South. However, suspending Habeas Corpus when the entire Union project was unravelling, in my opinion, was justifiable.

3- Yes, by the standards of today he was not a believr in equlaity of races. But still - he freed the slaves and became a political saint - just like Mandela. Neither can be touched (you cannot tell a joke about Lincoln in US).

I was unaware of the executions that you mentioned. I know of Grant's indiscriminate bombardments of Southern cities - I think he began with Vicksburg.

robt willmann

Col. Lang and Mr. Sale,

That was well said.

I always get a good laugh when I hear someone in the U.S. government or in some foundation (misleadingly called a think tank) being described in news media as so ``smart'' or ``brilliant''. Those terms only apply after the fact to an acknowledged accomplishment.

We see that from March 2003 through the present, the promoters of the invasion and occupation of Iraq---including those in and out of the federal government, and the neoconservatives, and the usual suspects who appeared repetitively on television and radio heralding the war---have proven that all combined they are not even one percent as politically smart as Saddam Hussein was about Iraq.

No person or group exercising political authority over a large number of people in a geographic area has ever and will ever maintain that authority without a lot of cooperation and consent from the people on the receiving end of it, no matter how autocratic, brutal, and murderous the political group might be. Any government, including the one here in the U.S.A., can collapse from one day to the next if enough of the people withdraw their consent and cooperation.

For example, one of the most thoroughly repressive states ever, East Germany, which was euphemistically known as the DDR (German Democratic Republic), imploded in 1989-1990. Its Department of Homeland Security was known as the Ministry for State Security, or ``Stasi''. Headed by Erich Mielke, it blanketed all of East Germany with surveillance and intimidation. After the government's collapse, even Heinrich Fink, professor of theology and vice chancellor of Humboldt University, and
Hans-Joachim Rotch, the director of the famous Thomas Church Choir in Leipzig, were unmasked as Stasi informers. The penetration of the society by the Stasi was sophisticated and complete. Yet that apparatus disintegrated when enough of the people decided not to ``take it'' anymore.

A tantalizing tidbit is that the Baath Party in Iraq received advice and training on setting up an internal security department from the East German Stasi. And the contact person for that program? You guessed it. Saddam Hussein.

Saddam was a narcissistic person who readily used violence in aid of political authority and in gathering money and property. Does that not sound familiar?

ckrantz

I couldn't agree more with Col. Lang and Richard Sale in the above comments. Why turn Saddam into a symbol? And what happed with the investigation and trial for al-Anfal? Was this just Iraq's new masters getting even with an old enemy in the traditional manner.

ckrantz

By the way was Saddam the bargaining chip needed for some sort of Shia-American alliance to end the Sunni insurgency as some blogs seems to suggest?

This WaPo report doesnt look good.

'Suddenly, witnesses recalled, the room erupted in Shiite religious chants as the Shiite Muslims in the audience seized the moment they had long sought. One man yelled, "Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada," unveiling his loyalty to radical anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Hussein smiled, the witnesses said, and asked sarcastically, "Moqtada?"
In his final moments, shortly after the dawn call to prayer, Hussein, a Sunni Arab, came face to face with today's Iraq, which he had never met, having spent the past three years in U.S. custody. Since his capture, the Shiites his government violently repressed have come to power. They were the last people Hussein saw before his death.
"Go to hell," a voice yelled in response to Hussein's remark, according to a grainy videotape taken by a cellphone that was flashed on television networks Saturday night.
"Long live Muhammad Bakr Sadr," yelled another voice. Bakr Sadr was the uncle of Moqtada Sadr and founder of the Dawa party, of which Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a senior leader.'

wisedup

If we could ask Bush, in an unguarded moment, for an opinion on what America meant to him, what would he say?
My best guess is "America exists to validate me"

Matthew

Like the line from MacBeth, nothing did Saddam as much credit in life as the manner in which he faced death. I doubt the chickenhawks in D.C., including the "Decider," would face the end without knobbly knees. (Me neither, for that matter.) The rushed manner of the execution--and the insensitivity to its timing--further delegitimizes the Iraqi Constabulary and Colonial Government in the Green Zone. Far from being a new beginning, it's just shoddy...a continuation of the same.

johnf

colonel and ckrantz

>5-Is it really true that Moqtada al-Sadr's people participated in the execution? Is it true?

Are you saying that this is true or there are (American) propaganda reports that it is so?

ckrantz's quote from the Wa-Po seems unclear. One voice heard calling for Moqtada, but then a Dawa supporter naming his uncle.

If Sadrists were there I would be surprised. I'd thought he was more subtle than that.

bth

Millions have one thought - "He deserved it."

Now can we focus on that other dude? What was his name? Obama? No. Oh, I remember now, Osama. The guy that started this thing for most Americans.

Maybe, just maybe, we ought to focus our resources on him. Just a thought. Call me wild and crazy. But woudn't this world be better if we got down to the business - finding OBL?

arbogast

Colonel Lang,

What do you make of this:

John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org, who has been studying the satellite imagery, holds that concentrated strikes on Iranian nuclear weapons sites and conventional air defenses can in short order blow that country’s WMD dreams back into the Stone Age.

[from today's Boston Herald, an excellent source of information about the NE Patriots]

Sounds to me like the same KoolAid the IDF was drinking before Hezbollah knocked them down.

Rider

"...or the whole awfully bloody bunch of shits we have used to advance our ends in the world."

Someone should make a list. Seriously. Does this meddling ever turn out "to advance our ends"? There so often seem to be horrible unforeseen consequences of vast proportions. Saddam was on our payroll starting in 1959 (see Juan Cole). We have now been in two wars against Saddam and finally had him executed. Osama is another one of our making. Diem. We are like a compulsive gambler who can never resist placing a big bet on "a sure winner" yet loses time after time. When do we learn to quit doing this to ourselves?

blowback

I can understand that the White House wanted Saddam captured alive so that they could put on a "show trial" but once again this shows just how stupid they are. For someone who tries to cultivate a "Churcillian" air, The Decider understands and knows very little about Churchill.

Towards the end of the Second World War, when it became apparent that the Allies might have to deal with Adolf Hitler as a prisoner, Churchill gave orders that under no circumstances was Hitler to be taken alive by any British soldiers. He realized the problems of putting a just-deposed head of state on trial and wanted no part of it. Fortunately, Adolf Hitler decided to do the decent thing before he was captured by Soviet troops. Stalin really knew how to put on a show trial unlike the White House who, judging from their efforts to put on a "show trial" for Saddam, couldn't even organize a piss up in a brewery.

The other "myth" that will become commonplace about Saddam's execution will be that it was done quickly to avoid any publicity about Western complicity in his war crimes.

Finally, I wonder if this is some part of a back-channel agreement with Iran. Since the US invasion of Iraq, Iranian agents have hunted down and killed many of the pilots involved in bombing Iranian cities during the Iraq war on Iran. After that the only targets left for Iranian vengence were Saddam and his close confidants.

W. Patrick Lang

Rider
I don't think SH was ever on our payroll. I don't think Cole says so. He says that the US may have encouraged revolt of the Baath against an existing Iraqi governments(s), but that is quite different from saying that SH personally was an American agent. pl

W. Patrick Lang

johnf

This is in the NY Times today (31 December, 2006)

"The room was quiet as everyone began to pray, including Mr. Hussein. “Peace be upon Mohammed and his holy family.”

Two guards added, “Supporting his son Moktada, Moktada, Moktada.”

Mr. Hussein seemed a bit stunned, swinging his head in their direction.

They were talking about Moktada al-Sadr, the firebrand cleric whose militia is now committing some of the worst violence in the sectarian fighting; he is the son of a revered Shiite cleric, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, whom many believe Mr. Hussein ordered murdered.

“Moktada?” he spat out, mixing sarcasm and disbelief." pl

W. Patrick Lang

Babak

"Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

pl

James Pratt

If the Iraqi Shi`a government and their Iranian mentors had been wise they would have told the US to take Saddam home with them and put him in a cell near Noriega. Democracy should win and Shi`a should have power in the Arab nations
where they are a majority: Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. To have a chance of sectarian peace the process must take account of the rights of the local Sunni minority and two salient facts: 85% of Arab Muslims are Sunni, and all of the Shi`a areas have long borders with them.
The execution is seen by the Shi`a as justice and the video as a morale booster. To many Sunni for many years they will be seen as a martyrdom and recruiting tool.
I can see why the present US gov wanted Saddam dead: a trial for the aggression against Iran would be a logical next step, and Rumsfeld and Cheney were complicit in that war.

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