Wednesday, October 19, 2005


The Moose celebrates the trial of a tyrant.

Whatever one's views on the wisdom of the war, this is a good day. A former tyrant is in the dock. The man who started two wars and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own people faces justice. You don't have to be a conservative, neo-conservative, hawk, Republican or Bush lover to love this moment. Indeed, progressives should celebrate when a mass murderer must meet his fate.

Many have quibbled with the trial of Saddam Hussein. Some who normally promote the trial of war criminals, take offense with the perceived flaws in the Iraqi justice system. Some believe that it is a Shiite/Kurd vendetta against the Sunnis. Heaven forbid! Those populations have suffered immeasurably over the past twenty years and now some urge that we must be hyper-sensitive to not offend their former oppressors.

The souls of Halabja who died in agony must feel differently. The Marsh Arabs must be satisfied. The long suffering Kurds must get immense pleasure watching one of their own sit in judgment of Saddam. And progressives who stand with the oppressed should be pleased.

Anne Applebaum writes in the Washington Post,

"The fact that the court is starting with a smaller incident, the 1982 massacre of more than 140 Shiite men in the village of Dujail, is a good sign: The investigators do have witnesses, there is documentary evidence, and the story of Dujail is easier to tell than that of more complicated crimes, such as Hussein's genocide campaign against the Kurds or the Shiites of the south. Far from rushing or politicizing the trial, today's hearings will probably be followed by a delay, so more evidence can be gathered...

"In the end, it is by the quality of that evidence, and the clarity with which it is conveyed, that this trial should be judged. The result is irrelevant: Quite frankly, it doesn't matter whether Saddam Hussein is drawn and quartered, exiled to Pyongyang, or left to rot in a Baghdad prison. No punishment could make up for the thousands he killed, or for the terror he inflicted on his country.

"But if his Sunni countrymen learn what he did to Shiites and Kurds, if the Shiites and Kurds learn what he did to Sunnis, if Iraqis come to realize that his system of totalitarian terror damaged them all, and if others in the Middle East learn that dictatorships can be overthrown, then the trial will have served its purpose. That, and not an arbitrary standard of international law, is how the success of this unusual tribunal should be measured."

In the past decade, two horrific tyrants have been brought to justice by American power - Milosevic and now Saddam. This sends a powerful message to other brutal rulers - there is a price to be paid for tyranny. That is a good development in the march of civilization.

All credit must go to the American soldiers. Their heroic sacrifices have brought about this day. And the courage of Iraqis who brave terrorist threats to bring justice to this criminal is also impressive.

There have been many errors committed in the conduct of this war. But this is an event to celebrate. The first tyrant in the Arab world has been brought to trial. It may be the beginning of a new day.

-- Posted at 8:30 AM | Link to this post | Email this post