Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Saddam pissed himself

'In my end is my beginning' by M K Bhadrakumar

January 02, 2007

It was exactly nine days after the Gulf War in 1991 that I found myself in
Kuwait on a mission to reopen the Indian embassy and to try to repatriate
some 7000 Indian nationals stranded there.

My first impression of Saddam Hussein was naturally one of great disdain.
He was the dictator who let loose the dogs of war.

The oil fields were incessantly burning. There was, literally, darkness at
noon in Kuwait. Kuwait was a ghost city � inconsolable and forlorn.

I heard harrowing tales of Indian housemaids who were raped repeatedly
during the Iraqi occupation. Even our magnificent brand new embassy
building by the seaside, built on red sandstones from Rajasthan, was

I wandered in the lawless borderlands of Kuwait and Iraq, and saw the
armour of Saddam's crack units strafed by American aircraft while fleeing
from Kuwait, which was a major 'engagement' of the war.

The Gulf War embodied Karl von Clausewitz at his best � 'War is not merely
a political act but a real political instrument, war is a continuation of
political intercourse'. There was no fighting. Saddam's men proved to be
cowardly warriors. The Anglo-American preoccupation was more about the
medium-term military occupation of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikhdoms.
The futility of the war was apparent.

My disdain toward Saddam grew into revulsion over my 3-month stay in

Ten years passed. I must have become sadder and wiser when I began reading
up on Iraq, while serving as ambassador to Turkey in 2001. I was under
order of transfer to Baghdad. That was when I came to know from Noam
Chomsky's writings of the 'other side' of the Saddam story. Chomsky
narrated the great injustice of the Anglo-American blockade of Iraq
through the 1990s, imposed with scant regard to international law.

From Chomsky's narratives I learnt of the three million Iraqi children who
died of malnutrition or lack of healthcare due to the Anglo-American
blockade of Iraq. The 'unilateralist' US foreign policy of the post-Cold
War era after all didn't begin with George W Bush but with his
controversial predecessor William Jefferson Clinton.

For the first time, too, I came across Saddam the nation-builder.

Under Saddam on the eve of the Gulf War, Iraq scaled heights of economic
advancement without parallel in the Islamic world. Iraq was on the
threshold of becoming an OECD country. Saddam was a true secularist.
Though a Sunni, he appointed Shias in large numbers to key positions.
Tariq Aziz, his foreign minister and confidant, was a Christian.

No doubt Saddam presided over an authoritarian regime that could be
mindlessly brutal. His wrath was directed not only at his people but on
his neighbours too. One had to visit the memorial to the martyrs on the
outskirts of Teheran to comprehend in its stark truth the magnitude of the
tragedy of the Iraq-Iran war.

Yet, under Saddam Iraq also touched high levels of social formation. There
was gender equality, hundred percent literacy, and an economic and social
pyramid that placed primacy on merit, mobility and professional
capability. Where did things go wrong for Saddam?

Clearly, Saddam posed a near-insurmountable challenge to the geopolitics
of the Gulf and the Middle East. It is a saga riddled with contradictions.

In a curious way, the torch of Arab nationalism came within his reach in
the post-Nasser era, although there was always a simmering rivalry on that
score between the Baathists in Baghdad and Damascus.

But it is difficult to be sure how much of the 'Nasserite' role came
natural to Saddam.

To be sure, he had an acute sense of the theatrical, and he was good at
playing to the Arab gallery. He was gifted with that rare swagger that
elevated men from mice.

But he also made it a matter of statecraft to calibrate himself with the
Anglo-American regional agenda. Most certainly, he launched the eight-year
war against Iran in the 1980s in pursuance of the American agenda aimed at
throttling the Islamic regime in Teheran.

Now we know Donald Rumsfeld, who used to be US defence secretary then,
visited him secretly. If Saddam were to have written a memoir, that would
have been extremely embarrassing for the Western political class.

Nothing could be more poignant than what Rev Jesse Jackson said Saturday,
'Saddam's heinous crimes against humanity can never be diminished, but he
was our ally while he was doing it� Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth will
make us blind and disfigured� Saddam as a war trophy only deepens the
catastrophe to which we are indelibly linked'.

More than 400 Western companies, including 25 American companies, 15
German and 10 British have been known to have supplied chemical weapons to
Saddam which he used with great abandon on the Iranian troops. Such was
the hurried despair in the Western capitals to throttle Iranian
nationalism that the 1979 revolution posed.

Retired CIA operatives have written about their assignments with Saddam's
regime. That phase of the Middle East's current diplomatic history holds
out many morals.

While the US supplied Saddam in the war with Iran, Israel supplied the
Iranians with much-needed military hardware. And millions of Shia and
Sunni Muslims were set against each other in the gory war.

Saddam, arguably, would have been prepared for an accommodation with
George W Bush, too, if only the latter weren't hell-bent on the invasion
in 2003.

In his republicanism, Saddam posed a great challenge to the archaic
monarchs of the Gulf. Yet, he consorted with them. He took generous
financial help from them. They acquiesced in his pretensions of being
their Praetorian guard.

He cast himself in the role of the protector of the Arab world from the
'threat' from the Persians.

Political Islam was anathema to Saddam � through most of his life, at
least, until irreversible adversities took him to realise God in his final

Yet, curiously, Saddam is slowly, steadily destined to acquire the aura of
a martyr in the cause of the jihad against the infidels dominating the
Muslim world.

Thus, in Saddam's execution, we find Iraq and the region torn between
conflicting emotions. Iran has cause to feel gratified that 'justice' has
been done. Teheran has been pressing for a day of reckoning for Saddam for
the atrocities of his regime.

Teheran says Saddam used chemical weapons against Iran 200 times during
the war in the 1980s.

Kuwait feels justified to openly 'celebrate'. Within Iraq itself, Saddam
has come to symbolize Sunni aspirations. But this is a direct outcome of
the sectarian divide in the country during the past four years of American

Significantly, his mourners today include the Taliban in Afghanistan and
religious figures in Indonesia.

In the wider regional context, with his departure, the last great Arab
nationalist has left Middle East's political stage. Yet, the torch of Arab
nationalism has never shone brighter. Saddam undoubtedly caught the
imagination of the Arab street.

There is a great alienation in the Arab world today between the ruler and
the masses. Can that be Saddam's final legacy in the annals of Arabia's

Marie Antoinette said, 'In my end is my beginning', when she delicately
parted her curls and held out her tender neck to the guillotine in the
chaotic times of the French revolution. In the manner of his death, in our
troubled times, Saddam Hussein too may have immortalized himself in the
pantheon of Arab nationalism.


An Ignominious Sense of Justice by John Horvath 01.01.2007

Victor's revenge at last
In what appears to be an anti-climax to the Iraq debacle, Saddam Hussein
was executed swiftly and secretly as soon as it became apparent that all
"legal" obstacles were out of the way. Obviously, there was some
jubilation in many parts of Iraq and elsewhere over his death. Even so,
the ongoing bloodletting in Iraq has relegated the fate of the former
dictator to a mere footnote for many. Iraq and the Middle East will be no
better nor any worse now that Saddam Hussein is dead.

For some Americans, on the other hand, the death of the former Iraqi
dictator is important. After all, his capture and execution was one of the
main reasons for going into Iraq in the first place. Indeed, for George W.
Bush it was of extreme importance. It's quite obvious that the entire Iraq
debacle was to avenge his father, who was humiliated after the first Gulf
War in 1990. Despite losing the war, Saddam remained in power and was able
to survive an uprising in the south and a coup organised by the CIA in the
north. Claims of assassination plans against George Bush senior were never
substantiated, yet provided reason enough to further put pressure on
Saddam Hussein.

Aside from the issue of a personal vendetta, there are other reasons for
the execution of Saddam Hussein at this point in time. Symbolically, the
end of December provides a convenient date with which to remember and
celebrate his death. Strategically, it opens a "new chapter" to America's
quagmire in the Middle East. Many pundits expect that with Saddam no
longer in the picture, an anticipated spring offensive to try and bring
the country under control can be sold to the American public as a "fresh
start". Likewise, for those in favour of pulling out US troops, such a
move could only be possible if Saddam was no longer alive. After all, the
prime objective for going into Iraq was to kill the former Iraqi dictator;
to leave without Saddam dead and buried was unthinkable. Yet the
assumption that the death of Saddam Hussein will make some sort of a
difference in what happens next in Iraq is wishful thinking. The civil war
in Iraq has a momentum of its own. Thus, the anticipated spring offensive
will most likely fail in much of the same way as other offensives and
"fresh start" ideas had in the past. As for a US troop withdrawal, aside
from a psychological and propaganda boost, the way in which American
soldiers will return defeated from the deserts of Iraq will be more or
less the same now that Saddam is dead. Perhaps what is most significant
about the former Iraqi dictator's execution is that it once more lays bare
the hypocrisy of the motives and actions of the western world. First and
foremost, despite attempts to rewrite history, the reason why Saddam was
toppled from power was not because of the crimes he committed against his
own people, but because of the supposed threat he posed to his neighbours
and the rest of the world. To this extent, the invasion of Iraq was
conducted under false pretenses as the allegation that Iraq possessed
weapons of mass destruction was clearly untrue. Indeed, this means that
under international law George W. Bush is just as guilty for war crimes
and crimes against humanity as Saddam Hussein. Not only this, but the
notion that Saddam Hussein represented evil beyond measure for the crimes
he committed against his own people ignores some important facts. First,
he is not the only dictator who has committed such crimes; secondly, such
crimes committed by other dictators have been much worse in scope. Despite
this, the international community turns a blind eye to such ongoing abuse
in other parts of the world. A case in point is Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe,
complete with his own version of a "Hitler mustache". The only difference
is there is little oil in that part of Africa which, in terms of the
attention economy, is a dark and forgotten continent anyway.

Aside from this, the hypocrisy that the EU displayed toward the execution
of Saddam Hussein further erodes any sense of moral leadership that Europe
may think it possesses. Although the Finnish presidency condemned the
execution after it actually occurred, Europe didn't raise its voice strong
enough to the sentence when it was first announced. Also, the faulty way
in which the trial was conducted, in where judges were replaced and
members of the defense team murdered, should have been noted as a cause
for concern. Indeed, if Milosevic was taken away to The Hauge to face
charges of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, why
shouldn't Saddam Hussein have received the same treatment? The answer is
obvious: if found guilty in The Hague, Hussein wouldn't have received the
death penalty.

In addition to all this, there is also an EU internal matter which needs
to be addressed. The death penalty is not tolerated within a united
Europe; indeed, a country can't be a member of the EU if the death penalty
exists, and Europe reserves the right to refuse extradition to another
country -- including the US -- if the a person will face either torture or
the death penalty. Yet despite these supposedly high ideals, the UK
welcomed the execution of Saddam Hussein. This raises the question as to
whether the UK really belongs within the EU, and what forms of sanctions
Brussels should impose on London for its attitude toward Hussein's
execution. Failure to confront this issue would seriously undermine one of
the main cornerstones of a supposedly "united Europe". Unfortunately, it
has become increasingly apparent that Europe doesn't speak with one voice
-- even when it comes to the death penalty.

In the end, few tears will be shed for the death of Saddam Hussein.
Without doubt he was a brutal dictator who received the same type of
punishment that he himself meted out to others. On the other hand, looking
at the larger picture, all the blood and death which is now a common
occurrence in Iraq is foremost due to the desire for revenge by George W.
Bush. The execution of Saddam Hussein, therefore, doesn't represent true
justice, but victor's revenge.


"See how Saddam Hussein was executed. He is peeing in his pants."

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posted by u2r2h at 10:08 PM


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