||The kangaroo court-style execution of Saddam Hussein in the name of
freedom was hypocrisy of the worst kind, writes Annsilla Nyar
The double standards of the democracy- loving international community
were never more starkly affirmed than through the recent execution of
former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
His hasty execution drives home one brutal truth: justice under the law
operates at the behest of the international community, which ultimately
supports and condones the current configuration of terror, violence and
profound injustice we see defining and informing the global landscape.
Outrage follows outrage. Even as violence rages in Iraq and civil war
threatens in the wake of Saddam's execution, George W Bush continues to
proclaim democracy for Muslims as the antidote to international terrorism.
Saddam's execution follows on the heels of a highly flawed and
politicised trial as well as months of stubborn evasion of the US troops
assigned to eliminate him. Now he is most emphatically dead and Bush's
so called path to "democracy" is no more certain than it was before his
In no way am I attempting to excuse Saddam. But it is fundamentally
wrong and hypocritical to simplistically demonise him.
For one thing, in doing so, we miss all the complexities of this story
of oil, wars and dirty politics. A fair application of justice under the
law would demand that many world leaders be similarly hauled off to The
Hague for a war crimes trial. Fidel Castro rose to power around the same
time as Saddam by murdering his political opponents, but the US and the
UN are not calling for Castro to answer for his crimes.
In 1979 the war waged by the Soviets against Afghanistan was as brutal
as anything waged in Iran. But Gorbachev and Castro escape the wrath of
the international community.
Should we now not be calling for Ariel Sharon to answer for his crimes?
And if the use of chemical weapons is a crime against humanity, how do
we look upon the US for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
during World War 2 and napalm on civilians in Vietnam?
Reading the lengthy charge sheet of the "Butcher of Baghdad" puts one in
mind of the Reagan era when Ronald Reagan used to rail against the "evil
empire" even as the US engineered its coup against the Chilean
government, armed the Contras in Nicaragua and trained the death squads
in El Salvador.
Saddam's charge sheet boasts its own fair share of ironies, detailing as
it does a litany of crimes against humanity such as the wars of
aggression against Iran and Kuwait, the torture of political prisoners
and the genocidal assaults against the minority Iraqi Kurds.
The role played by the US and the accompanying complicity of the UN and
the rest of the international community, must now disappear into the
annals of history.
But then double standards have always prevailed in the long historical
relationship between Iraq and the United States. Iraq has historically
served US interests in two primary ways, both of which relate to the
all-powerful commodity of oil. Iraq served as a useful pawn in one of
the many proxy wars with the Soviets which characterised the Cold War
era. It also was seen as something of a bulwark against a fundamentalist
The 1980 war with Iran, which features on Saddam's charge sheet, was
entirely supported and backed by the United States. It was an oil war,
due to Iran's nationalisation of its oil supplies.
Iraq received generous logistical and military assistance from the US,
including shipments of biological agents, allowing Iraq to develop new
toxins such as ricin and sarin gas.
A young Saddam received training by the CIA to assassinate and overthrow
the leader of Iran and it was, in fact, Donald Rumsfeld himself who was
dispatched to Iraq as diplomatic envoy.
This now tends to seem pretty much like ancient history.
But this relationship of convenience experienced an abrupt change when
Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, threatening US oil supplies.
A US-led coalition saw in a massive invasion which drove Iraq out of
Kuwait, and the rest of the world watched in horror as much of Kuwait
was destroyed in the process.
But moral indignation ceased once oil supplies were restored.
Apart from economic sanctions, the coalition then left the "Butcher of
Baghdad" to his own devices, allowing him to return to his former
policies of political intolerance, murder and torture.
This state of indifference lasted until the September 11 attack when the
Bush administration attempted to forge what proved to be a spurious
connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam.
This flimsy pretext for war was never proved. The Bush regime then
claimed that Iraq possessed and produced chemical and biological weapons
and according to intelligence gathered not only by the US but by other
governments, was concealing those weapons of mass destruction.
"The first war of the 21st century is the war against terrorism and
weapons of mass destruction . . . free nations do not develop weapons of
mass destruction," proclaimed Bush.
Yet UN weapons inspectors have consistently turned up empty-handed.
Where are those weapons of mass destruction?
The Bush administration has now focused on Iran and its nuclear
capabilities as the next threat to peace and stability in the Middle East.
The US's ally, Israel, and its formidable nuclear programme is
conveniently overlooked, in pretty much the same way the treatment of
detainees at Guantanamo Bay is overlooked and outrage directed instead
against the treatment of American prisoners of war in Iraq.
But what is truly unforgivable is that those reactionary and
totalitarian forces which spurn democracy, civil rights, and peace, do
so under the cover of "freedom", "democracy" and "world peace".
It is hypocrisy of the worst kind and the kangaroo court-style execution
of Saddam must clearly bring this home to us if nothing else.
# Annsilla Nyar is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Civil Society