Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Saddam trial - a historical parallel

First posted on JRE blof on December 15, 2003:

Saddam has to be tried by Iraqis and so far it seems that is what is going to happen. US court is out of the question for obvious reasons. That would smack of collonialism. The Hague is a bad idea for several reasons: a) it is, quite correctly, perceived my most of the world as illegal court, and as barely disguised US court (see above); b) it would make the trial go on forever and cost millions, not to mention that it is not just Saddam, but thousands of his thugs; c) it would give Saddam, like it did Milosevic, two years of stump speeches, allowing him to define his own heroic role in the history of the world; d) as stated above, there is no death penalty.

Many people compare Saddam to Milosevic. That is erroneous, not to mention that placards carried by anti-Milosevic demonstrators insulted Milosevic by calling him Saddam. Of course, states endangered by USA pooled resources, so, for instance Saddam gave Milosevic information about American bombing patterns. Milosevic exchanged arms for oil with Somalia. Sanctions made gasoline very scarce in Serbia, while its military industry, one of the biggest in Europe, was so NOT depleted by three wars in a decade, it could spare a few shiploads in exchange for oil during the fourth war it was waging. And these were just rifles and ammo - Yugoslav indusry designed and produced its own jet fighters, submarines, battleships, tanks, eyc., quite high-tech. Clark was quite right to keep the airplanes at million miles above ground - even that way, the Serbs downed one of the "invisible" jets early in the war.

The best parallel, in my opinion, is the Romanian dictator Causescu. Big palaces, lots of money, terror of his own people. Hundreds of Romanians tried to escape from Romania to Yugoslavia every year, usually by swimming (often drowning) accross Danube which is very big and treacherous at that border. I remember an international horse show, when a Romanian lady-rider, after winning every class on first two days, was suddenly tied up by her team-mates, using horse-tack (reins, chains) and taken away somewhere never to be seen again. Apparently she planned to escape, and every sports team had members of Securitatea on it. A good friend of my mother got a position of consul in Timisoara and immediately turned the Yugoslav consulate (with its diplomatic immunity) there into HQ for anti-Causescu forces. The whole Romanian revolution was planned there and started there. As Romania kicked out all foreign press as the events were starting to unfold, the team from TV Belgrade remained in the consulate and filmed everything. If you watched this on TV in 1989, it was through their lenses. Nicolae Causescu and his wife Helena were captured and put to trial. The whole trial was televized. It lasted several days. It seems like they conducted the trial fair and square and according to the Romanian law. The verdict was death penalty by firing squad, fortuitously already present in the building. It was executed immediatelly, in the back yard of the building in which the trial was held. The execution was also televized. Talk of reality TV! I imagine something like that for Saddam would be the most appropriate.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:28 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink