The Saddam show

The New York Times this morning has a picture of Saddam Hussein shouting at the court in his trial (the picture’s not online; the story is here). I wonder how this is playing on television in Iraq.

Here’s a hint. Salam Pax is writing an election diary for The Guardian and in a post the other day he reviewed the Saddam trial:

All the news about elections got upstaged yet again by a huge TV event – the second session of Saddam’s trial. If there is one thing that gets Iraqis glued to their televisions, it’s the sight of Saddam behind bars.

It still makes me speechless. Well, until he says something, and then everybody starts shouting at their TV sets. It’s strange how, after three years, seeing him on TV still brings up an odd mixture of fear and disgust. He still does the arched brow look when he doesn’t like what he hears and, unlike the rest of the accused sitting with him in that court, he doesn’t look broken.

For many of us, the proceedings at the Iraqi Special Tribunal are just not going fast enough, and the appearance of Ramsey Clark, a former US attorney general, seated along Saddam’s defence team was slightly baffling.

Many Iraqis have already made up their minds about what Saddam’s fate should be, and it seems the current government has made up its mind as well.

The state-owned TV station broadcasting the trial showed a little operetta, sung by kids, during the court’s recess. It is set at the trial, and the singing lawyer demands that the sentence be “a thousand deaths, a thousand deaths, for he is a war criminal”, calling Saddam’s lawyers men without honour.

The judge, after some musical deliberations, sings: “We sentence you to death, to death to death”. Case closed. And the official newspaper used the lower part of the front page on the day of the trial for a montage of pictures including a sign saying “death to Saddam”. There is no question what the people want.

And before you write long dissertations on human rights to me, try to consider, for a moment, how absurd the talk about human rights is to those who had had to suffer under Saddam’s total disregard for those rights – those who had their tongues cut off for talking badly of him, ears cut off for refusing to fight his futile wars, and the thousands who spent years in his prisons. It’s a tough one, but this trial was never going to be easy.

  • At least Saddam never threw fake menstrual blood on anybody, and he always kept the thermostat set at a comfortable temperature for his amputees.

  • kat

    I expected Saddam to be Saddam–a terrorist. However, to listen to that leftist asshole, Ramsey Clark, makes me puke. But I shouldn’t expect more from leftists than what we get. After all, Kerry just told our young men and women that the fight is unwinnable and they are fighting a losing battle. That’s a real morale booster. And then Howard Dean announced that these same men and women are terrorists. With leftists on his side, Saddam may just walk. After all, Clark claims the poison gas was not meant for Kurds but Iranians so that makes Saddam innocent. The NYT said so says Clark. What makes idiots like Clark, Dean and Kerry tick? And what makes Americans support these pondscummers? I think I fear the Left more than I fear terrorists.

  • Dr. Mathews

    Pardon me for extolling the virtues of a proper historical perspective. Hark back more than twenty years when the Iran-Irak war was under way. By the time of the famous handshake between Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein in December 20, 1983 (see, Iran had already been reporting for some time that Iraq was using chemical weapons against it. While the handshake was followed – less than a year later – by the restoration of formal relations between Iraq and the United States, it was known that the Reagan Administration had begun to provide it with intelligence and military support several years earlier. Although I seriously doubt it, if there is to be a serious reckoning of the crimes of Saddam Hussein in this “trial”, then the complicit role of the US must be laid bare as well.