Nov 4, 2006
With excitement and barely suppressed glee, the media announced the death sentence returned against Iraqi strongman, Saddam Hussein, for crimes against humanity during the 1982 Dujail massacre.
In the face of the deadly horror that is Iraq, Hussein has become little more than a bad, but distant memory.
Indeed, in both print and audio interviews I've read and heard in the last few weeks, Iraqis looked to life under the Hussein regime as the good old days. That is a measure, not of how 'good' the old days were, but of how anguished is the present.
While Shi'as groaned under the repression of the secret police, and the Kurds lived in terror of the central government, the day-to-day life of Iraqis was one that was among the most envied of the Arab world. Its populace was among the most educated, certainly one of the highest among women in that region.
With the very serious exception of the omnipresent threat of government security forces, Iraqis lived lives of relative safety and security.
Today, Iraq is bedlam; the police and army are little more than ethnic death squads.
The U.S.-backed puppet government in Baghdad is a 'government' in name only. Real power is in the militias and regional religious leaders, like Moqtada al-Sadr, a man who is both!
In light of Saddam's death sentence, you'll probably hear some pundits claim it's a 'turning point', or a 'benchmark', of the new Iraqi democracy. In truth, it's neither.
The forces unleashed by the invasion and occupation have become bigger than Saddam.
The irony is that Saddam Hussein, according to recently published reports, never believed that the U.S. would actually take Baghdad; not because he thought his Republican Guard was so fierce, but because he thought that Americans couldn't be so stupid.
Peter Galbraith in an Aug. 2006 article in the *New York Review of Books* criticized the military knowledge of both Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Saddam Hussein, as leaders who routinely ignored advice from their generals.
In the article, "Mindless in Iraq," Galbraith noted:
"Men who had put their lives on the line in combat were mostly unwilling to put their careers on the line to speak out against a plan based on the numbers pulled out of the air by a cranky sixty-nine-year old [i.e., Rumsfeld].
"Fortunately for the US troops who had to invade Iraq, they were initially up against an adversary who was also convinced of his own military genius. Saddam Hussein knew it made no strategic sense for the US to invade Iraq and therefore he assumed it wouldn't happen. He had maintained ambiguity about whether he had WMDs not because he had something to hide but to intimidate the two enemies about whom he really was worried, the Iranians and Iraq's Shiite majority.
"Even before the invasion began ... Saddam could not quite believe the United States intended to go all the way to Baghdad .. Saddam could not imagine that the United States would see an advantage in replacing him with a pro-Iranian, Shiite-dominated regime." [Fr.: Galbraith, P., "Mindless in Iraq," NYROB (Aug. 10, 2006), p. 29.]
And so, Saddam will soon have a date with the hangman; but events and forces at work in Iraq will barely ripple from his passage. His death warrant, signed and sealed in Washington, D.C., will bring it no closer to US regional objectives.
Hasn't Iraq had enough death?
The hell of today is far worse than the hell of yesterday.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal