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Re: Selective memory and a dishonest doctrine

Selective Memory and a Dishonest Doctrine by Noam Chomsky Published on Sunday, December 21, 2003 by the Toronto Star

Response by Rootsie
December 21, 2003,

"All people who have any concern for human rights, justice and integrity should be overjoyed by the capture of Saddam Hussein, and should be awaiting a fair trial for him by an international tribunal.

An indictment of Saddam's atrocities would include not only his slaughter and gassing of Kurds in 1988 but also, rather crucially, his massacre of the Shiite rebels who might have overthrown him in 1991.

At the time, Washington and its allies held the "strikingly unanimous view (that) whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West and the region a better hope for his country's stability than did those who have suffered his repression," reported Alan Cowell in the New York Times."
Professor Chomsky is surprising me here. "All people" who care about human rights and justice are not 'overjoyed' by Saddam's capture. It took place in the context of an illegal U.S. invasion and occupation. That is nothing to be overjoyed about.

And just what might an international court try him for without indicting the United States as accessory before and after the fact? That is of course assuming that there exists an international court that could conduct a fair trial. There isn't. Notice in the Milosevich trial in the Hague that the proceedings are secret? Why? Because the United States does not want to air its dirty Bosnian laundry, and much less does it want to remind anyone of the truth about Saddam and the U.S. A court was set up in Iraq just days before his arrest to try him out of the publc eye.

But besides this, just what are the 'crimes against humanity' an international tribunal could legally prosecute Saddam for? His 'gassing of the Kurds'? Well it turns out there is no solid evidence for that, if we have to go by past U.S. and UN statements, not to mention that at the time neither the U.S. nor the UN seemed particularly concerned about the allegations.

As for the Shiites, 'his massacre of the Shiite rebels who might have overthrown him in 1991,' rebels seeking to overthrow him in the course of a war? With the early support of a foreign power, the United States? That doesn't sound particularly illegal to me. The United States withdrew its support of the rebels at a pivotal point and fed them to Saddam, 'the lion of Babylon,' anyway.

As for Kuwait, notwithstanding that Iraq was punished by the world to the tune of 1.4 million civilians dead as a result of sanctions and daily bombing, Saddam was given every reason to believe that the U.S. would not oppose his invasion. They were quite close friends at the time.

That none of Saddam's conduct through the 1980's, including massive gas attacks on Iran, seemed to bother the US and its allies, and was in fact overtly supported by the United States, is a reason either that Saddam's trial will never take place (due to his 'untimely death') or that it will be conducted in secret. U.S. strategists must be scratching their heads about now trying to figure how to get out of this one. In their minds, the P.R. value of "WE GOT HIM" must have outweighed the dangers posed by an eventual trial.

Chomsky in this article makes the good point that U.S. history of the past 20 years in Iraq gives the lie to its sudden concern for freedom and democracy there now. This history in fact constitutes a defense for Saddam, and makes it rather a ridiculous proposition for the U.S., or the UN for that matter, to charge him with any crimes at all.


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