“…a caged lion…”

Krauthammer, tells us that the trial of Saddam is a botch, and that he is being allowed to turn the trial into a trial of the new regime, instead of a trial of his own crimes

I derive no pleasure from saying I told you this would happen. Saddam devoted a lot of time and energy to studying the Hitler and Stalin dictatorships, and he consciously and openly modeled his regime on theirs. As a student of tyranny, Saddam knew that he was likely to end up in a situation like this one day. So, he has modeled his performance on Herman Goering’s performance at Nuremburg, as I predicted two years ago. He is a tough and ruthless man with nothing to lose. Iraqis have lived in mortal terror of this man for decades. No wonder he is able to upstage everyone in the room.

Saddam wants to be remembered by history as an Iraqi patriot. He is being allowed to lay the foundations of a post-Saddam legend in this trial. Saddam is using our own notions of due process and fair play to undermine our larger efforts to move Iraq beyond him and his regime. Saddam is going to be considered a hero by Sunni Arabs for ever and ever, and this trial, his last moment on the stage of history, may well be his finest dramatic performance.

(Via Ann Althouse.)

  1. Krauthammer is right but as is often the case he overdoes it. Yes, it will be bad if the Iraqis continue to let Hussein control the show. However, the Iraqis are not stupid, like the rest of us they will learn from what’s happened and it’s possible that they will handle the rest of the trial(s) well. In any event Hussein will eventually go home in a box and Iraq will move on. Hussein may score some points in court in the meantime (which is one reason why I think we should have summarily executed him), but in the long run? Herman Goering’s clever performance at Nuremberg does not seem to have helped the Nazi cause. Hussein’s case will be similar. Prospective enemies of the USA will not want to end up like him even if they admire his defiance.

  2. With what we are witnessing with Saddam, at the moment, it brings to mind what should’ve occurred when he was discovered, living underground, by U.S. troops. Too bad he didn’t have the true temerity to fight capture. That particular move would have sealed his fate—along with the hole in which he chose to hide.
    Although he’s considered a “student “of 20th century evil regimes, he is, in every sense of the word, a faker.

  3. The trial is messy. Saddam is scoring points. Then he returns to a cell and waits for the next day in his “dirty” drawers. Thus there is a context not lost on the Iraqis or the wider audience in the Middle East. His secret police are still killing people, as ever, but are being killed in turn by American and increasingly Iraqi troops. Things certainly ain’t like the good old days for this student of tyranny. I have no problems with another shot at 15 minutes of fame that Saddam has been given. I am sure the other tyrants in the region are a lot more worried about (the effects of) this “flawed” trial than Krauthammer is. Democracy based on the rule of law is messy and seldom meets our high expectations. Krauthammer should know this. Lowered expectations about the drama of the means toward justice is part of the many lessons the Iraqi’s need to learn if they are going to step away from a dependence on strong men. Let Saddam rant and rave and rally his troops. Talk, talk, talk. Then convict and kill him. The Judges of Saddam ultimately control the last move and thus the whole context in which all this will be viewed. So what if some part of the Sunni Iraqi populace will forever consider Saddam a patriot and march and sing songs on his birthday. Ain’t a country in the world without such volk. Er, folk. The larger context is all that matters. I consider this trial, as it is being conducted, a very positive step in the process of creating a larger context that contains these folk for a very long, long time. (Predicated on the fact it ends with Saddam dangling from a noose.) As well, a “better” trial could produce other less than desireable unintended results. Muddling is often the safest path.

  4. Have we gotten any of the information Lex speaks of in his original post? Are we likely to? Extracting that would not only be useful militarily but also in showing him clinging to a life he so easily took from others. Is that now “over” and unobtainable?

  5. Goering’s performance did not help the Nazi cause because the Nazis have not been sympathetically portrayed by the media. Morover, Nazis have been redefined as being the ultimate evil.

    In contrast, there are many in the West who — while not actively supporting Saddam — would prefer a live, torturing Saddam to a world in which the US and GW Bush were dominant, successful, and all the liberal elites were shown to be extremely misguided. Better to abandon Iraq completely than to do anything that might make GW look good.

    Or as some celebrities noted bitterly during the Iraqi elections: “They’ll be naming high schools after him [GWB]!”

    Can’t let that happen, eh?

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