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    Verdict of Saddam’s Trial:
    A Guilty Verdict for George Bush & US Imperialism

    By Ivan Drury
    On November 5, Saddam Hussain was sentenced to hang by a court in an Iraq occupied by around 150,000 US troops. The Prime Minister of the government that oversees this court is headed by a man whose friends and co-Dawa-party members were the ones that Saddam has been condemned to death for slaughtering. In an ‘incredible’ prediction, this Prime Minister said, a month in advance of this sentencing, “It won’t be long. An execution order on this criminal despot and his criminal aides will be passed soon.”

    Hanging judge in a victor’s court

    Saddam Hussain was sentenced to hang by the same sort of kangaroo court that he was convicted of setting up against his attempted assassins back in 1982. This court of the “new Iraq” disposed of three judges in one year for not silencing Saddam, for being too sympathetic to Saddam, and for being too mindful of the rights of Saddam – respectively. This “liberated” court oversaw the assassination of three defense lawyers, and its “rule of law” guaranteed that Saddam went through the last days of his trial without a lawyer at all (except for the court-appointed lawyer, who he refused).

    But make no mistake, this is not a legal case. This ridiculous court was exactly the tool required for the ridiculous job. It did not and does not matter what the specific charges are against Saddam. It does not matter what evidence, what proof comes. The trial of Saddam Hussain is not a criminal trial. It is a ‘heel’-ing of a dog. Sewed into the seams of every “crime of Saddam Hussain” are the characteristic markings of American craftsmanship – and an example must be made.

    Saddam: a US weapon tried by its master

    “A former dictator feared by millions, who killed his own citizens without mercy or justice, who waged wars against neighboring countries, has been brought to trial in his own country - held accountable in a court of law with ordinary citizens bearing witness.”
    - U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, reacting to Saddam’s sentencing

    On the U.S. Law Library of Congress website, there is a summary of the trial of Saddam Hussain. This is what it says: “The international community has repeatedly accused Saddam Hussein of war crimes, genocide, and atrocities during his reign in Iraq. Some of the allegations include using poison gas against Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, dropping chemical weapons on Halabja, which killed up to 5,000 people, and committing crimes against humanity and possibly genocide against the Marsh Arabs and Shi’a Arabs in southern Iraq, as well as against Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq.”

    There, in one paragraph, is the summary of the entire case against Saddam Hussain. But each of these sentences swell like a body fermenting in a cell. The art of the US occupying forces in setting up the trial of Saddam Hussain was three-fold:

    1. To fertilize the myth that Saddam is the root of all evil in Iraq, and that his removal equals liberation for the Iraqi people.

    2. To issue a warning to the temp-labour office full of devils currently on CIA payroll that they had better do their job well of suppressing the people in their countries and doing whatever they are told. This is a message directed towards the likes of Mubarak in Egypt, King Abdallah II in Jordan, Musharraf in Pakistan, Faisal in Saudi Arabia, and of course Prime Minister Malaki in Iraq… and the rest.

    3. To cover-up the role of the U.S. as the motor-force in the various serial-crimes of the Saddam Hussain regime, in order to maintain purpose numbers one and two. In order to accomplish all three of these tricks at once, the US-court on the Euphrates began by trying Saddam for the relatively obscure, and relatively minor crime of putting 142 men and boys to death in response to an attempted assassination plot that failed against him in 1982. While the U.S. was undoubtedly aware of this crime at the time, rather than say or do anything at the time, they busied themselves arranging the covert shipping of weapons to Saddam to help him in his war against Iran… and whatever else he needed them for at home.

    Poison gas, genocide, and the price of diplomatic relations with the US

    Also in 1982, and also with the knowledge of the U.S., there was a massive Kurdish uprising in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, Iran, and Syria. In all three countries, this uprising was put down brutally, and tens of thousands of Kurds were murdered. In Iraq in particular, this uprising took on a popular anti-government bent, as soldiers left the battle lines within the Iranian border and retreated to join the uprising against their own government. In response Saddam announced that all deserters from the army would be immediately shot. In the summer of 1983, this pronouncement was carried out with a massive carpet bombing murder of the tens of thousands of army deserters who had taken refuge in Southern Iraq. But rather than draw attention (and investigation!) to this massacre carried out with the direct material and political support of the U.S., this first trial concentrated on the execution of a group of relatively isolated assassination-conspirators… even though they both happened at the same time.

    The famous 1988 massacre of 5,000 people in the Kurdish city of Halabja, just after the ceasefire with Iran, was carried out with U.S. bombs from U.S. supplied planes and helicopters. Just as they would again three years later when the Iraqi army was in retreat at the end of the 1991 U.S.-Gulf war, the retreating soldiers became advancing rebels and began a march on the presidential palace. And just as they would at the end of the 1991 US-Gulf war, the U.S. supported Saddam’s brutal suppression of these soldier-rebels, in the hope that they could wash the rebellious spirit out of Iraq with blood spilled by the hand of Saddam.

    War crimes in the 1980-1988 war with Iran

    Saddam Hussain became the president of Iraq in 1979… the same year that the U.S. lost their contemporary-historic foothold of ‘influence’ in the Middle East to the Iranian Revolution. In 1980, Saddam began an eight-year-long war with Iran.

    As the George Washington University national security archive explains, “Initially, Iraq advanced far into Iranian territory, but was driven back within months. By mid- 1982, Iraq was on the defensive against Iranian human-wave attacks.” The Saddam push to overwhelm the newly independent Iranian government was met by the force of a people in motion, and a practically unlimited volunteer army eager to defend the revolution. People in Iran rightly saw that behind Saddam’s invasion was a more powerful ‘puppetmaster’ force. In response to the Iranian counter-offensive, the U.S. stepped up their support of Iraq. From the beginning of the war, the U.S. had begun preparations for a re-initiation of diplomatic relations with Iraq – frozen since the 1967 Israeli war on the Middle East.

    In February 1982, the U.S. State Department removed Iraq from its list of “states supporting international terrorism” and began selling Saddam weapons. An immediate over-thetable purchase of military helicopters was followed by the covert shipping of millions of dollars in howitzers, helicopters, bombs and other weapons to Baghdad in 1982-83 through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

    In February 1992, the LA Times reported, “There was a conscious effort to encourage third countries to ship U.S. arms or acquiesce in shipments after the fact. It was a policy of nods and winks.”

    On January 1, 1984, The Washington Post reported that the United States “in a shift in policy, has informed friendly Persian Gulf nations that the defeat of Iraq in the 3-year-old war with Iran would be ‘contrary to U.S. interests’ and has made several moves to prevent that result.”

    February 1984, upon gaining intelligence that Iran may have been planning a counter-invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi government stated ominously, “the invaders should know that for every harmful insect there is an insecticide capable of annihilating it whatever the number, and Iraq possesses this annihilation insecticide.” No, at that point in time, Saddam’s “saber-rattling” didn’t rattle thenpresidential- envoy-to-the-Middle- East Donald Rumsfeld. He met again with Saddam for the second time in three months in late March. The very same day that Rumsfeld and Saddam were shaking hands in Baghdad, a report went to the United Nations that “mustard gas laced with a nerve agent has been used on Iranian soldiers in the 43- month Persian Gulf War between Iran and Iraq, a team of U.N. experts has concluded” But it should not be surprising that Rumsfeld did not cut off his talks with Saddam at this news – he already knew. In a U.S. State Department report issued on March 5, 1984, the U.S. acknowledged, “available evidence indicates that Iraq has used lethal chemical weapons.”

    And, according to the New York Times in 2002, even though “senior officials of the Reagan administration publicly condemned Iraq’s employment of mustard gas, sarin, VX and other poisonous agents … President Reagan, vice president George Bush [Senior] and senior national security aides never withdrew their support for the highly classified program in which more than 60 officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for air strikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq.”

    The execution of a scapegoat History is a ruthless judge. Not always expedient… but ruthless in the end. The U.S. used Saddam Hussain as a tool for its interests in the Middle East, especially in their attempt to regain their pre-1979 position in Iran and the Middle East. With a package deal, they bought and paid for all of the repression that Saddam had to carry out at home to stay in power. But Saddam failed to do the job for the U.S. in Iran… and that was the beginning of his downfall.

    Faced with a world economic crisis and the need to take control over the Middle East from their imperialist competitors in the European Union and around the world, the U.S. ruling class knew that Saddam was not to be counted on. The massive U.S. military machine knocked Saddam’s regime over as easily as they had built it up – but they inherited the resistance of the Iraqi people that he had earned... to scale. For every criminal war and war crime that Saddam carried out, opposition to him grew throughout Iraq, and burst out of the ground in nearly annual popular antigovernment movements. The wars and war crimes of the U.S. are, incredibly, much more brutal, and widely felt and resented. The result is that the movement against them is even more broad, more popular, and constant.

    The trial and conviction of Saddam Hussain is not, as Bush claims, “a milestone in the Iraqi people’s efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law,” because the trial contained no “rule of law” and had nothing to do with the “efforts of the Iraqi people.” It is a unilateral Nuremburg, a show trial and execution of a scapegoat, and it solves nothing – and that is a crime.

    Saddam Hussain was used by the U.S., yes, but he was useful because he was willing to carry out any crime against oppressed people in Iraq and the whole Middle East for his own narrow capitalist class interests. The people of Iraq deserve to try him for his crimes, alongside his masters in Washington. His were not the crimes of one man, and his sentence should not be his alone either.

    The conviction of Saddam Hussain is a conviction of U.S. imperialism for crimes against the Iraqi, Iranian, and Kurdish people. History will make that clear. It’s a shame that the sentence is not so easily transferable.

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