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Poor man’s Stalin

It was wonderful to see the footage of Saddam after his capture as he was given a medical. It fulfilled at least two objectives – it put pictures to the words (an important message in this image driven times) and showed the captured dictator unkempt, disheveled and in an undignified situation. I imagine the contrast between the images of Saddam at the height of his power and those broadcast in the last 24 hours will go a long way in demolishing his personality cult.

This leads nicely to my reference to Stalin in the title of this post. Saddam Hussain is of the same breed as the monstrous Josef Dzhugashvili – a powerful, resilient, personally courageous, charismatic, megalomaniac and psychopathic dictator. It may be banal to compare Hussain to Stalin when there are still people who consider Stalin just a bit authoritarian but let’s face it, the man industrialised Russia and you can’t make an omelette without breaking…blah, blah, blah… I expect the familiar herds of barking moonbats to come out in droves with words ‘human rights, international law, due process and fair trial’ on their lips and the hate of all things American and Western in their hearts and minds. They have already learnt how to look over the mass graves of innocent Iraqis while protesting against the coalition’s war on the Ba’athist regime in Iraq, so it should not be too difficult to gloss over Saddam’s crimes yet again as they attack the coalitions efforts to “give Saddam the justice he denied to millions of Iraqis”.

It is an unfortunate historical fact that Stalin died a natural death. Since Nazism there has been no precedent about how to deal with murderous dictators and the international law, created by the impetus of the Nuremberg trial, has failed miserably to deliver what could be, even remotely, considered justice. The scores of African and Middle Eastern tyrants roam free and inflict untold suffering on their subjects under the benign gaze of the international and human rights community. Genocidal national leaders and their retinue are getting treatment and ‘fair trial’ that make their victims weep with despair as retribution for their crimes disappears in the maze of international law and its convoluted processes. Nowhere the gap between law and justice has been greater than in international law.

So when I hear the commentators calling on international and human rights experts hours after Saddam’s capture, the good news turns sour. I worry that in the coming months justice will be the next concept bandied about and stretched beyond recognition. Tony Blair has already talked about “putting the past behind” and has called for ‘reconciliation and unity’. (Judging from recent actions I fear this means sucking up to the French, Germans and Russian.)

It seems that the lesson from “purging of the fascist elements” in post-war Germany and Japan has been long forgotten. Many of the problems in Central and Eastern Europe originate from the photogenic pseudomoral posturing of the dissidents that rose to power after the communists vacated their seats. “Forgive and forget”, “draw the line behind the past”, “move on to a better future” and platitudes to that effect resonated across the former communist bloc and the West marvelled at the civilised and moral manner of the Velvet Revolution(s).

In my book, forgiveness comes after repentance. In post-communist societies, forgiveness was the only thing left that the battered populations felt had any control over. And so ex-communists, although no longer communists in the name but still embedded in the fabric of the society, unrepentant and powerful, could make sure that the future is to their advantage. Justice does not even get a foot in the door.

Nevertheless, let’s not be unduly pessimistic. For once. We will certainly be following with interest how and what justice will be dispensed to Saddam and his cronies and what the Big Media make of the whole affair. We live in interesting times and with blogosphere there is a way of making them even more interesting.

11 comments to Poor man’s Stalin

  • Brian Micklethwait


    In the wake of Saddam’s capture, the TV people were reprising yards of old Saddam footage, of him being mobbed by ecstatic Iraqis in the street, for instance, but also of that extraordinary occasion where he condemned someone to death, and they were taken out right there and shot.

    And the similarity between Saddam and Stalin struck me too, again, not in the obvious big ways you’ve just written about, but in one particular additional little way. Saddam and Stalin both communicate in their news footage that they were really enjoying themselves. Both used to preside over their slaughters with a little smile playing on their faces. You can almost see them thinking: “You foolish little people, don’t you get it? How can you enjoy your silly, pompous little lives if you don’t understand how life works? It’s kill or be killed. So kill, and enjoy it. I do. I take pleasure in the expert practice of my craft.” Twinkle twinkle.

    Just a thought.

  • Julian Morrison

    The reason why it’s hard to have justice after the fall of a dictatorial regime, is that they tend to corrupt nearly everbody. If you aren’t taking or paying backhanders, working for the state or working with the state, then you aren’t eating. Even after the fall of nazi germany, the nuremberg trials were symbolic, picking on a small number of high rankers. The ordinary nazi-in-the-street acquired a retroactive conscience, and convenient amnesia.

  • Reid of America

    Chirac and the other leaders who were on Saddam’s payroll now probably shitting in their pants now that he has been captured alive.

    Prediction: When Baker goes to France to discuss debt forgiveness, the French will be very cooperative.

  • Doug Collins

    He has disappointed me, most recently when he signed the McCain-Feingold Speech Regulation bill into law, but I am hoping that George Bush will now give the moonbats even more reason to hate him by having Saddam prosecuted in Iraqi courts.

    Aside from all the other good reasons for not using international courts, there is the fact that it would give the appearance of a moslem tried in a Western – I certainly can’t say Christian – court. I know it’s supposed to be a ‘world’ court, but how many non-europeans ever appear in its televised proceedings?

    There is also the salutory effect that prosecution of the monster in Iraqi courts would have on Iraqi self confidence.

    One other note: Blair did blather on about ‘reconciliation’ as if Saddam had merely enforced a sort of islamic apartheid, but I thought I heard him talking about Iraqi courts and not international ones. Maybe reconciliation isn’t so bad if you consider that the only way to reconcile 400,000 murdered people and Saddam is with a public execution.

  • Will (Davis, CA)

    Since there’s no possible way to make him die 400,00- deaths, or even to feel a small fraction of the total pain and misery he caused to so many others, public trial and execution at the hands of the Iraqis is probably the closest thing there is to justice.

    After he spills the beans about WMD and Chiraq, of course…

  • M.

    “let’s not be unduly pessimistic”

    No,let’s be duly pessimistic.

  • I find myself agreeing with the current administrations decision to allow his own citizens-a tribunal-to meter justice to the menace. I have seldom agreed with them in the past. viva iraq!

  • It would behoove us all to closely inquire of those who favor an international tribunal to explain, exactly, how Iraq’s new justice system has failed so far. The tribunal’s been functioning less than a week and even before the ink was dry on the final draft there were calls that it was impossible that Iraqis could deal justly with their oppressors.

    Supposedly, international tribunals are for countries that are incapable of meting out justice in national courts. Without evidence, it is slander and libel to put Iraq in that category. We should demand evidence and if it’s not forthcoming, call such people what they are, racists who cannot conceive that arabs are capable of providing justice.

  • Jonathan L

    Surely Justice simply requires that the defendant is proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. In a case where there is already no doubt whatsoever, from a justice point of view a kangaroo court would be as good as any.

    Those calling for international justice are insulting Iraqis who were the one who suffered. They are also suffering from a bout of “I know better than the ignorant people of Iraq”, which Saddam himself would approve of entirely.

  • R C Dean

    I would be shocked to my toes if Bush takes Saddam away from the Iraqis (and execution) and gives him to the Euros. There are just so many ways that is a bad decision, but mostly I just don’t see it in Bush’s personality.

    C’mon, the man has zero qualms about capital punishment, and he wants to see Saddam swing.

  • Michael

    This is a complete nightmare for opponents of Bush (both domestic and foreign). As the trial goes on and on next summer in Iraq, the press will not be able to resist each new spectacular tale of Saddam’s horrors. Iraq will melt away as a campaign issue and Bush’s Democratic opponent will be left with what? The economy? Hah!