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The tranzi’s new power grab

The transnational progressives have a new power grab underway – their attempt to seize control of the trial of Saddam Hussein and move it to the ICC or some other “international court.” I think it would be a very serious mistake to indulge the tranzis on this issue, as it would serve to validate and legitimize the most noxious pillar of their ideology.

The transnational progressive movement has a consistent theme: that governments should be answerable primarily to some overarching international authority, rather than to their own citizens. The pernicious (and unstated) part of this theme is that last phrase – the tranzis never state, and may not even recognize, that as governments become more accountable to outside authorities, they become less accountable to their own citizens.

The EU project is certainly an attempt to implement this ideal, as was last year’s attempt by the UN to control US foreign policy and military apparatus in the Iraqi, campaign. Readers will, I’m sure, be able to multiply examples, as the tranzis are nothing if not consistent in their top-down approach to accountability and control.

For the tranzis, the problem of rogue or abusive governments is not that such governments are too powerful and/or insufficiently accountable to their own citizen/subjects. After all, the source of legitimacy for this lot is not the consent of the governed; rather legitimacy can apparently only be conferred from above. Thus, the creation, from whole cloth, of international institutions such as the UN or International Criminal Court, so that there is a higher, transnational, authority to judge and confer legitimacy on the doings of national governments.

Of course, being made answerable to the “international community” (read: other governments) comes at the cost of being accountable to your own citizenry. This is the reason that the whole tranzi project is fundamentally corrupt, and corrupting. In my book, consent of the governed is the only source of legitimacy. Period. Discussion over. Turn out the lights as you leave. The tranzi project is corrosive of the consent of the governed, because it substitutes the consent of other governments for the consent of the governed.

The whole meme/dynamic is on full display in Iraq right now. The tranzis and their project are the long-term enemies of liberty, my friends, as much as or more so than your penny-ante domestic politician.

Many thanks to Tacitus for his rather more brutal assessment of the tranzi attempt to shove the Iraqis out of the way and seize control Saddam’s fate, which got the juices flowing this morning.

39 comments to The tranzi’s new power grab

  • jonno

    ooo – scare quotes

  • Julian Morrison

    I heard Iran is wants him tried internationally. Seems to me, they have a plenty valid claim, he killed a lot of Iranians. An “international” trial by arabs on arab ground strikes me as possibly the fairest and most politically useful approach. The UN can’t whine, the lefties can’t cry “kangaroo court”, and the arabs won’t feel they are being patronized by westerners.

  • S. Weasel

    Seems a pretty insupportable position, to argue that the Iraqi people are fully capable of self-government, and should be left to get on with it as soon as possible without outside intervention, but that they are not qualified to put on a trial without outside intervention.

    Since the justice system is surely part of government, you really can’t believe both positions simultaneously.

    Or are they qualified to try lesser beings, but not Saddam?

  • If he is tried by an Iraqi court, what is he being tried for? Presumably he didn’t commit any crimes by Iraqi law, since he could just change the law to fit first.

  • toolkien

    One can almost see the ‘tranzis’ point in that government’s legitimacy stems from the desire to remove ‘anarchic’ elements from social intercourse. People contract away their right to the unilateral handling of situations where they are wronged. People are left only with self defense and property protection from direct attack, any other form, proactive or reactive is left to the State. The State then is obliged to protect property rights for the individual.

    Tranzis try and apply this logic to international affairs and the affairs between countries along the same lines. The main problem for me, cynical as I am, that every government will eventually be corrupted as it fleshed out by self-interested human beings, and every form of association is due to collapse at some point. When the desire to undo the association involves States it tends to be violent and bloody. Since any State is bound to fall, that applies equally to any World State the tranzis desire to build and the amount of turmoil erupting as it inevitably falls will be gargantuan. The desire to build a World Government also seems to contain the belief that it will be perpetual and not subject to the same forces all other associations of men have been subject to, and then has a theocratic element to it. I suppose the way I look at it is that anarchanism is really the prime reality of social intercourse and it is only through individual buy-in does civilization occur, from the ground up, and certainly an international government is as about as far removed one can get from the individual.

    It all boils down to the endless, quasi-religious desire of Statists to presume freedom comes from the top down and does not emanate from the individual up. Once this is lost, desiring an overarching World Government is most ‘logical’ of outcomes. It also is the reason the ‘Human Rights’ bandied about by the left, and ‘Individual Property Rights’ by the right, while semantically seeming to be the same, are near opposites. One is bestowed by the benevolent State while the other is an intrinsic right demanded by the individual.

  • Matt W.

    At the end of WW2, Nazi officials were apparently tried in courts lower than Nuremburg on the basis of the old Weimar republics laws. I haven’t verified that, but if true that would mean there is ample precedent to try Saddam and his cronies using pre-Baathist Iraqi law. In which case trying him anyplace else BUT Iraq would be a miscarriage of justice. The Iraqis have had to put up with him for over 3 decades with no one (even the US damningly) doing anything about him, the “international community” doesn’t and shouldn’t have any say in his fate now. But, I do think that means that Saddam should be tried in a reconstituted Iraqi court, and not by us, in which case he should be held and guarded by us until such time as Iraq is somewhat back on its own two legs and they can take custody of him.

  • Matt W.

    Opps, meant to say in regards to doing something about Saddam “not even us, Until now” didn’t mean to be *quite* so cynical.

  • Scott Cattanach

    Damn right, what goes on in Iraq is between Saddam and the Iraqis. All damn foreigners should butt the hell out. Iraq doesn’t need no foreign government messing in its affairs. How dare those outsiders stick their noses in Iraqi internal affairs. Damn busybodies.

  • toolkien

    Damn right, what goes on in Iraq is between Saddam and the Iraqis. All damn foreigners should butt the hell out. Iraq doesn’t need no foreign government messing in its affairs. How dare those outsiders stick their noses in Iraqi internal affairs. Damn busybodies.

    Sarcasm noted.

    I’ll assume that you are against an international trial at the very least. Since the UN or a World Court didn’t butt their nose in the first place they should definitely stay out now, and would logically fall either to the Iraqi’s or a court of the coalition forces. Going even further that the interests that the coalition had and the interests the Iraqi’s have are different, and as we have not killed Saddam as an enemy combatant, and have decided to stay a martial judgement on him, we have the right to ‘expedite’ him back to the Iraqi’s to dispose of him as they see fit under a civilian court. In no way does an international court play into this in any way, they are completely disinterested.

  • Julian Morrison

    An estimated million dead means that it isn’t entirely an Iraqi internal affair. This was also the instance in which chem weapons were used.

  • Scott Cattanach

    I can’t honestly say I care who holds the trial – Bush can personally shoot Saddam on pay-per-view when he’s convicted for all I care. I just want Saddam to be able to supoena Rumsfeld, et al and ask them in a public forum about US support for Iraq in the 80s.

    they are completely disinterested.

    Aren’t trials supposed to be handled by disinterested parties?

  • Matt W.

    I’m sure it might matter in a legal sense, but what practical difference would it make if Iranian or Kuwaiti (or Israeli) judges were to participate in the trial? Everybody has an axe to grind with him, so all that would matter is how much dirty laundry was aired, and I think its safe to say all the primary parties involved with trying Saddam aren’t going to have any moral qualms with removing a few unneeded pounds from his shoulders. Just as long as the damn European courts don’t shove their stinking fingers in and try to spare his genocidal life.

  • Edmund Burke

    The Americans should show magnaminity in victory, and (after they have obtained all required information) release the man. Of course if this was to be done say in downtown Basra, after suitable pre-warning, what happened to him after his release into a crowded street would be an internal Iraqi affair. The tranzis could hardly complain, could they.

  • R. C. Dean

    I would have no problem with Saddam being tried by Iran, or Israel, or Kuwait, after his Iraqi trial (if there is anything left to try, of course).

    Presumably those nations can get an indictment of him in their own courts, and if they have an extradition treaty with Iraq, get him extradited for trial, etc. See, still no need for the “international community” to get involved. It can all be done bilaterally.

  • mike

    I dunno where they get the idea that the ICC in The Hague (walking distance from where I live!) has any juristiction at all, since neither Iraq nor the USA are signatories to it. A bit like saying that a European patent (also granted in The Hague) should be valid in Iraq!!!!!!!

  • Verity

    I’m with Edmund Burke. Get as much information about WMD – if any – out of him – nicely, of course – then drop him off in front of one of his palaces in downtown Baghad, a free man. Release the information ahead of time so the press can be there for the photo-ops. What happens within the boundaries of Iraq is not the business of the West.

    Julian Morrison, as Iranians aren’t Arabs, your post needs a little rethink. I would say two separate trials might be a thought, but why drag it out? On the other hand, why should the Iranians be denied their own justice?

  • Kelli

    FYI: 1) Iranians are not Arabs; 2) Arabs did f**k all for the Iraqis during the long barbarous reign of Saddam (hence are not particularly popular in Iraq right now); 3) There may be a case for internationalising the ToS (Trial of Saddam), though it wouldn’t fly in present company; however you’d be hard pressed to justify some sort of a pan-Arab trial when there is no legitimate pan-Arab state or institution (unless you count al-Jezeera, which I’m not inclined to do).

    Other than that your idea is stellar.

  • Julian Morrison

    Ok, Iranians aren’t Arabs, I was using the word loosely to mean more or less “middle-eastern folks”. Basically, if he can be tried by locals, that seems to me to make the most sense. Iraqis are locals, but a pure Iraqi trial runs the risk of being called “American by proxy”.

  • Dave Schuler

    Dear Mr. Dean:

    Thank you very much for your post “The tranzis’ new power grab”. I have a rather naive question. From where are we to suppose that the U. N. and other NGO’s (the U. N. is, after all an NGO) derive their authority?

    Answers that I’ve considered and rejected include natural law (doesn’t apply–there’s nothing natural about it), international law (doesn’t apply–the Geneva conventions for example are multi-lateral treaties), moral authority (hah!)?

    The only answer that seems to make sense is that such authority as the U. N. has derives from U. S. military and economic power.

  • ernest young

    I offer the folowing link for those – like Scott Cattenach, – who keep ‘bleating-on’ about America’s dealings with Iraq in the past thirty years.


    If guilt is a matter of degree, then the US would appear to be fairly innocent of the charges levelled by — among others, Dean, Kerry, and of course Scott Cattenach.

  • ed

    Frankly I’ve always thought a proper way of dealing with Saddam is to force him to run a gauntlet. Have everyone in Iraq who was either terrorised or had a family member die form two very long lines. Then force Saddam to run from one end to the other while everyone in reach gets one, and one only, whack at him with a club.

    If nothing else it’ll get the economy going as club manufacturing will explode.

    As for the ICC or War Crimes Tribunal, frankly they are a joke. The ICC is largely made up of people from countries that opposed America in it’s war. While the War Crimes Tribunal has been slogging through, and rather unimpressively too, the trials of Slobby. At the rate the WCT is making progress I figure Slobby will get sentenced on the twenty year anniversary of Saddam’s execution.

    One aspect not covered by Mr. Dean is that the international courts are largely ineffective. Be a mass murderer, get 20 years. Slaughter tens of thousands of people, get a slap on the wrist. There’s a guy in Florida who got 12x the sentence of a Serbian war criminal and all he did was molest three little girls. Evidently molesting three little girls in Florida is more heineous than slaughtering five or six thousand people in the WCT.

    Another aspect is that they are SLOW. There’s no imperative to actually get anything done. They’re paid regardless of what they do or what they accomplish. There’s almost no oversight and little outside control. These “courts” consist of little more than timekeepers, empire builders, dodgeocrats and the maw of ever increasing budgets.

    It’s like Phillip of Macedonia who said “What idiot thought that up?”. Thought the quote might be dodgy.

  • The Tranzis are easy to hate. They are hateful, and spiteful, and the enemy of liberty. They are easy to scorn.

    But they are both dangerous and pitiable. I’m offering this alternative view so that everyone remembers that even Tranzis are both human beings, and tragic figures.

    They really believe that Legitimacy comes from above. They really believe that without some ‘higher up’ there is no Legitimacy. This is true when they look in the mirror too. The Tranzis aren’t trying to create a World Govt. ONLY to confer legitimacy on Saddam’s trial and the Coalition war effort (in their eyes anyway) – they’re doing it to confer legitimacy on themselves.

    When I (as an American) look closely at my government I know that it’s legitimate because I voted for it, and so did all the rest of my fellow Americans. The Tranzis don’t have that sense of certainty. They are trying to justify their own existence – and they don’t know how. Their ‘local’ State governments have proved themselves to be failures over and over again. They are desperately seeking a replacement for them.

    Rather than make the fully radical change to liberty and property rights they are seeking a panacea. It’s the belief that if our State’s High authority has failed – it’s because we haven’t gone high enough yet!! Higher! Higher!

    That’s why they are so desperate. They’re stuck in a nightmare and they can’t see the way out – and they blame the liberal, freedom loving people for not ‘getting with the program.’ We’re holding them back. Every time we do something without the legitimacy of a higher authority we are destroying the world-dream they are trying to create.

    They can’t just leave us alone either. For their world-dream to be internally consistent all power must flow from a single point – and any power that doesn’t flow from that point threatens them in a very personal way. I’m not insulted when France decides to violate the Kyoto protocol or the EU spending guidelines because I have nothing invested in their success or failure – but they don’t see it that way. Every time I exercise free will I’m proving to them that they are wrong. This is physically painful to them.

    They are in pain, and they are panicking. At some point they are probably going to REALLY lash out. Some of them have already gotten to that point – and are showing it in various ways.

    The Tranzis are dangerous. They are humans – the most dangerous species on earth. Do not underestimate them, ever. Saddam and OBL underestimated the United States – and look what happened to them.


  • Jorhe

    How about a compromise? The Iraqis can try Saddam for the crimes he committed against them, and the ICC can try his corpse afterward.

  • The essential point here is that there is an overriding political and military element. It is necessary for the pacification of Iraq and the destruction of the guerillas there that the mass of people there perceive Saddam to be finished, kaput. Then they will be far more cooperative than they have been, since they have lived in fear that we will give up and abandon them, and that Saddam would somehow return to power.

    If there were a lengthy and convoluted legal process, the fear would grow that he could somehow be released. President Bush won’t tolerate that. The Iraqis will conduct the trial. It will be relatively uncomplicated and short. It will be followed by a death sentence which will be swiftly executed.

    There is too much at stake here to screw around. W, unlike the “tranzis” is a serious person, a commander in chief who is waging a war and this capture presents an opportunity to advance our political and military goals in Iraq.

    And there is no one on earth who cares less than W does about what the usual claque of leftists think about anything.

  • Sean O'Callaghan

    Saddam’s fate is in the hand of one man, and one man only – GWB. He seems totally immune to the bleating of the Tranzis so I suspect Saddam will get what he has coming (one way or another).

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    I just want Saddam to be able to supoena Rumsfeld, et al and ask them in a public forum about US support for Iraq in the 80s.

    You never fail to amuse, Scott. I assume that such a request would also apply to Chirac and Co.?

  • Florin

    The issue of “tranzies” as you put it, makes me think of some other half-baked sci-fi notion, that of the world government, or Federation, idea circulated in some Star Trek material a while back… Coming to think of it, both the tranzies and the idiotards continuously supporting them as evinced by a few posts even on this commentary section, surely were reliable conventioneers at Star Trek shows before moving on to political commentary…

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    As so often, I agree with Mr. Dean. I think what impedes the tranzis from thinking about it his way is, in addition to believing that legitimacy comes from “above”, racism.

  • ernest young

    Just what is so complicated about Saddam’s war crimes trial? If ever there was an open and shut case, this is it, he is a murderer, there are numerous witnesses to that fact, why the delay?

    All these legislators, all members of the ‘legal’ profession, or career politicians, all trying to make some easy money or to boost their reputations and their egos, stringing the proceedings out into yet another ‘Carnival of the Inanities’. All trying to show us what pillars of the International community they are, and as for those pompous old blatherers on the TV! – who needs it?

    The second rule of justice is that it should be timely, (a.k.a. swift, in the good old days).

    This whole pantomime is even more pathetic than the ‘show trials’ held by the Soviets, at least they were held to prove that some dissident or other was guilty of some crime against the state.

    This pending trial has nothing to prove, get it over and done with, and let us all get on with life.

  • Doug Collins

    I have one argument with the idea that the trial should be swift: One of the most important objectives should be to leave a documented record of his crimes. When you consider the mass of people in the Middle East who oppose a free society because of their devotion to a feudal, statist one, the long term importance of getting the truth out should be obvious.

    Even with the ample evidence of Nazi atrocities, various morons still deny that anything happened. Without a pretty convincing record, more reasonable people would tend to be roped in as well. All those chanting about “giving their blood and souls to Saddam” should have to confront a record of his atrocities that they can’t claim is a US/Zionist fabrication. Some of them will, of course, never be convinced. Most, with time and maturity, will be if the evidence is there for them to see. If we really mean to improve the society in this region of the world we need to think in the long term. That means making sure a free Iraq has what it needs after we are gone. Undeniable evidence of what the Baathists did, that lasts after they have become history is vital.

    As to the other countries that have been victimized by Saddam – Why don’t the Iraqis invite them to send representative to join the firing squad. They can, and for the reasons above probably should, try him -in absentia?- and then, if they find him guilty, can join in pushing the button or firing the bullets.

  • Sean O'Callaghan

    I’m not sure there’s any point in more documentation of Saddam’s crimes. Those who are inclined to believe that the Nazi’s didn’t run death camps are immune to evidence contrary to their belief. I think there is more to be gained by demonstrating what happens to those who defy a now resolute America. It may prompt the other tin-pot dictators to seek ayslum before the same happens to them!

  • Verity

    Doug Collins – I take your point, but I agree with Sean O’Callaghan.

    There must be an air of inevitability about Saddam’s execution and we mustn’t lose the sense of momentum. The tranzis are irrelevant, and, as others above have noted, Mr Bush is indifferent to their squealing. I also don’t think he’s in any danger of losing the sense of momentum. Nor is Donald Rumsfeld.

    The message to terrorists must be, there is no mercy. We catch you, justice will be swift and violent. (Humiliation also helps, pour décourager les autres.) To the whiny commentators on the BBC’s Have Your Say site, and the armies of tranzis who want a slice of the action, who say we must have an excruciatingly fair trial to show that we haven’t sunk to Saddam’s level, I say, that is completely the wrong message. We do whatever works, and to do less is to put all of our countries in jeopardy.

    Saddam’s been humiliated. Now he has to die at the hands of his countrymen. Losing the momentum also affords the tranzis more time to get entrenched and sermonise on more TV news panels.

  • mad dog


    Why must Saddam die at the hands of his countrymen? Presumably these won’t be a group of his peers/supporters from Tikrit but some other countrymen?

  • Verity

    mad dog – Aren’t Iraqis his countrymen? Are you American and use a different definition of countrymen?

    He committed his heinous crimes in Iraq. It is for Iraq to try and execute him.

  • Rob Read

    After Saddam is executed by the Iraqis the tranzis can hold their trial…

    I think that’s a fair solution.

  • Kelli

    Verity is, of course, absolutely correct. Saddam must pay the ultimate penalty for his crimes against his fellow Iraqis, not because W says so, but because anything less will mean an irretrievable loss of credibility for the fledgling Iraqi government.

    I was pleasantly surprised to hear Samantha Powers, who has been extremely critical of the US for its unwillingness to intervene in genocide, come out unequivocably in favor of the death penalty here (NPR radio interview, sorry no link).

    This whole brouhaha about “winners’ justice” is really a thin cover for Europeans to pontificate about the wrongness of the death penalty. How inappropriate, not to say criminal. For those who enabled Saddam’s sadism for decades to declare the death penalty off limits NOW is disgusting. Iraqis, it seems, are meant to go straight from a fascist nightmare into the nirvana of an internationalist paradise with barely a glimpse at building a strong, peaceful, representative nation state.

    This is not the time for leaping ahead toward some imagined Nirvana, but for heeding the calls of longsuffering Iraqis for justice–THEIR definition of justice, not ours. Let the Euros pontificate on the death penalty on their own time, the Iraqis’ clock is ticking here. Let them get on with it.

  • Everyone needs to learn something.

    The Iraqis need to learn that the common people, and the common people’s law, can hold it’s leaders responsible for their actions. That’s the only way they’ll ever trust their new leaders with the kind of power and authority they’ll need to do the job.

    The “International Community” needs to learn the meaning of self-government. They need to learn the difference between a tyrant’s “sovereignty” to commit war crimes, and the his people’s sovereign right to hold him responsible for those actions.

    The rest of the tin-pot dictators of the world need to learn exactly the same lesson. Their tyrannical behavior is empowered the “International Community’s” unwillingness to hold them responsible. They need to leard what it really means that the Cold War is over and there is no USSR holding back the USA.

    And all of these lessons are best served by a swift, sure and local trial of Saddam Hussein. For the USA and the Iraqis and free people everywhere it’s a win-win. The swift and sure punishment is much, much more motivating than drawn out legal process the Hague has to offer.

    If you were a tin-pot dictator, where would you rather be tried? In the Hague where a good lawyer and a legal technicality might get you off in five years, or by you own people? If you were sure that your own people would try you, wouldn’t you treat them better?

    There’s Justice, and that’s being served – but this is also about self-respect for the Iraqis and motivation for certain others. It needs to be done.

  • Verity

    What Brock just said.

  • Cobden Bright

    The answer to this “dilemma” is very simple – Saddam should be tried by a jury of his peers under the common law of Iraq.