Saddam Hussain has been captured by the Americans and is to be put on trial.
Some say he should be tried by the “Iraqi People”, others by an “International Tribunal”.
But what are his crimes?
He waged wars seeking “to advance Iraq's national interests”, he killed and tortured his “enemies”, and he used the powers of government for self‐glorification and for favoring his friends.
And, if these are crimes, then anybody who commits such acts should be put on trial and, if proved guilty, punished for these crimes. And, if Saddam Hussain is such person, then tried should he be.
But, are these crimes?
At present, there is no supranational law which would be applicable to any country and capable of being enforced, which would say that “waging of wars to advance national interests, killing and torturing one's enemies, and using the powers of government for self‐glorification and for favoring one's friends” are crimes. — In fact, all these “techniques” have been used by “national leaders” throughout all the history of Mankind to put themselves into positions of power and to keep themselves there. The name of these “techniques” is “politics”.
Even today these techniques are in wide current use.
President Putin has been using genocidal brutality in Chechnya to “preserve the integrity of the Russian Federation”, just as Saddam Hussain brutally suppressed the Kurdish and the Shia uprisings to “preserve the integrity of Iraq”. Are Putin's acts legitimate, while Saddam's are not?
The Americans have been “advancing their national interests” by waging wars directly and by supporting wars and repressions by others, including their support of Saddam Hussain in his war with Iran. And they still support “dictators” who kill and torture their “enemies” by … boiling them alive! And they used cluster bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq causing civilian casualties. Are their actions legitimate, while Saddam's are not?
And what about the various wars and “ethnic conflicts” that have been going on around the world in the recent past, and are still in progress today?
And, before that, wars, killing and torturing of “enemies” and “rewarding of friends” were the main and often the only activities of governments.
How many of those who had indulged and still indulge in such activities have been “put on trial”?
Only those who were proclaimed as “enemies” by those who were stronger than themselves and then attacked and defeated — “victor justice”.
And even those victims of Saddam's oppression, who call for Saddam to be “cut into little pieces” in revenge for his atrocities — would they have been better than him, if they had been in his place? Would they not “cut into little pieces” not just Saddam Hussain, but any one who would be in their way? Would they not kill and torture their “enemies” and “reward their friends”? And would they resist the temptation to wage a war to “advance their national interests” and to “go down in history as great national leaders”?
Saddam Hussain will not be tried for his crimes, he will be tried to justify the American war against Iraq.
Nor will his trial put an end to the crime of politics, or prevent “waging wars to advance national interests, killing and torturing one's enemies, and using the powers of government for self‐glorification and for favoring one's friends” by national leaders in the future.
But Tony Blair hopes that the “capture [of Saddam Hussain will] bring about unity, reconciliation and peace between all the people in Iraq”.
This hope will be realized only if Tony Blair and President Bush use this opportunity not merely to justify their war against Iraq, but to make this event a turning point in Human History by putting on trial not Saddam Hussain, but the acts which he, and most other national leaders (including themselves), had committed and making it crimes for any national leaders to “advance national interests” and keep themselves in power by waging wars, killing and torturing their opponents and favoring their friends.
Once politics is abandoned and government powers are not abused, then peace will prevail not only in Iraq, but in the rest of the world.
In every person holding a “position of power” there is a Saddam Hussain trying to get out. This is just as true of a President of the United States, as of a humble British school caretaker1.
This is why as long as “politics” is part of government, wars and terror will remain part of human existence, even after Saddam Hussain is long gone from this world.
1) There is now a trial in Britain of a young school caretaker who invited two 9 year old school girls into his house, and then their dead bodies were found in the woods. He says it was an accident: one of the girls got accidentally drowned in his bath, and the other one got accidentally suffocated as he held her mouth so she would not cry. And then he got frightened and hid the dead bodies in the woods. And the jury are still to give their verdict. And the purpose of the veil is to prevent such accidents. Had the veil been part of the school uniform, the two girls could have been still alive.