Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Saddam On Trial Part III: Hanging With A Bad Element

A somewhat subdued Saddam returned to a Baghdad courtroom today to continue his trial.

It’s unclear how the man is going to defend his years of brutality and murder once he takes the stand. In any event, it’s very doubtful much of what he says will be coherent.

One subject we should pay close attention to, though, is what he may say about the United States and our former relationship with him.

There was a time when Saddam hated Iran as much as we did/do. And since he was their neighbor, and as such was in a good position to lob SCUDs at them, we supported him through the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran War.

Donald Rumsfeld even paid him a cordial wartime visit in 1983.

The man we supported was the same fellow who initiated a blood purge against his own party after he took power in 1979, ordered a 1982 massacre and razing of an Iraq village, and later topped off the Iraq-Iran War by gassing thousands of Kurdish civilians.

It’s clear why we would back a man like Saddam – he’s so much nicer than those American hostage-taking Iranians.

So if Saddam starts spewing bile about America while on the stand, we can’t automatically dismiss it as the ravings of a madman (whatever he may have looked like when he was pulled from that spider hole).

The fact is, we have historically trained, funded or otherwise supported many, many bad people, or simply looked the other way while they committed their crimes, whenever it suited us.

Remember Osama bin Laden and the Taliban? We trained those characters to fight off the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 80s. Osama and friends later repaid us with 9/11.

A major mea culpa is in order for America, if not just because it’s the right thing to do, to beat Saddam to the punch he may soon be throwing. What right did we have to go after a monster that we aided and abetted without first admitting our complicity in his monstrosities?

That’s many things: disingenuous, hypocritical, and just plain wrong. One thing we should never call it, though, is “American.”

Before we fired bullet #1 against the brutal dictator of Iraq in 1991 or 2003, our country should have stated to the world:

We helped Saddam rise to power.

We were wrong to help such a brutal, immoral man, whatever the benefit to us.

We’ll never knowingly do it again.

The duty for this theoretical confession would obviously have fallen on the leader of our country; that would be President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush, respectively.

It’s still not too late to renounce our onetime chumminess with Saddam, one very bad element indeed. And while we’re at it, why don’t we throw Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan and a few others we’re still supporting into the mix?

Messrs. Bush, how ‘bout it?

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