It made me really question the differences between them and us. They are a cruel, war-mongering lot, punishing violence with violence which inevitably re-escalates the violence. They use human lives as ammunition in a never ending cycle of pride-fueled aggression, using religion as justification for their violence. Make no mistake here, I'm not talking about the difference between Americans and Iraqis, I'm talking about the difference between peace seekers and war mongers.
Saddam was not executed by free people. He was killed, and rather hastily so, by a puppet regime in which most law abiding citizens are currently in fear for their lives, fleeing their country at alarming rates as bodies are found tortured and killed every single day. These are not proper conditions for executions, nor trials, nor elections. There can be no true democracy in an occupied country.
The enlightened world has a place for war criminals and dictators to be held responsible for their crimes - the Hague. There is extraordinary value in examining their crimes as carefully as possible. First, to learn how such men came to power. Who was complicit in these crimes? Who supplied weapons and aid? Who provided political cover? Second, trials lasting years show more then one generation what fate should await war criminals, underscoring the importance of their deeds on the world stage. But Bush couldn't bring Saddam to the Hague because he himself might be considered a war criminal there, due to neglectful examination of evidence linking Saddam to al Qaeda and a 9-11 era WMD program, not to mention illegal detainments, torture, rendition, use of white phosphorous and officially sanctioning human rights offenses.
Saddam was tried and convicted for a relatively small slaughter of Shia in retaliation of a 1982 assassination attempt. It is well known, however that Saddam ordered a much more massive Kurdish genocide in which tens of thousands died. Saddam was not permitted to talk about this in court. He was not allowed to publicly air the nature of the relationship between he and Donald Rumsfeld, who helped Saddam in the 80s as the CEO of Monsanto Chemical, a civilian envoy sent by President Reagan. Following this unusual meeting, Iraqi forces began threatening Iranian fighters with a "special pesticide" and it wasn't long before Iranian casualties began turning up with exposure to chemical weapons banned by U.N. treaties. Saddam was also not permitted to reveal details leading up to the U.S. invasion, nor share any facts about WMD, Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda. Though Saddam was not likely to tell all, it's a pretty safe bet he'd want to reveal dirty secrets about the Bushes and other American officials who used and then double-crossed him. As a former ally of Republican U.S. Presidents past, Saddam may have had historical information the world might have benefitted from.
With his death hastened before any Democrat-led Congressional investigations could be begun, the Bushes may have succeeded in covering tracks of complicity or duplicity in Iraq, just like they eluded scrutiny of connections between grandpa Prescott Bush and the American financing arm for Nazi Germany, not to mention great-grandpa Samuel P. Bush's work during World War I who through cronyism was given responsibility for government assistance to Remington Arms and other weapons suppliers, though he had no experience in munitions. Alas, the Bushes rise to national power resulted in many documents in the National Archives being burned to "make space" and indeed one of Bush Jr.'s first acts following his election was to reverse laws requiring his father's papers to be declassified. He later used the tragedy of 9-11 to enact a special law mandating his family's papers be kept classified in perpetuity depending on the wishes of his own daughters.
So it goes, with those that benefit or profit from war and death, whether they be American or Iraqi, there is a distinct cheapness to average human beings and violence is countered only in kind, without careful consideration to where it will ultimately lead.
Men like Bush and Saddam are common throughout history, but when a different kind of problem-solver comes along, it can change mankind profoundly. Non violent protests made all of America take note in the 60s, thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., causing each citizen in America to weigh in on their own morality and their guilt or complicity in racist practices. So too did Mahatma Ghandi demonstrate peaceful civil disobedience in the 1940s, forever changing the course of India and the perception of imperialism the world over. And Jesus Christ preached one should "turn the other cheek" when attacked, later martyring Himself on the cross to become the greatest figure in history and religious philosophy two thousand years later.
Though Jesus' teachings are clear, it is still the most indescribable of ironies how often violence has been committed by His so-called devotees. From the bloody Crusades ordered by the "warrior popes" to the modern day pre-emptive strike, too many people who condone violence claim allegiance to Jesus, when it's patently obvious that war is antithetical to all that is known of His beliefs. Just like modern Islam has been bastardized by those whose interpretation simply writes in justification for violence and Jihad, it is evil and selfishness, not religious devotion that guides the hands of Bush and the war profiteers. With feeble resistance by an apathetic public and indifferent media, they are able to sway many with lies, fear or repression undoing the work of the great pacifists of history. If Bush and Saddam worship any god, it is Mars, god of war.
So ends their personal feud, with Saddam dangling from a rope and Bush swathed in opulence while Iraqis and Americans on the ground die, both sides clearly opposing the war, fighting it out like pawns.
We The People will have a chance to speak loudly in 2008, even within this horrid system of money-tainted politics. We need to turn the tide sharply, have answers prepared for the onslaught sponsored by the military-industrial complex and those that ride the congressional-lobbyist merry-go-round. We know these things already, but we need to be prepared to shut them out. They have money and power motivating them, with powerful advertising and marketing aces on the payroll whose job it will be to manipulate us by fear or lull us into complacency.
In 1969, when we were on our way to having 50,000 young Americans killed in Vietnam, we pulled together a powerful message of unity and brought it to the man. The Woodstock generation succeeded Dr. King and Gandhi in fighting for peace, against this exact same pro-war movement, with literally many of the same people in charge. Has the Woodstock generation forgotten this? Have they become the Common Stock generation?
Time Magazine pointed out that there is still a great deal of power concentrated in the individual, naming "you" the person of 2006. But are "you" using this power at all? Are you signaling your wishes effectively to your leadership? Do you participate in political discussion, do you contribute to causes, do you pass along information the press won't?
Saddam is now dead, killed by a competing warlord with a long distance reach and paid for by a trillion hard-earned tax dollars and 3000 American lives. But Bush and those who share his ideology are able to continue to write their own ticket and exploit the resources of the American people as they have been for years, escaping accountability.
The next few weeks will be incredibly decisive in the future direction of the United States of America. I ask you to use the power "Time" has bestowed upon you - to be loud and active in supporting those few courageous, honest politicians who will fight for justice and peace. Show them that there is a difference between them and us.