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The Victors of War

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Message Larry Au
With the news of Saddam's hanging flooding through every news outlet and websites there are, it is impossible for me to ignore just how tragically misled some people are by the Bush administration's rhetoric on the 'War on Terror'. Comments like "let his corpse burn in hell" and "finally, we have won the war on Iraq" are everywhere on sites like Digg. Apart from the fact that I disagree with the death sentence, I am further disappointed by the trial in which Saddam was condemned. As most of us now agree, the trial was just another show trial, put up by the occupying forces of the US to prove to the world that Saddam was a vicious dictator - and that the US have done the Iraqi's a huge favor in ousting him, giving them the justification they needed to enter Iraq in the first place.

Probably the greatest concern about this trial is its legitimacy. The main objection in which the Saddam supporters use to argue against the trial is the fact that it took place during the occupation of Iraq by the American forces. Although we must respect the fact that the American/Malaki appointed Iraqi judges and courts are supposedly impartial, we should also take into consideration the fact that we all knew, including Saddam and his lawyer, that Saddam was going to be punished - either by life imprisonment or execution. The whole trial was not about finding whether or not Saddam was guilty, but was about how he should be taken care of. With this pre-established notion of Saddam's guilt, how can one be fully impartial in passing down the verdict in Saddam?

Secondly, we must also note that this was an Iraqi court that tried Saddam and not some kind of war crimes tribunal or the International Criminal Court. To me, having the government which had ousted the former dictator try the former dictator presents inherent problems. What is the difference between this trial and Stalin's Great Purge? Or between that and the Nuremburg trials? The Iraqi court, because of its establishment only a few years ago, does not have any precedence to try this trial on. It does not have the experience nor the legal framework in which it can try the "Butcher of Bahgdad." Genocide and the mass murder of civilians is not simply homicide or manslaughter, it is a war crime; and no court of any country has the impartiality to conduct a trial of such magnitude.

I am a great believer in the International Courts. If we are to have lasting peace, we must have an overarching system of governance of governments - a coalition of states. If the trial is illegitimate, then this will only make future generations question whether or not Saddam was really that bad as history makes out him to be. We must learn from the lessons of the past and not hasten to punish our enemies until there is a fair trial. But, if there is one bigger lesson in which history teaches, it is that the winners are never punished for their wrongdoings.
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