Friday, December 29, 2006

Low-Tech Lynching

Just because you got lynched doesn't mean you weren't guilty. That, no doubt, will be the verdict of history to Saddam Hussein. He ruled Iraq with exceptional ferocity, employing murderous tactics and ample use of torture. These circumstances serve to add a tragicomic aspect to George Bush's plans to execute Saddam soon. The farsical trial, with verdict timed to coincide with the US elections, the execution as setup for the State of the Union address, all speak of history as theatre as produced and directed by that most inept impressario, George Bush.

Josh Marshall takes a closer look. After the obligatory disclaimers, Josh cuts to the chase:

...Convention dictates that we precede any discussion of this execution with the obligatory nod to Saddam's treachery, bloodthirsty rule and tyranny. But enough of the cowardly chatter. This thing is a sham, of a piece with the whole corrupt, disastrous sham that the war and occupation has been. Bush administration officials are the ones who leak the news about the time of the execution. One key reason we know Saddam's about to be executed is that he's about to be transferred from US to Iraqi custody, which tells you a lot. And, of course, the verdict in his trial gets timed to coincide with the US elections.

This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the 'secular arm'. Try pretending it's a war crimes trial but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.

The result is likely to be of a piece with the rest of Bush's works: Saddam will likely be promoted from Monster to Martyr, and his name become a rallying cry. His very real crimes will be shuffled under the equally real crimes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and all their enablers.