The War on Terror...
Forget the Pope - Saddam must 'swing before he sings'
The Vatican says killing Saddam Hussein would be 'an unjustifiably vindictive reaction', however, many of those self-proclaimed 'magisterium-loyal' Catholics who were so boiling and popped-up in their support of the invasion of Iraq have howled down the Holy See's notion that the death sentence should not be applied.
They have been quick to reach into the attic for quotes from The Council of Trent, from Augustine to Aquinas, and Pius X and Pius XII to justify topping the 69-year-old dictator for destroying Shia rebels, not for gassing Kurds and Iranians with American and British backing and contributing to Western shareholders. I mean, who wants another scandal?
Dead men tell no tales. The sooner Saddam swings the better.
One Catholic 'pro-roper' said Pope Benedict's opposition to the death penalty 'is in no way a general teaching of faith or morals of the Church. It would be somewhat akin to the pope expressing a personal opinion on astronomy.'
These super-loyal 'magisterial' Catholics denied Pope John Paul II when he opposed sanctions, bombing and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq so it is not surprising they have lined up to lynch Saddam.
John Paul was a lonely voice against the 'merchants of death'.
The pro-war, pro-hanging Catholics so far have overlooked a very pragmatic reason to hang Saddam: he should 'swing before he sings'.
Saddam could tell the world plenty.
Donald Rumsfeld visited him in December 1983, shook his hand and eleven months later Washington restored full diplomatic relations with Saddam, who went on later to use poison gas, in the decadent actions which hardly dented relations with the Reagan administration.
A year later 45 sparklingly-new Bell helicopters were on their way to Baghdad and Saddam's military found them useful in gassing Kurdish civilians.
Saddam must 'swing before he sings'.
As the reporter Robert Fisk has noted:
So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas — along with the British, of course — yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when Saddam Hussein was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December 2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great day.
Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It couldn't be a more just verdict — nor a more hypocritical one. It's difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows, preferably dispatched by his executioner, the equally monstrous hangman of Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Widad, who would strike his victims on the head with an axe if they dared to condemn the leader of the Iraqi Socialist Baath Party before he hanged them. But Abu Widad was himself hanged at Abu Ghraib in 1985 after accepting a bribe to put a reprieved prisoner to death instead of the condemned man.
But we can't mention Abu Ghraib these days because we have followed Saddam's trail of shame into the very same institution. And so by hanging this awful man, we hope — don't we? — to look better than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now than it was under Saddam.
Only so ghastly is the hell-disaster that we have inflicted upon Iraq that we cannot even say that. Life is now worse. Or rather, death is now visited upon even more Iraqis than Saddam was able to inflict on his Shias and Kurds and — yes, in Fallujah of all places — his Sunnis, too. So we cannot even claim moral superiority. For if Saddam's immorality and wickedness are to be the yardstick against which all our iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? We only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered some suspects and carried out a few rapes and illegally invaded a country which cost Iraq a mere 600,000 lives ("more or less", as George Bush Jnr said when he claimed the figure to be only 30,000). Saddam was much worse. We can't be put on trial. We can't be hanged.
Saddam has been sentenced to hang over the localized massacre of Shias.
If he 'swings before he sings' Saddam will not be able to tell all about the chemicals sent to him to enable him to gas the Kurds.
Nor will he be able to blab about anthrax agents and other deadly biological agents shipped to him by American companies from 1985 or earlier.
Dead men tell no tales.
Saddam will not be able to blow the whistle on the three hundred thousand pounds sterling worth of thiodiglycol, one of the principal agents of mustard gas, exported by Britain to Baghdad in 1988.
Saddam could, if reprieved from swinging, could tell how he had gone from favourite war ally against Iran, to favourite war criminal, of how the CIA said it was the Iranians who gassed the Kurds.
He could tell plenty about the atrocities perpetrated on the Iranians with American backing.
I and my colleagues watched this tragedy. I travelled on the hospital trains that brought the Iranians back from the 1980-88 war front, their gas wounds bubbling in giant blisters on their arms and faces, giving birth to smaller blisters that wobbled on top of their wounds. The British and Americans didn't want to know. I talked to the victims of Halabja. The Americans didn't want to know. My Associated Press colleague Mohamed Salaam saw the Iranian dead lying gassed in their thousands on the battlefields east of Basra. The Americans and the British didn't care.
But now we are to give the Iraqi people bread and circuses, the final hanging of Saddam, twisting, twisting slowly in the wind. We have won. We have inflicted justice upon the man whose country we invaded and eviscerated and caused to break apart. No, there is no sympathy for this man. "President Saddam Hussein has no fear of being executed," Bouchra Khalil, a Lebanese lawyer on his team, said in Beirut a few days ago. "He will not come out of prison to count his days and years in exile in Qatar or any other place. He will come out of prison to go to the presidency or to his grave." It looks like the grave. Keitel went there. Ceausescu went there. Milosevic escaped sentence.
The odd thing is that Iraq is now swamped with mass murderers, guilty of rape and massacre and throat-slitting and torture in the years since our "liberation" of Iraq. Many of them work for the Iraqi government we are currently supporting, democratically elected, of course. And these war criminals, in some cases, are paid by us, through the ministries we set up under this democratic government. And they will not be tried. Or hanged. That is the extent of our cynicism. And our shame. Have ever justice and hypocrisy been so obscenely joined?
Indeed, Saddam must 'swing before he sings'.
The Coalition will have to hope that he does not get something down in writing before he dances on air, and if he does, then the manuscript will be destroyed along with the author. Dead men tell no tales.
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