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Re: On indicting Saddam

We are wrestling with this question 'what to do about Saddam' in a
post-sanctions context. Peter Brooke suggests that the political demands
of the current situation and the historical record of western
governments leaves little alternative but to resume
treating the Baath regime as a normal sovereign government. The merit I
see in this argument is not only its recognition that
our governments have little basis on which to dictate morality to
Baghdad, but also that Iraqis have a better chance of
effecting a change in this regime in a political context other than the
current siege situation.

Furthermore, whether it will ever be stated so openly, very likely this
sort of relationship is what will develop should sanctions
be lifted. It is certainly what France, Germany, China, and Russian
would like for largely economic reasons.  As a
result, I don't see the need to advocate such an approach. It is so much
in line with the basic interests of these
governments, that it is a likely outcome anyway..

Far more likely, in fact, than the creation of an International Criminal
Tribunal on Iraq. Peter Brooke has noted most of the major difficulties
facing such a entity. So why advocate for the indictment of the Baath
ruling clique?

First, because they are, in my view, guilty of crimes against humanty,
genocide in particular. Good War Crimes cases could no doubt be made
against the U.S. coalition for its conduct in the Gulf War. The
destruction caused by the sanctions regime is easier to demonstrate but
culpability would be more difficult to establish in the context of
international law.  But the crimes of the Baath, I would argue, are of a
different order.  The Genocide Convention has no meaning unless it is
non-selectively enforced. If a good genocide case could be made against
the countries enforcing sanctions, then that case would be worth
pursuing as well - but it does not seem likely.

Second, because it is what many Iraqis, exiles and opposition members,
Kurds and Arabs, have been asking for. While a significant section of
the Iraqi opposition has willingly become an instrument of U.S. foreign
policy, this should not take away from the legitimacy of the cause and
the grievances of the Iraqi opposition in general, particularly those
still within Iraq. Opening up the state to trade, but isolating the
regime by securing indictments for crimes against humanity could assist
the process of political change from within Iraq.

Indicting members of a ruling government for war crimes does not require
imposing or maintaining comprehensive economic sanctions agains the
state as a whole. I would argue, as a point of strategy, that the
criminal issues should be pursued entirely separately from the issue of
lifting sanctions. Members of the regime can be isolated by being denied
the opportunity for international travel and having their assets seized,
with no need for an economic embargo.

Finally, it is dubious argument, at best, that the stability and
development of Iraq are best served by a strong, sovereign, central
government based in Iraq. I am not trying to put words in anybody's
mouth, but the logical extension of restoring complete control and
sovereignty to the Baathists is the restoration of legitimacy to a
corrupt, authoritarian regime, which seized power illegally and has
squandered the country's wealth on futile wars and personal enrichment.
If the struggle to lift sanctions is motivated out of a sense of
solidarity with the people of Iraq, then it strikes me as illogical to
abandon this solidarity because the oppression originates in Baghdad
rather than in Washington or London.

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