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Re: Indict Saddam?

"J. Vernon" wrote:

> Logic has nothing to do with solidarity. Living in the UK, I can do
> something about UK sanctions. I can do nothing about the Baath regime.
> The forces that can affect Saddam, however, deserve no encouragement
> from us. The west will not indict him out of tender concern for Iraqis,
> but merely to extend the principle that Britain and the US still rule the
> world between them.

'Logic' was perhaps a poor choice of words. Moral consistency maybe?
Nevertheless, it is true that, from the point of view of strategy at least
(the issue which prompted this discussion), it makes sense to focus on what
is practically achievable. Ending sanctions seems practically achievable
while a criminal tribunal
for Saddam and his cronies does seem a longshot at best.

We haven't had such a tribunal yet because it has not been in the interests
of certain
members of the Permanent 5 to have one. Rhetoric aside, I doubt that they
ever intend to create one - too many skeletons in that closet. The quite
plausible scenario that Moonirah has given us for the political machinations
behind INDICT reflects this lack of real resolve.

Given that neither Britain nor the U.S. really wants such a tribunal (if they

did we would have had one by now, the evidence against Saddam is far greater
than that against Milosevic who is equally difficult to arrest), it is likely

only public pressure that could force their hand. Not likely perhaps, but it
is worth emphasizing that to support such a tribunal is not necessarily to
support the policy interests of Britain and the U.S..

While the tribunals we have seen to date are not the paradigms of the
impartial pursuit of international law we might like to see, they are also
not the blunt instruments of American or British policy as some critics would

suggest. The tribunals we have seen in Rwanda and the Hague are capable of
providing a momentum to the institutional development of international
justice. The U.S. is concerned about this momentum and continues to oppose a
World Court. I think this process is worth supporting and I think a tribunal
on Iraq is long overdue, for its own reasons, but also as a contribution to
that process. What such a tribunal would turn up would likely not bring much
comfort to the U.S., Britain, Germany and France.
> Since Saddam will be difficult to capture, any future tribunal is likely
> to go for small fry, including relatives, former ambassadors and
> minor ministers. The whole Iraqi establishment that the west once
> found so congenial will now be criminalised. In that situation, the only
> 'legitimate' successor regime in Iraq would have to be hand-picked in
> Washington.

Those who have been named to date are not small fry.  The U.S. had its chance
to hand pick a successor after the gulf war and chose not to. I doubt it will
get another chance. After the past CIA foul-ups in northern Iraq, I don't
think opposition groups within Iraq put much stock in American support.

The Baath is a criminal, racist organization whose ruling clique is guilty of
genocide. They deserve to be criminalized. This is not spin or American
propoganda, thisis the o nly label that fits the contents.

> Rather than support one more measure supposedly to advance the human
> rights of Iraqis - from the team that brought you bombs, inspections,
> sanctions, Oil for Food - we might take the view that the 'international
> community' should just stop meddling.  Instead of advising cynical
> statesmen to do this or that once sanctions end, we ought to demand that
> they do nothing.

Generally, I agree entirely. This is why I argue for the unconditional
lifting of sanctions and a new strategy for Iraq. The U.S., Britain, France,
Germany, Russia, China etc. should just stop meddling. They won't of course,
whatever we do or say. The U.S. and Britain will continue to attempt to
contain Iraq and strengthen their allies in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The rest
will be tripping over each other in their hurry to sell Iraq whatever
technology, civilian or military they can get away with selling
them. Non-meddling is simply not in the cards.

Where we differ, I think, is on the extent to which a Criminal Tribunal on
Iraq would be an  independent legal instrument furthering the cause of
international justice and political change within Iraq, or the extent to
which it would be yet another blunt instrument of  U.S./British containment
policy. I agree that the latter is a possibility, but I argue the former
possibility should not be dismissed too quickly.

If the Iraqi opposition - those within Iraq in particular - say "leave us
alone and let us sort it out with Saddam, never mind any tribunal", I would
agree with a strategy arguing that for once we should just leave Iraq alone.

This not what I am hearing so far. In fact,  many Iraqis I know are
frustrated by the exclusive focus on sanctions by western activists and the
lack of attention given to the Iraqis' other oppressor in Baghdad. This has
been an under-acknowledged source of conflict within the anti-sanctions
movement in Canada. I understand the strategic necessity of focussing on the
unconditional lifting of sanctions. But I am also sympathetic to what many
Iraqis might see as a 'lack of 'moral consistency' in the tendency to abandon
a post-sanctions Iraq to the unchecked power of the Baath.


Ben Rempel

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