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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 12/15/2003
Volume 2, #104

Some Realities About the Capture of Saddam Hussein

I got the news over the web via the New York Times just two hours ago.

As comic book readers, most of you know that captured villains never go to trial in the comic books. The superhero grabs them and off they go to jail. That's so they can get out somehow and do it all over again. In other words, in the comics, there are really no capital crimes. Now, however, we have on our hands a personality whose activities have been compared to the arch-fiend himself. With the US being the most religious of all the western nations by far, a lot of this kind of theology is going to find expression in the days ahead as preparations for Saddam's trial proceed.

Most of all, do not expect that any kind of real international tribunal will be involved if a trial actually takes place. Why am I doubtful? Think back past the rhetoric and recall the years before the first Gulf War. Remember it was the US who supported Saddam in the war against Iran. Remember that the first Bush administration had close ties with Saddam to such a degree that, in the beginning, Saddam actually believed he could invade Kuwait with impunity. In fact, as a number of astute international reporters remind us--if you're fortunate to be able to watch newscasts from outside the US-- Saddam was at one time on the payroll of the CIA. I'm not bringing this up cynically, except as a reminder that in international relations there is no arch-fiend vs a white knight. There's skullduggery, double-dealing and, to use a word often used in connection with Henry Kissinger--realpolitik. In short, Saddam was more accurately a very pragmatic man. That's why he managed to survive for so long. He did evil things indeed, but not because he was intrinsically evil. That's a theological term and has little meaning in assessing what we're dealing with here. There are those who want to put Kissinger on trial for war crimes too. Well--pragmatic politicians are as likely to do evil things as the most devilish. But I personally have no truck with the devil--certainly not as much as the previous Bush administration did, from the viewpoint of the present one. All of which is why I'm not so sure that Saddam Hussein will ever actually go on trial.

Certainly, no international tribunal will ever get its hands on the matter. That might give Saddam counsel, and counsel will certainly raise questions that the Bushies will not want to have aired.

I'm not saying that there won't be a trial, but it'll be tightly controlled, if it happens, by the United States. After all, does Dubya want Hussein to explain that there never were any weapons of mass destruction? Let the man talk and he might even remind people again of his desperate last minute efforts to have the Americans enter Iraq and do all the inspecting they wanted--just to stave off war.

At this very moment, at the height of Bush's triumph over the capture, the plan to allow questions by reporters was quickly cancelled.

Because, you see, there are problems ahead. This thing might just end up as a comic strip--no trial. Not because the monster will escape, but because--well--he just might find a way to kill himself. Or somehow render himself too incompetent to undergo a trial. There are all sorts of interesting possibilities--but I'm betting against a free and open trial. Watch and see.


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