Josh Marshall unloads with both barrels:
"Bush administration officials" are telling CNN that Saddam Hussein will be hanged this weekend. 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 have 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.Indeed. What really grates with me is the shameless hypocrisy this meaningless murder exhibits. For example, wingnuts and Big Media still talk about 300,000 dead under Saddam, but nobody mentions the 650,000 or more dead under US occupation; they still talk about Saddam gassing his own people with WMD chemical weapons, but even the death reports do not bother to say these WMDs were supplied by Donald Rumsfeld and the USA; they talk of a million dead in the Iran-Iraq war, but don't talk of US backing for Saddam's Iraq, or US weapons sales to Iraq; Saddam's farcical show trial got so much TV coverage while Gitmo detainees like David Hicks remain ignored and forgotten; they suggest Saddam's death will prompt a surge in violence, or quell violence, when in fact it will make no difference whatsoever because the only people pretending Saddam still leads or inspires the Iraqi insurgents are the wingnuts and Big Media...
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 Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.
These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'
Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.
Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, calls any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.
What do you figure this farce will look like 10, 30 or 50 years down the road? A signal of American power or weakness?
This is such an insult to all the dead, whether they died at Saddam's hand or George W. Bush's. If the neocon crazies in the White House only did ONE SINGLE THING right, it should have been this: a proper trial, under proper laws, in a proper courthouse. That might have meant something. It might have stood as a monument to their good intentions, if nothing else.
But of course there were no good intentions, just empty promises and hollow rationales. I am not even going to get started on the blatant hypocrisy of the death penalty per se...
And so George Dubya Bush, the man who set a record for death row killings in Texas, chalks up yet another victim. All hail the great hero!
There will come a reckoning, folks. It will not be videotaped. It will not be leaked to the media, or shown on Iraq TV just prior to the President's State of the Union Address. It will not be light. It will not be easy.
I don't pretend to know where Saddam Hussein has gone today, but I am sure that whoever pulled the trigger, or pressed the button, or cut the rope on his execution, will one day follow him there. And I am sure that all those responsible for this horrific war will also follow him there: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rice, Howard, Blair, Berlusoni, Murdoch, and all the other crazies.
I don't pretend to know what Hell might be, or even if it exists, but surely the thought of spending eternity in such base company must approximate a definition of it.
UPDATE: Forget the SoU. As befits the ineptitude of this farce, the video has already been leaked.