Sunday, December 31, 2006

What has been truly wrought

This from a BBC article on its webpage:
But even from his [not so] unmarked grave, Saddam Hussein will continue to haunt the Bush administration and define the legacy of the 43rd president of the United States.

Saddam had always promised to lure, fight and defeat the Americans in the cities of Iraq. No-one thought at the time that this would happen after he had already been deposed.

But his prophetic threat is becoming reality, triggering a multi-headed insurgence that no longer fights on his behalf, and a vortex of sectarian violence that makes a conventional civil war look organised and coherent.

The brutal bloodletting, ethnic cleansing and vicious fragmentation, in which American troops now find themselves embroiled, is also a legacy of Saddam's regime.

A quarter of a century of his mafia rule, in which tribal loyalties were lavishly rewarded and anything less was severely punished helped to rot the cohesion of a young and artificial country.

The extent to which Iraq is disintegrating has taken many Iraqis by surprise. It was grossly under-estimated by the officials who planned the occupation.

President Bush and his advisers have always liked to compare the birth pangs [the Lebanese have 'em, too!] of Iraqi democracy to the emergence of a free Germany after the World War II.


But what they were dealing with was not Germany 1945 but Germany in 1648 emerging from the feudal bloodbath of the 30 years' war.

Another example would have been Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

So not even the few beleaguered optimists in the Bush camp, including the president himself, believe that the execution of Saddam Hussein will stem the bloodletting and allow America to plan for a graceful exit.

The sectarian violence in Iraq has reached its own alarming momentum, in which Saddam Hussein had been reduced to a walk-on part.

The White House may boast about the new rule of law but for many ordinary Iraqis justice comes in the form of death squads, torture gangs and rogue police road blocks.

These days the wrong identity card can get you executed. This is not the kind of justice that George Bush had in mind.

So now the noose has done its deed the Pentagon is, if anything, expecting a spike in the sectarian violence.

Indeed as the Nation's John Nichols notes:
While much of U.S. media coverage of Saddam Hussein's execution has strained to echo the Bush administration's suggestion that "justice" was done, the international reaction to the hurried hanging of the former dictator has recognized what one of the world's top experts on the Middle East refers to as the "gruesome, occasionally farcical" nature of the process that led to the execution.

Nichols continues, quoting Middle East commentators:
Chris Doyle, the London-based director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, was equally dismissive [echoing comments made by another person quoted in the article], telling the Guardian newspaper that, "For Bush, Blair and their diminishing brotherhood of diehard supporters, Saddam's demise is their sole concrete victory in Iraq in almost four years. This should have been the crowning glory of their efforts, but instead it may pose yet another risk to their demoralised troops. For Iraqis, some will see it as a symbol of the death of the ancien regime. For some Sunnis, Saddam's death represents the final nail in the coffin of their fall from power. But Iraqis may also see this as the humiliation of Iraq as a whole, that their president, however odious, was toppled by outside powers, and is executed effectively at others' instigation."

Doyle's assessment was shared by Iraqi expatriate Kamil Mahdi, an academic who is now associated with the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Britain's Exeter University. "It will be taken as an American decision," Mahdi said of the decision to execute Hussein and the way in which deposed leader was killed. "The worst thing is that it's an issue which, in an ideal situation, should have unified Iraq but the Americans have succeeded in dividing the Iraqis."

Not to mention the nature of the trial that was conducted by the US's client government in Iraq:
Critics of the trial and execution of the former dictator did not defend his actions. Rather, they recognized the fundamental flaws in his trial by an inexperienced and clearly biased Iraqi judiciary. And they condemned the rush to hang Hussein by a country employing the widely-rejected sanction of capital punishment.

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