Monday, December 15, 2003

Try Saddam Locally

Saddam Hussein should be tried in an Iraqi court. His crimes, heinous as they are, were committed largely against the Iraqi people. Unlike Hitler, Saddam did not range across international borders committing atrocities (Kuwait excepted). He is accused of mass executions, numerous other human rights violations, and of using chemical weapons against rebelling Iraqi domestic forces.

Though one could argue that the human rights violations would implicate an international tribunal, the vast number of these violations were against the people of Iraq, and in its jurisdiction. The people of Iraq should try him, and only after their new government and Constitution is created.

This would also give us plenty of time to debrief Hussein, while allowing the course of Iraqi sovereignty to play itself out. Until then, there is no rule of law acceptable enough to try Hussein. And there certainly is no military tribunal, Iraqi or American, fit for the cause, as the once respected and now growingly pathetic Joe Lieberman has suggested.

I can't ignore this either. Mr. Lieberman has no right to demand the terms of Saddam Hussein's trial on the basis of the death penalty. The man (Lieberman) is a loose cannon, and should be summarily dismissed, by whatever means, from the considerations of any reasonable American voter for the election of 2004.

Meanwhile, we need to assure that we obtain a full and lengthy interrogation of Saddam Hussein, and that he is eventually tried by the new democratic state of Iraq.


First, I've changed my mind, and explain why above. Though I still believe that Iraqis should have lead positions in the trial, and that the trial should be situated in Iraq, this trial should be an international tribunal because we justified this war by Saddam's defiance of UN resolutions and international law.

Second, Saddam has also stormed across the border of Iran, using chemical weapons, and this shouldn't be discounted. Likewise, and also not to be forgotten, Saddam bombed Israel with Scud missiles in 1991. Still, the damage done to Iraqis is so much greater.