Saddam trial

by John Quiggin on September 29, 2005

Gary Bass in the NYT comments on the possibility that Saddam could be sentenced to death and executed for a 1982 massacre of about 100 villagers, without ever being brought to trial on the main array of charges against him, including killing political rivals, crushing the Shiite uprising in southern Iraq in 1991, invading Kuwait in 1990 and waging the genocidal Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1988, including gassing Kurdish villagers at Halabja. As Bass says,

 A thorough series of war crimes trials would not only give the victims more satisfaction but also yield a documentary and testimonial record of the regime’s crimes.

But looking at this list raises a more basic question. Why hasn’t Saddam been charged with any crime more recent than 1991?[1]. In the leadup to the war, and in its aftermath, it was routinely claimed that Saddam’s regime, at the time it was overthrown was among the most brutal dictatorships in the world. Even among opponents of the war, hardly anyone doubted or doubts now that the regime often practised murder and torture. Why then aren’t there any charges covering this period? Presumably both documents and witnesses are more readily available than for a crime committed more than twenty years ago.

This Washington Post story gives some background to the Dujail case, which involved a combination of collective punishment and rigged trials in the wake of a failed assassination attempt:

Hussein is alleged to have ordered the killings in Dujail, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, in retaliation for an attempt on his life there on July 8, 1982. In an ambush organized by the Dawa party—a Shiite political group whose members include Iraq’s current prime minister, Ibrahim Jafari—gunmen concealed in a palm grove fired on Hussein’s passing motorcade. Within hours, army helicopters were conducting airstrikes on Dujail and soldiers were rounding up villagers. Hundreds were imprisoned, and many of them were tortured or executed.

Three men who allegedly orchestrated the massacre are Hussein’s co-defendants in the case: his half brother and former intelligence chief, Barzan Tikriti; former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan; and Awad Haman Bander Sadun, the former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court that sentenced 143 men from Dujail to death.

A verdict finding that this kind of collective punishment is a war crime, and that those involved risk execution or life imprisonment would certainly be a valuable precedent: Saddam is far from unique in using helicopter gunships, indiscriminate arrests, torture and murder [judicial or otherwise] in cases of this kind.

Still, the idea that Saddam and his main accomplices could be executed for the Dujail massacre, precluding any trial for the great crimes of the 1980s and early 1990s, or for the continuing crimes we went to war to stop (at least in the revised version of history now adopted by most supporters of the war) is deeply disturbing. An obvious interpretion of such an outcome is that too many people have something to hide in all these cases, and that the Dujail case has been chosen because it does not run the risk of raising any awkward questions.

fn1. “Murdering political rivals” is a possible exception, but there weren’t many rivals left after Saddam consolidated his hold on power.

{ 42 comments }

1

abb1 09.29.05 at 5:52 am

A verdict finding that this kind of collective punishment is a war crime, and that those involved risk execution or life imprisonment would certainly be a valuable precedent…

Indeed, it would:

On Saturday, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told security chiefs in a meeting that “the ground of Gaza should shake” and that he wanted to exact a high price from Palestinians everywhere, not just Hamas.

But only the bad guys risk execution or life imprisonment, correct? As far as the good guys are concerned, collective punishment (of this and every other kind) is one of the most popular tactics in the WOT.

2

SamChevre 09.29.05 at 7:32 am

I wonder if the difference (between the pre-1991 crimes and those thereafter) is their “publicness”. The suppression of the Shiite revolt, the Anfal massacre, the invasion of Kuwait–all of them were televised, and large-scale and long-duration enough that the orders MUST have come from the top. The crimes in the 1990′s were mostly “normal dictatorship brutality”–done in the prison system; it is much harder to prove that the orders in any specific case came from Saddam, and the evidence would be only the few who were there–prisoner and jailers–rather than world-wide television coverage.

3

derrida derider 09.29.05 at 7:49 am

Saddam was a Bad Man who kept power by the most ruthless means and I would not weep at his hanging.

Having given the ritual denunciation required by orthodoxy, though, maybe I can now muse whether he was so uniquely bad that this justification for the war has force. And evidence of the sort of *genocidal* behaviour needed for such justification has proved about as elusive as evidence of his support for terror or his possesion of WMDs. Where are the *recent* mass graves? Where are the hordes of henchmen that large scale organised massacre requires?

Basically, he may not be being charged with recent crimes because they are not impressive enough (which is not to say they aren’t bad enough to morally justify his hanging – just that they wouldn’t serve his enemies’ political needs).

4

Donald Johnson 09.29.05 at 9:57 am

I wonder if a trial which did cover all of Saddam’s crimes would reveal much about his embarrassing connections to the US. I don’t see that the prosecutors (who would probably be pressured or even coached by the US) would want to bring out that information. As for Saddam, it wouldn’t be much of a defense to say “Yeah, I killed massive numbers of people, but the US backed me all the way until that little misunderstanding over Kuwait, so what’s the problem?”

I suspect lefties who want a trial that will bring out all the facts regarding Saddam’s crimes are expecting much more than you could ever hope to achieve with war crimes trials in the real world.
These things are morality plays with the correct villains pre-determined and there’s going to be tight control over what facts are brought out in the open and neither side will probably have any incentive to want this to happen.

5

abb1 09.29.05 at 10:16 am

…there’s going to be tight control over what facts are brought out in the open and neither side will probably have any incentive to want this to happen.

Not if Ramsey Clark is chosen to be Saddam’s top lawyer. That would be fun.

6

neil 09.29.05 at 10:38 am

Donald Johnson has half a point – what would indeed come out regarding US complicity, passive or otherwise, with Saddam? I for one would like to see what ever this turns out to be have a large spotlight put on it for all the world to see.

But he has only half a point and that is very telling. Why the exclusive emphasis on the US? What about France – who sold Saddam a nuclear reactor? What about all those other European countries who sold Saddam ingredients for chemical and biological weapons? What about Russian miltary support? If the US was guilty but ended Saddam’s rule, how does one judge those countries who are more guilty of supporitng Saddam and also opposed his overthrow? More severly is my answer.

7

Anthony 09.29.05 at 10:54 am

Perhaps we ought to go after Denmark first? And look at those neutral Swiss weapons salesmen. Perhaps they were only pocket knives.

Imported weapons to Iraq (IRQ) in 1973-2002

Country % Total
USSR 57.26
France 12.74
China 11.82
Czechoslovakia 6.56
Poland 3.83
Brazil 1.65
Egypt 1.29
Romania 1.19
Denmark 0.51
Libya 0.46
USA 0.46
South Africa 0.44
Austria 0.43
Switzerland 0.34
Yugoslavia 0.24
Germany (FRG) 0.19
Italy 0.19
UK 0.18
Hungary 0.07
Spain 0.07
East Germany (GDR) 0.06
Canada 0.02
Jordan 0.005
Total 100.0

Arms sale to Iraq.

8

ed_finnerty 09.29.05 at 11:03 am

Just from an optics point of view, don’t you think this is going to play badly. We went to war twice and destroyed a country at a cost of $300 billion to address a purge that occurred in 1982.

The average guy in the street is going to smell the stink of this. It reeks of expediency and cover-up.

9

abb1 09.29.05 at 11:08 am

What about France – who sold Saddam a nuclear reactor?

What about France – are they being hypocritical about it? And what’s wrong with a nuclear reactor?

I know the US is hypocritical – going from Saddam’s supporter to glorious Saddam Slayer/Iraq Liberator, but what’s your quarrel with France?

10

ed_finnerty 09.29.05 at 11:18 am

Not to mention embarrasing

11

Antoni Jaume 09.29.05 at 11:21 am

France is the country who gave nuclear technology to Israel. Israel had claimed it was only for civilian uses, and lied.

From the little I’ve read on that, the technology employed by the nuclear system sold to Irak was hard to convert to military uses.

DSW

12

Randy Paul 09.29.05 at 11:22 am

It’s more than just weapons. In 1988 the Reagan administration gave Saddam $500,000,000 in credits through the Commodity Credit Corporation at a time when Saddam could not easily obtain credit.

In 1989, after Halabja the Bush I adminstration doubled the amount to $1,000,000,000.

My source: Samantha Power’s A Problem From Hell.

13

Tom Hurka 09.29.05 at 11:27 am

Well, how about a less conspiracy-theorizing explanation?

I was just at an ethics and war conference where one of the speakers was Elise Groulx, president of the International Criminal Defense Attorneys Association. She said the decision to try Saddam on just one charge was a response to the Milosevic trial in the Hague, where (if I’m remembering her remarks correctly)the huge multitude of charges allowed him to grandstand, portray himself as a victim, etc. The idea was that restricting the charges against Saddam to one serious one that could easily and conclusively be proved would limit his opportunities for turning the trial into a spectacle.

That’s not to say the idea is on balance right: as Quiggin says, there would be benefits to convictions on a full range of charges. But it seems to me eminently plausible — and Elise Groulx is in a better position to know than I or others on this site — that in deciding how to try Saddam they would be influenced by what they saw as the successes and especially the failures of the most recent similar trial, namely that of Milosevic.

14

Jim Lund 09.29.05 at 12:47 pm

So what exactly are the war crimes/crimes against humanity in this case? He put down a civil insurrection using bloody tactics, but it doesn’t seem outside world norms. Stomping on people after an insurrection/coup attempt is the norm, not the exception. That’s how it was always handled in the US (18th to mid 19th century). If he executed people after a trial, well, they got a trial. How do you differentiate that from situations elsewhere?

15

Ginger Yellow 09.29.05 at 1:18 pm

“A verdict finding that this kind of collective punishment is a war crime, and that those involved risk execution or life imprisonment would certainly be a valuable precedent…”

Um, collective punishment of protected persons (ie civilians) is a war crime already.

16

A Nonnie Mouse 09.29.05 at 1:44 pm

Anthony posts a most impressive list of weapons sales to Iraq, which sadly does not point out what it measures. Is that the percentage of weight? Quantity? Cost? We don’t know, so it’s completely meaningless.

It also fails to distinguish which of those sales comprised WMD.

Fortunately we can check Senator Riegle’s report, where we find the U.S. response to Halabja was to continue to approve transfer of a host of toxic nasties – anthrax, botulinum, West Nile fever etc.

That’s an embarassment that will stay off Saddam’s rap sheet.

17

Donald Johnson 09.29.05 at 1:46 pm

I don’t disagree with the basic point you’re making Neil (leaving aside the specifics of whatever France did or didn’t do). Most thugs in the world are supported by cynical creeps in other countries (the US and France included) until the thug loses his usefulness. Then there are expressions of horror and demands for war crimes trials. Senator Simpson was sympathetic to Saddam when he had a British reporter executed for spying. A year or two later the honorable Senator was blasting Peter Arnett for broadcasting from Baghdad during the Gulf War.

18

Anthony 09.29.05 at 2:15 pm

Hey Nonnie Mouse,

can’t you follow a link?

19

fifi 09.29.05 at 2:28 pm

I’d hate to see what Saddam would do if the Dawa party ambushed and killed four contractors.

20

Maynard Handley 09.29.05 at 3:22 pm


France is the country who gave nuclear technology to Israel. Israel had claimed it was only for civilian uses, and lied.

Oh really? There’s plenty of guilt to go around.
(This is a more general example of the idiotic presumption pervading our lives that complicated things have a single cause eg that there’s a single inventor of TV, the internet, computers.)

How the UK gave Israel the bomb

Documents reveal that Britain supplied heavy water without safeguards against military use, enabling the production of nuclear weapons

David Leigh
Thursday August 4, 2005
The Guardian

Britain secretly supplied the 20 tons of heavy water to Israel nearly half a century ago which enabled it to make nuclear weapons, according to Whitehall documents which have been discovered at the Public Records Office.
Officials in the Macmillan government deliberately concealed the deal from the US, according to the files, which were discovered by BBC Newsnight and broadcast last night.

Historians and politicians have been startled by the discovery, which sheds new light on the process by which Israel was able to circumvent attempts to restrict membership of the “nuclear club” to the great powers.

Most of those involved are now dead, but Lord (Ian) Gilmour, who was active in Conservative politics during that era, said last night: “I would have been astonished and found it absolutely unbelievable.” He said he did not believe Harold Macmillan or his ministers knew anything about the sale, which Britain permitted without demanding safeguards against military use.

“They’ve gone out of their way to do it without safeguards,” he said. “One would have thought that any reasonably educated civil servant wouldn’t have dreamed of doing anything like this without consulting a minister but as far as I can see they didn’t.”

A nuclear specialist, Frank Barnaby, said: “I had no idea at all the British were involved.”

The sale, in two successive 10-ton shipments to Israel from a British port, went to Israel’s secret underground reactor at Dimona in the Negev desert.

Dr Barnaby said the deal appeared “rather foolhardy” and added: “I would have thought a cautious government would have in no way been seen to be doing anything to help the Israeli nuclear programme.”

The primary motive for the sale, according to the documents, appeared to be commercial. The British atomic energy authority was able to get rid of a consignment of heavy water worth £1.5m, or £20m in today’s prices, which it had bought from Norway but no longer had a use for.

The deal was structured as a resale to Norway, which then traded the consignment on to Israel. This enabled British officials to say they had no responsibility themselves for imposing safeguards.

But, according to the documents, the deal was concealed from the US, which was hostile to proliferation, because the Eisenhower administration might have insisted on unacceptable conditions which would have scuppered the sale.

When Robert McNamara became the US defence secretary in 1961, he and President Kennedy strived to stop Israel from going on to build nuclear weapons. He told Newsnight last night that he had never known of Britain’s behaviour at the time.

“The fact Israel was trying to develop a nuclear bomb should not have come as a surprise but that Britain should have supplied it with heavy water was indeed a surprise to me,” he said.

“It’s very surprising to me that we weren’t told because we shared information about the nuclear bomb very closely with the British.”

The origins of the heavy water used in the Dimona reactor remained almost entirely unknown until the revelations of Mordechai Vanunu, a disaffected Dimona technician, in the 1980s.

It was disclosed then that the 20 tons originated from Norway. But Norway itself continued to remain silent about the true nature of the deal.

Heavy water, made by a laborious electrolysis process, is so called because it contains extra neutrons. It was a crucial element of the kind of basic nuclear reactor then being built by Israel with French help, which used natural uranium rather than the more advanced technology involving enriched uranium fuel.

21

John Quiggin 09.29.05 at 3:30 pm

Ginger Yellow is of course right that collective punishment is already a war crime – that’s why I used the term. The point, as fifi and others have noted, is that the Dujail case looks a lot more like Fallujah 2004 than like Lidice 1942. As a precedent, it would therefore lower the bar for future convictions.

To Tom Hurka: if Saddam is to be tried on only one charge, why not a recent one? The answer implied in the commentary is I think the right one. Iraq in 2003 was a brutal dictatorship similar to at least a dozen others around the world, including allies in the War on Terror. People were tortured and murdered in its prisons, but there weren’t massacres on the scale of Dujail, let alone the Kurdish war.

22

DUDACKATTACK!!! 09.29.05 at 4:13 pm

A lot of the posts hit the nail on the head.
Pre-1991 chrages would indict a lot of Hussein’s former supporters. That would include the list of nations Anthony featured above.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/index.htm
-thats a good site featuring a long paper trail of U.S./Iraq diplomacy prior to the first Gulf War.

23

Dan Simon 09.29.05 at 4:47 pm

Iraq in 2003 was a brutal dictatorship similar to at least a dozen others around the world, including allies in the War on Terror. People were tortured and murdered in its prisons, but there weren’t massacres on the scale of Dujail, let alone the Kurdish war.

Well, there’s the little matter of the Marsh Arabs, of course, but otherwise, your point stands. Merely being one of the most brutal dozen or so dictators in the world (and that’s saying something, isn’t it?) is insufficient to get the world “human rights” community worked up these days. To do that–as the comments in this thread have nicely demonstrated–you need to do something really awful, like be American or Israeli.

24

John Quiggin 09.29.05 at 5:09 pm

The question isn’t whether to get worked up, but whether it’s worth causing the deaths of 100 000 people to get rid of one such government, while staying on friendly terms with (at least) half a dozen others.

25

Ginger Yellow 09.29.05 at 5:33 pm

I’m not trying to excuse Falluja in any way, but the comparison doesn’t really hold up, at least when you’re talking about precedents. The US told the residents of Falluja what was coming and almost all the population fled before the battle. Dujail came without utterly without warning (except perhaps that collective punishment was Saddam’s MO).

I guess my point is that while Falluja may well count as collective punishment and hence a war crime, Dujail is in no way any use as a precedent. Frankly, if there’s any doubt that Dujail would qualify, then we might as well throw the Geneva Conventions in the bin. The bar should be far, far lower than that.

26

John Quiggin 09.29.05 at 5:55 pm

“The US told the residents of Falluja what was coming and almost all the population fled before the battle.”

I think you may be confusing the first and second Fallujah operations. In the first, almost immediately after the murder of the four contractors, Fallujah was sealed.

27

Dan Simon 09.29.05 at 6:12 pm

The question isn’t whether to get worked up, but whether it’s worth causing the deaths of 100 000 people to get rid of one such government, while staying on friendly terms with (at least) half a dozen others.

So many ugly, ugly implications in one short paragraph….

First of all, “causing the deaths of 100,000 people”? Even accepting the figure–and there’s no way I’m going to wade into that argument–surely the chain of causation is attenuated just a little bit by the fact that much of both the direct killing and the death-causing infrastructure sabotage was committed by, you know, Iraqis?

Then there’s the business about “staying on friendly terms with (at least) half a dozen” other Saddam-caliber monstrous regimes. I’m curious to know which half a dozen other regimes on a par with Saddam Hussein’s you believe the US is “on friendly terms with”. Sudan? North Korea? Zimbabwe? Myanmar? Certainly, most members of the UN Human Rights Commission are on reasonably good terms with such countries. And several EU members have distinguished themselves (in a negative way) by cuddling up to one or more of them. But the US?

Of course, the US does often cuddle up to some pretty nasty regimes, even if they’re not in Saddam Hussein’s league. That’s legitimate cause for criticizing the US, without a doubt. But if that behavior has any bearing whatsoever on the US action in Iraq–and I frankly don’t see that it does in the least–oughtn’t it make America’s willingness to take action against Saddam Hussein more welcome, rather than less? Why on earth would America’s weakness for certain dictators make it worse that it was willing to take one down?

And why focus on American coddling of dictators, anyway? There are far, far worse offenders in the world–even in the Western world. Why is the relatively bland American flavor of hypocrisy worth singling out, when so many other countries engage in much more pungent varieties?

Of course, I understand that America’s real sin is, well, being America. Still, John, you could at least try to find a less transparent pretext.

28

Anthony 09.29.05 at 6:28 pm

Dan,

Re-arrange the following words: “head wall knocking your against”.

29

Jonathan Edelstein 09.29.05 at 6:37 pm

A verdict finding that this kind of collective punishment is a war crime, and that those involved risk execution or life imprisonment would certainly be a valuable precedent

I actually have a very hard time imagining such a verdict, because the Dujail massacres didn’t take place during a conflict to which the law of war applies. No war, no war crime. It may, however, be a crime against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute, or a violation of any number of Iraqi laws.

I wonder if Dujail might have been picked precisely because it didn’t take place during a war. Acts of war are subject to a rule of proportionality while crimes against humanity aren’t, so a court could reach a verdict on Dujail without having to make any comparisons to Fallujah. (That’s also where abb1′s analogy in comment 1 breaks down, but I digress.)

30

fifi 09.29.05 at 6:51 pm

“Of course, I understand that America’s real sin is, well, being America.”

_Your_ America, anyway.

31

Donald Johnson 09.29.05 at 7:18 pm

As I recall, male inhabitants of fighting age before the second assault on Fallujah were prevented from leaving, on the grounds that they might be insurgents. That’s a war crime–I don’t know how it compares to Dujail.
I’m not sure that giving people warning (said warning was delivered via airmail, in the form of bombs and rockets dropping on Fallujah for months) is much of a mitigating factor anyway.
The US acted the same way in its free fire zones in Vietnam and whether they actually received warning or not, rural Afghans under the rain of Russian bombs would have realized that they’d better move to either Kabul or Pakistan if they wanted to maintain their 40 year life expectancy.

32

Phoenician in a time of Romans 09.29.05 at 8:09 pm

As I recall, male inhabitants of fighting age before the second assault on Fallujah were prevented from leaving, on the grounds that they might be insurgents. That’s a war crime—I don’t know how it compares to Dujail.

It doesn’t have to “compare” – that Jeff Dahmer is tried for murder doesn’t prevent someone who “only” murdered their spouse in a crime of passion also being charged. If the US committed war crimes, the claim “Saddam was worse” isn’t a defense.

33

Dan Kervick 09.29.05 at 11:00 pm

The average guy in the street is going to smell the stink of this. It reeks of expediency and cover-up.

This raises the more general issue of the stupidity of executing war criminals like Saddam. Aside from the fact that execution always raises the suspicion that the perpetrator was executed to shut him up, people like Saddam are mines of historical information. After draining the world of value for so many years, they should be kept alive to provide the maximum value of which they are capable. That seems a more “just” punishment than execution. Generally, people like Saddam continue to talk over time, incessently, to “set the record” straight and repair their reputations. They cough up a great deal of useful information.

Also, wasting away in prison is a much worse, more humiliating, pubishment for an aspiring “great man” like Saddam than is death. I think of Al Capone. If he had been killed in a hail of police gunfire, his death would have had a heroic, legendary quality that would probably have brought him greater posthumous renown – like Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Instead he deteriorated in prison, and when he was finally released he was a broken, weak, embarrassing, somewhat ridiculous mockery of his former vital self.

34

Chris 09.30.05 at 12:54 am

Al Capone was eventually busted for tax evasion, which I suppose is a precedent. I am mildy impressed, though, that Saddam’s major contribution to the underworld doesn’t seem to get a gurnsey. The invasion of Kuwait is, after all, as nothing on the scale of the Valkyries compared to the attack on Iran. Millions, as opped to hundreds of thousands, on both sides died because Saddam wanted the credit for engrossing some few acres of Gulf. Objectively, that’s the biggest impact he’s ever had; at Nuremberg they covered in some detail the crime of waging offensive war; why not here and now?
And while I wouldn’t mourn his death, I’m against his killing, on the grounds that nobody who isn’t an American even has to think about the issue any more: you don’t fucking kill people if it can be avoided.

35

abb1 09.30.05 at 1:09 am

And why focus on American coddling of dictators, anyway?

Indeed. ‘Coddling of dictators’ charge is so 1980s.

36

Thomas Palm 09.30.05 at 5:25 am

Chris, the problem with the Iran-Iraq war is that those countries had been in conflict about the border before and trying to determine who was most at fault is very tricky. It’s not as if Saddam intended the war to drag on and cause all those millions of casualties. Then it is politically inconvenient to bring up that war and make Iran the innocent victim. They are supposed to be an evil rogues state after all. Even worse, if you make the war against Iran a crime then what about all the countries that supported Iraq?

For the same reason Halabja is inconvenient to prosecute. It was part of the Iran war, both sides used gas, and Saddam’s lawyer is bound to bring up the old CIA reports that blamed the attack on Iran.

37

Uncle Kvetch 09.30.05 at 9:18 am

at Nuremberg they covered in some detail the crime of waging offensive war; why not here and now?

I guess because they could prosecute Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/etc. for the exact same crime, which might make things a little awkward. I don’t think we’ll be hearing much about “launching an unprovoked war of aggression” when Saddam’s crimes are catalogued.

38

Sean 09.30.05 at 11:07 am

thomas,

The specific issue of the border dispute was the Shatt al Arab waterway. The Algiers accord of 1975 (signed by VP Saddam Hussein) resolved that issue in Iran’s favour while a later treaty (Frontier and northerly Relations, 1975) settled other border disputes in Iraq’s favour.

The Algiers Accord was something of a humiliation for a lot of Iraqi’s. The impetus for signing it came from the Baathist’s inability to deal with Kurdish seperatism which was being sponsored by Iran. That support was withdrawn and the Baathists were able to turn their attention to creating their version of the perfect Arab state.

By January 1979 the Shah was gone. The Iranian revolution caused waves of discontent amongst the repressed Shia populations of Iraq and the othe Arab gulf states. Iran’s encouragement of Shia discontent was a violation of the 1975 Frontiers treaty. This was the pretext for Saddam’s invasion of Sept 1980. However by aiming as far as the cities of Dezful and Ahvazhe he went far beyond simply seizing the border area. His war was a war of aggression for the purpose of enlarging Iraq’s borders far beyond the traditional, albiet disputed international border.

39

abb1 09.30.05 at 11:10 am

They’ll be safely talking about ‘attacking his neighbors’ and ‘killing his own people’.

It’s very important that people you kill are not ‘your own’, killing ‘your own’ people isn’t prudent.

40

Sean 09.30.05 at 11:13 am

I guess because they could prosecute Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/etc. for the exact same crime, which might make things a little awkward. I don’t think we’ll be hearing much about “launching an unprovoked war of aggression” when Saddam’s crimes are catalogued.

Isn’t there a difference between a war to annex the territory of another nation and a war to overthrow a regime which has forfieted it’s claim to sovereignty?

41

jet 09.30.05 at 12:24 pm

Abb1,
RE 39
You don’t seem to believe there should be a value distinction between “our” people and “other” people? If not, what do you think it signifies to explicitly share a social contract with some people and not others? Or on the other hand do you think that with the creation of the UN and an international legal framework we all share a “minimal” social contract? And if we all share this “minimal” social contract, do we still not distinguish between those who share out explicit contract and the (perhaps) implicit “minimal” contract? Nationalism vs. internationalism?

42

abb1 09.30.05 at 1:03 pm

No, I certainly don’t believe that killing ‘your own’ people is any different than killing any other people.

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