Let me get this straight

by Kieran Healy on December 29, 2006

So Nouri al-Maliki pardoned Saddam Hussein to promote national healing and move on, Gerald Ford is making one last appearance at the Apollo theater, and James Brown will shortly be buried at Arlington cemetery, his long reign of terror having come to an end at last. No, that’s not right. I’ll try again.

While I puzzle it out, go read Josh Marshall pre-emptively cutting through the bullshit that will pile up around the gallows 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. … 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. … 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. … 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?

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{ 90 comments }

1

abb1 12.30.06 at 12:06 am

Yes, obviously now with the blood-thirsty tyrant finally executed Iraq is bound to prosper, but I fear that without the nation’s most prominent healer the US is going to Hell in a handbasket. Oh, well.

2

raj 12.30.06 at 12:21 am

Wir sollen etwas verstehen, ueber die Hinrichtung des Saddam Husseins:

Yawn. So Bush finally got the guy who tried to kill his daddy. Big deal. I wonder what the Mighty Righties are going to start beating their breasts about now.

All this was at the cost of almost 3K American lives and tens of thousands of injured Americans–to date, of course. And not to be forgotten–although more than a few Americans would prefer to do–at the cost of hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis, of course.

One would have thought that, to give Saddam’s execution the maximal impact on the American psyche, the Bushies would have had him executed either before Christmas or after New Years, not between Christmas and New Years when few Americans are paying attention to much of anything. It appears that the Bushies have lost all appreciation for the wonders of public relations.

3

Bill Gardner 12.30.06 at 2:30 am

TPM says that it has already happened. As you say, Josh has it right.

4

bad Jim 12.30.06 at 2:42 am

Juan Cole notes:

The tribunal also had a unique sense of timing when choosing the day for Saddam’s hanging. It was a slap in the face to Sunni Arabs. This weekend marks Eid al-Adha, the Holy Day of Sacrifice, on which Muslims commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for God. Shiites celebrate it Sunday. Sunnis celebrate it Saturday –- and Iraqi law forbids executing the condemned on a major holiday. Hanging Saddam on Saturday was perceived by Sunni Arabs as the act of a Shiite government that had accepted the Shiite ritual calendar.

It appears that Saddam was treated as a sacrificial ram.

5

astrongmaybe 12.30.06 at 4:24 am

The media, meanwhile, have thought hard about their implication in all this. Having drawn appropriate lessons from their earlier stupidity and craven conformism, they now cast a cold eye on the phony spectacle. One particular gem of good taste and intelligence:

“…NBC News, however, indicated it might go further than its competitors. Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, said the network might show “a wide shot of Saddam hanging.” He said NBC would make its decision based on questions of taste and history.

“I think it might be appropriate at some point to see an image of Saddam after he is hanged,” Mr. Capus said, citing previous historic images of dictators who had been killed. “I think about that iconic image of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, lying literally in the gutter. I want to do this with a measure of taste, but I don’t want to stand in the way of history.”…”
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/30/business/media/30netw.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

6

Tom T. 12.30.06 at 4:51 am

Well, Josh is just changing the subject, and that’s fine if he wants, but I can’t help but see the old killer’s execution as one small speck of justice to emerge from this whole misbegotten mess.

7

Bruce Baugh 12.30.06 at 7:00 am

Tom T: It might be something like justice if he had been tried for any of the major massacres that happened during his reign, and if the trial had been fairly run, and if it hadn’t been run so completely by the US, and if the execution hadn’t been pushed so as to be one more insult to the Sunnis. Unfortunately none of those apply.

8

Brett Bellmore 12.30.06 at 9:00 am

“obligatory nod to Saddam’s treachery, bloodthirsty rule and tyranny.”

Hm, instead of just an obligatory nod, let’s take the treachery, bloodthirsty rule, and tyranny seriously, and just be glad the rat-bastard is dead.

9

Barry 12.30.06 at 9:32 am

tom t, that’s the point – ‘one small speck’, because that’s all that’s likely to be. One small speck in an orgy of evil that’s clearly headed to making Saddam’s era look like the good old days.

10

astrongmaybe 12.30.06 at 10:46 am

Isn’t there a certain rhetorical similarity between saying “Just forget about all the rest and celebrate this execution” and saying, as they did once: “Look – forget the political context, the history, any other possible motivations for war…If Iraq is invaded, Saddam will be toppled – now isn’t that a Good Thing? Don’t you want Good Things?”

11

P O'Neill 12.30.06 at 11:18 am

Saddam’s preferred title of “Leader, President, Struggler” is now up for grabs.

12

Barry 12.30.06 at 11:18 am

And additional contrast with the right-wing’s support both of pardoning Nixon, and of Pinochet’s crimes.

13

bi 12.30.06 at 11:52 am

Eh? And I thought the right wing was about balance and objectivity! So, any mention of Saddam’s brutal crimes must be accompanied by a mention of Bush’s failures in Iraq… not.

14

Bill Gardner 12.30.06 at 12:32 pm

“let’s take the treachery, bloodthirsty rule, and tyranny seriously, and just be glad the rat-bastard is dead.”

Let’s take treachery, bloodthirsty rule, and tyranny seriously. But wouldn’t a serious approach would require more than just being glad when a rat-bastard was dead?

15

Bob B 12.30.06 at 12:59 pm

I’ve been listening to BBC radio news bulletins most of the day since early this morning.

The execution has been the lead and major news item throughout. The coverage down to the last ghoulish detail has been extensive and sickening and I can say that without holding any brief or sympathy for the object executed. What I find especially sickening is the comparison with another minor item in the same news bulletins: at least 50 people have been killed in Iraq today as the result of various bombings. But something like that number killed in Iraq has been the regular daily news for the last several months.

“December was also shaping up to be one of the worst months for Iraqi civilian deaths since the AP began keeping track in May 2005.

“Through Thursday, at least 2,139 Iraqis have been killed in war-related or sectarian violence, an average rate of about 76 people a day, according to the AP count. That compares to at least 2,184 killed in November at an average of about 70 a day, the worst month for Iraqi civilians deaths since May 2005. In October, AP counted at least 1,216 civilians killed.”
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/world/4434958.html

16

astrongmaybe 12.30.06 at 1:46 pm

I agreed totally with bob b. The BBC website has images of the hanging, except they coyly pull away just before the money shot. They appear to be images taken from off a TV screen, I don’t know if that’s because they actually couldn’t get the images or if it’s another affectation of scruple. One way or another, they have completely disgraced themselves today, as a journalistic organization and as a public service organization.

17

Thom Brooks 12.30.06 at 2:28 pm

I too agree with Bob B and many others. One other thing is worth noting. Why execute Saddam Hussein so swiftly? The Washington Sniper went on trial and was sentenced to death. He wasn’t executed immediately and not only because there were legal options available, such as appeals. Instead, he remained alive in order to be put on trial for each of the crimes in different states he had committed. Now Saddam Hussein is condemned in trial one, while trial two continues. Trial two (as I understand it) involves a greater number of dead and (if I have this right) Kurdish victims. Why kill Saddam before the second trial is over? Why should his victims one case be heard, but not others? Is the fear that a successful challenge could be lodged? There seems a real rush to kill, not least the mafia-lookalikes doing the dirty work on our television screens. This is itself quite worrying, irrespective of whether or not we believe Saddam Hussein deserves execution and whether or not we agree with the use of capital punishment.

18

Nat Whilk 12.30.06 at 2:51 pm

Give thanks
Posted by Chris Bertram Nat Whilk

Having lived to a greater age than nearly all of his thousands of victims, and having succeeded in evading justice, the butcher Pinochet Saddam Hussein is dead at last.“

19

Bill Gardner 12.30.06 at 3:06 pm

Nat Whilk:

Good catch.

20

Dan Simon 12.30.06 at 3:07 pm

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?

Actually, 10, 30 or 50 years down the road, nobody outside the US (and hopefully relatively few inside the US) will think of the execution of Saddam Hussein in terms of American power at all, one way or the other. They will think of it as a gigantic step forward for the people of Iraq, or as just another in a series of violent changes of government, depending on how Iraq evolves.

Marshall’s US-centric solipsism is common among a certain class of American political junkies whose horizons end at the Washington Beltway. But I’d have expected a bit more cosmopolitanism from the folks here at Crooked Timber. Then again, the fact that Marshall’s level of obsession with the “what does world event x say about the current US administration?” question is now apparently the norm among European academic leftists says much more about American power than Marshall’s sniping ever could.

21

Adam Kotsko 12.30.06 at 3:32 pm

Re: 18 — Sometimes it’s possible to make good points using Lacanian terminology, but you have to actually use it correctly. For instance, the “big Other” does not refer simply to some outside entity that is big and strong.

22

Tammy 12.30.06 at 3:42 pm

Nat Wilk — surely there’s a difference between a dictator dying of old age and one executed (1) in a very public forum (with images and video constantly broadcast worldwide), (2) on a day that is an insult to a large portion of an already tumultuous nation, (3) as a result of a judicial process that was, at the least, highly questionable. It’s not like Chris then demanded Pinochet’s body be dragged through the streets, or even that he be put to death for his crimes. I doubt anyone is upset by the fact that Saddam is dead, but rather people are bothered about the nature of his death and the publicity thereof.

23

astrongmaybe 12.30.06 at 3:44 pm

Re. 23- No one likes a smart-arse.

24

bi 12.30.06 at 3:48 pm

It’s “US-centric solipsism” when one doesn’t focus incessantly on Saddam’s crimes and ignore everything else?

(Dan Simon’s modus operandi: take an essay, extract sentences out of context, twist their meanings, then engage in moronic quibbles. Hey, my dog can do that too.)

25

Barry 12.30.06 at 4:21 pm

Posted by Thom Brooks: “Why should his victims one case be heard, but not others? Is the fear that a successful challenge could be lodged? There seems a real rush to kill, not least the mafia-lookalikes doing the dirty work on our television screens. This is itself quite worrying, irrespective of whether or not we believe Saddam Hussein deserves execution and whether or not we agree with the use of capital punishment.”

The commonly-batted around justification is that this was a discrete crime on Saddam’s part. Classically, gassing the Kurds might involve questions on where the chemical technology came from; for an idea of the PR problems, meditate on that famous picture of Rumsfield shaking Saddam’s hand. The massacre for which he was executed was a relatively clean, small and tidy crime, with no slop-over onto areas that a certain superpower might not wish to publicize.

26

Dan Simon 12.30.06 at 5:05 pm

It’s “US-centric solipsism” when one doesn’t focus incessantly on Saddam’s crimes and ignore everything else?

Uh, no–as I said, it’s “US-centric solipsism” when one treats an important moment in Iraqi history merely as a “signal of American power or weakness”, and ignores everything else.

(Dan Simon’s modus operandi: take an essay, extract sentences out of context, twist their meanings, then engage in moronic quibbles. Hey, my dog can do that too.)

Are you familiar with the Freudian concept of “projection”?

27

Wade 12.30.06 at 5:15 pm

Astrongmaybe, I can only hope that you don’t know what the term “money shot” refers to.

28

fred lapides 12.30.06 at 5:27 pm

Kos is right. Now imagine if you were a Kurd in iraq. Yes, unhappy about what is going on in Iraq but sure as hell celebrating cause that nutter is dead. But take the larger scholarly view and belittle the dumb Bush. Ok. And forget what Saddam did to so many. Not saying we should have invaded etc but rather that Saddam’s death will mean something to a lot of those related to gassed victims. Now enjoy your New Year’s eve cause you did not get gassed or executed by whats-his-name

29

fred lapides 12.30.06 at 6:03 pm

http://news.blogs.nytimes.com/?p=119
this is a nice compilation via NY Times on the execution (comments by readers). The comments are indictive of a number of position and I assume by fairly literate and articulate readers. I do note that a number of commen ts refer to our support of Saddam for a number of years.

30

Barry 12.30.06 at 6:28 pm

Anybody who deals with right-wingers should be, Dan. It’s an incredibly useful theory to explain their behavior.

31

Dan Simon 12.30.06 at 7:38 pm

Anybody who deals with right-wingers should be, Dan. It’s an incredibly useful theory to explain their behavior.

Really? I’ve seen it on occasion, of course, but no more (or less) frequently than among left-wingers, as far as I can recall. And I’ve rarely seen such a textbook case as the one I pointed out above. Do you have any specific examples in mind?

32

Brett Bellmore 12.30.06 at 8:27 pm

“Let’s take treachery, bloodthirsty rule, and tyranny seriously. But wouldn’t a serious approach would require more than just being glad when a rat-bastard was dead?”

Perhaps, but it certainly takes at least being glad. Not a bloodless “obligatory nod”.

33

albert 12.30.06 at 11:06 pm

Dan-

You seem to not have any familiarity with how long the legacy of colonialism can last in the minds of nations that have experienced life under the thumb of great powers. I’m sure you won’t think of Saddam’s execution in terms of American power, but I’m sure you’re not that considerate of how many citizens of non-great power nations view world politics anyway.

Your post reminds me of a character in Cracking India, a British merchant opining on the partition plan saying something like, ‘whatever happens, at least they won’t be able to blame everything on the Empire anymore.’

34

radek 12.30.06 at 11:49 pm

Well, my ownimpulse reaction when I saw that picture of Hussein with the noose around his neck was…I felt sorry for the guy. Bloodthirsty dictator and all. But yeah, he deserved it, whatever.

And I’m gonna be consistent on this. Just like I thought it was appropriate to bring up Castro, Allende and other more general stuff on the occasion of Pinochet’s death, I think it’s perfectly legitimate to bring up the context of US policy, short and long term in this case. Marshall’s perfectly within his rights and more or less right. s.

35

Dan Simon 12.31.06 at 12:14 am

You seem to not have any familiarity with how long the legacy of colonialism can last in the minds of nations that have experienced life under the thumb of great powers.

I understand that it is often convenient for a nation, or one or more leaders or factions within it, to cultivate the belief that the nation’s present troubles can be blamed on some particular present or past person, group or nation and their real or imagined misdeeds. “The legacy of colonialism” is one such convenient scapegoat, and it’s possible that some future Iraqis will find it comforting or even expedient to blame their nation’s problems–whatever they turn out to be–on America’s participation in the execution of Saddam Hussein in 2006.

But there’s no particular reason to expect that “American invaders” will be a more popular all-purpose bogeyman in Iraq than, say, “the Jews”. (Indeed, I rather expect the latter to receive more Iraqi blame than the former for many generations to come.) And my prediction of how current events will be viewed in the future considered only serious retrospectives, implicitly excluding ignorant mythmaking, conspiracy-theorizing or hate-mongering.

Your post reminds me of a character in Cracking India, a British merchant opining on the partition plan saying something like, ‘whatever happens, at least they won’t be able to blame everything on the Empire anymore.’

Yes–naive of him, wasn’t it? Indeed, as he spoke, his own countrymen were busy inventing all sorts of silly things to blame on the Empire, on behalf of its soon-to-be-former subjects.

“They” can blame anything on anyone, after all. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to take their nonsense seriously.

36

bi 12.31.06 at 12:39 am

Dan Simon, the fact is that you decided to completely ignore the main point of Marshall’s essay, and simply grab some random tangential sentences and quibble nonsensically around them. Nice way of trying to derail the discussion, no? (Yes, albert — that’s what he’s up to.)

Hey, never mind that Iraq’s safety is going to the pits, never mind that the US’s own soldiers have died by the thousands, never mind that the court that tried Saddam was a kangaroo court, that’s OK as long as I can find some silly mud to fling at those darn “European leftist academics”!

This is not “projection”, Dan Simon. This is a hard demonstrable fact about you, and it’s as clear as day.

Yes, Josh Marshall, this is what the president has “reduced” Dan Simon to. A mud-slinging engine.

37

roger 12.31.06 at 12:55 am

I understand gladness at the news, say, of the sudden comeuppance of a bad actor – Uday, for instance, getting it. But a death that has been cooked this long isn’t going to make me glad – however much I may find it just or appropriate. Must be residual stuff from Sunday School.

In this case, the execution, coming after a kangaroo trial, was not just or appropriate – just inevitable. And, as usual, shortsighted and selected to make sure the Americans aren’t embarrassed. The upcoming trial of Saddam Hussein’s mass murder of the Kurds would not only involve the countries that aided him, militarily, but those that paid for the military aid – notably, Kuwait and the Saudis. Those that Iraq is ridiculously, unfairly and stupidly paying off even now.

However, to be fair, it wasn’t just to please the miserable Bush minions. As Juan Cole has pointed out, the murders for which Saddam was executed bear directly on the Dawa party, which makes the execution look even more like a factional hit. Nice job.

38

abb1 12.31.06 at 12:56 am

So, Dan, does it mean you’re a self-admitted colonialism-denialist?

And it seems a bit early to start denying the American invasion while the troops are still in Iraq, shouldn’t you at least wait for them to leave?

39

Seth Edenbaum 12.31.06 at 1:10 am

Mr Simon. Here’s Juan Cole’s pocket history (with links) of S. Hussein’s rule, including his long standing relations as a client, however troublesome, of the US.

And here’s you:

Actually, 10, 30 or 50 years down the road, nobody outside the US (and hopefully relatively few inside the US) will think of the execution of Saddam Hussein in terms of American power at all, one way or the other. They will think of it as a gigantic step forward for the people of Iraq, or as just another in a series of violent changes of government, depending on how Iraq evolves.

Oh Jesus fucking christ what an asshole and an idiot you are.
I suppose that it is possible that in 50 years Iraqis may be able to look back and say that the American fiasco was the catalyst to finally break apart the old order and allow the forces of moderation and modernity to coalesce in the Middle East. But
Here’s Josh Marshall’s favorite liberal Zionist, and whiney little putz named M.J. Rosenberg:

Personally, I never much cared whether Israel’s neighbors were democratic so long as they were willing to live in peace with Israel.

Jordan, for instance, is not a democracy in the western sense but it is precisely the kind of neighbor Israel needs. Egypt is not a democracy but is at peace with Israel. A democratic Egypt probably would not be. So let’s lay the democratic crusade aside (which, of course, we do anyway if we don’t like the choices made by the voters in these various countries).

So let’s hope that popular sovereignty comes to the Middle East, which it may. But how the fuck you yourself could want that is beyond me. But then again I know you don’t.

This mess may work out well for the world, but for the moment we’re all covered in blood and a lot less safe. And for the US and Israel, no matter what, it’s a lose- lose situation.
Happy New Year dimwit. Go get drunk and celebrate.

40

Seth Edenbaum 12.31.06 at 1:15 am

Blockquote doesn’t work too good here does it?
Rosenberg:

“Personally, I never much cared whether Israel’s neighbors were democratic so long as they were willing to live in peace with Israel.
Jordan, for instance, is not a democracy in the western sense but it is precisely the kind of neighbor Israel needs. Egypt is not a democracy but is at peace with Israel. A democratic Egypt probably would not be. So let’s lay the democratic crusade aside (which, of course, we do anyway if we don’t like the choices made by the voters in these various countries).”

41

Dan Simon 12.31.06 at 2:02 am

Hey, never mind that Iraq’s safety is going to the pits, never mind that the US’s own soldiers have died by the thousands, never mind that the court that tried Saddam was a kangaroo court, that’s OK as long as I can find some silly mud to fling at those darn “European leftist academics”!

As I said, future generations outside America will not care very much at all that “the US’s own soldiers have died by the thousands” and that Saddam was tried by what you and Josh Marshall consider a “kangaroo court”. Why should they? These are concerns that occupy American (and international) critics of America, not Iraqis (or anyone else) concerned about Iraq.

As for the civil strife that has bedeviled Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein–well, it’s a complicated topic, about which I have my own views. But Marshall barely even touches on it–he’s too busy talking about what Iraq means to Americans, how it’s being presented to them, how certain American leaders prefer to think about it, and how much he dislikes how they think about it. In short, his comments fairly reek of US-centric solipsism.

42

roger 12.31.06 at 2:07 am

Dan, you should definitely stop hanging around with future generations. It makes you all ghostly and stuff. I would recommend, however, that you get a few stock market tips before you take your return trip back to the land of the living. Why waste time correcting a buncha crybaby leftists when you can get rich?

43

sglover 12.31.06 at 2:43 am

By an eerie coincidence, the American fatality count is poised to hit 3000 over the weekend. Of course, the Cheney regime and its Little Manchukuo client in the Green Zone would never think of using one event to push another off the front pages…..

44

Idiot/Savant 12.31.06 at 2:48 am

It will look like exactly what it is: a murder, motivated by sadism and a lust for revenge.

45

astrongmaybe 12.31.06 at 3:05 am

I can only hope that you don’t know what the term “money shot” refers to.

I do know. I was trying to allude to pornographic aspects of the whole sordid spectacle. Glad you picked up on it.

46

Glorious Godfrey 12.31.06 at 3:13 am

I´m always amazed by the unwillingness of crooked timberites to rip to folks like Dan Simon the new orifices they so desperately seem to need in order to evacuate all the excrement they have been building up.

“Then again, the fact that Marshall’s level of obsession with the ´what does world event x say about the current US administration?´ question is now apparently the norm among European academic leftists says much more about American power than Marshall’s sniping ever could.”

Why yes, it says a lot about American power. About its decline, more specifically. You see, the transition from that much-touted “unipolar” world order of yours to a more uncertain multipolar one is bound to be the object of much attention.

As it happens, the Middle East and so-called Sub-Saharan Africa were up to now just about the only broad regions left in the world where it was possible and it made geopolitical sense to start ambitious military adventures. In other words, the only places left for armchair Talleyrands like you to vent .

After the Iraq fiasco and whatever else this administration may or may not decide to start in its wake, the Middle East will be as off-limits, militarily, as the Far East became after Korea and Vietnam. This is indeed a major blow to American power, and it duly receives a lot of attention, in Europe and elsewhere.

Your “if these losers talk about us, then we must be important, nya, nya, nya” sneer is just priceless.

“Are you familiar with the Freudian concept of ´projection´?”

A bit more, I´d wager, than you seem to be with the more prosaic concept of “denial”.

47

bad Jim 12.31.06 at 4:03 am

Was this the whole point of the schreck-
lich attack on Iraq and the wreck
of its present and past
to give Bush at last
Saddam Hussein hanged by the neck?

48

lol 12.31.06 at 5:12 am

Hilarious comment section.

Breathe deeply, take a step back, calm down, and realize how hysterical you sound.

The so called leftwing blogging intelligentsia reduced to sputtering like Red Guards at the height of mania.

Dan Simon is a paragon of civility by comparison.

Is the crookedtimber comment section alwats like that? Pity.

49

MikeN 12.31.06 at 5:57 am

Not to mention that a trial based on the massacres of the Shiites in 1991 might bring to mind some uncomfortable questions about a certain former president

50

bi 12.31.06 at 8:01 am

Dan Simon s3z,

As I said, future generations outside America will not care very much at all that “the US’s own soldiers have died by the thousands”…

Oh, but I’m sure that current generations of Americans who have friends or relatives in the military will care very much. And I’m sure that current generations of Iraqis care very much that Iraq’s safety is going to the pits.

You, you don’t care about anything. You don’t care about the safety of Iraqis or Americans. Come to think of it, you don’t even care about Saddam’s crimes. (!) All you care about is, “How can I use this to rhetorically wallop random folks?”

I’m sure that 10, 30, 50 years down the road, nobody will care about your writings, or even know who this “Dan Simon” is. But that’ll be too good a fate for you, because personally I want you to be remembered as “Dan Simon, the obnoxious troll whose take on issues concerning world safety consists of launching cheap potshots at random people he doesn’t like”.

51

astrongmaybe 12.31.06 at 8:13 am

I´m always amazed by the unwillingness of crooked timberites to rip to folks like Dan Simon the new orifices they so desperately seem to need in order to evacuate all the excrement they have been building up.

I suspect the unwillingness is something like the unwillingness to enter into conversation with a old drunk on the train, haranguing you about something or other. It probably wouldn’t be too hard to win out somehow, but what would be the point? “Poor man’s only looking for some love, anyway,” you think, and move away from the smell.

52

Glorious Godfrey 12.31.06 at 9:06 am

I´d sure as heck engage the wino, if:

a) the opinions espoused by him (or, more exactly, his ideological patresfamilias) were known to have been extremely influential in the decision centres of what is (and will remain, in spite of its loss of clout) a great power;

b) the conceits underlying the wino´s ramblings (like the whole hyperpower thang, or the unability to understand that this isn´t 1938, or the Age of Empires, or some undetermined point in the history of Imperial Rome) were so widespread as to be certain to rear their ugly head again in the future.

Failing that, I´d just jump off the train.

53

astrongmaybe 12.31.06 at 9:20 am

It’s still just a wino you’d be engaging with, though, no matter how many other people are on the train listening in. If I can mix metaphors, maybe you should keep your powder dry… (Though I did enjoy your post a lot, I must say.)

54

Barry 12.31.06 at 9:30 am

Dan Simon, re: my comments about right-wing freudian projection. “Really? I’ve seen it on occasion, of course, but no more (or less) frequently than among left-wingers, as far as I can recall. And I’ve rarely seen such a textbook case as the one I pointed out above. Do you have any specific examples in mind?”

The many non-Nam-serving wingers who bitched about Clinton not serving, while voting for every no-go GOP politician that they could.

Anybody who mentions corrupt Democratic Congresses to change the issue away from the awe-inspiring corruption of the Delay congress.

Anybody who accuses the Democrats of being racists, while voting for GOP ‘code word’ using racists. Double for those who call the GOP ‘the party of Lincoln’.

Anybody who cried ‘move on, get over it’ in 2000 who hadn’t gotten over Clinton being elected in 1992 – that is to say, all Republicans.

Anybody who accuses liberals of ‘not wanting to win in Iraq’, while supporting a GOP policy of guaranteed failure in Iraq.

Anybody who talked ‘black helicopter’ sh*t during the 1990’s, who now supports whatever Lord Bush II wishes.

Anybody who accuses liberals of being against ‘freedom of religion’, while supporting policies that diminish that – all because it’s a religion that they like.

55

abb1 12.31.06 at 9:48 am

Accusing anyone who doesn’t hate Arabs as much as they do of being anti-Semitic.

56

Glorious Godfrey 12.31.06 at 11:00 am

“Hilarious comment section.”

One hopes.

“Breathe deeply, take a step back, calm down, and realize how hysterical you sound.”

Ah yes, moderation and passion, ever at odds in the political arena. Ever in tension, like the Copernican principle and Ockham´s razor in astrobiology. Only wise men juggle them properly.

Errmm, no, sorry. If you cannot see that the crassness of our times demands a modicum of shrillness, go find solace in the middlebrow pap of Serious, Earnest, Moderate Thinkers like David Broder or Fareed Zakaria.

Satirists like…umm, Aristophanes, Rabelais or Swift are remembered for a reason, you know.

“The so called leftwing blogging intelligentsia reduced to sputtering like Red Guards at the height of mania.”

There´s something so genuine about your consternation that… I´d think you´ve done time in a Gulag. If only you used some additional Russian words like, say, balalaika.

“Dan Simon is a paragon of civility by comparison.”

See above. Civility matters less than not being full of horsedung (of the self-serving kind) in matters of, you know, war.

“Is the crookedtimber comment section alwats like that? Pity.”

Sometimes it´s even hilariouser. Stay around, you won´t be disappointed.

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Randy Paul 12.31.06 at 11:01 am

As I said, future generations outside America will not care very much at all that “the US’s own soldiers have died by the thousands” and that Saddam was tried by what you and Josh Marshall consider a “kangaroo court”.

That may be one of the most thoroughly asinine comments Mr. Simon has written. One wonders if he really knows anything about history. Here’s a few pointers:

Future generations of Americans found “separate but equal” repellent enough to end it.

Future generations of Americans found the internment of the Japanese in WWII to be repellent enough that they awarded the survivors compensation.

Future generations of Americans found denying women the right to vote repellent enough to guarantee them the right to vote.

Some people wear their denseness like a badge of honor.

58

bi 12.31.06 at 11:41 am

Hey Glorious Godfrey,

I wrote, “Dan Simon, the obnoxious troll whose take on issues concerning world safety consists of launching cheap potshots at random people he doesn’t like”.

It just occurred to me that the exact same description can be applied to Mr. lol.

Paragon of civility? More like paragon of frivolity.

59

novakant 12.31.06 at 1:16 pm

From a utalitarian point of view, it would have been much better under the circumstances, if someone had simply tossed a few grenades into the spider hole.

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Dan Simon 12.31.06 at 1:35 pm

Dan, you should definitely stop hanging around with future generations. It makes you all ghostly and stuff.

You’re quite right–the “future generations” stuff is silly. Marshall started it, with his “10, 30 pr 50 years down the road” business, but I shouldn’t have followed along. Let it suffice to say that virtually nobody in Iraq today–or anywhere else, for that matter, apart from those obsessed with America–cares about the number of American casualties, or whether Saddam Hussein’s trial and execution live up to American judicial standards.

The many non-Nam-serving wingers who bitched about Clinton not serving, while voting for every no-go GOP politician that they could….

These are all examples of garden-variety political hypocrisy–lambasting one’s opponents for sins one’s own side is at least equally guilty of. Real projection involves projecting one’s own faults onto another completely innocent party.

Is the crookedtimber comment section alwats like that?

Not always, but often enough. (The irony is that I’m the one banned from several poster’s comment threads.)

The vitriol is entirely understandable, though. The majority position here at Crooked Timber seems to be a kind of near-absolute pacifism, typified by John Quiggin’s posts about the general futility of war. Now, pacifism isn’t a rational or pragmatic position–it’s a moral passion, an axiomatic conviction. It thus can’t be argued rationally (any more than any other axiomatic moral position)–it can only, in the end, be harangued about.

Moreover, the nature of the harangue will depend upon the relative popularity of the moral position being argued. If a commenter were to stop by at Crooked Timber and argue for the justice of, say, slaughtering all adults of short stature, he or she would likely simply be shrugged off as a lunatic. But if someone advocates a popular viewpoint–say, that invading a country to depose a monstrous dictator has its moral attractions–then the counterarguments must be all the more vehement and shrill if they are to have any effect. “Don’t you understand? This isn’t just punishment for a tyrant–it’s senseless slaughter!

The “torture” debates here have a similar flavor: “Don’t you understand? Blaring loud music at suspected high-level Al Qaeda detainees is inhumane!” And lest I be accused of rank partisanship, social conservatives, as well, routinely find themselves in the position of trying to carry unpopular opinions by yelling: “Don’t you understand? Abortion is murder! Gays practice sodomy!”

Finally, at its most extreme, this kind of shrillness devolves into ad hominem attacks: “if you don’t accept my moral absolutes, then you are a Satanic monster who deserves only condemnation–get thee behind me, supporter of ‘just wars’!”

Generally, I try to avoid this kind of moral pie-fight. That’s why I declined to follow Nat Whilk’s elegantly-expressed line of argument–that those who regret failures to bring brutal dictators to justice shouldn’t be so churlish about the successes–which challenges neo-pacifism head-on. Instead, I chose a less confrontational point: that even someone who opposes the war on neo-pacifist principle should be willing to focus on the positives of the removal and execution of Saddam Hussein for Iraq, rather than the negatives for America.

As it turned out, that delicacy didn’t save me. Perhaps commenter David Kane is correct, and CT really is just the Little Green Footballs of the academic left.

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bi 12.31.06 at 3:18 pm

Dan Simon s3z,

Marshall started it, with his “10, 30 or 50 years down the road” business, but I shouldn’t have followed along.

Well, you did follow along. And you insisted on following along because you couldn’t take a hint. Why?

Let it suffice to say that virtually nobody in Iraq today — or anywhere else, for that matter, apart from those obsessed with America — cares about the number of American casualties, …

Speak for yourself. You don’t care about Iraqi or American casualties. All you care about is finding mud to sling.

…or whether Saddam Hussein’s trial and execution live up to American judicial standards.

And neither do you care. What you care about is accusing others (e.g. Josh Marshall) of not caring about stuff.

Real projection involves projecting one’s own faults onto another completely innocent party.

“Completely innocent”? So are you still insisting that your “10, 30, or 50 years down the road” business isn’t moronic quibbling?

Instead, I chose a less confrontational point: that even someone who opposes the war on neo-pacifist principle should be willing to focus on the positives of the removal and execution of Saddam Hussein for Iraq…

No, that wasn’t even anywhere near your point. Your point wasn’t even about Iraq, or Saddam, or Bush. Your point was “JOSH MARSHALL IS A CLOSTERED POLITICAL JUNKIE ROTFLMAO L0LZ W00T W00T W00T!1111111” Didn’t remember that? Read your initial reply again. Great way to look “less confrontational”.

Go away, lamer.

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Glorious Godfrey 12.31.06 at 3:40 pm

Dan, darling, it will be far easier to take you seriously when you start showing some readiness to admit that Iraq has gone to fucking hell in a handbasket , and that the possibility of having fucking hell in a handbasket in the aftermath of the “liberation” of any given country is of relevance when considering the justness of wars predicated on the need to overthrow ruthless dictators. And believe me, I´m no pacifist, oh ye well-armed Achaean.

Chaos was a predictable (and widely predicted) result of the invasion. It was always clear that a foreign presence (even one with far higher standards of equanimity than the Coalition´s) in an oil-rich country would give rise to an insurgency and stoke sectarian divisions, one way or the other. The only genuine surprise was the monumental extent of this administration´s corruption and incompetence, which effectively dynamited the state and turned the local mosque or husseiniya, political party branch or sheikh´s entourage into the only functioning centres of authority and purveyors of basic services. Under those conditions, the rise of sectarianism has been inevitable.

As for David Kane´s little cute LGF snipes…well, the fucker´s sleaze is a wonderful example of the dangers of invoking “moderation” and “even-handedness” when these most serious matters of state are under debate.

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bi 12.31.06 at 4:15 pm

OK, I think I’ll continue where I left off..

Dan Simon,

Now, pacifism isn’t a rational or pragmatic position — it’s a moral passion, an axiomatic conviction.

Well, at least it’s some sort of position. Your ‘position’, on the other hand, is just this: “You suck. Yes, you. You over there, you suck too. He sucks. And oh yes, she sucks. You all suck.” That’s your ‘position’.

But if someone advocates a popular viewpoint — say, that invading a country to depose a monstrous dictator has its moral attractions …

Or, how about the popular ‘viewpoint’ that you keep espousing? He sucks, she sucks, they suck, everyone sucks.

…then the counterarguments must be all the more vehement and shrill if they are to have any effect.

Hey, what were you expecting?

Dan Simon: Marshall sucks! Marshall is a cloistered junkie! And lots of other people suck!
Kieran Healy: Hmm, time for some civilized discussion.

The “torture” debates here have a similar flavor: …

Aye, they do.

Henry: Here are some pictures of waterboarding.
David Kane: CT is LGF times -1 w00t w00t w00t!1111111111
Michael Sullivan: That’s not true, and I’m a conservative.
David Kane: I’ll quibble over the word “infests”.

And lest I be accused of rank partisanship, social conservatives, as well, routinely …

You’re not a social conservative. You’re a mud-slinger.

Finally, at its most extreme, this kind of shrillness devolves into ad hominem attacks: “if you don’t accept my moral absolutes, then you are a Satanic monster who deserves only condemnation—get thee behind me, supporter of ‘just wars’!”

Jeez. Anyone who’s read this far will know that no reality was involved in the writing of Dan Simon’s above paragraph.

Generally, I try to avoid this kind of moral pie-fight.

And instead you go on, I don’t know, an amoral pie-fight? Going around throwing metaphorical pies with “YOU SUCK ROCKS” written in big bold letters — feels great, doesn’t it?

Austin Bramwell wrote, “Since 9/11, the conservative movement has not made unsound or fallacious arguments for supporting Bush’s policies. Rather, it has made no arguments at all. T.S. Eliot once asked, ‘Are you alive or not? Is there nothing in your head?’ The answer: ‘Nothing, again, nothing.'”

That’s you, Mr. Simon. You have no argument. No position. No nothing. Nothing. Nothing, again, nothing.

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snuh 12.31.06 at 8:03 pm

“Let it suffice to say that virtually nobody in Iraq today—or anywhere else, for that matter, apart from those obsessed with America—cares about … whether Saddam Hussein’s trial and execution live up to American judicial standards.

i think there are many iraqis (such as the kurds, who were denied the opportunity to hold saddam to account for halabja) who care very much about the failure of the trial to abide by what you so quaintly describe as “american judicial standards.”

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lol 12.31.06 at 10:54 pm

godfrey, I was of course referring to the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution, so your riposte, like so much of what you type, is misguided, clumsy, replete with a feckless moral outrage, and besides the point.

The point of course, was that the mania of posters like “bi” is cringe-inducing (even to himself, were he to actually re-read what he writes in a calmer frame of mind).

For example, he typically over-enthuses, and says I indulge in “cheap potshots” while arguing about world issues – quite oblivious to the fact that I 1. did NOT express an opinion one way or the other as to the issues being debated 2. only made a meta-comment on the conduct of discussions here.

As a result, not only is he wrong on the facts, he becomes a self-contradicting hypocrite – for he himself engages in the cheap postshots he rails against, issuing such epithets as “moronic”, “troll”, “lamer”.

What could be a more searing self-indictment?

lol, don’t bother to reply, it’s clear civility and consistency mean nothing to you when I’m castigated for merely asking you to calm down. A raging frivolity is indeed an apt descriptor of mania.

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bi 12.31.06 at 11:36 pm

… I 1. did NOT express an opinion one way or the other as to the issues being debated 2. only made a meta-comment on the conduct of discussions here.

Because, well, insulting people is much easier than actually discussing the topic of the blog post, no?

Kieran Healy, Josh Marshall: The Saddam trial is a sham.
Dan Simon: Josh Marshall is a cloistered junkie!
bi, albert, abb1, Seth Edenbaum: Dan Simon says dumb things.
lol: l0lz ct c0mm3nt3rz r hilari0uz ct = r3d gardz

… for he himself engages in the cheap postshots he rails against, issuing such epithets as “moronic”, “troll”, “lamer”.

They’re not “cheap postshots” [sic], they’re hard demonstrable facts, and I stand by my words.

… it’s clear civility and consistency mean nothing to you when I’m castigated for merely asking you to calm down.

Oh, “consistency”. Oh, “merely”. Let’s see again:

lol: l0lz ct c0mm3nt3rz r hilari0uz ct = r3d gardz

lol: OK, I’ll now conveniently forget that I compared CT in a derogatory way to Red Guards.
lol: Hey, I only told you all to calm down! Civility, civility!

Again, no argument, no position, no nothing. Just “you suck, he sucks, she sucks, you all suck! Suck suck suck!”

Mr. lol, maybe now you can calm down. And then get lost. Happy New Year.

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Dan Simon 01.01.07 at 1:16 am

i think there are many iraqis (such as the kurds, who were denied the opportunity to hold saddam to account for halabja) who care very much about the failure of the trial to abide by what you so quaintly describe as “american judicial standards.”

I would be very interested to see evidence of this. My impression is that Iraqis, including (perhaps especially) Iraqi Kurds, are happy to be rid of Saddam Hussein, and not particularly disturbed by the judicial standards by which he was condemned. But if you can cite reliable evidence to the contrary, I’d love to see it.

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bi 01.01.07 at 1:28 am

Dan Simon, the onus is on you to prove your point, since you made it in the first place. You don’t just offer up an “impression” and then ask for “reliable evidence” from the other side.

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bi 01.01.07 at 1:45 am

Then again, it’s not like this issue really matters (to Simon), since Simon’s initial point was simply that a lot of people suck.

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astrongmaybe 01.01.07 at 3:20 am

Hey lol, what do “Red Guards sputtering at the height of mania” sound like? What do they say, in between the sputters? You must have had something very specific in mind, but you don’t elaborate. Do tell.

71

Glorious Godfrey 01.01.07 at 6:55 am

“godfrey, I was of course referring to the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution,

My bad. However, you (of course) know that in the context of the Russian Revolution the Red Guards were armed groups of workers that went on to provide the core of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. The mention of the Gulag system is somewhat off-base, since it was introduced officially quite later. The extensions by the Soviets of the Zarist practice of work camps began early on, though.

Your clarification provides (arguably) even more grist for my mill, anyway. See below.

“so your riposte, like so much of what you type,”

I´m often wont to troll, which is obviously a dubious practice of limited amusement value (except to myself, that is). Now I´m (sorta) serious, however.

“is misguided…”

Oh, this one you won´t pull off so easily. You see, I have no pretensions of being able to put forth particularly profound insights. What I do say, on the other hand, is simple and widespread enough for it not to be possible to dismiss it so perfunctorily and cheekily as you´re trying to do.

In what we´ll charitably term the “debate” with Dan, I´ve been stating or clearly assuming the following:

-the much-vaunted hegemony of the US is waning, for a plurality of reasons (e.g. the rise of China and India, the increasing availability of nuclear deterrence, the growing resistance towards globalization on one hand and questioning of its equivalence to “Americanization” on the other, etc.);

-inasmuch as it showcases the difficulties, in a thoroughly politized (third) world, of making political gains out of conventional military superiority, the failure of the US at counterinsurgency in Iraq is of geopolitical interest (e.g. throwing the doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive military action into the toilet); inasmuch as it will hamper any future efforts of the US to exert its influence in a key region, it´s even more interesting;

-the chaos and bloodshed in Iraq were predictable, predicted, and of enormous relevance to assess the morality of the war.

You are welcome to try and argue that the above is misguided, under one condition: that we agree to meet and have a beer, say, thirty years down the line, so that I´ll be able to have a good laugh at you. The beer will be on me, though.

“replete with a feckless moral outrage,”

You are a bit full of crap, you know. Amused contempt at the self-serving lies and half-truths of a shrinking base of true believers does not an indignant attitude make.

“and besides the point.”

Or perhaps it´s you who doesn´t get it. The “point”, dear, is that by posturing as civil and level-headed, you´ve given us a rhetoric pearl that is more cringe-inducing by far than anything that has been said so far. Red Guards? Are you out of your gourd?

You´re a poseur.

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Glorious Godfrey 01.01.07 at 6:56 am

Crap, I didn´t want to strike out anything.

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Dan Simon 01.01.07 at 10:46 am

Dan Simon, the onus is on you to prove your point, since you made it in the first place. You don’t just offer up an “impression” and then ask for “reliable evidence” from the other side.

My impression is gleaned from the numerous press reports I’ve seen, none of which mentioned Iraqis fretting about the procedures governing Saddam Hussein’s trial and condemnation. I did see complaints that more of his crimes weren’t included in the indictment, as Snuh suggested, but that’s not really a procedural issue. (Indeed, “American judicial standards” most certainly include trying a defendant for what he or she can be conclusively proven guilty of, not for what “everybody knows” are his or her worst crimes.)

Of course, that doesn’t prove that no Iraqis were raising procedural concerns, and perhaps there are credible reports that I haven’t seen describing many Iraqis doing so. That’s why I expressed interest in seeing evidence to that effect.

74

lol 01.01.07 at 12:04 pm

The manic caricaturing and haranguing from “bi” is most amusing.

He now does not assert that I was “arguing about world issues”, much less masquerading my comments as such an argument. But he does not acknowledge his error either. Instead, he redoubles his bluster with manic vigour, pretending that he was being insulted (but no longer in the guise of debate).

Typical Red Guard behaviour during the Cultural Revolution was to harass their victims into submission with rhetorical sophistry of precisely the kind he employs — when shown to be factually in error about what was actually said, he redoubles his attack with bluster elsewhere, eliding the previous erroneous accusation, but conspicuously without the admission of error.

He then claims with a straight face that no one has made the argument to the effect that his harangues was Red Guard-like in its mania. lol!

Ignoring for the moment that his performance is quite convincing on its own (as described above), one notes with irony that he is not unlike the blusterer who, when told to stop whining like a stuck pig, self-indicts by complaining all the more blusterously that nobody has actually proven he was a pig.

The fact that he elides is indictment enough.

But wait, he goes further. Instead of admitting that he is a self contradictory hypocrite for flinging cheap epithets himself (“moronic”, “troll”, “lamer”) while berating others for it, he claims that his potshots were justified!

Notice the pattern: when others quite justly make a comparison (or analogy) of his mania to that of the Red Guards, it is ‘unjust’ (despite the fact that he demonstrates said mania convincingly). When HE makes outright insults of the kind levelled against Mr Simon, HIS potshots all of a sudden take on the character of cast-iron “facts [sic]” argued from first principles, which he stands by with all the conviction in the world.

At least my comparison was arguable, and indeed, justified. Your insults (“lamer”? lol?) can’t even claim that in mitigation.

Give it up pal your self-justifying, self-serving, self-contradictory hebetude is a cringe-inducing embarrassment even to yourself.

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lol 01.01.07 at 12:16 pm

lol godfrey your post is a mess. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t bother replying.

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Glorious Godfrey 01.01.07 at 12:29 pm

A “mess”? Lol indeed. Oh well, go straight to the last paragraph if you find the talk about Iraq disconcerting.

On second thoughts, no, I don´t mind if you don´t reply.

All the best for 2007, by the way.

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Thom Brooks 01.01.07 at 12:52 pm

My dear boy, Dan. *No* Iraqis had any problems with the procedures surrounding Saddam Hussein’s trial and execution? First, how do you know this is true—have you interviewed every Iraqi? Second, this seems manifestly false. For one thing, there were many Sunnis who made it clear that they too considered Saddam Hussein their president and rejected his being at trial in the first place. Third, even if no Iraqis did have a problem, we can happily attribute this to the horrendous propaganda being published and broadcasted by US-controlled media in Iraq. (Although, again, it is clear that many Iraqis have vocally objected to the trial.) Finally, we might also throw in the mix that all things considered Iraqis ought to object to the trial anyways: (a) the rule of law does not permit us to issue sanctions (not least death) retrospectively, (b) the rule of law requires an independent judiciary which then prohibits the US from forcing the presiding judge from a running trial for no reason other than that they didn’t like how they perceived he was viewing the case, (c) the right to trial is of the accused to hear charges against him and it prohibits executing people in the middle of a trial which, in turn, prohibits executing Saddam Hussein before the main trial—about his responsibility for gassing Kurds—was completed. Shall I continue?

For you to be wrong, all I need do is demonstrate either (a) you can’t know what you claim or (b) what you claim is manifestly false. I can then throw in additional (and weaker) normative reasons about (c) the wrongness of how information is being spread in Iraq or (d) the objective invalidity of the trial both in principle and from any clear account of the recent historical record.

Saddam Hussein was a real son of a gun. A lot of people feel undermined because they openly professed support for a war where their government so very clearly misled them. I am proud to say I didn’t support either Gulf War. Supporters of the conflict now undermined instead claim that, well, the war is still justifiable but handled wrong. What I love here is that instead of the US government manipulating facts that such persons can recite like willing parrots, these people manipulate facts on their own—they are happily complicit in this horrible conflict. We are told now that Iraqis really support the conflict and that they have no problems with Saddam Hussein’s trial. Rubbish.

Where do you get your news? The New York Post?

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Randy Paul 01.01.07 at 5:56 pm

My impression is gleaned from the numerous press reports I’ve seen, none of which mentioned Iraqis fretting about the procedures governing Saddam Hussein’s trial and condemnation.

It took me all of one minute to find this and this.

You weren’t looking.

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Dan Simon 01.01.07 at 8:16 pm

It took me all of one minute to find this and this.

As I explained, I did find articles, such as the first one you linked to, about Iraqis complaining that Saddam Hussein wasn’t tried for a much broader set of crimes. But again, I consider that to be the exact opposite of a procedural complaint. Politics and history argue for a full accounting for Saddam Hussein’s crimes, but procedural fairness requires that he be tried only for those crimes for which sufficient proof of guilt can be presented at trial.

The second article is an interesting one–thanks for pointing it out. (For some reason it didn’t show up in my searches–even of the NYT specifically.) It’s hard to tell, actually, what the Iraqis it quotes are objecting to “when they speak of “death squads” and “behaving in the same way [as Saddam Hussein]”–the quotations are shorn of context, amidst heavy editorializing by the reporter. They might be objecting to a lack of procedural fairness in the trial–or they might be complaining strictly about what they perceive as the anti-Sunni symbolism incorporated into the execution. It would have been nice if Ms. Tavernise had let the Iraqis in question speak a little more for themselves–then we would have known for sure what, exactly, angered them about Saddam Hussein’s treatment.

Again, it’s possible that one of Iraqis’ main concerns regarding Saddam Hussein’s fate is whether his trial was procedurally fair. I just haven’t seen any persuasive evidence to that effect–and I’ve seen lots of evidence suggesting that their reactions are dominated by the political and historical (rather than judicial) significance of his execution.

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Randy Paul 01.01.07 at 9:21 pm

But again, I consider that to be the exact opposite of a procedural complaint.

The carrying out of a sentence is also part of judicial procedure.

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Dan Simon 01.02.07 at 1:22 am

The carrying out of a sentence is also part of judicial procedure.

Fair enough–if what Josh Marshall meant by “pretend mumbojumbo”, and what BI meant by “kangaroo court”, was that the conduct of Saddam Hussein’s execution did not pay sufficient respect to Sunni sectarian sensibilities, then I’ll concede that their thinking isn’t merely US-centric, and apologize for assuming that they were alluding to legal aspects of the trial and sentencing.

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snuh 01.02.07 at 5:39 am

Indeed, “American judicial standards” most certainly include trying a defendant for what he or she can be conclusively proven guilty of, not for what “everybody knows” are his or her worst crimes

But again, I consider that to be the exact opposite of a procedural complaint. Politics and history argue for a full accounting for Saddam Hussein’s crimes, but procedural fairness requires that he be tried only for those crimes for which sufficient proof of guilt can be presented at trial.

nice strawman, but this wasn’t a case of saddam only being tried on charges in which a conviction was assured.

a trial of saddam and other officials for directing the anfal campaign against the kurds, in which saddam was charged with genocide, amongst other crimes, was ongoing at the time of his death. several days of harrowing evidence from survivors and forensics experts had been taken. i don’t think there’s anyone sane on earth who did not think saddam’s guilt a foregone conclusion.

do you seriously contend that an american appeals court (the standard you’ve chosen to use) would allow an execution to proceed where the damned was at the time of his scheduled death, defending charges of genocide?

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Dan Simon 01.02.07 at 12:29 pm

do you seriously contend that an american appeals court (the standard you’ve chosen to use) would allow an execution to proceed where the damned was at the time of his scheduled death, defending charges of genocide?

Well, I’m as far from an expert on these things as one can get, but I really don’t see why not. My impression, for example, is that many serial killers are executed while still suspects–perhaps even with enough evidence for an arrest–in numerous additional murders. If nothing else, it would set a terrible precedent to allow a murderer to escape the death penalty for a prolonged period simply by being also implicated in even more heinous crimes.

(Of course, if we’re talking about the ninth circuit here, then all bets are off–there’s simply no telling what wacky ruling those guys will come up with next….)

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RonF 01.02.07 at 6:58 pm

Why kill Saddam before the second trial is over? Why should his victims one case be heard, but not others?

They’ll be heard. In all of Saddam’s crimes, including the ones currently at trial, there are other defendants, and the trials will move forward.

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snuh 01.03.07 at 6:02 am

so there is no difference (as a matter of, say, criminal procedure) between (i) someone who is suspected of a crime and not charged, and (ii) someone who has been charged with a crime and is on trial?

nice try, dan.

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aaron 01.03.07 at 10:02 am

Ummm… How very insightful of you and Josh. Deep.

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aaron 01.03.07 at 10:03 am

Can you get that stuff in Michigan?

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Dan Simon 01.03.07 at 10:26 am

so there is no difference (as a matter of, say, criminal procedure) between (i) someone who is suspected of a crime and not charged, and (ii) someone who has been charged with a crime and is on trial?

Not with respect to this issue, as far as I can see. What happens when the defendant dies of natural causes during a criminal investigation or a trial? And why can’t the same thing happen if instead the defendant is executed during a criminal investigation or a trial?

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Randy Paul 01.03.07 at 2:26 pm

What happens when the defendant dies of natural causes during a criminal investigation or a trial?

Ken Lay’s conviction was vacated when he died before sentencing. I could not imagine your scenario would be worse.

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snuh 01.03.07 at 8:36 pm

What happens when the defendant dies of natural causes during a criminal investigation or a trial?

would it be superfluous to wonder whether you can see the distinction between someone (i) inadvertantly dying of natural causes, and (ii) being executed? (hint: criminal procedure can only prevent one of these deaths. try and guess which one! i think you’ll be pleasantly surprised)

anyway, i can see you’re just being obtuse now. as a parting shot, try and guess who wrote this:

Every Kurd I know was eager to see [the Anfal campaign] properly aired in court and placed on the record for all time, with its chief perpetrator on hand to be confronted with his deeds. Instead, the said chief perpetrator was snatched from the dock—in the very middle of his trial—and thrown as a morsel to one of the militias. This sort of improvised “offing” is not even a parody of the serious tribunal that history demands.

http://www.slate.com/id/2156776/pagenum/all/

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