Ebb, Or Flow?

Most of America has been gripped by election fever this week, and it certainly seems the Democrats have trounced the ruling GOP good and proper. One has to wonder though, why almost half of America still insisted on voting for the same lame-duck government that has dragged this nation through the mire for the last five years.

Despite the mess in Iraq, the abandonment of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, a trade deficit of over $64 billion, and the steady flow of corruption and sex scandals emanating from Washington, nearly half of Americans still firmly believed in George W Bush and his band of………well….. fill in the blanks yourselves!

It remains to be seen how Nancy Pelosi and her followers will alter matters over the next two years. While George W Bush has publicly offered an olive branch and Rumsfeld has fallen on his sword, it is unlikely that the president will enjoy his final two years in office, given that he can no longer dictate his own terms or ride roughshod over any opposition. Indeed, it will be interesting to see whether he makes the best of a bad job (at least from his own point of view) or retires to his Texas ranch in a sulk, the first time he doesn’t get his own way.

The rest of the world will watch cautiously to see how America’s foreign policy pans out in the coming months. It will take more than just the Democrat’s trouncing of the GOP to regain the confidence of a world shattered by such high levels of aggression and degradation, as displayed by the US since 9/11/2001.

But, maybe – just, maybe – the tide is on the turn.

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Just Who Is Guilty Of What?

Perhaps the biggest, non-event of the year occurred this weekend with the verdict of “Guilty”, and subsequent death sentence, on Saddam Hussein. This happening, just coincidentally close to the midterm American elections, excited media outlets to even greater fervor as polling day approaches. Saddam’s impending fate captivated the headlines, and held those with nothing better to do on a Sunday, glued to the TV screen.

Was anyone ever doubtful of the outcome? Did some enterprising, not to say optimistic, gambler bet his shirt on the ex-Iraqi president’s innocence? It’s doubtful; Saddam’s guilt was a conclusion as foregone as George W Bush stating the repubs will resoundingly win the midterm elections.

What was really in doubt, from the first moment Saddam entered a courtroom in the Iraqi “Green Zone”, was the trial being seen to be fair and just. The prosecution of a head of state, by an occupying nation through a puppet government, would be unacceptable to the US, or any other western nation, if it were to occur anywhere else but Iraq, and if the occupying power were other than American.

Saddam Hussein did not receive a fair trial. The defence was not allowed to present a proper case. Some may argue it didn’t matter; that his guilt was never in doubt. But it does matter. It matters because Saddam Hussein was removed from power by nations supposedly offering the people of Iraq something better. George W Bush still insists he is “spreading democracy” throughout the Middle East. Part and parcel of democracy is justice; both done, and seen to be done.

What are the Iraqi people to think when they witness a similar style of ‘justice’ as meted out in Saddam’s era, used to convict the dictator? They will believe justice is not important to democracy; only revenge.

Saddam Hussein will undoubtedly hang, though his death sentence has still to be ratified by the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Talabani won’t sign the papers. He doesn’t believe in the death penalty as punishment for a crime. However, he won’t insist on commuting the sentence to life imprisonment, as that would upset the Americans. Instead, he will take a similar stance to that of Pontius Pilate, when trying Jesus of Nazareth. He will wash his hands of the affair and leave it to one of his underlings.

There is a certain irony that links Saddam Hussein to Jesus of Nazareth. Both were leaders in their individual way; both were caught and brought before an occupying power; both were passed back to their own kind for trial and sentencing; both had followers who would use them as martyrs for a cause.

Of course, history tells us they were very different men. One was killed for, ostensibly, doing good; the other for doing bad. Each was, however, considered a threat by the occupying force of the time.

The whole concept of capital punishment has been debated on Sparrow Chat before, and regular readers are aware of the writer’s views – that it is utterly demeaning and debasing to the perpetrators, and besmirches humanity as a species.

Will hanging Saddam Hussein help bring the conflict in Iraq to an end? No. It will only make matters worse. What, then, is the point? Had the dictator been tried and found guilty at the Court of Criminal Justice in the Hague he would have spent the rest of his life in prison, far away from Iraq and any influence he may still have held there. As it is, his death will be seen as martyrdom by those who still support the Ba’athist regime, giving further excuse to escalate the violence and slaughter presently prevailing in the country.

Had the occupying forces done what was right, and removed Saddam Hussein for trial by an international court, the Iraqi people may have realized that democracy treats justice and revenge as separate issues that can never be compounded. Sadly, because the two are so frequently confused in the United States, it was never going to happen in Iraq while the Americans remain in control of the country.

Revenge can never be justice. In order for justice to be just, it must remain impartial. Americans, in general, have still not grasped that basic concept of democracy, and are not, therefore, – despite George Bush’s fanciful words – in a position to educate others on the subject.

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Riverbend Is Back………

After some months without blogging, “Riverbend” of “Baghdad Burning” has begun writing again. Here is one paragraph from her most recent post, “When All Else Fails…..”:

It’s not about the man- presidents come and go, governments come and go. It’s the frustration of feeling like the whole country and every single Iraqi inside and outside of Iraq is at the mercy of American politics. It is the rage of feeling like a mere chess piece to be moved back and forth at will. It is the aggravation of having a government so blind and uncaring about their peoples needs that they don’t even feel like it’s necessary to go through the motions or put up an act. And it’s the deaths. The thousands of dead and dying, with Bush sitting there smirking and lying about progress and winning in a country where every single Iraqi outside of the Green Zone is losing.

Please use the link above to read the rest. Preferably, before you cast your vote in the American midterm elections tomorrow.

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