October 21, 2005

THE BELMONT CLUB remembers Nuremberg and has thoughts on trying Saddam:

I wrote earlier that any trial of Saddam Hussein would automatically bring in recent history as a co-defendant. I guess that the “internationalists” feel they are the only ones with the moral authority to judge the former President of Iraq. To the question ‘what law applies’, their answer will be the ‘international law’ they have been at pains to construct. Any law but those of who at all events have disqualified themselves from the power of judgment by removing Saddam Hussein by force. Yet the “internationalists” cannot hold themselves entirely blameless. Implicit in Saddam’s trial is another question: ‘how did such a monster carry on for so long in the face of an international system that pretends to civilization’? And would Saddam, even now, be gassing Kurds and throwing living human beings into woodchippers if any but those whose moral qualifications are now doubted not acted against him?

Shooting Saddam on sight would have been fine with me, and the “internationalists” — who, often, were on Saddam’s payroll — hardly have standing to complain. But in fact Saddam is being tried by the Iraqi people, his longtime victims, and they have far more standing to do so than any international body whose chief moral claim is a longstanding history of ineffectualness.

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