Monday, November 06, 2006

Saddam verdict and the rule of law

The "trial" of Saddam Hussein, with its inevitable verdict, just about sums up the legacy of three years of occupation of the country by US and UK troops following the illegal invasion in 2003 against a tissue of lies and deceptions. So Iraq’s judges took their cue from the invading forces when it came to a total disregard for the rule of law, both domestic and international. Proceedings were a farce, with anonymous witnesses and judges and lawyers who showed no knowledge or regard for international law. Four defence lawyers were murdered and one judge forced to quit under political pressure before, with impeccable timing just 48 hours before America’s mid-term elections, the court handed down its judgement. Even though the British state is formally opposed to the death penalty, this did not prevent New Labour’s very own Margaret Beckett from welcoming the verdict, reconfirming the scant regard the Blair government has for the rule of law as it constructs its very own authoritarian state. Tyrant though he was, it was hard to disagree with Saddam when he accused the court of delivering "victor’s justice". The 2003 invasion deprived Iraq of the right to self-determination, of the ability to rid itself of the Saddam dictatorship in its own way and time. The Bush-Blair regimes have instead tried to impose on Iraq their conception of a new world order based on military might and powerful corporate interests – especially those of the oil companies. In this they have failed miserably, at the expense of ruined lives and aspirations throughout Iraq. The country has descended into near civil war and countless thousands have perished as a consequence of the invasion. Basic necessities like energy, education and food are available to fewer and fewer Iraqis. Thousands leave the country each day. Blair, in particular, declared that the removal of Saddam would hasten the move to a Palestinian state. How hollow this all must seem to the Palestinian people who in the last few days have buried more than 35 people killed by Israeli forces, including women gunned down in the streets by occupation forces. What did foreign secretary Beckett have to say about that? She asked meekly that the Israelis respond in a "proportionate" way when attacking defenceless Palestinians. Yet the cruel oppression of the Palestinian people is a without doubt a crime against humanity. Don't hold your breath waiting for proceedings against the Israeli state or those in Washington and London responsible for the carnage in Iraq, however.

Paul Feldman, communications editor

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