Revolution #76, January 14, 2007


U.S. Imperialism's Latest Crime in Iraq:

The Kangaroo Trial and Execution of Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein was hanged by a U.S.-controlled court on December 30.  The Bush regime and its Iraqi allies claim Hussein’s trial and execution are a triumph--a “milestone” as Bush put it--proof of progress in establishing a new, just Iraqi government.

Instead, this execution illustrated the U.S. imperialist’s blood lust, as well as their rush to murder Hussein before evidence of their own complicity in his worst crimes could be brought to light. And it showed what kind of “democracy” the Bush regime has brought to Iraq: the new U.S.-backed government is dominated by a collection of reactionary Shia religious fanatics and death squads.  The trial and execution weren’t part of a process of liberating all Iraqis, searching for the full truth about Hussein’s crimes against the Iraqi people and others in the region, or creating a just society.  They were exercises in imperialist reaction and sectarian religious vengeance, tantamount to an open declaration of ethnic cleansing and religious war against the whole Sunni population.

This whole scene--coming on top of all the other U.S. crimes in Iraq, including the deaths of an estimated 650,000 Iraqis--shows once again that NOTHING good can come from U.S. imperialist aggression.

A U.S.-Run Kangaroo Court from Day One

President Bush claimed Hussein had received a “fair trial.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The U.S.-orchestrated trial and execution were a mockery of due process and justice from day one.

The court itself was set up illegitimately by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority, under conditions of an illegal war and occupation.  It was funded with $138 million in U.S. aid.  Every aspect of the case, including courtroom procedures, the prosecution’s case, even the layout of the courtroom were determined by the U.S.  American advisors effectively controlled the process every step of the way--directly and repeatedly intervening throughout the trial to control the evidence and shape the outcome.

During the course of the trial, three defense attorneys were murdered and another abducted and wounded.  One presiding judge was forced to resign because he was allegedly too sympathetic to the defense; his replacement had family members killed in one of the massacres Saddam is being tried for.  Prosecutors often delayed giving evidence to the defense or didn’t provide it at all.  According to Human Rights Watch, microphones were sometimes shut off and translators stopped by the Iraqis and Americans in charge if defense testimony didn’t suit them.

A prime U.S. objective was covering up its own complicity in Saddam Hussein’s crimes against the Iraqi people, and making sure none of this came to light.  The only charges against Hussein heard before his execution concerned the 1982 Dujail massacre (where 148 were killed after an assassination attempt on Hussein)--not Hussein’s massacres against the Kurds, his invasion of Iran, his use of poison gas, or his slaughter of communists after the 1963 Ba’ath coup--because all could have gotten into U.S. involvement. 

Another Bloody U.S. Milestone in Iraq

The verdict and then the sentencing and execution were carried out in a rush to try and bolster the shaky government in Baghdad --including by trampling on Iraqi law itself (that the President be given 30 days to sign an order for the execution and that it not take place at the start of a religious holiday).  Then carrying it out on the first day that the religious holiday of Eid was to be celebrated by the Sunnis (the Shia celebration began the next day), was a deliberate and sectarian slap at the Sunni population--in reality an open declaration that Iraq is now a Shia religious state, and that other religions will be suppressed.

The U.S. has tried to distance itself from the ugly mob scene at the hanging, where Shia militiamen hurled religious taunts and reveled in Hussein's killing.  Whether the U.S. had total control of the hanging, or even totally agreed with exactly what the militiamen present did, the fact remains that the Bush regime went along with the rushed verdict and trial for its own political reasons.  (There’s no reason Bush could not have refused to turn Hussein over--it was after all the U.S. who had control of Hussein, who flew him to his execution, and then transported his body to be buried afterward--because the execution violated Iraqi law.)

In the face of growing criticism of the war--and the coming announcement of sending more troops--Bush desperately needed some “good news” to bolster his case that this cruel and criminal war were somehow worth fighting.  Hussein’s execution was designed to give it to him.

The U.S. has consistently used such blood-soaked “milestones” in an attempt to show “progress” and build support for the war.  Recall the murder of Hussein’s sons, the capture of Saddam, and the execution of al Qaeda leader Zarqawi.

Bloodshed & Backfires

Two of the key threads of the entire Iraq war stood out following Hussein’s lynching.  First, that nothing good can come of U.S. imperialism’s criminal, immoral, and unjust wars of empire.  Second, that its savagery and arrogance often backfire, as it already threatens to in this instance:  it has shocked millions (if not billions) around the world with its unjustness and cruelty; and in Iraq it has further fanned the flames of the anti-U.S. resistance and the sectarian civil war that are ripping Iraq apart and threatening to turn the entire U.S. war into a giant debacle and defeat.

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