The Trial of Saddam Hussein /
Anti-war Movement Must Reject Colonial 'Justice'
By Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center
The trial of Saddam Hussein, which has opened with much international
publicity, is a desperate attempt to justify and convey some
legitimacy on the criminal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is
an effort to demoralize and divide the resistance to the occupation.
It has nothing to do with justice or truth.
All the political forces internationally that have opposed the
15-year-long U.S. war on Iraq--which has included starvation
sanctions, bombing and invasion--should also oppose all the efforts to
justify the continued occupation, including the present trial of the
former Iraqi leader and seven members of his government.
Regardless of the wide spectrum of political views on the character of
Saddam Hussein's government, it is essential to oppose this U.S.
justification for the war. To be silent on this issue is to give
credibility to a U.S.-created phony court at the giant U.S. command
center called the Green Zone.
The U.S. government has no right to have even one soldier in Iraq. It
has no right to bomb, sanction or starve the Iraqi people. It has no
right to impose a colonial government or to establish courts in Iraq.
It has no more right to decide the fate of Saddam Hussein than it does
to control the oil and resources of Iraq.
The detention of Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants, along with tens
of thousands of other Iraqis, is all based on a criminal, illegal war
of aggression.

The Iraqi Special Tribunal and the trial of Saddam Hussein are also a
violation of international law. The Geneva Convention, to which
Washington is a signatory, explicitly forbids an occupying power from
creating courts. In addition, the trial itself, along with the total
isolation of the defendants and denial of all visitation and legal
rights violates the International Convention on Civil and Political
The defense lawyers who have stepped forward have been threatened and
intimidated. Two lawyers on the defense team have been assassinated.
Today in Iraq there is no judicial system. There are no codes, no
laws, no courts. There still is no agreement on a constitution. The
entire structure of the Iraqi state was destroyed. In its place is
only the most brutal form of outright military domination.
The Iraqi Special Tribunal has been illegitimate since its very
formation. It is a creation of L. Paul Bremer III of the U.S., former
head of the Coalition Provisional Authority--the illegal, occupying
power. Bremer initially appointed Salem Chalabi, the nephew of Iraqi
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi, to organize and lead the court.
Chalabi had returned to Iraq from exile with the aid of U.S. tanks in
April 2003. He opened a law office to draft the new laws that have
reopened Iraq to foreign capital, in collaboration with the law firm
of former Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith, a war profiteer, an
ideologue of the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld cabal and a principal
architect of the war.
Bremer also appointed the tribunal judges. The funding and the
personnel are totally controlled by U.S. forces. The U.S. Congress has
appropriated $128 million to fund the court. Of course, the court has
no jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. forces in the invasion
and occupation!
Role of demonization
The trial underway now is part of the sustained U.S. effort to totally
demonize Saddam Hussein. This has been an essential part of the
15-year war on Iraq.

U.S. propaganda has relentlessly described Hussein as an evil madman,
a brutal dictator and a threat to the entire planet who was poised to
strike with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons within minutes. He
was charged with having a role in 9/11 and being in league with al-Qaeda.
Both Republicans and Democrats knew this was a fraud. U.S. bombs had
destroyed Iraq's entire industrial capacity. But no politician was
willing to challenge the demonization.
Every U.S. war against oppressed peoples and nations has begun with
saturating the entire civilian population with war propaganda that so
demonized the leader of the targeted population that any crime was
treated as acceptable and beyond question. This has been true since
the wars against Native populations and the demonization of Sitting
Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo and many, many other Indigenous leaders,
up to the leaders of every progressive or revolutionary struggle over
the past 50 years.

It doesn't matter how mild or committed to non-violence the leader is.
Consider the case of the kidnapped former priest, President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, who was charged with corruption, drug
running and gang violence. Today President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela
and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran are increasingly portrayed
as madmen, dictators and evil incarnate.
Since the days of the Roman Empire, victor's justice has meant
humiliation, degradation and placing the defeated leader in the dock
in order to establish a new order. It hides the brutality of
overwhelming force and gives legitimacy to the new rulers.
The trials of Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner in the ante-bellum South
were the slaveowners' way of cloaking the violence and degrading
brutality of slavery in "god-given" property rights. The kidnapping
and trial of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic after the 78-day
U.S/NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, in which hundreds of civilians died,
was a similar case of victor's justice.
U.S. and WMDs
While the U.S. demonizes Saddam Hussein, it should be remembered that
the Pentagon has used weapons of mass destruction not only in Iraq but
against countless other defenseless populations, from Korea and the
Philippines to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Libya,
Lebanon and Yugoslavia.

It is the U.S. military machine that should be put on trial for having
used the most horrendous weapons, from nuclear bombs to napalm, white
phosphorus, anti-personnel weapons, so-called bunker busters and
radioactive depleted-uranium weapons.
In Iraq intentional civilian destruction was calculated, photographed
and studied. The infrastructure was consciously targeted. Reservoirs,
sanitation and sewage plants, chlorine and water pumping stations were
bombed. The electrical and communications grids were destroyed. Food
production was targeted, from irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides
to processing, refrigeration and storage.

In the 1991 bombing more than 150,000 Iraqis died. There were 156 U.S.
soldiers killed.
Year after year international delegations that had been to Iraq,
including many organized by the International Action Center (IAC) and
led by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, reported on the
impact of the 1991 bombing and the years of U.S.-imposed UN sanctions.
The sanctions created an artificial famine. Imports of food, medicine
and civilian necessities were withheld.
By the UN's own estimates, over 1.5 million Iraqis died of preventable
diseases. Half a million children under the age of 5 years died
between 1991 and 1996. Both the sanctions and the bombing, begun under
George H.W. Bush, continued through the eight years of the Clinton
administration. U.S. bombing continued at an average of 25 raids a day
for 12 years.
Ramsey Clark, founder of the IAC, has courageously challenged the
legitimacy and legality of the Iraqi Special Tribunal as a legal
adviser to Saddam Hussein.
As an international human rights lawyer, his position is entirely
consistent with his 15 years of opposition to the U.S. war in
Iraq--from his visit to Iraq in 1991 when the U.S. bombed every 30
seconds for 42 days, through the 12 years of starvation sanctions, to
his opposition to the 2003 invasion. It is consistent with his
principled opposition to other U.S. wars and interventions in Vietnam,
Nicaragua, Grenada, Iran, Libya, Lebanon and Panama.
Standing up to demonization is part of standing up to the U.S. war and
its propaganda machine.
Target is Iraqi sovereignty
The agents of U.S. imperialism have established corrupt and brutal
dictatorships and trained and funded military rule from one corner of
the globe to the other--from Indonesia to Chile to Congo.
Their problem with Saddam Hussein was not that he was a dictator. It
was that he refused to surrender the sovereignty of Iraq. He refused
to give U.S. corporations control over Iraqi oil, nationalized
beginning in the 1960s. His worst crime in their eyes was that he
refused to bow down to the New World Order.
It is Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair who should be on trial for war
crimes and crimes against humanity.
The global movement that opposes the U.S. occupation in Iraq must
seriously consider its responsibility to oppose every aspect of the
U.S. war--especially the phony courts and staged elections that seek
to legitimize and legalize this piracy.

Implicit in the call to bring the troops home now is the demand to
stop the whole brutal process of recolonization. This means
cancellation of the U.S. corporate contracts that have privatized and
looted Iraqi resources, closing the hundreds of U.S. bases and the
thousands of U.S. checkpoints, canceling the "search and destroy"
missions and closing the secret prisons where tens of thousands of
Iraqis are tortured and humiliated.
And closing the illegal, U.S.-created courts.
Sara Flounders is co-director of the International Action Center. She
has edited five books on Iraq and coordinated several delegations,
headed by Ramsey Clark, that visited Iraq to challenge the U.S.
bombing and the sanctions.

International Action Center
39 W 14th St Suite 206
New York, NY 10011

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