Sunday, January 07, 2007

America’s Mistakes on Saddam’s Trial

Fareed Zekaria writes for Newsweek. Like all good liberals, he's perfectly clear-eyed about the merits of America's war against Saddam writing "[Saddam] created one of the most brutal, corrupt and violent regimes in modern history, something akin to Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China or Kim Jong Il's North Korea. Whatever the strategic wisdom for the United States, deposing him began as something unquestionably good for Iraq."

Thirty-percenters, foolishly, end the discussion here. To them, all that matters is that Saddam is dead. That fact that administration blunders have made matters in the Middle East much more dangerous seems to escape them. It's almost as if their minds are too small to both celebrate the death of the tyrant while simultaneously acknowledging that Bush has fanned the fires of Islamic fundamentalism and created a situation in Iraq likely to threaten us for generations.

It is on this subject that Zekaria is especially prescient.

Some of his points:

(1) "In the months after the American invasion, support for the Coalition Provisional Authority topped 70 percent. This was so even among Iraq's Sunni Arabs. In the first months of the insurgency, only 14 percent of them approved of attacks on U.S. troops. (That number today is 70 percent.) The rebellious area in those early months was not (Sunni) Fallujah but (Shiite) Najaf."

Why did things change? Because:

(2) "We summarily deposed not just Saddam Hussein but a centuries-old ruling elite"

(3) [We] "fired 50,000 bureaucrats and shut down the government-owned enterprises that employed most Iraqis. In effect, the United States dismantled the Iraqi state, leaving a deep security vacuum, administrative chaos and soaring unemployment"

And then

(3) "We were stunned that they reacted poorly."

"In contrast, on coming into power in South Africa, Nelson Mandela did not fire a single white bureaucrat or soldier - and not because he thought that they had been kind to his people. He correctly saw the strategy as the way to prevent an Afrikaner rebellion."

Around the horn
Tony Blair: The execution was "completely wrong"
Chris Hitchins: The trial and excution "was not even a parody of the serious tribunal that history demands."
Chris Hitchins: The timing—isn't anyone in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad paid to notice this kind of thing?—was explicitly designed to rub every kind of humiliation into Iraqi Sunnis. It profaned their observance of the Eid ul-Adha holiday, while gratifying the Shiite fundamentalists whose ceremonies begin one day later. To have made the butcher Saddam into a martyr, to have gratified one sect, and to have cheated millions of Iraqis and Kurds of the chance for a full accounting—what a fine day's work!

No comments: