October 22, 2005

It's "Legitimacy" They're After

I read the other day that the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, which has gone on for four years, is not likely to end until perhaps 2010, as Milosevic intends to call some 200 witnesses in his defense, dragged out by more lengthy delays owing to his ill health (poor boy!) The same kind of circus for Saddam Hussein would suit the internationalists just fine, they tell us. Here's David Tell for the editors of the Standard...

New York Times Baghdad correspondent John F. Burns noted last week that "Western human rights groups" and other "critics here and abroad" would have preferred that Saddam be tried before "an international tribunal of the kind that has spent four years hearing the case against the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic." It was not Burns's assignment to elaborate on what this means, but we'll do it for him: The war-crimes tribunal in The Hague is an unmitigated fiasco. Its televised proceedings have made Milosevic more--not less--popular and influential back home in Serbia. His two most important, would-be codefendants, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are still at large, though one of them, Karadzic, wanted for the massacre of some 20,000 Bosnians, is hardly bothering to hide at all, having just brought out a book of lyric poetry intriguingly titled Under the Century's Left Teat. Karadzic's successor as Serbia's president, Biljana "Iron Lady" Plavsic--the Yugoslav tribunal's one and only significant conviction to date--will soon be done with the modest sentence she's serving in Sweden's Hinseberg prison. That prison, by the way, is in a converted mansion overlooking a lake. There's a sauna, a place for piano recitals, en suite bathrooms, and a horse-riding paddock, too. The prison shop sells ice cream...

... but this is not what the great mass of Iraqi citizens have in mind for the man who butchered their fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and daughters and sons by the hundreds of thousands for 35 years--crimes of which not even the noble souls at Human Rights Watch can bring themselves to presume Saddam innocent. The great mass of Iraqi citizens intend, instead, to watch as an Iraqi trial, of a deposed Iraqi dictator, unfolds in their Iraqi living rooms, gavel-to-gavel on Iraqi TV.

Mind if I pull up a chair?

Posted by dan at October 22, 2005 10:57 PM