I feel so ambivalent. Do human beings get more unpalatable than Saddam Hussein? As a Christian, I strive to view each person as made in the image of God. It's why I'm opposed to the death penalty. But, well, if ever I had to lean on the mercy of Christ to view someone through the eyes of Christ, it is with that monster from Tikrit.
So then, why do I feel like crying?
A. told me tonight that his mom said she feels sorry for Hussein. We both remarked that it takes a special talent - which apparently Blair and Bush have -- to make someone actually feel sorry for the Butcher of Baghdad. That and I suspect his mother is a better Christian than I.
No, it's not sympathy for him that has me here on the brink of tears. It's that this doesn't feel at all like justice. He will not have to stand trial now for his most heinous crimes. Iraqis will not have the chance, like South Africans did, for truth and reconciliation. There will be no reconciliation among Kurds, Shia, and Sunni, only throat-slitting, bullet-riddled civil war. The truth about US involvement in Halabja, as Robert Fisk explains, will not come out.
Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.When Hussein was first found guilty back in November, Fisk asked "Have ever justice and hypocrisy been so obscenely joined?" Now that Saddam Hussein is dead, the justice part feels missing and I think it was the last sentence of his article today that explains why: "But we will have got away with it."
On Christmas my mother invited, among others, a loud, opinionated fundamentalist conservative who I had the discomfort (literally -- I could barely move my arms to my mouth!) of sitting next to. He went off on several issues, most of which demonstrated veiled misogyny and homophobia that I just sort of ignored. But then he got around to Iraq and how they attacked us first, blah, blah, remarkably stupid blah. Often I just don't bother much with people like him because he clearly doesn't know anything, even though he thinks he knows everything, and there's not really much point. Yet Monday I found myself just going off on what we've done to Iraq and it's all well and good that we can sit at a table stuffed full from a large meal (or not -- my mother is not known for her culinary skills) and calmly discuss Iraq while Iraqis are dying every day and without electricity and water. He, of course, believed he was an expert on Islam and went home smugly satisfied that Muslims are evil and blowing the shit out of them is a good, Christian thing to do.
Later I sat with myself for a bit to observe why I went off. Why I let him get to me when people such as he usually don't. Some of it had to do with my lack of any authority now because of illness. I have very little voice anymore. I spend most of my interaction with people in a sort of subordinate position -- the patient -- rather than a more authoritative or even equal position. But that's a meditation for another post. What a lot of it came down to was my anguish over the sheer horror of knowing what has been, is, and will happen in Iraq.
Between 1 and 1.5 million Iraqis died during the sanctions regime (yet one more on the list of horrible crimes for which Hussein is now confronting his maker). I remember protesting and weeping during the nineties. During a course on genocides, I talked my small group into using the US-mandated UN sanctions as our example of a form of genocide. My anguish then regarding the Clinton administration's policies seemed as grave as it could get.
Then came the war. At least 655,000 more Iraqis have died than would have had we not invaded Iraq. This now means approximately 2 million Iraqis have died directly because of our actions, and three million are homeless.
Now consider the fact that Iraq has about not quite 30 million people. Ten percent of the entire population is homeless -- thirty Hurricane Katrinas, if you will -- and just under that have died because of United States. While we keep going on about the 3000 who died on September 11 -- and make no mistake, it was indeed a great tragedy -- imagine if 20 million Americans died. And for...what? For what great cause have so many children, so many fathers and sons, daughters and mothers been sacrificed to Molech and Iraq turned into a smoldering hell?
Yes, this is the twisted American feast of sacrifice: our sacrificial tyrant surrounded by bullet-ridden bodies and refugees.