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slow news day - Diary of a Necromancer
Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
slow news day
So Saddam Hussein is in US custody, which is nice, but I can't help wondering about its actual relevance to the situation on the ground; what, precisely, does this change? He hasn't been in control of Iraq for nine months, after all, so what beyond tying up a loose end does his capture gain for the Coalition forces?

I have two main worries over the "what next". First, that (as we may already be seeing signs of in the new wave of car-bombs) secure in the knowledge that Hussein isn't going to be coming back to exact retribution, whoever's Out There wanting the vacant position of Official Iraqi Boogeyman may actually be emboldened to step up efforts to get the credit for kicking our interfering American asses the hell out of "his" country -- and I worry over whether Bush et al are bright enough to see the potential hazard of Somebody distorting a US withdrawal at this point into a "victory for the glorious forces of Iraqi nationalism" no matter what the circumstances surrounding it. We're stuck there, because of the way Bush got us into this: we have to be incredibly careful to wrap this up in a way that's not going to leave the field open for the rise of a new dictatorship, and I'm terrified that Bush et al are going to seize the opportunity to declare "game over" and pull out for their short-term political advantage, setting us and the world up for another long-term headache -- when they're conveniently long-gone from office.

Second, I worry about what we (as in the US political class) are going to do now they have Hussein. I've already heard US man-in-the-street reactions along the lines of "shame we captured him alive, knowwhutImean", and I'm concerned that the relative unsophistication of the US public may well filter upwards into a reckless politically-motivated decision to do something... stupid. Like Lieberman's suggestion to bring Hussein to the US for trial; kiss Israel goodbye, Joe, we'd be spawning ten generations of suicide bombers if we do that. Whatever we do, we don't want to make Hussein a sympathetic figure to the Islamic street! Put him on trial to show everybody the delusional jerk he is, certainly, but give no one the opportunity to start thinking that the US shafted him with some sham "victor's justice". That's how the Crusades got rolling.

The best solution at this point would be to go tell Milosevic he's got a new roommate. The only way to grow the credibility of the notion that terrorism is wrong on the grounds of being an offense against the international community, including even terrorism against the citizens of the country whom one claims authority over, is to have one single neutral channel to handle all such cases; we can't turn Milosevic over to a trial in the Hague one year and then say "well, that's taking too long, the next guy we'll just execute ourselves". We need some consistency here. (And I hope the Bush administration can see how its refusal to sign on to the International Criminal Court is coming back to bite us in our own butt here.) Even the Nuremburg trials drew some fire for being arranged and handled by the victorious opposing forces; the human race needs to evolve past petty short-term politics and come up with a way to agree amongst ourselves how best to reign in our worst impulses.

The notion that the US media have latched onto is that Hussein should be tried in Iraq. While the thought of turning him loose in Baghdad's main square and giving each Iraqi a rock has a certain visceral appeal, I think that this might be just as big of a mistake as bringing him to the US to face a military tribunal; if our justification for taking action against the guy was that he was a world-class Boogeyman, then it's the world that has to try him for that offense, and if it's only the Iraqis that he committed the claimed offenses against, then where the hell did we get off invading a sovereign state without being asked by its citizens? (Note that this was the justification for the first Gulf War: one state invaded another and the invadee asked us for help.) While the Iraqis certainly have a damn good claim against the man, let them pursue it through international channels; for one thing, their country is in such ruins that it's doubtful they could mount such a trial as this themselves -- and for another, as terrorized as Hussein has had them for the last generation, who's to predict that he wouldn't get off just because the fear of him is such an ingrained habit by now? And would the US be willing to abide by that result?

The Democratic candidates have allegedly (I say allegedly, since I'm getting this from the US media, who have been falling all over themselves to crown Bush with the laurel wreath since yesterday morning) been reacting to this turn of events by turning around to bite Howard Dean. I find it curious, however, that some of them seem to think that aligning themselves with Bush because he's taken an action that the public is responding to favorably is going to help them in some way a few months down the road when they have to tell people why someone should vote for them-as-faux-Bush instead of just voting for Bush...? Oh, well, nine months is a long time in politics. And it's a media-induced hallucination that Dean's appeal is solely or even largely based on his opposition to the war in Iraq (opposition, mind you, based upon war being a less than efficient use of resources given the nature of the problem); it's simply that the war is a more photogenic-media-friendly story to cover than Dean's positions on the consequences of Bush's economic policies. And God knows the media can't let on that other people aren't getting by making less than an anchorman's salary, there might be riots at Emporio Armani or something. Let's go pad out the hour with Michael Jackson to distract them.

And speaking of distraction, I also find it curious that the story that Saddam Hussein's capture has knocked clean off the news is the brewing Halliburton overcharge scandal. Nothing to see here, people, move along...

feeling: pensive pensive
now playing on Radio Earworm: CNN in background

4 responses | moved to respond?
karenb2 From: karenb2 Date: December 16th, 2003 12:38 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
You're not wrong.

I wish there was more attention -- from anyone, but the media and the administration would be a good start -- paid to the option of handing Hussein over to an appropriate international authority.

Oh, and that little Haliburton problem? It's not a scandal, it's a discrepancy that's been brought into the open and is being dealt with. I know this, because Bushie told me so! It was right there on the TV...
oneiric_yen From: oneiric_yen Date: December 17th, 2003 04:14 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
~shy wave and smile~ I only just noticed you added me and will add back.

I see adding you will gain me another politically savvy lj friend. I am woefully inept and ignorant about politics, but do find it fascinating. I am learning, if slowly. ~smile~
robling_t From: robling_t Date: December 17th, 2003 11:44 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
LOL -- politics as a general subject actually bores the hell outta me, but In My Old Age I'm finding myself forced to take an interest out of sheer self-preservation (that cockup we got handed as an election last go-round was a real eyeopener on the consequences of leaving this sort of thing to the people who get off on it naturally). So I've been making myself pay attention, difficult as that can be sometimes. God, sometimes I just want to spank some of those brats...
oneiric_yen From: oneiric_yen Date: December 19th, 2003 05:11 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
~lol~ Spank them, absolutely. And not in a pleasurable way!

I just have trouble untangling everything and making sense of the effects of what politicians do will be. Politics is a very tangly thing, I think.
4 responses | moved to respond?