December 17, 2003

Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

What the hell is wrong with the international community's sense of justice?

President Bush's view that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein deserved the "ultimate penalty" stirred unease Wednesday in Europe, where the death penalty is outlawed, and concern in the Middle East that the ex-dictator's fate had already been sealed.

I find it depressingly sad, though not surprising, that Big Media and Big Diplomacy so willingly take President Bush's opinion on justice for Saddam and then impute a will to act dictatorily to enforce his will, the US Constitution (not to mention vaunted international law) be damned, and all that. And it is even more telling that the perception is that President Bush's opinion has sealed Saddam's fate, rather than Saddam's deeds sealing Saddam's fate.

Spain's Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said she opposed the death penalty for Saddam and that his trial should showcase the power of humanity over inhumanity. "Saddam's trial must be a symbol of human ethics and morality in the face of the most miserable and inhumane qualities," she said.

How humane is it for the relatives of all those he killed to know how gently Saddam will be treated after so cruelly torturing and killing their loved ones? Or that those in power are more concerned with symbols of ethics and morality than justice for the worst mass-murderer of the last half-century? I mean, how can the reality of mass murder and widespread torture over thirty years compare to the accusation of being miserable and inhumane. One might be tempted to believe that Saddam Hussein is worse than President George W. Bush!

Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino was also against a death sentence. "I am not willing to give political powers a license to kill," he told a news conference.

To paraphrase Michael Corleone, "Who's being naive, Antonio?"

Middle East leaders and commentators said Bush's comments reinforced their belief that the United States' most prized prisoner would not get a fair trial.

Why is it that a "fair" trial must somehow ignore all that is known about Saddam's crimes. I just can't wait for Reuters and the BBC to start referring to Saddam's alleged crimes once he has been indicted. In some bizarro world corollary to suspending disbelief while watching the cinema, these illiberal utopians seem to want us to suspend belief in order to "keep on open mind" or to be "fair and impartial". Nonsense. This is a false dichotomy. One can easily have an open mind and be fair and impartial without pretending to have developed no opinion about Saddam and his crimes. It's almost as if there can be no fair and impartial trial unless there is a sizable possibility, if not probability, that Saddam may be found innocent.

And another thing, there is no question that some of Saddam's crimes extend into the international community, but that does not negate the fact that many of his crimes are strictly under the purview of Iraq. If Iraq chooses to try and execute Saddam for crimes committed within Iraq to Iraqi's, that is their prerogative. They can then hand his corpse over to whoever wants to further try him. To whine and wail that a trial for Saddam's international crimes, for which he will almost certainly not face the death penalty, must take precedence is pathetic. Or should I say, pathetique.

"I doubt he will be given a fair and free trial," said Khatami

That would be Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, well known arbiter of human rights, champion of international law, and all around swell guy to the international community. Pay no attention to his peaceful nuclear program or all those hands lying on the ground that used to be attached to petty thieves.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said that politicians should not interfere. "We politicians shouldn't say anything at all about what decision the court should make," she told reporters.

Unless it's about American cop killers, I guess.

Pierre Moscovici, France's former European affairs minister, now France's representative in the Convention on the Future of Europe, said Bush's comments prejudged the verdict.

In other words, President Bush chooses to engage his rational faculties, while Monsieur Moscovi prefers thoughtless ambivalence, while awaiting the outcome of the process. Process is so much more important than justice.

"A trial should never be concluded before the judgment has taken place," he said.

I assume that something was lost in translation, otherwise, this is gibberish.

"It's very typical that (Bush) is seeking revenge and punishment (but) what worries me is that this is a form of pressure."

So typical of that cowboy, isn't it? Apparently Mr. Kettle, sorry, I mean Monsieur Moscovi, typically wishes to restrain the privilege of exerting pressure to those who are sophisticated enough to exercise it irresponsibly about something really important.

DOWNDATE: Tacitus offers a less vituperative (but only a little less), better researched, more thoroughly sourced, and more clearly reasoned opinion on the same topic (via Instapundit).

Posted by Charles Austin at December 17, 2003 11:47 AM