Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, July 02, 2004
CAN YOU SMELL ANOTHER MILOSEVIC as Saddam Hussein is led into his bunkered court room?

While the human rights lawyers, like Geoffrey Robertson, howl about the transfer of jurisdiction over Saddam to the new Iraqi administration without a guarantee the death penalty will not be exacted on the monster, they fail to tell us that they have already won the war.

This was Robertson's demand before the war:
States that wage 21st century wars must not only win them on the battlefield: they are expected to win, subsequently, in the courtroom, by proving the enemy guilty of some international crime. Since this is a necessary (although not necessarily sufficient) precondition for a just war, it behoves those who urge an invasion of Iraq to explain what they propose to do to Saddam Hussein when they capture him.

It seems Allawi and colleagues are saddled with the decision to try Saddam for offences like genocide and war-making, offences the left loves but understands no better, in a legal sense, than you and I.

The guaranteed result is many months, perhaps years, of fancy legal footwork and show-pony politicking by tribes of international lawyers.

At the end of it Saddam, David against the legal Goliath, may seem to more Iraqis to be a hero than he now does, and he would still be available, like Napoleon on Elba, for his desperate followers.

On the other hand, a few, readily-proved charges of murder, determined within a month, and followed immediately by execution, would provide Saddam with the justice he deserves and the Iraqis with the justice they need.

That's how it would have been done under Anglophone law until it was taken over by the left.