Ben Langhinrichs

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Chicago Seven and Saddam Hussein

Mon 5 Dec 2005, 10:52 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
My son is doing a National History Day project on the Yippies, and it has brought back many memories of the Trial of the Chicago Seven and Abbie Hoffman and such things (memories of reading about them, as I was only five years old for most of 1968).  In the light olf those memories, it is eerily familiar to watch the Saddam Hussein trial unfold.  Clearly, the powers that be have still not learned how to deal with the fact that a court system depends on its defendants accepting their authority, especially if those defendants have nothing to lose.  There is no real question that Saddam Hussein is guilty, if by guilty you mean that he committed various horrible acts, but the court depends on him to accept their legitimacy, or they risk his becoming a martyr, even if he did commit the acts of which he is accused.

Sometimes civilized society wants to mask its use of "might makes right", but sometimes even horribly bad people can turn around and expose the system for what it is.  We have overthrown Saddam Hussein, and we occupy his country, so we can certainly lock him up and throw away the key, if we like, or have him shot at dawn, for that matter.  What we can't do is force him to acknowledge that what we are doing is a legitimate legal case and not a matter of force.  He doesn't have to acknowledge the authority of the US imposed court system, and if he doesn't acknowledge that authority, he can actually weaken it.  If we are going to go into another country and depose the leader without real provocation, we should hardly expect him to acquiesce nicely.  We should either leave other countries alone or admit that we are doing what we are doing, which is imposing our force because we can.  Anything else is just play-acting, regardless of whether you are for or against this war or any other.

Copyright © 2005 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

403.1. Nick Halliwell
(10/12/2005 20:15)


I could not agree with you more. It is quite unusual to hear an American saying this. I live and working in Bangkok, with Notes systems. Therefore I tend to get a more global view of things than if I lived in my home country (UK) or America.

All the people that I have talked to from all over the world are against what has been done in Iraq by the US and UK governments in the name of democracy. Harold Pinter, in my view, said it all the other day when he said that Bush and Blair are the real war criminals. It is true they invaded a sovereign country with no reason in world law. They hold many people in prison with out charge and justify it all by saying this is a war against terrorists. “Rubbish,” under law in any civilized democracy a man is not guilty until proved guilty, usually by his a group of his piers. I never remember reading “unless he is an Arab terrorist.”