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Empire marches on


THE hastily confected judicial assassination of Saddam Hussein, the last President of independent Iraq, was part of an extraordinary three-month-long offensive that United States President George W. Bush has mounted on all fronts, domestic and international, since mid-October 2006. That offensive has now culminated in the invasion of Somalia by the Ethiopian proxy of the U.S., massive U.S. bombings of Somali territory by huge U.S. cargo planes that have been turned into gunships, and the “invitation” by the puppet regime, which the Ethiopian proxy has imposed on Somalia, to the U.S. to send its troops to this newly occupied country. A “new” Eastern Africa is now as much a U.S. objective as is a “new” West Asia. An integrated offensive from the Caspian Sea to the Mombasa Bay, so to speak.

 

In the process, Bush has signed into law the most far-reaching limitations on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He has dismissed key members of his own team at the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as well his principal military commanders in the West Asia and Iraq. He has ignored the electoral verdict of November 2006, in which the U.S. electorate had repudiated his Iraq policies and handed both Houses of Congress to the Democrats. He has ripped up much of the report compiled in the name of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group by James Baker, his own mentor and his father’s chief confidant. He has widened dramatically the territorial breadth of the military conflict, committing more troops to the war in Iraq and daring his opponents in Congress to stop him.

 

Not just his father, not just Colin Powell but even Donald Rumsfeld has turned out to be much too circumspect, and not manly enough, in his reckoning. Only pliant courtiers who shall shield him from the bad news and go on doing his bidding to prop up his own delusions of manliness, such as Condoleezza Rice, are now good enough. Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, among key neocon architects of the Iraq invasion and now sceptical of further escalation, are out; an even coarser gang of neocons are now in. A former good-for-nothing alcoholic and now a born-again Christian, Bush seems to have cultivated both a gambler’s compulsiveness (just one more shot of whisky, one more throw of the dice) and a messianic streak, in which each failure is viewed as yet another trial by fire in the journey toward Eternal Salvation.

In a delusion so grand, the hanging of Saddam Hussein must have appeared to him as just a detail in one morning’s work, but also as yet another sign of his own manliness. As Governor of Texas, he signed more death sentences than any other Governor of a U.S. State in recent memory. Some of those who worked for him in Texas are rumoured to have said that he liked killing people. He does, in any case, keep in his presidential Oval Office Saddam’s own, personal pistol which was taken from him when he was captured by U.S. soldiers. That may well be the modern, American equivalent of eating your enemy’s liver as a tribute to that enemy’s valour.

 

 

A death foretold

 

That Saddam would be killed had been a foregone conclusion ever since he was captured by U.S. troops in December 2003. The U.S. propaganda machinery as well as the global corporate media mesmerised by that propaganda tried to say that he had surrendered abjectly and that his followers had been discouraged greatly by the fact that he put up no resistance and made the “cowardly” decision to be captured alive instead of choosing a “heroic” suicide.

 

Most of the world was impressed, rather, by the fact that he decided to stay on Iraqi soil, instead of getting himself smuggled into safety in foreign lands, and that he managed to dodge the American forces, 140,000 of them on the ground with all sorts of gadgetry of surveillance probing for his hideouts, for a full nine months. He took the risk of getting tortured by the Americans, who had amply demonstrated their capacity for torturing captives not just in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib but also in dozens of prison complexes scattered, literally, around the globe (“extraordinary rendition” and all that). The remarkable courage he displayed at the time of actual execution was already there in the decision not to flee the country and, instead, take the risk of capture and torture and eventual execution.

 

The sort of court in which the show trial was staged has been described by some well-meaning people as a “kangaroo court”. That is an insult to the essential decency of real-life kangaroos. Occupiers simply appointed their clients as prosecuting lawyers and judges. Lawyers who dared to defend Saddam in this court, which had

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