Man for a Glass Booth

(Washington Post) Charles Krauthammer - Although Saddam Hussein deserves to be shot like a dog, we nonetheless decided to give him a trial. First, to demonstrate the moral superiority of the new Iraq as it struggles to live by the rule of law. Second, and even more important, to bear witness. War crimes trials are, above all and always, for educational purposes. This one was for the world to see and experience and recoil from the catalogue of Hussein's crimes, and to demonstrate the justice of a war that stripped this man and his gang of their monstrous and murderous power. It has not worked out that way. Instead of Hussein's crimes being on trial, he has succeeded in putting the new regime on trial. The lead story of every court session has been his demeanor, his defiance, his imperiousness. The evidence brought against him by his hapless victims made the back pages at best. Why have we given him control of the stage? With every appearance, he dresses more regally, carrying on as legitimate and imperious head of state. What kind of message does that send to Iraqis who have been endlessly told that Hussein and his regime were finished? If anything, Hussein should be brought in wearing prison garb, perhaps in shackles, just for effect. And instead of the press being behind a glass wall, it is Hussein who should be placed in a glass booth, like Eichmann, like some isolated specimen of deranged humanity, symbolically and physically cut off from the world of normal human values. Both President Bush and his opponents in Congress are incessantly talking about "benchmarks" to guide any U.S. withdrawals from Iraq. But there is one benchmark that is always left unspoken: We cannot leave until Saddam Hussein is dead, executed for his crimes. As long as he is alive and well-dressed, every Iraqi will have to wonder what will happen to him and his family if Hussein returns. Only Hussein's death will assure them that he will not return.

2005-12-09 00:00:00

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