The New Republic Staff

Saddam And Gerald Have A Talk
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December 31, 2006

by Richard Stern Saddam and Gerry The buzzard never says it is to blame. The panther wouldn't know what scruples mean. When the piranha strikes it feels no shame. If snakes had hands, they'd feel their hands were clean... On this third planet of the sun Among the signs of bestiality A clear conscience is Number One.     Wislawa Szymborska, "In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself" In the Anteroom of the Eternal sit two former heads of state.

The Day After
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December 31, 2006

Who mourned? And who did not? And who celebrated? Here's a short summation of the weeping and the cheering in the Arab world: It's in Haaretz on the last day of the year. I dimly recall from my childhood people weeping for Stalin's natural death. No, what I recall was not in Moscow. It was in New York. Jake wore a black arm-band to school that day. Did Germans cry when Hitler committed suicide with Eva in his Berlin bunker? How about when Idi Amin died in exile in Saudi Arabia? Mengistu is still alive in Zimbabwe. Saved by (who else?) Mugabe.

Saddam's Final Words
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December 31, 2006

In my post, "The Mourning of a Tyrant," I observed that a legend had already developed that Saddam Hussein's last words were "Palestine will be Arab." He probably didn't care a fig for the Palestinians, which is pathetic since there are so many figs in the region. In any case, the Palestinians will now have to disabuse themselves of the notion that he thought of them at the last. Another example of the self-inflicted pathos of the cause. Sorry, guys. Now, we have an authoritative report from Marc Santora in Sunday's Times about what Saddam really said.

A Brief Reminder
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December 31, 2006

It's a ghoulish thought. But a very gentle Israeli friend of mine--he writes from time to time for TNR--confessed that he had done it. Watching the execution of Saddam Hussein, which ran on Arab television hour after hour after hour, he decided he would like to watch some footage of torture done by Saddam and company. My friend advised me not to watch. Still, he had. Apparently, there are lots of on-line sites that will show you what it's like.

The Mourning Of A Tyrant
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December 30, 2006

Eve Fairbanks' tough-minded Plank post expects too much of the race: "While Saddam won't be laid to rest with the mixed feelings that accompanied Pinochet's death..." Alas, there will be more mixed feelings than Eve anticipates. More important, there will also be--there already is--enormous sorrow and wailing for the probably the cruelest tyrant in the postwar world, barring (but only possibly) Pol Pot. Much of the Arab world actually took Saddam to its heart, in Jordan, for example, where the late and noble King Hussein somehow felt he had to be in the dictator's court.

Hanged
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December 30, 2006

Unnervingly, when I heard that Saddam Hussein had indeed been executed around 10pm EST tonight at the gallows, and I popped open a laptop and saw the weirdly pathetic, face-etched-with-wrinkles portrait of him the Washington Post posted on their homepage (note: These photos rotate, but it was like this one), I felt a pang of pity for the guy.

Why Not An Auto Da Fe?
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December 29, 2006

It worked for a thousand years, even more. So now the Vatican has been touched by the soul of Saddam Hussein. He should not be executed, said Cardinal Renato Martino, the prelate in the entourage of Pope Benedict who is responsible for the Council on Justice and Peace, that is, matters of justice and peace apparently everywhere. Martino had long been a critic of the Iraq war. But he also established his certified anti-American credentials when he absorbed the spirit of the United Nations as the Vatican's emissary during a 16 year stint.

The U.n. And Saddam
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December 29, 2006

Has the U.N. Human Rights Council gone mad? It can't be. It's already mad. It seems not to be able to find a human rights violator other than Israel. Not China, not Cuba, not North Korea, not Sudan, not Zimbabwe. (Even Kofi Annan has criticized the HRC for focusing only on Israel.) So I was skeptical when people told me that the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, was sane and balanced and fair. After all, she does have a job and her bosses are slanted--how do I say this?--to the third world's view of realities, that is, that they are not human rights abusers.

The Nixon Pardon Was A Mistake
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December 28, 2006

by Michael Kazin Gerald Ford would indeed have been generous and statesmanlike if he'd pardoned those who broke the draft laws at the same time as he pardoned Nixon. But he also would have split his party and perhaps lost his chance to win the 1976 nomination--particularly against Reagan, whose political base despised the anti-war movement. At any rate, I still think the Nixon pardon was a mistake. Granted, presidents should not undergo prosecution while they're still in office. But why should they be immune once they leave it?

Ethnic Hatreds Are Rarely Primordial
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December 28, 2006

by Cass Sunstein During discussions of Iraq, many people have suggested that with the fall of Saddam, ancient, even primordial hatreds have bubbled up to the surface. On this view, the current situation is what it is because long-suppressed ethnic and religious antagonisms are now in full bloom. The problem with this view is that ethnic hatreds are usually not primordial. Part of what we have been witnessing is a kind of rapid "ethnification," in the form of a social cascade. Some societies show low levels of ethnic activity.

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