The U.n. And Saddam

by The New Republic Staff | 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. It's as if, by definition, they can't be. According to a dispatch from Reuters, the High Commissioner has condemned the death penalty meted out to Saddam Hussein (plus others of his henchmen) and also the rejection of the appeal of that sentence. "There were a number of concerns as to the fairness of the original trial, and there needs to be assurance that these issues have been comprehensively addressed...blah, blah, blah." U.N. human rights agencies are not trustworthy monitors of Iraqi developments. The Human Rights Council, the commission's predecessor, was very concerned about the alleged suffering in Iraq due to the Oil for Food regime. But it had, as far as I can tell, not but once had any qualms about how Saddam was slaughtering Shi'a and Kurds in what was more their country than his. It is amazing to me how someone like Saddam can reach so many peoples' hearts. Or is it calculating minds? The Italian prime minister. The Vicar of Christ or his representative. Now, the U.N. High Commissioner. This is not the end of a campaign. This is only the beginning of a campaign. We may soon hear from Vladimir Putin. According to the Scottish Daily Herald today, Amnesty International declared, "We are against the death penalty on principle but particularly in this case beacuse it comes after a flawed trial." Soon you will see "progressives" demonstrating for Saddam's life all over the West. Are there to be retrospective condemnations of Adolf Eichmann's sentence? Or of the Nuremberg Trials, once called the Nuremberg Process? You know where I stand. I thought it was altogether just that, when Mussolini was snatched from his escape to Austria, he was simply shot and hung out to dry. One of the most painful experiences in reading the 9/11 report was to realize the continuous to-do that the Clinton people made among themselves about how Osama bin Laden had to be brought in alive. This drove those who were helping us, "the tribals," wild, they preferring to kill him on the spot. Which also would have been just, very just. And, of course, Sandy Berger worried besides that, if Osama was brought in, whether he could be convicted in a court of law. Berger is lucky that he himself wasn't tried in a court of law for filching secret documents from the National Archives. Which is to say, he's lucky that the Bushies saw him as too insignificant to torture.

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