Wednesday, January 03, 2007

saddam plays it cool

what a card

My most seasonal quote of today comes from the Persian poet Hafiz, version by Paul Smith: Give; give me, ruined of reputation I wish to be; Wine and the winecup my ruination I wish to be. Winebringer, come. That liquid that all care burns; That if a lion drinks , into a burner of forests turns, Give, so to the sky that captures the lion I go; So the cage, this tired old world, I can overthrow.

Saw a few of Saddam's last seconds of life on ABC news last night, and have since watched the amateur video which includes footage of him after the drop, whether dead or alive at that point I couldn't say. I rarely go in for this sort of thing, but on reflecting, with the help of expert commentary, on the symbolic importance of this sort of stuff for such a macho culture, I wanted to check up on a few things. Of course I didn't understand what they were saying, but it was clear enough that Saddam, moral monstrosity though he was, faced his death unflinchingly. The seeming reversal of roles, with Saddam unhooded and the executioners all masked, naturally sets this footage alongside those of the kidnappers and killers taunting and executing mostly western hostages throughout this disastrous campaign. It looked like a sectarian ritual slaying, and many are saying that's just what it was.

There are already a host of sites trying to work out what was said in Saddam's exchange with his killers, but it certainly seems clear that sectarianism was to the fore, with the murderous Shiíte cleric Muqtada-al-sadr's name being chanted loudly at the end. The final effect was miles away from what Bush and his GOP cronies hoped it would be, though they'll pretend as usual.

Finally, Saddam's death, after an apparently fatally flawed judicial process, seems just another drop in an ocean of chaos. It'll be used to whip up further sectarianism, as everything else is used, but the strange choice of executing him on a day usually reserved for pardons (it's supposed to be the day Abraham offered up his son to the nasty god Yahweh) seems to have been calculated to maximize Sunni outrage. Meanwhile, the White House imbecile has spoken of this execution as a step toward Iraq becoming an ally in the war against terror. Of course, since this war is really against religious zealotry, and since religious zealotry has been brought to the boil in Iraq by the US invasion and the toppling of Saddam, the Bush remarks just underline his unfitness for office.

It might seem commendable for the Americans to stay and try to undo some of the damage they've done, the question obviously is whether their presence will merely continue to exacerbate the situation. There are probably less publicized reasons for the Americans wanting to stay, such as the need to protect the economic exploitation of the region by American business interests – imagine if American forces withdrew and the various Iraqi tribes started picking off the Yank capitalists who remained.

Maybe the Yank capitalists should hand power over to the Iraqis too. Just joking ho ho ho.



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