President Bush is said to be delighted that Saddam Hussein is being tried, but the trial isn’t likely to delight many. Most Iraqis will probably be disgusted that Saddam is receiving so much process. The “Arab street” will probably be disgusted by what it will consider a show trial. Many, like me, will be disgusted that Saddam has a forum. Nor is it clear that allowing the Iraqis to impose a rougher form of justice would have impeded the transition to some sort of democratic government. The Romanians crudely executed the Ceaucescus but Romania has since become a democracy.
Yet this piece by Daniel Henninger shows why the trial is probably the best way to proceed. As Henninger explains, “the Middle East and North Africa, with 326 million people, is projected to grow to 649 million by 2050. It would be good for our national security if one large nation in that region became a normal place” by which he means a place in which “citizens will spend their political energies arguing with each other, rather than sitting in local cafes trying to figure out who to blame for their lot and who to kill.” Whatever its drawbacks, Saddam’s trial seems like a step in the direction of such normalcy.
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