It appears that Ali Hassan al-Majid, “Chemical Ali,” will be among the first Baathists to be put on trial for crimes committed by Saddam’s regime. The Age has an interesting article on Ali’s court appearance yesterday. Included in the evidence against Ali are tapes of bloodthirsty speeches he gave to Baath Party groups.
The tapes are apparently very damning; Ali threatens to cut the regime’s opponents open “like cucumbers” and bulldoze their bodies into mass graves. The Age quotes Professor Michael Scharf, an American war crimes law specialist who has trained members of the tribunal:
It certainly seems to be pretty strong stuff. If the evidence . . . is really overwhelming, the future trials may be like those at Nuremberg. All the talk that this is a show trial will stop when people see the documents for themselves.
Well, maybe, but I’m afraid Scharf overestimates the power of evidence where politics is involved. No amount of evidence will confer legitimacy on the liberation of Iraq, as far as the Bush administration’s opponents are concerned.
I did like, though, this excerpts from the Chemical Ali tapes. Ali reacts to a suggestion that he would be criticized or using chemical weapons: “Who is going to say anything? The international community? F— them!”
But for President Bush, he would have been right.