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Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Getting away with it.

Christopher Hitchens writes:

The concept of Saddam removing to some sort of exile . . . is not despicable on its face. It would avert the possibility of even the smartest bombs going astray and hitting orphanages, and it would mean that Iraqi soldiers would not be ordered pointlessly to their deaths by a deranged Caligula. It would also remove the chance of some final apocalyptic lunge on Caligula's part.

But who would benefit if, like Gilgamesh, Saddam Hussein simply "gave up his helm"? Certainly not the Iraqi dissidents, who hope to bring radical changes like democracy, constitutional pluralism, and an end to Ba'athism. And this more peaceful kind of regime change doesn't bode well for Defense Department visionaries, either, who want to upend the status quo in the region. "The suspicion emerges that there is some covert diplomacy at work," Hitchens writes, "designed to accommodate the local and regional oligarchies and the waverers at the U.N."

But Donald Rumsfeld's hint this weekend that Saddam could step down in exchange for immunity from war crimes charges doesn't represent much of an advance for advocates of international law:

If the regime is changed, as it obviously will be soon, one way or another, then life should change abruptly for [Saddam and his gang], too. The point of the change is to instate some standard, however tenuous and hypocritical, of international law. One can not easily achieve that by exempting its chief violators to begin with.

So here's the hard question: How does the international community hold Saddam Hussein to account while seeking a humanitarian solution?

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 21 January 2003 at 5:50 PM

Previous: 'Democracy' in Iraq.
Next: Citizen soldiers.

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