Good and Evil
I always check out Arts & Letters
for a decent essay. Today I came across a site I have never seen before called nthposition.com
, with this essay, Evil and its discontents: a 21st Century bestiary
, by Stephen Chan, which tackles current world events as if Manichean.
Stephen is, if I have got the right Chan - of which there are probably many millions- this one
. His academic biography is here
He may be a professor but he really hasn't followed this through to the bitter end. I think he would have been best served by turning to more basic questions of the IN-GROUP DRIVE, which I endlessly refer to because I feel it so important in explaining why we have clashes of civilisations or any other type of battle between one group and another, of whatever size or complexity of ideas.
The Sunday Times has two substantial articles on the mad, bad, clever ex-tyrant of Iraq. One, "Stalin and Saddam: the twin Tyrants
" shows how Saddam modelled himself from the 70s on his hero Stalin. It explains how Stalin lived in a series of 10 dacha on the Black Sea coast, rather than in the Kremlin. Saddam on a visit to the USSR, in the 70s(confirmed by KGB records)insisted on seeing each one of Stalin's former hidey-holes. And learning that his role-model always slept in a military cot, did the same when he became leader of his country.
The other article, "The hard case
", by Mathew Campbell, concentrates on the future trial.
I have picked out two points about how he intends to defend himself:
(1) He is "the legitimate head of state who has been overthrown illegally by an occupying force."
(2) "He will question the legitimacy of the judiciary which has been appointed to try him."
For (1) it might be asked how he obtained power
For (2) He may have a point. But there is always the possibility of putting him back in prison till after the elected Iraqi government takes power next year and re-trying him.
While occupying forces are stationed in Iraq (who knows when they will all go home, if ever) the same argument can be used, no matter how legitimate any elected any Iraqi government is.
Many might prefer that he dies quietly in his cell before all this takes place or is strangled slowly by an individual chosen by referendum (before or after due process), using an item of clothing (say a favourite tie) from one of his most barbarously murdered victims.
The question of who ordered the gasing at Halabja seems to be answered in the article: it was Izzat Ibrahim al Douri. But is the man who carried out the atrocity, Ali Rahee Karim, a former tank commander - who is said to recognise he ought to be punished for his crime - also to be tried? How low down the hierarchy is this going to go?
The trial ought perhaps to be seen as a group prosecution, rather like the Nuremburg trial was, rather than of one undoubtedly bad man. There are many who have argued over the years that Nuremburg was unfair and mearly victors perks. But something has to be done to demonstrate that bad men will eventually be brought to book. Presumably the many members of the Japanese government and military who were hanged at the end of the Second World War, after being convicted in Allied courts, might have argued that they too were merely victors spoils and couldn't get a fair trial.