Saddam Hussein, who was condemned to death by an Iraqi court last weekend, was a thuggish dictator. But the far greater criminals—those who created Saddam Hussein, those able to deal out death and destruction on a global scale—will not face justice any time soon.
The US government supported Saddam Hussein and his Baath party during their bloody ascent to power. Saddam Hussein became undisputed leader of Iraq in 1979—the year in which revolution toppled the Shah of Iran, one of the US’s greatest allies in the region.
With the Shah gone and unrest sweeping the Middle East, Saddam Hussein became the West’s new best friend—cash and weapons flooded in.
When Iraq used mustard gas against Iranian troops in 1984, the US vetoed condemnation of the regime. Saddam Hussein used poison gas against Kurdish civilians in 1988—and during the year that followed the US, under George Bush Sr, doubled its aid to Iraq.
The US fell out with Saddam Hussein only after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Since then, the US has shown it is capable of inflicting horror beyond Saddam Hussein’s wildest fantasies.
The 2003 invasion and the violence that followed have led to the deaths of an estimated 655,000 Iraqis. There can be no justice until George Bush, Tony Blair and their allies pay for their war crimes.
Wider choice wanted
One issue dominated the US mid-term elections— Iraq.
The Democrats were expected to gain from this, with predictions they’d achieve a majority in the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate. That the campaign ended with the media rowing back on such expectations says much about the inability of the Democrats to capitalise on growing opposition to the war in Iraq.
Their campaign centred on attacking George Bush for mishandling the war, but without setting out a clear strategy for withdrawal. That is because they backed Bush’s invasion and remain divided.
Opponents of the war will be cheered if Bush suffers losses. But one of the weaknesses of the anti-war movement in the US has been its failure to maintain an independent stance which can ensure withdrawal, not the Democrats’ success, is put on the front burner.
In the medium term the movements against the war and for Latino rights must spark an independent radical force which can end the situation where working people have to choose between two parties linked to big business.
A friend of the workers
Socialist Worker was sad to hear of the death of Peter Fryer. His book Hungarian Tragedy remains the single best thing you could read on the revolution there 50 years ago. It brims over with hatred of the Russian invaders, their Stalinist domestic allies and the Western governments who sat and watched the rebellion crushed.
Fryer was in Budapest as correspondent for the Daily Worker, the British Communist daily. When his articles described a popular revolution against Stalinist tyranny they were axed.
Peter Fryer played a major part in rescuing socialism from the dreadful idea that it was linked to the gulag and the secret police.