Wednesday, December 17
Robert Fisk: Getting Saddam, 15 Years Too Late:
Counterpunch, December 16, 2003
Saddam will Continue to Haunt Iraq for Years
Was this really the man with whom I shook hands almost a quarter of a century ago? I've spent 24 hours looking again and again at those videotapes. The more I look, the more Saddam turns into a wild animal. An American interviewed by the Associated Press said he'd gone straight to church to pray for him. The face I remember from my meeting with him almost a quarter of a century ago was chubby in an insolent sort of way, the moustache so well trimmed that it looked as if it had been stuck on his face with paste, the huge double-breasted suit the kind that Nazi leaders used to wear, too empty, too floppy on the shoulders.
So I went back again to those video pictures. True, the haunted creature in them could not rewind the film. His days were, as they say, over. Or supposed to be. There was a kind of relief in his face. The drama had ended. He was alive, unlike his tens of thousands of victims. [...more]
In the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq this year, we journalists--and all praise to Paul Wood of the BBC for his part in this--got our hands on videos of some of the most pornographic violence any of us would be able to stomach. For 45 minutes, Saddam's security police whipped and beat half naked Shiite prisoners in the courtyard of their "Mukhabarat" headquarters. They are covered in blood, screaming and whimpering. They are kicked and their testicles crushed and pieces of wood forced between their teeth as they are pushed into sewers and clubbed on the face.
The videos show that there were spectators, uniformed Baathists, even a Mercedes parked in the background under the shade of a silver birch tree.
I showed a few seconds of these films at lectures in Ireland and America this summer and some members of the audience left, nauseated by the evidence of Saddam's perverted nature. Who, after all, were these videos made for? For Saddam? Or for the victims' families to watch, so that they may re-suffer the torture of their loved ones?
And it's easy, looking at these images of Saddam's sadism, to have expected Iraqis to be grateful to us this week. We have captured Saddam. We have destroyed the beast. The nightmare years are over. If only we could have got rid of this man 15 years ago--20 years ago--how warm would be our welcome in Iraq today. But we didn't.
And that is why his capture will not save America's soldiers. He lives on. Just as Hitler lives on today in the memories and fears of millions. And it is in the nature of such terrible regimes to replicate themselves in the mind.