Koehler Offers a Different Take on Saddam Execution

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By: E&P Staff

Many columnists have commented on Saddam Hussein’s execution, the undignified way it was conducted, and the late dictator’s horrendous crimes. But America’s complicity in some of those crimes was hardly mentioned, according to Tribune Media Services writer Robert C. Koehler.

In today’s column, Koehler wrote: “Few in the mainstream media were willing to be party poopers and point [out Saddam’s] long, complex involvement with the U.S. foreign-policy establishment going back to the Reagan administration, as both ally and extremely useful enemy.

“The Washington Post, for instance, as it told readers about the man ‘whose fall unleashed a turbulent era for his nation and the world,’ even seems to have forgotten that the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, precipitating this fall. Oh well, that was almost four years ago.

“But the craven delicacy of such reportage makes it difficult for me to have any reaction at all to Saddam’s hanging. Why shoehorn his brutality into a false perspective? He was a monster. He ‘gassed his own people,’ as we were reminded repeatedly in the run-up to the invasion. He invaded Iran. Yet ultimately the murder of several hundred thousand Kurds in the late 1980s, or the mind-numbing death toll in Iran, didn’t even figure into the trial.

“‘Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls?’ Robert Fisk wrote in the UK’s Independent. ‘And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam’s weird trial, forbade any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him.'”

Koehler concluded: “I would ask those of you who still support [the Iraq War] and believe we should ‘stay the course’ — and who are gloating over Saddam’s execution — to judge our own slaughter of innocents by the same standards we used against the poster boy of evil, who was convicted of killing 148 people. We may not be worse, but we’re no better. When do we take our turn in the dock?”

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