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December 30, 2006


Bush on the event:

We are reminded today of how far the Iraqi people have come since the end of Saddam Hussein's rule

Bush, Dec. 30 2006:

"Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the War on Terror."

Which led me to wonder -- How many milestones have we passed so far?

"The first milestone was the transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi interim government by the end of June 2004. The second was for Iraqis to hold free elections to choose a transitional government by January of 2005. The third was for Iraqis to adopt a democratic constitution... And the fourth was for Iraqis to choose a government under that democratic constitution..." (Bush, Dec. 12 2005)

Going through recent google hits for "milestone" on the whitehouse.gov site, Bush has been disciplined about using the word "milestone" almost exclusively for these four acts -- all things related to the creation of a new Iraqi government.

There are a couple exceptions:

"This coming week, the Iraqi economy will reach an important milestone with the introduction of a new currency." (Bush, Oct. 11 2003)

"This month will mark the three-year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom... As this milestone approaches..." (Bush, Mar. 11 2006)

But these were two exceptions among 20 or so uses by Bush of "milestone" exclusively to refer to the creation of a new Iraqi government. (Scott McClellan and the WH press releases have used it more loosely.)

I just started looking to see how many "milestones" we'd supposedly passed, and wondering when they would start becoming millstones. I was surprised to find how careful they'd been with the word. I'm not sure if its use today has any meaning -- does it mean Bush intends to spin this as part of establishing a stable Iraqi government? -- or is just the best they could come up with.

There were conflicting media reports during the day yesterday about whether Saddam was in U.S. custody or had been handed over to the Iraqis. I was thinking some of the confusion stemmed from the fact that the distinction is contrived.

That noose looks like something out of a cartoon. The executioners look like NYC cab drivers. When someone comes to me and puts a noose around my nec, I hope I have the dignity Saddam should seconds before he swung by the neck until dead. This is bad. And showing the video over and over between car commercials and Cialis adds is just too pathetic.

I can only reflect that G.W. Bush has presided over a term of the profound emergence of a politics of sado-masochistic tyranny in our foreign relations. Consider the persistence of the black hood, the de facto suspension of international civil rights at Guantanomo and in extraordinary rendition and the unending deceit and pretext in the message e.g. wmd and the promise of transparency in getting to the bottom of Abu Ghraib practices. Makes one long for the days of good old market place theivery. Where is hope?

SaltinWound - you must have some scary cabbies in NYC. I'm with David Kurtz at TPM: those guys look exactly like terrorists, complete with ski masks.

We're a long ways from Nuremburg, aren't we?

Oops, I meant Jim DeRosa, not SaltinWound!

What a lot to come back to after a week away from politics.

Your chronology should perhaps begin with US backs Shah in coup (1956?); Shah overthrown, comes to US; Hostages taken at US Embassy in Iran. It is impossible to understand the tilt to Saddam without the events in Iran.

Your Bandar 12/29 thread was scary. I think the Saudis are just trying to hang on. They do have the ability to screw with us via oil (ironic, given it was Cheney's prime reason for the Iraq debacle) but I can't see them flirting that closely with al Qaeda, unless they think it will really buy them another decade at the oil trough.

Scary stuff. We do need Cheney not to be there. most interesting was the speculation that the Saudis "suggested" him as VP. We are so out of our depth here.

I tried to watch video of the hanging on CBS's website this morning. When they reached for the noose I found that I don't have the stomach for it.

Maybe I would have if they'd hanged the right man.

To view a cynical and satirical visual of George Bush playing a round of "Hangman"...link here:


US State Department document "Decade of Deception and Defiance" (1999)reported something like 5000 people dead or missing under Saddam's regime in the 1990s.

How many Iraqi civilians by US military intervention in Iraq (4yrs)?

It is empircally safe to say many, many times more.

So who is the greater war crimes culprit?

Technically, it would be Bush.

Great post. No tv journalists *cough* are mentioning anything about the support Saddam got from the US. One typo though-
1983 The US has evidence Saddam is using chemical weapons against Saddam

I think you meant CW were used against Iraqi's.

Got it, thanks, OtherWA. In this case, I meant Iran (using CW on the Kurds came later).

How did I forget that? Of course any cw use in 83 would have to be against Iran, not Iraqi's.

I read on Daily Kos that in the larger picture (this one is cropped), the man next to Donald Rumsfeld is Joe Wilson. Is that true?

Regardless, here is a good quote from Wilson (via the WaPo)
"Everybody was wrong in their assessment of Saddam," said Joe Wilson, Glaspie's former deputy at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and the last U.S. official to meet with Hussein. "Everybody in the Arab world told us that the best way to deal with Saddam was to develop a set of economic and commercial relationships that would have the effect of moderating his behavior. History will demonstrate that this was a miscalculation."

Bush, Dec. 30 2006:

"Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the War on Terror."<<

..., Dec 31st " Bringing George Bush to justice may not end the violence he has spawned globally, but it will be an important milestone on the worlds course to becoming a more peaceful, sustainable world with one less ally in the War to create more Terror."

Somehow over the last couple of weeks I was in hopes that Joe Wilson would have offered the Iraqi's his home fashioned noose from back in 1990. In our efforts to critique Bush, I think we have lost sight of the vast evidence pre-1991 regarding Saddam's mode of governing. (Joe's was a little bit smaller actually.)

Back in 1986 I worked my way into some archeological tours in Pakistan that were being run by Australians from the Museum in Melbourne. One of my mates during this tour had just come out of Iraq from working on an Aussie-Iraqi sponsored dig that had been going on for years, and she had horrible tales to tell about what she had witnessed and heard from fellow archeologists. Apparently when one Iraqi archeologist had excaped, and made contact with Australian counterparts for help, nearly all the team that had worked with the Aussies had been killed off. Since we were carefully visiting Indus River sites, and later Buddhist sites in the North West Frontier Province, and it was in the midst of the Afghani War and every second person we met was somehow connected with that (our translator for visiting the sites had just finished translating for Dan Rather on one of his trips into Afghanistan) -- we were careful what we said -- taking our evening cup of "bed tea" out into the parking area to supposedly look at the stars and talk political matters.

You know a little exposure as a traveler can lead to the intrigue of reading all the stuff that eventually came out...and while I have not actually organized my books that relate to each other on one shelf so I can measure them, I think it is a couple of yards. It was in my mind a delight to see Saddam to finally be knocked off -- just gone -- and I really don't care for what. (I suppose I would like to have seen it as a conviction for knocking off Archeologists, but then that is my taste.)

Between 1984-85 and 1986 I read up a little on Iraq, and then was introduced to the scam that was being pulled by the E. Germans and both the Iraq and Iran governments. E. Germany needed foreign currency badly, and so they were selling seats on their flights to E. Berlin from both Teheran and Baghdad to those who had the western cash to pay, and that included a transit visa and a ferry ticket to Denmark, during which passage papers would be destroyed so that one could land as a true refugee. Most of the takers for this deal were upper middle class families who wanted to keep their sons out of combat, so the migration was by family. While in Denmark in 1986, the Danish Folketing was debating how to stop this scam by the E. Germans who were paying off the governments (in minor figures) of both Iraq and Iran. Remember, the E. Germans thought selling their own dissenters to W. Germany for between 75 and 125 thousand dollars each (Kopfkauf) was perfectly fine. So why not make a little money soaking the Iraqi and Iranian Middle Class who did not want their son's to fight, for passage to Liberal and Humanitarian Denmark by selling these one way tickets? My Danish Friends (in Government) told me the Iraqi share went directly to Saddam and his sons. By 1986 the Danes were fed up with this scam, and they were about debating new exclusionary laws.

I got invited to a shelter for Iranian and Iraqi asylum seekers by another friend who was a social worker and worked there part time. The idea, I think, was to demonstrate that even an American could speak Danish if you worked on it a bit, but since many of these immigrants demanded that they be allowed to speak English in Denmark, my real job was to tell them they had to learn Danish in American English, and then demonstrate that it was possible. (one may go back in the archives and consult my response to the Danish Cartoons of last year -- part of my response was born in this setting.) My position is that if Danes want to draw cartoons about stuff they experience, go right ahead. Free speech means insult anyone you think needs insulting.

No, I don't exactly celebrate this execution -- I would have rather welcomed the trial about the Kurds murders and some others in addition -- but in the context of beheadings and 80-90 daily dead from Black and Decker drills into the bones and then a shot to the skull or the "justice" of being a random in a marketplace bombing, I find myself saying over and over again (remembering the folk I talked to in Denmark in summer 1986), look, learning some Danish is a hell of a little price to pay for avoiding the hell of now.

So when I watched the noose thrown over Saddam's neck (silk scarf on offer) I thought about all those folk he sent adrift because the E. Germans had organized Kopfkauf for him given their resources.

You know it is a British Elite Privilege to be hung with a silk rope, or the silk scarf treatment. William Joyce, (Lord Haw Haw) afterall got the black scarf treatment. Why have no commentaries noted this? Have they not read Rebecca West? (Hemp Rope is likely to slice off the head -- a silk rope or silk choaker will avoid this quite unfortunate problem, given the difficult circumstances.) It is only on offer to the titled. Saddam was hung as a titled.

So much to see -- so much to comment around.

The NYTs wrote:

The executioners offered him a hood. He refused. They explained that the thick rope could cut through his neck and offered to use the scarf he had worn earlier to keep that from happening. Mr. Hussein accepted.

It is in today's article by Marc Santora.

Oh and Sara-
I thought what you wrote was really interesting. I didn't mean anything in my brevity, just that you might find that tidbit interesting since you noticed few had discussed the scarf.
Happy New Year.


No, it's not true. Wilson didn't get to Iraq until 1988. As your out-of-context quote suggests, in any case.

I don't think the quote suggests anything one way or the other about the date he arrived in Bagdhad, and I didn't mean it to. The quote I included because it has to do with why we see Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam- it was considered best to deal with him. There are many in the US that wanted to continue to deal with him, even in 2003.
You know, Assad is no angel and may yet do worse than he already has, yet several senators were willing to meet with him and have their picture taken by the lovely Syrian fireplace just last month.

Anyway, I saw a rec'd comment at dailykos which nobody disputed, so I thought I'd ask about it here.

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