Saddam Blames Bush
The brief appearance of Saddam Hussein in the courtroom on Wednesday was marked by his arrogance and intimidating style of speech. He ran circles around the 40-year-old prosecuting judge who tried to take his deposition. Saddam said that the whole proceeding was aimed at helping Bush win the elections in November. He also dismissed the Kuwaitis as “dogs” and defended his attempt to annex Kuwait in 1990-1991. He refused to sign papers certifying that he understood the charges against him, on the grounds that his attorney was not present.
Iraqis in Tikrit are said to have admired the performance, but in the Shiite South and in the Kurdish regions apparently some Iraqis were delighted to see Saddam in custody and possibly facing a death sentence. The potential for trouble between the ethnic communities over his trial and execution is significant.
It is also not clear that Saddam’s trial would actually cast Bush in a positive light. Saddam can after all accurately report that Donald Rumsfeld came to him in 1984 with a letter from George Schultz saying that the US did not really mean it when it criticized Iraq for using chemical weapons against Iranian troops. (The documents have been published by the National Security Archive). Other damaging information may also come out in a trial.