Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam's last night

Getty/ Cal Berkeley

In a few hours, Saddam Hussein will presumably breathe his last breaths and be hanged. Earlier this evening Fox news had Oliver North on(!?) to opine that he didn't see how Saddam's execution would affect the violence in Iraq one way or another. And his opinion on this question has value, because of...what? I've already opined on the disastrous effect I think Saddam's execution will have on Iraq. Riverbend(via Juan Cole) discusses this too:

Why make things worse by insisting on Saddam's execution now? Who gains if they hang Saddam? Iran, naturally, but who else? There is a real fear that this execution will be the final blow that will shatter Iraq. Some Sunni and Shia tribes have threatened to arm their members against the Americans if Saddam is executed. Iraqis in general are watching closely to see what happens next, and quietly preparing for the worst.
She also goes on to mention an idea I've been working on for an article on Iraq, that the US(well BushCo, at any rate) actually wants things to deteriorate in Iraq:

My only conclusion is that the Americans want to withdraw from Iraq, but would like to leave behind a full-fledged civil war because it wouldn't look good if they withdraw and things actually begin to improve, would it?
I've wondered about this, apropo of the Iraq study group report; what if the real reason we don't have a non-gradual withdrawal of US troops is because the Shia might then feel forced to make peace with the Sunni insurgency, and then maybe things would get better, demonstrating to the world, including US voters, that the US presence was in fact the destabilizing agent so many people insisted it was. Juan Cole, in discussing Riverbend's comments, says he disagrees with her about the US plan being to split Iraq in three. I think he's wrong, and she is correct. Keeping Iraq weak for another 5 or 10 years-- or longer-- keeps all that Iraqi oil mostly off the market for several years. This serves several purposes:

1.It makes the "lilly-pad" American permanent bases being built there seem necessary,

2. It will discourage various European oil companies from pressing their case that contracts they signed with Saddam be honored,

3. In turn clearing that major hurdle from preventing the privatization* of the Iraqi oil reserves from occurring.

4. And, this will help keep oil prices up for the next 5-10 years. As Greg Palast said, "mission accomplished."

Iraqi TV said the execution took place just before 0600 local time (0300GMT). It was witnessed by a doctor, lawyer and officials. It was also filmed.
US troops and Iraqi security forces are on high alert for any violent backlash.
Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by an Iraqi court on 5 November after a year-long trial over the 1982 killings of 148 Shias in the town of Dujail.
I also note that they could have waited another week, so that Eid would be over.(it starts this weekend, adding insult to injury viz. the timing. Speaking of Juan Cole, he discusses this as well in his latest Salon article.)

*a handy pneumonic: "privatization= plutocratic plunder."