i think it's time for me to comment on the deaths of uday and qusay hussein. most of the county seems to be basking in the awe of the u.s. military these days and their assassination seems to have done wonders for the stock market too. yesterday the janitor where my wife worked poked his head into her office and said "this is good for this county."
i couldn't disagree more. this news, once again, makes me feel embarrassed to be an american, not proud. i never used to feel embarrassed for who i am, for i am thoroughly american. but since 9-11 that's exactly how i’ve felt, embarrassed. when i talk to people in other countries and identify where i am from, i feel like apologizing. i never used to feel that way. even when i hated what my government was doing, i never felt like apologizing for who i was. this time around, it goes beyond mere dislike of our political leaders. a line has been crossed.
the problem comes down to this: the u.s., at least the part i identified with, is supposed to be about the rule of law, the constitution, the bill of rights, etc. the idea that even the worst people have rights and the implicit acknowledgment that our government sometimes might be mistaken.
we don't stand for any of that anymore. now we not only don't support the development of international standards of law or the permanent international criminal court, but our government seeks to undermine the court by penalizing other countries that cooperate with it. the government arbitrarily detains people, refuse those held access to the court system, hold them in total secrecy, and plans to try detainees in secret military tribunals . All of these things fall below international standards of human rights. this country used create the international norms, now we flout them.
after world war two, the u.s. could have taken the defeated nazis and summarily executed them. we did not. It wasn’t because we had any doubts about how bad the nazis were, but our leaders decided that individual officers deserved the right to defend themselves in an open public trial. some nuremberg defendants were acquitted, some were not, but there was an open process that attempted to give the accused a fair chance of establishing his innocence. those trials are the intellectual ancestors of the international criminal court that our country now undermines.
as for uday and qusay, our government had them surrounded and cordoned off the neighborhood around them the night before the surprise raid began. we may never get all of the facts, but it seems to me that we could tried to get to take them alive, but chose to kill them instead. as lambert over at eschaton wrote earlier today "The Manuel Noriega option was possible— Bush and his gang decided not to take it." we really could be better than this. no matter how bad uday and qusay were, why did they deserve worse than the nazis? and just to bury any shred of hope we may still have that the u.s. stands for anything like the rule of law the killing of uday and qusay probably violated the executive order banning assassinations
i am not sorry they are dead. but i am ashamed that we killed them.
ONE MORE THING: check out jeanne d'arc's reaction to the news of their death over at body and soul
TWO MORE THING: check out an iraqi's take on the whole thing at salam pax