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November 30, 2005

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JackD

Once again, it appears that your complaint is that they should just get on with the hanging and ignore these gnats buzzing about due process. After all, what due process did Hussein give anyone? Did I get that right?

ericposner

actually, I'm more interested in understanding the incentives of the judges (especially) and those of the other people involved in the trial.

JackD

And if you come to an understading about that, will that advance knowledge in any meaningful way?

Exeter

Mr Posner says "Iraqis are divided about Saddam himself,"

The Kurds are surely not divided about Saddam - that's 20% of the population. Shiites are not terribly divided about Saddam - that's 60% of the population...

80% of the population is almost certainly in favor of the hanging of Saddam. I would suggest that the remaining Sunni 20% is the only segment really "divided" about Saddam in any meaningful way. Most of the Iraqi bloggers tell stories of people sitting around TV sets during the trial, shouting insults at him, urging them to hurry up and hang Saddam.

Posner says: "but they can agree with him every time he complains or implies that the American presence in Iraq sullies the honor of Iraqis and their religious values. These confrontations will enhance Saddam’s standing among Iraqis as the only publicly and continuously visible Iraqi who defies the Americans."

You seem to have too little respect for the Iraqi people. They are not so gullible as to fall for Saddam's baloney. They are not so fervently religious as to ignore reality. They know Saddam is a BS'er from way back. The notion that they are all going "you know, Saddam is right! He murdered my father, and killed my uncle and tortured my cousin, but by Golly, He's an Iraqi so Down, Down, America!" sells them short. With all due respect, this talk of Saddam as unifying figure is nonsense -

I would suggest reading less of the New York Times. It ceased to be an authoritative source of information about Iraq long ago.

joe m.

Though I don't really want to get into this fight and don't believe it relates to the question at hand, I do want defend professor Posner on this issue. I am Iraqi Christian living in the USA, I still have family in Iraq and did visit Iraq over the last couple years. While there, I interacted with a wide range of people, including Shia and Sunni (though not Kurds). While I have not been there when the trial was on TV, my experience confirms professor Posner's view that Iraqis are divided. I know very few people who do not consider Saddam a criminal, and almost every Iraqi i know wants to see him killed (including the Iraqis i know in the USA),but he is oddly respected by most people I know as well (I don't know how to explain this, because it is strange how he can both be hated and respected as he is. One quick example is that the scorn that people in my family put on him for not fighting when he was captured (being captured alive) was very harsh, far more then I expected, asking why he was such a coward... Yet, though he is an obvious criminal, there is still admiration coming from my friends and family when he uses the trial to attack the USA, with people asking how he has the guts to stand up to the pressure). Also, I know of almost no one who supports the USA, even though they are obviously against Saddam and want things to be better in the country.

Again, I will say that I am not in touch with the Kurdish population at all, and this is hardly a random sample (being that it is based on my friends and family), but also, this includes people from both pro-war and anti-war camps before the war started, and I have met no one who is uninterested in what he says now.

I think your mistake is that you seem to be confusing people's views of how society was harmed while he was president (or their family, if someone was harmed from their family), their views on him as a strong leader, how he is often seen now as the opposite of the USA, and a bunch of other things that i am not even sure about myself.

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