As much as I disagree with Saddam Hussein and think he is a sick and demented old man he really does have a point. What is the point in him appearing in a court where the verdict is already decided. Is there really any question that he will be executed when this is over? I certainly haven't heard anyone mention that. Most of the reporters and interviewees in Iraq seem to talk not in the hypothetical but in concrete imagery, saying when Saddam's trial is over he will be executed.

I realize that everyone deserves their day in court and there are plenty of open and shut cases going through our justice system right now. But at least there is usually some suspense about the conviction at least in whether or not the death penalty will be applied. There is none of that in Saddam's case. He is basically a walking dead man in a court appointed by agents of America. And I do think that is true. There are some legal questions about how the court was put in place under Paul Bremer and I don't think anyone really believes that this proceeding isn't pressured heavily by the US. After all, they have now included an American in the defense team which I don't understand at all. If this is an Iraqi tribunal what business does a US citizen have being a part of it. Of course, simultaeously it gives the impression that the US is impartial by giving one of it's best and brightest to the defense cause which I'm sure was the plan.

In the end all of it is really just show. If I were Saddam I would rather sit in my cell and play solitaire than sit in court endlessly and be dragged through the mud. I'm glad the war didn't end with a Mousilini-esque execution but at the same time I don't know that this trial will serve the purpose of exposing all of Saddams crimes and putting them to rest as well as a truth and reconcilliation commission would. In a trial you can take sides, which is exactly what Iraq does not need right now. It isn't like there aren't enough societal rifts currently to add to the Baath vs. Everyone, Sunni vs. Shiite rifts like this trial has the potential of doing if it lasts a long time.

Keep in mind that all the media can talk about lately is how long this trial will be. We've turned Saddam's outbursts into a soap opera and love every minute of it. I'm not sure that is the best thing for the US or especially Iraq. It certainly presents a bully pulpit for Bush's most notorious Islamic enemy and combining that with Al Jazeera doesn't exactly spell a great PR situation in the "Arab Street" for the US.

As for Iraq they have bigger fish to fry at the moment and the trial distracts the US from what really needs to be done to help them. We need to protect contractors working on infrastructure so that Iraq can get back on it's feet which we have continually failed to do and even said we would not engage in early on. We need to get troops out of the streets and into a support and protection role so that the insurgents will quit setting IED's that kill more Iraqi's than Americans. We need to focus on getting the country going on it's own and that means letting them do things for themselves so they don't have the impression of a puppet government. We need to train troops and police and get them to work.

Why not keep the trial short and sweet. Everyone but a minority of Baathists know he did some pretty grotesque things and deserves what he gets. Then, when Saddam is out of the picture, either in a cell or in a coffin as the case may be, set up an impartial, UN administered, reconcilliation commission under the Rawandan model or something similar and let the country come to grips with it's past. A puppet court for Saddam is not the way to bring up and resolve the issues from Iraq's past, it will only cause people to dig deeper into their ideaological trenches. And, lets face it, it isn't like we Americans can't just watch Law & Order to get our legal soap opera fix.