Sunday, February 13, 2005

Abused nations and abused children

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Iraq trapped in a terrible vice between ruthless insurgents and unloved occupiers

A Guardian reporter leaving Iraq summarizes the state of the occupation, from an admittedly limited perspective. One story he related really stood out. I doubt the Bushies understood this phenomenon:
...Then at some point Iraqis will have to become reconciled to the the crimes of the past. Giving Saddam and his deputies a fair trial in Baghdad will be a start, but not enough. The emotional and psychological cost of a dictatorship that for three decades persecuted so many is difficult to fathom.

Shortly after the war a quiet Iraqi from Hilla, Ali Abid Hassan, took me to a mass grave outside the town where he was supposed to have been killed and buried along with 3,000 others after the regime crushed an uprising in 1991. He was shot but crawled away to safety.

Among the reeds he showed me where it had happened. On a pathway we found the tokens of history: some vertebrae, a rib bone, one button and 11 long, creamy-brown teeth. A year later I went back and asked him about Saddam's brief appearance in court and he of all people was deeply troubled. "I couldn't bear to see him in such a miserable condition. He shouldn't be humiliated; after all he was our president. He was our father," he said. Then I asked if he thought Saddam should be punished. "He deserves the ultimate punishment. Yes, death. He executed many of us.
A man who ought to hate Saddam as much as any person alive, is troubled by the humiliation of "his father".

Anyone who's worked with battered women and abused children will recognize those sentiments. What a festering mess.

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