The Null Device


Arch-terrorist supervillain Saddam Hussein captured; he was found hiding in a "spider-hole" under a farmhouse, during an operation named after a 1980s teen Soviet-invasion movie. It is still not clear whether he'll face trial in Iraq or be spirited off to Guantanamo or somewhere.

Meanwhile, war skeptic and Scottish lefty scifi writer Charlie Stross thinks that the capture of Saddam may be a turning point, and not in a good way; with the Beast of Baghdad safely in a cage, the various Iraqi factions' main concern now may be the US occupation:

Saying "ding dong, the wicked witch is in custody" is a dangerously naive reaction to this kind of news. By way of a thought experiment, I suspect a good metaphor is this: imagine it's November 1945, and Adolf Hitler has been dug out of a cellar, alive, in the US occupied sector of Germany, where he has been coordinating sporadic resistance attacks. He goes on trial at Nuremburg and is in due course sentenced to hang. What, sixty years later, would his historical record have been like? And more importantly, what, twenty years later, might the German people have made of a leader who put up a spirited defense in a kangaroo court, rather than taking the coward's way out of the consequences of his actions by shooting himself?

I wonder whether they can afford to put Saddam on open trial, either in Iraq or elsewhere, for this reason and because of incriminating revelations he could make.

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