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On Point

"Let's Kill All the Lawyers"


by Austin Bay
November 29, 2005


Perhaps Saddam Hussein, the Butcher of Baghdad, has taken advice from Shakespeare's Dick the Butcher.

In "Henry VI, Part II," Act IV Dick the Butcher blurts out one of the Bard's most misquoted and misunderstood lines: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

Before everyone fed up with our ABA-infested Congress or run-amok litigation shouts, "Amen, off with their heads," I recommend a quick scan of the text. Shakespeare isn't making an Elizabethan lawyer joke. Anarchy and vicious street violence serve the purposes of Jack Cade, Dick the Butcher's aspiring fuhrer. The Rule of Law impedes Cade's rebellion -- and lawyers, judges and juries embody the law.

Cade speaks the language of populist rebellion, but his "self-determination" is ultimately a terrible pun. He will dispense with money, feed the population, dress everyone in the same clothing. But his goal is power and personal rule. Just before Dick the Butcher's call for mass judicial murder, Cade states his intended policy goal: He wants the people to "worship me their lord."

By cracky, Saddam subscribes to that political philosophy. Remember the term "cult of personality"? Hitler and Stalin were 20th century practitioners of self-worship and state terror. Saddam managed to keep his franchise until the early 21st.

Shakespearean characters might mock the nonsense of legalese, but the Bard backed the Rule of Law. The Rule of Man degenerates to whim. When whim combines with paranoia, megalomania and weapons, the result is mass murder

With fits and starts, the Rule of Law has tackled and handcuffed Baghdad's Butcher. Saddam still doesn't quite believe it. He's still fighting for the Rule of Me. When Saddam's whims governed Iraq, the results included a beggared Iraqi economy, wars with Kuwait and Iran, and mass graves in Kurdistan and southern Iraq. Saddam's fascist regime not only poisoned Iraqi society, its cruelty embedded the human emotional poisons of bitterness, distrust and constant fear.

The Butcher of Baghdad relied on murder to obtain and maintain power. Terror was -- and remains -- Saddam's chief policy tool. The United Nation's Oil for Food scandal signals the Million Man Murderer is also adept at bribery.

It appears Saddam has calculated that lawyers and judges are expendable -- literally. One defense lawyer has been murdered, with Saddam's pals the likely trigger men. The day before his trial was set to reconvene, Iraqi police arrested a Saddamite hit squad carrying orders to kill Rahid Juhi, one of Iraq's pre-eminent jurists and the judge who directed the pre-trial investigation of Saddam. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, one of Saddam's former VPs, signed the assassination writ. Ibrahim is running the Saddamist side of the Iraqi civil war.

And civil war this is, with Saddam's? ancien regime? attempting to terrorize the Iraq populace and pave the way for an eventual return to power. I've argued since late 2003 that the Iraq war became a civil war sometime in the summer of 2003. That's when former regime elites, Ibrahim among them, began their terror campaign. In mid-2004, according to the Baghdad rumor mill, Ibrahim still had access to tens, and perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars in hidden cash.

Free Iraq is defeating Saddam's holdout fascists and al-Qaida's theo-fascists. Beating al-Qaida means giving al-Qaida the opportunity to beat itself. That's happening. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's attacks on three Jordanian hotels has produced an enormous political victory for Washington and its anti-terror coalition.

The harsh evil of al-Qaida is front and center in Sunni Arab media, demonstrating unequivocally that al-Qaida is Murder Incorporated, and the majority of its victims are Muslims.

Al-Qaida's biggest recruiting tool was -- and is -- the political failure of the Arab Muslim world. In this dysfunctional world, tyranny and terror reinforce one another, with the people of the Middle East the inevitable victims.

The democratic judicial process holding Saddam accountable for his murders provides a stark, confidence-raising contrast with Saddam's regime and al-Qaida. The era of the tyrant and terrorist is over in the Middle East.

Saddam can try to kill his lawyers, but he won't succeed in killing the Rule of Law in Free Iraq.

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