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