Monday, June 25, 2007

Chemical Ali Strikes Out

It was announced late last week by the Los Angeles Times that Ali Hassan Majid, a/k/a Chemical Ali, was convicted of genocide and sentenced to death by a court of law in Iraq.
The most infamous incident of that campaign was when 5,000 or more civilians were gassed in the town of Halabja in northern Iraq. Those murders are supposed to be the subject of a separate trial but it is likely that the defendants will have attended a necktie party by that time. Iraqi justice is stern and swift without all the interminable appeals and pettifoggery we seem to be addicted to here.
Judge Isaac Parker probably would have approved, because he knew that justice can be served only when it is swift severe and uncompromising.
Ali Hassan Majid earned his monicker as the chief architect of Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign of the 1980s, in which as many as 180,000 Kurds were slaughtered with poison gas, died in prison camps or were slaughtered and buried in common graves.
We here in the states are sometimes accused of setting up a puppet state in Iraq, and it is often said that victors write the history of wars. But in this case, the justice is there and the air will breathe a little cleaner for Chemical Ali's passing.
Let institutions like the International Court of Justice (which never seems to be able to bring war criminals to the bar of justice) mark, learn and observe what they see here.
One is reminded of Langston Hughes' meditation on things deferred, and the lesson is clear if we add justice to the rubric of dreams that are deferred.


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