"Saddam had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly when you have an assassination attempt."

Ramsey Clark Defends Massacre of Shia Civilians by Saddam

by Jeff Blankfort

Some time ago, when Ramsey Clark volunteered to be a member of Saddam Hussein's legal defense team, I sent a message to my list criticizing his decision to do that. This was not because I don't think Saddam should be represented in court or that I think the court is legitimate but because of the message it sent to the majority of Iraqi people who despised Saddam Hussein and rightly so. The problem is, of course, is that Clark is one of the most well known representatives of the anti-war movement and represents the ANSWER coalition and in my mind this is more than the conflict of interest that it unquestionably is. Thus, the message that it sends to the Iraqi people is that the anti-war movement doesn't really care about any Iraqis other than those who have been killed by US and UK forces, that it, in fact, does not condemn Saddam for his long history of human rights violations and for his launching a bloody war against Iran that took well over a million lives. That it was at the behest of and supported by the US does not acquit Saddam of his responsibilities as it does not clear any other dictator who the US has supported in the past or present.

While Clark spoke eloquently in opposition to the sanctions that were imposed between the two Gulf Wars and in against the deaths and malformations caused by the US use of depleted uranium, he never said a word, nor did any of the groups in the anti-war movement publicly protest when Saddam moved to crush the Shia in the southern Iraq when they rose in legitimate rebellion in 1991. While it is important to first recognize our own culpability, one loses credibility by ignoring that of others.

If there was any question about where Clark stands, it should be clear by this quote in today's New York Times in which, at the very end of the article on Saddam's day in court, he is quoted as justifying the massacre of the Shia civilians that he is accused of in this trial because Iraq was at war with Iran (that Iraq had started it, he does not mention). Said Clark"

"Saddam had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly when you have an assassination attempt."

It is long past time for the anti-war movement to drop its double standards. It can begin by saying Ramsey Clark does not speak for us. He certainly does not speak for me.

November 29, 2005