Josh Marshall nails it here :
This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur — phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It’s a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.
Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn’t come close to cutting it — the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the ‘secular arm’. Try pretending it’s a war crimes trial but it’s just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they’re up to now.
. . .
These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing’s a mess and that they’re going to be remembered for it — defined by it — for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president’s issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off — so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic ‘So There!’
Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one — claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.
What strikes me about all this is that Saddam’s guilty sentence (and to a lesser extent his punishment) were probably foregone conclusions, so the challenge to the Iraqi Government (read: the Americans pulling their strings) was to find the best method to try Saddam Hussein. They could have handed Saddam over to the International Criminal Court or postpone the trial until the American occupation is over, but that would have robbed them of the well-choreographed marketing campaign that the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein has become. It was a sham trial that didn’t have to be, and the decision to micromanage Saddam’s fate has probably been made at the expense of America’s image throughout the world. Again.