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Nov 06, 2006

The Election Trinket Formerly Known As Saddam

Saddam-Trinkets-1

So we have the November surprise -- involving a quasi-kangaroo court dropping a death sentence on Saddam just 48 hours before the U.S. election.

My first reaction was to agree with Tim Grieve at Salon -- that the last last minute "hail Mary" (as suggested by this Sunday newswire photo) merely emphasizes the horrendous price we continue to pay for turning one man into a souvenir.

But then, in advance of Monday's press deadline, the on-line MSM editions were already lapping it up.  "Big boost for Maliki!" "Shiite Joy!"  "Major achievement for young democracy!"  Writing most of this post on Sunday, I fully expected -- as did the White House -- to find the dictator's mug above the fold in most of Monday's papers.

(It now being early, early Monday on the East Coast, I can see that Saddam soaked up all three stories atop the NYT, including the election piece -- and a four column pic.  WAPO, in sober contrast, gave it the far right column, but no picture.  Monday's LAT isn't on-line yet.)

Dems might insist it won't have an effect, but that's not how these things work.  From Rove's standpoint, he's looking for just a faint enough "Stay The Course" echo to tip a few Senate races (and, therefore, continued control of that chamber) toward the red.

The way Saddam has been exploited like a circus monkey (example 1, 2), I find the "trinket" shot clearly the day's best visual commentary.  Realistically though, here's what to look for in the MSM coverage:

Saddam-Convicted-Finger

Saddam-Convicted

1.  Which Saddam pic are they peddling?

Of course, the options are endless.  Most popular should be images of Saddam's reaction to the verdict.  Curiously, there are two similar but quite distinct versions.  We have the stand-alone shot of  "the monster," still full of fire.  And then, we have the shot with the "anonymous" hand.  (As of last night, this second version, which on YahooNews, had initially had been all over the place, seemed to disappear.)

In The BAG's opinion, the anonymous hand says everything about, well, heavy handedness.

In almost a joke on "blind Justice," we have this rolled up khaki sleeve -- pulling for association to an unkept or "non regulation" uniform, and renegade action -- directing the scene from just out of sight, seeming to even position Saddam's waving arm.  (Of course, the picture lends itself as much to over simplistic, conveying that the monster, through great effort, has been "long last subdued.")

Basra Saddam

2.  The Iraqi street

Scrutinize the MSM's visual take on the public reaction.

Look out for uncomplicated images of Iraqi's rejoicing in the streets, the kind of pictures an undiscerning American audience (and the White House) reflexively associate with liberation and peace or, at least these days, "corner turning" or simple situational improvement.  (As in this shot just above, with the camera man, take note of how "well framed" these expostulations are.)

Pro-Saddam

3.  Backlash

See any MSM shots like this?

Don't be surprised by the lack of Sunni/pro-Saddam images, even those the verdict might fire these guys up way more than they were before.

4.  Zero Context

If you happen to bump into any serious picture description, let me know.

What I'd expect is next to no explanation as to what these photos primarily illustrate, which is: the bloody schism between sectarian groups; the false impression that mean streets are somehow again habitable; that much of the public assembly is taking place in defiance of public curfews and/or official bans on demonstrations; and that the Mahdi party is reveling in its open defiance toward the U.S. military (at the same time the U.S.- backed tribunal serves its interest).

Bush-Saddam-Helicopter

5.  The Good Old Days

And of course, you can expect at least a twenty-four hour flashback of Commander-in-Chief, GWOT, military gesturing, uniform conflating, flag parading, "once-again-swaggering" visual piling on.

(image 1: Atef Hassan/Reuters. Amman, Jordan. November 5, 2006. via YahooNews.  image 2:  David Furst/A.P. November 5, 2006.  Baghdad.  washingtonpost.com.  image 3: unattributed/Reuters.  November 5, 2006.  Baghdad. Via YahooNews. image 4: unattributed/Reuters.  November 5, 2006.  Basra, Iraq. Via YahooNews.  image 5: Nuhad Hussin/Reuters.  November 5, 2006.  Tikrit, Iraq. Via YahooNews.  image 6: Jason Reed/Reuters.  Waco, Texas.  November 5, 2006.  Via YahooNews.)

Comments

were can I buy these lovely gadgets?

Well made post today.

Another failure masquerading as success: the death penalty for the tyrant Saddam Hussein, whose crimes pale in comparison to the self-righteous bastards jubilantly celebrating the verdict in advance of tomorrow's play at democracy. Who will execute the executioner? See how the Anglo-American liberators have instilled advanced concepts like vengeance and state-enforced murder in the newly civilized Iraq?

Best comment I've seen in the last 24 hours on Iraq (relating actually Kerry's "botched joke" last week) . . .

No one is more "stuck" in Iraq than the Iraqis. They didn't ask for Saddam Hussein, but they got him. They didn't ask for the American and British military to bombard them for 15 years without pause, but they got it. They didn't ask for depleted uranium shells to poison their land, but they got it. They didn't ask for foreign armies to invade and brutally occupy their country, but they got them. They also didn't ask for this manner of "insurgency," but they got it.

In 2001 I asked former Israeli general and diplomat, why they didn't send a Mossad-team and assasinate Saddam. His answer was simple: Saddam we know well and we are able to appreciate him closely - his activities are pretty much foreseeable. But what would come after him, can only be worse!

Keir: No one is more "stuck" in Iraq than the Iraqis.

Well, if they had just studied a little more, if they had just been a little smarter, if they had been a little less intellectually lazy, they could have meaningful jobs in the insurance industry in Hartford, CT. It's their own fault.

/tongue firmly in cheek

Seriously. You know what I miss? I miss rock-papers-Saddam. Tiger Hand always beats paper. Ask Aziz, he knows.

I am so infuriated by this last minute manoeuvre its hard to put into words. But really, at this point should anyone be surprised if they manage to keep both houses (once again)?

GeorgeF,

A few thoughts from your comments,

"For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety "-Mossad motto.

Your General was absolutely correct of course, but so were 100,000 x ? *ordinary people* who also held an identical prognosis for Iraq.
This General then, didn't really require the Mossads world wide intelligence network for his wise prediction, nor require an additional murder from this infamous organization of assassins.

Are you interested in acquiring more jewellery type
"gadget"s with different faces after contemplating:

(Finally justice in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is convicted.)

Finally justice in American and internationally if:
a) the GWB politicians are electorally defeated
b) commence impeachment proceedings for the C in C
c) become signatories to, The International Court of Justice, and International Criminal Court.
d) extradition of US/UK and other foreign nationals charged with war crimes in Iraq to appear before either court based upon the following:

"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."-Nuremberg Trials’ document.

GeorgeF,

A few thoughts from your comments,

"For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety "-Mossad motto.

Your General was absolutely correct of course, but so were 100,000 x ? *ordinary people* who also held an identical prognosis for Iraq.
This General then, didn't really require the Mossads world wide intelligence network for his wise prediction, nor require an additional murder from this infamous organization of assassins.

Are you interested in acquiring more jewellery type
"gadget"s with different faces after contemplating:

(Finally justice in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is convicted.)

Finally justice in American and internationally if:
a) the GWB politicians are electorally defeated
b) commence impeachment proceedings for the C in C
c) become signatories to, The International Court of Justice, and International Criminal Court.
d) extradition of US/UK and other foreign nationals charged with war crimes in Iraq to appear before either court based upon the following:

"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."-Nuremberg Trials’ document.

Tne second photo of Saddam looks almost like a Photoshopped version of the first, with the arm added. You can see the pucker in Saddam's cuff where the anonymous hand is gripping it; otherwise the expression and pose are exactly the same, almost as if that image of Saddam is a cardboard cutout.

I know why the second one has disappeared.

Someone realised that for many of us, me included, the immediate impression was that the referee was holding up Saddam's arm, as the winner.

How curious, that when the trials went on behind iron curtain, the american public and the media were quick and "refined," or should I say "conditioned," to see the staged trials and judgments against defendants as fabrications and lies.
The occupation lords in the past, as much as in the present, used techniques of one sided trials. The gags are placed on the media and lawyers.
How are the trials that go on in Iraq different?
The occupation lord, Zalmay Khalilzad - extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Iraq, oversees the results and if the judge or the sentence is not right it will for sure be changed. Everything for the democracy! That seems democratic.
I am concerned about the silence. There is quite a darkness when it comes to the ordinary Iraqi people put on trial. The sentences are unreported in media. The trials are behind closed doors, the press does not have interest in them. The number of hanged Iraqi is not counted, and they do not have possibility of appeals! How simple just label them terrorists in press.
No one weeps for justice, no one screams in rebellion.
Press is dead. What it comes down to in press is showing a bloody bullet. What is next? The scaffold and the noose...

The Saddam picture with the restraining arm is on the front page of the NYT print edition and my local paper the Oregonian.
I thought the finger was reminiscent of the purple stained voter fingers as mentioned in the post about the bloody bullet.

A nice construction of the visual narrative! Though it looks to me as though the Saddam story is almost off the front page--I don't think it is going to give Rove the boost he was hoping for. The image that strikes me is that of GWB, swaggering CIC. It is all about elections.

Just for the record, I find the death penalty repellent.

But the image on the front page of the NYTimes right now is of the Bush brothers embracing in front of the biggest flag you ever did see. If I didn't know better I'd say that Jeb was sucking the lifeblood of GWB.

okay, I'll try again.

the Bush brothers embrace.

My English-language newspaper in Kuwait had a half-page, color picture (above the fold) of Saddam in the dock - but that was yesterday.

Today, there's only an article (below the fold), with no picture, and the headline is "Voices Raised Against Execution". It begins by saying that France and Italy are urging Iraq not to carry out the death penalty.

So if it's already out of the news in Kuwait, then I don't think it's had the effect that Karl Rove might have wished for. Everyone knew what the verdict would be, and there's not all that much more to say about it that would actually be news.

Many Arabs - including many Iraqis - have always said that Iraq needed someone like Saddam to keep it under control. In the end, the U.S. will probably just have to find a replacement for him. After years and billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives wasted...

For anyone who's interested: "This was a guilty verdict on America as well" by Robert Fisk

President Bush and death penalty advocates will be disappointed that one of the three in the presidency of Iraq does not concur that murder is morally correct by refusing to authorize the murder Saddam Hussein

Full text: Jalal Talabani interview, (an extract) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4455063.stm

Q: You're a lawyer and human rights advocate, and you're against the death penalty. Yet you may be asked to sign a death warrant for Saddam Hussein. Will you sign it?
A: Personally, no. But you know the presidency of Iraq are three people. These three must decide. So I can be absent. I can go to holiday and let the two others decide. I personally signed a call for ending execution throughout the world. And I'm respecting my signature.
Q: So you cannot do it?
A: No.
Q: And you won't do it?
A: No. This is one of my problems.
Q: So you wouldn't sign his death warrant yourself, but would you advocate a reprieve?
A: Well, I said my word, but no-one is listening to me, to be frank with you. My two partners in the presidency, the government, the House, all of them are for sentencing Saddam Hussein to death before the court will decide. So I think I will be alone in this field.
Q: A minority president?
A: A big minority, an isolated president among other friends. But this is the principle, I believe in this principle, and this is a matter of principles.

Lets see...two of his lawyers were murdered - wasn't one of the judges killed? I know one was replaced (note passive tense - replaced BY WHOM exactly) basically because he conveyed the idea he wasn't a hangin' judge.

But no mistrial?

Justus is a fish best severed rolled.

KingElvis you said, *Justus* is a fish best severed rolled.

A high compliment indeed to *Just-U.S*. who brought 'Operation Iraq Freedom' then 'Operation Enduring Freedom', its always been Operation Enduring Fishy Freedom for those with healthy olfactory sensory neurons in the olfactory epithelium.
Its great to add Jalal Talabani to this group.

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