Ford & Hussein

This week we hear repeated praise for President Ford over his decision, thirty years ago, to show restraint, rather than pursue criminal charges against former President Nixon. Because, criminal though Nixon was, jailing him would have torn the nation apart. It was better, far better, we’ve been told by every commentator on TV, to heal the nation. But apparently that’s mere funeral-day hypocrisy, to praise restraint as a path to healing deep divides.

Iraq had a similar crisis, of either choosing restraint, sentencing their former President to life imprisonment, to avoid tearing their new nation irreparably apart,or of choosing vengeance and hanging him. We did everything but pull the trapdoor lever, in urging more violent divisiveness in a land desperate for some healing measure of restraint.

Iraqi President Talibani, a Kurd, a decent man, said a year ago that he opposed execution, even for Saddam, who killed Kurds. Talibani, like Ford, understood the power of restraint. Unfortunately, the new Iraq we’ve created, and called a democracy, does not include the power of presidential pardons/commutations.

It is not like there are not prisons in the world that would hold Saddam. After all, we held Noriega after we did to Panama what we tried to do in Iraq. And all of Europe has condemned the execution, and could provide a cell in any number of places. This is not about accountability, or about protecting nations from a tyrant, it is about enjoying executions, and about rejecting restraint in favor, still, of shock and awe, and endless war.

There is an important disconnect here.

–claudia ellquist , AzGP

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