Saddam Hussein's Trial, Death and Historical Significance
This Saddam Hussein Memorial Site contains three poems about Saddam. One is a praise poem, one is a poem about his death (accompanied by a description of the unauthorized cellphone video of the description), and the third is a poem assessing Saddam's historical significance.
These three poems are part of the GENGHIS LOTUS POETRY COLLECTION, to get to which click the "poems" link just below the Google News link on this page.
The Saddam Hussein Memorial Site is by Hugh Cook, webmaster of zenvirus.com and genghislotus.com.
This site has been placed online in a spirit of respect. An evil man, yes, but he showed, at the end, that he had the gritty toughness to hang in there even in the face of his impending death.
We are all going to die, one day, and one way to think of this site is to see it as a small contribution to the ars moriendi, the art of dying, which we in the modern age have sadly neglected, this neglect being not to our profit.
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was born in 1937 on the 28th day of April and died on the 30th of December in the year 2006.
He was, for many years, the President of Iraq, a despot with a well-earned reputation for ruthlessness and brutality. Crimes of which he was guilty include, but are not limited to, murder, torture, genocide, the use of chemical weapons and the initiation of wars of aggression.
He was, however, innocent of any involvement of the events of 9/11. He was not an Islamic radical. Rather, he was a level-headed and extremely cold-blooded monster, very much in the mold of Joseph Stalin, who was his role model.
Saddam was overthrown by the invading forces of the United States of America, a nation which had, in earlier times, supported Saddam's war against Iran.
When it suited the convenience of the Americans to have the people of Iran and Iraq spill each other's blood, Saddam was America's friend, and his war efforts were supported with American money, American intelligence and American weapons.
America's war upon Iraq was touted as a war in the interests of peace and democracy, the notion of the regime of America's President, George W. Bush, being that a free and democratic Iraq would bring about a general flourishing of American-style democracy throughout the Middle East.
Instead, in the absence of the dictator Saddam, Iraq descended into chaos. As of April 2007, two million Iraqis had fled Iraq as refugees, another two million were internally displaced within their own homeland, and civilians were dying at the rate of a hundred a day in factional fighting.
Meantime, American forces were proving unable to suppress the resistance of an enemy which had learnt how to fight them, and who was not afraid to die if death was the price of waging war against America.
George W.'s war against Saddam was a war of choice, entirely unnecessary. The Iraqi people did not get a prosperous American-style democracy. Rather, they got a chaotic carnage ground, a nation which, by April 2007, had disintegrated into a state of anarchy, anarchy being defined, for the purposes of the present moment, as a state in which anyone is free to kill anyone else, and often does.
There are two things that are terrible. One is tyranny. The other is anarchy. Of these two, anarchy is the worse. It is better to live in an ordered state, even if the state is one dominated by a man like Joseph Stalin or Saddam Hussein, than to live in a carnage ground where you do not know from day to day which of your neighbors is likely to be the one to shoot you in the head.
With that preamble, here are the three poems promised. The first is a praise poem. It was written at a time when it seemed that the brain cancer for which I had been treated had returned. If that were to be the case (fortunately it was not) then I would be facing my death.
In that situation, I found in Saddam a role model. A more appropriate role model for my purposes, I think, than, say, Bart Simpson. I mean, who in our hip-hop culture can you think of as a decent role model for death?
Later, I got an answer to that question when New Zealand's former prime minister, David Lange, died, with great grace and enormous courage, in difficult circumstances, facing an incurable disease.
With his demise, pretty much the whole nation wept.
I doubt that anyone wept like that for the death of Saddam. Even so, while I live, there will be a part of me which owes something to him, a model for how to face death when your death is both certain and unavoidable.
Here, then, is the praise poem, SADDAM IS GUILTY (Copyright © 2005 Hugh Cook):
SADDAM IS GUILTY
Saddam is guilty.
The acid baths were real.
Terror knows no greater reign than this.
From what we see we know his death is rightful
And one man on this planet knows how to die.
He's going down to doom and surely knows it,
Squeezed out before but this time dies for certain.
A cockroach beneath the deadweight of the jackboot,
He panics not and never chooses flinching.
His barbed wire soul can handle this alone,
Declines to yield and does not seek to whimper.
Without a rock he somehow finds his footing,
Steadfast against the planet and the court.
Doom is a death to shout at, minus hankie.
Death is a road to walk with head held high.
After the wars, the tortures and the rapes,
He's passed beyond repentance or redemption.
Sole function, now, to face the court and die.
And be my leader.
Saddam, my man, I'll take you as my angel,
Dark lord of mine for this my darkest path.
Later, I wrote a poem about the death of Saddam, before I had seen the unauthorised cellphone video of his execution. What follows is, first, a description of the video and then the poem itself.
If the video is still online at the place where I found it, then one of the links on the right hand side of the page will take you there. There is more than one link which is clearly pointing at the site which hosts the Saddam execution video.
This is an extremely murky video, in which we see Saddam intermittently swimming into focus. Much of the video shows a world as cryptic and as hard to interpret as the world which I typically see, when the light is poor, with my damaged eyesight.
I had to watch it a couple of times to get a grip on the situation, by which time I had figured out that the guy who is making the unauthorized cellphone video is standing below the scaffold. He is looking up at Saddam and is trying to focus in on him. It's not easy, so, a lot of the time, we're looking at stairs, presumably the stairs which lead up to the scaffold. Meantime, we can hear what's going on in the background.
While the video quality is wretched, the sound quality is pretty good, and it is the sound which really takes you there. Considered as radio drama, this is not a bad video.
In the lead up to the moment of execution, there is a certain amount of shouting, and I believe that what is being shouted out is the name of one of Saddam's enemies, the name being used to mock Saddam as he confront his death. However, though there is some shouting, the crowd is not really raucous until, with a crashing sound, Saddam abruptly drops to his death, at which point the crowd roars with a huge excitement and gets much, much noisier.
Whenever Saddam is in view, he is seen minus a hood, true to the soundtrack of an earlier video I saw, apparently some kind of official execution video, one with no voices in the background, a video which claimed, in an English-language voiceover, that Saddam had refused to wear a hood.
That video, the first Saddam execution video that I saw, was a kind of Ministry of Truth version posted on a French website. It tells us that Saddam is going to be executed "with one camera rolling." The Ministry of Truth, which moves fast when it wants to, has already elided the cellphone's truthtelling video from the historical record.
In the world of lies, there is no shouting in the background. Also, we do not see the actual moment of the execution itself, therefore we get no sense of the annihilating brutality of an execution.
In the uncensored world of the cellphone video, we definitely hear the background shouting, but then it dies down. Everyone is waiting for the moment of the execution, and so they quieten down, though they never become entirely silent.
Then Saddam crashes into his eternity with all the violence of a train wreck, and it at that point at which the crowd really starts sounding like a mob, a rabble. It is as if Saddam's achieved death had made them angrier rather than appeasing them, and, across the language barrier, rage can be detected.
Rage, or, perhaps, an orgasmic triumph.
The video quality is too poor for me to be sure of Saddam's emotional state, but my own take on what I've seen, viewing it three times, is that Saddam, seen with the hangman's noose round his neck, betrays no particular expression.
To recap, then, in the build-up to the drop, there is some semi-orchestrated shouting, then the shouting dies down, and then, abruptly, Saddam drops, snatched downward with cartoonish suddenness, his death a convulsive annihilation. Saddam positively explodes into death, and that is when the audience really goes ape.
Watching this video was the first time in my life that I've seen a hanging, and this is one piece of video that I won't forget in a hurry.
If you want to watch the video, and if it's still online, then my advice would be to take the time to study the CLICK TO PLAY MEDIA graphic before launching the video. Orient yourself.
On the left, the stairs. Top right, a kind of box structure with a haze of light inside, maybe a neon tube. In the foreground, an inscrutable object which might possibly be someone with close-cropped hair and with one ear catching the light.
Now, the boxy structure is where Saddam is standing, and it is that structure which the phoneman is trying to focus on. Eventually, he brings us face to face with today's star attraction. Got the layout? Okay, click to play!
What follows is a poem, one of three poems about Saddam in my poetry collection GENGHIS LOTUS POETRY COLLECTION. The poem is Copyright © 2007 Hugh Cook.
THE DEATH OF SADDAM HUSSEIN
The death of Saddam Hussein
Was not a final encounter
With the Big Zero.
It was not the mandated death,
The state's dispassionate administration of the law,
The reduction of the target to a cipher.
This was carnival,
Rough, riotous, up close and personal,
The onlookers geekish,
Jeering for the chicken's head
To be ripped off raw and bleeding from the neck.
Under the circumstances,
As well as anyone could.
A lynch mob's nigger,
But he had sufficient of the crowbar
To slang back undaunted.
"Is this how a man acts?"
That, I read, was his question.
Of the mob, the answer is no.
Of the man who died,
In the defeat that he so richly deserved
A final victory of sorts,
Which he also deserved.
Finally, a poem which considers the historical significance of Saddam Hussein. This poem is Copyright © 2007 Hugh Cook.
SADDAM HUSSEIN A MILLION YEARS FROM NOW
It is all
Water under the bridge by now.
Andy Warhol's medical misadventure
Has long since been forgotten.
The hospital may,
Or perhaps may not,
Have been at fault.
I pass no judgment.
Here on the dark side of the moon
Once certain of their profit,
Lie vacant to the windless realms of dust.
Invisible behind the lunar mass
The planet Earth is minus cappuccino,
The olives eaten and the last baklava finished.
It is more than a thousand centuries
Since latex last had use.
In Pompeii's reburied streets
Nobody is busy at the dictionaries.
IBM is over.
And Google? Gone.
Great things have perished,
Though the planetary ocean still persists,
And still holds sway.
The Great North Sea,
A lesser water,
No longer remembers its ice.
The trilobites are still,
Rome, like Warhol, has lapsed from view.
Is no longer the toast of Broadway.
No longer have the attention
Of the chattering classes.
No longer has a shrine in Babylon.
The great Kenyan city of Obama is no more.
Five thousand million years from now
Will go out.
What happens then is,
At this date, uncertain.