He was responsible for the deaths of over 1m people and launched a brutal invasion of his neighbour. He presided over a tyrannical and corrupt government with an appalling record on human rights. And he amassed a personal fortune of $10bn dollars while his people were starving. I refer not to Saddam Hussein, who stands trial today before a U.S. backed show court- but to General Suharto, the former President of Indonesia. For Saddam, the ‘guilty’ verdict has already been written and execution in the presence of an already invited team of foreign observers- including the BBC's John Simpson- awaits. But for Suharto, whose crimes, in the words of John Pilger, make Saddam’s ‘seem like second-division’, a much more pleasant fate lies in store: seeing out his retirement in a luxury mansion in Jakarta. No CNN televised trial for the man whose army put to death one quarter of the population of East Timor and who oversaw the killing of up to 1m Indonesian civilians when he came to power in a CIA backed coup in 1965. No trial either for the former Chilean leader General Auguste Pinochet, who like his south-east Asian counterpart, came to power with the help of Uncle Sam and who also massacred thousands of his own people. The pro-war lobby will attempt to use this week’s sight of ‘The Dictator in the Dock’ to bolster support for the invasion of Iraq, which to date has claimed the lives of an estimated 100,000 civilians. But let us be under no illusions that Saddam is on trial not because of any atrocities he may have committed, but because he had the temerity to stand in the way of U.S. plans to establish hegemony over the entire Middle East. Had the Iraqi dictator ‘done a Suharto’ - sold off his economy to Western multinationals, allowed Starbucks and Macdonalds to multiply in the streets of Baghdad and US oil majors plunder his country’s black gold, we can rest assured that he would not now be in a dark and dusty cell, but safely ensconced in one of his palaces, lighting up a Monte Cristo and sitting down to watch his favourite video of the Sound of Music. Let us not forget that the worst of Saddam's alleged crimes, such as the gassing of the Kurds at Halabjah in 1988, occured at a time when he had the full backing of the U.S. and Britain. The selective justice of the New World Order, whereby those leaders who defy the world’s superpower are to subject to the law, but those who comply with its dictates are free to carry on killing and maiming as they feel fit- is no form of justice at all. Only if the U.S. announced that they supported the trial of all world leaders responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians and war crimes, then would we able to take this week’s events in Baghdad a little more seriously. But of course this will not happen- for it would mean that in addition to Suharto, Pinochet and a whole host of Western backed despots, those responsible for the illegal and murderous invasion of Iraq would also find themselves in need of a very good lawyer.
Copyright Neil Clark 2005 All Rights Reserved