Saddam’s Trial Strategy

In the Weekly Standard, Edward Morrissey on whether Saddam has learned some lessons from Hermann Goering on what to do when tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Saddam Hussein has adopted a clear strategy for his trial on charges of crimes against humanity stemming from his decades-long rule of Iraq. He planned on diverting attention from the crimes and the evidence of them by focusing the world’s attention on his political rants from the dock. Perhaps Saddam studied the Nuremberg trial of Hermann Goering, who manipulated court proceedings to both heighten his stature in the Nazi movement and to diminish the stature of the court in the eyes of ordinary Germans. Goering achieved limited success with this strategy because the Allies and the media extensively published the evidence of the atrocities of the Third Reich. In the end, Goering took his own life and history rightly remembers him as a monster.

If Saddam has calculated that the Goering gambit will work better for him, he may be right. Saddam is betting that his disruptions will play better than the evidence and testimony of genocide, which is so lacking in entertainment value. According to a study performed by the Media Research Center (MRC), the media is playing right into Saddam’s strategy. After reviewing the coverage provided by the three American broadcast networks, MRC calculated that less than twenty percent of the news coverage reported on evidence, testimony, and the background of the case–when they could be bothered to cover the trial at all.