City Club News -- Case' International Human Rights Lawyer Cites Risk of Nastier Turn To President War Proposals

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Fri, 01/12/2007 - 16:49.

Michael Scharf, Case Law Professor and international consultant on judicial affairs and human rights spoke at the City Club today, speaking on the process and trial of Saddam Hussein. However, the big news was his concern that the President's "surge policy" could support efforts in Iraq to isolate the Sunni minority population and create an “80% solution” that embraces isolation and ethnic cleansing by the Kurds and Shia majority coalition. This is the first we've heard about that risk by a knowledgeable international affairs expert (Scharf served in the State Department of Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton). If the US embraces or even tolerates isolation of the minority and an “80% solution” by the majority against the minority, it would reverse US policies in place during the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, in which the US aggressively opposed isolation and ethnic segregation. I expect will hear more of this in the weeks ahead as Congress delves into the specifics of the surge proposal.

 

The closing comments obscured the rest of Scharf's comments on the Saddam trial. Scharf has been quoted in the press arguing that the trial was fair, noting that the evidence was very strong against Saddam Hussein and the process was not as bad as it appeared in the media as the judges refrained from making statements supporting their actions, ceding the media to critics. While noting the “big news” of the day, I was very troubled by Scharf's comments about the fairness of the Saddam trial. The initial judge resigned under pressure from Shia officials who perceived that he was excessively favorable towards to Saddam in some of his preliminary steps, while a subsequent replacement judge was blocked by the concerns of Shia officials that he would also support Saddam. It's when evidence is so strong against a defendant that the process must be scrupulously objective and fair, to justify the death penalty ultimately imposed. As we've all seen and heard, unfairness in the trial and execution will make fairness all the more allusive in a country that has experienced little so far.

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Excellent insight on Michael Scharf at City Club

Thanks for this report on the Michael Scharf talk at the City Club of Cleveland... sounds very interesting. It should be available by podcast within the next few days, to be found in the City Club Podcast Directory here.  It can be viewed on Sunday, January 14 at 10 AM on WVIZ/PBS - this one sounds very worth checking out!

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