Posted by: theboyfromsmallville | November 5, 2006

Sadamned

Part of our social studies curriculum during high school was current events, which was flooded almost daily by reports about the Gulf War.
Yup, amid such high school vocabulary as prom dates and varsity games were words that we became familiar with also—scud and patriot missiles.
And Saddam Hussein.
He was the bad guy in the equation. His invasion of the oil-rich sultanate of Kuwait triggered a war whose moral merits will be forever debated upon, and whose consequences would spill into the years that followed.
Yesterday, that same person, vilified by Western journalists but commanding a cult-like following in some areas of his native Iraq received his sentence after a long-drawn trial at the Iraqi High Tribunal.

He was sentenced to die by hanging.

For someone who spent part of teenage life poring over clippings about the Gulf War, and someone weaned on the gross fallibility of our justice system, the news was stunning in that I’d never thought it would ever happen.

Saddam Hussein was one of those larger-than-life villains who you always thought would outlast those trying to punish him for his acts of terrorism.

Hell, him getting caught was a surprise for me already.

Now, we have this.

As stunned as I am, I really don’t know how to take the news. Of course, it is a welcome development. After all, justice will be served.

But is it a welcome development because I’ve long hoped to see Saddam’s victims get their closure? Or is it a selfish welcome development in that I’d always longed to see proof that there is justice in this world? Am I searching for my own closure on a subject that didn’t end when I graduated from high school?

The news of Saddam’s sentence will probably obliterate another small item that will run in the sports pages of the Inquirer. It is one about the defeat of Pakistan’s Anwar Chowdhry in the international amateur boxing association presidential elections.

Chowdhry I’ve always looked upon as a Saddam-ish villain in my entire career as a sportswriter. I’ve always pinned our failure to win an Olympic gold medal on the guy.

For the uninitiated, Chowdhry has been known to manipulate results of boxing matches and has never been a fan of Philippine boxing—long regarded as the vanguard of the country’s drive for that elusive Olympic gold.

Tales spun about Chowdhry include impromptu meetings at the men’s room with his handpicked fight judges, who always emerge from these clandestine powwows with briefcases bursting at the seams with cash.

As you know, ours isn’t the most financially-backed sports program in the world. What we have as a sports budget we try to spread thinly across athletes’ training, nutrition and international exposure and the lining of corrupt sports officials’ pockets.

So no matter how hard we try, we could never get into the good graces of Chowdhry. And we’ve never had any of the breaks that our rival countries get. And no matter how hard our boxers train, they’re never gold medal material because they can’t literally afford to be one.

Yesterday, Chowdhry’s two-decade stranglehold of the international amateur boxing association ended. Wu Ching-kuo of Taiwan is the association’s new president. And hopefully, our spate of bad luck in the Olympics will also end.

How Wu will clean up the image of amateur boxing and make scoring more transparent to prevent questionable decisions will be severely tested in the Asian Games this December in Qatar. Maybe our Filipino boxers will finally get the recognition—and the prize—they richly deserve.

Meanwhile, the appeals are expected to run on the case of Saddam Hussein, who was defiant during the reading of the verdict.

It will be long before we will know if he will be hanged or not.

Me? I hope he does hang. And I hope the world will be allowed to watch.

Before the invasion of Kuwait, my experience with war had been limited to history books. The concept of war was so far-fetched, even while growing up in Cagayan de Oro, whose neighbors were always on the verge of war.

The Gulf War changed all that. Newspapers and television stations gave me a front row view of something that to me seemed unthinkable. The day the Gulf War started, I lost a part of me that I cannot identify, and hence making it impossible to regain whatever that was.

I don’t care what his advocacies were. I hope he hangs. Chowdhry got what was due him. Saddam Hussein should, too.

If only for the millions of Iraqi’s who suffered under his despotic rule, for the Kuwaitis who were displaced and who died because of his unwarranted invasion of their country and for the soldiers who died in a war they did not need to fight.

And yes, for a kid who lost something he’ll never find in this lifetime.

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Responses

  1. Fry that saddam!


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