Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam found guilty

For all the trouble it's given the U.S., there have been some major accomplishments in operation Iraqi freedom. The first of which was invading Iraq, the second of which was killing Uday and Qusay, the third of which was capturing Saddam himself, and now, the fourth: the sentencing to death and eventual execution of Saddam. Is this going to have a "Wicked Witch is dead" effect? Certainly not. But it's going to do a hell of a lot more good than it will ill.

2 of Saddam's seven codeffendents will join him at the gallows. More than that, though, one can hope that a lot of the more anti-American (rather than pro-Iraqi) sentiment will die with him.

Was the trial perfect? No. If Saddam had been an average citizen in any Western country, and his trial had gone on with the outbursts, assassinations, mishandled documentation and other courtroom indiscretions that plagued this trial, he would have been let off with a mistrial. But this isn't any citizen, and this isn't any case. This is Saddam Hussein. Iraqis know what he did. The world knows what he did. Iraqis will forgive the court if the trial was not 100% legitimate.

And furthermore, do not give too much credence to Saddam's last-ditch attempt to become a martyr. The only people who are really going to miss him are those who saw their survival as being dependent on his authority. So there will be some significant Sunni unrest in Tikrit and the rest of Saddam-Land. So what?

This won't fix all the problems in Iraq, but it will give the entire nation a chance to pause and ask themselves, "Now that he's dead, now what do we do?" It will encourage debate amongst Iraqis, serious debate. I don't know what the U.S. needs to do to make the most of it, but I do know what they have to avoid: letting Saddam live. There will be an appeal, according to Iraqi law, but no matter what happens the conviction must not be overturned.

Justice must be done, and this is the best opportunity the U.S. will ever have to show that Western justice and Iraqi justice are on one side, and the "justice" of the Islamists and of the Saddams of the world will always be on the other.

The article, for those who wish to read it:

I think I speak for many, when I say, good riddance. That being said, Saddam is a clever SOB, and no human life is without merit. But I think God will understand me when I say, I forgive him, but it's time for him to die.


Gus Van Rant said...

I have grave concerns about the effects of his likely martydom. Why couldn't he spend the rest of his life in isolation? That would seem to knock out two birds with one stone: severe punishment and the verdict doing what it can to keep violence as low as possible.

Dr. Duke Nukem said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dr. Duke Nukem said...

I have to disagree, and while I'll elaborate below my main reasons are as follows.

Isolation and exile are not options here. Saddam is a bigger threat to Iraqis alive and exiled, rather than dead. Alive, he empowers the section of the insurgency that wants to bring Iraq back under the bloody, strongarm rule of a secular Saddam or an Islamist Taliban. Even with moral considerations, the execution must be allowed to take place. Short-term costs resulting from his "martyrdom" - assuming people really consider him a man of faith - are outweighed by the long-term costs of letting him live.

There is nowhere Saddam can be placed where he will not continue to cause problems. Exile or life-imprisonment may seem severe to us, but it won't mean diddly squat to the people most concerned with the outcome of the trial: Iraqis. Exile for Saddam would mean that the U.S. is willing to keep Saddam fed, clothed and alive until he dies a natural death - that's not what Iraqis want to see.

There may be short-term violence related to Saddam's execution, but the potential long-term benefits of exceuting Saddam outweigh those short-term costs. Technically, anything the U.S. does in Iraq can be seen as "inciting" the insurgency; we're the occupiers. But then, executing Saddam confirms our claim that the U.S. wasn't lying when it said that it was coming in to liberate the Iraqis and kill Saddam. We need to say that, as loudly as possible, and the execution of Saddam is the only way to make that statement heard.

The biggest problem with Saddam is that he is a heavily destabilizing element in an already heavily destabilized country. His continued existence confuses a nation that is trying to determine its own destiny and purpose. Are they supposed to look for whatever strongman can kill, terrorize and torture to keep some semblance of peace? Are they supposed to stay loyal to whatever tyrannical regime moves into power, as long as that regime claims legitmacy from Islam by shouting "Allahu Akbar" after every one of their crimes against the innocent? Or are they supposed to take a definite stand, reject the style of despotic, primitive governance represented by Saddam, and try to create something better?

This will be an unusual event for the US. If Hitler hadn't blown his brains out in the bunker, would he have gone on trial? Would the world have been content merely to see him locked away? Milosevic spent his final days in a cell, true, but Serbia for all its troubles is remarkably more stable and democratic than Iraq.

As a Christian, I would like to think of a way to keep Saddam alive while still taking the best steps to bring peace of Iraq. I can't find any. Alive, he is Saddam Hussein: the rightful leader of the Iraqi people, an Arab leader imprisoned by the West and put on trial by Their puppets, continuing to inspire the attacks that lead to innocent Iraqi deaths. Executed, he's a martyr for a select group that never really had any problem with his brutal regime in the first place, i.e. fervent Baath party members and loyal forces. Dead, he ceases to be a danger to the millions of Iraqis he has terrorized for so long. Even for a Christian, the choice is difficult, but clear.

There will be no massive uprising to avenge Saddam; there would be chaos if we were to let him escape the justice that Iraqis have chosen for him. We cannot afford to let him live. That's all there is to it.

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