The Mao isn't really related, other than the fact that all political power (not just Saddam's) comes from the barrel of a gun, but I figured what the hell. This blog needs a little color.
More to the point, you claim: “Execution is an exercise of absolute state authority, in a way that taxes or gun control simply aren't.” That doesn’t quite satisfy, does it? To use your own language, taxes and execution “are different in degree, not in kind.”
I'm not sure what to make of that; perhaps we need to start from first principles.
Death is absolute.
Do we agree on that?
Because if we do, then any difference in degree is a difference in kind.
But if you base your political reasoning on the assumption that death isn't absolute, or if you think that death and parking tickets are in some meaningful way comparable, then I'm not sure there's anything we can talk about here.
You fault my choice of dictionary, and point out the OED. Well, the OED definition is ass-backwards and formalistic. Under their definition, and your use of it, Iran isn't a totalitarian state. More than one political party? Get out of jail free.
The definition I used focuses on the behavior of the state and the authority it exerts over its subjects, which is a more productive way of classifying governments.
You ask if imprisonment is a fair, proportional punishment. What are you going to do, kill him a hundred thousand times over the course of the next 24 years? No punishment can be fair or proportional to crimes so severe. I didn't go in to a litany of his crimes, or a rhetorical condemnation, because it's not relevant. For the record, then: Saddam is bad. So was Mao, who I've thrown in for no good reason; so were Hitler and Stalin, who you used in preposterous non sequiturs. It's obscene to require everyone to prove their Saddam-hating bona fides every time he's mentioned; it's false piety to imply that only those who hold your position -- any position -- respect human life.
As far as ignoring your argument, I'm not sure what you mean, because I'm not sure if there's an argument in there. The closest I can come to drawing a thesis from your first reply's various rhetorical points is that, while Americans like due process, it's a preference that can be put on hold like Christianity when the crimes are severe enough.
That may not be what you mean, but it's my best guess.
Needless to say, if that's what you argue, I don't agree; due process, or for that matter Christianity, are to be tested in extremis, not there abandoned. If we don't live by our principles, they aren't really our principles. They are a sham.
G3 and DDN both accuse me of requiring something like "100% justice" or a "100% perfect trial." If you think I'm splitting hairs here, and that we're talking about the difference between 99% and 100% justice; I'll only point out that 4 participants in the trial have been killed for their roles; that several judges have resigned out of fear or political pressure; that the law establishing the court does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but only "to the satisfaction of the court"; and that since the CPA order that established the Tribunal required it to comply with international standards, any of the items I've listed is sufficient to place the Tribunal in violation not only of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , but of its own establishing law.
The tribunal, the trial, and the verdict were as poorly done as every other bit of the Iraq war and occupation. The inadequacies of the Tribunal leave open the possibilty of charges of a show trial; the sentence of death alienates the international community and our allies in europe.
You wouldn't think it would be possible to screw up convicting Saddam Hussein, but that's what we've done.
By the way; keep the insults coming; it's actually pretty amusing. I may even change my blogger handle to "cheeky jihadi."