Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Saddam death extravaganza

Am I the only one who's thinking it's a bad idea to execute Saddam? I don't doubt that he deserves harsh punishment, because he IS a mass murderer and is guilty of planting the seeds of sectarian violence that would have wracked the state whether or not the US had invaded. That's historically the only way to rule a fake state, by playing one group off another, in this case the Sunnis--Saddam's clan--vs. Shiites and Kurds. Our man in Yugoslavia, Tito, did that masterfully, by keeping all the groups in the state perpetually off balance and threatening any dissenters with prison. He never answered for any of his crimes because he was a friend of ours, someone who defied Stalin and the USSR.

But what good will it do to execute this man? It won't help reconcile the feuding parties, because the judges who condemned Saddam belong to the hated Shiite-dominated government, which is supported by us. I doubt that their verdict will do anything except strengthen the hand of the Sunni insurgents, both in terms of the deadly ethnic war with Shiites and the campaign against the "occupiers"--that would be us--who deposed Saddam and the Sunnis out of their exhalted position.
Second, Saddam will die on the basis of one incident, a massacre in the town of Dujail. He's known to have committed many other crimes against other groups, for example against the Marsh Arabs. How can you investigate and expose these crimes with no defendant to answer for them? Iraqis, in particular bitter Sunnis, need to understand the full extent of Saddam's crimes. An international, rather than Iraqi, investigation of Saddam on charges of general crimes against humanity might help this cause a lot. Finally, would it not be the best punishment of all to let Saddam languish in obscurity the rest of his natural life? He obviously loves publicity and notoriety, and removing any possibility of that would surely be the most severe punishment imaginable for him. Why make him a martyr by executing him?

I just don't see the upside in this verdict. It's nonsense to claim that we can't stop it--we put in power the judges and the government that delivered it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I guess we'll all know now. That's some measure of swift justice over there.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Kvatch said...

Well I guess we'll all know now. That's some measure of swift justice over there.

Not sure I agree...

Before Bush decided to take Saddam down, we spent a decade building him up. That makes this execution, rather than justice, a grisly exclamation point on our Middle East bungling.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point Kvatch.

9:19 AM  

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