Saturday, December 30, 2006

No Juice For Saddam

The impending execution of Saddam Hussein could almost inspire black humour. The gallows is apparently of American construction, and one cannot help suspect that one reason it was chosen over the electric chair is that under American rule, no one can guarantee that the power system would deliver enough juice to the executioners.

If, or when, it happens, the hanging will symbolize all that is wrong and hypocritical about the American Occupation. In general, they are replicating the barbarity of the Baathist regime, since most of the developed world has now abandoned the death penalty. Indeed, one of the few fields in which the US is now competitive with China is in the number of executions carried out - and the way that the poverty of the victims matches the poor quality of legal redress.
I will not shed too many tears when he ends up on the end of a rope, any more than I donned mourning black when Slobodan Milosevic died in prison, or Augusto Pinochet met his end. But the fact remains, executing someone like Saddam Hussein is reducing yourself to his level

Saddam undoubtedly had a fairer trial than he ever allowed his victims. But it was incredibly stupid, as well as prejudicial, for the trial to be held in country under occupation rather than be referred to the International Criminal Court, or a special international tribunal. But of course American prejudices against the UN and multinational forces - not to mention complete ignorance about the likely domestic effects in Iraq, made sure that that did not happen.

In terms of justice, the crimes which Saddam Hussein was tried for, mass murder of rebellious subjects, had on other occasions been condoned and covered up by US administrations. Undoubtedly guilty though Saddam was of aggression, an impartial international court may have wanted to examine why aggression against Iran, which killed hundreds off thousands on both sides,, was commendable and worthy of Western support, while attacking Kuwait was unforgivable. Of course we know the political difference, but if you are conducting a court of justice rather than a show trial, these things do bear examination. And you are coinducting the trial, then you cannot be surprised when your own behaviour is weighed in the balance and found wanting.

It seems highly likely that more Iraqis have died bloodily and messily in the conflict since the invasion than Saddam Hussein killed in his campaigns against the Kurds and Shi'as.
His execution will doubtless add to the tally, while American political discourse about the war completely discounts the views of the alleged beneficiaries: more than half of Iraqis polled want the US troops out immediately, with another quarter wanting them to go soon. Now that is serious verdict by a serious jury of Saddam's peers -- and who in Washington is prepared to act on it?

1 comment:

Dave said...

Bittersweet, I suppose. Vengance wanted him dead while morality condemned the act of vengance.