Dec 30, 2006

On the Death of a Dictator

Photo of body of Saddam Hussein courtesy of Iraq state television

I woke this morning to the inevitable media blitz offering video of the hanging of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. After watching a video of the decapitation of American contractor Nick Berg last year, I have decided to take a sabbatical on snuff films, although my understanding is that the released video has the actual hanging edited out.

Give YouTube and The Smoking Gun a few hours; someone in the Iraq government will gladly sell the death scenes for the proverbial thirty pieces of silver.

Hussein reportedly clutched a Qu'ran and refused an offered hood as he quietly walked to the gallows in handcuffs, the symbolic end of a reign of state terror that saw thousands of Iraqis brutally murdered by official and paramilitary thugs.

I should note that I am no admirer of capital punishment in any form; I find the practice repugnant, barbaric, and more about vengeance and the state exercising terror muscles than a legitimate method of deterring crime. I hope to one day live in a world in which state-sanctioned murder is outlawed across the globe.

The killing of Saddam Hussein, unfortunately, will likely lead to a new wave of violence in Iraq. Moreover, many Muslims are going to be highly offended by the decision to hang Hussein during Eid al-Adha.

As I write this, I struggle to find anything positive in the hanging of Saddam Hussein, and the bloody year of 2006 closes with the especially gruesome image of a dead dictator.

May God have mercy on our souls.


Anonymous said...

Burn ih Hell, Saddam. It's too bad you're such a weenie about the death penalty, Mike. Some sick f**ks just need to fry or be hung.


PS - I still love you. In a real manly way, too. Brokeback stuff.

microdot said...

Call me a weenie, what ever, I'm left with the feeling:
This is the best we can do? Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else Bush can get right?
What do you think this farce will look like 10, 20, 30 years down the road?
A sign of American power or weakness?

historymike said...

Saddam may, indeed, burn in Hell, JD, but I do not think it is the state's responsibility to send him there.

I'll keep in mind your offer of man love, should I ever switch my sexual orientation.

historymike said...

Good question, Microdot. My suspicion is that this act will look shallow and politically motivated in 20 years, and that it was an effort to shift attention away from the Iraq fiasco.

Mark said...

Whether or not you think Saddam's hanging was wrong (and for the record, I do think the death penalty is wrong), I find myself once again asking the question that I asked when I saw the pictures of Saddam's teeth being picked at shortly after his capture:


Sergej said...

Mike, I ask myself since this morning: why were they such in a hurry to kill him? Saddam had another trial (either serious or not it was), those days are an important muslim holiday, and I think this death ,with a boomerang effect, can give strength to the "Hussein was an islam martyr" idea in muslim world.
Doing so only to have "Saddam dead before 2007"? Too silly...
Your theory about a shifting attention act, partially answer to the question

Anonymous said...

Maybe killing him is the only way to rid this earth of his evil. Plenty of people are happy that he's dead, and, while I don't want to watch it on television, I am as well. I'm usually against capital punishment, but I do think that some people are too evil to live. Furthermore, as far as this being a political plot to shift attention away from other things, this execution was not carried out by Americans, or Bush. There weren't even any Americans in the building. Iraq wanted this, and they took care of it themselves. How can they ever be their own country if they can't take responsibilities like this?

kooz said...

History Mike,

I respectfully disagree with you.

I would find it quite ironic if muslims are highly offended by the execution. Isn't it Saddam Hussein who is directly responsible for the murders of thousands of muslims? They should be grateful...not offended.

Sure, it would be great to live in a world where we didn't have to put people to death. But, as long as evil people keep murdering or harming the innocent...we will always have executions. Those on death row are there because THEY CHOSE to victimize....lets quit empathizing with killers.

The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.
Deuterononmy 17:7

Dariush said...

Some cogent commentary from Umar Lee:

"There is a certain American who is happy right now. They are downright giddy as they get ready to celebrate the end of this year in a spirit of drunken madness or in midnight payer services. When Saddam Hussein hung from the rope it made their year and their thirst for his blood was quenched at the site of the execution of Saddam Hussein.

"This man, who never showed any aggression towards America until he was invaded by
America, was hated by so many Americans even though for many years he was a key American ally. Why the hate? If we are going to go around and order puppet regimes and fraudulent democracies to kill ex-tyrants then we are going to have to kill all of those Latin American dictators America supported during the Cold War and then we are going to have to go after the House of Saud, the Algerians, all of the Central Asian Republics and good friends of America such as Hosni Mubarak. We will have to go into the Congo, Angola, Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Uganda and hang thousands of warlords and mass murderers and then go to Afghanistan and ask for the head of American allies such as Abdul-Rashid Dostum. But, the US is not going to do that with the selective morality that is practiced; and an ignorant American public, most who have never been abroad and are mystified ten miles from their homes, don’t even know the names of the tyrants ( and there is a good possibility have never heard of the nations they terrorize).

"America rejoiced at the death of Saddam because they know who he is, have been treated to years of media vilification of the man, and for many are aroused at the display of White Power in the dark infidel nation of Iraq and are the descendents of those who cheered as Emmett Till swung from the tree. I am sure that the American offices in the pentagon at their meetings of the Christian Embassy will rejoice in this act."

More here.

Jacob said...

sergej, from my understanding it is in the Iraqi constitution that they can't execute people over 70 years of age. Saddam was going to turn 70 in April so they didn't want to start another trial that would last until it was too late to execute him. So they convicted him at the one trial and then got it over with before they had to wait. Kind of a bizarre thing if you ask me but that is what I understand of the reasons for the rush to execute. Although why they had to do it on the first day of Eid and right before the New Year, you got me. I think that is the US flexing its muscles and just letting people know who is really running the show.

Dariush said...

Having had the opportunity to view the cellphone video of the actual hanging that is now readily available all over the internet, I have to include an addendum to the comments of Umar Lee that I posted above.

Those who can understand what is being said by the executioners and the witnesses now know that this wasn't so much about "justice being dealt to an 'evil' man" as it was a coronation.

"Moqtada, Moqtada" we hear the executioners and their cheerleaders chant. Followed by a loud, heartfelt, group recitation of a Shia chant "God bless the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the House of Muhammad".

After the hanging is carried out, more declarations of allegiance to Moqtada from the executioners and witnesses.

Until today, I didn't realize just how much state power al-Sadr, and by extension Iran, wielded in Iraq.

The King is Dead!

Long Live the King!

Hooda Thunkit said...

It was necessary for the Iraqis to see Saddam die so that they can begin to heal.

It's an imperfect justice, but it will have to do for now.