Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hang him high

I've been asked several times over the past few days if I thought Saddam Hussein should bear the full brunt of his death sentence. Not that anyone in the Iraqi government or the White House has a hot line to my opinions, but yes. Yes, I do think that death sentence should be carried out.

But I think the whole trial has been a travesty and a waste. And not because I don't think Saddam received a fair trial. I don't know if he did or he didn't - I believe that there was an attempt to give him a fair trial. But no matter how it was run - Saddam was guilty as sin. He was going to be convicted and I think the only sentence that would make sense would be the harshest one on the books - in this case death.

I think it's been a travesty because it was a wasted opportunity for Iraq to move forward. The point of these high profile trials focused on war crimes/crimes against humanity/genocide is to provide an airing in a public forum of the grief and grievances of the victims. If handled correctly, maybe just maybe there will be some healing for the survivors and their relatives. Those who never had a voice as they lost all or almost all are finally given their day in court. These trials are never about punishing the guilty, the truly guilty. What could be the right punishment for Saddam Hussein? How could anything that any human could do to him offer even a fraction of redress for what he's done.

But if I understand Iraqi law (and it's quite possible that I don't) if Saddam Hussein's appeal fails (and I don't think there's any possibility that it won't) - then he will have to be executed within 30 days. And that means that he will not face trial for the other grievous crimes he's committed or directed. And that means that victims will not be able to stand in court or have their staements read into evidence while he has to listen. Of course, I'm sure there's other people to try, lowlier they may be.

Ming Campbell, leader of one of the British opposition parties - the Liberal Democrats (American readers, if you don't know who he is, don't waste your time trying to find out - he won't be around for too long and even if he is he's not important) has said that killing Saddam Hussein will make a martyr of him. I don't really think so. So long as Saddam Hussein is alive he's a beacon of hope for hardline baathists. His death won't stop the insurgency. There are too many different groups with different motivations for that to happen. But I cannot see that keeping him alive would avoid any violence (except his own death) and would not be worth the political intervention.

Ming and others like him in Europe, I fear are being disingenuous. They oppose the death penalty on principle (as I generally do). If that is the case, then say that, as some European leaders have done. But I'm afraid the practical argument is on the side of letting the penalty proceed as it has been handed down.


Anonymous said...

The violence in Iraq must end and for that to happen the concepts of forgiveness and non-violent means of resolving problems must be instituted. It sticks in everyone's craw to think in terms of forgiveness for Saddam Hussein, but it must start somewhere. If you can forgive Saddam you can forgive anyone. Forgiveness and non-violence are essential for human beings to live together successfully. It costs alot to forgive, but it cost less than perpetuating violence. VolMom

Vol-in-Law said...

Well I don't think most Iraqis are interested in forgiveness; and partly thanks to our actions there they don't currently seem very interested in non-violent means of resolving differences either. But it would be nice to think this could change some day.

Anonymous said...

I know they are not interested in forgiveness, just self-righteousness and being a soldier for Allah. Too much testosterone in my humble opinion. Any society that represses the feminine is likely to be violent and vindictive. I really don't know what an estrogen dominated society would look like, but I'm sure there would be serious problems also. Balance, harmony, it takes us all. VM

Vol-in-Law said...

"I really don't know what an estrogen dominated society would look like"

Less violence, but fewer consumer durables also. :)