Sunday, December 31, 2006

The hanging controversy.

Why the quasi-philosophical debate and bickering about whether to keep Saddam Hussein alive or string him up?
The Iraqi people hung him and two others just the same way as they do to many others found guilty of heinous crimes on an almost daily basis. The death penalty there is ordinary and customary. The court proceedings, after initial condemnation by the MSM as unsophisticated and backward, are now being judged by many as praise worthy and in the very least adequately sufficient to prove guilt or innocence. Why can't we just accept that this is their way of dispensing justice? Is it our view that the process is backward and in need of updating? We must keep in mind that this is a nation where the very first laws were actually codified some three thousand years ago at a time when "western" justice was whatever the strong said it was. It is time to end this elitist attitude that our sense of justice is better than theirs and respect their decision to mete out justice which has been honed over three millennia.
In retrospect, it now seems that a mistake was made when Saddam was taken "alive" out of that spider hole. His recent and unsuccessful request for a firing squad execution over such an ignoble end as hanging, clearly indicates his wish for an honorable military style end. Those original captors could have granted his wish and also those of the rest of the world by going in with guns blazing.

27 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

Saddam's death was both too early and too late. He never faced the Kurds in court.

Holiday Greetings

roman said...

Ren,

As the last few hours of 2006 are "marching on", I can't but think that better days must be ahead.
Happy New Year to you and all your readers and commenters.

sonia said...

What controversy ? The only controversy was that the trial lasted too long. Other than that, it was like Eichmann trial. The only real question was whether individuals should be punished for crimes committed by the state. It was controversial in Eichmann case because he was a relatively low-ranking official. But Saddam was the top boss, so there is no controversy.

roman said...

sonia,

Exactly! Some liberals and opponents of the death penalty are whining that the trial was'nt "up to our standards" and that executing Saddam will accomplish nothing.
As far as the trial itself, my post addresses that issue.
As far as his execution, it is not intended to accomplish anything more than mete out the penalty that the verdict calls for. Some death penalty objectors seem to think that the death penalty needs to be justified by some other kind of justification over and above the penalty itself..eg..like preventing more of the same type of crime (which I am convinced does play a role in prevention). In this case, the debate going around the blogosphere is whether hanging Saddam will escalate or reduce the insurgency. I say plainly that it does not matter and should not even be considered in this context.

beatroot said...

I am a complete opponent of capital punishment (although that does not make me a liberal)…but what was the trial for?

If it was to show that the Iraqi judiciary is free, fair and independent… then it was a failure. This was a court under occupation and sectarian in character (the revolting ‘video’ has emphasized that.

Was the trail to provide a ‘cathartic’ experience for Iraqis? Well, if so then it was partially successful for some Iraqis (although the term ‘Iraqi’ is becoming more and more meaningless now. If it was about ‘justice’ then he should have been put on trial for the really big crimes, which he was not.

All in all the trial and execution has underlined what a mess this has been and the US and UK is responsible for that.

Not something to crow about…

roman said...

beatroot,

The trial was a step in the right direction of restoring a sense of law and order where none exists. While we may look upon it with cynical suspicion, to the "man on the street" in Iraq (where its effect is most important) it offers some hope of a future with a semblance of stability.
As far as this being a "court under occupation", this is undeniable. One must argue, though, that so were the Nurenburg, Tokyo and countless other Pacific venues where military tribunals created massive cues of war criminals that also met their end at the end of a rope. The number executed was at least 1,000.
As a war criminal, Saddam received WAY more legal representation than anyone in the aftermath of WWII. His crimes were so obvious and readilly provable that I can understand why some might call this a "show" trial but I must haste to add it should not carry the same negative connotation as those that Stalin staged for the Old Bolsheviks back in the 1930's. Some might even say Hussein received too much consideration.
What is the alternative? Summary execution? There are no real alternatives and this was as good as it could be.

jams o donnell said...

I don't support the death penalty. If I cannot suport it for others I cannot support it for Saddam. I still believe he deserved a long and miserable life. However, it is done now. I don't believe it will improve the situation in Iraq though.

roman said...

jams,

I agree that Saddam's death will not have much impact on the dreadful situation which exists in Iraq today. I do think, however, that in the long run, this trial and execution stands as a kind of early signal that law and order will someday prevail.
NOTE: I respect and admire the many commenters'consistent stance in opposition to the death penalty. I wish that I could also reach the same steadfast conviction. My pro death penalty stance is largely influenced by a kind of constant internal struggle with the logic that capital punishment is not a deterent. This is very hard for me to accept as it defies logic.
Yes, I have seen the reports but to me, even if only one innocent victim-to-be can be saved by a perpetrator's fear of the death penalty, then we, in good conscience, must keep the death penalty "on the table".

mullet said...

call me stupid...here goes... but how teaching someone a lesson by casting the exact same lesson upon them.....it's like believing in the bible.

mullet said...

herge was ok till he jumped the fence

roman said...

mullet,

Thank you for visiting and commenting. I hope you drop by often.
You said; "how teaching someone a lesson by casting the exact same lesson upon them..."
The lesson is not for the condemned but is actually for the rest of us. I firmly believe that there are people in this world who respect all life and would never harm anyone unless in self defence. Then there are those others who are predatory. The lesson is for them.

roman said...

mullet,

As a young boy growing up in Belgium, it was a thrill to get a new adventure book at each special occasion. Herge's adventures of TinTin were the highest quality animated story books of the day. I wish I had brought those books with me but, alas, had to leave them behind when we crossed the "pond".

Renegade Eye said...

The Kurds didn't get to face Saddam in court. To Sadr killing Kurds is not a crime.

Boo said...

Roman, I agree regarding killing him when they found him (didnt I say something about that in your last post?).

Anyway, I think a person forfeits their rights when they maliciously take another's life. Providing the evidence is not circumstantial, an execution saves the taxpayer the cost of suppoting the criminal for the rest of his/her miserable life.

And if the gov't were smart, they'd use a $0.40 bullet to the back of the head like they do in Russia rather than a million dollar needle in the arm.

People like Saddam Hussein, who have no concern for the rights of any others, dont deserve those rights themselves.

roman said...

Ren,

I'm sure that the Kurds whooped it up in celebration when Saddam was hung. I'm sure that they are not complaining.

roman said...

Boo,

Now even the needle is considered "inhumane" by the PC crowd. It seems that the new "progressive" idea in dispensing justice is to totally forget the victim(s) and focus entirely on protecting the rights of the perpetrator. Maybe it's just me but I find this "forgive and forget" treatment of criminals as very disturbingly shallow and irresponsible. A post modernist exaguration of holding no one accountable for their actions. A perfect example is OJ Simpson.. this guy is still looking for the "real" murderers.. on every golf course in the country.

mullet said...

i have only 2 tintin hardbacks!

i say nothing about the trial and the in's and outs....can't kill someone because they killed someone!

Boo said...

sure you can mullet...

like I said - they forfeit their rights when they take a life maliciously.

why not give all the cost of feeding/ housing/ clothing/ doctoring the perpetrator to the family of the victim.

They're more deserving, yes?

Renegade Eye said...

He never faced Kurdish accusers, because the Shiite govt. doesn't consider that a crime.

Renegade Eye said...

He is dead and buried. Time to move on.

roman said...

Ren,

You're right. He is yesterday's news. It is so amazing to me how quickly he was relegated to just a footnote in history after leaving a continuing legacy of so much death and destruction. If it was'nt for his obstinate and arrogant flaunting of UN regulations, Iraq would still be under his control. What an ill equiped and ignorant tyrant he turned out to be. Good riddance.

Redwine said...

"What an ill equiped and ignorant tyrant he turned out to be" - heh, Roman> and the rest of dictators perfect gentlemen with academic interests?

roman said...

Redwine,
There were a few that stood out from the crowd, though. Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Ghengis Khan, etc...
These people were NOT ignorant but were obstinate. They did not listen to anyone else for advice.
Saddam was ignorant AND obstinate, defying the greatest military power not just once (and paying a heavy price) but twice. Not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree.
Don't forget, also, that there were many benevolent dictators. From Wiki "Like many political classifications, the title of benevolent dictator suffers from its inherent subjectivity. Such leaders as Alexander the Great, Ioannis Metaxas, Lee Kuan Yew, Jerry Rawlings, Benito Mussolini, Julius Caesar, Oliver Cromwell, Augusto Pinochet, Napoleon Bonaparte, Francisco Franco, Rahimuddin Khan, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Kenneth Kaunda, Anwar Sadat, António de Oliveira Salazar, Juan Perón, Fidel Castro and Kaiser Wilhelm II have been characterized by their supporters as benevolent dictators."

Redwine said...

Interesting list in the Wiki. Castro must be proud of the company of Alexander of the Great (sic!).

However (Mao with his poetry, Hitler with his painting) most of them were closer to what we call dilettanti in the worst sense of the word. Many were obssessed with reading for example.

(Intersting story btw, Before sending Mandelstam to meet his end, Stalin met him in person, quoted from his poems, and then asked him "Comarde Mandelstam, did you think I was an illiterate? Did you think I did not read your poems?")

Pete's Blog said...

Roman

I think you're right in saying Saddam's execution has not caused the dire effects many feared.

After more than a month the sectarian killing and political disorder in Iraq has continued on its sad way unchecked and unchanged.

If the trial of Saddam was partially meant to vindicate the invasion and occupation of Iraq I think this "benefit" has been lost on the western public. Unsurprisingly the cost of Iraq and the current casualties dominate media output.

On the issue of the Kurds not getting to bring Saddam to trial I think the US is careful not to openly advertise its support for Kurdish nationalism. The Turks and Iraqi Shiites also strongly oppose Kurd nationalism. So the Kurds weren't permitted to take part.

Furthermore, I think, the Shiites wanted to make Saddam's execution very much a "joyful" Shiite event (primative theatre and all). They weren't just executing a tyrant - they were killing a Sunni...

Pete
1/31/07

roman said...

Pete,

Your description of the hanging as a ""joyful" Shiite event" is spot on. With the taunting shouts and filming with cell phones, this solemn event turned out to be something akin to a mob lynching. It was a disgrace. The Iraqis have a long way to go towards establishing some kind of official and dignified sense of decorum.

Pete's Blog said...

Thanks Roman. I thinks its also surprising the cell phone footage was permitted on YouTube. I imagine they constanding screen out much of the violent and XXX stuff.

The cell phone effectively made it a woulwide public execution.

A wonder if there was politicing behind its release or whether it all "just happened"?