Sale on Dignity at the End.

Execution_wideweb__430x350 "I am so tired of hearing the word "dictator" and Saddam together. It’s on a level with "anal" and then "sex." Yug. Instead of demonizing him, why not first of all mention that he didn’t die a coward. He looks perfectly composed as he eyes the rope that is about to break his neck. And you have to admire the fact he didn’t repent of his megalomania, saying to the hangman, "Iraq is nothing without me."

But he also was a skillful ruler and a legitimate one, as you pointed out in your briefing to the White House in late 1990 or early 1991. He had an extraordinary insight into his people –knowing when to massacre a section of a tribe or instead, build it a whole new sewage system and a string of free clinics.

Why demonize? Think of Somoza or the shah or Trujillo or the whole awfully bloody bunch of shits we have used to advance our ends in the world. We did after all back Stalin and lied for years to the public about his actions and character. Amazing.

Few have mentioned the sheer discourtesy or insensitivity of hanging him on the Muslim Sabbath.

I think we should have left him in prison and made sure he got tons of newspapers delivered to his cell every day. He was a man who had to predominate. Knowing of great events afoot and knowing you are forever a discarded man with no further part to play in the world would have eaten him hollow and not made a martyr of him.
Richard Sale"


I really agree with Richard on this.  Saddam may have killed your father, uncle or brother, but he died a man.

We have made some colossal errors in Iraq but this is among the worst:

1- We killed a former (?) head of state.  The Shia government did it?  What a joke! Neocons!  Do you imagine that anyone believes this? Maliki would not even go to the execution.  No.  We will be blamed and rightly so.  We provided "advisors" to the trial judges.

2- We made him a figure for legend and he took advantage of it.  "God is Great! Long live Iraq!  Palestine is Arab."  That is what he uttered on the gallows with the rope around his neck.  You damned fools!  What do you think will be the war cry with which millions of Muslims will confront us and our "regional allies?"

3-The, oh so clever Iranian political warfare machine (and friends) have tried for many years to denigrate the Iraqi army that fought Iran and defeated it.  The men who served in that army know how well they fought.  For good or ill he was their commander in chief.  Do you think that deliberately humiliating him in the manner of his death will serve the cause of reconciliation in Iraq?

4- We allowed his execution in the month of Pilgrimage, just before the Feast of Sacrifice when a holocaust of sacrificed animals will be offered.  Could you have given him a better gift?

5-Is it really true that Moqtada al-Sadr’s people participated in the execution?  Is it true?

6-How like AQ’s executions this was.  How like.

What more could you have given him?

Now he belongs to the ages.  pl

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56 Responses to Sale on Dignity at the End.

  1. Michael says:

    I am also very disappointed that the US is distributing pictures of a dead Saddam Hussein – Didn’t the US deplore Al Jazeera’s penchant for showing killed US soldiers on TV as ‘barbaric’?
    Yes, Saddam had to go and had to be accountable for his actions.. but the US could have had a little class in making sure everything was done professionally – and kept the images of his death under wraps.
    I can’t think of a more transparent and flimsy excuse to knock off an old foe. Bush/Cheney have taken the US down a very dark and sad road that will take years to recover from.
    I am at a loss for words.

  2. Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says:

    I made the mistake of thinking the Saddam slaying unimportant, projecting my own lack of concern, until I read one Iraqi blogger’s response:
    Who gains if they hang Saddam? Iran, naturally, but who else? There is a real fear that this execution will be the final blow that will shatter Iraq. Some Sunni and Shia tribes have threatened to arm their members against the Americans if Saddam is executed. Iraqis in general are watching closely to see what happens next, and quietly preparing for the worst.
    This is because now, Saddam no longer represents himself or his regime. Through the constant insistence of American war propaganda, Saddam is now representative of all Sunni Arabs … The Americans, through their speeches and news articles and Iraqi Puppets, have made it very clear that they consider him to personify Sunni Arab resistance to the occupation. Basically, with this execution, what the Americans are saying is “Look- Sunni Arabs- this is your man, we all know this. We’re hanging him- he symbolizes you.”

  3. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    “now he belongs to ages”!?!? ; who was he – another Lincoln? You cannot be serious.
    And why do you keep on bringing Iran into this?
    It is true that the man, his party, and his government were enemies of the Iranain people and the Iranian states – in that they were fools and none of them exists anymore. That is finished and done with.
    Yes, may be he has become a martyr and hero to Sunni Arabs and assorted Sunni Muslims fringe groups. He must be hero to the same goddamned Arab intellectuals and Arab masses that were silent when he was mudering Iraq’s opposition figures, gassing Iranians and Kurds while at the same time screaming at the top of their lungs about the plight of the Palestinians. Quite frankly, they deserve each other.
    And what reconciliation – there can be none until one side defeats the other.
    Let the Sunni Arab supporters of him huff & puff about his supposed martyrdom.
    The execution of Saddam Hussein is greatly appreciated by the people and government of Iran and Shia muslims of Iraq.

  4. J says:

    ‘smarts’ doesn’t appear to be a strong suite for either the neocons or the bushies.

  5. J says:

    we see the neocons have adopted their stalin forbearers ways. it is apparent that the neocons are still calling the shots in iraq. the whole plethora of the iraq war is laden with strategies that were used in the soviet union and eastern europe. from forged docs to censorship to govt. supplied propaganda, to public executions.
    we have a sunni leader who was transferred to a shia dominated puppet govt. and now the puppet govt. announces that the former head of state will be buried in a ‘secret location’. during the late 50’s the soviets through their hungarian puppet deposed and then subjected them to a show trial that was overseen followed by being executed in secret locations, and buried in secret graves.
    the whole process really makes the u.s. shine on the world stage, doesn’t it. and i think of the thousands of military and diplomats who worked for years to ensure the u.s. is looked up to on the world stage, only to have all their hard work torn down by the bushies and neocons.

  6. jallabo says:

    The most plausible theory i read so far is that the execution was rushed this way to create a counterpoint to distract the chattering classes from the upcoming kia nr. 3000 (looks like this ‘milestone’ will be reached today or tomorrow). And this is all you need to know about the quality of strategic thought at work here.

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You can not disentangle the history of post-revolutinary Ira from that of Iraq. You know that as well as I.
    Father Abraham? He was reviled in his own time, North and South and only transformed into the “greatest” president by his martyrdom. He suspended Habeas corpus, would have arrested the Chief Justice if Taney had not died and approved the arrest and imprisonment of much of the Maryland legislature in 1861 to keep them from voting for secession. He approved thousands of summary executions of civilians in Missouri, and then there is the matter of his racist statements in the Lincoln-Douglas debates…
    As Shelby Foote said, “he was a very clever politician.”
    But, at least my great-grandfather survived Cold Harbor, Winchester and any number of other scrimmages. He probably voted for Lincoln. pl

  8. arbogast says:

    “But the Saddam who dominated that courtroom was another figure — haughty, defiant, often beside himself with anger, but, above all, remorseless.”
    Haughty? Defiant? Often beside himself with anger? Remorseless?
    Often beside himself with anger?
    Fits him to a “t”, doesn’t it? Bush, that is.
    As for Lincoln, he was an absolutely brilliant “communicator”. His speeches and pretty much everything he said and wrote are far, far beyond anything in the history of the U.S.
    He chose to fight a war that killed 600,000 people. One soldier died for seven slaves freed. A hundred years of lynchings and “segregation” followed.
    These military “solutions” aren’t worth a whole lot in my opinion.

  9. zanzibar says:

    OK. End of a chapter. Here’s the video. I am sure no one in any part of the world believes that this was the result of justice. It is understood that this outcome is American decision making. The spoils of war! Saddam has been made a martyr. No doubt if there was a transparent trial in The Hague he would have been convicted of murder. But crimes against humanity? Who else would then need to be tried for that? George Bush and Tony Blair and Robert Mugabe and the Burmese junta and Rios Montt and Jiang Zemin.
    Its clear that although the west espouses rule of law and liberty and individual rights they do not act by that. Might is right is still the maxim. Justice is for the victors and this has not changed for millenia.
    Dictators, tyrants, politicians around the world learned one thing today – the US is fickle. They’ll be your ally and friend one day and kill you another day. Saddam came to power with US support. In the 80s Donald Rumsfeld went at least a couple times as an emissary of the US President to insure Sadddam was firmly in our camp and to provide favors. The US supported and acquiesced to his brutality and megalomania. As the video shows he did not die a broken man but remained defiant as an Iraqi and Arab nationalist to the very the end.
    The reality of Iraq under the US and British occupation is substantially worse than under Saddam.
    A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.
    2006 has been, decidedly, the worst year yet. No- really. The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It’s like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there.

    Despite the tyranny many Iraqis may fondly remember the Saddam era where there was electricity, fuel, food, education and most importantly an opportunity for an upwardly mobile life as long as one toe’d the line and was subservient to the Saddam clique. Sunni and Shia and Christian could benefit. No one knows now how the Arabs will look on Saddam in 50 years. There is no doubt however that the nature of his death will accentuate the mythology of his life that he assiduously promoted.

  10. Will says:

    the NeoKon Likudniks had the policy of dual containment vis a vis Irak/Ian, then dual elimination. Both states thwart their ambition regarding assimilation of the West Bank a.k.a. Judia/Samaria. It matters not that Iran-Irak hate each others guts, the NeoKon Likudniks hate both states and had both slated for elimination and regime change from the gitgo.
    They delight when the th Sunni/Shiite squabble and murder each other. Witness Babak damning Sadam Hussein and for very good reason and throwing in the hapless Palestinians for good measure.
    The Palestinians were caught between a rock and a hard place as they were supported by Khomeini and SH. Arafat diligently tried to mediate the Iraq/Iran War. I see where Libya has declared three days of mourning. It would be interesting to see Hamas’ reaction. It is presently getting Iranian funds.
    Whatever you say about him, in spite of the disinformation, watching the cellphone video of his demise, he died w/ dignity.
    The phrase “passed to the ages” signifes that he has passed to eternity which is the domain of frozen time and the antithesis of flowing time where life exists. You kind. of have to have a whiff of Bhuddhist duality to get into the drift of that.
    I told my wife they had to kill him b/c the risk of a rescue attemp mounted on the emerald city had become too great.
    Food for thought. Palestine is the issue that can unite Shiites and Sunnites. SH even in death remained an idealogue and motivator.

  11. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I disagree on 3 points.
    1- The hostility of the Arab states (and large sectors of the Arab populations) to Iran pre-dates the Islamic Revolution. In 1967, for example, text books in Syria referred to the Iranian province of Khuzestan (Arabistan) as Occupied Arab Territory – just like Palestine. In 1960s assorted Arab states began referring to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. In 1958, if I recall correctly, the Saudi government executed an Iranian pilgrim who had thrown up in Al Haram al Sharif – you see he was a rafizi and had desecrated the place, Even the Shah was mad. Laster Qaddafi also took anti-Iran positions. These are just examples and all of these were long before the overthrow of the Shah. As I wrote before, the Arab States needed some one to kick – whom better than the Iranians (Persians). Their dislike for Iran and the Persian culture and polity is almost visceral – not as bad as Israel but not that far behind.
    2- Yes, I agree. Lincoln was certainly able to write a kind letter to a poor widow but was letting Northern soldiers die like flies in the Southern prisons so as to put extra drain on the South. However, suspending Habeas Corpus when the entire Union project was unravelling, in my opinion, was justifiable.
    3- Yes, by the standards of today he was not a believr in equlaity of races. But still – he freed the slaves and became a political saint – just like Mandela. Neither can be touched (you cannot tell a joke about Lincoln in US).
    I was unaware of the executions that you mentioned. I know of Grant’s indiscriminate bombardments of Southern cities – I think he began with Vicksburg.

  12. robt willmann says:

    Col. Lang and Mr. Sale,
    That was well said.
    I always get a good laugh when I hear someone in the U.S. government or in some foundation (misleadingly called a think tank) being described in news media as so “smart” or “brilliant”. Those terms only apply after the fact to an acknowledged accomplishment.
    We see that from March 2003 through the present, the promoters of the invasion and occupation of Iraq—including those in and out of the federal government, and the neoconservatives, and the usual suspects who appeared repetitively on television and radio heralding the war—have proven that all combined they are not even one percent as politically smart as Saddam Hussein was about Iraq.
    No person or group exercising political authority over a large number of people in a geographic area has ever and will ever maintain that authority without a lot of cooperation and consent from the people on the receiving end of it, no matter how autocratic, brutal, and murderous the political group might be. Any government, including the one here in the U.S.A., can collapse from one day to the next if enough of the people withdraw their consent and cooperation.
    For example, one of the most thoroughly repressive states ever, East Germany, which was euphemistically known as the DDR (German Democratic Republic), imploded in 1989-1990. Its Department of Homeland Security was known as the Ministry for State Security, or “Stasi”. Headed by Erich Mielke, it blanketed all of East Germany with surveillance and intimidation. After the government’s collapse, even Heinrich Fink, professor of theology and vice chancellor of Humboldt University, and
    Hans-Joachim Rotch, the director of the famous Thomas Church Choir in Leipzig, were unmasked as Stasi informers. The penetration of the society by the Stasi was sophisticated and complete. Yet that apparatus disintegrated when enough of the people decided not to “take it” anymore.
    A tantalizing tidbit is that the Baath Party in Iraq received advice and training on setting up an internal security department from the East German Stasi. And the contact person for that program? You guessed it. Saddam Hussein.
    Saddam was a narcissistic person who readily used violence in aid of political authority and in gathering money and property. Does that not sound familiar?

  13. ckrantz says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Col. Lang and Richard Sale in the above comments. Why turn Saddam into a symbol? And what happed with the investigation and trial for al-Anfal? Was this just Iraq’s new masters getting even with an old enemy in the traditional manner.

  14. ckrantz says:

    By the way was Saddam the bargaining chip needed for some sort of Shia-American alliance to end the Sunni insurgency as some blogs seems to suggest?
    This WaPo report doesnt look good.
    ‘Suddenly, witnesses recalled, the room erupted in Shiite religious chants as the Shiite Muslims in the audience seized the moment they had long sought. One man yelled, “Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada,” unveiling his loyalty to radical anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
    Hussein smiled, the witnesses said, and asked sarcastically, “Moqtada?”
    In his final moments, shortly after the dawn call to prayer, Hussein, a Sunni Arab, came face to face with today’s Iraq, which he had never met, having spent the past three years in U.S. custody. Since his capture, the Shiites his government violently repressed have come to power. They were the last people Hussein saw before his death.
    “Go to hell,” a voice yelled in response to Hussein’s remark, according to a grainy videotape taken by a cellphone that was flashed on television networks Saturday night.
    “Long live Muhammad Bakr Sadr,” yelled another voice. Bakr Sadr was the uncle of Moqtada Sadr and founder of the Dawa party, of which Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a senior leader.’

  15. wisedup says:

    If we could ask Bush, in an unguarded moment, for an opinion on what America meant to him, what would he say?
    My best guess is “America exists to validate me”

  16. Matthew says:

    Like the line from MacBeth, nothing did Saddam as much credit in life as the manner in which he faced death. I doubt the chickenhawks in D.C., including the “Decider,” would face the end without knobbly knees. (Me neither, for that matter.) The rushed manner of the execution–and the insensitivity to its timing–further delegitimizes the Iraqi Constabulary and Colonial Government in the Green Zone. Far from being a new beginning, it’s just shoddy…a continuation of the same.

  17. johnf says:

    colonel and ckrantz
    >5-Is it really true that Moqtada al-Sadr’s people participated in the execution? Is it true?
    Are you saying that this is true or there are (American) propaganda reports that it is so?
    ckrantz’s quote from the Wa-Po seems unclear. One voice heard calling for Moqtada, but then a Dawa supporter naming his uncle.
    If Sadrists were there I would be surprised. I’d thought he was more subtle than that.

  18. bth says:

    Millions have one thought – “He deserved it.”
    Now can we focus on that other dude? What was his name? Obama? No. Oh, I remember now, Osama. The guy that started this thing for most Americans.
    Maybe, just maybe, we ought to focus our resources on him. Just a thought. Call me wild and crazy. But woudn’t this world be better if we got down to the business – finding OBL?

  19. arbogast says:

    Colonel Lang,
    What do you make of this:
    John Pike of, who has been studying the satellite imagery, holds that concentrated strikes on Iranian nuclear weapons sites and conventional air defenses can in short order blow that country’s WMD dreams back into the Stone Age.
    [from today’s Boston Herald, an excellent source of information about the NE Patriots]
    Sounds to me like the same KoolAid the IDF was drinking before Hezbollah knocked them down.

  20. Rider says:

    “…or the whole awfully bloody bunch of shits we have used to advance our ends in the world.”
    Someone should make a list. Seriously. Does this meddling ever turn out “to advance our ends”? There so often seem to be horrible unforeseen consequences of vast proportions. Saddam was on our payroll starting in 1959 (see Juan Cole). We have now been in two wars against Saddam and finally had him executed. Osama is another one of our making. Diem. We are like a compulsive gambler who can never resist placing a big bet on “a sure winner” yet loses time after time. When do we learn to quit doing this to ourselves?

  21. blowback says:

    I can understand that the White House wanted Saddam captured alive so that they could put on a “show trial” but once again this shows just how stupid they are. For someone who tries to cultivate a “Churcillian” air, The Decider understands and knows very little about Churchill.
    Towards the end of the Second World War, when it became apparent that the Allies might have to deal with Adolf Hitler as a prisoner, Churchill gave orders that under no circumstances was Hitler to be taken alive by any British soldiers. He realized the problems of putting a just-deposed head of state on trial and wanted no part of it. Fortunately, Adolf Hitler decided to do the decent thing before he was captured by Soviet troops. Stalin really knew how to put on a show trial unlike the White House who, judging from their efforts to put on a “show trial” for Saddam, couldn’t even organize a piss up in a brewery.
    The other “myth” that will become commonplace about Saddam’s execution will be that it was done quickly to avoid any publicity about Western complicity in his war crimes.
    Finally, I wonder if this is some part of a back-channel agreement with Iran. Since the US invasion of Iraq, Iranian agents have hunted down and killed many of the pilots involved in bombing Iranian cities during the Iraq war on Iran. After that the only targets left for Iranian vengence were Saddam and his close confidants.

  22. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t think SH was ever on our payroll. I don’t think Cole says so. He says that the US may have encouraged revolt of the Baath against an existing Iraqi governments(s), but that is quite different from saying that SH personally was an American agent. pl

  23. W. Patrick Lang says:

    This is in the NY Times today (31 December, 2006)
    “The room was quiet as everyone began to pray, including Mr. Hussein. “Peace be upon Mohammed and his holy family.”
    Two guards added, “Supporting his son Moktada, Moktada, Moktada.”
    Mr. Hussein seemed a bit stunned, swinging his head in their direction.
    They were talking about Moktada al-Sadr, the firebrand cleric whose militia is now committing some of the worst violence in the sectarian fighting; he is the son of a revered Shiite cleric, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, whom many believe Mr. Hussein ordered murdered.
    “Moktada?” he spat out, mixing sarcasm and disbelief.” pl

  24. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

  25. James Pratt says:

    If the Iraqi Shi`a government and their Iranian mentors had been wise they would have told the US to take Saddam home with them and put him in a cell near Noriega. Democracy should win and Shi`a should have power in the Arab nations
    where they are a majority: Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. To have a chance of sectarian peace the process must take account of the rights of the local Sunni minority and two salient facts: 85% of Arab Muslims are Sunni, and all of the Shi`a areas have long borders with them.
    The execution is seen by the Shi`a as justice and the video as a morale booster. To many Sunni for many years they will be seen as a martyrdom and recruiting tool.
    I can see why the present US gov wanted Saddam dead: a trial for the aggression against Iran would be a logical next step, and Rumsfeld and Cheney were complicit in that war.

  26. ckrantz says:

    It would hardly be unheard of with heads of state being on the CIA payroll. Bachir Gemayel and the late king of Jordan comes to mind. But Saddam clearly wasn’t a controlled asset even if he took some money at one point. The idea of United States or Israel masterminding everything that happens in the Middle East is silly.

  27. jan gleeson says:

    Do you suppose the same folks who criticised the Janet Jackson wardrobe moment will be as vocal about MSM airing the SH hanging? Of course they don’t show us the moment of the drop but they tell us. Wasn’t it in the Middle Ages that people in the Western civilization enjoyed attending a hanging?

  28. David E. Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Yet again I would like to point your readers to an article by Robert Fisk.
    This article provides one with a very clear idea of why the U.S. was in such a hurry to end any open charges against Saddam Hussein.
    As Mr. Fisk notes:
    “The whole truth died with Saddam Hussein in the Baghdad execution chamber yesterday. Many in Washington and London must have sighed with relief that the old man had been silenced for ever.”
    The link follows:
    It is well worth the time spent reading it.

  29. Rider says:

    Agreed. I was using the term “payroll” loosely. In ’59 SH was “installed” in an apartment where he could watch Qasim, etc. with “full knowledge of the CIA.” He had a CIA handler. I interpreted all that to mean that the CIA probably put some walking-around cash in his pockets and maybe even paid some rent. But you are right. It doesn’t explicitly say that.

  30. W. Patrick Lang says:

    David Solomon wants you to read Fisk’s peroration on the Iraq/US connection during the Iran/Iraq War.
    As is common for Fisk, he greatly exagerates, especially when anything can be written against the United States.
    I suppose that the point of Mr. Soloman’s desire to have this column read is the quotation in which I am cited as saying that in that assistance “the battlefield use of gas was not a deep strategic concern.”
    That is a correct quotation. pl

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I did not mean to “throw the Palestinians for good measure” as you put it.
    In fact, the Palsetinians are the only Arab population that, in my opinion, have any justification for mourning Saddam Hussein. They are at war with Israel with precious few champions on their side.
    My point was that I do not recall any Arab thinker, religious leader, or politician criticizing Saddam Hussein for his internal security measures, for war against Iran, for his use of chemocal weapons, etc. He was an Arab champion and he could do no wrong against the opponents of his regime – be they the Iraqi Shias (Rafizi fifth-columnists), the Iranians (hated Rafizi Persians), the Kurds (closet Persians) or Sunni liberals (weaklings that had to be cleared out for historical process of Arab greatness).
    I do not recall anti-war sentiments coming out of Jordan, SA, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Egypt, or Lybia during the period of the Iran-Iraq War. The Arab thinkers, opinion-makers, etc. were perfectly happy with Saddam Hussein’s reign. Many admired him for his intellectual (pretensions) and his iron fist at the same time.
    Ayatullah Khomeini was the only historical figure in the past 60 years (to my knwoledge) that tried to ameliorate the Shia-Sunni/Arab-Persian fissures but the Iran-Iraq War terminated that effort.
    I will here except the Maghreb States and their populace – they do not seem to be against Iran and the Iranians as much as the Levantine and the Persian Gulfers – but anti-Shia feelings are there as well.
    And one last point – these governments and people have no excuse – they have not been wronged either by the Shia or by the Iranian State.

  32. dell says:

    Well, this was done with all the elan, all the professionalism and all the vision of our long-term interests that have marked so much else about this war.
    Where’s Angleton when we really need him? Clearly, someone is trying to do things in way guaranteed to inflame those inclined to be our enemies, making sure that they each, individually, move at least one step up.
    I can’t believe that Karen Hughes couldn’t have stage-managed this a little better.
    OTOH, it’s not surprising that the executioners were a bunch of Sadrists. They’re getting lots of practice, nightly.

  33. James Pratt says:

    Russia, China, France and the US have supported some of the most heinous murderers in the developing world in the name of Realpolitik or supposed national interest. To call any of those governments to account for it should not be equated with drumming up hatred for that nation.
    IMO the blowback suffered nearly always outweighs the benefits.
    If the Arab monarchies had not made war loans to Saddam and the US refused to aid him in his war of conquest, Saddam would not have had much of the motivation or confidence to invade Kuwait.

  34. Got A Watch says:

    Riverbend has the most appropriate comment, actually being in Iraq, while the rest of us armchair pundits are ready as always to apply our personal bias filters. I salute Riverbend for her bravery in continuing to speak out, and her eloquence. Shame she and the world have had to live through the Bush years.
    In the end, this tawdry spectacle, produced and directed from the White House as it was, will only serve to further erode American influence in the region. There is little doubt that in a perfect world, executing Saddam for his crimes would be justice – but that would assume a fair and impartial trial, which he absolutely did not receive (see Amnesty Int’l reports on the trial).
    It sure looks to me that the Bushians and their co-conspirators were in an unseemly rush to execute Saddam, before he spilled the beans on covert western involvement with his regime. With the White House apparently determined to cozy up to some Shiites while trying to sideline Moqtada and ignoring Sunnis, Saddam’s shelf life had expired – he might just muddy the mix even further.
    I see it as simply another grave strategic blunder, courtesy of GWB and his cohorts – those who could have been implicated by Saddam (like the neo-clowns) are braying the loudest in support of his execution. The more some moron on Fox says it was a great day, you know just the opposite is probably true. It’s like a criminal investigation – first consider who benefits from the crime.
    A proper fate for Saddam would to have been fairly tried in The Hague, and imprisoned if found guilty. This would have avoided most negative consequences, instead of making them more likely. Many of his fellow war-criminals around the world can now breathe easier, knowing Saddam won’t be able to testify against them.

  35. pbrownlee says:

    I heard the peculiarly moronic David Frum on the BBC (have they not heard about him?) asserting that Saddam’s exit was the result of “too much law” rather than too little and comparing it to football!
    He (Saddam) appears to me to have carried himself with a dignity and composure that is entirely foreign to the feeble rats that have been concocting lies about his end — notably the current “Security Adviser” to the “Government” of Iraq.
    Perhaps the greatest, quite incredible achievement of the neocon puppet masters is to create a worldwide wave of respect and sympathy for Saddam.
    Will the Kagans and similar clowns notice that Saddam’s masked hangmen were supporters of the al Sadrs?
    Will they care?

  36. Paul Denlinger says:

    The hanging of Saddam Hussein did not bring a single one of his (Saddam’s) many victims back to life.
    Murder is murder, regardless of whether it is done in the name of the state, or by an individual or group of individuals.
    Let’s not try to pretend that it is anything else, shall we?

  37. Silver Warrior says:

    Happy New Year
    Wordsmiths please listen
    to counter NRP/Neocon linguistics
    George Bush : Bush league
    Cheney : Chainy
    or just
    and “Don’t Chain Us Down”
    “We Won’t let you Chain us”

  38. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Paul Denlinger:
    I disagree; the relatives of his victims had a right to see him killed.
    Vengence is a slaient feature of Muslim Law and a right accorded to the victim of a crime or his relatives.
    Why should he be kept alive, breathing, enjoying each breath etc. when his victims are dead?

  39. Mo says:

    Make him the stuff of legend in the Arab world? I hardly thinks so. Outside of the fringe wahabi Sunnis, the Arab street knew him for what he was and there will, even among most Palestinians, be little tears shed. Any backlash will be about the act rather than the actor; the double standards, the hypocrisy, the timing but not about the man himself.

  40. Paul Denlinger says:

    Your attitude sums up very well why the Middle East is caught up in a continuous spiral of meaningless violence in which ordinary people have to endlessly suffer. So when do the accounts of violence and vengeance finally get reconciled and balanced out if each faction is hell-bent on having the final say?
    Call it murder and vengeance if you like, but don’t call it justice.

  41. Rider says:

    Poll at Al-Jazeera:
    Should Saddam Hussein have been hanged?
    A. Yes 41.0%
    B. No 43.2%
    C. I don’t know 15.8%
    Number of Pollers: 23013
    Close Date: 7/1/2007

  42. frances says:

    I think the reason the execution may have been rushed was because of Woodward’s article on Ford’s opposition to the invasion. It was set for the end of the month originally.
    Perhaps they wanted to get the story out of the press fast and make sure it wasnt on the Sunday talk shows as Bush will be making an announcement in a few days?

  43. ali says:

    Just after his capture he insisted that a firing squad was his right as COC of the Iraqi forces instead Saddam died like a highwayman, coated to hide the shiver, steady and refusing the hood before the noose. It’s a better end than he deserved.
    So what was this sordid piece of theater meant to mean? What fairy tale will now be spun round an easily bewildered public? It’s that with the great beast now dead and the hero will soon return from his noble quest. We’ll be told that St George has in fact bested the Iraqi dragon as the brave knight backs away from the ravening creature he’s unleashed on the world.
    In 07 the dithering decider will embrace measures that offer even a slim hope of deferring a necessary admission of total failure beyond his term.
    Incidentally Churchill said in cabinet that the electric chair was the most suitable means of executing the gangster Hitler if captured. Winston often babbled such nonsense but had the wit to recognize that weakness.

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Paul Denlinger:
    You’re entitled.

  45. confusedponderer says:

    Paul Denlininger,
    Babak has a point that I think you miss. To state vengefulness as reflected in Babak’s statement is the root of Middle East violence is IMO questionable.
    ‘Justice’ is first of all a moral and emotional judgement. When someone whacks you silly, hospitalising you for a month, and gets a slap on the wrist, that sentence will be perceived at the very least by you as injust.
    The severity of the crime has to reflect itself in the sentence. I think that in some ways Islamic law reflects that better than western criminal law. Maybe man isn’t all that sophisticated anymore when it comes to how to respond to crimes.
    The desire to seek adequate retribution for injustice is a human trait.
    That is one of the arguments made in favour of death penalty in the US, and I can’t help to agree on this point (I don’t think death penalty is a good idea because men are fallible and prone to rash judgement. You can’t make alive an innocent who was executed. The state executing an innocent commits something worse than murder.)
    With a bit of empathy I can comprehend what’s driving people who want to see Saddam dead.

  46. FMJ says:

    A translation of the cell phone video.
    Saddam (as the noose is put around his neck): Ya Allah (Oh God).
    Someone in the audience: Mercy be on those who pray for Mohammed and the household of Muhammed (Everyone repeats the prayer, including Saddam) –
    Executioner and two people in the audience: … And hasten his return (the Mahdi), curse his enemy and grant victory to his son, Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada! (This is a common Sadrist chant.)
    Saddam (smirking): Muqtada? Is this your manhood? (unclear)
    NSA Muwafaq Al-Rubai’i: To Hell!
    Saddam: (laughing) … and disgrace to you. (unintelligible)
    Prosecutor Munqidh Al-Far’awn: Please, no.
    Muwafaq Al-Rubai’i: Longlive Mohammed Baqir Al-Sadr!
    Someone in the audience: To Hell!
    Prosecutor Munqidh Al-Far’awn: No. Please, no. I beg you. The man is in an execution.
    Saddam (solemnly recites the Shahada prayer): I witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah. I witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Mohammed is the– (trap door is opened).
    Audience (in unison): Prayers for Mohammed and the household of Muhammed.
    Someone: The tyrant has fell. May Allah’s curse be upon him.
    Someone: May Allah’s curse be upon him.
    (commotion in the hall)
    Someone: No. No. Stay back.
    Someone: Leave him for 8 minutes, boys. Don’t take him down.
    Someone: Everyone. Stay back. Everyone. Back.

  47. zsa says:

    Might just be me, but I thought jail was having a positive effect on Saddam. Dress shirt casually unbuttoned at the neck, suit jacket, neatly groomed … had a definite GQ thing going one … kind of a gnarly Omar Sharif …
    This is just another parade float in our never-ending cavalcade of stoopid. Only Nixon could go to China, only Bush could make Saddam look human.

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Roger Bigod:
    “the legal process a charade for an act of vengeance” – an act of vengance is perfectly legal within Islamic Law. Retribution is a firmly established principle and regulated principle of Islamic Law. In fact, in recognizing the rights of the victims and their relatives explicitly in the law, Isamic Law is superior to the Western Law and its charade of trying to “reform” criminals.

  49. Sgt.York says:

    RE: “Taunting someone about to be executed is something they do at lynchings, not judicial proceedings.”
    This was a lynching. Reminds me of those Western movies where the Sheriff has a cattle rustler in his jail and the mob demands that he be turned over for a hanging… except the sheriff rufuses.
    S.H. was captured by the US Military and was in US Military custody. He should have been given POW status according to the GC. Instead, US soldiers walked him back and forth from his jailcell to a sham trial and then escorted him from the US Military prison and handed him over to the lynch mob.
    He was in US custody and a prisoner of war. The US had the option to try him for crimes against the US (not sure what those are) or to turn him over to the Hague for crimes against humanity.
    The Western Sheriff is now a thug who surrendered his prisoner to the lynch mob.

  50. Walrus says:

    Happy New Year to Everyone!
    I’ve just spent the last few days on my yacht rereading Barbara Tuchman’s “The March of Folly” – written in 1988.
    I have now no doubt that the Bush Administration is engaged in massive folly in Iraq and elsewhere. All the characteristics are there, including the execution of Saadam Hussien in an unseemly and undignified manner that has actually allowed him to “win” in the end.
    For the record, my view is that if we are really trying to creat a secular, democratic, modern Iraq in the Middle East, then the first thing that should have been dispensed with is the death penalty. The videos demonstrate a total preoccupation with religion that is antithetic to a secular democracy.
    Translation: The execution video demonstrates the forces at work in Iraq and why we cannot possibly succeed in any “nation building” efforts.

  51. Eric Dönges says:

    in Christian societies, the primary purpose of the law is to prevent crime, not to punish it, because vengeance is reserved for God alone (note that there are certain “Christian” sects that manage to ignore this fact thanks to their highly evolved selective Bible reading skills). Punishment is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Where (modern) Western society goes wrong is in failing to realize that judging right from wrong is not an innate human ability, but like most human behaviour must be learned (preferably at a young age) and continously exercised to prevent atrophy.
    P.S.: while you are certainly entitled to your opinion in the superiority of Islamic thought over modern Western thought, I would like to point out that I cannot see that Islamic societies are any better at addressing their many problems or failings than Western ones.

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Eric Dönges:
    Thank you for your email. And I am familiar with the religious background of the Western Law -a s far as it obtains. And I do believe that any Law, any where is also conceived as a deterrent – human nature being what it is.
    Where I disagree with you is that Western Law does not recognize the rights of the victims and their families.
    I was not implying that Muslim polities are superior to the Western ones – just some features of Muslim Law – such as victims’ rights.
    I am always struck by how large majorities of otherwise quite sensible people both in North America and EU consider themselves collectively morally superior to the rest of mankind.

  53. MarcLord says:

    By killing prisoners, states set bad examples for their subjects.
    It should at minimum be the choice of the victim’s families whether or not a death penalty is pursued, and an increasing number of states in the US have begun to extend such choice to families under their capital crime laws. For the death penalty or against (and I am very much against), it does help the victims’ families in some cases.
    By lynching Saddam before his crimes were enumerated, vengeance or closure has been denied to countless families, who deserved to have their losses recognized.

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Roger Bigod:
    Thank you for explaining the history to me – I was not aware of the “King’s Peace”. It seems to me that in Islam, like Britain, the roots of the legal doctrine of Retribution goes back to the tribal society.
    I only know of some cases in Iran both before and after the Islamic Revolution. In capital cases, where the death penalty is imposed, the victim’s relatives have the right to “forgi9ve” the condemned – thus automatically reducing his sentence to life imprisonment.

  55. RickinSF says:

    I am reminded of Act 1, Scene 4 of MacBeth, where Malcolm describes the execution of the rebellious Thane of Cawdor:
    “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it; he died as one that had been studied in his death,”
    Whether you liked Saddam or not, he didn’t disappoint in the end. And if i were an angry, despairing Palestinian, or Egyptian, or Arab anything, I might take heart in Hussein’s example.
    That’s not good news for our people overseas.

  56. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think this was altogether an Iraqi Shia thing and that what it demonstrates is that Maliki is owned by Sadr. pl

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