Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam's Execution

In all of the myriad number of reactions to Saddam Hussein's execution (and it has been especially interesting to watch how television networks have tried to split the difference with effectively split-screen retrospectives on Hussein's career and that of Gerald Ford's)--what has struck me the most is how no one's position has changed. It is as if Hussein's execution is but a footnote in the narratives of Sunnis, Shi'a, Kurds, opponents of the war, proponents of the war, pro-American and anti-American forces, just another event to be slotted in to one's list.

Hussein, of course, joins the large number of Arab leaders, both monarchs and "revolutionaries", not to peacefully step down from power but to be killed--highlighting a major hurdle that has to be overcome if democracy is to take root in the region--the notion that leaders can be peacefully removed from office.

Finally, in the old days, the death of the enemy leader signaled victory and his followers stopped fighting. [Consider this example from the Bible, the rebellion of Sheba against King David,2 Samuel 20:22: "Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem."] For the United States, however, even Saddam being put into the grave neither ends the insurgency nor does it allow the U.S. to claim victory and to withdraw with honor.

Nick, would call your attention to the piece in the Sunday Telegraph which asks the question how Saddam lasted so long and really puts the legacy question in perspective, as well as the complicated US and British relationship with him, including the fact that the crime he was executed for yesterday--the 1982 killings--didn't at the time prevent US aid.
One legacy of Saddam Hussein that has been giving and will continue to give is the rape of the Chemical Weapons Treaty - aided and abetted by US and EU.

The Chemical Weapons Treaty, an international instrument of disarmament, that had withstood WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Arab-Israeli Wars was violated by impunity by Iraq.

This, in turn, has cast a very big shadow on the NPT and its utility.

The US-UK derailment of the Iran's complaint to UNSC at that time caused Iranians to conclude that UNSC was of no use to them.

Thus we are in the situation vis-a-vis Iran (and North Korea to be followed by Brazil, Australia and others) that UNSC cannot be used as an instrument of compellence nor can NPT be expected to survive if the P5 do not begin disarming.
Man remains a savage carnivorous beast whose only "instrument of compellence" is, and always has been the biggest stick.

Our sticks evolved admirably, - our souls tragically, continue to rot.

All this blood, treasure, credibility, and humanity expended to hang one old Babylonian seems from my pedestrian perspective to be a grotesque missalocation of resources, energy, and blood.

Saddams's dead.

Now what?
Saddam's career is a reminder that the moral compass that guides statecraft is different from the one used by individuals.

In 1982 when the Dawa party tried to kill Saddam they were also engaged in terrorism against US interests, so even though the USG might not have been happy about Saddam's reprisal killings of Shi'a, they weren't going to make a big issue of it. Things changed when the Shi'a were seen as allies against a Saddam who was then perceived to be a bigger danger.

In absolute moral terms the killing of any individual is a tragedy. In terms of statecraft massacres, killings etc. are relative. This is the reality of the present world we live in.
What are your views on the Saddam Hanging?

Justice or revenge attack?

Post your views here:
It should be quite troubling that the guards at Hussein's execution were NOT chanting "Freedom" or "democracy" but "Moqtada". Basically saying kill the strongman you don't like and put into place the strongman you want.
Saddams career is inextricably intertwined with what Indira Singh aptly call's the "Bush Crime Family Cabals".

The screaches of Moqtada by the hooded Shi'a executioners is a glariing proof that this execution is the fetid work of the Bush Crime Family Cabals, and like every single aspect of the Iraq horrorshow, - a travesty and grotesque perversion of justice and naked crime.

Saddams' dead.

Now what???
Now what???

Nothing changes. US is still stuck in quagmire. Iraq is still dysfunctional.
What is most discouraging is the degree to which this one death is fitting into the sectarian narrative. Bringing a mock-coffin to the Samarrah shrine's shell will only make matters worse.
Saddam recovers in death some of his legendary status and the myth-making has already begun. Combine that with the current situation in Iraq and soon we'll see people forgetting about the crimes and tyranny and saying, "Back in the good old days ..."
What poor timing. The executioners should have killed him on on or about December 15 to commemmorate Iraq's parliamentary elections. Better to offer his death as a gift to all than a gift to one faction.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?