Sunday, December 31, 2006

What was the point of that?

The Americans decided that a good way to celebrate the end of the year and the Hajj would be to hang a dictator. Just like those bound for the pyre during the witch burning days, Saddam was handed over to a different set of authorities – the Iraqis – who then hanged him within a few short hours. Now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and a handy phone-camera, the video of his execution is available on the net, including the mainly religious shouts that accompanied it, both from Saddam and the gathered on-lookers. Someone shouts “You’re going to hell while we are going to heaven.”
I can not help but think just how utterly pointless Hussein’s execution was by the time it occurred. Certainly, in so far as anyone could have deserved capital punishment, Saddam’s past justified the punishment many times over. However, by the time the once-powerful dictator walks to the gallows he has already become quite powerless to cause any more death, a cipher in the hands of his captors. So, his treatment speaks nothing about what he was and everything about what those who executed him are. And, quite frankly, I do not believe that it is possible for a civilised nation to accept capital punishment under any circumstances. A prisoner is no longer a danger to anyone, no longer capable of causing harm that would justify the use of violence in order to prevent it. Saddam’s death will do nothing to make other would-be dictators think twice about killing their own people – only about invading Kuwait or doing something else that the Americans might dislike – the last service Saddam could give to those he’d once served. At the same time, the only instincts his death will serve are base – a call for blood to pay for the blood of others. Just the sort of reptilian brain thought that Iraq definitely does not need now – a time when Iraqis are being tortured and killed in greater numbers than during Saddam’s reign.


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