Monday, November 06, 2006

 

Saddam Should be Executed by Iraq

As a Guardian reading liberal sortof person my instinct in the case of Saddam's sentence is to quote Dostoyevsky's comment that the best index of civilisation in a country is how it treats its criminals and to agree with Geoffrey Roberston QC on Today this morning that 'you can't end a bloodbath with a bloodbath'. I'm also aware that principles should be applied universally and that, as an opponent of the death penalty I should, along with the Guardian, oppose it as morally retrograde.

However when principles collide one side has to give way, especially when pragmatism weighs in as well. I think that in the final analysis we should allow Saddam to be hanged. Why do I, after essaying this moral minefield, (very) reluctantly line up with The Sun and the Daily Telegraph?

1. We have to recognise that the death penalty is accepted as justice in Iraq and that to allow them to mete out their own justice we have to allow them to impose the penalties they think best. Otherwise the notion that they have their own sovereign government is rendered absurd. The Iraqis who suffered under Saddam will not be satisfied with anything less than his death as 'justice'.

2. As long as Saddam remains alive there will be a hope among his supporters that he will one day arise to lead them once again. My friend who was once an officer in the British army always maintained he should have been deliberately shot as soon as he was discovered for this very reason.

3. Iraq has to draw a line under the Saddam era and try to establish a new future. The best way to do that is for its author to be taken out of the situation completely.

Iraq has been a tragedy for at least the past two decades. It is not conceivable, given present circumstances, that it can emerge from its purgatory without at least this additional deadly consequence. Politics is often about taking the path of the least evil. In these conditions, I fear, executing Saddam is the least bad thing to do.

Comments:
I, too, am against the death penalty, or at least I was. Some crimes are so heinous that I now think the perpetrator should forfeit the right of decency. Mr Hussein is in this category and it is right that he be hanged.
 
Mmmm, I don't often find myself positioned to your left Skipper but I have to agree with the Guardian on this.

You're suggesting that we need "to recognise that the death penalty is accepted as justice in Iraq" but would you extend the same recognition to the various US states that practice it? It sounds dangerously like moral relativism to me and as soon as you allow that sort of reasoning you find yourself aligned with the Rumsfelds of this world who can find a utilitarian argument to justify everything from Guantanamo bay to Abu-Grahb.

It's academic I suppose since there's little we can do and the execution will most probably go ahead but I can't understand why can' politely express our disappointment and distaste over it?
 
I don't feel there is any option either considering the vast and heinous murderous crimes he has been responsible for, and I am against the death penalty too, what civilised person isn't?
 
The notion that they have their own sovereign govt is absurd. They are a tool of the USA, a disastrous creation of the chaos USA has produced there. Hey, guess what, USA just happens to have the death penalty and Bush is it's biggest fan. What a shocking coincidence.
Come to think of it, the establishment of the death penalty there may be one of Bush's few successes in Iraq, along with establishing a huge market for USA arms sales.
The notion that Saddam's death will somehow draw a line and allow Iraqis to move on is moron-think.
The same moron-think that produced the notion that by effecting "regime change", the USA would be greeted as heroes in Iraq and peace, stability, prosperity and democracy would swiftly follow.
Saddam has become an irrelevance in Iraq.
What happened to the threatened uproar over his death sentence?
Where were the huge celebrations?
 
I don't think you can say you are against the death penalty except... it's like using the pragmatism argument. The death penalty is morally wrong. If we live in a society which punishes us for killing, how can killing someone, whatever their crime, be justified?
 
Harlan - you appear to know nothing about Iraq. Did you notice the election? Well when they had an election, they got a government. Only you and Al Qaeda doubt its legitimacy. Why don't you go to Iraq and suggest clemency for Saddam Hussain, I am sure they will thank you for it(!).

The celebrations? You need to look closer. I saw and enjoyed them.
 
Agree that Iraq has had elections, but that doesn't necessarily bestow democratic legitimacy on the death penalty. There hasn't been a referendum, has there?
 
So a democracy is unable to have ANY law without a separate referendum? That would make almost every law and policy in the western world illegitimate.
 
Well, yes, I think that's my point.
 
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