Sunday, December 31, 2006

 

Executing Saddam was the best thing to do

Should Saddam have been hanged? Blair and Bush have been kicked in just about every part of their record on Iraq, but on this one item I think the correct decision was to let the sentence stand. I'm not just arguing on the basis of Jason Burke's article in The Observer which seems to be inspired by revenge as I always thought the main thrust of those opposed to such a penalty is the very reason that revenge is neither justifiable or civilised. My reasons are essentially political and pragmatic:

1. At enormous cost in life and resources an elected government has been installed in Iraq. The majority of this government wanted Saddam dead and it would have been self defeating to deny their creation its first major judicial decision.

2. If it was not allowed to apply its own version of justice what chance would it have of imposing genuine law and order?

3. Increased internecine fighting is unlikely to occur as the supporters of the former dictator comprise only a minority of the those fighting.

4. It sends out a message to other dictators that the comfortable old age which previous Middle Eastern leaders of this type have enjoyed hitherto, can no longer be guaranteed.

5. Given the mood of the majority Shia population of Iraq, it would have been more dangerous, in terms of levels of violence, not to execute him than to do so.

I've always thought that politics is a matter of choosing the least bad course of action. Sometimes doing that - as in this case - involves the breaching of otherwise vital principles. Allowing Iraq to hang Saddam, without complaint, was the least bad option available to the occupying US-UK forces and it was therefore the correct course to take. It's already a huge mess: no reason to make it even worse.

Comments:
Could the executors not have done their dirty work in a more camera-friendly way? As John Simpson pointed out, they looked brutal and merciless and extra-judicial in their rough-and-ready balaclavas. A terrible piece of PR.
 
Having voted Labour for forty-five years, I will do so no more. I cannot support a party that implicates me in an act of capital punishment.

Like many of Blair's actions, this collaboretion in what seems to have been a public execution has been carried out in a despicably ulterior manner.

Surely to argue that Iraq as a sovreign state must be left to mete out its own justice is total hypocrisy when at the same time, 'our' bellicose meddling has brought pointless destruction to thousands of ordinary citizens from East and West!

I appreciate your 'pragmatic' arguments for supporting this execution, Skipper, but 'Thou shalt not kill' is indelibly etched on my, albeit atheist psyche. It is the anomalous absolute to my relativist view of the world.

Will anything be gained by re-enacting the inhumanity that brought Sadam to face justice? I think not.

I voted Labour in the late Fifties to end the barbaric practice of capital punishment. I will now vote Lib Dem for the same reason. I believe many others will do likewise.
 
SPL
I agree the manner of the execution was brutal and botched and appalling PR.

Anon (Heather)
i) agree there is hypocrisy involved but the best bet the Iraqis have right now is that their government can get a grip- over-ruling this sentence would have retrogressive in this respect.
ii) 'will anything be gained?' you ask, probably not, but I see the issue chiefly as avoiding anything even worse; I think the execution will achieve this.
iii) I agree 'thou shalt not kill' is an absolute principle but just occasionally such golden rules have to be breached in the interests of humanity and my feeling is that this was one of them.
iv) I'm sure other people will be repelled from Labour as well as yourself -they are leaving the party at the rate of one every twenty seconds according to John Cruddas(Deputy Leader candidate) a few days back. But so far I haven't heard any condemnation of the execution from Mingis Campbell(though I might have missed it in all the food/booze fest of the holiday period).
 
The Kurdish reaction to the execution is interesting: they wanted him to stand trial for his crimes in the Anfal campaign in the late 1980's. Since the United States was in cahoots with Saddam at that time, it would have been interesting to see what line of defence he might have offered. It is rather convenient, is it not, that that trial will not now take place?
 
Another excellent posting, Skip. I'm getting a little concerned at how much I'm agreeing with you on.
 
Given that pragmatism is the instinctive position of the Conservative, who is traditionally mistrustful of intellectuals, it is no surprise at all to see the notorious Praguetory in a agreement with Skipper on this one.
 
Stephen
I don't know much about Praguetory actually but suspect it is I who should feel wary at the level of agreement... But being pragmatic is not the exclusive badge of the rightwinger- many lefties have been very pragmatic on lots of issues way before Tony Blair; e.g. Ernest Bevin eschewed the adage that 'left will speak unto left' in 1945 and assiduously set about establishing an Atlantic alliance with the USA.
 
And another thing: why execute him before dawn? Dramatic effect?
 
Whilst the decision to execute him I think was justified, though regrettable, I have no time for the way it was done and think John Prescott was spot on in his comments for once.
 
I would like to know how any government that would not extradite a murderer to a country where the death sentence is possible, will spend billions of pounds and cost over 100 British lives to prop up any government that actively uses the death sentence.
Not only should Bliar be asked these questions, so too should Brown who as chancellor, is funding and actively supporting a government that uses the death penalty.
 
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