Rumors were flying all day today as to whether the former Iraqi dictator had been handed over to Iraqi authorities, which would indicate that his execution is nearing. There's not much that can be hidden with the 24-hour news technology we have at our fingertips. Indeed, most major news networks are now reporting that Saddam Hussein has been hanged according to the sentencing of the Dujail trial which ended a few months ago. It is indeed the end of an era, and the end of a brutal tyrant. Unfortunately, it is not the beginning of a good thing either. Iraq today is in shambles. Nevertheless, the actions of this cold blooded murderer should not be mixed with the politics of occupation in Iraq today.
What baffles me is what I will see tomorrow morning when I turn on the television and see the reaction of the Arab and Muslim world, which will likely be a condemnation of the execution. I do understand where many people are coming from, that they consider his trial unfair and the whole issue of the occupation to be tainting it. That is probably the case, and Saddam probably did not receive a fair trial. However, I do not recall that he granted anyone a fair trial when he was ruling Iraq with an iron fist. I consider myself an advocate of human rights, and that any suspect should be innocent until proven guilty. In my eyes, however, Saddam crossed all the lines of humanity and justice. Some might say that he was forced to use such policies to keep Iraq together, but I see that he had no regard for human life.
As the New York Times Editorial wrote today, the trial of Saddam should have been fair so as to set the tone for the new judicial system in the country, and the respect for rule of law:
The important question was never really about whether Saddam Hussein was guilty of crimes against humanity. The public record is bulging with the lengthy litany of his vile and unforgivable atrocities...Many people will argue that George W. Bush and many other leaders have more blood on their hands than Saddam. That might the case, but does that mean that if we cannot try one criminal we should not try any? It is a double standard indeed for an occupying and invading force like the US to be calling for justice for Saddam when the US government supported him only a decades ago. But does that mean we should let him go? Allow him to live in exile and disregard the injustices he inflicted upon his people?
What really mattered was whether an Iraq freed from his death grip could hold him accountable in a way that nurtured hope for a better future. A carefully conducted, scrupulously fair trial could have helped undo some of the damage inflicted by his rule.
It could have, but it didn’t. After a flawed, politicized and divisive trial, Mr. Hussein was handed his sentence: death by hanging.
A day will come when other tyrants like him will fall. Those who think that they are all-powerful today should read a little history and know that this is what Saddam Hussein thought he was. And now he is dead after people danced around his corpse which was hung to death.
I always hated the old adage, "my enemy's enemy is my best friend". I hate it because it appears to justify actions. It appears to justify that the US collaborated with Saddam when he was the enemy of their other enemy, Iran. I hate it because some people use it to justify their support for Saddam claiming that his enemy is the US which is causing all the chaos in Iraq.
For everyone who says that Saddam is a hero, please stop right here. Please stop, and put yourself in the shoes of the countless families in Iraq who's lives were ruined by this man. The women who woke up to find their husband's bodies lying in a trash bag in front of their homes. The Kurdish families who were wiped out because they dared to ask for equal rights. The Shiites who were massacred because they wanted their voices to be heard. And the Sunnis who were forced to be slaves at the feet of this tyrant to avoid getting shot.
Some Arabs and Muslims will feel ashamed today and degraded because Saddam was technically executed at the hands of American forces, because of the invasion, and because they caught him. Is this really what makes you ashamed? Is it not your own leaders who were silent when he killed your brethren? Are you not ashamed that the Arab world was not able to defend Iraqis in the face of international sanctions a decade ago? Are you not ashamed that you are so militarily incapacitated that any European country could probably invade your territory over night without much effort? Are you not ashamed that you still have leaders like Saddam ruling over you in the most barbaric of ways? Does it not make you ashamed that the Arab world is so far behind the rest of the world? Does this not make you ashamed?! Please tell me what makes you ashamed! If you are ashamed that Saddam is being killed at the hands of foreigners, then shame on you, because there are so many other issues that we should be ashamed of.
Every single Iraqi was a victim of Saddam Hussein, and I am glad he is dead. I am glad that he will now meet the Lord who created him and watched him commit the worst crimes imaginable, and will show him the Justice he deserves.
Will his execution bring peace to Iraq? No. Most Iraqis right now are too worried about their safety to care about this news. They will hear it and feel it. They might be happy, they might be sad. Will it help them put food on the table? Will it allow them to go out in the streets in the day and the night without fear of never coming back home? Absolutely not. The civil war in Iraq today is a direct result of the unplanned aftermath of the military victory which the US claimed.
Saddam's execution will not change that reality. Saddam's execution is a reminder and a symbolic event.
Let those who are following in his footsteps today take note.