Those that have been around PYY awhile, know how I feel about the death penalty. While I fully believe that a man guilty of the things that Saddam was guilty of deserves to die, I have always had mixed feelings about capital punishment.
1. I have a problem with the state having the power to say who lives and who dies. If there is one form of punishment that has been abused more and still can be, it would be this form of punishment. One would be hard-pressed to come up with a society that at one time or another was not abusive of this. The Soviets, the Nazis, The Communist Chinese, the immediate post-revolution French, and even here in America (See: Salem Witch trials) all have been guilty of this. I know it sounds far-fetched at times, but there could be a time when this is abused in record numbers again.
2. Killing a perpetrator that has killed another, does not bring back the victim. Do we do this for the purpose of closure for the victims or is it just old-fashioned revenge? That's a fair question, in my book.
3. In my opinion, it would be more miserable to sit in jail for a long, long time waiting for death, than to be put out of misery earlier. I don't mean being kept in a cell with color TV, Doritos, and other perks that prisoners get just to keep them from feeling like the animals that many of them are. I mean bread and water and basic hygiene as the only means of activity. I also would restrict their ability to communicate with others, except for an annual visit by close family members and the necessary staff of the facility. To put it plainly, prisoners would not want to be part of my detention facility, if I could implement these kinds of approaches to incarceration.
But having said these things, make no mistake whatsoever. I have no compassion for the man named Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti. He made the choice to kill others and have had many more killed at his "executive" directive. He was a blood-thirsty, tyrannical thug. If anyone deserves to die a miserable death, it was him.
So, when he was executed, there was no dancing and celebrating because he was dead. There was no compassion felt for him either. As mixed as my feelings are about the death penalty, so were my feelings about this particular execution. But be that as it may, I have some problems with the way this whole affair was conducted, the speediness of it, and the potential effect this will have.
1. The execution was carried out by biased interested parties where there much desire for revenge. Most executions that are carried out are by parties that were not directly affected by the perpetrator. It resembled an old-time lynch mob, in my estimation.
2. In my opinion, the execution was rushed because of two things:
- The Shiites wanted to exert their dominance further over the rival Sunnis. They wanted to do this sooner rather than later, because there is a growing fear that a Democratic congress may opt to pull the plug on funding for the U.S. support effort.
- There was such an ingrained hatred toward this man for the pain and suffering he caused the Shiite community, they were actually as blood-thirsty for his death, as he was when he ordered the deaths of so many of them.
What good can come of this is certainly debatable. Despite my misgivings about capital punishment, I do think it serves as a deterrent. Look at the Singapore model of criminal justice. It's a safe place to live and visit, that's for damned sure. There is order and crime is very low.
In the case of Saddam, it very well could serve as a deterrent for future barbaric dictators. If they know that they could be eventually caught and executed, they just might think twice about employing such harsh measures against their countrymen and those of other nations.
But the effect that this has on the effort to secure the region is more important to consider than any of these other things, I have mentioned heretofore.
Now the Sunnis are doing what I feared most about a dead Saddam. They are making him a martyr. Someday, in the same section as the Che and Mao T-shirts, we will someday see Saddam T-shirts. He will be lionized by those that already hate freedom and therefore, this will fuel their fire to commit more atrocities, as retribution for this. The Shiites will now be faced with the possibility of retaliatory assassinations, thus escalating an already tense situation, prior to Saddam's ultimate demise.
Of course that says nothing to the fact that the U.S. will now be seen as an accomplice to all of this. I know these people already hated us, but now they have even more reason to hate us, even though this was carried out by Iraqis. Those that sat on the fence, may now be persuaded to choose a side, and it won't be the side we all hope for. The bottom line is, the potential fallout is far greater than the need to kill this thug and not let him rot in a prison cell, somewhere.
Not only that, if we are truly getting ready to go shock and awe, one more time, it would have been far better to wait until afterwards, than to incite more rebellion prior to a military operation. But in all of this, one thing stands out more than anything else to me. The Iraqis have been teetering on a metaphorical see-saw. Which way they will go is anyone's guess. But in this one brief moment, there is the appearance that they may have traded one form of tyranny, for another.
But that's another post, for another day.