Saturday, 30 December 2006

Death of a Dictator

"Hanged at dawn - Saddam Hussein has been executed in Baghdad".

This was the headline greeting me on the BBC this morning.

Well, I for one won't be mourning for this tin pot tyrant. But I cannot bring myself to celebrate his demise in the same way I did with Pinochet. First I am opposed to the death penalty - even for the most vile criminals like Hussein who've used state power to inflict murder and suffering. Second, despite all the blather about his execution being the decision of the "sovereign state" of Iraq, this blighted country is anything but. Finally it puts a question mark over the judicial accounting of his crimes. Is it coincidental Western support for the regime prior to the invasion of Kuwait wasn't put into question?

Blair, Bush & co will hail this as one favourable outcome of the war (though expect some hand wringing from the government over the use of the death penalty). But as Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell, donning a leftish cap, has correctly said, this does not vindicate the war in any way.

On a final grisly note, images of the execution are to be released later on. Will it be long before we see Saddam's death throes on YouTube?

Edited to add:

Regardless what you think of George Galloway, his short piece on Saddam's execution hits the nail on the head.

The stupidity of the Baghdad puppets beggars belief. First, they commission a kangaroo court which refuses to consider charges relating to the invasion of Iran in 1980, or the gassing of the Kurds or any other event in which the Western powers were complicit.

The farcical trial itself allowed Saddam, in the eyes of the mass of people in the Middle East, to replace the humiliating image of his capture with him as the confident accuser from the dock. The perfunctory dismissal of the appeal and the dossier of complaints from international jurists only added to the perception of "victor’s justice".

Then they film Saddam Hussein’s last moments. The newsreaders seemed perplexed at his composure. Did they want him to rant and rave or collapse in a blubbering heap or in some other way play the allotted role of pantomime villain?

It's all of a piece with the infantilised fable which public opinion has been fed on for a decade and a half.

In truth, just about no one imagines this tawdry execution will diminish the violence in Iraq. On the contrary, it will increase manifold. Ominously, the latest communique from the Iraqi resistance said the execution would be be met with swift and terrible vengeance, exacted "everywhere".

The Bush/Blair blunder in Iraq becomes more extreme by the day. They have already succeeded in strenthening Iran in southern Iraq and the the region - which Saddam's US-backed invasion was meant to forever forstall. Now in the eyes of tens of millions of Arabs they are turning Saddam into something he strove but failed to be - a hero.

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