One of the world’s most evil tyrants was executed this morning, in accordance with Iraqi law. We may not like it, but we should accept it with more grace than some liberals appear willing to show.
I must take issue with Tim Kent’s conspiracy theory, in particular (another MySpace user, so I can’t reply on his blog). He argues that “[Saddam’s] old friends are protected. Yes, his old mates like Rumsfeld, Bush, Thatcher, Kohl. All of the people who supplied him with weapons, chemicals, materials to carry out his murders and wars. No need for that to come out now!”
This is nonsense. These four and others did tolerate Saddam Hussein during the 1980, in the erroneous belief that he was a lesser evil than Ayatollah Khomeini. But it is unlikely that there are any smoking guns still to be revealed. On the contrary; the reason why Mr. Kent is able to make his allegations is because the involvement of Rumsfeld, Bush, Thatcher, Kohl and others came out a long time ago.
Secondly, it rests on the presumption that he was hanged at the behest of the American and British governments: “Hanging Saddam leaves a further stain on the west…” In fact, the Coalition Provisional Authority did what little they could to prevent his death. Iraq’s first post-Saddam constitution, the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period did not provide for the death penalty, and Western governments tried to convince the Iraqi government not to introduce it.
The Iraqis were determined, however. The death penalty is common throughout Arabia, where Western opposition to capital punishment is treated with derision. With hundreds dying every week from sectarian violence, terror and crime, they were never likely to accede to our pleas. In addition, it was quite clear that they wanted to kill Saddam Hussein; one of the greatest concerns about this whole episode was that capital punishment was introduced very much with one man in mind.
In fact, while we a right to oppose the death penalty, I am not convinced that we are right to hector the Iraqis about it at this time. Notions of justice are not universal but are rooted in cultures. In our Christian culture, where “there [is] more joy in heaven over one sinner that does penance than over ninety-nine righteous persons…”, we look to rehabilitate criminals. Other cultures are less forgiving. I am not an expert on Islam or Arabic tradition, but it may be that retribution is more important to them than rehabilitation. Furthermore, with hundreds dying every week, they are probably not in a forgiving mood.
I hope that eventually Iraqis will come to enjoy true liberty: not just the freedom from Saddam that President Bush hailed, but the true liberty that comes from being an autonomous individual free from fear or coercion. It will be a long journey, and it may be that their road to freedom must begin with the execution of their last tyrant. In future I hope they can build a society where the State does not kill its citizens (even criminal ones) and rules apply equally to all. I do not think we will advance their respect for liberty by condemning the death of this evil man.