Saturday, 30 December 2006

A lot of nonsense talked about Saddam

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.

4 comments:

Chris Black said...

Hi

I'm not very comfortable with your comment that Notions of justice are not universal but are rooted in cultures. My response to that is " Only to a limited extent, I hope."

But apart from that, we've invaded Iraq to replace Saddam Hussein who, without wanting to sound hackneyed, has been an evil dictator, and many thousands of people have already died as a result of our actions. The logical consequence of these actions has been his overthrow and sentencing - and the verdict of the Iraqi court was death.

In this particular case I won't shed any tears for his demise.

Anonymous said...

Thomas,

Your belief that all that could come out has about western governments involvement with Saddam's regime is trusting to say the least.
What about the western observers to the gassing of the Kurds? Proof - none. In fact it is probably not even true. But there is a real possibility that western agencies did not give up this unique opportunity to observe the use of chemical weapons on a mass population.

I agree with you in that we will not know more revelations. Any paperwork has been long destroyed. The one man who ran the state with an iron first is now dead. Conspiracy - maybe. Who knows?

I think though you are wrong to say it is not our place to criticise another country for the use of the death penalty. I believe we must make clear that the taking of human life is not acceptable to us and as we are the primary cause of the series of actions that have led to this death we should speak up.

Finally though we should face the fact that 10,000s of Saddams vicitims have been denied justice or retribution. The Kurdish people are rightly angry about this excecution as for his greatest crime Saddam faces no justice, no trial, no retribution.

Anyway thanks for reading the blog. It does only take 1 minute to establish a myspace account and then you can comment directly.

All the best,

Tim Kent

PS thanks for allowing me to comment without having to register :-)

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Just to let you know have copied across this whole topic as a coment to my blog.

Hope that is OK.

All the best,

Tim.

Tom Papworth said...

I've tried to set up a MySpace account, Tim. Believe my I've tried. It is refusing to cooperate. I've now written to MySpace to ask what is going on. In the meantime I'm obliged to blog back rather than replying.

Thanks for adding my comments as a reply. It appears to have poured some fuel onto the fire!