Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Not quite enough rope to hang him by

It seems Saddam's half-brother's head fell off when they were hanging him. Ooops! Now, I know that I'm supposed to be morally outraged by this, but I will confess that my reaction was "I hope it hurt!". In general, I am opposed to the death penalty, but when it comes to disposing of remnants of a genocidal regime I can't seem summon the compassion to care.

Having said that -- and I realise that I am extremely late in commenting -- Saddam should have been made to stand trial for his other crimes, particularly the Anfal campaign, before he was put to death.

However, I don't buy the argument that the chaotic nature of his execution made Saddam into a victim or significantly increased sympathy for him across the Arab world. It certainly highlighted the sectarianism within Iraq which is a problem for reasons that extend far beyond bringing the Baathists to justice. However, if you are the sort of person who is capable of seeing a victim in a genocidal dictator, are you really going to be swayed by bureaucratic order at the gallows?

Of course both Saddam's trial and his execution could have gone much more smoothly, and I wish that they had. But then I remember that Ratko Mladic is still living as a free man in Europe, and given the choice between imperfect justice and no justice at all, I know which I will pick.

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