Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Saddam Hussein

The New Yorker has a nice editorial on Saddam Hussein’s execution, which I’ve been meaning to write on for some days now.

Quite the hash they’ve made of it, by all appearances. The Bush administration has apparently expressed displeasure at the heckling the former dictator received at the time of his death. I suppose this is reasonable enough. The jeering and so on were certainly inhumane—but then, so is hanging. It seems to me a poor response to the man’s truly abominable time in power to answer it in kind.

From what I gather, the American government attempted to have the execution delayed. The Iraqi prime minister of the moment apparently declined, out of fear that he could become a symbol of resistance if still alive (a martyr being evidently preferable). It is testimony to have far things have gone that he seems genuinely to have feared that the former president could go free, something that would probably have been unthinkable even a year or two ago.

But then, with running battles underway in Baghdad, and the Americans calling in air strikes on a city they putatively occupy, this is probably the least of anyone’s concerns. The former leader has written himself neatly, if appallingly, into his country’s history. The currently leaders have quite a long way to go, if they want to be anything more than footnotes to a disaster.

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