December 31, 2006

The execution of Saddam

I won't post anything else on the execution of Saddam Hussein. The two questions of the morality of capitol punishment and Saddam's crimes have been thoroughly explored by many over the past couple of days. This article by Juan Cole is in my view essential reading- one wonders whether as he argues finding a crime Saddam committed against Sunnis and not executing him on this particular day (given its position in the Sunni ritual calendar though not the Shia) would have been better. Cole asks good questions, not about the wider issues of Saddam's guilt and punishment, but about the specifics and how those specifics have inflamed the situation, making Saddam's trial a possibly more ethnically charged event than it should have been. The occupation of Iraq has been less often wrong and more often just badly handled- Professor Cole has just pointed out yet another way in which this is true and all these small errors may add up to the failure of the overall policy.

(There is a discussion of the point about the day in the comments which might be interesting in this context as well. I think my wording here is a little unclear- according to Cole the Shia and Sunni celebrate the same festival but Shia on Saturday and Sunni on Sunday- I should have clarified that in the post above- I apologise sometimes blogging has the danger that you write without the qualifications so sometimes you make errors despite not making them if you see what I mean- I'm willing for Cole to be corrected about the date difference, he is a Professor of Middle Eastern Studies so for the moment I'm going with him but if anyone has any contributions to make that'd be grand).


A. said...

This from the Washington Post:

"The long, tortured arc of the Bush-Hussein relationship that shaped recent U.S. history finally came to a close with the snap of a noose."

Here here, now, hopefully this administration can accomplish something constructive in the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

Bush’s war killed more Iraqi’s then Saddam did. When is Bush’s trail?

Most of the free world fails to understand how/why there is so little revealed about the trial of Saddam Hussein, and indeed why he was not fully hold in account for his crime in Kurdistan not to forget loss of one million human during Iran/Iraq war and occupation of Kuwait.

It’s clear that Saddam was not allowed to divulge top secrets of how the US and the West armed his regime and gave him the political and military means to keep his opponents at bay. Some of the crimes against Kurds that he was found guilty of had the blessings of the Americans at the time, and there was not any demand for justice from the Washington when it happened.


--- Prof. Leland Milton Goldblatt

Anonymous said...

"the murder of Shiites and when we executed him a Sunni holy day make the execution seem more like an execution of a Sunni martyr than of an evil tyrant."

About your comment and quote in the Guardian Coloumn: Saddam's execution happened in a day that is HOLY and Day of Forgiveness and uttermost sacrifice for not only Sunni's but also for Shiate's. So your claim or whoever you have quoted is incorrect. Both you and your source need to do a bit more reading about Islam and ppl who followes it no matter in how divisive of way. This growing blindness to East frpm Commentators like you is doing more harm to yourself. Please dont be a laughing stock. And also please dont consider this to be Hate mail. I am just trying to correct your mistake. Other than this point I agreed with you more or less with the comment you have posted in the Gaurdian website.


Gracchi said...

A I'm not going to greive too much over Hussein either he was a mass murderer.

Anonymous 1 yes I think that is a good thought about why the particular charges. I also do think there is an interesting issue with regards to our human rights abuses- not that they are of the same level with Saddam's there is a difference between aiding and committing- but there is somethign interesting in there- which one day I'll get round to posting on. Cheers for your website link as well I'm over there in minutes as soon as I've finished here.

Anonymous 2, no I don't consider it hate mail I am thoroughly willing to be corrected as anyone reading this site I hope knows and what you have said was actually very courteous. I am relying when I said what I said upon Professor Juan Cole, who is one of the best Middle Eastern experts in the West who said in that Salon article that

"The tribunal also had a unique sense of timing when choosing the day for Saddam's hanging. It was a slap in the face to Sunni Arabs. This weekend marks Eid al-Adha, the Holy Day of Sacrifice, on which Muslims commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for God. Shiites celebrate it Sunday. Sunnis celebrate it Saturday –- and Iraqi law forbids executing the condemned on a major holiday. Hanging Saddam on Saturday was perceived by Sunni Arabs as the act of a Shiite government that had accepted the Shiite ritual calendar."

I am willing to accept correction of course- but Cole does normally know his stuff. Thanks for commenting.

Gracchi said...

On reflection anonymous 2 perhaps even with Cole's statement I should have been a little clearer that everyone celebrates the holiday just on a different day- hence the issue. But if Cole is wrong about the different days then I'd be interested to hear that- I'm sorry about this it looks like I beleived that the Sunni don't celebrate Eid al-Adha which of course they do, whereas what I meant was the distinction between Saturday and Sunday- the perils of blogging at early hours I'm afraid.

If Cole is wrong though I'd be interested that he is.

Ellee said...

Saddam had to die that way, and it was merciful considering the torture he inflicted on his victims. I just hope that it will help put Iraq's blackest days behind them, that they can start to rebuild a more peaceful future, though it will take many years, even decades.

On that thoughtful note, Happy New Year Gracchi, many thanks for your support too.

花崗齋之愚公 said...

@ A2: I'd have a hard time accusing Juan Cole of "blindness to East" and I think you would too if you were more familiar with his writings.

I think Cole's larger point, and one that I've heard quite a bit over the last 48 hours even in the US, is that this was about revenge, not justice.

It may well be justified that Saddam die for his crimes, but the process by which he was tried and executed (the taunts and curses shouted at him on the gallows, the judicial hijinks) are not something that I, as an American, was particularly proud to see my country involved in. I don't mourn his passing in the least, I just wish it had come about differently.

james higham said...

There were many who felt a bit uneasy, not only because of the grisliness but because of whether it was the wisest policy to pursue.
Have a very Happy New Year and it was great to get to know you, Tiberius.

Blogerdeblog said...

Despite what you do, should there be a death sentence?

Saddam Hanging - Right Or Wrong?

Post your views here:

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Again, a very interesting and thought-provoking post. No one gets all the facts right all the time in a political blog, as by its very nature, blogging is immediate and you don't want to be posting out of date news; and things can be out of date in a few hours these days! So you do your best, Gracchi and I think it's an excellent best. The comments are interesting too and the point about "revenge, not justice" is a good one. Keep up the good work, Gracchi and Happy New Year to you.

Daily Referendum said...

Maybe we should punish people by their own standards, if they think it is justifiable to take another’s life, then surely they should think it justifiable for us to take theirs?

Saddam Hussein lived by the sword but died on one of his own making.

Gracchi said...

Thanks for all the comments guys- I'm not sure I'm going to add much save to say happy new year- just been at a little gathering so I'm on the tipsy side- but I've really enjoyed everyone's comments and thanks for making them.

Not Saussure said...

I fear I must disagree with Daily Referendum; Saddam thought it was justifiable to do all manner of things but that's no reason to emulate him.

People might be interested to know that Riverbend, the Iraqi blogger, is back after a long absence. She's not at all happy with what she regards as a lynching. She doesn't shed any light on the Shia/Sunni holy day question, but she does say

This does not bode well for the coming year. No one imagined the madmen would actually do it during a religious holiday. It is religiously unacceptable and before, it was constitutionally illegal. We thought we'd at least get a few days of peace and some time to enjoy the Eid holiday, which coincides with the New Year this year. We've spent the first two days of a holy holiday watching bits and pieces of a sordid lynching.