anthonybaxter: (Default)
So the Iraqis have hung Saddam. Gosh. That should make things all better.

It obviously shouldn't need saying - but clearly the man was a monster, a butcher and an all-round example of how not to be a human being. However, I still don't think he should have been put to death. I'm completely opposed to the death penalty - it's just not a useful deterrent. Locking him away to rot away would serve a far better example. Of course, our Voice Of The Nation disagreed, praising the whole shambolic proceedings:

“There is something quite heroic about a country that is going through the pain and the suffering that Iraq is going through, yet still extends due process to somebody who was a tyrant and brutal suppressor and murderer of his people. That is the mark of a country that is trying against fearful odds to embrace democracy.”

Aside from the sheer gall of someone who's quite happy that an Australian citizen has been locked away in horriffic conditions for years without charges saying this, note that (unlike the UK) there wasn't even the slightest hint that perhaps the death penalty is barbaric and awful. Howard == Scumbag.

I wonder if Bush will insist on a souvenir from the hanging? He's already got one of Saddam's pistols and has been known to proudly show it off to visitors. Perhaps the little red card Saddam was handed before his execution? He can use it as a centerpiece of his Presidential Library.

Josh Marshall hits the nail on the head about the whole pathetic event. An excerpt:

This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the 'secular arm'. Try pretending it's a war crimes trial but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.

The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.

These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'

Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.

Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, calls any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.

(emphasis added)

Juan Cole noted that the execution itself was arranged on a day that was a Sunni (but not Shiite) religious holiday - and this is being regarded as an additional slap in the face for the Sunnis in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the carnage continues and Bush is still desperately hunting for a rationale to escalate the war further. Ignore any mention of the word "surge" - the additional troop numbers are going to stay there until there's a change of regime in Washington in 2 years time, at the least. At this point, I think even Bush and Cheney know that their grand plans have failed - but from their point, what's the alternative? Admit they were wrong, cash in their losses and be known forever as awesome failures? Fuck it, may as well double-down, it's not like they're gambling with their own money or lives. And maybe the horse will sing.

Have a happy 2007!


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