Friday, December 29, 2006

Thoughts Concerning an Execution

So they say Saddam will be shuffling off this mortal coil sometime today or tomorrow.

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel a tad disillusioned at the prospect?

I mean, yes, he commited some terrible atrocities against Iraqi Kurds in the 80s. But the retribution should've come then... not 20 years later under the guise of something else — particularly false pretense.

We went into Iraq looking for supposed weapons of mass destruction. We didn't find any. Turns out we started an entire war, in fact, on bad intelligence and a CIA faux pas (oppps!). But Saddam had already been ousted by the time the American public knew any better, so we had to charge him with something.

But we didn't invade Iraq to punish Hussein for the ethnic genocide his minions carried out when I was still in grade school. We just happened to charge him with that when our other excuses didn't pan out.

And so I say again: Hussein is responsible for some terrible atrocities, and he should've been punished. But when the news of Hussein's demise hits the airwaves post mortem, consider this:

  • Prior to the U.S. invasion, Iraq was one of the most stable countries in the Mid-East
  • Prior to the U.S. invasion, Iraq was one of the most progressive countries in the Mid-East (both financially, commercially, and in its treatment of women)
  • Prior to the U.S. invasion, al Qaida terrorists attacked on American soil, claiming some 2,973 lives in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.
  • Efforts to connect Hussein to al Qaida have proven fruitless
  • Since the U.S. invasion in Iraq, nearly 3,000 American soliders have been killed there; about 47,000 have been wounded; and anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 civilian Iraqis have lost their lives in the crossfire
  • These totals don't include lives lost in Afghanistan
  • WWI lasted just over four years; the U.S. was involved for two (from 1917 until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919)
  • WWII lasted less than six years; the U.S. was involved for almost four (from December 1941 until the war's end in 1945)
  • We've been in Afghanistan since October 2001; in Iraq since March 2003
For those of you keeping count, these numbers mean the U.S. has been involved in the so-called "War On Terror" longer than we were involved in either World War. And not only do we have no proof — not even the smallest firecracker — to link Hussein to al Qaida or bin Laden, but we've also lost more American lives in Iraq alone than we did in the September 11 attacks.

I don't know if it makes me a bad American, a bad human... or what. But I get no pleasure out of Saddam's imminent execution. That doesn't necessarily mean I think he deserves to live, either. Just that everything feels... wrong.

Something to chew on the next time you see his face in the news.


Matthew said...

A hearty "amen" to your post.

Killing Saddam is a bad idea.

I'm opposed to the death penalty, so I'm likely to be turned off in the first place, but my objections go beyond that.

The last thing you want to do is to make the guy a martyr. If you lock him up in some deserted jail, he becomes a pathetic loner. Now he will be a hero for extremists.

We've just taken a bad situation and made it much worse.

Anonymous said...

In most cases I am against the death penalty. In the case of Saddam, I am for it. Regardless of how long ago it was, ethnic cleansing is ethnic cleansing and deserves to be punished.

On that note, I don't think we should be in Iraq. I don't think anyone really saw a connection between Saddam and al Qaida. They are religious fanatics while he was just a meglomaniac.

Yes, Saddam kept Iraq stable. But he also exported unrest. Who was sending checks to families of suicide bombers in Isreal?

The reason George the First didn't go all the way in '91 is because he knew that there was no way they could keep a lid on the tension between the Sunnis and Shiites. Well, now Saddam is dead, there is a civil war in Iraq, more and more people are being killed every day and there is no end in site.

Am I happy Saddam is dead? No. But I am not unhappy either.

The truly sad part about the whole Iraq war? It diverted attention away from Afghanistan, a situation which was becoming stable but is now also spiraling out of control.

As for the War on Terror, I will say what I said from the start: I am expecting it to go about as well as the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty. Next time you fly anywhere ask yourself this: Am I any safer today than I was on September 10th, 2001?

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Matthew - You're exactly right. That's yet another reason this particular execution was a bad idea. Not only was it a "bait and switch" for the America public, but I suspect it'll also rally a few folks in the Mid-East who now view him as a martyr (even if they didn't necessarily care for him before).

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

BPP - It's the diversion tactic that bothers me most, I think. We didn't do anything to help the Kurds when these atrocities were committed. And if we'd really wanted to punish Saddam for what he did to them, we would've taken care of that during the First Gulf War.

Instead, we waited 20 years -- and even then, only when we couldn't come up with anything else to charge him with.

Have we brougt closure to the Iraqi Kurds closest to the situation? Or have we exploited their tragedy?

disgruntled world citizen said...

I, for one, got no problem with the death penalty. Line 'em up and get 'em out...

As for Saddam, well, he can go be Satan's bitch (a la South Park...)

michele said...

I don't know if it makes me a bad American, a bad human... or what.

It makes you a good human.