Don’t Hang Saddam

A few months ago, when asked what I thought about Saddam Hussein facing the death penalty, I said “I’m against the death penalty, but I’m not going to cry over this one.” Now, with Saddam’s hanging imminent, I have taken a different position.

I am against the death penalty for Saddam Hussein, and I will be disturbed when it is carried out. It is not a question of sympathy for the man – I feel none. Nor is it a matter of the standard anti-death penalty boilerplate.

There is another reason. I am against it because it will cause other people to die.

Iraq is very unstable. It is immersed in a foreign occupation wrapped in a complex three-dimensional civil war. Lines of division are slashed all over the place – Sunnis versus Shiites, Ba’ath party supporters versus reformists, pro-Americans versus anti-Americans. The battles rage daily, with kidnappings, murders, bombings, and shootings happening all over. But on the day Saddam hangs, some of those attacks will be in retaliation for, or simply protests against, the execution.

People will die. People will die specifically because Saddam was hanged. In a country where people are killed every day, for various reasons or for no reason at all, it is easy to simply shrug your shoulders and say “people are dying anyway, so what difference does it make?”

But if that were your mother, or your cousin, or your daughter laying in the morgue, and you knew that he or she died specifically because of the outburst that followed Saddam’s hanging – that he or she would still be alive if he had not been executed – how would you feel?

Thousands of people have died in Iraq since the invasion of 2003 – many more than would have died under Saddam’s brutal regime if the war had not happened (Sources: Blix, Blum, Annan). Those might just seem like numbers, and the images we see on television just more digital carnage, one war blending into another, the news blending into entertainment. But every one of those deaths is personal to someone. We should never forget that. And when they hang Saddam, there will be more deaths, many immediately attributable to the execution. The blame for those deaths will not fall on Saddam, but on Saddam’s executioners.

20 thoughts on “Don’t Hang Saddam

  1. Never mind not hanging Saddam. If it was up to me I would bring him back in power. Saddam ran the most stable regime in the middle east.

    The Iraqi people themselves in absolute majority have admitted in polls time and again, that they felt safer during Saddam’s rule. The only people who were oppressed were the Kurds. The same oppressed Kurds in Turkey, for whom nobody cares.

    On a more realistic thought, whether they hang Saddam or not, Iraq is FUBAR, and the true responsible criminals for the mess are in DC.

  2. I suspect he’s being hanged mostly because he could testify to U.S. complicity in his regime, and only secondarily because he was a nasty dictator. He should be kept alive for what he knows, but that’s exactly why he’s being executed.

  3. Oh, but don’t worry: the US says there’s no civil war in Irak. Yeah. Ladeeda, business as usual.

    I’m against his execution out of principle/values, but your point is more than valid. Death, people! It isn’t at all like blowing up characters in a game. It isn’t even like watching it on tv night after night. *sigh*

  4. Hello Blork,,
    I wrote a similar blog entry yesterday, check it out… You are right, it will lead to so much death, and the Americans are definitely pulling the strings here.

    Ciao Gino

  5. Brem: I have never been more serious in my life. Which part sounds like a joke to you?

  6. The part where you put Saddam back to the head of the country.
    If you were serious about this, then you will not be offended if I say you’re stupid.

  7. I changed my Google Talk status message to say “Secrets Silenced: Saddam Hanged” and received a comment from someone on my list suggesting that I was pushing conspiracy theories.

    Go figure.

  8. P.S. brem

    I have to say that given the state of Iraq now, I find Thomas’ suggestion to have a twisted logic to it. I don’t think he’s stupid.

    Frankly, Saddam seemed a much more contained evil than what’s going on now. Iraq is consumed in absolute chaos and I’d be dismayed by anyone should they suggest we multiply this effort in each and every region that has dictators of their own and truly believe it would be a sane solution.

    Would the world be better off forcing North Korea into a democratic society by capturing and hanging Kim Jong il and then replacing all North Korean leaders by American hand picked choices? I cringe at the thought.

    Sanctions, dialogue, and treaties seem a better method than invasion and executions.

  9. I’m worried that hanging people like him only creates martyrs which is much more dangerous, in my opinion. A dead person can no longer do any wrong. The fact that he was a cruel dictator is secondary, as Kate points out. His death sentence would be happily picked up by people who will relish in the fresh fuel for their causes against America and whatnot. If they could just keep him alive and slowly let him meet death quietly and uninterestingly, that might be the best.

  10. Paolo: then next time someone suggests we remove a dictator, can I cite you?
    Let’s just do nothing in Darfour either. The situation seems at hand. ;)

    Really. People. Get your eyes straight in your sockets.

  11. haha… you people really have no idea what saddam has done if u think it wasnt a right thing to hang him. No one wants to kill anyone specially me, but when it comes to saddam i would be glad to have that honor to kill him and so would alot of other iraqis. Its sad that many people have died because he was hanged the other day, but hes the only man in this world that diserved to die. Before i came to iraq i didnt know what he had done to these poor people i just knew he was bad, but to hear how these families lost theyre father, mother, sister or brother i couldnt even imagine theyre pain. The day they hanged him people were so reliefed its like they finally had something to be happy abt, ofcourse theres alot of saddam lovers who protested but i guess we won this time :)

  12. I think it was because they wanted the Iraqi people to feel a certain sense of closure by handling the entire process themselves. So even though another power may have overseen the entire execution, it was there people who put the noose around his neck.

    Or, I could be completely wrong.

  13. I agree with Ethan — the idea was to present the illusion that it was an internal process.

    Ziizi, I understand your anger, but I still don’t agree with the execution. It’s not out of any sympathy for Saddam, as I said in my post — it’s mostly because that one execution has lead to the deaths of many innocents.

    By now most people have seen the video(s) of the execution. It does NOT look like an act of justice. A bunch of hooded thugs in civilian clothing taunting the condemned — that is an act of revenge, not justice. If it were about justice, he would have been kept alive to answer to his other crimes as well.

    What disturbs me the most is that we are in the 21st century, yet it is still considered legitimate for a foreign power to invade and occupy a country, and to execute its leader. I don’t care who that leader is — that kind of uncivilized behaviour should not be happen in our time.

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