Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A lynching

An excellent article on the judicial murder of Saddam Hussein, which stood out from the dross that hacks have been pouring out on this score.

I don't blame them so much. It's nearly impossible to comment on this. One is horrified, yet cannot feel sympathy for a man who had none at all for many of his fellows.

But we can feel shame. In creating a martyr out of Saddam and denying the world the trial he should have had: in our shared court, with fair representation, with full account made of his crimes, his defence of them and a sentence that fits a broader notion of justice than the hot desire for vengeance of his killers, we have done another harm to our world.

Worse, we created him and created his enemies. Too few men tried; too few punished. When history judges us, we know it will be harsh. Like Saddam's, our memorials will be built on the bones of those we allowed thugs and killers to destroy.


At 3:15 am, Anonymous Looney said...

Yeah, as much as I, and probably much of the world, despised the man, it seemed rushed and very incomplete.

I am not wholly against society taking the life of the most severe criminals, yet such a thing ought to be deliberate and thorough, and the only reasonable judgment.

And isn't that almost impossible to prove? Some would argue not so in this case, but I don't know. I wouldn't want to have pulled the lever... It's sort of like Tolkien's words in the Lord of the Rings. Gandalf and Frodo are discussing Gollum, whom Frodo says deserves to die. Gandalf answers, "I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends." I think I quoted that right, anyway.

I agree that the world at large deserved more of a reckoning with the man. But I think that the Bushes just wanted him dead and finished...done.

As much as I value a certain core of my conservative principles, I think we're sorely in need of a good pull to the left to find at least a little sanity...

At 7:25 am, Blogger Sour Grapes said...

His hugger-mugger death not only serves the Bush clan, but the notion of justice served is yet further undermined by the behaviour of his hangmen and the witnesses to the lynching. This was not even a judicial murder. He was strung up in some decrepit basement by a bunch of thugs, masked and anonymous, whose factional allegiance soon became clear. That's what makes even more ludicrously cowardly the statements from the UK government among others, "Oh, we disagree with the death penalty, but this was done according to the laws of the Iraqi government, so um ... ".

There's no justice in this for anyone.

At 7:30 am, Blogger Sour Grapes said...

Incidentally, Aussie PM John Howard's comments ought to stick in the throat of even the most hardened DP nut. What a crock. Also from the Guardian, here:

At 9:12 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

I was thinking of blogging that but what can you say? I was just openmouthed. Sometimes politicians say something and you're like "how can he believe that?" but there's just no way he can believe that. He's a bolder liar than Blair even though. He just doesn't get the coverage. And the Iraq war is not as unpopular here, because Arabs are feared and despised.

At 9:19 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Looney, you are a frustrating man because you do about threequarters of the thinking and then you can't do the last few steps. Your desire to hang on to your "principles" prevents you.

"And isn't that almost impossible to prove? Some would argue not so in this case, but I don't know. I wouldn't want to have pulled the lever."

I have no doubt at all he did what he's accused of. And other things, just as bad. He could say though that he is the sovereign power in a state, defending the morals and order of that state from those who seek to destroy them. Who are you?

Who are the people that are killing him? How do they distinguish their killing him from his killing the people he had killed? Why are they not in turn hanged? That is always my problem with the death sentence. The state is whoever and whatever it is at any given time. It can legalise whatever it chooses. So its judgement is justified by itself. Saddam's "crimes" were perfectly legal. So were Hitler's. He passed laws to make them that way. Once you realise that you are now simply quibbling over a question of scale, you are clear that the state gives itself to do the exact same thing it is punishing.

At 2:42 pm, Blogger Don said...

Not sure what was so bad about Howard's remarks (beyond the "quite heroic" part). That you disagree with the due process doesn't change that they followed what process they had. Certainly an improvement over having him ripped apart by a mob, or spirited away by his partisans. That it was as "legal" as Hitler's crimes doesn't make it immorally equivalent. It has been long established that immoral laws justify nothing; yet I guess I'm out on a limb now, asserting that it's better to follow a bad law than no law at all, at least in some areas. But I'd have preferred he rot in prison, exiled, like Napoleon, far from home.

At 2:45 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Don, you're a fucking idiot. Saddam followed what process he had in dealing with the Kurds. See the problem with your argument?

At 9:35 pm, Blogger Sour Grapes said...

Quite. "What process they had" is nowhere near the same as "due process" as the apologists elide. Besides, they didn't even follow the process they had. The complaints against the Saddam trial are numerous, and easy to find, and include his inability to put on a defence, partly by having his defence lawyers murdered one by one. Oh, but we all knew he was guilty, so it doesn't much matter.

It was a very shoddy show-trial, with hardly anyone bothering to put on a show because the outcome was decided. And it was followed by a shabby lynching that fell below the standards of even the chief prosecutor, or whoever that man was pleading for an iota of decorum.

At 3:40 am, Blogger Don said...

Of course I see what's wrong with my argument. I said as much when admitting I was out on a limb. But you are saying that no process is any good, because those in power make their own, and a process is a process good or bad. This is crazy because you two are now anarchists yet would still ban firearms. Yeesh. Ah, but what would you have done? Send him to Elba? It is still a process, imposed by some shoddy court, of which the world has a surfeit, for damn few places are so fortunate as to have a long tradition of the rule of just laws. We must take what we have and be encouraging when they shows signs of any leaning at all towards a sober adherence to due process.

At 10:20 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

I would have tried him in our courts under our idea of justice, a full trial for all his crimes. It would have taken some years, but no matter, because I would not permit him to be executed at the end of it. He would rot in jail, babbling about his right to rule Iraq, until he perished.

At 10:21 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Or I would have preferred what a friend suggested to me. The end Ceausescu met. When they found him, they just shot him. Videoed it. The end.


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