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Saddam Is Dead - Why That Matters

Within a few hours of receiving custody of Saddam Hussein from American authorities, the Iraqi government put him to death. Doubtless this will cause howls of protest from leftists everywhere, that a man proven to be a mass murderer on a most gruesome scale would himself be executed without years of delay and double-talking meant to subvert justice itself or at least deny the victims' families the chance to believe that such men as Saddam would ever be treated as they deserve. But the execution of Saddam Hussein served a compelling notice, one the Left will deny but which is true for all their bitterness; the Rule of Law has come to Iraq.

The Left has tried very hard to deny that truth. The mainstream media revels in showing video of bombings and reporting kidnappings, never noting the stability and economic growth in many parts of Iraq. Kevin McCullough has written a compelling article to show that Iraq is, by any reasonable standard, a clear success. The notion that Iraq is becoming a foothold for democratic republicanism is terrifying for the Left. Enough so that they will denounce even its possibility, much less the growing evidence for it.

The Middle East has not enjoyed many attempts at freely elected government. Small wonder. Without turning this essay into a history lesson, the region has historically been a target for conquering empires. That's one big lie the Left doesn't want folks to learn, that even if none of the world's oil came from there, there would still be wars and unrest. For thousands of years, the Middle East has been the juncture between three continents (which comprised the entire known world for most of our written history) and control of key locations meant military and economic success. That truth meant that tyrants, emperors, and puppet leaders controlled by invaders were the norm, all the way through the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, Great Britain tried to establish some nominal national identities, but in many places the lines drawn were too artificial and ignored critical demographics. The resulting mess allowed the Germans and Italians to invade the region with little trouble, which is one reason Mussolini tried to colonize Ethiopia through invasion. Following World War 2, the immediate polarization between Soviet and Western spheres meant that the Middle East was denied a chance to build truly representative governments; the governments in place were largely free to continue as they had. It is only in very recent years, therefore, that the tide of young Arabs and Farsis and Kurds have begun to demand their right to vote on popular candidates instead of figures hand-picked by mullahs or oligarchies, and it is only recently that the region began to show signs of universal law. That is where Saddam's fate makes such a difference. For many years, a man who became a tyrant might be killed by another tyrant taking his place, but more often passed on his wealth and power to a chosen successor, or if deposed was often allowed to simply live in luxury somewhere else. The south beach of France is still littered with relatives of the former Shah, of the entourages of former strongmen and would-be aristocrats from oil-producing nations. The reader may recall that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia offered such a package to Saddam and his family in hopes of avoiding the war. This was because the Saudis recognized a signal shift in the order of things, and were becoming desperate to deny or delay that change. The arrest, trial and now the execution of Saddam Hussein were all accomplished in a manner which undeniably demonstrates that the new government in Iraq intends to conduct itself through universal law, law which applies to all Iraqis regardless of station. No other government in the region, save Israel, is so committed to the Rule of Law. This demonstrates a clear victory in the development of democratic republics in the Middle East.

I personally took no pleasure in the death of Saddam Hussein. I watched the video of the noose being put around his neck, and I could read in his face that he knew his death was coming, final and irrevocable. It would be a cruel man indeed who could look at that and not feel a tug of compassion and pity for a man so condemned, alone and hopeless. Especially knowing the many evils he committed in his life; if Saddam believed in even half of Islam, he knows that a terrible fate awaits him. But his death proved the truth of Iraq law, that no one, not even the former absolute ruler of Iraq, still followed by thousands of ruthless minions, can escape answering for his crimes.


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Comments (19)

Fine essay, DJ.... (Below threshold)

Fine essay, DJ.

Well written post and I agr... (Below threshold)

Well written post and I agree with the execution, but don't be tricked into thinking that rule of law has come to Iraq. It is a civil war bordering on anarchy.

DJ:But the exec... (Below threshold)
ryan:

DJ:

But the execution of Saddam Hussein served a compelling notice, one the Left will deny but which is true for all their bitterness; the Rule of Law has come to Iraq.

Well, I hope that it means the rule of law has come to Iraq, but I have my doubts. It may also mean that different seekers of power are now in control, and are running the show in their way, while getting rid of the "old guard." Hard to tell at this point. I'm hoping that democracy and the rule of law are taking hold, and that the leadership in Iraq truly has that goal in mind.

The McCullough article acknowledged the fact that there have been economic improvements in Iraq; that the economy is growing. That's good, but not a definite sign that Iraq is a so-called "success." I'd call it a success when there aren't thousands of people getting killed each month, and when the majority of Iraqi people can vote to make changes instead of picking up an AK-47. I'd call it a success when the Iraqi government can actually sustain itself and work on the behalf of its population, without the help of the US. Until then, they're pretty much dependent colony, and one that we're responsible for.

The notion that Iraq is becoming a foothold for democratic republicanism is terrifying for the Left. Enough so that they will denounce even its possibility, much less the growing evidence for it.

Are you kidding me? What kind of statement is that? Democracy surely is possible, and hopefully it will really take hold. But it might take some time. First, the people inside Iraq have to stop killing one another, and second, the large foreign military that's US) will probably have to leave. Civil war isn't good for democracy, and neither is occupation (sorry if that word bothers you, but there's really no other word for it).

That's one big lie the Left doesn't want folks to learn, that even if none of the world's oil came from there, there would still be wars and unrest.

Thanks for the history lesson: the above statement applies to about every society on earth, past and present. Wars and unrest have been a consistent theme throughout history. Iraq and the Middle East are no exception.

The arrest, trial and now the execution of Saddam Hussein were all accomplished in a manner which undeniably demonstrates that the new government in Iraq intends to conduct itself through universal law, law which applies to all Iraqis regardless of station.

Wow, DJ, you sure are a positive one. You're making the new Iraqi government out to be some utopian dream team. The arrest, trial, and execution of Hussein means that he was arrested, tried, and executed. It means that he finally paid for his crimes, and that his reign is finally over. But this single act by no means gurantees the Iraqi people that the new government is commited to universal law, the rule of law, or freedom. I'm hoping that this new Iraqi government doesn't degrade into some corrupt government, and I hope that they are actually able to improve the lives of everyday Iraqi people.

But by no means does the execution of Hussein tell us the real intentions of this young, US-dependent, and still unstable government. There are many, many people involved. It's good that they dealt with Saddam, but there is still a long way to go.

...Iraq is, by any reaso... (Below threshold)
Jaku:

...Iraq is, by any reasonable standard, a clear success.

Ok then, maybe the author of this laughable column will fly over to Iraq, by himself without security or an interpreter outside the Green Zone, to speak with the locals about the glorious successes in Iraq.

Can't wait to hear his report of how wonderful and chipper things are in Iraq.

You guys crack me up time and time again.

Better yet, you need to use the Tom Delay model:

Iraq isn't failing, it's the media and the Democrats making it fail.


Iraq is a clear success ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Iraq is a clear success
I guess our boys can come now...It's been so successful we can declare victory and leave, and tell the almost 1.8 million Iraqis, who have voted with their feet, by fleeing Iraq since the invasion, they can home too. I suppose Saddam set the bar so high, that the 90% Iraqis who say life was better under Saddam are simply in denial..By the way, cell phone revenues are way up in Iraq because power and electrical lines have been operating at less than 50% capacity for over 3 years since the invasion.

As regarding Saddam's death... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

As regarding Saddam's death,...the execution of Saddam Hussein were all accomplished in a manner which undeniably demonstrates that the new government in Iraq intends to conduct itself through universal law, law which applies to all Iraqis regardless of station mmmm ..Juan Cole says the trial and execution is more 'revenge (for the Shiites) than justice... for example "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." ...the blood bath or civil war continues for control of Baghdad.

Iraq is, by any re... (Below threshold)
jpe:
Iraq is, by any reasonable standard, a clear success.

You've started drinking for New Year's already?

The notion that Iraq is becoming a foothold for democratic republicanism is terrifying for the Left.

This is truly crazy conspiracy theorizing.

To view a sarcastic visual ... (Below threshold)

To view a sarcastic visual of George Bush playing a round of "Hangman"...link here:

www.thoughttheater.com

DJ Drummond, you live in a ... (Below threshold)
aRepukelican:

DJ Drummond, you live in a fool's fantasy.

Among other absurdities that you wrote, "never noting the stability and economic growth in many parts of Iraq. Kevin McCullough has written a compelling article to show that Iraq is, by any reasonable standard, a clear success..." is, by any standard, totally devoid of reality. In a nation, Iraq, where unemployment to this day still ranges 40% to 60%, depending on the area of the country, to call Iraq an "economic success" as you did is outright delusional as well as absurd.

If you are the judge of Bush's success in Iraq, then gawd help us all. In fact, it likely is beyond his help.

The real "fool's fantasy" i... (Below threshold)

The real "fool's fantasy" is where the idiot who thinks that he can hide behind the name "ARepukelican" and get taken seriously.

I think we have another Democratic Underground asshole here...

J.

"aRepukelican" sounds like ... (Below threshold)

"aRepukelican" sounds like Ed Rooney. I would distrust anyone who uses "gawd" either.

As others have said, a sing... (Below threshold)
blackcat77:

As others have said, a single successful prosecution is a long way from "law west of the Euphrates," so to speak. I would be much more impressed with the Iraqi government if they were sto start making serious inroads into their terrorist problem than I am for them killing Saddam. The latter is a *symbolic* victory while the former would make a real difference in the lives of ordinary citizens.

Look, I worked in Iraq, wan... (Below threshold)
observer 5:

Look, I worked in Iraq, want the country to succees and think it has a chance. I wish the US did a better job there, though, things would be more stable and prosperous now.

That being said, the McCullough article contains a lot of bullshit that only a moron totally ignorant of facts in Iraq and economics would buy.

For one egregious example:

Gasoline is only .56 cents a gallon. It wouldn't be that high except that Iraq decided to payoff some of its debt to the World Bank and are using energy profits to do so.

Half a cent a gallon? I thought the state price was five cents a gallon, but no matter.

Gasoline is a fungible commodity with a market price, which varies according to local supplies and transportation costs, but is within a certain range all over the world before taxes, if allowed to float to its market equilibrium.

While the state-mandated price of gasoline is cheap, the predicable effect of state price controls are present in Iraq: shortages, 12 hour waits to the pumps, and smuggling to other countries.

The assertion that the price would be lower but for the World Bank has this kernel of truth to it: the World Bank/IMF has required Iraq to undertake free-market reforms, including the decontrol of gasoline prices, in order to receive credit from the IMF. Price controls on gasoline is a huge drain on the Iraqi economy, as it is an effective subsidy of the price of gasoline. Iraq is selling oil to buy gasoline at the world market price, which it then sells at the artificially-low state price.

There is a black market in gasoline, with prices about 5000 dinar (about $3) per gallon. Gas is sold by kids with plastic jerricans seen on roadsides throughout Iraq.

Don't want to pay blackmarket prices? You wait in line for a day.

Bullshit like this makes a mockery of the real, very difficult, progress in Iraq. It reminds me of that BS that Baghdad was safer than US cities.

Really idiotic.


It kills me that some will ... (Below threshold)

It kills me that some will try so hard to play down this very important event in Iraq's development. Saddam Hussein's demise is certainly not the whereall or endall to problems in Iraq or the Middle East, but give it its due and quit the "fly to Iraq, by [your]self without security" and "I guess our boys can come home now" sophistry.

There are many sucesses in Iraq and pointing with much fanfare and waving of arms to a lack of success in certain areas does not negate them. It only shows that while you imply that others are not "facing facts", you refuse to admit certain facts yourselves and get your pants in a twist for every success that is mentioned.

Bad news is plastered all over the net, in papers, on the radio and TV. It simply cannot be denied that many things have gone wrong and are still wrong, but if that's your entire focus, you're willfully missing the whole picture.

When something has been so ... (Below threshold)
gr:

When something has been so wrong from the beginning, it's hard to get excited about any little sucesses that may be happening in the mess we have created over there. Many feel the Iraq invasion/occupation was and is a series of blunders followed by mistakes fueled by incompetence. For them,that remains the "whole picture". We are locked into a deadly status quo. Our brave soldiers are too busy staying out of the crossfire between the hostile factions that our "liberation" unleashed that they can do very little else. December has been the costliest month this year for US casualties. That is and should always remain the "whole picture".

Time will tell how important an event Saddam's death will be. A world without such a tyrranical murderer certainly has to be a little better place, but in the scheme of things I don't think it matters much. The irony is that we created Saddam and then destroyed him when he went off the reservation. He was tried (relatively) speedily and hanged on charges of murdering one hundred-something villagers. Is this the best we could do? Why not expose him for the genocidal monster he truly was? My guess is that it had a lot to do with the fact that many of the weapons he used were given to him by the US; kind of a sticky spot for the prosecution. We empowered him to make war with Iran; Rummy shook his hand to seal the deal.

Nothing that has happened with Saddam; capture, trial, etc, could have been accomplished without US aid and approval. We are still calling the shots over there and ol' Saddam just used up all of his get out of jail free cards so BAM!...gone.

Seems to me that those truly in power in this government plan to continue calling the shots in Iraq for as long as they can manage it. Bush's stonewalling in the face of the almost unanimous call for change makes that more and more clear.

Saddam is dead. Good riddance.
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss?

Are all these people from k... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Are all these people from kiddie-land and du and "sock" makers kin to Allen Combs, the offical excuse maker for the left?

Well said, gr. Well said. I... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Well said, gr. Well said. If you or other liberals are interested in saying more, please do.

gr--get yourself a "ditto" ... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

gr--get yourself a "ditto" key like old "pucker puss" (lee lee). Then you will not have to take up so much band space. Just type "ditto" and everyone knows what you are going to say which is the samething over and over.

Was Saddam's hanging cleare... (Below threshold)
grascarp:

Was Saddam's hanging cleared through Cheney's ofice? Let's get our best people working on this answer.




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