Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pour encourager les autres

Austin Bay argues that precedent is the key concept to connect with Saddam's exection.

The Strong Man expects to die in one of two ways — with a nine millimeter ballot (ie, assassination) — or old age. That has certainly been the case in the Middle East. A public, legal trial followed by court-sentenced execution? That isn’t going to happen unless…unless a democracy replaces a tyranny. This is astonishing news — history altering news. For centuries the terrible yin-yang of tyrant and terrorist has trapped the Middle East. In 2003 the US-led coalition began the difficult but worthy effort of breaking that tyrant’s and terrorist’s trap, and offering another choice in the politically dysfunctional Arab Muslim Middle East.

Saddam’s demise serves as object lesson and example. In late 2003 every Middle Eastern autocrat saw the haggard Saddam pulled from the hole; now they’ve seen him hung. The larger message: To avoid Saddams fate means political liberalization. The message extends beyond the Arab Muslim Middle East. Iran’s mullahs see it. At some reptilian level, destructive despots like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe also understand it.

Austin Bay's hope that some good may come of Saddam's life, with its Crimes discouraged by Punishment is an interesting contrast to those who may have secretly hoped for rioting or widespread Iraqi indifference to prove their moral superiority in regards to the abolition of capital punishment, or the illegtimacy of crossing international boundaries to topple a dictator. Nothing would be more discouraging to some than to actually observe a real, if temporary, moderation of despotism from the the example of Saddam's execution. The great fear that swept through the liberal intellectual establishment on the night US forces first entered Baghdad was that some good would come from it: that the tribes in Iraq might actually turn to democracy and live in peace. How terrible it would be, from a certain point of view, if Austin Bay turned out to be right.

But if history is any guide the consequences of an act will be determined only partly by their intent; the explanation of the deed and the subsequent management of its effects will largely determine whether Good can be salvaged from Evil. What happened after the end of the Second World War may have been as important as events in its duration. Saddam is dead. Whether his demise becomes a force for peace or death is largely up to the living.


Blogger RWE said...

Well said! My thoughts tend the same way.

Saddam’s conviction and execution is more evidence that the real name for the War on Terror is The War to Make Them More Like Us – and that description is the same for both sides.

There were many dimensions to the attacks of 9/11/01 but they were mostly designed to make the USA more like Afghanistan – the place where Bin Laden and his ilk reigned supreme. They could not build as we have – and in Afghanistan they did not even try –but by striking down some of our greatest buildings they could make the USA more like Afghanistan, a place where people cowered in fear.

Our response was to see their hand and raise them, not a few buildings but whole countries – and we would be true to our nature and build rather than destroy.

Saddam’s trial was another example of that. The normal way of execution in the societies of the Middle East is three bullets in the back of the head. Instead, we guided the Iraqis through precise procedures, even televised, and at times it looked like the OJ trial, with the defendant and his lawyers seizing control of the courtroom. But despite all the attempts to transform it into something more brutal, with threats and attacks on the legal types on both sides, in the end the American process prevailed. In a final delicious touch, the court issued the same execution order document that Saddam’s government had invented, just to make sure that it was all done right and proper.

I will admit there would be a certain satisfaction in having captured Saddam and shipped him to Crawford, Texas, to be guest of honor at a necktie party at the Bush Spread - preferably with a old-fashioned Bar-B Que as Toby Keith and Willy Nelson sang “Beer for their Horses” – but we don’t do that kind of thing any more.

You may think that OIF has been an incredible triumph or an abject failure, but you cannot deny that in terms of The War to Make Them More like Us we are winning, hands down and no contest.

Besides, when we get Bin Laden we can still hold the Texas necktie party.

12/30/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...preferably with a old-fashioned Bar-B Que as Toby Keith and Willy Nelson sang “Beer for their Horses” – but we don’t do that kind of thing any more.

I'm looking forward to a return to those days of yore after the next terrorist attack on US soil. I'm just not sure if we'll start by stringing up Democrats or Muslims first. Or the staff of the NYTimes would probably encompass both.

12/30/2006 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

I think the reason Hussein was kept alive was so he could be interrogated.

12/30/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Now that would be a youtube video - Saddam being water-boarded.

12/30/2006 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Anyone here ever read "The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H."


Some young NAZI hunters find an old man in the Amazon and the world comes unglued trying to get to them.

The hunters decide to put AH on trial themselves.

They let AH take the stand to testify.

The problem with the book is that the author saw AH as being like us.

He wasn't and neither was Saddam.

Neither man had any remorse.

Look at Saddam's last words. Defiant and self-centered to the end.

12/30/2006 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Pi** on Saddam. Better yet, have your pet pig do it.

12/30/2006 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent article.

The tyrants of the Midle East are on notice! THUS ALWAYS TO TYRANTS!

Rejoice Little People: Saddam is ABSOLUTELY dead

12/31/2006 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Sounds like the Sunni resistance will kill hundreds of Shiite hostages since Saddam was killed.

I don't know why the Shiites put up with this. Sometimes they ethnic cleanse Sunni civilians in Baghdad, but I don't understand why the Shiites just don't march on Anbar.

The families of hundreds of Shi'ite men snatched off the streets by Sunni extremists are waiting to hear their fate after kidnappers threatened to kill them if the execution of Saddam Hussein went ahead.
As many as 450 men are thought to have been seized by Sunni militants during the past two months as hostages against the execution.
Iraqi security forces said the families of the men, most of whom worked for Shi'ite political parties, had been told they would be killed if Saddam was executed...

He did not hold out any hope because his brother worked for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the main Shi'ite party in Iraq.
"One day after his kidnapping a gang rang and told me, 'Your brother was working with the SCIRI party and he is now held as a hostage with us and all of them will be executed if Saddam is killed,' " he said. "Anyway, he will be killed. If that is so, I prefer to kill Saddam Hussein because I have lost my brother. He is dead, because he is working for the SCIRI party."


12/31/2006 10:39:00 AM  

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