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Author Topic: Saddam Execution
EDanaII
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@ Everard:
quote:
Right. Thats the theory behind execution as a deterrent. In practive however, there's no deterrent effect on other members of society.
And, once again, it appears to me that you are selecting facts that justify your conclusions, rather than using them to come to a conclusion.

More to the point, you argue "facts not in evidence" that it is not an effective deterent while ignoring the cost equation I mentioned in my second paragraph.

The fact remains, if the cost is too high, then it's a deterent. And to declare that it isn't a deterent is to ignore that equation. An equation that all rational thinking people use inherently.

Ed.

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Radu Floricica
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quote:
Punishment is not directly about ethics, punishment is about deterents. We don't punish people soley for their crimes, we punish them to persuade OTHERS not to commit those same crimes.
Well, actually it's not only about deterrents, it's also about our sense of justice. You may say it's a good habit.

But in this case I also think it was a mistake. This reminds me vividly of the execution of Ceausescu, also on Chistmas. (I'm Romanian, btw). It took many many years for the ordinary Romanian to sort out what happened at the '89 Revolution, and after almost 20 years few can say that Ceausescu's death was a good thing. At the time there were many excuses, the most wildly circulated (I'm not making this up) was fear that he was controlling a terrorist network. But looking back his death just helped the new regime, mostly of the same political orientation.

Of the way his living could have helped us we can only speculate. But my gut tells me he would have been good protection agains his ex-camarades, now painted revolutionaries. Him alive would have begged the question: If he can't be in politics anymore (and he obviously can't) what's the criteria for those like him who also can't? His death killed the question too.

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Everard
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"And, once again, it appears to me that you are selecting facts that justify your conclusions, rather than using them to come to a conclusion."

It appears to me you are ignoring the facts in order to come to a conclusion.

"More to the point, you argue "facts not in evidence" that it is not an effective deterent while ignoring the cost equation I mentioned in my second paragra"

So? You're arguing facts not in evidence, either, and the original assertion about deterrence is yours, so to me, it seems like you have the initial burden of presenting facts.

"The fact remains, if the cost is too high, then it's a deterent. "

Sure, I'll grant you that the death penalty is a deterrent. But that would be relative to "no punishment." However, relative to "other punishment," I've seen no facts that suggest the death penalty is a deterrent.

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Pete at Home
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"This reminds me vividly of the execution of Ceausescu, also on Chistmas. (I'm Romanian, btw). It took many many years for the ordinary Romanian to sort out what happened at the '89 Revolution, and after almost 20 years few can say that Ceausescu's death was a good thing."

That startles me since I was just about to contrast this execution to Ceaucescu's. There's been an extensive trial here. It's hard to argue that there's not enough evidence here to convict or to condemn. Ceaucesu's trial and execution was something of a rushed job, wasn't it? IIRC the firing squad actually started shooting before they'd fully gotten him into position. I'd compare Ceaucescu's death more to Musolini's death at the hands of a mob, than this trial.

Are you saying that Saddam did not receive due process? Or are you saying that the country didn't receive due process? The latter argument I could sympathize with.

I thought that Romania's current problems had more to do with Illiescu than with his predecessor? Please feel free to educate me, and to start your own thread if necessary. I've never had the opportunity to hear this story from a Romanian.

[ December 30, 2006, 05:15 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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moodi
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quote:

I don't think one has to wonder. Who said that we were promoting justice and deterrence during the Reagan years?

During WWII we helped the Communists in order to fight the Nazis, and during Reagan's time we helped the dictators to fight the Communists. You might call that swallowing the spider to catch the fly, but the scale is arguable.

Supporting the lesser evil against the worst one can be justified, but doing so by handing out chemical weapons is another story.

Just to make it clear, we still support dictators in the Middle East who are not necessarily doing the fighting for us.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by moodi:
quote:

I don't think one has to wonder. Who said that we were promoting justice and deterrence during the Reagan years?

During WWII we helped the Communists in order to fight the Nazis, and during Reagan's time we helped the dictators to fight the Communists. You might call that swallowing the spider to catch the fly, but the scale is arguable.

Supporting the lesser evil against the worst one can be justified, but doing so by handing out chemical weapons is another story.
I'm not even sure I'd go so far as to say that the basic support was justified. God will judge.


quote:
Just to make it clear, we still support dictators in the Middle East who are not necessarily doing the fighting for us.
Correct.

You might think of it as Maslow's hierarchy of needs, except that no one's sure what parts should go on the bottom and which parts should go on top. Justice is something we mete out in our spare time, when our survival needs are taken care of.

Please note that's my description of our behavior and NOT a moral justification. And maybe I'm wrong about the description.

[ December 30, 2006, 05:26 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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In defense of the USA, when we feel safe, we're generally pretty good world citizens. We behaved like fools in WWI and like terrorists in WWII, but after that war, we dealt generously with Europe and Japan. I'm not sure there's any historical precedent for that scale of generosity. I'm not suggesting that the good we do makes up for the evil that we do. God will judge. I'm just saying that it's in the whole world's best interest that the US remain safe.

[ December 30, 2006, 05:30 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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EDanaII
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@ Everard:

I did provide a fact, Ev. That so called "cost equation." You keep brushing it aside. [Smile]

The argument, however, that "the death penalty is no more effective than its alternative" is an opinion with little evidence to support it. And, since it's near to impossible to come up with any such evidence, it will remain opinion.

The cost equation, however, is a simple economic fact: if the price is too high, then people will not pay it. If the penalty for murder is death, then less people will choose that price over life in prison. And, while I cannot prove my position with statistics any more than you can prove yours, I can use the cost equation to infer, rather strongly, the validity of my argument.

In other words, we're both hypothesising, but my hypothesis is based on an established fact: a simple economic principle. Yours appears to be based on an idealistic principle: thou shalt not kill, not ever.

Ed.

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Eric
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I guess it was inevitable that Saddam's execution would result in a debate on the death penalty in general. But I don't think it makes much sense to debate his execution in the context of the death penalty handed out to an every day murderer.

I happen to be one of those who believe the death penalty is a detterrent, if for no other reason than if the guy's dead, there's a guarantee he won't kill anyone else.

But I don't think that deterrent effect really comes into play with genocidal heads of state. How many of them throughout history really thought they'd ever lose a war to an invading power (or to internal revolution) and have to stand trial for their crimes?

In instances like this I think the execution is more valuable as a symbolic gesture than anything else.

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TCB
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Daruma hit the nail on the head. Hundreds of people have been executed in Iraq each year for decades. Iraq's neighbors execute people for minor things like sodomy or dealing drugs. Capital punishment is an accepted public institution in Iraq.

In the cultural context of the Middle East anything other than the death penalty would have meant Saddam Hussein was treated lightly compared to common criminals -- that's not justice in a democracy.

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Pete at Home
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"I happen to be one of those who believe the death penalty is a detterrent, if for no other reason than if the guy's dead, there's a guarantee he won't kill anyone else."

That's not deterrence; that's recidivism.


"But I don't think that deterrent effect really comes into play with genocidal heads of state."

On the contrary, if the UN started trying genocidal heads of state in absentia and then putting contracts on their heads, that would have a VERY strong deterrent effect on heads of state.

I'd never support such a proposal, because just for starters, it's immoral, flouts the rule of law, and because the UN is so corrupt that it would constantly adjust the definition of genocide for fun and profit. But it WOULD have a deterrent effect on genocide. You're safer to say that at present we can't think of a cost-efficient and effective means of deterring genocide.

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Jesse
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As I understand it, the tape of the entire execution was made public. Talk about stupidly creating a martyr.

The man was OLD. At the worst, he would have spent another ten years being tried before dying on his own. Wasn't there anything to be gained by continuing to try him for his other atrocities and convicting the others involved?

Weren't his crimes of Agressive War against Iran and Kuwiat greater than his murder of a couple hundred men and boys?

Would it have been a mistake to turn him over to an International Court for his crimes against humanity with an Iraqi death sentence already on his head, and allow him to be convicted again by a court the "international community" would consider more impartial?

By executing him, and considering the matter "closed", we're probably letting several thousand other monsters off the hook.

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Pete at Home
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"Would it have been a mistake to turn him over to an International Court for his crimes against humanity with an Iraqi death sentence already on his head, and allow him to be convicted again by a court the "international community" would consider more impartial?"

YES!

That would have been a terrible mistake. That would have proved to the Iraqi people that their government was irredeemably a puppet government of outside forces. You're completely ignoring the issue of sovereignty, and that's possibly the most important question here.

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WeAreAllJust LooseChange
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Death! DEATH to the unbeliever!!!
That guy was SOOO BAD! He ate babies alive! He was killing them in their beds in hospitals in Kuwait!
He was the monster we all feared! He was so powerful too! Had a huge army so faithful to him and thousands of WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (...read grenades, who can be bought on the market for a set of speakers - as per recent interpretations of the WMD term...)
Oh, but he is not alone - we should get Iran now! And then Syria! And then maybe Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan or whatever other "stan" country there is to lie on the path for laying oil pipe lines. We will always bring "freedom and democracy" (as if such things have ever EVER been brought by force)
But Wait - Venezuela should be before that!
Hugo Chavez is even now gathering a massive force of TERRORISTS trying to topple the US government!!! All armored with the latest weapons out there (read - AK 47s...).
Saddam WAS probably the big monster he is described as...
But there are always 2 sides of a coin...
Who will be the speaker for the dead for him?
Saddam:
-------
1) Killed innocent civilians 1000 - 10 000, 50 000 I don't know. Even 1 is too many.
2) Had weapons of mass destruction and was willing to use them (not proved by findings for THIS gulf war);
3) Had no serious link to Al Queda, that was shown to us;
4) Supported his family, friends, party;
5) Supported his country, even though his methods, etc. were not approved by the majority of the population;
6) Enriched himself tremendously, because of his position. Money mostly gone when he was captured.
Compare with other leaders in the world:
Bush (junior):
--------------
1) Killed innocent civilians 100 000 - 200 000, 600 000 I don't know. Even 1 is too many.
2) HAS weapons of mass destruction and is willing to use them;
3) Has a link with the Bin Laden Family, who ARE after all a big investor in the US, of which Osama Bin Ladden IS part of;
4) Supports his family, friends, party;
5) Supports his country, even though his methods, etc. were not approved by the majority of the population;
6) Enriched himself tremendously, because of his position. Money mostly will stay in the family, if he is impeached;

I can never in my ugliest dreams imagine any reason to go to war with another country. UNLESS they really attack us. Then I'd fight - after receiving a REAL proof, that this country was indeed involved. I've been in the army and I DO support the troops. I wish them ALL the luck they need - to stay alive, out of harms way and not to go crazy in this situation.

The WTC attacks were NOT Pearl Harbor.
If they are considered as such - we should've bombed Saudi Arabia into the stone age - because 15 of the hijackers were Saudi's and there are quite some financing from there as well. As indirect as it may have been.
Not like Afghanistan. And certainly not like Iraq.
Not because a bunch of disgruntled people from different countries found a way to inflict big damage on your territory. Because the ONLY protection from such thing - is to have LESS disgruntled people in the world, at least - not as furious, so they are ready to go on a suicide for this!
You don't "FIX" this by killing more civilians, even if you are sorry about this.
You don't "FIX" this - by labeling every criminal or potential criminal - a terrorist, torturing or "torturing" for the biggest goal of them all - IMPOSING NATIONAL SECURITY, pardon - WORLD SECURITY from TERRORIST.
You can't beat terrorism. You can persecute it as much as you want - but you can't beat it. Every one of your citizens is a potential terrorist.
Isn't it terrorism to go in a gas station and rob it at the point of the gun? And blow it to cover evidence?
Or isn't it terrorism to go in a bank and rob it? Have couple of hostages and kill one of them, so the police know you are serious?
Or go in a shopping mall and try to blow it?
Or just because in some of the cases you have FINANCIAL benefit - it's different.
So what are mercenaries then? a bunch of terrorist who are not under cover?

DEFINE THIS DARNED TERRORISM THING FOR PETE'S SAKE !!!!
It ALL inflicts terror on the masses - one way or the other - depending on the media presentation of it.

------------
Hypocrisy at its greatest - from the Land of Hypocrica

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RickyB
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"That would have proved to the Iraqi people that their government was irredeemably a puppet government of outside forces."

guffaw.

Jesse, considering what a farce the first trial was, I can see no benefit in continuing to try him.

[ December 31, 2006, 02:21 AM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Jesse
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Would it, Pete, or would it have proven that he really was guilty?

I don't think we saw it as spitting on German sovereignty when Nazi's were tried by international courts, or even when Israel nabbed and tried those who had escaped.

There are still hundreds if not thousands of Baathists that deserve to be tried for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. Doesn't putting all the focus on Saddam serve to make their posecution less likely, and doesn't establishing the precedent of only trying Saddam in Iraq make it more likely that their trials (if they happen) will be potentially corrupted by whatever is going on internally in Iraq?

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Pete at Home
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Who is questioning that he is really guilty?

What evidence in this last trial is really in question, Jesse?

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Pete at Home
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Under present circumstances, witnesses that collaborate with a foreign-run trial system would probably be targeted as traitors, to a much greater extent than those that work with the Iraqi court system.
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Jesse
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I have no doubt that more than a few Baathist will argue that it was all a set up job, Pete, and that the Court was a mere American puppet.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Jesse:
I have no doubt that more than a few Baathist will argue that it was all a set up job, Pete, and that the Court was a mere American puppet.

And you think that these Baathists would be persuaded if an ICC tribunal condemned Saddam to death?

Or do you admit that the international "objective" nature of the ICC has no positive consequence here, and that the death penalty is the only issue of substance that your proposal puts on the table?

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Daruma28:
Keeping him imprisoned for life would just keep his supporters going perpetually with even the slimmest of hopes that he may gain power again someday ...

Whether you agree with execution or not, this is the biggest point to be made in executing Saddam. This could be a big nail in the coffin of the "insurgency" in Iraq. That Saddam would somehow regain power is not as far fetched as it sounds - he came to power after he led a botched assassination attempt and fled the country. He pulled the rabbit out of his ass once before, he could do it again would be the belief of Saddam and Baathist loyalists. Now there can be no doubt that Saddam will never come to power again, his reign is well and truly over.
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Jesse
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Pete, I don't feel the least bit of "moral outrage" that Saddam was executed. I wish I did. I really, really do. I just can't fake it.

I wouldn't be able to work up a sense of injustice on his behalf if he was sentenced to have his various orafices explored with oddly shaped fruits and vegtables by rabid babboons.


It's possible, however, that having been found guilty by the ICC *and* an Iraqi court would undercut any future appologist arguments and help to prevent him from becoming Baathist martyr, killed by those evil Shiaa and their American allies.

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Pete at Home
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I'm not accusing you of sympathy for Sadaam or outrage at his death, Jesse.

I'm conceding that an ICC trial would have initially resulted in slightly less Baathist rage, but only because the ICC would not allow Saddam to be put to death. The internationalization of the issue would not have mollified any Iraqis.

In the long run, an ICC prosecution would have resulted in MORE Baathist rage, because the ICC would have investigated and prosecuted a much larger number of Baathists accused of crimes, and given the nature of sunni-shiite hatred, it is inevitable that the Baathists would perceive some of the persons accused to be framed and totally innocent, with malicious shiite accusers, etc. In the current conflict, a protracted investigation would have enflamed the war.

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Pete at Home
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Like I said to Moodi, justice is not the only legitimate issue at stake. Ending the feunding and the killings may be more important than dragging every killer out into the sun.

[ December 31, 2006, 01:07 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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DaveS
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quote:
In the long run, an ICC prosecution would have resulted in MORE Baathist rage
We'll never know what such a court would have uncovered. What we do know is that Hussein was tried by those he oppressed under the overarching protection of the US military occupation forces (e.g., the US held Saddam in custody these past 3 years) and he was not tried at all for most of his crimes. It means that partisans on all sides, as well as observers, can draw their own conclusions about what was addressed and what it all means. And as we see here on Ornery from time time, incompleteness invites conspiracy theories. Two such areas will be what happened to his $$billions and the ultimate fate of the mythical WMDs.
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Jesse
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It depends, Pete, on whether the goal is a stable Iraq in the long term.

I think laying the responsibility on Saddam for the suffering he caused his entire country by waging Agressive War twice in a decade would have had merit, as would prosecuting him for some of the heinous acts he comitted against his fellow Sunnis.

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Pete at Home
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OK, enough musing; this article's pushed me over the edge: Killing Saddam was the right thing, period:

http://www.stephenbainbridge.com/2006/12/hanging_saddam.html

quote:
First, "the world" did nothing to remove Saddam from power. The US and UK did more or less on their own, along with a fig leaf coalition. If Saddam were to escape, presumably it would be the US and UK that would have to prevent his return to power. Suppose Saddam did not escape until the US and UK have withdrawn from Iraq, however. Is it likely they would invade Iraq again to prevent Saddam from returning to power, especially given the political trends in both the US and UK? As for "the world," is it likely France, Germany, or any of our other allies who sat out Gulf War II would participate in a Gulf War III?

Second, is it realistic that Saddam might escape? In December 2006, an ex-Iraqi minister, Ayham al Samaraie, "who had escaped once before after being convicted in October," escaped from "a police station just outside the heavily fortified Green Zone where the dual U.S.-Iraqi citizen was being held on corruption charges." (Link) In February 2006, 23 al Qaeda operative broke out of a maximum security prison in Yemen. (Link) In November 2005, four top as Qaeda operatives broke out of US custody in "one of the most heavily fortified military prisons in the world" at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. (Link)

Most pertinently, Saddam's own nephew, who was serving "a life sentence for financing insurgents and possessing bombs escaped from prison ... in northern Iraq." (Link)

Given the unsettled nature of Iraq's government, the apparently rampant corruption, the likelihood of additional chaos should the US and UK pull out, the persistence of Saddam loyalists, I believe reasonable minds could conclude that the risk of a return by Saddam to power was non-negligible and thus justified his execution in the name of ensuring the safety of Iraqi society.

As for the Europeans holding him, let's not even go there. Remember how the Germans let the Munich Olympic murderers of Black September go, to save their hostages? Never again.
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Pete at Home
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The way it was carried out sounds very problematic. Almost designed to make him a martyr and inflame sunni-shiite fighting.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6221751.stm

Beats me how people are seeing the US behind this while the killers (I can't call the yelling ones executioners) are yelling Al Sadr's name in Saddam's face. Do they think Al Sadr is a US puppet?

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Jesse
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The real battle hasn't been with "Saddam Loyalists" for two years now. It's been with Baathists and Sunnis fearing genocide.

Why hasn't there been any attempt to free him? Has even one hostage taker demanded Saadams release? No one wanted him back.

I'm not saying he shouldn't have been killed. I'm saying that the last two years shouldn't have been wasted on one of his lesser crimes, that if two years could have been wasted on that nonsense killing him must not have been so urgent as to require that he not be tried for his more grevious crimes.

It was also a massive mistake to let him go to the gallows on video with his game face on, and to allow the image of him dying bravely in the face of mocking cowards be the last image presented to the public.


What even ticked off the Kurds about the timing...

quote:
This year Shias regarded last Sunday as the start of Eid, so there was no problem for them about executing Saddam the previous day: Saturday 30 December. That was when the world's Sunnis began celebrating Eid.
BBC

Iraqi Law prohibits executions on holy days. The Shiaa basically decided to interpert the law to mean "Our Holy Days". It's a slap in the face and a statement about who is in charge, and it doesn't just insult Arab Sunnis, but Kurds too.

[ January 13, 2007, 08:57 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Jesse:
The real battle hasn't been with "Saddam Loyalists" for two years now. It's been with Baathists and Sunnis fearing genocide.

Yes, but seeing any Sunni being put to death with Shiite prayers was a manifest insult to the Sunni.


quote:
I'm not saying he shouldn't have been killed. I'm saying that the last two years shouldn't have been wasted on one of his lesser crimes, that if two years could have been wasted on that nonsense killing him must not have been so urgent as to require that he not be tried for his more grevious crimes.
As I understand, they chose a capital crime that had the most witnesses and was easiest to prove.


quote:
It was also a massive mistake to let him go to the gallows on video with his game face on, and to allow the image of him dying bravely in the face of mocking cowards be the last image presented to the public.
Was it? If we knew what they were after, it would be easier to tell whether what they did was a mistake. If the shia in charge of carrying out the execution were in league with Iran, then these actions to stir up the Sunnis would make perfect sense. Wear the Americans out by fomenting civil war in Iraq, until certain leaders orchestrate a repeat of our pullout in Vietnam. Then we're off Iran's doorstep.
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Jesse
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I think you're right in that the goal may have been to maintain Sunni hostility, but I think it was not so much for Irans benefit.

The timing here is very important. It was a statement about who is in charge, and what the new order in Iraq will be, whether or not the US pulls out any time soon.

We all know that if a people, in this case Sunni Arabs, spend enough time loudly and visibly destroying infrastructure and murdering civilians in flashy ways, there is far less international outcry about engaging in a policy of ethnic cleansing against them.

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DaveS
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quote:
Beats me how people are seeing the US behind this while the killers...
The NY Times had a long article last Sunday about the process spanning the last few days before the execution. They make it clear that the US Administration strenuously opposed the handling, but were outmaneuvered by Maliki.
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Jesse
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Just to make this clear...

I don't see the US behind the date or the idiotic mocking.

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Pete at Home
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Agreed the US is not behind the mocking and I have a hard time believing that anyone *sincerely* believes that.

But Jesse, this Maliki's obviously not an idiot. He's got to know that the Shiites can't hold down the Kurds and the Sunnis, except as a part of a larger Shiite empire.

IIRC, Iraq and Iran are both colonial names. Do you really think that the Shia of Iraq and Iran care more for their European-gifted names and categories than for what they share in common?

[ January 14, 2007, 03:31 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Jesse
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Al-Iraq isn't a colonial name, Pete. It's the grafting on of Kurdistan and Al-Anbar (truley as much Greater Syria as anything) that's the colonial creation.

The Sunni Arabs are just a burden and hated enemy as far as most of the Shiaa are concerned. They've got no oil, they've got essentially no water, they've got no farm land.

Al-Iraq is something that can easily be seen as a nation seperate from Iran historically. Shared religion alone doesn't make them one people.

Persia was the name given by Europeans, Iran not so much. It has some historical validity, which is why the Revolution didn't toss it.

I've been convinced over the last three years that Partition is the only way out of this mess, and that it will result in an Al-Iraq friendly to Iran for now, a Kurdistan willing to do business with Iran, Syria, and the West, and an impoverished wasteland in Al-Anbar.

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DaveS
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Jesse, I agree with that solution, messy and violent as it will be. As others who are reluctant to go along with that, Iraq is hardly a country with hardly a government and seemingly no great will to be anything like what Bush wishes for it.
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Pete at Home
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Jesse, not sure I'd call the Turkish empire less colonial than the Europeans. The Pakistanis may wish for those good old days back, and the fanatics may pretend so because they want to choose the next grand Califf, but ... I don't think they want old Turkish names, do they?
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DaveS
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quote:
As others who are reluctant to go along with that,
I broke a rule by posting immediately after watching "24". What I meant to write was something like:
quote:
As [even] others who are reluctant to go along with that [will acknowledge], Iraq is hardly a country with hardly a government and seemingly no great will to be anything like what Bush wishes for it.

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Jesse
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"Iraq" means, literally, "two viens" in Arabic.

It's not Turkish. I'm not sure when it was first applied.

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