Even before I read this piece by John Burns of the New York Times detailing the execution of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, I disapproved of the decision to hang him now. Not because I'm a death penalty opponent, and heaven knows if anyone needed to hang, it was Saddam. My objection was he was being hanged for the murder of just over a hundred Shiites, while his trial for the genocide of Kurds, ruled a genocide by The Hague, where Saddam established Holocaust-style concentration camps, using chemical weapons and sarin to exterminate anywhere between 50,000 and 170,000 Kurds was still underway. (More on the Al-Anfal campaign) A central mission in our criminal justice system is to allow victims to testify against the perpetrators, and justice to be delivered. What did the Iraqis achieve by failing to wait a few more months?
As the NY Times piece indicates, it really was all about the Shiites thirst for revenge. President Bush was generous in turning a blind eye, but the events indicate that the Shiites intended to send a message to Sunnis, hanging Saddam on a holy Sunni day, despite American pleas to avoid escalating the situation. But besides the motives, the Iraqis have made choices they never would have because of American protection. After all, when an inflammation in violence would have to be handled by US troops, it is hard to be overly concerned about not bowing to the thugs in your community. And yet, I wonder why the US bent over quite so easily. Not a single international observer at the hanging ... what an outrage!
And yet, despite my disgust with Maliki and his fellow scum, I do not support an American withdrawal. I think the vengence shown towards Saddam is just a preview of what might happen if American troops leave - masses of Shiites eliminating a Sunni population, and reprisal attacks from the Sunnis. I do think more though of another idea I used to oppose, partition of Iraq into independent ethnic countries.