Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Hanging

Early last Friday evening, local time, a former head of state was hanged in Iraq. Although the hanging was initially a relatively private affair – with only a few attending – a video soon became available via the Internet.

The former head of state, Saddam Hussein, was unquestionably a despotic dictator. If one accepts the ancient concept of an eye for an eye, the man should have been killed several times over.

I personally oppose the death penalty, but that is a side issue.

So many elements of the execution seem profoundly wrong, or at least unusual, that it's hard to know where to begin. The first element that occurs to me is the fact that the execution occurred during a trial for a second offense. This seems highly irregular, at best.

The method of execution is also disturbing. Most American states view hanging as "cruel and unusual punishment", and opt for lethal injection or the electric chair. It may seem inappropriate to impose American sensibilities on Iraq, but I think it safe to assume many in our country assumed American values and sensibilities would be exported to Iraq along with American-style democracy.

The fact the trial took place in Iraq in the first place is also a curiousity. Past leaders who committed "crimes against humanity" have been tried on the world stage, in a court recognized by a majority of the world; for example, the Hague.

Performing this execution against the advice of the U.S. may make the Iraqi leaders appear independent, but it's difficult for me to recognize the Iraq government as anything but a puppet regime. An election held under the auspices of an occupying force is suspect, at best.

And how has the so-called government served its people? Has it built roads? Restored power? Provided reliable security? Without providing these and other basic needs, it's hard to recognize the current regime as legitimate.

The timing of the execution around a disputed Muslim holy day is also curious. Saturday, Iraqi time, was the day Sunni observed Eid al-Adha; Shia observe the day on Sunday. The Shia form the current majority in the current Iraq regime; therefore, performing the execution the morning before the holy day was not contrary to their understanding Islamic law. But performing the execution on the day Sunni consider holy might well be considered insulting by that "demonination".

While the B*sh White House may be only indirectly responsible for the execution, it seems one more mis-step in a policy that began which the epiq mis-step of invasion and has never recovered.

No comments: