Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam's Execution.

I'm ashamed to confess feeling a little bit sorry for Saddam Hussein whilst I listened to the reports of his imminent execution that were coming in yesterday evening and the early hours of today. Thank goodness the Iraqi courts and government did not share my queasiness though, because it was a brave and correct decision. The benefits of Saddams death seem pretty clear to me:

  • 1) It removes the (surprisingly widely held) fear amoung Shias and Kurds that Saddam might come back. One of the reason for the emergence of Shia militias ethnically cleansing Sunnis is to make sure that they will never again be in the helpless position they were under Saddam, making sure the Sunnis will never rise again as one observer describes it.
  • 2) It makes it clear to Sunni death squads that he is not coming back. If they have less to fight for then they may fight less.
  • 3) The Prime Minister might finally be willing to allow the coalition forces to seriously confront the Sadr death squads in Baghdad. Up until now Maliki has been preventing this but with his prestige enhanced amoung the Shias he might be more willing to risk incurring Moqtada Al Sadr's wrath-
  • 4) Maliki's hatred of the Baath party, whilst justified, has hindered efforts at reconciling the low level Baathists to the new regime. Having humiliated Baathism by executing the former dictator he might well be willing to allow reconciliation to happen.
  • 5) His crimes simply merit death regardless of the utilitarian arguments for and against.
The idea that there will be a fresh wave of violence seems unlikely because anyone who could be inspired to violence by the death of Saddam is likely to already be part of a terrorist insurgent group.

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