30 December 2006

On the Execution of Saddam Hussein (BR)

I feel a sort of melancholy. Not out of any sympathy or even pity for the man who experienced one of the most humiliating and public falls in world history.

I am personally opposed to capital punishment in all circumstances, including treason and genocide. Were the decision left to me, I would have spared him, figuring that bestowing upon this beast of a man a measure of mercy he denied his people would send a stronger and more powerful message. I see no benefit to adding one more body to the pile. But I do not mourn Saddam Hussein, and I would forgive any Iraqi or Iranian for rejoicing at news of his demise.

What I'm most struck with is the meaninglessness of the gesture, and the war itself. It is quite frankly just one in a succession of dozens of empty gestures orchestrated by the Bush Administration over the course of the occupation as though they were tangible proof of progress toward a stable and democratic Iraq.

We as a nation are deep in the now-still forms of anywhere from 50,000 to 600,000 innocent Iraqis, and nearly 3,000 of our own servicemen, and the best the United States government can do to get the American and Iraqi people behind the notion that the war is worth fighting is to wave yet another dead body in front of us.

The enemy we're fighting in Iraq today has never had anything to do with Saddam Hussein, and his oppressive style of governance likely inhibited the development of terror cells there before we invaded. We hear now that the United States will dispatch 20,000 more soldiers to Iraq in the new Year. We hear less about how this move has anything to do with a positive strategy to finally establish stability and win the war.

We pray, of course, that this tactic will achieve just those effects, but given the track record of those in command, we can safely doubt it. We will likely just send the insurgents 20,000 more targets to shoot at, and re-assert ourselves as combatants in this senseless civil war.

However you feel about the war, remember this: Saddam Hussein is only the latest casualty in Iraq. Not the last.