Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Sic Semper Tyrannis", Regardless How Sick the Sic

The execution of Saddam has caused the expected complaints from the left along with some unexpected unease amongst the right. As has been well publicized, the complaints and unease center around the taunts and jeers leveled at Saddam by the Shiite members of the execution crew and the speed with which the execution occurred. Even my favorite columnist Mark Steyn is a bit unhappy with the behavior during the execution. While I agree the execution could have been better managed, I don’t agree that there was anything particularly wrong with the execution.

When a people are tyrannized so ruthlessly and for so long, it is difficult for them to contain their rapturous joy at the demise of their former tormentor. This is not a cultural thing but human nature. The handling of Mussolini by an Italian mob is perhaps the most famous such incident. In the off chance you don’t know that he was hung up on a meat hook along with his mistress,
here’s a picture. To further compound the crass spectacle, Mussolini was then posed dead with a scepter. Hitler decided to kill himself after seeing how Mussolini was dealt with to prevent the same from happening to himself. As an example of how regicide was handled in European history, King Louis XVI of France was beheaded in front of a cheering and certainly jeering crowd in 1793. Though Western Europe has been bereft of such executions since 1945 it’s simply because it’s been bereft of tyrannous leaders who deserve it.

The other complaint has focused on the "rushed" execution. Since it’s been 3 years since Saddam was captured this is primarily about the quickness from his conviction and sentencing or from the scheduling of the execution to the actual execution (about 7 weeks and 3 days respectively). Whichever standard is used it is still ages compared with the swiftness that Iraqi leaders
King Faisal II and Col. Qassim were executed (less than a day for both). In recent European history there is the execution of the Ceausescu’s that took place mere days after his overthrow. Unlike Saddam, none of these leaders received a regular trial or any appeals. We also didn't hang Saddam's wife along with him. I'm not quite sure why Europeans and Arabs saw a need to kill the women around the dictator along with the dictator but that is definitely going too far.

Despite the fact that I think Saddam should be considered lucky to have gotten off with only a few insults prior to his execution, it still could have been managed better by us. I agree with Mark Steyn that our inability to comprehend the importance of the execution goes hand in hand with our declining ability to comprehend power politics and the world beyond America and Europe. I thought Saddam should have been executed within months of his capture. His trial should have consisted of no more than a very, very long reading of the names of everyone killed during his reign concluding with his conviction and sentence of death. Instead we had him treated like some common criminal. When it became apparent that this approach was going to be dragged out ad infinitum by Saddam’s American lawyers (how did we allow that one to happen?), they decided to do a rush job and end the problem in a way that left a bad taste in many people’s mouths.

Steyn writes that the execution should have said "Time to move on, says Government of Free Iraq", not "Payback's a bitch, says local enforcer." That’s all well and good, and but for our post-modernist peacenik null-think we could have managed to send a better signal. Nevertheless, I’m satisfied with the region’s despots simply hearing, "Payback's a bitch, says local enforcer."


  1. The strangest thing about all this is that Saddam is the only one to come out of his execution with any credit!
    As a typical anti execution lefty, i would of preffered to see him rot in his prison cell. With hindsight, the US/UK probably wish they had reached the same conclusion as well now.

  2. Saddam has credit amongst lefty anti-execution types yes, but his mere execution guaranteed him of that anyways. What we think isn't important anyways, Saddam was dealt with by Iraqis in their own way.

    But I'm certainly hoping Assad and Ahmadinejad are looking to boost their credibility with the Euro-left. The Iranian people would gladly help them attain it if given the chance.

  3. After the Iraq debacle, there is much sympathy for Iran/Syria/Palestine and not only among the left. The support for Iran crosses political boundaries here as is shown in the regular outbursts warning Blair about even considering military action from all sides, including his own party.
    Polls regularly show that Bush is thought more dangerous than Ahmadinejad this side of the Atlantic.

  4. Thanks as always for the comments (forgot that last time).
    Unfortunately, that says more about the Europeans than it does about Bush or Ahmadinejad. It's similar to the period prior to World War II when Churchill and FDR were considered more dangerous than Hitler. According to the Polish ambassador to the US in June 1939, FDR was going to plunge Europe into war over the Jews as he claimed much of Europe feared. So Europe is again looking for an enemy across the Atlantic and not at the one nearby. As before Europe will learn who the real enemy is eventually. Whether we will be able or willing to save Europe again is another matter. Especially since now even Britain is withdrawing and scaling down her military due to the weight of Gordon Brown's continental style wasteful out of control public spending. Unfortunately, the "US will prevent any major threats" defense theory only works when it isn't the theory being used. In other words, we can only help those who help themselves.

  5. I'm a little unclear as to how FDR threatened to plunge Europe into war over the Jewish question in 1939. The FDR admin.'s policy regarding accepting fleeing European Jews was stringent at best, while public opinion in the Anglo states on both sides of the Atlantic in 1939 was decidedly in favour of Churchill over Chamberlain, as well as tentatively supportive of FDR's bullishness toward American armament.

  6. Thanks for the comment. I was somewhat sloppy in an atempt to keep that comment very short, so I wasn't as clear as I should have been. I don't mean just in 1939 by pre-war. Even so I'm not sure I'd say the British people favored Churchill over Chamberlain in 1939. Churchill said in 1939 he would be on the sidelines in the upcoming war, not exactly somewhere voters put a leader they like. But since I'm referring to pre-war 1939 could be ignored anyways. It was definitely the case in 1940 and wasn't in 1938 (when Chamberlain was receiving delirious ovations for securing "peace for our time").

    The bit about FDR comes from a report by the Polish Ambassador to the US, Count Jerzy Potocki, in January 1939 (not June). It's quoted in JFC Fuller's "A Military History of the Western World: Volume III". Admittedly it is not exactly as I said above. It mainly focused on the Jews pushing Roosevelt to war. Even so, it still applies today with various prominent Europeans blaming Jewish "neocons" and Likudniks for having Bush force war on the world to serve Israel. It would have been more accurate to say that some in Europe are again looking for an enemy in the Jews (which meant the US back then and the US and Israel today) rather than the real enemy.

    I was going to write out Potocki's full report but it turned out to be a tad too long for a comment. It'd probably be better to just do a post comparing European attitudes towards the Jews "driving the American President to war" in 1939 and today (there's plenty of it today, just read David's Medienkritik to see what comes out of Germany in that regard).

    I'm not saying that the Europeans who worried FDR would go to war on orders from the International Jewry or that Churchill was a warmonger were right. They weren't and that had no real reason to believe so, just like today. The main point I was trying to make is that believing such things prior to WWII and believing that Bush is more dangerous than Ahmadinejad today says more about the believer than their object of derision.