Saturday, December 30, 2006

Feel safer now?

The Evil Dictator is gone, his ashes likely scattered over the Iraqi desert. Although Islamic law proscribes anything but burial in the ground, that's an unlikely scenario: why bother if the location has to be too secret to tell even family members? And so ends the quest that prompted the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the deaths of almost 3,000 US troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and the collapse of a sovereign nation into a failed state and hotbed of terrorism.

If the death penalty is acceptable punishment, few are more deserving of it than Saddam. But how much better it would have been if someone had just put a bullet in his head when they found him in that foxhole. Justice would have been as well served by that as it was by the farce of a trial, rush to execution, and ghoulish unhinged cheerleading from the bloodthirsty right. And without making Saddam into a martyr, bringing out the worst in so many people and devaluing us all in the process. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo sums it up:

"Convention dictates that we precede any discussion of this execution with the obligatory nod to Saddam’s treachery, bloodthirsty rule and tyranny. But enough of the cowardly chatter. This thing is a sham, of a piece with the whole corrupt, disastrous sham that the war and occupation have been. …

… This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur — phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It’s a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us. …

… This is what we’re reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there’s nothing else this president can get right."

And because nothing says "freedom on the march" like a state-sanctioned hanging.

Update: Apparently SH was buried after all, in his hometown of Tikrit.