Pharyngula

What has been accomplished?

Saddam Hussein has been killed.

He was a venal little monster, but I don’t see that we’ve gained anything by stooping to the level of a third-world thug, and the unseemly haste with which an irreversible act was committed makes it even more sordid and sleazy.

He said that celebrations broke out after Hussein was dead, and that there was “dancing around the body.”

Barbarians.

Comments

  1. #1 dr. dave
    December 30, 2006

    I’m sure the Ewoks were dancing in the trees as well…

  2. #2 DavidByron
    December 30, 2006

    Why do you Americans always seem to hedge your apologies as it were? Now why did you say that your country was “stooping to the level of a third-world thug”? These third world thugs are “your” employees as it were. The truth is that they are the ones who stoop to “your” level.

    Saddam was killed in part because in recent years he had begun to refuse to stoop to “your” level.

    Nevertheless I disagree with your implied sentiment when you use the word “we” up there. You are not the US governemnt. Your beliefs are not their beliefs not is their action representative of your principles or desires. That is clear from what you just said.

  3. #3 MYOB
    December 30, 2006

    “Barbarians.”

    I couldn’t agree more.
    I know far too many muslims and arabs to think the instinct to have this kind of reaction isn’t ingrained in the culture almost at the cellular level. It’s only a hypothesis and nothing more, based loosely on the way muslim cultures seem to have no ability to contemplate such important matters as life and death with the same level of reverence as western cultures. Sure this guy deserved to die. But how many of these people truly considered what it means for his death other than to their immediate gratification.

    MYOB’
    .

  4. #4 khan
    December 30, 2006

    He had to be killed quickly, so as not to be asked any uncomfortable questions related to US involvement in his atrocities.

  5. #5 MYOB
    December 30, 2006

    What the heck are you talking about scott?

  6. #6 Zbu
    December 30, 2006

    One can’t help but wonder if this is Bush’s way to get out of Iraq. “See, the monster is now gone, now we can go about letting the Iraqi people go about sorting their differences and getting back to be one whole solid country that will keep giving us oil! What could possibly go wrong now??”

    It was just better to keep Saddam in prison.

  7. #7 DavidByron
    December 30, 2006

    Hmm. I had assumed that PZ wasn’t being racist against Iraqis in his “barbarians” comment. That would be illogical since this so-called trial and execution is a wholly American affair. I assumed he meant Americans in his “barbarians” comment since it is Americans who have done all this and it was in the context of a “mea culpa” of sorts.

    Without a link or reference to the quote it is hard to say.

    However you should know that most Iraqis probably see this in political terms as the American occupation rubbing their dominance and enslaveemnt of Iraq in the noses of the subjected. For example look at how mild mannered Riverbend has essentially come out for Saddam Hussein recently. It is now a question of nationalism.

    As Riverbend recorded there were protests against the verdict but they were attacked by the US forces and the TV stations covering the protests were shut down. Clearly the US state media is very concerned to give a certain impression about these events and staging another “dancing in the streets” moment similar to the fabricated “Saddam statue toppling” moment, would be about their usual, although I imagine if you go looking for a certain reaction hard enough and encourage it, you’d be able to find it “naturally” and then magnify that incident and expose it to make it seem representative.

    I know far too many muslims and arabs to think the instinct to have this kind of reaction isn’t ingrained in the culture almost at the cellular level. It’s only a hypothesis and nothing more, based loosely on the way muslim cultures seem to have no ability to contemplate such important matters as life and death

    Are you American? America is commiting genocide in Iraq. America has killed millions there just as it has killed millions in many other countries. Objectively it is American culture that shrugs at megamurder.

  8. #8 PZ Myers
    December 30, 2006

    I am not condemning Iraqis. This was an American operation with American endorsement.

    And, as an American, this is a personal stain on me. I live in a nominally democratic nation, and all of our actions devolve in their responsibility to all of the people, including me. I accept responsibility for those actions even as I deplore them, and I will fight against them.

  9. #9 Skeptyk
    December 30, 2006

    How did this dumb idea perpetuate that killing a killer is needed before – and as part of – the “healing” of the grieving survivors? What a vile notion.

  10. #10 DavidByron
    December 30, 2006

    But PZ, it’s only nominally democratic. So was Iraq under Saddam Hussein btw. However even if we suppose that the US was wholly democratic that would only mean that your views would have been considered in the process (whereas in reality they were not even in the slightest).

    This is an illogical reaction you have here. If you had two friends and you were walking along and suddenly your two friends decided to attack someone — would you feel it was your fault simply because you had tried, and failed, to stop them?

    And if you do insist that you share the guilt of the actions of the US government then what are you going to do about it? Logically you must disassociate yourself from such company before they involve you in yet another killing, as you know for a certainty will happen shortly. In fact it is happening continuously.

    It seems to me however that rather than moving to Canada, which is what you ought to do if what you claim is correct and you are essentially a co-conspirator to this man’s murder as a result of simply being a US citizen, rather than that it would be better if you stayed in the US because you’d be able to do more there. You seem to equate guilt with action. Why is that? True it’s good for you to try and stop Bush, but it would be no less true if you were Canadian or British or whatever. You don’t have to think you are a bad guy to stop bad guys. in fact it’s counterproductive to do so.

  11. #11 Crosius
    December 30, 2006

    Skeptyk – I think it’s based on the idea of rushing the villain off to his celestial judgment before he can repent of his crimes.

    I’ve met lots of theists who talk about killers deserving death, as if it’s an experience the killer can remember and process in some way. I assume they imagine the killer gets shuffled off to hell.

    Of course, execution is really just switching the person off permanently, so there’s no ‘message’ conveyed to the killer – only to the audience. What is important to determine is what the intended message to US citizens, to the Iraqi people, and to the world in general is supposed to be.

  12. #12 Daniel DiRito
    December 30, 2006

    See a sarcastic visual of George Bush playing a round of “Hangman”…here:

    http://www.thoughttheater.com

  13. #13 K. Engels
    December 30, 2006

    This video sums up the whole situation far to well in my opinion.

    http://www.ericblumrich.com/thanks.html

  14. #14 lo
    December 30, 2006

    great quote…from Olbermann:
    “…and what is the suppression of freedom and knowledge if not barbarism!”

    But Bush still believes his policies work.

  15. #15 donna
    December 30, 2006

    What was accomplished was the avoidance of the full story on the American complicity in the massacre of the Kurds…..

    they didn’t want the other trial to go forward.

  16. #16 Hank Fox
    December 30, 2006

    Wikipedia has a picture of Saddam with a noose being placed around his neck, and a long list of reactions from world leaders at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Execution_of_Saddam_Hussein

    Most of the reactions seem to be negative.

  17. #17 Zeno
    December 30, 2006

    In the clumsy calculus of force of arms, it’s difficult to make the case that Iraq is better off today without Saddam than it was when he was still in power. Are they free now? Well, sort of. They did have some elections, and that was good, but the semblance of democracy is awash in the sectarian violence of a civil war and hardly anyone believes that the current government is anything other than a client state of the Bush administration. And the death toll is staggering; people may quibble about the details of the Lancet study, but its conclusion seems unescapable: the country is hemorrhaging.

    Now we’ve participated in the execution of the deposed tyrant, having squandered the aftermath of his ouster by turning his nation into a festering pit. A pyrrhic victory.

  18. #18 SEF
    December 30, 2006

    the unseemly haste with which an irreversible act was committed makes it even more sordid and sleazy.

    The news reports I saw/heard said that that was itself part of Iraqi law though, just as the nature of the sentence is. I doubt the invading forces of the US and UK etc were really in a position to change Iraqi law significantly, even were enough of the US inclined to agree with the UK position on the death penalty. Attempting to force that issue would probably cause even more trouble). If the Iraqis want a different sort of law, one which we regard as more just and fair, then they will have to decide and work for that themselves.

  19. #19 Graculus
    December 30, 2006

    How do you justify state sanctioned murder?

    By any standard Saddam was a lousy, nasty human being. Do we get to kill off all the lousy, nasty human beings?
    I’ve got a list.

  20. #20 K. Engels
    December 30, 2006

    I doubt the invading forces of the US and UK etc were really in a position to change Iraqi law significantly…

    The US did change Iraqi law significantly when it came to granting western business access rights to formerly nationalized industries.

  21. #21 llewelly
    December 30, 2006

    Now that the Bogey Man is dead, can we please dispense with the airport security theater?

  22. #22 Irving Washington
    December 30, 2006

    Justice

  23. #23 Phil
    December 30, 2006

    It’s only a hypothesis and nothing more, based loosely on the way muslim cultures seem to have no ability to contemplate such important matters as life and death with the same level of reverence as western cultures.

    This is, as is commonly said, not even wrong. It’s just . . . I don’t know what it is. If you think Western cultures generally, and American culture specifically, has a reverential attitude towards matters of life and death, you must live in a different dimension than I do.

    Let’s pull out some of those 1930s pictures of Americans holding picnics with their kids around the hanging bodies of recently-lynched blacks and have this conversation again, shall we?

  24. #24 Gaurav
    December 30, 2006

    MYOB:

    I wouldn’t be too cock-sure of the west’s “ability to contemplate such important matters as life and death with …” reverence and rational thought. What I do admire is the west’s ability to *rationalize* ex post.

    Read your recent history well and you will see that west’s blood lust hasn’t declined at all – “civilization”, “culture” or not.

    All:
    Here is some light reading:
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2005/pinter-lecture-e.html

  25. #25 Kristjan Wager
    December 30, 2006

    I know far too many muslims and arabs to think the instinct to have this kind of reaction isn’t ingrained in the culture almost at the cellular level. It’s only a hypothesis and nothing more, based loosely on the way muslim cultures seem to have no ability to contemplate such important matters as life and death with the same level of reverence as western cultures. Sure this guy deserved to die. But how many of these people truly considered what it means for his death other than to their immediate gratification.

    How nice of you to be so patronizing.

    In 2005, the top four countries in the world in regards to carrying out capital punishment were China (1,770), Iran (94), Saudi Arabia (86), and the US (60). As you might have noticed, only two of those countries are Muslim – what’s more relvant, the only non-totalitarian country on the list is the US. And there is this particularly troublesome fact:

    Eight countries since 1990 are known to have executed 47 prisoners who were under 18 years old at the time of the crime – China, Congo (Democratic Republic), Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, USA and Yemen. China, Pakistan USA and Yemen have now raised the minimum age to 18 in law, The USA and Iran have each executed more child offenders than the other six countries combined and Iran has now matched the USA’s total since 1990 of 19 child executions.

    All of this is from Amnesty International.

  26. #26 Deb
    December 30, 2006

    His death was part of the American agenda to humiliate Iraqis and for Dubya to finish something which his father didn’t accomplish and that was the death of Sadaam.

    Sadaam was already sentenced to death before this sham of a trial. He stood no chance at ever getting a fair trial.

    Yes, I too question why he died for 140 people instead of the 50,000+ Kurds he killed with chemical weapons..hmm…were they weapons supplied by the good ole USA? We had to hide that truth…didn’t we? Wouldn’t want the world to think we HELPED Sadaam kill these people now would we? America GOOD, Sadaam BAD.

    Does his death solve anything? Yes, it keeps him from being an icon for Iraqis to support. Our policy is failing and the whole Arab world knows we are in it for the OIL not a democracy..come on people…what is our interest? OIL..According to Bush…’Do you want the Arabs telling us the price of oil? Do you want them controlling the oil? Is this what you want?

    Read this article…

    an opposing view to the American propaganda Media machine:

    http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/39235

    Critically Think America and stop being spoon fed by CNN and the rest of the Republican propaganda machine.

  27. #27 Ian H Spedding FCD
    December 30, 2006

    P Z Myers wrote:

    Saddam Hussein has been killed.

    Yup, good, innit? Couldn’t have happened to a nicer dictator.

  28. #28 Stuart Weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    Just as an aside, let us not forget that Europe has produced mor cutthroats and mass murderes than any place on Earth. The Middle East, the US and other places have a long way to go to catch up to Europe, which doesn’t seem to mind it when the US gets rid of their dictators, because Europe is too inept to fight them, or likes them.

  29. #29 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    — Actually, what I don’t understand is that nobody from a country with universal jurisdiction for genocide and suchlike (Spain, Belgium, Germany…) has applied for extradition. Germany, like the USA and many others, would have had plenty of interesting questions to ask him, such as “what exactly did you do with the weapons our companies sent you”. Besides, the ICC should have sued him for having attacked Kuwait.

    — Dear Mr Washington, how can killing him ONCE be “justice” for his murders of WAY OVER 50,000 PEOPLE? If you had invested the smallest amount of thought in this matter, you would have noticed long ago that arithmetic justice is impossible.

    Why the Guantánamo Bay not lock him up in the Hague for the next 40 years?

  30. #30 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    — Actually, what I don’t understand is that nobody from a country with universal jurisdiction for genocide and suchlike (Spain, Belgium, Germany…) has applied for extradition. Germany, like the USA and many others, would have had plenty of interesting questions to ask him, such as “what exactly did you do with the weapons our companies sent you”. Besides, the ICC should have sued him for having attacked Kuwait.

    — Dear Mr Washington, how can killing him ONCE be “justice” for his murders of WAY OVER 50,000 PEOPLE? If you had invested the smallest amount of thought in this matter, you would have noticed long ago that arithmetic justice is impossible.

    Why the Guantánamo Bay not lock him up in the Hague for the next 40 years?

  31. #31 Kristjan Wager
    December 30, 2006

    The Middle East, the US and other places have a long way to go to catch up to Europe, which doesn’t seem to mind it when the US gets rid of their dictators, because Europe is too inept to fight them, or likes them.

    Oh, (non)God. The stupidity. Name one dictator that the US removed in Europe by itself. After doing that, you might want to education yourself on the role of USA in the military coup in Greece in 1967, or reading up on the history of Spain and Portugal, where there were dictators for quite a while, without any action from the US.

  32. #32 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Just as an aside, let us not forget that Europe has produced mor cutthroats and mass murderes than any place on Earth. The Middle East, the US and other places have a long way to go to catch up to Europe,

    And?

    which doesn’t seem to mind it when the US gets rid of their dictators, because Europe is too inept to fight them, or likes them.

    You forget one thing, my friend. Since the mid-90s Saddam had not been a danger: not for Europe, not for the USA, not for Iran, not for Kuwait, not for Saudi Arabia, not even for the Kurds and most of the Shi’ites within Iraq who lived in the no-fly zones Saddam didn’t have any actual control over.

    As for liking them, remember the Iran-Iraq war. When it began, everyone — USA, France, Germany, everyone — sent weapons (including biological and chemical ones) to Our Son Of A Bitch, and kept doing so till the Iran-Contra affair.

  33. #33 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Just as an aside, let us not forget that Europe has produced mor cutthroats and mass murderes than any place on Earth. The Middle East, the US and other places have a long way to go to catch up to Europe,

    And?

    which doesn’t seem to mind it when the US gets rid of their dictators, because Europe is too inept to fight them, or likes them.

    You forget one thing, my friend. Since the mid-90s Saddam had not been a danger: not for Europe, not for the USA, not for Iran, not for Kuwait, not for Saudi Arabia, not even for the Kurds and most of the Shi’ites within Iraq who lived in the no-fly zones Saddam didn’t have any actual control over.

    As for liking them, remember the Iran-Iraq war. When it began, everyone — USA, France, Germany, everyone — sent weapons (including biological and chemical ones) to Our Son Of A Bitch, and kept doing so till the Iran-Contra affair.

  34. #34 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    The real shame is Lukashenko, the ruler of Belorussia. Not dangerous, but clearly a shame. Any action by anyone? Even just some money for an Orange Revolution? Nope. Didn’t think so.

    Oh… Russia… Chechnya. Well, Europe needs the natural gas, the Busheviki need the military bases in central Asia, and everyone needs to be friends with Putin’s button-pressing finger…

  35. #35 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    The real shame is Lukashenko, the ruler of Belorussia. Not dangerous, but clearly a shame. Any action by anyone? Even just some money for an Orange Revolution? Nope. Didn’t think so.

    Oh… Russia… Chechnya. Well, Europe needs the natural gas, the Busheviki need the military bases in central Asia, and everyone needs to be friends with Putin’s button-pressing finger…

  36. #36 Stuart Weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    Ahh… the fun begins…

    “Oh, (non)God. The stupidity. Name one dictator that the US removed in Europe by itself.”

    Oh I’m sorry, Europe did fly a percentage of the sorties in getting Milosevic out of power. But lets not delude ourselves, if Clinton decided not to act, Europe wouldn’t have done jack shit in Bosnia, Milo would still be there and you know it.

    “After doing that, you might want to education yourself on the role of USA in the military coup in Greece in 1967, or reading up on the history of Spain and Portugal, where there were dictators for quite a while, without any action from the US.”

    What no comment on:
    “Just as an aside, let us not forget that Europe has produced more cutthroats and mass murderes than any place on Earth”

    I’m gratified that you simply ate that remark with no response. Europeans, (maybe you are one, I don’t know) to tend be quick to criticize the US but have rather short memories. I mean like Germany having a war crimes court. Ain’t that a hoot?

    Sure, during the cold war the US supported any number of SOB’s. We prefered SOB’s rather than communists or other suspected unfriendlies. I’m certainly not proud of it. But I make no apology for it either. Clearly Europe would have better off without any American involvement in world affairs. Certainly Stalin and Britain could have defeated Hitler on their own (LOL). Now that Stalin fellow. That was one nasty SOB, and Saddam’s hero.

    Oh, and while I have you on the phone.. Can you explain why Muslims riot in Europe but not in the US?

    There’s nothing quite so tasty as fresh gutter liberal.

  37. #37 Gaurav
    December 30, 2006

    Stuart Weinstein:

    Read up a little bit before you start spouting. Stalin’s Russia had bigger hand in getting Hitler out than your dear old US of A. US joined the party pretty late in the game. Go ask your Pol. Sc. teachers.

    Why Muslim’s don’t riot in US — because they have been “civilized”, by US “culture” of peace and tolerance, of course.

    In US:
    Christians of various denominations: 77%
    Muslims in US: 0.5%
    Other religions: 3%

    I am sure overwhelming majority of one makes for a rather “tolerant and secular” society.

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_prac2.htm

    Nothing better than a stupid bigot to skewer.

  38. #38 Evolving Squid
    December 30, 2006

    Well, I can’t say I’m sad to see him go. The world is a better place today because he’s gone. If anyone needed killing, it was Saddam.

    However, I also can’t say that I’m thrilled at the process by which we arrived at this Nirvana. I’m not sure that “the west” has any moral high ground with regard to Iraq, and certainly the end of Saddam does not justify the means.

    I’m pretty hard pressed to see how Iraq is better off, as a whole, right now than it was 6 or 16 years ago.

  39. #39 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    I mean like Germany having a war crimes court. Ain’t that a hoot?

    No, it’s not.

    Come on. Do you believe evilness is inherited from the people who ruled over one’s grandparents?!?

  40. #40 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    I mean like Germany having a war crimes court. Ain’t that a hoot?

    No, it’s not.

    Come on. Do you believe evilness is inherited from the people who ruled over one’s grandparents?!?

  41. #41 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Oh, and while I have you on the phone.. Can you explain why Muslims riot in Europe but not in the US?

    What next, will you ask Kristjan if he speaks European?

    Germany’s millions of Turks have not rioted, and neither have the hundreds of thousands of Turks in Austria. Great Britain’s millions of Pakistani and whatnots have not rioted. And so on. The problem is peculiar to some of the suburbs of Paris (keep in mind that a European suburb is most comparable to an American downtown and vice versa); it’s not even Marseille, it’s just Paris. From what I hear, it’s not so much about Muslims as about immigrants… if so, you’ve misread the entire problem.

  42. #42 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Oh, and while I have you on the phone.. Can you explain why Muslims riot in Europe but not in the US?

    What next, will you ask Kristjan if he speaks European?

    Germany’s millions of Turks have not rioted, and neither have the hundreds of thousands of Turks in Austria. Great Britain’s millions of Pakistani and whatnots have not rioted. And so on. The problem is peculiar to some of the suburbs of Paris (keep in mind that a European suburb is most comparable to an American downtown and vice versa); it’s not even Marseille, it’s just Paris. From what I hear, it’s not so much about Muslims as about immigrants… if so, you’ve misread the entire problem.

  43. #43 Fernando Magyar
    December 30, 2006

    Stuart Weinstein,

    Look, the USA is a great country populated by wonderful people but like any other place in the world, has its share of power hungry assholes. Right now it seems that group seems to have the upper hand and free reign. The US has done a lot of good in the world and should be proud of its accomplishments.
    However it is neither blameless nor completely untarnished.

    You wrote:

    “Sure, during the cold war the US supported any number of SOB’s. We prefered SOB’s rather than communists or other suspected unfriendlies.”

    Ok, so what exactly happened in November 1956 in Hungary? Wasn’t Krushchev communist enough? Let’s just say that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw too many stones.

    A peaceful New Year to all, Cheers!

  44. #44 Radi
    December 30, 2006

    I agree with PZ – barbarians…

    How is the incessant showing of the execution video, or in the last couple days, the incessant chatter on EVERY SINGLE TV AND RADIO CHANNEL about the imminent execution (and the breathless creepy voyueristic commentary that goes with it all) any different from the scenes of Palestinians shown rejoicing in the streets after the World Trade Center towers went down? How is this any less barbaric?

  45. #45 Stuart Weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    Oh Lord. My post was virtual blog flypaper.

    I have to say. I Was bored today.

    “Read up a little bit before you start spouting. Stalin’s Russia had bigger hand in getting Hitler out than your dear old US of A. US joined the party pretty late in the game.”

    Much better late than never, fool.

    ” Go ask your Pol. Sc. teachers.”

    Perhaps you should try and consult some recent literature on the subject, instead of regurgitating your high school history book. Perhaps you should read Richard Overy’s “How the Allies Won” for a more balanced view.

    There is little doubt that US involvement shortened the war and eliminated Hitler’s chance at nuclear power. Had the war lasted longer and Germany had another year or two to perfect its missle and jet technologies, it would be very likely that much of continental europe would be speaking German by now. Without US involvement and Naval power, D-Day would not have ever happened. Britain would’ve been bombed back to the stone age. And Russia would be facing Hitler alone, with better numbers but with much inferior technology.

    “Why Muslim’s don’t riot in US — because they have been “civilized”, by US “culture” of peace and tolerance, of course.”

    Or maybe they don’t suffer the same sort of class segregation they do in Britain or other places in Europe.

    In US:
    Christians of various denominations: 77%
    Muslims in US: 0.5%
    Other religions: 3%

    “I am sure overwhelming majority of one makes for a rather “tolerant and secular” society.”

    I’m amused that you only consider religion as a measure of what makes a tolerant and secular society.

    And Europe’s secular societies helped put 6 million Jews in ovens. And even that is still not enough for Europe.

    “Nothing better than a stupid bigot to skewer”

    I agree. Now why don’t you run along and find one.

    The incoherency in this latter part of your post is astonishing.

  46. #46 DavidByron
    December 30, 2006

    Stuart I suspect this statement just says you know more European history.

    Just as an aside, let us not forget that Europe has produced mor cutthroats and mass murderes than any place on Earth.

  47. #47 DavidByron
    December 30, 2006

    Sure, during the cold war the US supported any number of SOB’s. We prefered SOB’s rather than communists or other suspected unfriendlies. I’m certainly not proud of it. But I make no apology for it either.

    Then you don’t have any moral standing to comment.

  48. #48 Stuart Weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    “Look, the USA is a great country populated by wonderful people but like any other place in the world, has its share of power hungry assholes. Right now it seems that group seems to have the upper hand and free reign.”

    As detective Clueseau famously said “Not any more”. Yes this crop of nincompoops are on there way out. Kicking and screaming.

    >The US has done a lot of good in the world and should be proud of its accomplishments.
    However it is neither blameless nor completely untarnished.< You wrote: "Sure, during the cold war the US supported any number of SOB's. We prefered SOB's rather than communists or other suspected unfriendlies." >Ok, so what exactly happened in November 1956 in Hungary? Wasn’t Krushchev communist enough?< Certainly. However, instead of facing a Soviet proxy, the US would be facing the Soviets themselves in their sphere of influence close to their borders. Would you prefer WWIII started in 1956? I think the policy of containment and yes even supporting SOB's (not because we liked them but because we haetd the Soviets much more) eventually ended the cold war with the Soviet Union's implosion. Perhaps the same thing may have been accomplished without supporting SOB's, the again, maybe not. I don't have a crystal ball and neither does anyone else." The basic problem with this current US administration was that they abondoned the policy of containment with respect to other conflicts. >Let’s just say that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw too many stones.< Then you have grasped my point. >A peaceful New Year to all, Cheers!< Indeed. Now, let us all drink to excess. But don't drive afterwards.

  49. #49 Stuart Weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    >Sure, during the cold war the US supported any number of SOB’s. We prefered SOB’s rather than communists or other suspected unfriendlies. I’m certainly not proud of it. But I make no apology for it either.

    Then you don’t have any moral standing to comment.< I don't need your permission jackass. And its far from certain what moral standing, if any, you possess. Try and formulate an argument, instead of avoiding it.

  50. #50 Stuart Weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    >Sure, during the cold war the US supported any number of SOB’s. We prefered SOB’s rather than communists or other suspected unfriendlies. I’m certainly not proud of it. But I make no apology for it either.

    Then you don’t have any moral standing to comment.< I don't need your permission jackass. And its far from certain what moral standing, if any, you possess. Try and formulate an argument, instead of avoiding it.

  51. #51 DavidByron
    December 30, 2006

    It’s not a question of permission. I’m not censoring you. PZ will allow you to carry on spouting moral nonsense here. No problem there.

    The issue is that if you don’t have any moral standing then how can you really make any point on a moral debate? Basically you just said the equivalent of “What I say makes no sense”. Ok then. But don’t expect the rest of us to take you too seriously that’s all.

    Try and formulate an argument, instead of avoiding it.

    I’m sorry if you think what I am saying makes no sense. I make no apology for that.

    See how that works?

  52. #52 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Oh, I forgot to mention Milo?evi?. If we kindly ignore some financing for the revolution, thousands of Serbs can be proud of having removed him all on their own, no?

  53. #53 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Oh, I forgot to mention Milo?evi?. If we kindly ignore some financing for the revolution, thousands of Serbs can be proud of having removed him all on their own, no?

  54. #54 DavidByron
    December 30, 2006

    Wasn’t Milosevic democratically elected and democratically unelected? And Serbia had a far more democratic system than the US in place. Not so much a revolution as an election campaign.

    However my impression was that Milosevic would have won handily if not for American election tampering of the sort they are well practised at all over the world. In this case quite the strong-arm stuff.

    Btw David, your name looks a bit Southern Slavic to me. is it Serbian?

  55. #55 Stuart Weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    >It’s not a question of permission. I’m not censoring you. PZ will allow you to carry on spouting moral nonsense here. No problem there.< Obviusly he's content to let you post. Information free that they are. >The issue is that if you don’t have any moral standing then how can you really make any point on a moral debate?< I'm sorry. Was this a moral debate? It looks like it has became much more like a political debate. And I believe its debatable to what extent some of the US's past actions were immoral. Some clearly were, some clearly weren't and for a host of others, its not clear. You don't get it. Who the hell apointed you to decide what is moral and what isn't? In my opinion, that is part of the debate. And instead of being intellectually honest, you cop out and attempt to gain the highground by passing yourself off as some objective arbiter of what is or isn't moral. >Basically you just said the equivalent of “What I say makes no sense”. Ok then. But don’t expect the rest of us to take you too seriously that’s all.< What I said makes perfect sense. Instead to trying to play to the crowd, David, ("But don't expect the rest of us to take you too seriously that's all") try and formulate an argument.

  56. #56 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Wasn’t Milosevic democratically elected and democratically unelected?

    Well, yes, except that he tried to fake the outcome and refused to leave; when people found out about the poorly concealed fake (voting in ink on paper can only get you so far…), they removed him by revolution.

    However my impression was that Milosevic would have won handily if not for American election tampering of the sort they are well practised at all over the world. In this case quite the strong-arm stuff.

    I can’t claim to be well-informed, but I’ve never heard of the slightest accusation in that direction; quite the opposite (see above).

    Btw David, your name looks a bit Southern Slavic to me. is it Serbian?

    Yes. (In fact, Milo?evi?’s minister of the interior had the same surname; no known relation.) However, I’ve never even been to Serbia; I even forgot the language when I was 2 years old and now have German as my only mother tongue. (I live in Austria; when my dad found a job in Paris, he only came home once every 6 weeks, and I had nobody to talk to.) I was not involved in the Serbian Revolution :o)

  57. #57 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Wasn’t Milosevic democratically elected and democratically unelected?

    Well, yes, except that he tried to fake the outcome and refused to leave; when people found out about the poorly concealed fake (voting in ink on paper can only get you so far…), they removed him by revolution.

    However my impression was that Milosevic would have won handily if not for American election tampering of the sort they are well practised at all over the world. In this case quite the strong-arm stuff.

    I can’t claim to be well-informed, but I’ve never heard of the slightest accusation in that direction; quite the opposite (see above).

    Btw David, your name looks a bit Southern Slavic to me. is it Serbian?

    Yes. (In fact, Milo?evi?’s minister of the interior had the same surname; no known relation.) However, I’ve never even been to Serbia; I even forgot the language when I was 2 years old and now have German as my only mother tongue. (I live in Austria; when my dad found a job in Paris, he only came home once every 6 weeks, and I had nobody to talk to.) I was not involved in the Serbian Revolution :o)

  58. #58 Stuart Weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    What next, will you ask Kristjan if he speaks European?< Hmmm ? Is there a problem here? >
    Germany’s millions of Turks have not rioted, and neither have the hundreds of thousands of Turks in Austria. Great Britain’s millions of Pakistani and whatnots have not rioted. And so on. The problem is peculiar to some of the suburbs of Paris (keep in mind that a European suburb is most comparable to an American downtown and vice versa); it’s not even Marseille, it’s just Paris.< Just Paris and just France? In case you've misunderstood me, I'm not blaming Muslims for anything, Heck, I'm surprised they didn't get pissed off earlier. And given they understand what Europe once did to a minority that chose not to riot and get pissed off, it seems to me they maybe they have, as a last resort, found a way to get attention to their problems. >From what I hear, it’s not so much about Muslims as about immigrants… if so, you’ve misread the entire problem.< From what I hear thats a lot of hooey that tries to sweep real problems under the rug. We have that in the US too. A lot of shit gets blamed on *immigration*, that in reality has nothing to do with immigration, but rather how people are treated. And by the way the vast majority of US Muslims are farily recent immigrants too. I'm, not sure what difference that makes. But there it is.

  59. #59 Mena
    December 30, 2006

    Now that the Bogey Man is dead, can we please dispense with the airport security theater?
    Posted by: llewelly

    You are forgetting the bogey man that actually started that. There’s no shame in that, so has Bush and he’s the infallible President after all.
    Stuart:
    And Europe’s secular societies helped put 6 million Jews in ovens.
    Would those secular societies that you are talking about be the Catholics or the Lutherans? Maybe the occultists? I get so confused, being a fresh gutter liberal you know. I can never know the absolute truth about every subject like you.

  60. #60 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006
    What next, will you ask Kristjan if he speaks European?

    Hmmm ? Is there a problem here?

    Well, yes, the way you generalize about Europe. Inductive reasoning…

    […] it’s not even Marseille, it’s just Paris.

    Just Paris and just France?

    Not even France as a whole.

    In case you’ve misunderstood me, I’m not blaming Muslims for anything, Heck, I’m surprised they didn’t get pissed off earlier.

    Sorry, yes, I misunderstood.

    And given they understand what Europe once did to a minority that chose not to riot and get pissed off

    “Europe” didn’t do anything. Hitler and his gang did. (A large gang, sure, but still nowhere near “Europe”.)

    From what I hear, it’s not so much about Muslims as about immigrants… if so, you’ve misread the entire problem.

    From what I hear thats a lot of hooey that tries to sweep real problems under the rug. We have that in the US too. A lot of shit gets blamed on *immigration*, that in reality has nothing to do with immigration, but rather how people are treated.

    Sorry for not having been clear. The basic problems, as far as I can tell (especially at 2 am…), are:
    – Immigrants to France in general and the Paris region in particular used to be shoved off into hastily built social housing buildings; the result was a kind of ghettoization. Most of these houses (you know, concrete blocks from the 1970s) are now crumbling.
    – The largest proportion of immigrants to France are Algerians and Moroccans, a culturally rather homogenous assemblage, and rather distinct from the other French (even including the many Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants). That’s not bad per se, but it clearly helps with the preceding and the next point.
    – Lack of contact did nothing to reduce French xenophobia — I’m under the impression that there’s comparatively little xenophobia in France, on average at least, but still 20 % of the people preferred having the far-right Le Pen for president over the corrupt but politically unspectacular conservative Chirac.
    – Immigrants get French citizenship very fast (not comparable to Switzerland, or Germany before 10 years ago, or Austria), and many already arrive speaking very good French (for historical reasons), so they expect to be treated as French. They aren’t always (see above).
    – France not being Malaysia, there are no jobs. Poverty reinforces ghettoization and xenophobia and so on.
    – In sum, the teenagers believe they have no future.
    – Some of them chose a desperate form of protest: they destroyed cars the likes of which they will probably never possess.
    – The tough law-and-order talk by the right-conservative minister of the interior only made them even angrier.

    This combination of reasons (it goes without saying that I’ve probably missed some) is unique to a few French suburbs. I’m not trying to downplay the problem, but it’s no surprise that you don’t have it anywhere in the USA*. Even the Turkish quarters of Berlin haven’t produced marauding masses of teenagers; the situation is simply not similar enough across even just western Europe.

    * Having said that, there seem to be those “race riots” once or twice per decade… the rioters in those cases aren’t immigrants and usually not Muslims, but the rest of the situation is similar, isn’t it?

  61. #61 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006
    What next, will you ask Kristjan if he speaks European?

    Hmmm ? Is there a problem here?

    Well, yes, the way you generalize about Europe. Inductive reasoning…

    […] it’s not even Marseille, it’s just Paris.

    Just Paris and just France?

    Not even France as a whole.

    In case you’ve misunderstood me, I’m not blaming Muslims for anything, Heck, I’m surprised they didn’t get pissed off earlier.

    Sorry, yes, I misunderstood.

    And given they understand what Europe once did to a minority that chose not to riot and get pissed off

    “Europe” didn’t do anything. Hitler and his gang did. (A large gang, sure, but still nowhere near “Europe”.)

    From what I hear, it’s not so much about Muslims as about immigrants… if so, you’ve misread the entire problem.

    From what I hear thats a lot of hooey that tries to sweep real problems under the rug. We have that in the US too. A lot of shit gets blamed on *immigration*, that in reality has nothing to do with immigration, but rather how people are treated.

    Sorry for not having been clear. The basic problems, as far as I can tell (especially at 2 am…), are:
    – Immigrants to France in general and the Paris region in particular used to be shoved off into hastily built social housing buildings; the result was a kind of ghettoization. Most of these houses (you know, concrete blocks from the 1970s) are now crumbling.
    – The largest proportion of immigrants to France are Algerians and Moroccans, a culturally rather homogenous assemblage, and rather distinct from the other French (even including the many Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants). That’s not bad per se, but it clearly helps with the preceding and the next point.
    – Lack of contact did nothing to reduce French xenophobia — I’m under the impression that there’s comparatively little xenophobia in France, on average at least, but still 20 % of the people preferred having the far-right Le Pen for president over the corrupt but politically unspectacular conservative Chirac.
    – Immigrants get French citizenship very fast (not comparable to Switzerland, or Germany before 10 years ago, or Austria), and many already arrive speaking very good French (for historical reasons), so they expect to be treated as French. They aren’t always (see above).
    – France not being Malaysia, there are no jobs. Poverty reinforces ghettoization and xenophobia and so on.
    – In sum, the teenagers believe they have no future.
    – Some of them chose a desperate form of protest: they destroyed cars the likes of which they will probably never possess.
    – The tough law-and-order talk by the right-conservative minister of the interior only made them even angrier.

    This combination of reasons (it goes without saying that I’ve probably missed some) is unique to a few French suburbs. I’m not trying to downplay the problem, but it’s no surprise that you don’t have it anywhere in the USA*. Even the Turkish quarters of Berlin haven’t produced marauding masses of teenagers; the situation is simply not similar enough across even just western Europe.

    * Having said that, there seem to be those “race riots” once or twice per decade… the rioters in those cases aren’t immigrants and usually not Muslims, but the rest of the situation is similar, isn’t it?

  62. #62 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    I wrote:

    but it clearly helps with the preceding and the next point.

    Or rather, the opposite. Should have written “it clearly reinforces” those points.

    Mena, good point about the other bogeyman. Where is he…? Oh yeah: we got told he’s not important. Hm. That’s another one I want to see in the Hague for instigation and financing of mass murder in over 2700 cases.

    BTW, Himmler was quite the occultist, and Hitler himself wasn’t exactly uninterested either…

  63. #63 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    I wrote:

    but it clearly helps with the preceding and the next point.

    Or rather, the opposite. Should have written “it clearly reinforces” those points.

    Mena, good point about the other bogeyman. Where is he…? Oh yeah: we got told he’s not important. Hm. That’s another one I want to see in the Hague for instigation and financing of mass murder in over 2700 cases.

    BTW, Himmler was quite the occultist, and Hitler himself wasn’t exactly uninterested either…

  64. #64 Stuart Weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    “I get so confused, being a fresh gutter liberal you know. I can never know the absolute truth about every subject like you.”

    Then you should avoid posting.

  65. #65 Stuart weinstein
    December 30, 2006

    “”Europe” didn’t do anything.”

    Indeed.

    “Hitler and his gang did. (A large gang, sure, but still nowhere near “Europe”.)”

    Golly.

  66. #66 Mena
    December 30, 2006

    Then you should avoid posting.
    Posted by: Stuart Weinstein

    Absolutely, ain’t that the truth!
    (by the way, I’m bored too)
    Now, how about those secular Lutherans and Catholics? What’s the truth about them?

  67. #67 K. Engels
    December 30, 2006

    Boy I’ve seen some major shmendriks on the interweb before, but whine-stein takes the cake.

  68. #68 Baratos
    December 30, 2006

    The main feeling I am getting from this execution is “Never accept help from America. A few years later, it is going to kill you.” I mean, seriously–we (America) gave him biological weapons, decided to kill him because he had them, invade, and find out they no longer exist. I do not know what happened to them–if Hussein sold them, used them up, whatever. My head is spinning–how can a friend of a country become its worst enemy?

  69. #69 dd
    December 30, 2006

    “Can you explain why Muslims riot in Europe but not in the US?”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_US_riots

    Well, Muslims don’t riot in US but do other races count? Apparently we had nine riots in US only since the beginning of this century. LA ’92 anyone?

  70. #70 DuWayne
    December 30, 2006

    David Byron –

    I think that you need to understand soemthing about many Americans. It is hard to believe, in this, the land of frivilous lawsuits, but many Americans own up to their responsabilities. Especialy, when it comes to the governments we elect. We are taught, at a very young age that we have a duty and responsability in maintaining our democracy. That, regardless of who gets elected, what our government does is our responsability. This is precisely what drives many of us to fight the insane things our government does, when it does them. Because, it is our government. Though it rarely feels like it. But the point is, that it is motivational. Makes me want to fight for the type of government that I won’t be crigning, when I claim it as my own.

  71. #71 ekzept
    December 31, 2006

    bah! it was a show. it was put on for the benefit of the Iraqi Shia, showing that how, now that their arch-enemy is dead, American is really on their side.

    and, it suggests a little of what W‘s new policies in Iraq might be: back the Shia as the horse likely to win and, in doing so, cut the Iranians off at the pass.

    it’s a good ole damn Western, it is.

  72. #72 Brian X
    December 31, 2006

    I don’t think the world is the poorer for having Saddam dead, though I have to say it isn’t how I would have handled it. In this country we have ADX Florence for people like him, and I’d rather see him there, slowly losing his mind in 23-hour-a-day isolation (yeah, anti-death penalty, pro-psychological torture… I’m not right). I don’t think the Iraqis really had that option though — there simply isn’t anywhere in the country secure enough to put him (except maybe up north in Kurd country, but I think vigilante justice would take precedence there).

    Still… way, way too fast a process, especially given how dragged out the trial was. Yes, he deserved killing, but as is so often the case they risked making him a martyr. Whatever one’s opinion on capital punishment, one must admit that killing a potential martyr is a good way to cause more trouble for oneself, regardless of principle.

  73. #73 David Marjanovi?
    December 31, 2006

    I do not know what happened to them–if Hussein sold them, used them up, whatever.

    He destroyed the whole arsenal down to the last molecule of mustard gas. Have you forgotten the UN inspections?!?

    The trick is that he destroyed them more or less in secret. This way the inspections would (correctly) find nothing, while the generals would not get a pretense for declaring him a cowardish traitor to Iraq’s military strength and getting rid of the old paranoiac; to the contrary, they’d admire him for resisting the pressure of the whole world, and continue to praise him for being the best thing that had happened to Iraq since sliced bread. The best of both worlds; a typical Saddam game. Like reportedly all Saddam games, however, it didn’t work. Saddam had overlooked the fact that Fearless Flightsuit didn’t care whether there were any Weapons of Mass Distraction. W wanted his war, and he got it.

  74. #74 David Marjanovi?
    December 31, 2006

    I do not know what happened to them–if Hussein sold them, used them up, whatever.

    He destroyed the whole arsenal down to the last molecule of mustard gas. Have you forgotten the UN inspections?!?

    The trick is that he destroyed them more or less in secret. This way the inspections would (correctly) find nothing, while the generals would not get a pretense for declaring him a cowardish traitor to Iraq’s military strength and getting rid of the old paranoiac; to the contrary, they’d admire him for resisting the pressure of the whole world, and continue to praise him for being the best thing that had happened to Iraq since sliced bread. The best of both worlds; a typical Saddam game. Like reportedly all Saddam games, however, it didn’t work. Saddam had overlooked the fact that Fearless Flightsuit didn’t care whether there were any Weapons of Mass Distraction. W wanted his war, and he got it.

  75. #75 Arun
    December 31, 2006

    It does occur to people that all the nasties that make Iraq the hellhole it is today didn’t suddenly come into existence after the US invasion? That Saddam was much more effective at suppressing them than the hapless American troops are? That Saddam did so probably with less “collateral damage”?

    Read about Al Dawa here. This set of monsters is in power now in Iraq; you think their militias are all lightness and joy? Saddam was convicted for suppressing them.

    Have no doubt, Saddam was a monster, too. But what we’ve “liberated” in Iraq is equally monstrous. Under Saddam the average person could be safe by “keeping away from the shady part of town” – i.e., by remaining politically inconspicuous. (Not much different from China, eh?) Today, there is no safety for the average person. To quote riverbend, “A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted. ”

    I think the Iraq which had a professional class, which was secular, where women had the freedom to walk unveiled and to work, is gone for at least a generation, if not forever. Iraq will be ruled by a succession of increasingly vicious Islamist thugs. There is no evidence that anyone will be able to bring peace to Iraq without descending to the level of brutality of a dictator like Saddam. Does that mean a lot of people are eventually going to hang, like Saddam? Or does the American concern for justice begin and end with Saddam?

    Please note – I have no sympathy for Saddam. And I have no patience with PZ Myers “third-world thug” remark. As though a dignified vote in Congress and going to war with a due process, makes the disaster the US has unleashed on Iraq any more palatable than third-world thuggery.

  76. #76 DavidByron
    December 31, 2006

    DuWayne,
    Especialy, when it comes to the governments we elect. We are taught, at a very young age that we have a duty and responsability in maintaining our democracy. That, regardless of who gets elected, what our government does is our responsability.

    I understand. I am saying this propaganda is illogical and it’s clearly intended to make you identify with and support policies which you had no voice in and oppose.

    But the point is, that it is motivational. Makes me want to fight for the type of government that I won’t be crigning, when I claim it as my own.

    I beleive that the human psychology of the situation actually works the opposite way. If you emotionally identify with the government — which is what you are doing here — then you are less likely to opposite it. You are more likely to accept it as legitimate and normal. And that’s the entire purpose of patriotism and nationalistic propaganda. if such propaganda made people question authority more I really doubt any government would do it.

    However that’s not quite the question I was asking / raising.

    What I was saying is that it is illogical of PZ and maybe you, to pretend that you are to blame for things like the Iraq war or Saddam Hussein’s kangaroo court, when you clearly are not responsible.

  77. #77 Tristram Shandy
    December 31, 2006

    Last week, microphones were cut off and court proceedings into the Anfal massacre were suspended because they were getting a tad bit too close to implicating Turkey as a responsible party. Before the inquiry is even finished, we have Hussein’s execution.

    On Eid al-Adha.

    Great timing, guys. Not only did it give Hussein a chance to riff on the religious imagery of a “sacrifice” and give partisans an easily memorable date to attach to it, but it also occured on Saturday. The Sunnis started celebrating Eid on Saturday. The Shi’ites started celebrating on Sunday. Iraqi law forbids carrying out executions on major Islamic holidays, and therefore carrying one out while Eid is being celebrated by Sunnis, but not by Shi’ites indicates that the Sunni customs and beliefs count for nothing in the new, ‘democratized’ Iraq.

    Meanwhile the Kurds are angry because the Anfal massacre inquiry has been muzzled by political forces as well as Hussein’s death. Congratulations to the Bush administration all around for pissing off nearly everyone.

  78. #78 David Marjanovi?
    December 31, 2006

    You see, he’s a uniter, not a divider. He’s doing the best he can to unite everyone against him.

    Austrian TV news today: Someone recorded a video of the execution on their cell phone. The executioner says “Moqtada” three times. Reactions from Sunnites? “The Persians [including their supposed Shiite minions] have killed him.” Great job. Greeeat.

    One last thing. When you already execute someone for being just too evil, you don’t give him to his tribe for a funeral, you burn him and strew the ashes into the Tigris. If you do it, do it right. What was done? Saddam-nostalgic pilgrims now have a place to go. The revenge oaths have already been taken.

    The stupid! It burns! It kills.

  79. #79 David Marjanovi?
    December 31, 2006

    You see, he’s a uniter, not a divider. He’s doing the best he can to unite everyone against him.

    Austrian TV news today: Someone recorded a video of the execution on their cell phone. The executioner says “Moqtada” three times. Reactions from Sunnites? “The Persians [including their supposed Shiite minions] have killed him.” Great job. Greeeat.

    One last thing. When you already execute someone for being just too evil, you don’t give him to his tribe for a funeral, you burn him and strew the ashes into the Tigris. If you do it, do it right. What was done? Saddam-nostalgic pilgrims now have a place to go. The revenge oaths have already been taken.

    The stupid! It burns! It kills.

  80. #80 Jake
    December 31, 2006

    What has been accomplished?

    Saddam will never testify in any other trials and will never implicate anyone else in any of the other alleged massacres that were committed.

  81. #81 Tristram Shandy
    December 31, 2006

    I can understand not cremating the body. Islamic doctrine states that the body must remain intact until burial, and cremating Hussein’s remains would have been a spectacularly incompetent and insensitive move, even for the Bush administration and its lackeys in the Iraqi government. However, they compromised by burying the body in an unmarked grave.

  82. #82 Caledonian
    December 31, 2006

    We Americans are taught that we have a duty to uphold our government and our democracy. We are also taught by a thousand little lessons that we fulfill that duty by entering a voting booth and pulling a lever or pushing a button, and that’s where our responsibilities end. We are taught that because the government is put in place through voting that we are obligated to obey it, no matter how stupid or unjust or evil it becomes.

    I don’t think we’re capable of a revolution any more, no matter the government.

  83. #83 Rhian
    January 3, 2007

    Be careful with that derogatory use of “third world” please. It’s not relevant. And even if it were, in my experience the “third world” is far less thuggish than the “first”. Eesh.

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