Pharyngula

A measure of respect for a tyrant

Read the account of Saddam Hussein’s last moments—it’s a strange thing. Hussein was an evil man, but still, he carried himself at the end with strength and courage and a good amount of anger. The whole scene sounds like it was tawdry and crude; the US continues to reinforce its growing reputation for cheap barbarity. And the unseemly guards, with their chanting and sneering at a man about to die…that’s who is going to run that country after we leave? I have no confidence.

I don’t think our country did itself any favors with this act, and Hussein went out of this world a bit more impressively than he had lived in it.

Comments

  1. #1 MAJeff
    December 31, 2006

    I was talking to my dad about this earlier today. As with Pinochet, the world is arguably a better place now that Hussein is no longer in it. However, the way all this happened makes me feel kind of sick.

  2. #2 Steve Sutton
    December 31, 2006

    It wasn’t justice. It was blood-thirsty vengeance. A verdict of justice would’ve been life in prison. It’s unfortunate that this happened.

  3. #3 Inky
    December 31, 2006

    That was my opinion, too, when I read this article today. Ultimately, he was dignified and defiant until the end, despite being surrounded by a mob of yapping dogs.

    He was a *horrible* man, but he carried himself with pride, and even if that proves to me that he was freaking delusional, it made US look really bad. Gah.

    It’s amazing–Bush has the Reverse Midas Touch. How is it possible to turn *everything* you’re involved in into a pile of steaming shit??? To take a country ruled by a tyrant and make it so much worse that the tyrant ends up looking more powerful because at least he managed to keep things in control?

  4. #4 Tyler DiPietro
    December 31, 2006

    Something tells me that the various threads on Saddam going on across the liberal/progressive blogosphere are going to fodder for wing-nut quote-miners.

    My position is stated clearly in this thread on Larry Moran’s blog: revenge is not justice.

  5. #5 daenku32
    December 31, 2006

    Ah, another ‘great’ achievement in Iraq.

    So we have:
    1) Destroyed Baathist military and command structure
    2) Captured Saddam
    3) Provided Iraq with free elections
    4) Provided Iraq with a new Constitution
    5) Killed thousands of “insurgents”
    6) Killed Saddam Hussein

    And every step of the way Bush has been declaring “Mission Accomplished”. Yet STILL the country is fucked up. What gives? Remember when ALL of the above was supposed have been accomplished within a years time and under $100 Billion budget?

  6. #6 Jake
    December 31, 2006

    It wasn’t justice, it wasn’t vengeance, it was a coverup.

  7. #7 jimbo
    December 31, 2006

    I’ve decided that I’m going to view this execution from one angle – will we benefit from it?

    He was a vile and odious despot. A murderer. He certainly deserved punishment and removal from society. That being said, did his death make us safer, will less Iraqis or Americans or anyone else die because he was killed? I think probably not – but there is always the chance.

    I did read that the pistol he was carrying when he was captured is now mounted on the wall in Bush’s private study off of the Oval Office. The thought that Bush derives some satisfaction from Saddams fate or that this validates in any way Bush’s war makes me sick.

  8. #8 Moody834
    December 31, 2006

    The theme for this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade is — are you ready? — “Our Good Nature”.

    ::cries from (years of) irony overload::

  9. #9 SLC
    December 31, 2006

    There can be no whitewash of Saddam Hussein. The man was a sociopath who ruthlessly murdered thousands of Iraqi citizens, most of whom were Shiites or Kurds. It is my view that his punishment was far too mild. He got off easy, a very quick death from a broken neck. It is quite clear that his victims got no such consideration.

  10. #10 Christian Burnham
    December 31, 2006

    I think you’re wasting your time fretting over the niceties of Saddam’s death.

    Saddam was scum. He deserved a fate a 1000x worse than a quick hanging.

    This whole war was a mistake from day one. Saddam’s death is just about the only piece of good news I’ve heard since the beginning. It’s just a pity he didn’t suffer more in the end.

  11. #11 PZ Myers
    December 31, 2006

    Yes, he deserved a slow death by excruciating torture, followed by allowing wild animals to tear his body to pieces, and the remaining pieces deposited in an outhouse for all to poop upon. So? We should not be savages who would execute any such sentence, we should not become monsters ourselves to rid ourselves of a monster in as pointlessly grisly a way possible.

    That “scum” did exactly what we should not want: he earned himself a scrap of dignity with his defiance at the end, and we lowered ourselves a bit with a cheesy execution. This isn’t about whether he was a good guy or a bad guy — that’s settled — it’s about what kind of people we are. That seems to be getting settled, too.

  12. #12 Inky
    December 31, 2006

    the pistol he was carrying when he was captured is now mounted on the wall in Bush’s private study off of the Oval Office

    Gee, why not just have Saddam’s head mounted on the wall? Does he look on that pistol as a trophy?

    How *disgusting*.

  13. #14 R
    December 31, 2006

    SLC – But Saddam was never convicted for killing thousands. Not even tried for it, I think! He was tried and convicted for killing something like 130 people. That’s it. And then rushed to his death. (Why, what’s the hurry?) And then everybody gloats about it? I mean come on! We’re acting like the bad guys here…

    Wouldn’t you prefer that he rot in a jail cell before he dies, forgotten, of old age?

  14. #15 George Forman
    December 31, 2006

    Saddam is dead
    Most of my friends when talking about Saddam Hussein prefix their arguments with “now I’m not saying that Saddam Hussein wasn’t a bad guy” and this infuriates me to no end. Saddam Hussein was an enlightened and benevolent dictator that did the best he could for a country divided between groups that hate eachother. In the Islamic world Saddam’s Iraq was the only country not ruled Sharia law. His was the one government of secular rationalism in the middle east.

    What crimes did he commit? Misappropriation of public funds? Bush hands more than the entire GDP of Iraq (which has nosedived since he invaded the country) to his corporate buddies every month. The killing of his own citizens? Name any great leader that makes decisions that do not affect lives. Bush has killed more people in his one and a half terms than Saddam did during his decades in power. Saddam was put to death for the killings of 146 people, a number so small now as to be laughable when compared to the hundreds of thousands that will die before the bumbling American occupation gets the country under control.

    You know what the greatest atrocity ever to befall the Iraqi people is? Being invaded at the childish whim of a man who did not know that there was a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. A man who I’m convinced is so incapable of doing anything but regurgitating pre-digested Republican talking points that he still to this day does not know basic powerpoint bullet points about Islam. I seriously doubt that if you cornered the little Bush boy and asked him what a Druze was he would have an answer.

    So when talking about Saddam’s death I’ll be sure to call it like I see it. He was a noble and just ruler (as far as rulers go), the greatest in the Middle East of this age. He was put through a sham trial in which the first judge was forced out over criticism that he was observing Saddam’s rights. He was murdered unjustly and his blood is on the hands of all Americans. Though this seems bleak, it gives me a small hope to carry into the future. After a coup here Bush can be put to death as well and future generations could know him as he lived: a thief, liar, murderer and war criminal.

  15. #16 christian Burnham
    December 31, 2006

    PZ,
    I respect your view. I find myself feeling sorry for the frail looking Saddam and repulsed by the spectacle of a hanging.

    Even so….

    SLC is right. Saddam felt no remorse for the thousands of deaths he was personally responsible for. His sadism knew no limits and he was a complete sociopath without any mercy.

    Saddam’s execution was swift and relatively humane. I blame the Bush administration for lots of bad decisions- but this is not one of them.

  16. #17 Christian Burnham
    December 31, 2006

    There’s a good column in the Guardian that is pertinent to this debate:

    “For all those he murdered, I’m glad he has hanged” by Jason Burke
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1980681,00.html

    Here’s a short excerpt:

    “In 2003, back in Sulaymaniyah, I sat down in a prison cell with a captured Baath party torturer. ‘How old was the youngest person you ever tortured?’ I asked him. ‘Oh, about two or three,’ he said unapologetically. ‘We didn’t torture the kids themselves obviously, but holding a toddler over a boiling saucepan is a very good way of getting their parents to talk.’ Why do I return to all this? Because I can’t help but be happy that Saddam has been executed.”

  17. #18 Caledonian
    December 31, 2006

    What should be Bush’s fate, then?

  18. #19 QrazyQat
    December 31, 2006

    Can you imagine how Bush would act in that same position? The guy wets his pants at the thought of talking in front of American groups who haven’t been thoroughly pre-screened.

  19. #20 kathy a
    December 31, 2006

    fair trial in an international court, and a real review process — these would have done a lot to ensure credibility of the process. that said, there is nothing to be gained by the gallows that couldn’t be accomplished better by life imprisonment.

  20. #21 Scott Hatfield
    December 31, 2006

    Hmm. I am reminded that in the Gospel accounts of the Crucifixion that Jesus was mocked and physically abused en route to Calvary and during his execution.

    My question would be: how can an Administration whose leader claims to be a Christian and one in tune with the Almighty’s will allow similar barbarism?

    Tolkein’s admonition against being quick to condemn others to death seems apropos here.

  21. #22 Inky
    December 31, 2006

    An effective dictator, yes. Had the best universities and hospitals (and free) in the Arab world, nurtured musicians and artists (well, okay, so they spent a lot of time praising him but they were quite accomplished), and had the highest literacy rate in the Arab world (at gunpoint, more or less, but at least everyone could read), but “benevolent”? Er, I strongly disagree.

    … I’ve known quite a few people that hated each other because, fundamentally, they were so alike. Bush and Saddam, in some ways, are not so different. Delusional, think they’re divinely appointed, power-hungry, out of touch from their citizens, and prone to twist events to project personal victories where there were none–you know, to call Bush and Saddam two sides of the same coin isn’t far off from the truth.

    Bush even said that his life would be easier as a dictator. Envy, perhaps?

  22. #23 SLC
    December 31, 2006

    Re George Forman

    Yessir, that guy Hitler wasn’t so bad. After all, look at all the great things he did, built the autobahn, did away with unemployment, set up the Volkswagon Company. And then those mean Russians had the temarity to surround his capital and force this honorable man to commit suicide. How dasterdly of them.

  23. #24 PZ Myers
    December 31, 2006

    Oh, but now the Hitler Zombie is going to eat your brain, so we can at least condemn him for that.

  24. #25 Hairhead
    December 31, 2006

    From another blogger who saw and heard the video of Saddam’s execution, another version:

    “From the video that was leaked, it was not an executioner who yelled “long live Muqtada al-Sadr”. See, this is another low the Maliki government sunk to- they had some hecklers conveniently standing by during the execution. Maliki claimed they were “some witnesses from the trial”, but they were, very obviously, hecklers. The moment the noose was around Saddam’s neck, they began chanting, in unison, “God’s prayers be on Mohamed and on Mohamed’s family…” Something else I didn’t quite catch (but it was very coordinated), and then “Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada!” One of them called out to Saddam, “Go to hell…” (in Arabic). Saddam looked down disdainfully and answered “Heya hay il marjala…?” which is basically saying, “Is this your manhood…?”.

    Someone half-heartedly called out to the hecklers, “I beg you, I beg you- the man is being executed!” They were slightly quieter and then Saddam stood and said, “Ashadu an la ilaha ila Allah, wa ashhadu ana Mohammedun rasool Allah…” Which means, “I witness there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger.” These are the words a Muslim (Sunnis and Shia alike) should say on their deathbed. He repeated this one more time, very clearly, but before he could finish it, he was lynched.”

    Saddaam was a murderer, mass-murderer, warmonger, torturer, sadist, psychopath, and megalomaniac. All that was necessary to discredit him totally and forever was an open, fair, public trial in an international court with disclosure of all of his crimes over his 24-year dictatorship; then he could have rotted in prison for the rest of his life. And if he was to be executed, it could have been a cold, formal, quiet hanging without the catcalls and abuse which creates martyrs. Bush, that loathesome twat, could have made this a triumph of sorts, but as usual his reverse-Midas touch worked again.

    I’m glad that Saddaam’s gone, and the world is better for it, but the manner of his trial and execution made the U.S. look worse than ever. Incompetence, lying, evasion of the truth, disorganization, and petty cruelty. Saddaam was made to look better than he was.

    Feh.

  25. #26 Hank Fox
    December 31, 2006

    I think a lot of the right wing continues to misunderstand some of the left’s concerns with stuff like this, and the left always fails to explain it clearly enough. So here’s my take:

    In a few words:

    A very large number of us in America are more angry about fellow Americans breaking our HIGH code of ethics than we are about some greasy turd of a dictator breaking his LOW or nonexistent code of ethics.

    This is why some of us have seemed more concerned with the flaws in our own actions than we are/were with the flaws in Saddam’s.

    In a lot of words:

    1) Saddam was a cheap, nasty, vile, dictatorial piece of shit. But hey, you EXPECT people like that to murder innocents, to drag men out of their homes and torture them, to set children on fire so their parents will confess, to throw people alive and screaming into wood chippers, to bomb or gas crowds of civilians. Because cheap, nasty, vile dictatorial pieces of shit have no ethics, no morals, no least speck of caring.

    2) Americans, by a contrast light-years in distance, are good people. We’re decent, trusting, generous, friendly, and caring, and we’re that way because we know it’s the right way to be. We’re not only good, we WANT to be good. We have high ethical standards because we want to be BETTER … not just better than little pissant killers like Saddam, but better – more moral and compassionate – than ANYBODY.

    And we always expect ourselves, and our neighbors, and our leaders, to live up to our high American standards … in the hopes that our society will always be at least this good, and maybe, as time passes, even better.

    1a) Cheap nasty vile pieces of shit like Saddam have to be caught and punished. Everybody knows it. Every American wants it. THIS GOES WITHOUT SAYING. Nobody loves Saddam. Nobody sensible wants/wanted Saddam to get off free. But also, in retrospect, nobody is surprised at the things he did.

    2a) As Americans, and as innately good and decent people, we expect everybody on our side to set an example of goodness so that we can enjoy a more civil society, but also so our kids will grow up to be equally good people. We expect ourselves, and our neighbors, and our leaders, to consider such acts as bombing innocents, or torturing people, or dragging men out of their homes and shooting them in the streets, as UNTHINKABLE. (Yes, sometimes we fail … but that’s reason to try all the harder.)

    In a few words:

    1) Saddam: Murderous dictator. Kills people horribly – no surprise.
    2) Americans: Good and decent people. Involved in torture? Damn, this has to stop! And the sooner the better.

    Yes, we wanted Saddam stopped. That’s a given. But at the same time, we didn’t want that goal to cause us to abandon our own ethical standards. Our own behavior is critically important to us. It must NEVER be long out of our sight.

    Because Americans didn’t get to be good people by caring only when it was convenient or easy.

    We got here by caring even when we were broke and hungry. We got here by caring even when we were lost and new and didn’t speak the language. We got here by caring even when others thought we were in the wrong and it was a waste of time. We got here by caring even when we were staggered by the horrors of war, even when things looked dark and hopeless.

    WE NEVER STOP CARING.

    Never.

    Because we’re Americans, and because that’s just the way we are.

    And just FYI: The people who do stop caring? The people who say “Shut up with all the carping! We’re still better than THAT murderous bastard!” ?

    Those people are NOT GOOD AMERICANS. Those people slight America by pretending we should measure ourselves only against tyrants and murderers, and not against our own best ethical standards.

    [ A friendly warning for quote-miners: Don’t even think of reproducing part of this in such a way that it misrepresents what I’ve said. ]

    © Copyright 2006, Hank Fox

  26. #27 Stephen Frug
    December 31, 2006

    “Hussein went out of this world a bit more impressively than he had lived in it.”

    Shakespeare put a similar sentiment this way: “nothing in his life/Became him like the leaving it”.

  27. #28 Tyler DiPietro
    December 31, 2006

    That this does not reflect well on America when we’re supposed to be an enlightened society is no trivial or abstract point. What Saddam was subjected was a sham trial and was convicted only of minor offenses (he was executed for a retaliatory action against a Shi’ite assassination attempt, as memory serves, looking for a linky….), not his major warcrimes, in which American statesmen were clearly complicit. What has taken place wasn’t justice, not by a long shot. It was entertainment, primarily for armchair warmongers in America who need to salvage something from this clearly botched war.

    It’s high difficult, to say the least, to feel bad for Saddam. But this is hardly a vindication for America or the West in general.

  28. #29 AndyS
    December 31, 2006

    Asserting copyright on a blog comment, Hank? That’s a new one.

  29. #30 bPer
    December 31, 2006

    Tyler: Here a link to a Juan Cole article in Salon that corroborates your recollection. About half-way down.

  30. #31 Ian H Spedding FCD
    December 31, 2006

    So Saddam died with some semblance of courage and dignity?

    I wonder how many of his victims did the same but their last moments of dignity or courage or defiance will never be seen because their passing went unrecorded. They died alone and without hope in some dark and squalid dungeon.

    Save your sympathy for those that deserve it.

  31. #32 Hank Fox
    December 31, 2006

    Asserting copyright on a blog comment, Hank? That’s a new one.

    Andy, hey, you cain’t never tell what us wild creative types might try.

    I like to think all of us could be more clear on the point contained in the comment. To tell you the truth, I’d grant permission to copy it to anyone who asked, ad infinitum, as long as they’d swear not to take anything out of context and deliberately misrepresent the meaning.

  32. #33 Caledonian
    January 1, 2007

    Save your sympathy for those that deserve it.

    Man oh man, did you ever miss the point. Whoosh!

  33. #34 Segabilar
    January 1, 2007

    I don’t care this dictator dies, but I have to thank him for helping me win a lot of money as I bought his stock in time on trendio 😉 http://www.trendio.com/word.php?wordid=120&language=en

  34. #35 fred
    January 1, 2007

    NY Times vs Riverbend? I think Riverbend has a better account of the events.

  35. #36 Crudely Wrott
    January 1, 2007

    Seldom Hesane is dead. I say that this is most excellent news. With consideration of another factor, that is.

    This is one of those occasions when it is best to send one’s feelings, one’s sensibilities, and other emotional considerations out the back door for a while. The justice of this particular execution of a convicted mass-murderer and widely acknowledged punk-o-rama thug under the circumstances of what has actually transpired over the last twenty odd years is difficult enough to judge without the complications of personal impressions of some “larger concept of right.”

    There is no method that I can think of that would satisfy the demands of “popular justice” in terms of world opinion. We simply all do not agree on such things and our estimation of the value of capital punishment is still a thing in flux. To have sufficient knowledge of the justice of his trial and execution will take, like most things that affect multitudes, time. Time spent in dispassionate considerations that cannot be made immediately.

    I know that it is important to separate one’s intellect from one’s heart in these matters. You see, this sub-human has eyes that are identical to my step-dad’s eyes. My step-dad is an honorable and kind man who raised me as his own and sacrificed much of his own personal comfort attempting to shape me into a functioning adult and citizen. It is impossible for me to look very long at a picture of Seldom. The resemblance is just too uncanny. His eyes evoke the love between my dad and I while his swagger and record of brutality sicken me. Therefore I am not able to asses these recent events unless I subjugate my emotions and act strictly from intellect.

    Is the world better off without that prick? No. There are thousands of rotten young sprouts, who with luck and subterfuge would end up doing something similar. Will his execution bring peace or maybe the beginnings of peace? No. Not to people who have a history defined by taking offense and reacting with violence. Will humanity reflect upon and voluntarily change its concept of justice when dealing with crimes of such magnitude? No. There will be only talk and tsk-tsking.

    I am somewhat surprised that some of the previous posts seem to exude a fog of wistfulness over this issue. This idiot was an Asshole of the Nth Degree. His transgressions against the things that we are gently disposed to are so great as to exceed our ability to comprehend them in terms of the sweet disposition in the heart of a free man. To grant his demise, by whatever means, more than a cursory flutter of regret is like saying, “Well, he must have had his reasons . . .” Sure he had reasons, way down in his reptilian brain stem, along with other deep considerations of his office. Like whether to eat, whether to shit, or breed or kill. I grant him only this consideration: at one time in his life there must have been a moment of deep peace and security. Outside of that, nothing. Not nothin’ not nohow.

    Of course, I’m human and not immune to my feelings; I resent deeply his resemblance to my dad. I hope I won’t always see his thin overlay over a face I love. Damn him!

  36. #37 beepbeepitsme
    January 1, 2007

    Justice would have been the ICC.

    What wasn’t required was justice. What was required by those feigning the desire for justice, was vengence.

  37. #38 RBH
    January 1, 2007

    PZ wrote

    This isn’t about whether he was a good guy or a bad guy — that’s settled — it’s about what kind of people we are.

    I tried and tried to get that exactly that point across to a conservative local radio talk show host regarding the use of torture a few months ago, and he never got it. He never understood that using torture is a statement about the moral status of the torturer. This is a man who’s a pillar of a local church, but he saw using torture in purely instrumental terms.

  38. #39 j
    January 1, 2007

    A reference to Kantian ethics would probably be appropriate here. Something about not using someone as mere means to an end.

  39. #40 Mnemosyne
    January 1, 2007

    If the right-wingers are (as always) oblivious to the moral arguments, perhaps the practical one will help:

    Arab haj pilgrims outraged at Saddam execution

    Oh, no, wait, I guess they’re just a bunch of ragheads and we should be glad that they’re pissed off that we have now quite visibly taken sides in the conflict between Sunni and Shia’a. So much for, y’know, tactics or diplomacy.

  40. #41 Kadin
    January 1, 2007

    @Crudely Wrott: minor grammar nitpick, but it always annoys me when people do this. Your sentence should have read “the love between my dad and me“. You always use the oblique case for an object.

  41. #42 cfrost
    January 1, 2007

    Bush, as I recall, was going to “restore dignity to the White House”.

  42. #43 bernarda
    January 1, 2007

    Poor Hank Fox, “Americans, by a contrast light-years in distance, are good people. We’re decent, trusting, generous, friendly, and caring, and we’re that way because we know it’s the right way to be. We’re not only good, we WANT to be good. We have high ethical standards because we want to be BETTER … not just better than little pissant killers like Saddam, but better – more moral and compassionate – than ANYBODY.”

    Just ask the people of Central and South America what they think of America’s “good people”. Supporting bloody dictators in Guatemala and El Salvador, with their death squads, and Nicaragua–and then creating the terrorist Contras who tortured and murdered thousands of peasants, teachers, and health carers–is hardly the sign of decency and caring.

    All that was paid for and organized by the American government. The criminals were often trained at the former School of the Americas, which Bush has decided to resurrect to deal with people like Chavez and Morales, and why not Bachelet.

    Then there are American companies which for decades have exploited people working in foreign mines and plantations, treating them as no more than indentured servants at best. Sub-subsistance wages for better corporate and investor profits. One could go on and on with examples.

    Americans and their government are in no position to be giving lessons.

  43. #44 Richard Harris
    January 1, 2007

    Mnemosyne, you said, “I guess they’re just a bunch of ragheads…”

    Now, that’s not a term they like to hear. What they wear on their heads are little sheets, so from now on, please show them more respect, & use the term that they prefer, ‘little sheet heads’. (courtesy of The Official Website of the Prophet Mohammed http://www.prophetmohammed.co.uk/infidels.html)

  44. #45 Mister Nice Guy
    January 1, 2007

    One more Iraqi killed on Bush’s say-so.

    Like one more is going to make such a big difference.

  45. #46 Roman Werpachowski
    January 1, 2007

    PZ: “Read the account of Saddam Hussein’s last moments–it’s a strange thing. Hussein was an evil man, but still, he carried himself at the end with strength and courage and a good amount of anger. The whole scene sounds like it was tawdry and crude; the US continues to reinforce its growing reputation for cheap barbarity.”

    Ahem. It were the Iraqis who tried and hanged Saddam, not the Americans.

    As a side remark: not that it makes the cruelty of the death penalty less apalling, but Saddam could have avoided the hanging if, in 2003, he handed himself over into the hands of the Hague Tribunal. He would now be sitting in a small cell in a European prison with a life sentence (or awaiting such verdict).

    To George Foreman and others: even the killing of these 100+ people, while small peanuts as compared with what Saddam and other dictators did, would be enought to justify a life sentence for any European politician. I don’t see why we should hold Saddam to a lower standard.

  46. #47 SmellyTerror
    January 1, 2007

    Hank, is there one thing you said there that’s restricted to Americans?

    …and don’t you think that bordering your posts with dots to make it stand out is a bit of a wank?

    I could say that America got where it is by being self obsessed, just as you appear to be self obsessed. I could say that blind self belief in defiance of the facts is as much a part of the American national character as any idealistic desire for justice. I could say that, but quite frankly it is as much a part of every nation’s character.

    People are people. Some are good, some are bad. Everyone thinks they’re in the right, everyone thinks they have the solution, everyone thinks they are uniquely good.

    Welcome to earth. It is round.

  47. #48 Hank Fox
    January 1, 2007

    SmellyTerror, heh. The “wank” of bordering my posts with dots is simply the creation of a visual bookmark, so I can pick out where I left off, next time I come back to read the comments.

    As to the character of the people of other nations, I don’t have any doubts about that.

    My feeling about how to be better as a people is to hold up an image of the Better we might be, hoping fellow Americans might see it and identify with it — rather than some more negative way (and certainly we have plenty of BAD examples of Americans, some of them currently slithering around in the White House).

    Other people have the negative route covered, and I’m okay with that; this is MY small effort.

  48. #49 Graculus
    January 1, 2007

    and certainly we have plenty of BAD examples of Americans, some of them currently slithering around in the White House

    That is a foul slander againt those that slither, sir.

  49. #50 SmellyTerror
    January 1, 2007

    Oh, err, fair enough. Um… sorry.

    Now I look like an ass. Curse you, Hank, and curse your reasonable response to my outrageous provocation!
    /shame

  50. #51 Matthew C. Nisbet
    January 1, 2007

    Over at Framing Science, I’ve got this take on the US media coverage of the matter versus the international reaction.

    http://scienceblogs.com/framing-science/2007/01/us_media_ignores_world_critici.php

  51. #52 Jason
    January 1, 2007

    You know…the more I read these things, the more I realize it might just be time for people to wake the hell up and march on Washington to demand the immediate impeachment of our executives.

    I’m sure I’m in a minority here, of people who are frightfully disgusted and ashamed of our country, and among those few who read all manner of news stories from the most far flung leftists, to the most self righteous rightists…

    What I know, though, is this:
    On Saturday and Sunday, my children had to be subjected to discussion about a hanging. If anyone thinks that the term ‘subjected’ is funny, then I really weep for you. I can’t begin to express the fury and disgust I have right now with these world governments, and the people who blindly support them…Is there a single person among you who honestly thinks that George W Bush gives a hoot about any single one of you? You know damned well he’d send you to the meat grinder to make another dollar…If there’s any question about the calibre of people running world governments, then why not ask why we’re not making higher education more affordable?

    I’m going to wind up borderlining poetry here (and bad poetry, at that), but…Jesus H Christ Almighty! What the hell are we living in? The Middle Ages? The message being sent by that picture translates in my mind as something similar to the following:
    “Abandon every hope, all ye who dare to defy US.
    Abandon every hope, all ye who shoud outlive your
    your usefulness to US. Defy US, and this is your
    sentence.”

    Iraqi court or not, our country had an involvement, and one which some people call into question whether or not we had any right to. We are the mighty United States, and, given half the chance, we will lie, cheat, steal, and brutalize our way into whatever we see fit to achieve, in spite of world opinion. The Vast majority of our population have absolutely no idea what happened behind the scenes, let alone what it means to live as an Iraqi. I don’t condone Husseins alleged actions, but neither do I have any idea what kind of hand he was dealt to start with.

    This ‘spectacle’, and the cheers its gaining from the internet community is really just something more sickening that I have the stomach for. I am ashamed to admit that I am an American, and, quite frankly, afraid to travel to other countries. I’ve always been afraid to travel to the Middle East, but now I can add a measurable discomfort to the thought of travelling to most European Countries.

    Honestly, some days I start to think that if there were a God in Heaven, He would just have all the Politicians round themSELVES up and hang themSELVES, instead of demanding blood sacrifices from their so called ‘inferiors’ (and lets not pretend its never been said, publicly or privately, if not only in implied language.)

    So, while we’re all busy yammering about the rights and wrongs of Saddam Hussein, my opinion of the matter not valid or withstanding, and the new laws being implemented, introduced, discussed, etc, requiring homeland security clearance to leave this country, while at the same time military draft legislation is being discussed…what do you think is going to happen? Right under your noses? Your sons, daughters, nephews, parents, uncles, nieces, aunts, cousins, friends, lovers, and whomever else these greedy cocksuckers can get their hands on will be shipped off to ‘fight the good fight’, while these diplomatic immunity assholes get away with mass murder.

    You know…I honestly hope that by the time George’s term expires, he gets sent off to have his own ‘fair trial’ on the international courts. He’ll easily get off a lot better than Saddam ever did, with a lot more deaths attributed to him…Get it through your head, people…Bush and Cheney don’t give a God Damned whit for your well being. If they did, they would be funding scientists to find free energy sources, rather than planning to imprison us in our own country while sending more troops off to die.

    Land of the brave…what a fucking joke.

  52. #53 Ian H Spedding FCD
    January 1, 2007

    Caledonian wrote:

    Man oh man, did you ever miss the point. Whoosh!

    Nobody’s perfect. So enlighten me, what did I miss?

  53. #54 Baratos
    January 1, 2007

    Land of the brave…what a fucking joke.

    Agreed. But this is how all revolutions end. They are started by heroes, and are ended by monsters.

  54. #55 David Marjanovi?
    January 1, 2007

    Even from a purely utilitarian standpoint, the trial series ended far too early for my taste. Convicted for the murder of 146 out of how many zeroes more?

    I have nothing to add about Captain Unelected’s Reverse Midas Touch.

  55. #56 David Marjanovi?
    January 1, 2007

    Even from a purely utilitarian standpoint, the trial series ended far too early for my taste. Convicted for the murder of 146 out of how many zeroes more?

    I have nothing to add about Captain Unelected’s Reverse Midas Touch.

  56. #57 David Marjanovi?
    January 1, 2007

    George Forman, if that is the price for having a “great leader”, I’ll do without one, thank you very much. I always get very uneasy when I read about a “leader”; the German word for that, you see, is Führer.

    Oh, and… Hussein is not a last name; the man didn’t have such a thing. The closest thing to that is his belonging to the large al-Tikriti clan/tribe/whatever.

  57. #58 David Marjanovi?
    January 1, 2007

    George Forman, if that is the price for having a “great leader”, I’ll do without one, thank you very much. I always get very uneasy when I read about a “leader”; the German word for that, you see, is Führer.

    Oh, and… Hussein is not a last name; the man didn’t have such a thing. The closest thing to that is his belonging to the large al-Tikriti clan/tribe/whatever.

  58. #59 Roman Werpachowski
    January 1, 2007

    “I always get very uneasy when I read about a “leader”; the German word for that, you see, is Führer.”

    Thank you, Captain Obvious.

  59. #60 Pam
    January 1, 2007

    I felt that the hanging of Saddam was a tragic end to a crazy year – and just reflects how far we all have to go as a society: hanging Saddam did nothing to redeem his actions, there should be no joy in it nor relief. It was just a barbaric event in a life with barbaric moments overshadowed by an unjustified war. Yes, the Iraqi’s tried and hung him – but the US was right there, in the room,(figuratively if not literally) all along.

  60. #61 Mnemosyne
    January 1, 2007

    Ahem. It were the Iraqis who tried and hanged Saddam, not the Americans.

    He was in American custody, and we turned him over to be hanged.

  61. #62 Keith Douglas
    January 3, 2007

    Hank Fox: You wrote well, but forgot one thing – that during some of his worse atrocities Saddam was supported by the US. If there were any justice (and I am not a fan of the death penalty, so I am only trying to get some consistency here) Rumsfeld and a few others would have joined him on the gallows. (Not to mention Bush et al for other war crimes.)

    bernarda: All true (about the horrific foreign policy of the US) but it is also true that many if not most American citizens oppose such barbarism, which is why it has to be carefully managed by their leaders.

    Matthew C. Nisbet: Heh. One of the things I saw was two days of headlines of the Montreal Gazette. At first they were reporting calm, but by the next day even their honesty got the better of them and they were reporting the (at least) status quo of horrendous violence in Iraq world media were reporting.

    Jason: Have courage – many of your fellow Americans agree. (I’m Canadian, so while I think you should impeach, indite, convict and sentence your leaders, I can’t do much about it.)

  62. #63 Miguel Garcia-Blanco
    January 16, 2007

    Well, at least this was more humane than Saddam Hussein’s hanging… Not!

    Most controversially of course, the video shows Barzan al-Tikriti actually being decapitated by the process of hanging, something that’s going to be seen yet again as a grisly example by many Sunnis and of course people who supported the former regime, an example of their argument that this is victor’s justice, that this is really a Shi’ite Government taking revenge, nothing to do with the due process of law.

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