Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ding Dong Saddam is Dead

Are you glad? Jarrod Cochran wonders if it was really a good thing to kill this man. He also offers this essay, written by an Episcopal monk:

A link to my article:
And, an article from my friend, Episcopal Monk Brother Karekin Yarian:

Saddam Is Dead

Today we executed a near 70 year old man. A man, once of great power, whom we captured cowering in his underwear in a hole in the ground. A man who, without a doubt, was committed to evil and performed great sins against humankind...

And yet a man who had been neutralized. A man who could have spent his life imprisoned for his crimes.

Today, we executed a near 70 year old man...

For crimes committed by countless others whom we continue to support and keep in power because it is expedient to our wishes. We executed him, like we execute so many others in our own country because we do not believe in God, despite our protestations to the contrary.

No... we do not believe in God.

We believe in vengeance and retaliation.
We believe in political expediency.
We believe in photo opportunities.
We believe in our own righteousness.
We believe in the gallows because we do not believe in grace.
We believe that death solves the problem because we do not believe that Christ overcame death...

Or that, if he did, he did so only for a privileged few that doesn't include Muslims. Especially near 70 year old Muslims caught cowering in their underwear in a hole in the ground because he realized that the gig was up and vengeance was at hand.

Saddam went to the gallows with a copy of the Quran in his hands. I wonder if the executioner did the same... carried to the gallows whatever holy book gives him comfort and strength.

I wonder if our Christian president bothered to take up his Bible and pray at all yesterday while awaiting news of the death his machinations had wrought against a near 70 year old man.

Today I got a note from a friend wondering if we ought to pray for Saddam in church this weekend.

Pray for your enemies and those who persecute you.
Those who live by the sword shall perish by it.
Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.

But what do we care. The biggest fear we have when it comes to executing a near 70 year old man is whether his death will lead to more violence against us. Or whether, in an age of lies and deceit, we dare show a video of the execution to the world for fear people won't believe he's really dead. How graphic should the news dare to be?

It really is, after all, just a question of taste.

An evil man has died on the gallows, but a man nonetheless.
At our Christian hands.
And in the scheme of things, the cycle of violence continues with no end in sight...
Because we do not trust God nor God's justice.

Our own petty tyrant is more convincing than the petty tyrant just dispatched.

We will hear about our savage victim over the next several days:

How afraid he was.
How resigned he was.
How pathetic he was.
"I saw fear... he was afraid." "It was strange... he just gave up."

13 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Where do Christians get their ideas about capital punishment from, is my question. I think they get their moral notions from the same source that everyone has access to, except that they must participate in logical gerrymandering in finding ways to justify their moral ideas inside the pages of the Bible, whereas I don't. Also, most of the faithful are supremely confident in their moral ideas which can and has led to horrific consequences.

derek said...

I have to say that i am a bit disappointed by this article. While i certainly have my beefs with the war in Iraq, i find it a little naive to believe that capital punishment is so easily disproved from scripture.

A just-war theory of Christian ethics (which gives support to capital punishment) origniated with augustine in the 5th century ad, and has had support of a major chunk of the faith from then until now.

While i am skeptical at best regarding this war being just, i am a bit disturbed with how this article makes some astonishing statements about the war and captial punishment being so OBVIOUSLY UNCHRISTLIKE. To say something like that seems to betray more a bias than a well-reasoned opinion.

Sorry if i offend anyone.

derek said...

John loftus,

While i appreciate your forthrightness, don't you think that many would read your comment and see you doing the same things you are criticizing.

I see a lot of question-begging going on here:

1) how do you (and i) know that it is "they" and not "you" that is doing the gerrymandering with the bible; saying that they are and you aren't doesn't demonstrate anything.

2) How can you be so certain that you are right and then criticize others who are "supremely confident in their moral ideas?" I assume that you would say that it is b/c their ideas have led to terrible consequences. Have yours? Probably not, but just making a statement with no support doesn't show anything.

Finally John, do you hold to any of augustine's ideas? If you fall within more classical views of Christianity, then you do. If you don't then you can stop reading here.

However, if this is so can i ask how you decide which parts of his thought to throw away and which parts to keep?

John W. Loftus said...

derek, 1) It's not my particular problem how anyone deals with the Bible; 2) I never claim certainty with regard to any moral notion, unlike suicide bombers or those who pushed westward until the guise of manifest destiny, or abortion clinic bombers, or gay bashers; 3) I decide whether to believe something based upon reason and that which I have accepted as true from the lessons of western history. That's the best ANYONE can do. And that's what we all do.

Did you read my entire Blog entry along with the links?

gus3 said...

It isn't just a sense of "justice" that compels Saddam's execution. In a very real, practical sense, as long as Saddam was alive, he was a rallying point for jihadists, Islamists, oppressors, and terrorists, some of whom wanted to "rescue" him from US custody. As long as Saddam was alive, he was a threat to anyone in Iraq.

If you don't think this is possible, I suggest you examine the chronology of Clarence Ray Allen's criminal career. He was in prison, and still managed to orchestrate the murders of witnesses who were to testify against him in his re-trial. Putting him behind bars forever wasn't sufficient to protect society. The same can, and should, be said for Saddam Hussein.

Jason said...

John Loftus: {{2) I never claim certainty with regard to any moral notion, unlike suicide bombers or those who pushed westward until the guise of manifest destiny, or abortion clinic bombers, or gay bashers}}

So, you don't think those people weren't/aren't necessarily wrong to be/have been doing those things?

If these are presented as examples of the "horrific consequences" you previously mentioned--did you mean that as a moral indictment (sounded pretty strong and confidently certain if so), or did you mean only that these things happen to annoy you and some other people (but that this doesn't mean the consequences were necessarily morally wrong, even if they happen to offend your sense of taste)?


Meanwhile, in regard to Brother Yarian's lament: while I think there are proper cautions and crits that can be made about the Iraqi War, it's kind of ridiculous to be moaning about how we executed a 70 year old man whom we dug out of a hole in his underwear. Awww.... I feel so sorry for the freaking mass murderer. Not. If we hadn't driven him into that hole, he'd still be sucking his people dry and living the high life while plotting how to invade his neighbors (again) and how to drop SCUDs (with or without WMDs) on Israeli general populations for local public relations effect.

And yes, I happen to be supremely confident that those were bad things for him to be doing--as supremely confident as a lot of people are that America did the wrong thing by invading Iraq and removing him from power.

For that matter, I happen to think Bush should be impeached for lying to the public at the tail end of the build-up to the invasion. For a long time there _was_ fair evidence of WMD development in Iraq, but at the tail end he either should have publicly admitted the data was starting to go the other way, or at least he shouldn't have misrepresented the data. I understand why he did it, and I understand it was to protect against another or worse version of 9/11--which he had also had fairly solid info on but which he had chosen to sit back on until he had absolutely definite evidence on rather than take draconian measures on less than definite proof. He felt guilty afterward for _not_ acting on 80% good info; Saddam had a known history of trying to attack his neighbors (and of using WMDs on his own population); there _were_ still UN resolutions in effect which hadn't been accomplished yet after 9 years. So, at the end, he lied to get us over the hump and into action. I understand that, and I understand the pressures he was under; and I still think he shouldn't have done that.

Even so, comparing Bush to Hussein is facetious. And pitying a clearly impenitent murderer, simply because he happens to look pitiable in the circumstances of his defeat, is even moreso. Did he seriously 'find religion' in those last hours? Great for him. Then the execution served _him_ some good as well. I would like to think it was true (even if I don't consider Islam to be the best religion). I doubt his religious affectations were anything more than a final show for the crowds and for posterity, but I would like to think he was seriously turning to God as a result of being punished for his crimes.

But I'm not going to badmouth the administration simply because Saddam looked kind of religious and sad and old at the end.

Jason Pratt

Blue Devil Knight said...

I watched the video, and must admit I found his dignity quite touching. Inside, he must have been terrified, but he acted with a composure and self-assurance that helps me understand why he acquired so much power.

I'm not sure how I feel about the death, but the way it was done, with the people jeering him on the gallows, was Midevil. To the extend I think it's permissible, any government execution should be solemn, with a religious advisor of the to-be-executed present if he wishes. Not hooded thugs shouting at the person.

But alas, the middle east is a moral backwater, where vengeance, machismo, crazy sexism, and the heights of irrational religious idiocy are reached. They are uncivilized.

Anonymous said...

I really don't know why you bothered to publish this drivel, Victor. This monk doesn't know what he's talking about.

We -- the United States -- did not convict and execute Saddam Hussein; the Iraqis did. And he was put to death not just because he was a mass-murderer. He was executed, as gus3 said, because he remained a threat to the peace and security of Iraq as long as he lived.

Our man of God Karekin Yarian starts to defend Saddam by saying that the crimes for which he was executed were actually committed by others. But not just any others: "others whom we continue to support and keep in power because it is expedient to our wishes." Oh really? Just who are these former henchmen of Saddam who are now on our payroll? If you are going to make such accusations you should be prepared to name names.

But it gets even worse as the essay goes on! The elected President Bush is called a tyrant for removing from power a murdering thug!

Saddam refused to allow full weapons inspections and was co-opting the sanctions meant to control his weapons ambitions --sanctions which were causing great economic hardship in Iraq. So Bush decided to overthow him. But now those are evil machinations and Saddam is just a poor old man.

I cannot recall when I have read anything more full of bleeding-heart rubbish!

Jason said...

{nodding to BDK} Saddam had to have had _something_ on the ball, I’ll give him that.

And I agree, government executions (or any executions really {s}) should be more sober affairs. Still, it’s their government, and their culture.

And the thugs were hooded because they could expect retaliation on themselves and their families if they were identified. The people are taught there to hate their enemies, pretty much period. (Also explaining why the thugs were allowed to be there shouting in the first place. Also explaining probably why there _were_ ‘thugs’ in the first place--they may have been representatives of families savaged by Saddam and _his_ thugs.)

I can think of various reasons why a person ought to love an enemy (even if the enemy still has to be punished). But those reasons all fit into one or another religious understanding of the truth of reality: if such-n-such is true then we ought to love our enemies. I don’t know why an atheist, on atheistic doctrinal stances per se, would ever think it reasonable to love an enemy. (Not that an atheist couldn’t have reasons, even good reasons, as a person; just that those reasons don’t seem to mesh up with atheism per se. How does choosing to love our enemies follow in any fashion, even after a sequence of extended logical corollaries, from the doctrine that reality is fundamentally nonrational and nonmoral?)


A balance certainly needs to be kept. And though I disagree with Brother Yarian’s logic in other regards (mainly because he abandons logic), he does get one thing abundantly right: even Saddam Hussein ought to be loved.

But love and punishment, even capital punishment (from our natural perspective), need not be opposed. Indeed, the division of this (sadly among Christians as well, who of all people ought to know better) ensures that a punishment _won’t_ (in proportion with that division) be justice.


JRP

Br. Karekin Yarian, BSG said...

I feel compelled to respond to some of the comments posted regarding my recently published article "Saddam is Dead." Particularly comments posted in a venue outside of those where I authorized publication, since many seem to be critical of my stance on the issue presented, leaving me no opportunity to respond. It is to this end I comment on the article posted here.

Firstly, it is always surprising to me how people choose to read things that were not said and interpret in ways that were (quite obviously) not intended. Especially anonymously. So let me point out a couple of glaring examples.

To Jason: Shall we not moan and wail at the death of anyone executed by the state when imprisonment was a viable option? Not least a 70 year old man whose time of oppression and mayhem was over? Shall we be delighted instead? Or do we believe that the cycle of vengeance and retaliation is legitimate in light of the Gospel?

To Anonymous: It is a substantial stretch to assume that the US had no involvement in the kangaroo court that convicted and carried out the execution of Saddam. Otherwise, we would have turned him over to the Hague for War Crimes charges. We counted on the Shi'a controlled courts to exact the kind of vengeance that we condemn in Islam in another breath while comparing it over and against our "Christian" values.

No where in the article do I indicate that Saddam was not guilty of the crimes committed. And yet, we supported him and armed him long after he had already committed them. And we continue to support a Saudi Royal family guilty of much worse, like we have propped up dictators in Central and South America, Iran (the Shah), etc. as long as it suits our needs. These are the very people to whom I was referring as people we continue to keep in power. It was duplicitous of us to go after Mr. Hussein for crimes against humanity.

Saddam, as you wrongly stated, did in fact allow inspections and they showed that there was nothing to be found... and this was subsequently borne out by fact.

I refer to Mr. Bush as a tyrant, yes. And I do so not because he has just taken down a ruthless tyrant, but for so many other reasons as well. But our Mr. Bush seems to relish death like no modern western leader in recent history. His record on executions in the state of Texas should be a good place to start.

In another place, I get accused of abandoning logic. Well, in fact, yes. This was a poetic reflection on the death of an old man. It was meant to open our eyes to a reality divorced from politics and media spin and place in firmly in a place of compassion. Something required of us "Christian" folk. If you have a problem with a lack of logic, then the Gospel is not a particularly good place to start now, is it? God and grace both defy logic, as do compassion, forgiveness, repentance, and a host of other values espoused by Christ. What does it mean to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?

Augustine was a modern thinker. But he was also a frustrated Manichaean, and erstwhile dualist who also came up with the unfortunate original sin doctrine that lead to pagan babies which he could never reasonably work out before his death. Derek claims that capital punishment is not easily disproved by Scripture but then quotes Augustine and the just-war doctrine. Perhaps he could find where in the Christian Scriptures capital punishment can be supported?

I appreciate that folks disagree with an emotional appeal for compassion in a highly politicized environment. But simply becuase there is disagreement does not mean that I do "not know what [I'm] talking about." or that I ignorant about either world affairs or an appropriate Christian response which I believe emanates out of the mandate of my life as vosed religious dedicated to a God whose name is Love.

Anonymous said...

Well, I can play at this too, how about this verse?

Rom 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Paul talking about roman authorities! How do so many American's sit around with self rightous ignominity complaining that a dangerous enemy was vanquished? His age is irrelevent. Here is a guy who killed eveyone he could get his hands on for forty years. Why did we need a better reason? Bush impeached? How about impeaching him for failing to secure U.S. security at the borders. You don't seem to see where the danger lies.

Jess

http://silentplanet23.blogspot.com/

Jason said...

Brother Yarian,

As you did not (despite what you wrote) point out any glaring examples, in your reply to me, of how I chose to read things that were not said by you and interpret them in ways that were (quite obviously) not intended by you--and why am I being included then in your couple of glaring examples of this??--I will reply with some expansion on what I did say (not addressed by you at all, btw) and then also on what _you_ did say.


Should we be sad because Saddam failed at being an ethical human being and abused the power he was given, leading to unjust suffering? Yes, I believe we should. I'm not personally very effective at wailing, but I have nothing against it in principle, and would have nothing against it _for this reason_ (among others) in principle.

Should we be sad because he was caught and punished? No, I don't believe we should be sad about that. I happen to believe that for mercy's sake we shouldn't be gloating over his punishment (if we can help it), but if anyone could have a legitimate reason to rejoice it would be his victims, so I'm willing to be somewhat lenient toward them and their feelings on this.

For what it is worth, I happen to even believe that Saddam _deserved_ forgiveness; and I use the word 'deserve' (though very many Christians would not), on the ground that even Saddam was (and still is) loved by God. But the sending away of sin (which is the term in Greek we English as "forgive") must be a co-operative action, and Saddam was not cooperating. He was not trying to make amends for what he had done. He did not plead guilty and then offer to act in restitution in ways within whatever means he still possessed. The man went into the final judgment (and I don't mean human judgment) still, so far as I can tell, only sorry that he got caught. Granted, God may even be able to work in him with _that_ level of sorrow. Even so, to whatever extent a man is impenitent, punishment ought to follow--for his own good, in the hope of a day to come when he can truly repent for what he has done and act in his own responsibility toward reconciliation, with God and with the people against whom he sinned.

(And this does not even count the not-inconsiderate question of whether his country will be better off with him completely out of play and not trying to inflame the cultural situation further. Execution puts him completely out of play in this world more effectively than exile, even into prison. And he demonstrated repeatedly that he intended to inflame the situation in Iraq, from wherever he was at, for as long as he lived.)


That being said, this isn't the main reason why I wrote what I did.

You had written: "We executed him... because we do not believe in God. We believe in vengeance and retailiation. [etc.]"

You have said, pretty much straight out (unless your own friend didn't report you accurately or fully enough, which seems a bit dubious to me), that anyone who agrees with Saddam's execution does not believe even in God, much less in Christ. We believe in our own righteousness and in photo opportunities instead.

That is what you _did_ in fact say. I have answered you, then, as a Christian theologian; moreover as an orthodox Christian universalist, who believes in the grace of God even for hypocritical egotistical secular opportunists (_and_ for Muslims, too.) I do trust God, and God's justice, and the love of God in that He will always be working to positively fulfill justice. Including with Saddam.


I wrote that you had abandoned logic, and this is strictly true--for you went with mere rhetoric instead, and impugned a man who (whatever his faults may be) does _not_ deserve to be described in terms equal to Saddam Hussein. There is either ignorance or injustice in this. If you're going to judge President Bush, judge him fairly; and that means not attributing faults or crimes to him that he patently doesn't have.


As to the other things--which I was not criticising you on, but I understand you were replying to the Anon instead--I agree, we supported what past administrations (prior to Bush I) regarded as the lesser of two evils. Worse, we actually put the man into power. Furthermore, we do in fact continue to support oppressive regimes in the area, so long as they do not try to overtake their neighbors; the Saudi regime being the prime example of this. (I don't know that the royal family we are supporting is guilty of much worse than Saddam themselves, but they are certainly guilty of repression, and that's bad enough.) On the other hand, I have no reason to believe that any American administration, now or in the past, would have instituted or continued to do that support if they thought they had any better alternative. Despite how it may seem, we don't just topple dictators whenever we feel like it, not least because the results rarely work out for peace in the long run. Force is the last resort; but in many cases, the regimes have essentially made it clear that only force will change their behavior. And _still_ we don't go in and just take over ourselves (except in rare circumstances.) Why? Because despite popular propaganda to the contary, we are _not_ an imperial government. (Not yet anyway; some prudent caution about becoming one is always a good thing to keep in mind. Accusations that we already are, end up denigrating cautions about becoming one, due to their falsity.)


I frequently run across sceptical complaints, to the effect that God allows all kinds of horrible things to happen; even worse, it is incontestable (unless we aren't really talking about God) that in fact He gives criminals even more 'support' and 'propping up' than America can possibly give to any dictator in history. For they wouldn't even exist without His continual upkeep, and He could stop them by force any moment far more effectively than any nation could. But He doesn't. On the other hand, unless we are simply going to selectively ignore parts of the scriptural witness (including in the Gospels), _eventually_ He _will_ act in force. I have an understanding of the delicate balances of intention involved in what God is doing (and not doing) at any given time. Having that understanding, I am more sympathetic to the difficulties of any human administration being required to make choices not even remotely as difficult (or even as potentially damning to its character) as God routinely makes in allowing this or that to happen and supporting the existence of the happenings _despite_ the happenings.

By which I don't mean to allow a government carte blanche to do whatever it wants for its own purposes. I only mean that looking to God's own example I can easily see how even the One with the best possible will and intentions in and for the world, frequently allows and supports things that He would otherwise rather not happen. God knows, I admit as a penitent and even continuing sinner (I find it better to take myself as an example of such, when speaking on practical application of these principles), that I myself abuse the grace of God in such a way; and He is patient in avenging against my sin. Yet that day _is_ going to come, sooner or later, for my own sake as well as for the sake of the ones I sin against. But the end and the hope in view, both in tolerance and in punishment, is atonement and reconciliation, leading to fair-togetherness from me to others (both God and His creation). This reconciliation is what St. Paul tells us the blood on the cross was shed for.


{{Saddam, as you wrongly stated, did in fact allow inspections and they showed that there was nothing to be found... and this was subsequently borne out by fact.}}

In passing, the situation was rather more complex than that; for the same UN inspection teams continued to find evidence of duplicity on the part of Saddam and his administration, even up until near the launch of the war. Evidently, Saddam thought it expedient to let people he thought would be threatened (in his favor) by such a thing, believe he was further along in his WMD program than he actually was; and, relatedly, that his own research teams rather prudently thought it expedient to let Saddam believe they were further along in their research than they actually were. The end result is that there _was_ in fact plenty of 'evidence' of a successful WMD program, for concerned investigators to honestly find (and be honestly concerned about, including Hans Blix)--even though in the end, it was all smoke and mirrors. Ironically, the lies of Saddam's own regime made it impossible for investigators to believe him when he could (truthfully, as it turns out) demonstrate nothing was there. Sadly, that's how the real world works.


{{But our Mr. Bush seems to relish death like no modern western leader in recent history.}}

Meaning he rates a score of 2 instead of the the 8 or 9 of Saddam (for instance.)

I recommend you go live under the authority of some real tyrants for a while, in order to gain some perspective. That word is completely unfair to apply to Bush. Personally, I'm grateful to God (and a bunch of other people) that we do _NOT_ in fact live under a tyranny. (Yet. Not saying it couldn't happen or that we shouldn't be on guard against it.)


Back to replies to me, again.

{{In another place, I get accused of abandoning logic. Well, in fact, yes. This was a poetic reflection on the death of an old man.}}

If poetry abandons logic, then unfairness and uncharity will (logically!) follow as a result. Which is precisely what has happened. Poetry is not an excuse to abandon logic. (I speak as someone who writes 450 page books of poetry myself.)

And if you meant to open our eyes to a reality _divorced from_ politics and media spin, you should have avoided introducing such things yourself. (Opps. Another casualty of abandoning logic...)


{{If you have a problem with a lack of logic, then the Gospel is not a particularly good place to start now, is it?}}

If I thought that was true, I would disbelieve the Gospel. Not least because the notion of something called the Logos defying logic is practically perverse. But if you have no problem with lacks of logic, then you have no ground at all to criticise any administration or person now or at any time in history. Unless you sheerly assert yourself as a ground to do so by. Otherwise you have to appeal to logical relations, and _those_ ultimately derive from the ground of reality--Who is God.

(To say that God defies our understanding in this or that, is one thing. I have no problem with that proposition--I am not omniscient. To say that God defies logic, is to say that God is self-contradictory. This I recognize as a technical heresy, among other things. As a trinitarian Christian I reject it.)


{{What does it mean to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?}}

If you don't have at least _some_ idea of what it means, you shouldn't be talking about it, much less enjoining it. If you do have some idea of what it means--you can thank logic (and more importantly the Logos Himself) for that. I am certainly not going to enter into more disquisition on the topic with someone who has now told us he is willing to abandon logic in order to try to make a point. (I only leave over the remarks above, out of some expectation that readers who are _not_ willing to abandon logic, may find them to be of some value. He who willingly abandons logic is, insofar as he does so, working in intentional dis-cooperation with the Holy Spirit; for this is what the enemies of Jesus did when they wanted to condemn Him. And He condemned them for doing so.)


{{Perhaps [Derek] could find where in the Christian Scriptures capital punishment can be supported?}}

If you mean capital punishment by God (and thus in principle), I recommend RevJohn for starters. (Though possibly you may consider that to be non-canon; some corners of Christianity do.)

If you mean to institute a schism between the Christian Scriptures and the Jewish Scriptures, to the effect that Jesus (as one of the persons of the single essence of God) did _not_ support capital punishment and even war (when He thought it was necessary), then I am not sure a charge of Arianism or something like that isn't in order here. (But perhaps you are not an orthodox trinitarian, in which case it's understandable you wouldn't necessarily care about that kind of disjunction.)

If you mean support in the Christian Scriptures for capital punishment by the state, and even by a state otherwise opposed in many regards (including religiously) to God, then I recommend the warning by St. Paul _to_ Christians, that the magistrate does not bear the sword for nothing, but is God's servant, an avenger for indignation to him who is committing evil. (Rom 13:1-5.) Swords (speaking as someone who teaches swordfighting, btw) represent the authority to take life. Not to spank with the flat of the blade. (Helpful as that may also be at times. {s})


{{But simply becuase there is disagreement does not mean that I do "not know what [I'm] talking about."}}

Says the man who disavows logic when he thinks he has to in order to make a point, while being dedicated to a God Whose name is (also) Logos as well as Agape.


In reply to Jesse, who (as well as finding the Rom 13 verse) also wrote: {{Bush impeached? How about impeaching him for failing to secure U.S. security at the borders. You don't seem to see where the danger lies.}}

Actually, I went to some effort to sympathize with Bush, in my previous comment, for his situation, specifically in regard to the tension between his choice (in good faith) not to act in what would have had to be a somewhat draconian fashion when he had plenty of good evidence instead of absolutely sure evidence (9/11), and his choice to press a war to prevent something similar or worse from happening elsewhere when he had good evidence (at the time) instead of absolutely sure evidence (because there _was_ a lot of evidence tallying up to WMDs in Iraq. Just no WMDs in the end.)

At the same time, I believe he ought to be impeached on grounds of lying to the American public, when (near the end of the build up) it began to become more obvious to Bush himself that the WMDs weren't there; yet he assured us they were there anyway. The personal accountability of our leaders is important. Besides, impeachment (though certainly problematic in terms of operant command structure) need not necessarily presume a judgment of guilty will be reached. Bush might be legitimately exonerated after all. (I somewhat doubt it, but he would be given a fair chance. Some people would say more than a fair chance. {wry s} But then, some people would expect him to be railroaded anyway.)

But then again (again), I'm not sure lying to the American public is technically a crime; so impeachment may not in fact be a legal option. In the case of justifying a war, however--even a war _I otherwise agree with in principle_ (which I do)--I think it should be a crime.

Jason Pratt

Anonymous said...

Brother Yarian,

I'm glad you have visited this page and read the various responses to your "Saddam is Dead." I am the "Anonymous" you replied to. I will answer your responses to my comments.

You expressed some concern about anonymous commenting on your essay so I will sign this message.

It is bemusing to read your complaint that people "choose to read things that were not said and interpret in ways that were (quite obviously) not intended" when you begin your own reply to me by doing just that!

I neither stated nor implied there was no US involvement in the trial of Saddam Hussein. Your essay reads "we executed a near 70 year old man ... We executed him, like we execute so many others in our own country." Your essay does not read 'they executed him with our help.'

You think Saddam was convicted in a "kangaroo court." His trial was conducted in open court, he knew the charges against him, he had the chance to face his accusers and speak in his own defense, he had lawyers to aid in his defense. How that fails to be due process is beyond me.

The Iraqis wanted to stand up and try Saddam themselves. That was a perfectly reasonable request and it was perfectly reasonable for the US to agree to it.

As for depending on the Shi'a controlled court to exact vengeance, that makes no sense. If President Bush wanted to ensure vengeance was enacted on Saddam then why didn't he simply hand the dictator over to the state of Texas? The people of Bush's own state surely have no love for Saddam, but unlike the Iraqis they would not fear him. And as you noted yourself the Texans do love to execute murderers.

Just as I never said there was no US involvement in Saddam's trial, I never said you thought Saddam was innocent. You wrote: "we executed a near 70 year old man... For crimes committed by countless others." This is a defending statement. Not an exonerating statement, but a defending one. Words mean things, Brother Yarian.

As for your claim that the unnamed others in your essay were the Saudi royal family, the Shah of Iran, Latin American dictators and the like, well that is simply absurd. The others you mentioned are supposed to have committed Saddam's crimes for him. Unless you had gone temporarily insane you cannot possibly have had any of the above in mind when you wrote that Saddam died for "crimes committed by countless others."

Equally absurd is your contention that the Saudi rulers are worse than Saddam. I don't recall hearing of any villages in Saudi Arabia wiped out with poison gas on the Saudi King's orders. You write stuff like this, Karekin, and wonder why I say you don't know what you are talking about. Good grief.

In my original reply I said that Saddam hadn't allowed full weapons inspections. That adjective makes a big difference. Jason has dealt with this quite well in his reply, so I won't dwell on it. Of course, you say nothing about the economic sanctions.

As for G.W. Bush being a tyrant, my original note made it clear how stupid I think that sentiment is. But as for your assertion that he "seems to relish death like no modern western leader in recent history," I think that can be disproved just by looking at recent American presidential history. Bill Clinton's support for partial-birth abortion makes him a far more blood-thirsty president than Bush could ever be for attacking near-eastern terrorists and the dictators who support them. As a self-professed "progressive" who likes the Democrats you should think about that before you condemn anyone and everyone who thinks that the death penalty is ever proper.


David Calvani