Monday, January 1, 2007

Good Gazette headlines on Sadaam

Again, as has been pointed out before, Montana Headlines is usually going to ignore national news except as it touches on Montana politics.

Upon reflection, however, the Gazette headlines of a few days ago marking the execution of Saddam Hussein concentrated on the issue at hand -- namely that he was a "ruthless dictator," as the sub-heading states.

The AP article accurately points out the harsh reality of life under Hussein, and the misery he brought to his country long before the first Gulf War ever brought the U.S. to the region militarily. These facts have often been forgotten during the troubled war that has followed the toppling of his regime.

Regardless of what one thinks of the wisdom and necessity of the Iraq war (and it should never be assumed that being a strong Bush supporter ever equalled being a strong supporter of the war), one cannot forget the brutality of Hussein's rule, in which a privileged Sunni minority lived large at the expense of the Shiite majority and sizable Kurdish population.

Whether Hussein could ever have had a trial that appeared to all the world to be fair -- in a country occupied by a foreign power that militarily vanquished him -- is debatable. As a side note, now is a good time to re-read and reflect on John F. Kennedy's chapter on Republican Sen. Robert Taft's controversial and unpopular opposition to the Nuremburg Trials -- one of JFK's Profiles in Courage.)

What the outcome of a truly unbiased trial of Hussein for the torture and murders he ordered would be is not debatable. He would have been convicted, and he would have received the same punishment of execution, which is considered just by the standards of the region and indeed of his own regime.

In fact, by the standards of his own regime he would simply have been summarily shot (if he was lucky) without a trial.

By the normal practices of war throughout most of history, he probably would have been killed by Allied forces upon sight and simply have been a casualty of war like any other combatant. It is hard to argue that what actually did take place -- a trial that much of the world considered to be a show trial followed by a videotaped hanging, with some of his political enemies taunting him as the executioners put a noose around his neck -- represented an improvement on that.