11/07/2006

Regarding Saddam

I was not surprised to hear that Saddam was pronounced guilty. I was also not surprised to hear that he was sentenced to death by hanging and that he and his lawyers will be appealing the sentence. Media reports on Saddam's sentence show a fairly strong anti-US bias, a belief that the death penalty is wrong and that the sentencing is all a part of a great political plot.
Discussions surrounding the former foreign policies of the US which may or may not have kept Saddam in power are not relevant. The current US government or any previous governments are not on trial. Furthermore, any complicity on the part of the US in no way absolves Saddam of any wrongdoing. No one forced Saddam to murder the people he did. While some might try to argue that the US should have removed him sooner, I would like to point out that there was considerable resistance among the liberal elites (and media in particular) to the idea of removing him when they did. There is no evidence to support the idea that had the US tried sooner, they would not have met with the same resistance.
In any case, the debate is not relevant to the discussion. Only Saddam was on trial for his actions. When a murderer goes to trial, say for the death of his wife, whether someone paid him to kill her, thereby "making him do it" is not cosidered a mitigating circumstance. The murdere is still tried and sentenced.
Arguments for or against the death penalty are also not relevant to the discussion. Although I do believe in the death penalty for certain cases, whether I believe it and someone else does not has no impact on Iraqi law. What matters is whether or not Iraqi's hold to the death penalty.
They do.
If the West is trying to build a democracy in Iraq, then they must start by respecting their laws. In cases where a law may interfere with the democratic process, they might then interfere and assist in the creation of a new law (for example, having successful elections may require the changing of old laws). However, the death penalty is not such a law. While some may try to argue that it is outmoded, indicative of an archaic way of thinking, the death penalty itself is not inherently undemocratic. In fact, if the majority of Iraqi's support the death penalty (they do) simply ignore their beliefs and insist that it be removed from their laws would be very undemocratic.
Is Saddam guilty?
The Iraqi court has tried him and found him to be so.
Should he hang?
His sentence, which is based on Iraqi laws indicates that he must be hanged for his crime.
It would be hypocritical at best to assume that somehow we know better, that we can interfere, in an affair that is clearly the business of Iraqis. If they wish to hang their former dictator, I do not think that outsiders have the right to step in.

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