I suppose it was predictable, but I’ve been dismayed over the outpouring of sympathy for poor old dictator Saddam, whose execution was less polite than a garden party. My colleague Yasmine Rassam presents a less distraught interpretation of Saddam’s death (oops! Allison has already noted Yasmine’s article — but it’s so important that I’m gonna note it again):
“In Islamic societies, justice is considered the cornerstone of any government that seeks acceptance by those governed. One of the problems of the liberation of Iraq from Saddam’s tyranny is that, except for the killing of Saddam’s sons, there has been no sense of redress, of equilibrium achieved, for the millions of Iraqi, Iranian, and Kuwaiti victims of Saddam’s who have suffered under Saddam’s wars and weapons of mass destruction. This feeling of inappropriateness, of disconnectedness between the reality of irretrievable loss on part of the victims and the seemingly interminable trials of the Baathist figures, led to disillusionment and a loss of faith in the rule of law.
“Now, for many Iraqis, and for many Arabs, this single act of disposing of their dictator has reassured them that the system of law and order, heretofore nearly non-existent, may actually begin to function: that criminals will pay for their crimes, even such exalted figures as presidents may one day pay for their acts of terror. As one Egyptian Saddam supporter, demonstrating against the execution in Cairo, said: ‘It is unbelievable that they have actually executed their president.’
“Both friends and enemies of the new Iraq, groping for its identity and its political stability, are drawing their own conclusions from this most singular act. The friends see hopeful signs in that the Baathist insurgents now may realize that their days of dominance are gone forever. That the inspiration of their ‘necessary leader’ is no longer there to provide them with a rallying cry.
“The enemies of the future of Iraq, ranging from a distraught Qaddafi who declared a period of mourning over his erstwhile fellow dictator to the anti-American coalition the world over, must realize that despite the mistakes, despite the lurches in the Iraqi path forward, history moves on and the days of the dictators are numbered.”