Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam Hussein Given Death Sentence

If there's anything more repulsive than Saddam Hussein's outburst after hearing his death sentence announced today ("God is great! Long live Iraq! Long live the Iraqi people! Down with the traitors!), it's George W. Bush "welcom[ing] the verdict as a 'milestone' in the efforts of the Iraqi people 'to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law.' " Even the Jersey Meadowlands in the bad old days did not stink as foully as the words "a major achievement for Iraq's young democracy," coming from the man whose policies turned Iraq from a centralized brutal dictatorship into a land of anarchic chaos ruled by unspeakable violence and terror, where tens of millions of Iraqis live in fear 24/7.

Steve Clemons is annoyed by the entire trial spectacle and what it says about U.S. policy in Iraq:

Of course, he is guilty. Hussein was always guilty, whether established by a court of peers or not.

What irritates is how the trial of this strong-man has become the face of both the Bush administration's biggest triumph and largest mistake in the war against Iraq.

The Bush administration gets credit for taking down Hussein, real and in statue, but they too deserve every bit of the credit for unleashing the virulent currents of sectarian killing and convulsion in Iraq, all of the responsibility for removing the chief constraint on Iran's actions in the region, and all of the kudos for giving radical Islamism reward after reward in the region.

Saddam Hussein's head will be a prize that Shia extremists thank America for while they continue to do their best to eradicate Sunnis from Iraq.

Bush deserves all of the credit for the Hussein trial and conviction -- and all of the horrors unleashed around it.

Brilliant at Breakfast has an instructive post about kill rates -- Saddam Hussein's and ours:

Estimates of the number of Iraqis killed by Saddam Hussein during his 23 years as Iraqi president range from 150,000 - 300,000. Even without the recent Lancet study claiming 600,000 Iraqi civilian casualties since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2002, if we want to take the Iraq Body Count estimate of between 45,354 and 50,321 civilian casualties, that's horrifying enough. So what does that make us, only 1/6 as brutal as Saddam Hussein? But it's worse than that. Hussein took 23 years to kill all of these people. His "kill rate" was just over 13,000/year. We have been in Iraq for 4-1/2 years. If we take the lower figure of 45,354 documented casualties, George W. Bush's kill rate of Iraqi civilians is 10,076. I hardly think that being able to say "We're killing 2,024 fewer Iraqis annually than Saddam Hussein because we're in Iraq" gives us any kind of moral high ground.

Something to keep in mind when we're congratulating ourselves for bringing the "butcher of Baghdad" to justice.

Publius sees poetic meaning in the oh-so-convenient timing of the sentencing:

Well, I certainly have no objections to Saddam being hung. But this sentence, coming two days before the election, is a pretty apt metaphor for the entire war. Actually, the true metaphor would be if the sentence (timed for the U.S. elections) caused widespread riots that ultimately caused more political harm than benefit.

I hope it doesn't happen that way, of course. But if it does, it would be an almost perfect metaphor for the Iraq War. And a fitting coda to the GOP Congressional control that has depended so heavily on exploiting Iraq for political benefit.

TPM reader DK notes reader comments "suggest[ing] that any intended boost [to Republicans' election chances] is likely to be offset by a spike in violence in Iraq and a possible spike in U.S. casualties."

Via Juan Cole, the Daily Telegraph tells us that offset has already begun.

Hilzoy has written a post accompanied by powerful (and very upsetting) photographs of the victims of Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign (which occurred during and just after the Iran-Iraq war, during the period of time when the United States considered Saddam a "friend" and "ally," despite knowing what he was doing to the Kurds in Anfal). Hilzoy alludes to this in her post:

While I wrote this I was only thinking about Iraq, not about the US. So let me state for the record: I don't think that the dreadfulness of Saddam in any way implies that the invasion was justified, let alone that it was justified as actually executed. Our invasion has had horrible consequences for a lot of people, American and Iraqi, and will continue to have horrible repercussions for years to come. There were a lot of other things we could have done to help, things that would not have left hundreds of thousands dead and a country torn apart. We could, for starters, have actually done something to protest the Anfal campaign when it happened, or done more in Darfur today. By invading Iraq, we removed Saddam, but we also heaped more misery on the Iraqi people, who have surely suffered enough already.

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