Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam Hussein Will Hang

We've known this for a while, but now it's official.

Obviously, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. While I will air my usual objections to the use of the death penalty, they're as pro forma as they get today-this is, after all, a man who fully earned the title of the Butcher of Baghdad. And while I can see where the guy from Amnesty International quoted in the article is coming from when he says that Amnesty doesn't "consider it a fair process," it seems to me that this is more a reflection of the inherent-and possibly unresolvable-problems of bringing the rightly infamous to justice than of any attempt to set up a kangaroo court.

We once had an offline discussion about Osama bin Laden, and what should happen to him. I'm prepared to admit that capturing him alive is likely to be impossible. That said, in principle I think it would be a good thing to put him on trial. At this point I realize that my anti-death penalty principles, if practiced, would lead as Jay says to a major security problem. I think in the event a trial were held, I'd be issuing another pro forma objection to a death penalty.

All of that said, I think that exercises like the one just concluded in Baghdad have an important symbolic value both to the Iraqis and to Americans and Westerners more generally. The problems of victor's justice are real and difficult, but an imperfect justice, and an imperfect process thereto, are better than no justice and no process at all.


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