Monday, November 06, 2006

How Saddam’s Sentence Affects Iraqis, Islamic Dictators

It was both historic and historical yesterday as former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for the killing of 148 Shi'ite men in Dujail after a failed assassination attempt against Saddam in 1982. But as we hear from witness testimony during the trial, many other crimes were carried out, such as mass murder, torture and rape of women and children. All serious and ironic charges against Saddam, considering he was the one who called the court, the new Iraqi government and undoubtedly, the U.S., the “ … the enemies of humanity” once he heard the conviction.

Quite a few over here in America said that Saddam's trial was nothing more than a horse and pony show, something for the Iraqi people and the world to see. A bit of propaganda, to show that the new democracy that America helped set up in Iraq is the best form of government for the Iraqi people. Maybe there is some truth to that. It reminds me of a scene from "Silence of the Lambs." After his drawings and toilet seat were removed from his cell, because Dr. Hannibal Lecter insulted Dr. Frederick Chilton, the hospital administrator where Lecter was kept, Dr. Lecter comments to Clarice Starling that it was a pitiful attempt at punishing him and at the same time, makes Dr. Chilton feel important, since he was the one who ordered the removal of the drawings. Dr. Lecter says about this: "Any rational society would kill me, or give me my books (back)."

Granted, Dr. Lecter says this about society's half-measures of punishing deadly criminals but there is some relevance. Instead of taking away books, Saddam was placed on trial, even though most people knew what the sentence was going to be instead of killing him outright.

However, the trial was important because we needed to show the Iraqi people, who lived under fear of Saddam for so long, that his methods of "justice" would not be that of the new government. This message was also enforced when it was reported that there is an appeals process before the final punishment is carried out. This shows that this is a government with a great sense of justice and compassion, both important aspects that were lacking when Saddam and his colleagues were in charge.

I would imagine that it also put a lot of fear in the leaders of many Islamic countries in that region who are also cruel dictators. The fear must have started when the Iraqi people were rejoicing after the major battles finished in Iraq and were seen dancing and kissing coalition troops. Then there was the famous toppling of Saddam’s statue. That sent a powerful and terrifying message to other leaders like Saddam that the people that they rule over with an iron fist would love to do the same thing to them. Having Saddam sentenced to death by hanging sends a mighty chill down their backs as well. That shows they want this form of government, where the people rule, not the ruler. If giving the decent Iraqi people the freedom and choice of government of their own would give results such as this for their former leader, what would happen if the decent people of Syria had such an opportunity? This must scare leaders in countries like Syria and Iran.

Better men than I would know if spreading democracy is good for the oppress or the world, since there are many consequences that need to be considered and many that might have unforeseen results. Only time will tell. However, for the most part, the Iraqi people finally have their destiny in their hands for the first time in a long time. They made the right choice in the government they wanted during Iraqi elections and they made the right choice with the judicial system they selected.

With this conviction of Saddam and six other defendants, hopefully it will send a strong message to the insurgents — former Saddam leaders and terrorists — that the courageous people of Iraq do not want their form of government or their presence.