Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dead Man Walking

Much has been written about the death sentence of former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. Some say it’s a good thing, others say its not, and some others like me, are stuck somewhere in between. For now though, Saddam may still be walking, But the Saddam to a lot of people is dead; he has been for a quite some time.

The Saddam Hussein the world knew in pre-occupation Iraq was a different man from the court-house maniac that he has become, from the days of his military salutes to his one-handed shooting antics; the public persona of Saddam Hussein was one of strength, control and obedience from his people. Weather anyone would acknowledge it or not a tyrants induce a sort of admiration by at least some people of this globe if not most people. Their very existence is based on their image of respect and absolute unquestioned power. Stalin, Mao, and even Hitler are still adored by their supporters (and sometimes by non-supporters) for their god-like personas. When Saddam Hussein appeared from a rat hole in December 2003, looking like a pre-Christmas Santa clause, appearing on TV in hand cuffs and being examined by an American medic, he gave up membership of that elite club of dictators. He was no more the great Saddam, he was dead then and now we are just having the ceremony.

That said, ceremonies conducted by the US-backed Iraqi court seemed to be somewhat flawed, and genuine concerns whether or not the justice in its purest sense was served is an open question. I do think some justice was served, but I have reservations as to the way it was served - Including the invocation of the death penalty, something which I’m fundamentally opposed to. Much of the reaction from the world over seems to follow those lines, opposing the death penalty imposed on Saddam whilst upholding the fact that he was a brute.

In this vein, I read with amusement, a small box story in the front page of the Daily Mirror on Monday (Nov 6, 2006) with the title ‘Muslim leaders condemn verdict’ in which the body of the story goes on to say Alawi Moulana (Governor, W.P) has told the Mirror that the ‘entire Muslim world would rise up’ against the sentence. Obviously Mr. Maulana was unaware of the fact Iran has already come forward in support of the verdict, and called for Saddam’s execution. Its interesting that Maulana would use the term ‘Muslim world’, because the Baath Party, or should is say The Baath Arab Socialist Party which provided the political foundation for the Saddam-dictatorship was not terribly Islamic, in fact it was more fascist, in both philosophy and operation also inspired by the JVP-like Arab nationalism and European socialism. Iraq then, (contrary perhaps to the reality on the ground which we now see) was seen somewhat more secular societies in the Arab world during the Saddam regime; probably due to the fact that Saddam favored guns over religious clerics for obedience. So it’s a bit surprising to me, why the so called Muslim World would ‘rise-up’ against this decision. It must also be said, however, that conduct of Muslim leaders of this country deserves a lot of praise, and I would not exclude Mr.Maulana from this list. They seemed to have managed to attain the correct balance and not let things slip into religious fanaticism like some parts of the world. If statements like this one, and some limited action (like burning up bush-dolls and American flags) is part of what keeps things in check, then so be it.

Coming back to Saddam’s case, there has always been conspiracy theories thrown about with regard to the case it self, and the capture of Saddam. Some claim the Santa-like figure who appeared from the rat hole is an impostor and the real Saddam is either in exile or dead ( as in physically). Some others believe the court’s decision to announce the verdict was to cushion a Republican defeat in the mid-term elections that are currently under way in the US. I’m usually not so big on conspiracy theory, for I would reject both these claims.

But whatever said and done at the end of the day, a Saddam execution may have little impact on the situation in Iraq, but a GOP defeat, which is now certain in the US House of Representatives and possibly even in the Senate might have a bigger impact on the Bush policy, and therefore the lives of people in Iraq.



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