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Saturday, January 06, 2007

In the Iraqi Civil War, Our Side Has Been Chosen For Us

I doubt whether any serious person thought that the execution of Saddam Hussein would have any positive effect for Iraq. I've run into one or two people who claim that it removes hope any 'dead-enders' may harbor of re-installing him. That 'dead-ender' line is propaganda, about two years old and way past its expiration date. As I said, no serious person. One of those who told me this also sincerely asserted that Saddam Hussein planned to take over the world. I guess you don't have to have a clue to have an opinion.

Shortly after Hussein's death was announced, violence increased in Iraq. Again, no big surprise for the reality-based. Any excuse for a party, I guess. But the later cell phone video of the hanging shows not a state execution, but a lynching, no matter how legal. It makes the current iraqi government seem partisan, the executioners look like goons, and Saddam look like a martyr. If this is the future of Iraq, it's no better than it was under Hussein.

Prior to the execution, iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned that his government would review relations with country's that criticized Saddam's hanging. Since there isn't a country in the world that's dependent on Iraq for anything, there were plenty of countries voicing their concern because of their opposition to capital punishment alone. No one was all that worried about iraqi response. The ensuing video didn't helped any.

BBC news:

The circumstances of the hanging of Saddam Hussein have turned the former Iraqi leader into a martyr, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has said.

Mr Mubarak said the unofficial pictures that emerged of the event were revolting and barbaric.

The chaotic scenes at the execution, during which Saddam was taunted, have been condemned across the world.

The BBC reports that Mubarak had sent a message to President Bush, urging him to stop the execution before the holiday of Eid al-Adha, a muslim feast following the Hajj. Not only does this show that the broader middle east has been disturbed by the execution, but that the view their is that the current iraqi government is controlled by the US. Whether
or not it's true, middle eastern perception is that we killed Saddam and the masked goons taunting him before he swung were US stooges. Not helpful.

As his executioners insulted him with chants of, "Moqtada, Moqtada," meaning Moqtada al-Sadr -- the powerful shia cleric. Saddam asked, "Do you consider this bravery?" They weren't his last words, but they were the last words he spoke to anyone other than God. He went through the trap door praying. One person with some small amount of class begged them to stop the final insults, saying, "Please do not. The man is being executed. Please no, I beg you to stop." Unfortunately, the voice of sanity seemed to be a minority of one.

The chant of, "Moqtada, Moqtada," is disturbing. People acting on behalf of the government were clearly executing Hussein in the name of something other than the government and it's laws. That's why I described it as a lynching. It wasn't about justice, but vendetta.

As I said, the current government is widely perceived as US servants. That the executioners were taunting Saddam not as a monster, but as a sunni, is not a good thing. The civil war is on and, in middle eastern public opinion, we've chosen sides. Our side being the shia majority. That our side has been chosen for us is irrelevant. Perception is reality, until those perceptions are forced to change.

Which means we have one helluva lot of work to do. Sending more troops isn't going to do it.


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