Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Saddam's Execution in the Grand Scheme of Things


I as said before the execution of Saddam Hussein and the video of the execution are touchy. But it is a historical document and will not only have affect in the classroom but also the global stage.

Holding leaders personally account for crimes committed by their countries is a new phenomenon. After World War II trials for crimes committed against humanity were held in Nuremborg against Nazis, in Tokyo against members of the Empire's high command, the Finns prosecuted their own leaders under pressure from the Soviet Union, and the Soviets had their own trial for Japanese war criminals. The trials were suppose to rush in a new world order of justice but the dawn of the Cold War made things to contentious and dirty deeds were done and overlooked for the next half century.

After the fall of international communism things changed. The world was globalized and once again sensitive to crimes against humanity. War crimes and crimes against humanity courts were set up for crimes in the Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. While these courts are setup by United Nations their background is ironic. The United Nations failed to achieve the peace in these lands (and in the case of Sierra Leone gave the worst war criminal the Vice-Presidency and control of the diamond trade in the name of realism and peace). Peace in Yugoslavia was attand by NATO military and political pressure, Rwanda was allowed to happen until Tutsi rebels liberated the country (and the UN and French finally got involved by saving the Hutus), and Sierra Leone's civil war was ended by the Guinean military.

Like the above Saddam was allowed to run Iraq with slaps on the wrist by the international community. Weapon inspectors were not allowed in, the no fly zone was violated with Coalition planes were shot at and drones shot down, terrorist operations were funded by the government, and torture chambers were used against Saddam's enemies both real and imagined. All the while the people of Iraq suffered under the oil for food scandal. Saddam even had supporters on both the extreme left and right who saw him as a strong lion against Israel and the United Nations. It took military intervention on the part of many countries and nation-building to finally bring Saddam to justice.

The Middle East and surrounding areas is one of few liberties and many tyrants. The extreme popularity of the Saddam Hussein execution video must be frightening to those who oppress their people. Arabs, Persians, Kurds, and others are seeing what can happen to their own monsters. Leaders are paying attention. Right after the Second Gulf War Libya announced it was ending its support of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction program. After the Iraqi elections many Middle Eastern countries held local and regional elections and some even gave women the right to vote. Already people are seeing how Lebanon is working and the potential for Iraq. Many reformers and moderates are demanding change in the region.

Slowly but surely the Middle East is encountering globalization and liberalization on a scale other than economics. People naturally desire freedom while wanting security. Hopefully the Middle East can find a balance similar to that of the West. The current status quo of oppression and exportation of terrorism cannot last nor be tolerated.

On a final note there is a great discussion of the morality of Saddam Hussein's execution. There are both religious pro and anti capital punishment arguments. What one must consider is the world better off with the man dead rather than life in jail. With a Sunni insurgency still going on in Iraq there would be the possibility of hostage taking and execution demanding Saddam's release. This scenario is enough to persuade me. However, think for yourself on this issue.

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