Saturday, 30 December 2006

what makes us human?

I woke up this morning to hear the news of Saddam Hussein's execution on Radio 4. I was going to write about how I felt; and then I read Christine's post, which is pretty much exactly what I wanted to say.

I just feel sad, for us all.

15 comments:

  1. I'm surprised you agree with her, Ally. I tend towards Euan's view that it's deeply wrong.

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  2. I'm surprised you agree with her, Ally. I tend towards Euan's view that it's deeply wrong.

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  3. It's a real test of what we realy believe in, this case. I've been a member of Amnesty International for 25 years, and Amnesty have made themselves very unpopular by supporting Saddam's right to not be judicially kiled. (Just as they made themselves unpopular years ago by talking about his disgusting human rights violations when Saddam was the West's 'friend' against the 'religous lunatics' of Iran.)

    I find myself more ambivalent, a position which surprises me, because I've been a long time opponent of capital punishment too. I just don't know where I stand on this. In principle my view remains unchanged. I do believe that execution is no more than legitimised murder which undermines society's moral opposition to it.

    Yet in practice, it's possible to foresee his continuing to live being somnething which causes more deaths as he becomes the 'leader in exile', the rallying point for murderous Baathist scum who want to control Iraq. So his remaining alive could directly destroy the right to life of others.

    So...does one need to consider the implications for others of his life/death? This is a real factor in this case. Will more people die in this tragic country if he is kept alive or executed? Of course, it could go either way.

    And I would also add that I have despised Bush and Blair's Iraq policy from the start...disingenuous, lying and short sighted.

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  4. It's a real test of what we realy believe in, this case. I've been a member of Amnesty International for 25 years, and Amnesty have made themselves very unpopular by supporting Saddam's right to not be judicially kiled. (Just as they made themselves unpopular years ago by talking about his disgusting human rights violations when Saddam was the West's 'friend' against the 'religous lunatics' of Iran.)

    I find myself more ambivalent, a position which surprises me, because I've been a long time opponent of capital punishment too. I just don't know where I stand on this. In principle my view remains unchanged. I do believe that execution is no more than legitimised murder which undermines society's moral opposition to it.

    Yet in practice, it's possible to foresee his continuing to live being somnething which causes more deaths as he becomes the 'leader in exile', the rallying point for murderous Baathist scum who want to control Iraq. So his remaining alive could directly destroy the right to life of others.

    So...does one need to consider the implications for others of his life/death? This is a real factor in this case. Will more people die in this tragic country if he is kept alive or executed? Of course, it could go either way.

    And I would also add that I have despised Bush and Blair's Iraq policy from the start...disingenuous, lying and short sighted.

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  5. While I can't deny that Saddam was a horrible person and deserved the worst punishment available, I'm really bothered by the way this all went down. The execution, I fear, had a lot more to do with the U.S. government wanting to prevent him from exposing our weapons dealing than it did with anyone wanting to punish him for his crimes. The execution is reduced to being a mere expedient--or, even worse, a propaganda tool for my own government's folly.

    I like what ditdotdat said over at Christine's: "Stability and peace are always, in the end, the products of boring, careful people making countless unexciting decisions." That's exactly what this wasn't.

    That doesn't mean he shouldn't have died, necessarily. It just makes me extremely uncomfortable that we were a party to it.

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  6. While I can't deny that Saddam was a horrible person and deserved the worst punishment available, I'm really bothered by the way this all went down. The execution, I fear, had a lot more to do with the U.S. government wanting to prevent him from exposing our weapons dealing than it did with anyone wanting to punish him for his crimes. The execution is reduced to being a mere expedient--or, even worse, a propaganda tool for my own government's folly.

    I like what ditdotdat said over at Christine's: "Stability and peace are always, in the end, the products of boring, careful people making countless unexciting decisions." That's exactly what this wasn't.

    That doesn't mean he shouldn't have died, necessarily. It just makes me extremely uncomfortable that we were a party to it.

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  7. ditdotdat - I read Christine's piece as being anti his execution (anyone's execution) - which is how I feel. But trying to work out, out loud, the case for carrying it out.

    I have been thinking about John Donne's words today - "any man's death diminishes me, for I am part of mankind". I think that that is what has happened today. Someone can do terrible things - but if we do terrible things in retaliation, or collude with that retaliation, that makes us as bad, or worse, than them.

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  8. ditdotdat - I read Christine's piece as being anti his execution (anyone's execution) - which is how I feel. But trying to work out, out loud, the case for carrying it out.

    I have been thinking about John Donne's words today - "any man's death diminishes me, for I am part of mankind". I think that that is what has happened today. Someone can do terrible things - but if we do terrible things in retaliation, or collude with that retaliation, that makes us as bad, or worse, than them.

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  9. I gather it has happened. Just saw it on the BBC website. And yes, there are arguments every which way...but when the reality is staring at you I do feel diminished too. I think I have worked out how I feel.

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  10. things these days do seem to be causing a lot of brain activity. I still don't know how it could have gone otherise. If he had remained in Prison in Iraq he would have been useed as a focal point for his ba'athist followers, If he had been put in a Hess like situation in another country then that would have been even more bringing us, the US or whoever into the situation. It's like the war, from the beginning I have been anti the war, but I feel that having taken our army in there the government should pay to have them equipped properly for their own safety. Ho hum - nobody said it was easy but no one ever said it could be so hard as they say.

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  11. things these days do seem to be causing a lot of brain activity. I still don't know how it could have gone otherise. If he had remained in Prison in Iraq he would have been useed as a focal point for his ba'athist followers, If he had been put in a Hess like situation in another country then that would have been even more bringing us, the US or whoever into the situation. It's like the war, from the beginning I have been anti the war, but I feel that having taken our army in there the government should pay to have them equipped properly for their own safety. Ho hum - nobody said it was easy but no one ever said it could be so hard as they say.

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  12. I do see what you mean, maybe I was looking for a simplistic view and of course it isn't simple.
    I don't think that he was the focus of the insurgency and so killing him or keeping him in prison wouldn't have made much difference to how many more people die.
    The people who want to fight the Americans will continue to do so while there are Americans in Iraq. The people who want a civil war were never fighting for a return of the ba'athist regime and so they won't be discouraged by this.
    The execution is convenient for all the people who were worried about what secrets Saddam might tell. In the end he was killed because he had no leverage, not because of the bad things that he did.

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  13. I do see what you mean, maybe I was looking for a simplistic view and of course it isn't simple.
    I don't think that he was the focus of the insurgency and so killing him or keeping him in prison wouldn't have made much difference to how many more people die.
    The people who want to fight the Americans will continue to do so while there are Americans in Iraq. The people who want a civil war were never fighting for a return of the ba'athist regime and so they won't be discouraged by this.
    The execution is convenient for all the people who were worried about what secrets Saddam might tell. In the end he was killed because he had no leverage, not because of the bad things that he did.

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  14. Seems to me we could have sent him to Gitmo and let him languish with the countless others who have lost all rights simply because we decided they should. He was a toothless dictator until the US propped him up as the Great Evil simply to justify a war they wanted to wage. (I say "they", even though I am American, because this has not been the country I love and believe in for several years.) Killing him served no purpose. I heard on the news this morning that some Iraqi government official said Saddam's hanging is a message to the Sunnis. Isn't that wonderful -- now we have exacerbated the civil war tensions. You are right, it is a very sad day for all of us, and especially, I think, for those of us who are American. Disagreeing with your government is one thing, but being ashamed of it is something else. A very sad day, indeed.

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  15. Seems to me we could have sent him to Gitmo and let him languish with the countless others who have lost all rights simply because we decided they should. He was a toothless dictator until the US propped him up as the Great Evil simply to justify a war they wanted to wage. (I say "they", even though I am American, because this has not been the country I love and believe in for several years.) Killing him served no purpose. I heard on the news this morning that some Iraqi government official said Saddam's hanging is a message to the Sunnis. Isn't that wonderful -- now we have exacerbated the civil war tensions. You are right, it is a very sad day for all of us, and especially, I think, for those of us who are American. Disagreeing with your government is one thing, but being ashamed of it is something else. A very sad day, indeed.

    ReplyDelete