UPADTE: AN IMPORTANT QUALIFICATION FROM COMMENTER, MIST:
First, though, let me say that I thought the Iraqi authorities had taken into consideration the timing of the festival of Eid and had taken pains to avoid having Saddam’s execution desecrate a holy day. It now seems they went out of their way to do the opposite.
I am very happy that Saddam is dead. He was an evil man and the world is better off without him.
However, I am both furious and disgusted by the way the ‘iraqi’ govt. handled it. In one swoop they managed to turn it into a complete farce and rip apart Iraqi unity rather than mend past wounds.
1. Was it necessary to have a bunch of sadr street thugs carry out the execution in a dungeon looking room? Even the effin insurgents manage to do their executions in nicer environments…. and they wear matching outfits.
2. Killing him on the morning of eid to the chant of ‘muqtada muqtada muqtada’ was an abomination. When I saw the official execution video, I couldn’t understand why they had muted the sound. But after seeing the camera phone footage, it makes sense. Nearly every Iraqi I have spoken with believes this was literally an eid gift to iran, courtesy of his willing puppet maliki.
3. And if there was ever any doubt that the dawa party and maliki weren’t in bed with sadr, I think the fact that his henchmen got to execute Saddam should make it obvious to everyone.
Some of the Iraqi responses I have heard:
Many felt sorry for saddam, he looked like a helpless old man, and all those guys in masks chiding him only made it worse.
This opinion was coming from people who had family members killed by him. That is ridiculous. They all thought he needed to die, but they were all very unhappy with how it was done.
In the end, the Iraqi govt. once again proved they have no interest in Iraq and that they are completely controlled by iran. I really can’t imagine why it’s so hard for the US govt. to recognize and respond to this situation but we just won’t.
This amounts to malignity by a theocratic state. The Americans should have refused, intervened,or done whatever it took not to play into the hands of the Iranians dressed up like Iraqis.
And here’s what The Islamic Threat says about the voices you can hear on the video:
Before hanging Saddam tries to say the Shahada but the Shia followers of the religion of peace do not allow him his Shahada and drop him before he finishes. That is equivalent to preventing somebody from getting last rites. The Shias around him were chanting for Moqtada Al Sadr, their would-be dictator version of Saddam. One of the guards is begging them to stop and they insist. Then chaos insues as they apparently want to mutilate his body but they are prevented…
Again, I find the American cooperation on the timing of this, whether through ignorance or a wrong-headed (again) policy of hands-off at just the wrong moment, disturbing in the extreme.
Will our State Department ever grow up? I ask this question not knowing if Foggy Bottom was directly involved or not. If they weren’t handling this momentous event then that was dereliction of duty. If they were involved and allowed the timing to be carried forward into the Eid holy period, they are either stupid or deliberately dangerous to this administration. Either way, they are as perfidious as those executioners who would not permit Saddam (former secular atheist) his final prayers.
What do you think was the most momentous event of 2006? Not counting, of course, the personally meaningful births, deaths, or other rites of passage that happen in each family. Those cannot be gainsaid.
In my country’s history March 2003 was boots-on-the-ground in Iraq. In my personal odyssey it turned out to be the final birthday of my daughter, who was to suddenly die six weeks later. As I recall, it was not a particularly happy birthday…she was rushed, and didn’t look well. But for some reason, in contrast to my usual funny cards, I had picked up a mushy, mother-daughter birthday card and tucked some money in it.
But that was three and a half timeless years ago.
Meanwhile, there is December 30, 2006. The Impending Death of a Tyrant, with all the rumors of delay, of it having already happened, of assurances it would never happen.
Perhaps it is the tendency to look at what is most recently in front of us that makes the death of Saddam Hussein seem the most important event of the year. Time fatuously made the Person of the Year for 2006, “You” – whoever that is. Had they the sense to frame it as Martin Buber’s “Thou” it might have had some resonance. But simply as “You” it becomes self-referential and essentially narcissistic.
Did you watch the video of Saddam’s death? I did; so did the Baron. We discussed it at dinner, and the future Baron said he would avoid it, as he had the other grisly videos from the Middle East propaganda machine. The Baron and I demurred: sometimes it is important to bear witness. We had both forced ourselves to look at the film footage of the Jewish survivors in the camps of World War II. We would also watch the final moments of a twisted human being who had bought death, destruction, and a cruel reign to twenty five million people. Those people deserved our attention as surely as Saddam had given them his close personal scrutiny. As one visitor was told:
“You cannot imagine what it is to live like this for 20, 30 years. We have to keep up our routine lest we would lose our minds.”
– – – – – – – – – –
But I realized in every household that someone had already lost his or her mind; in other societies such a person would be in a mental hospital. I also realized that there wasn’t a household that did not mourn at least one family member who had become a victim of this police state.
I wept with relatives whose son just screamed all day long. I cried with a relative who had lost his wife. Yet another left home every day for a “job” where he had nothing to do. Still another had lost a son to war and a husband to alcoholism.
As I observed the slow death of a people without hope, Saddam Hussein seemed omnipresent. There were his statues; posters showed him with his hand outstretched or firing his rifle, or wearing an Arab headdress. These images seemed to be on every wall, in the middle of the road, in homes.
Those images are gone now. Only their nightmares and the terrorists remain. For the latter, whatever they say to the contrary, Saddam’s death is a body blow.
Even though it waited until almost the last moment of 2006, the departure from this world of a truly evil – relentlessly evil – human being is a moment to be lived in relief and wonder.
It is as though there is a black hole where once he stood.
My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real, thought far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?
When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?
Ah, if just for a moment, the exultation at the cessation of evil…for a moment, you can hear “the endless song above earth’s lamentation.”