The Principal Ethical Crime of President Saddam Hussein’s Lynching is Ignored.

President Saddam Hussein was executed by the United States on Saturday, December 30, 2006, because of his race, because of his religion and because of his defiance of America. In recent days I have been appalled that the emphasis has been on how he was murdered by the United States and not whether he should have been executed at all, much less for retaliating against an assassination attempt in 1982 in Dujail.

A Shi’a execution guard was arrested for videotaping the murder by a mobile telephone. Yet it was the U.S. who flew the fourteen-person lynching party in an Apache helicopter to the kill zone. Clearly the punishment of arrest is to seek revenge for publicly disseminating a video of this vile execution and to send a message that executions in Iraq are not to be photographed. Regardless, it is most important and beneficial that there is video so “the whole world is watching.” The U.S. has concealed virtually all the battles and all the horror of the Iraq war, much less the execution, from the American people and sanitised it to obscure the bodies, the battles and the babies slaughtered by some American military personnel. A little sunshine is a good disinfectant.

I have not heard a single senior American military or civilian official condemn the execution but only to suggest meekly it would have been conducted differently. Well, America turned over a living, healthy President Hussein to be slaughtered in this manner. America orchestrated this show trial and is embarrassed that the world sees some video showing the monstrosity of capital punishment: American style. Major General William Caldwell, the chief propagandist for the Coalition of the Invaders in Iraq, even praised Saddam’s demeanor and politeness toward American guards. He said the U.S. would have done it differently. I wonder. Remember how the United States treated his murdered sons, Uday and Qusay, in July 2003 and grandson as they publicly DISPLAYED DEAD BODIES with gruesome cadaver facial alteration. Oh, the U.S. might have delayed this hanging for a few days, after the Id al-Adha holiday, as a strategic gesture to pacify Sunni Arabs and give a patina of civilised due process but the barbarity of this cruel act and America’s bestiality are on view just the same.

Justice American style: Why are not the deeply religious American people protesting this violation of the Sixth Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill?” Or does a Supreme Being justify killing “terrorists” and other “enemies” of the American empire? Call it a commandment with an American exemption.

Much has been made of the apparent taunting of the president as he stood helpless on the gallows by Shi’a guards who were baiting him during his final moments. This of course is cruel and inhumane but the act of hanging, of capital punishment, of taking a life in revenge is even more odious and shameful. Actually this taunting had some positive outcomes because one could discern a measured and dignified response from Saddam who demonstrated, as Hermann Goering did at Nuremberg, his capacity to rise above the witch-hunt and show trial and demonstrate a capacity to argue and remain calm under such egregious circumstances.

While it is helpful that such negative publicity has surrounded the hanging of President Hussein, it is morally insufficient because the issue is not HOW but WHETHER human life should be expendable in this manner.

Another observation: The American defeat in Iraq was evident at the gallows. Clearly there were militia members shouting “Moktada” in solidarity with the firebrand cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, and his Mahdi Army. When there is no central government and no national army, you will see a decentralisation of power that is manifested with militias–that are really sectarian armies–that have no allegiance to a national authority. The U.S. says it won’t leave until there is a functioning Iraqi government and civil society. The latter is impossible as long as there is the presence of the former.

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