Views on politics and current events

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The End, Or Just The Beginning?

The recent execution of Saddam Hussein has been condemned and celebrated in equal measure. While I question the value of executing anyone, I shed no tears for a man that was a despot and committed atrocities against his own people.

History has been full of such people. Our own country has had its share, despite the pretense of life, liberty and equal rights for all. On an objective level, the atrocities Saddam conmmitted are by no means the worst in history, but they were most assuredly bad enough. Did his actions warrant his death? That is for others to decide.

What I question is the rapidity of it, the value of it. Was it for revenge? Was it to silence him? Was it to give the Iraqi people a sense of closure? Did the execution really do anything to help the situation, or will it end up making the situation worse? Was this an example for all who wish to pursue a life of power and abuse?

There have been many examples of such people like Saddam meeting their fate, and I don't see where those examples have stopped anyone so inclined from doing the same type of things. I do believe in what goes around comes around. Even if an evil person is never brought to formal justice, their fate is the same as anyone else. No matter how much power a person has gotten, evil or good they have done, fortune or fame or anonymity they have, none of us is getting out of this life business alive.

Depite so many years of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, I don't think we even begin to understand the differences between our culture and theirs. Like a rock skipping over a pond, our collective knowledge of Islam and the many cultures that comprise the Middle East are superficial at best. I do not understand how we as a nation can be so involved, and expect to do any positive things, without a deeper understanding of the region.

But there is one thing for sure: Saddam is dead. Whatever lessons, if indeed there were any, he could teach us by being alive are now gone. He was a despot that was once an ally, and then became an enemy of this country. He was given aid and weapons to assist his fight against our 'enemy' Iran, and no doubt used some of those weapons and technology against us. So there are still lessons to learn from people like Saddam, but I doubt that we will learn them.

With the relative speed of Saddam's trial and execution, I can't help but feel that we have lost some further insight. In the political expediancy of silencing a former ally that could have been an embarrasement, (and make no mistake, the U.S. had a lot of influence on the court and the decision) history perhaps has not been well served. But in the long run, it probably doesn't matter. We have proven over and over again that whatever history can teach us, as a nation we choose not to learn.

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