The New York Times:
A carefully conducted, scrupulously fair trial could have helped undo some of the damage inflicted by his rule. It could have set a precedent for the rule of law in a country scarred by decades of arbitrary vindictiveness. It could have fostered a new national unity in an Iraq long manipulated through its religious and ethnic divisions.
It could have, but it didn’t. After a flawed, politicized and divisive trial, Mr. Hussein was handed his sentence: death by hanging. This week, in a cursory 15-minute proceeding, an appeals court upheld that sentence and ordered that it be carried out posthaste. Most Iraqis are now so preoccupied with shielding their families from looming civil war that they seem to have little emotion left to spend on Mr. Hussein or, more important, on their own fading dreams of a new and better Iraq.
What might have been a watershed now seems another lost opportunity.
Now, to be fair, there was a lost opportunity for a watershed. But this opportunity wasn’t lost in this three-year “rush” to hang Saddam. It was lost on March 19th, 2003, when the ‘decapitation attack’ just missed Saddam and his sons. That was a missed opportunity. What real difference it would have made, who can say? But we wouldn’t have been subjected to all this nonsense in the meantime.
As far as Murdoc is concerned, the more enemy soldiers and leaders you can kill on the battlefield, the better. Things get so much more complicated when you take them into custody.
Remember, all we heard about for weeks and months before the invasion was the “rush to war” despite the years of moves, counter-moves, and counter-counter-moves by both sides. Now, nearly four years later, we’re hearing about the “rush to hang Saddam”.
The NYT writes:
What really mattered was whether an Iraq freed from his death grip could hold him accountable in a way that nurtured hope for a better future.
And the Captain responds:
So let’s get this straight. What is really important isn’t the hundreds of thousands of people that Saddam had killed on his whim. It isn’t lengthy public record of his “vile atrocities”. It isn’t the long string of living victims that had to bear witness under difficult circumstances to those who could not appear in court. What really matters, the Times insists, is that the process did not “nurture hope”.
Just more of the general silliness we’ve come to expect from critics of the campaign and the Bush administration.
And this closing bit in the NYT is delicious:
Toppling Saddam Hussein did not automatically create a new and better Iraq. Executing him won’t either.
This sort of point is, well, pointless. Yes, they are correct that “toppling Saddam Hussein did not automatically create a new and better Iraq” and they are also correct to say that “executing him won’t either”.
But who said that toppling Saddam Hussein would automatically create a new and better Iraq? No one that I know of. And no one, to my knowledge, has said that executing him would, either. So what, exactly, are they getting at?
UPDATE: In the comments, Nicholas nails it:
“Not toppling Saddam Hussein would have automatically prevented the creation of a new and better Iraq. Not executing him might also.”