What Saddam’s Botched Execution Means

News Abroad

Mr. Goda is the author of Tales from Spandau: Nazi Criminals and the Cold War (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

As most western commentators have pointed out, we needn’t feel badly for Saddam Hussein.  The taunts that he endured in the moments before his hanging on December 30 were nothing compared with the terror he inflicted on thousands upon thousands of his countrymen and his neighbors over the course of his brutal twenty-four year rule.  But the vengeful haste by the Shi’ite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Malaki to execute the former dictator has robbed the Iraqi Supreme Tribunal of whatever legitimacy it might have had with Iraq’s Sunnis and Kurds and with the world at large.  The fact that the hanging was deliberately rushed before Saddam could answer for other, far larger crimes than the massacre of 143 Shi’ites at Dujail (such as the Anfal campaign which murdered 180,000 Kurds); that the execution was timed to coincide with a Sunni holiday; that it was accented with a series of taunts from the witness gallery; that the trap door of the gallows was opened in the middle of the condemned’s final prayer; that the spectacle was captured by cell-phone cameras in the gallery and then distributed worldwide (thus becoming a barbaric public execution); and that Saddam’s body was then turned over for a tempestuous martyr’s burial near his home town of Tikrit, all suggest that Iraq’s government was far too immature politically to carry out the vital task of disposing with the country's former dictator. 

The problem was not, as is being argued in European capitals, the death penalty as such.  A life sentence would have turned Saddam into a political prisoner of sorts for as long as he lived in captivity.  As the case of Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Rudolf Hess shows, the world does not need political prisoners who are also bona fide war criminals, since the popular memory of their guilt fades in proportion to the length of their sentence. The problem is rather the ineptness of the al-Malaki government and its American protectors in managing the denouement of Saddam’s trial.  The trials of major historical figures, though legal exercises, are primarily political acts.  As such they must be properly choreographed since the difficulties in grasping their vast legal and historical scope means that for most, the trial often comes down to a few dramatic moments or poignant images. The Trial of the Major War Criminals in 1945-1946 has been remembered by the famous photos of the leading Nazis in the dock and by the famous ethical joust between US Prosecutor Robert Jackson and Hermann Göring. Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem in 1961 has been symbolized for the past four decades by the defendant facing his accusers from a bullet-proof booth, personifying what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil.”

These sorts of images survive in the public consciousness despite the fact that no war crimes trial is without its flaws. And they survive because the governments that have sponsored such trials generally have not botched the executions afterwards, thus adding images of naked, brutal vindictiveness to already identifiable legal problems. The Four Powers in 1946, for instance, understood that though the Nuremberg trial itself was more important than the executions that followed, the latter could not help but color the former if done poorly. Before the judges pronounced sentence the American, British, French and Soviet military governors of Germany determined that the executions would take place two weeks after sentencing.  If the interval did not allow judicial appeals (these were prohibited before the trial), it at least allowed the drafting of clemency petitions. In the meantime, US Deputy Military Governor Lucius Clay rejected numerous requests from world news outlets such as Time and Life, who wanted to bring professional photographers and additional lighting to the execution chamber so that photos and films of the hangings could be displayed in their magazines and on newsreels. A single military photographer took pictures of the bodies after hanging to prove that the condemned were indeed dead.  The negatives were destroyed, the bodies were cremated (ironically at Dachau), and the ashes were quietly dumped into a tributary of the Danube so that there would be no shrines to the condemned. In 1962, Israelis debated whether the execution of Eichmann would diminish the public understanding his trial and even that of the Holocaust itself.  The government proceeded with hanging, but it was not a demonstrative act.  And Eichmann’s ashes were discreetly scattered in the Mediterranean afterwards.

Sadly the image of Saddam’s trial will not be the accused defying his judges or his traumatized accusers in court, but rather the al-Malaki government’s foolhardy rush of the condemned man to the gallows and the vengeful mocking of his executioners.   And it all could have been avoided.  After all, trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity have been held for the past sixty years – the Baghdad trials are not the first where the problems of the past two weeks have been confronted. Despite de jure Iraqi legal sovereignty in the matter, the State Department could easily have delayed handing Saddam over for a hurried hanging so that – as US military authorities had hoped – the execution might meet some international standard of decorum.  Most amazingly, al-Malaki does not seem to have thought at all about the disposition of Saddam’s remains until after the execution, whereupon the Prime Minister became involved in a bitter dispute with Saddam’s Albu Nasir tribe over the return of Saddam’s body to his home town of Tikrit.  According to the New York Times the body sat outside al-Malaki’s office in an ambulance for seventeen hours before it was handed over for burial at the Americans’ insistence.  As al-Malaki had rightly feared, locals began the process of turning Saddam into a martyr immediately, and the demonstrations have spread from Iraq to the Palestinian territories.  Just as Washington’s ill-timed wavering resulted in the premature handover of a live Saddam to his executioners, Washington’s ill-timed firmness afterwards resulted in handing a dead Saddam to his worshippers.  Thus from a mass murderer has been fashioned a martyr – the one unforgivable mistake in a trial of this type.  

Al-Malaki does not seem to understand it all. In the days following the broadcast of the cell-phone images, the Prime Minister was far more upset about the images having been leaked than with the policies that led to the fiasco in the first place.  The United States, which pioneered the international judicial standards first seen at Nuremberg, should have known better than to give in to policies that would so obviously damage what was supposed to have been one of the few positive signature moments in the entire tragic Iraq war – the Trial of Saddam Hussein.  In retrospect, the Iraqis and Americans have unwittingly made a powerful argument for primacy of the judicial body that each has rejected, namely the International Criminal Court.  To be sure a trial of Saddam at The Hague would not have been perfect.  But Saddam would have answered for all of his crimes and his punishment, if not equal to the suffering he caused, would at least have not detracted from it.  And if such a trial would have occurred far from the scenes of Saddam’s crimes, then at least it would have been less far removed from a more measured and careful form of justice.

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

I contend that except for the fact that the late President Saddam Hussein was an implacable enemy of a Zionist Israel and that Iraq under Saddam had the means and the WILL to confront Israel militarily ; except for that the USA would have neither invaded Iraq nor allowed his execution.

To allege that the USA went into Iraq to bring in democracy and/or fight terrorism is inane and insulting to the intelligence of all.

Zionism and Israel managed to marshall the USA into Iraq; now it is trying to do the same thing in Iran: fighting its enemies with USA blood and treasure.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Clarke
Mr Friedman, I strongly suspect, knows quite well that what the USA is facing in Iraq is an amalgam of all the anti USA forces in Iraq and the region with a leading role for the hyper secular Baath Party of the late President Saddam Hussein .
He chooses instead to dwell on the Islamist faction(s) , stress and magnify their role while ignoring and diminishing all others to prop his hypothesis/desire of an ongoing ,and eventual, all out Islamic-Judeo/Christian confrontation.

Having failed to portray Israel as a partner and major combattant in the pro Democracy camp (since no such thing ever existed)and unwilling to admit Israel's chief role as an imperialist agent Zionism's and Israel's only remaining recourse to align the West, and the USA in particular, with its aggressive, expansionist and racist policies is to depict all modes of anti USA action as part and parcel of, their intensely desired and worked for, total global Islamic-Judeo/Christian conflict.

For only in such an alignment will Israel's presence be less visible and, which is their ultimate goal, Israel's battle will be fought and paid for, in blood and treasure, by others, particularly the USA.

There is nothing "nutty" about Friedman's vision/advocacy of the nature of the conflict.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Another form of barbarism is:

-A state occupies a land, militarily dominate its population, subject them to all kinds of arbitrary rules and laws, subject its population to collective punishment, expropriate their lands under various pretexts including allocating,” legally” designating it, as an “Open Space” or "Green area" then build Settlements on it , cut off their relations with the rest of the world, appropriate their funds to starve them, limit their circulation in their homeland, banish the "undesirables" among them ,subject them to endlessly renewable "administrative" detention orders, enact "laws" that allow ( or is it glorify ?) torture ,open their markets unconditionally to the occupiers products while subjecting the “occupied” products to various "export" restrictions including those destined to the occupiers' markets and demolish their homes.

Build a so called "security fence" ( the Wall) so aligned that it does not only deprive the cultivator from his cultivatable legally owned land but also deprives the school from its play grounds, cut through inhabited homes etc and HAPPENS TO BE SO LOCATED, POSITIONED, on others' land and so routed as to sever most inter "occupied" villages road connections and practically annex every thing beyond (West of ) it.

Annex parts of the occupied land, issue stringently enforced , periodically renewable “residence" permits to its inhabitants, tax them and then "legally" treat them, its dwellers for ages, as "absentee"!

Deny people the right to return to their native land and to repossess their legally owned properties.

That form of BARBARISM is practiced, has been practiced for the last 29 years, in the "occupied territories” by a state with serious pretensions to respect of human rights and ardent promotion of democracy.

The state is called Israel!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

There is always an excuse, there is always a justification but facts speak out more eloquently and far more convincingly!
Facts are facts for everbody to see and none of those listed to document Israel's barbarism in post #104598 was denied or even disputed.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

The Wall, the one built by Israel, is barbaric when it deprives the cultivator from his land and/or the school from its playgrounds and/or cuts a home in two and makes it uninhabitable and/or severs road connections and IS part of an overall expansionist plan to grab more land from its rightful owners.
That is BARBARIC by any standard.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

It could have "saved " as many lives had it been placed on the green line( pre 1967 borders) or on Israeli land occupied in 1948!
Its route , its location on occupied territories, was clearly meant to grab more land from the occupied territories.
A LIE to conceal a THEFT, typical and not unexpected!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Rabbis: Naveh deserves to be killed

Talkbacks for this article: 12

A group of rabbis have issued a halachic opinion implying that OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh deserves to be killed.

The rabbis, all connected with a movement to resurrect the Sanhedrin, the ancient Jewish governing body, said in their halachic ruling this week that Naveh was guilty of being a moser, a Hebrew word that can be roughly translated as an informant or traitor. Literally, it means someone who transfers another's property or person to enemy authorities.

The rabbis see the Olmert government as the equivalent of a gentile enemy that "evilly and violently expels and causes mental and physical damage to Jews."

Maimonides ruled in his Mishneh Torah: "It is permitted to kill a Jewish moser anywhere, even today when rabbinic courts are not permitted to decide on capital punishment matters."

Maimonides stipulated that the death penalty is issued even if the person is not currently involved in traitorous activity but is expected to do so again in the future. Naveh's supposed treason consists of signing administrative orders prohibiting approximately 20 right-wing extremists who live in Judea and Samaria from returning to their homes and families for an indefinite period.
The IDF said that the orders, which were issued without a trial, have prevented clashes between settlers and Palestinians.

However, the rabbis said the administrative orders were part of Naveh's plan to "prepare settlements in Judea and Samaria for transfer to the enemy. Abandoning these places to foreigners endangers Jewish lives."

In the halachic decision, which is personally addressed to Naveh, who is Orthodox, the rabbis accuse him of transgressing the prohibition against "passively standing by while your brother is killed."

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem and a former IDF rabbi, signed the decision together with Rabbis Reuven Hass, Yehuda Edri and Ido Elbo, and Prof. Hillel Weiss of Bar-Ilan University.

Ariel's brother, Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Ya'acov Ariel, said he had nothing to do with his brother's actions.

"That decision is not based on halacha," Ya'acov Ariel said. "It was politically motivated."

However, Rabbi Yishai Babad, secretary of the Rabbinic Committee of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip (Yesha), said that the halachic ruling against Naveh was correct in principle.

"But Yesha rabbis would not issue such a decision for fear some hothead might get the wrong idea and try to take the law into his own hands," Babad said.

Weiss said that he and the rabbis who issued the decision had no intention of advocating murder. "We just hope that Naveh will wake up and stop his criminal activities," he said.

Betar Illit Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus criticized what he called "fringe elements" for issuing the moser ruling.

"The public must denounce those uneducated louts, who cynically manipulate the Torah in a damaging way against a senior IDF officer who has done so much to support Jewish settlements," he said.
(Jerusalem Post; 19/01/2007)

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Hyper tragic as is the situation in Iraq ,in human suffering terms, post USA invasion and conquest for which the conqueror bears the overall reponsability the question facing the American public should go beyond :
"Whether -if key American policy decisions had been made differently during 2002-06 this would have resulted in a lower death toll- is a question which Americans, primarily, should be asking themselves".

Iraq, I believe, have demonstrated the futiliy ,the uselessness of naked military hyper might as a tool of political domination of others, in general, and of the third world in particular.

Together with Israeli occupation,now in its 29 year, in which military might was the prime tool , neither state has achieved, nor will ever achieve, its imperialist, domineering, goals.

Iraq ,practically standing alone and internally divided, and much more so than Viet Nam which had on and off serious Soviet and Chinese state backing, is demonstrating the limitations of USA hyper miltary power.

So the question Americans should be asking themselves is:
"How can WE, the American public,
prevent our ruling establishment from ever embarking again on an imperialist conquest against an enemy(s) that never really threatened our security or vital interest?"

Hyper power on its own is a problem; in American hands it is a universal HYPER problem .

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

He will NOT, being what he is; a Zionist.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Implement which law?

By Meron Benvenisti

Amid cabinet members' expressions of shock in response to a female settler seen abusing a Hebron family came this comment by Ephraim Sneh: "The laws of the state are not being implemented in the city with due haste, particularly regarding Israeli citizens." The deputy defense minister's words were meant as criticism of how the security forces impose law and order in Hebron, but they contained the idea that the problem lies not in the "laws of the state," but only in their "implementation."

To which laws and which state was the deputy minister referring? After all, Hebron has not been annexed to Israel, and ostensibly is subject to military rule. But in the 40th year of the occupation, a deputy minister can disregard such legal nuances and refer to Hebron as if it were annexed territory - just like any Israeli community, Israeli vehicle or Jew in the territories can be referred to as Israel's.

The education minister's directive to restore the Green Line to textbook maps stirred much response, showing that many of those who support the move believe there is an essential difference between the two sides of the Green Line: With the exception of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Israel did not impose its laws on the territories on the other side.


Nothing could be more mistaken. The difference is solely in how the annexation is accomplished. Unlike the declared, comprehensive annexations of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, where the principle was set first and applied later, here the opposite method has been taken: annexation in a piecemeal, selective fashion until, after a few decades, the sum of the parts amount to full annexation despite the facade of "non-imposition of the law."

This fiction is convenient for all concerned. The left can keep on deluding itself that the Green Line marks open possibilities, and that rule in the territories is "military" and therefore temporary. The right can emphatically insist upon a "declarative implementation" of the law and meanwhile enjoy selective annexation, which applies only to Jews - wherein lies its cleverness.

The annexation for Jews alone has created a dual system under which rule of law is determined based on an individual's or a community's national identity. The "local" population is subject to only the original law, as amended in thousands of military injunctions. The right to choose is reserved for Jews. When it's convenient, they are Israeli citizens in every way. When it's less convenient, like when it comes to matters of higher education and especially infrastructure planning, they are subject to the local law. The latter lags behind the Israeli law, and therefore allows for manipulations.

The confrontation between the female settler and the Palestinian woman from Hebron was a clash between two parallel worlds: The Jewish woman possesses all the rights of a citizen of a free country, who is entitled to the protection of its security forces. On the other side is a woman from an occupied people, who is also entitled to protection. However, the army of the occupation forgot long ago that under international law, its role is to protect the "protected population." The army has become the settlers' militia and views the local people as hostile elements.

It's easy to condemn the vulgarity of the settler from Hebron, and it's easy to dismiss the Jewish enclave there as a gang of violent thugs. But they are only weeds that sprout from the rotten ground of the cruel regime that prevails beyond the Green Line. It's a regime based on ethnic discrimination and separation, double standards and an absence of the rule of law.

Just which law does the deputy minister wish to see applied with "all due haste"? That of the settler woman or of the Palestinian woman? In a place where laws differ and discriminate based on national and personal identities, no law prevails. What do we expect of soldiers and police officers? Not to be influenced by orders that instruct them to act in a discriminatory and selective fashion?

The outrage over the woman's crude tirade is just a distraction from the reality that prevails beyond the Green Line, where life is ostensibly normal. It won't be long before it's the liberals who are seeking to have the Green Line erased from the maps, once it has been permanently transformed from a symbol of the aspiration for peace to a line delineating the realms of apartheid.
(Haaretz; 20/1/2007)

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Interesting list, N. but, among other omissions, you forgot to mention (a) that Bush did not win the 2000 election, at least not in popular vote, and (b) by no credible account was Saddam ever again as great a threat to America, Israel or anyone else as he was in 1990-91 when Papa Bush very pointedly declined to risk creating the mess which his far less competent son has created for the US in Iraq. All the reasons you have listed do not explain the sudden rush to invade in 2003. Bush's domestic politicking does.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I have heard a great deal theorizing, from crack-pot to well-informed, re the nature of the US predicament in Iraq. I have never heard anyone, before you now, claim that we fundamentally (IN IRAQ !) face a "jihad" against the US. Sectarian violence, anarchy, local insurgencies, Shia-Sunni civil war, tribal chaos, Al Qaeda recruiting ground, Iranian intriguing, the pigheadedness of G.W. Bush and the enduring legacy of his administration's towering cascade of blunders, all of these are major facets of the mess there. Not a jihad.

Of course there is a concerted effort on the radical fringes of the Islamic world, supported indirectly by a much larger minority of Moslems, to fight a violent Jihad against America. But, there were no Iraqis in the 9-11-01 plot, and there is no indication of Iraqis being a major segment within Al Qaeda or any similar movement today. Your obsession with radical Islam evidently causes you to insert it as the key factor in almost everything happening in the world today. This is not unlike your mirror image counterpart Omar Baker's obsession with "Zionism" on these pages.

I am not impressed by the ISG recommendations, but they are certainly not as bad as Bush's total BS 20,000 troop "surge." I cannot understand why any young patriotic American today would enlist in the US armed forces while they are being shredded by these bunglers. If we want an effective military in the future -and I certainly think we will need one- then we had better limit, not expand, the ability of G.W. Bush to continue ruining it.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

..."If the goal is to end Jihad against us" in the context of a series of comments about US policy in Iraq, certainly SUGGESTS that you meant to
that US faces a Jihad against it coming from Iraq.

Whatever else you might have meant INSTEAD of this is not remotely clear from your statement. Presumably, the true meaning was less "nutty," but the problem lies in sloppy writing, no in the inability of mortal readers to also read minds.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

If "the Jihad (i.e. the war by the radicals against the US, Europe, Israel and the Muslim regimes the radicals call hypocrites)" is NOT coming "from Iraq,"
then how can "addressing" this "jihad" be the "point of the war" American troops are fighting in Iraq?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Given that the consistent hallmarks of G.W. Bush administration's Iraq fiasco have been stubborn incompetence mixed with scornful disdain for international cooperation, common sense, and America's national security, it is a bit much to contemplate even the retrospective possibility of non-botched trial and execution. Sending Saddam to the International Criminal Court is scarcely imaginable unless the whole operation had been radically less deceit- and blunder-ridden from the start.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Now you are speaking clearly and making some sense. This domino-effect fantasy does indeed seem to something Wolfie & Co were dreaming of (before they took other jobs to cover their sorry behinds) - as a long term follow-on to the cakewalk to Baghdad, the rose petals thrown at US troops, the holy grail of happy and dumb liberated Iraqi shoppers, and here in America, apple pie, chickens in every pot and tax-cuts everlasting, etc.

I think you have identified the mother of all nutty ideas about Iraq.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Egypt's gonna get one too
Just to use on you know who"

for example, does not currently apply to that Mideast power.

Whereever radical Islamists take power they tend to rather quickly either make themselves despised by their subjects (Afghanistan, Somalia) and ripe for being overthrown or become moderate/toothless (Saudi Arabia) or some shifting combination of the two (Iran).

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The point is that there is a big difference between (a) guys hiding in caves who plot massacres like 9-11 (and who might just kill thousand of their co-religionists if they could get large numbers of "infidels" too) and (b) people who have to operate oil wells in order to get the export revenue to pay for their Mercedes limos, trips to Monte Carlo etc., and who throw money in all directions to make their underlings happy, even if some of them end up being in group (a).

Most people, of any religion, would rather live under group (b) than under group (a), even though neither is what you or I might regard as acceptable.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Your point of view has been more than amply covered on HNN already, Mr. K.

If you could come out of your West Bank settlement bunker for a moment, you might find time to read the history of the 1991 Gulf War. Take off your blinders of prejudice and you might also discover there an example of international cooperation organized by Bush I. In hindsight, he seriously messed up the end of that operation by not taking care of Saddam, but America invaded Iraq on that occasion with a clear mission, accomplished it in a few months with US casualties in double digits only, the US taxpayer was fully effectively reimbursed by other countries (THATS what international cooperation means), and the US had the international credibility thereafter to help remake Eastern Europe, intervene in the Balkans to mitigate that horror, and to help orchestrate the early 1990s ceasefire between normal Israelis (not the fanatics whose views you too often ape here) and the Palestinians that effectively lasted until one of those fanatics assassinated the internationally competent and cooperating Israeli prime minister. Bush II has spurned international cooperation (not that he would be competent to manage it if he tried) in terms slightly less fanatical than yours which has led directly to a never-ending disaster for American national security in Iraq. Under the misrule of Bush II, America has become a paper tiger because -amidst the cascade of other betrayals and ineptitudes- a nitwit president turned policy on Iraq over to pro-Israeli-terrorist "neocons." Fact it: America is not going to continue to heed this Israeli lunatic fringe crap forever, no matter how much of it you keep dumping on this website. Give it up for a change and go back to building ugly bunkers and cheering the slaughtering of Palestinian civilians. It will do neither you nor anyone else any good, but you will feel less hypocritical.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Oil is actually NOT key here, despite its obviously central role geopolitically.

The crucial distinction is, rather, between various forms of barbarism:

(1) where it is practiced domestically (Saudi),

(2) where it is shoved down the throats of foreigners (e.g. Khomeini vs Rushdie) and

(3) where people blow things and themselves up in the name of such barbarism (Taliban/Al Qaeda).

No form of barbarism is very savoury, but form (1) tends to be hated least and, given half a chance, people will tend to undermine (2) or (3) and support (1) instead.

Saddam (remember him? This is a page about him) would be alive and well in his Baghdad palace today had he been content with a tyrannical form of (1) rather than striving for "glory" vs Iran and Kuwait with (2).

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

What I "really wanted" to say, Kovachev, is quite clear from the initial post, prior to your subsequent attempt to change the subject. My second post was a rebuttal to your "out of the blue," warped, and "code word"-laden tirade against "international cooperation." (It was overly sharp and presumptuous in the context of your first post, but not relative to your second, nor to hundreds of prior ones in prior weeks). The Israel which does not deserve your abuse would not exist were it not for international cooperation, and your flaming hypocrisy is not excused by lame attempts to drag all Jews into the small hell-hole of a miniscule cry-baby fanatical minority, which, for all sorts of reasons irrelevant to anything remotely related to the topic of this page, has been far too influential with the disastrous current US president. That is going to change, when his successor takes office, at which point fanatics with tell-tale hypocritical denounciations of international cooperation in general (excepting, of course, those forms which benefit their weird extremism) will then update their stock propaganda lines. Why not show your intelligence and anticipate the new party line, instead of just recycling the same old same old?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

In contrast to Mr. F's rather evasive answer, I will reply more directly to your list, even though it is of distant relevance to the topic of the page, Mr. B.

I think your description is mostly correct, but the key missing context is not the "lesser evil" of Israelis (an obviously subjective and debatable assessment) suggested by Mr. F, but missing history:

(a) Except for property dispossession, which is not necessarily always barbaric, the items of your list basically fall into barbarism category 2 (in my crude but I think usable classification), but they have not been practiced uniformly over the past 29 years (2000-04 was, for instance, much worse than 1992-96).

(b) some of these items were clearly enacted at least in part IN RESPONSE to periodic (again not uniform over 29 years) incidents falling into barbarism category 3

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

What a surprise to hear you chime in, N. Happy New Year.

Take a closer look at the thread here and I think you might see that what happened is that Kovachev’s first comment took pot shots at one small slice of my opening statement, based on the absurd notion that all forms of international cooperation (including getting allies to pay for American military operations in the Mideast) are merely variations on “clown” courts run by “Chinese, Russians and Zimbabweans.” This is not a position taken by any reputable historian or political analyst. It is an extreme view, and it is not outside the bounds of HNN comment traditions to call a spade a spade in such cases.

In my second post I blasted Mr. K. for parroting the BS lines of Israeli “settlers”(which in a post a few weeks ago he admitted being sympathetic to and having worked with) whereupon he declared me a Nazi. If anyone who takes issue with anything any Jews say is therefore a Nazi, then presumably Ariel Sharon must be pronounced a Nazi for having forced withdrawal from Gaza, and Israeli police who pursuing Rabin’s killer were Nazis too. Great logic: I am Jewish, therefore anti-Nazi, therefore anyone who disagrees with anything I do or say must be pro-Nazi. I don’t think “crap” was too strong a word to use in characterizing this posture of Kovachev. A couple of weeks ago he and I were both hammering on one of HNN’s occasional Holocaust denialists, but he had no insults for me then. I guess I’m only a Nazi when I dispute him, not when I dispute someone he also disagrees with.

On your main point: This is not the place to discuss the history of Israel, but certainly you would agree that it was not founded in the 1940s only by indigenous Jews living in Palestine, without outside cooperation and assistance, nor that it would have developed into its present form without military and political support from other countries, especially the US.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This statement of yours is right on, Mr. Baker. Mr. Friedman, if he is honest and fair, will concede it without slipshod evasion.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Saddam was captured in American-occupied Iraq and executed there for the crimes of having killed some HUNDREDS of innocent people in the early 1980s, shortly before Donald Rumsfeld paid him a friendly visit where these crimes were not discussed.

According to reliable estimates, over 30 THOUSAND Iraqis died in violent deaths in 2006 alone.

It would be untenable to claim that America policy is the sole cause of all 30K+ deaths. It would also be untenable to claim that American policy under the Cheney administration has made zero contribution to that death death toll.

Whether Iraq, despite this large increase in killings, is still "better off" overall without Saddam is a matter of neccesarily subjective opinion wherein the views of Iraqi citizens certainly count for more than the pronouncements of speech writers and spin doctors for US politicians.

Whether -if key American policy decisions had been made differently during 2002-06 this would have resulted in a lower death toll- is a question which Americans, primarily, should be asking themselves.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

With due respect for someone who manages to disagree with me on many occasions but without calling me Nazi, I regret to unsurprisingly detect more than a few faint echoes of the West Bank settler mentality in your latest remarks. But, and it is not a small "but," you do have different agendas and different standards of discourse, which IS appreciated.

Again, this is not the moment for a long irrelevant tangent, but (a) it is mighty strange definition of "international cooperation" that would exclude Jews from many countries and many different background flooding the Palestine region with their ideas, money, and persons ever since 1945, and extensively assisted therein by a vast international array of non-Jews, and (b) ANY small, heavily populated and reasonably prosperous politically sovereign economic entity - Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Switzerland or Israel, would face imminent economic catastrophe if it were to even try to do without thousands of forms of international trade and cooperation.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Guess this dates me. Scratch Hong Kong which never really was politically sovereign since the Brits moved in, and certainly isn't now. I think the point stands, however. Exclude the sovereign qualification and what comes most readily to mind are the Palestinian Authorities whose jurisdictions are being economically strangled by Israel (not without cause).

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I would say that the "restraining force" on Israel is the common sense of Israelis not massacring Arabs wholesale just for the sake of revenge. Not that I am eager to bring up Nazis again, but one cannot help but be reminded of Kristallnacht and all that followed it, a towering example of the monumental horror, injustice, and evil criminality of systematic murderous disproportionate guilt-by-association "pre-emptive" retaliation. The Israeli leaders are not Nazis because they don't want to be, not because America tells them what to do.

This and the rest of your laundry list of Israel-Arab dispute talking points would be best saved for a page relevant to those issues.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Maybe my comment was out of line, the "line" is invisible in the fog of your tangential outpouring. How the heck I is anyone suppose to interpret this utterly absurd statement of yours:

"Israelis are restrained from taking any steps of any sort that might resolve the matter."

Israel has already acted, in recent years (not throughout its whole history), more brutally and disproportionately and unresstrainedly than any almost other democracy in modern times (Bush in Iraq in 2003 being the only exception I can think of). Their unrestrained cowardly slaughter in Lebanon last summer already went far beyond the bounds of civilized behavior and seriously weakened their country to boot. And did not do a damn thing to rescue the captured soldier that was the pretext for it all. Only under our all-time-worst president Bush has America done anything so asinine and disastrous to the country's interests. Yes, America massacred Indians in the 18th and 19th centuries, but not in such a cowardly, hypocritical, and utterly counterproductive way. What more could the Israeli government possibly do that would be counterproductive to the interests of its people except to start treating Arabs the way Nazis did Jews (diverting huge amounts of resouces away from the 3rd Reich's war effort to commit mass murder against some of their most productive citizens) ?

Let's plan totalk about this more slowly and carefully, and without you dumping the whole AIPAC play list into one comment, WHEN ISRAEL IS THE TOPIC OF THE PAGE!

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

No European DEMOCRACY ever launched a military invasion as foolish and counterproductive as Israel's of last summer. If you compare that wanton slaughter of a thousand civilians and lame, cowardly, self-inflicted humiliation of a once justifiably proud military to what Czarist Russia, autocratic Austria Hungary, or Napoleonic France did, then your statement is valid. But whoever criticized America for "restraining" Napoleon or the Czar?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I would agree that the Israelis will face Hezbollah again. And I think the circumstances will not be more favorable for Israel because of it having uselessly slaughtered hundreds of Lebanese having nothing whatever to do with Hezbollah, which came out of the cowardly invasion stronger than ever.

Now, I am sure there must be some words of wit from you about the hanging of Saddam, under the thumb of the US, for crimes committed long ago when the US was suppporting him and winking at his mass murder.

N. Friedman - 1/18/2007


It saves lives. That is more important than any strip of land.

N. Friedman - 1/18/2007


But a wall is not barbaric, Omar. It keeps people from dying.

What, Omar, are Palestinian Arabs doing to keep people from dying?

N. Friedman - 1/17/2007


All things have a context.

Consider, Omar, while the barrier, which you term a wall, keeps people from their land, it also keeps people from dying. That is a far lesser evil, all things considered. The same can be said about all of the other restrictions. My suggestion: stop blowing people up and these evils will end, since they did not exist until the violence began.

As for settling land, that is a down side for refusing to settle. And, I remind you that you have stated repeatedly that your position is non-negotiable. So, why should Israelis care? There is no benefit to being nice when your side is incapable of compromise.

N. Friedman - 1/17/2007


I am not quite sure that the categories you mention fit the examples. Saudi Arabia is involved in more international efforts that instigate violence than probably any of the other countries. However, due to oil and connections in the US, the country is largely immune.

N. Friedman - 1/16/2007


In other words, you distinguish the Saudis because there is oil under their ground, notwithstanding the radical regime they run. And, I am not sure they really run anything. They pay foreigners to run the oil wells, which is customary in Muslim lands.

N. Friedman - 1/16/2007


Wrong Lehrer song. My song is We Will All Go Together When We Go

I am not sure you have a consistent definition of radical. And, I am not sure that all the radicals, in power, are despised. It, of course, depends on the definition.

By my definition, Saudi Arabia is very radical. It is the country which allowed girls to die in a fire because the secret police would not let them out since the girls were not dressed correctly. It is the country where there are stonings on a regular basis. It is the country with secret police to enforce religious laws. It is the country which exports Jihadism by means of funding a very large percentage of the world's mosques and religious schools. If Saudi Arabia is not radical, no country is. Yet, the country is not despises by all or even most of its subjects.

I am not even sure that Taliban Afghanistan was despised by most of its subjects. Given the opportunity since the overthrow of the Taliban, the people are slowly but surely restoring many, if not most, of the elements which bothered Westerners about the Taliban. And recall, Afghanistan is the country that, had the West not intervened, was just recently prepared to kill a person by court decree for converting from Islam to Christianity.

I think we need a consistent definition.

N. Friedman - 1/15/2007


I have no advocacy about the Iraq war. I never favored it.

One thing I can say, were Israel the one giving marching orders, the US would have focused their attention early on against Iran. If, in fact, Iran eventually gets the bomb and if the rulers, at such point, are as nutty as Ahmadinejad, that is as bad for Palestinian Arabs as it is for Jews. The distances are too small. As the song goes,

When you attend a funeral,
It is sad to think that sooner or'l
Later those you love will do the same for you.
And you may have thought it tragic,
Not to mention other adjec-
Tives, to think of all the weeping they will do.
(But don't you worry.)
No more ashes, no more sackcloth,
And an arm band made of black cloth
Will some day nevermore adorn a sleeve.
For if the bomb that drops on you
Gets your friends and neighbors too,
There'll be nobody left behind to grieve.

N. Friedman - 1/15/2007


Well, you know my view that we are not in a position to have much impact on the thinking of Muslims about what their religion should and should not concern. For the same reasons, I would not expect that believing Christians will change their views about Christian theology based on what Muslims think Christians ought to be believe.

N. Friedman - 1/15/2007


In answer to your question, the idea of setting up democracy was to create a new force in that region to counter the Jihad mentality. In other words, the idea was that democracy would spread and interest in Jihad would decline. That was the government's idea, as stated by, for example, Wolfowitz.

N. Friedman - 1/14/2007


I thought I explained myself just fine. Evidently, you missed my point. What I was saying is that if the point of the war was to address the Jihad (i.e. the war by the radicals against the US, Europe, Israel and the Muslim regimes the radicals call hypocrites), we better start figuring out what the Jihadis think and have in mind. That is a different thing from saying that there is a Jihad against us from Iraq.

I might note - although this was not my point - that, in fact, a Jihad was declared by prominent clerics at Al Azhar. It was to protect a Muslim land - specifically Iraq - under attack. But, that is not the Jihad I had in mind.

N. Friedman - 1/14/2007


As is typical, you did not read my argument. I was not saying that the US faced a jihad in Iraq. Read my words more carefully.

N. Friedman - 1/13/2007


I only mentioned what occurs to me. So, you can add your ideas to the list.

I do not follow your domestic concerns explanation. In 2002 - 2003, Bush's popularity was very high. So, domestic issues do not, as I see it, explain the matter either as there was no constituency to sure up.

I am also not convinced that there is any great mystery about why Bush acted. I just think the arguments in support of starting a war in Iraq - all of which have been stated by the war's advocates again and again from long before the war to now - were wrongheaded and that we have seen the consequences of wrongheaded ideas played out.

I might add: I do not see any serious ideas being proposed by anyone else of influence and, most especially, not by the ISG. Their ideas seem as nutty as those taken up by Bush.

If the goal is to end Jihad against us, then one must understand the Jihadists on their terms as they understand them. That would be step one. Until we understand what they think and what they want, we shall never be able to undermine them. And, nothing Bush or the ISG has said suggests any understanding at all of this ideological enemy.

N. Friedman - 1/13/2007


Declaring something does not make it true. And, were Israel pulling the strings, the US would have invaded Iran, as the Israelis at that time were urging, rather than Iraq. But, you are entitled to your opinion.

The US went to Iraq for its own reasons and, no doubt, there were many of them. Was spreading democracy part of the mix? Maybe. Such certainly explains in part why we are still there. Was having influence over Iraq's oil fields part of the mix? Maybe. Otherwise, our government would have instability in the oil supplying region. And, that explains a lot about why we are still there.

Was finding WMD part of the mix? Yes, unless that was completely a deception. Was helping Israel part of the mix? Maybe, since Israel is an ally of the US. But, that could not have been a major reason, since it was not something even the Israelis were pining for. And, it has not done much to help Israel.

Was placing an army between Iran and Saudi Arabia part of the mix? Rather likely. Was placing pressure on Saudi Arabia and Iran to reign in radicals part of the mix? Rather likely. These factors were probably rather high on the list, based on the assumption that the administration did not anticipate an insurrection or civil war.

On the other hand, if the administration anticipated the chaos, then the administration wanted to start a new war between Shi'a and Sunni. I doubt it but such appears to be what is occurring.

N. Friedman - 1/13/2007


Well, I am not in favor of capital punishment but I shall not much miss Saddam.

I recall that during the period involved, he was not our ally so much as the ally of the USSR.

The US provided both Iran and Iraq with with assistance during the Iran Iraq war - and I trust you remember the Iran contra scandal. With that in mind, the better way to look at the problem is that we paid both sides to fight each other. And, much of the rest of the world was giving assistance as well. And, before the war, he was certainly not our guy. So, the view that Saddam was our guy is a spin on the matter. The reality is far more Machiavellian, whether or not Rumsfeld visited, etc., etc..

N. Friedman - 1/12/2007


Now you are qualifying and limiting your earlier assessment. WWI comes to my mind with everyone pining for war, with rather foolish war making treaties, with societies that saw war as honorable and a match consisting of a mere assassination. Nothing the Israelis have done comes close to the madness of WWI. And, quite a bit of it was the work of democracies.

I know. You have qualified yourself now by saying the word "Launch." Germany "launched" the war against France. But as you know full well, France was not exactly a non-belligerent in the dispute.

As for Israel "losing," I think that remains to be seen. I see the fight as a battle in a rather much bigger war, where Israel achieved some but not all of its immediate goals. Israel may well be in a better position when the next round starts - which it almost certainly will.

You talk of it as a terrible blunder. I am not sure, one way or the other. I think that the Israelis have given the likes of Hezbollah something to think about, something that they will have to take into account the next time they think of attacking Israelis or Israel.

As for overreacting, I think that is nonsense. An act of war means war, most especially if you live in as barbaric a region as the Middle East. And, to act otherwise is to invite even worse - a sign of weakness that Israel can, in these tough times, ill afford to allow. And, given the path that things are going in that region, the Israelis were going to be fighting with Hezbollah one way or the other and might even otherwise have faced Hezbollah under even less desirable circumstances than existed.

N. Friedman - 1/12/2007


Answering your comments is not tangential. As for what countries do when foreign forces - part of the Lebanese government, no less - attack, see any course in European history. What Israel did in Lebanon is, by European standards, rather tame.

N. Friedman - 1/11/2007


That is a bizarre comment that is unworthy of you. I never suggested that the Israelis would behave like Nazis and that the US restrained Israel in that manner. My point is that the Israelis are restrained from taking any steps of any sort that might resolve the matter. Even Sharon, and his unilateral step, was ill conceieved.

My suggestion: if you want to discuss the Arab Israeli conflict, stop talking about Nazis. And, if you bother to look, the only parties around who speak kindly of Nazis are on the Arab side. That, Peter, is a fact, not my spin on the fact. It is not in Israel that Mein Kampf is a best seller over a long period of time. But, go to any Arab country and, wonder of wonder, the book is - that and the world conspiracy Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. And, it is in the Arab world where the not uncommon comment about the Shoah is that Hitler did not finish the job.

Forgive me, Peter, but I really think your comment is very far out of line, even if your point - which I got - was to say that Israel does not plan to follow in the path of the Nazis.

N. Friedman - 1/11/2007


On your first point, I am not quite sure that the displaced Jews of the time would remotely agree with you. In fact, I recall the European powers, e.g. Britain, doing everything in their power to prevent Jewish refugees from moving to what is now Israel. I trust you recall the Exodus incident. And, I trust you recall that Jewish refugees were kept in DP camps for a number of years until they took matters into their own hands.

I do not deny that Israel has International cooperation. I deny that it has International cooperation to deal with its problems with the local Arabs. I think that is readily apparent and that the US is the restraining force on Israel. And, I do not claim to know what Israel would do in the absence of US calls for restraint. But, I trust you know that the tit for tat situation would not be tolerated by any country that has the means to deal with the problems Israel has, so clearly, there are serious forces that restrain Israel. And only the US has that degree over Israel.

Regarding Judea and the other territories, we do clearly disagree. But, I am not an advocate for Israel settling that land. Such is indifferent to me other than the point that the policy is rather obviously divisive.

So, were I an Israelis, my position would be for Israel to make clear the land it is not willing to cede - with an explanation of why - and the land it is willing to cede. And, since the best imaginable reason for keeping land claimed, whether or not rightly, by others and which causes bloodshed is some form of "need," Israel would likely distinguish land it needs (i.e. so that it has a more readily defendable border) and will not part with from land it merely wants (e.g. Hebron, where Jews were ethnicly cleansed by the British after Jews were massacred) but would cede in order to end the dispute.

As for creating a Palestinian Arab state, if that ends the dispute, I am for it. Thus far, the quest for that state is a blind alley. So, I am not wed to the idea since it has, thus far, caused a lot of bloodshed.

For what it is worth, I think that such is because a Palestinian state is not exactly what enough Palestinian Arabs want. And, whether or not the Israelis are or are not sufficiently forthcoming toward that end - and they are not always so -, there is rather strong evidence that the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs want something somewhat different but which sounds somewhat similar until you examine things closely.

Witness the existing HAMAS covenant which might nicely be called transnationalist, not nationalist, and which focusses on recovering Muslim lands, not creating a Palestinian Arab state. If you ask me, I think that is exactly what most Palestinian Arabs believe and want - just as our own Omar says, and has said repeatedly, is the case -. And, that makes a two state solution very, very difficult, although I would certainly think such a settlement to be fair and reasonable.

[Note: Such is not the only possible way to resolve the dispute fairly to all involved. For example, the Palestinian Arabs could form a federation with Jordan - a country in where Palestinian Arabs are the vast majority and always have been. That would make, logically speaking, the issue of a viable Palestinian state passse and it would make the border issue less contengious. And, note: I am not saying I favor that approach but rather that any approach that actually works and is not a step toward more bloodshed would have my blessing. At present, however, I do not think there is any settlement no matter what anyone does. And that is due to the Islamist thing, which opposes settlements on principle.]

I really do not think that the anti-nationalist wording of the HAMAS covenant is an accident. I think it is consistent with that region's long history, a lot more consistent than the European idea of a two state solution - and note the long absence of any state where Israel now is, since Islam does not much believe in nationalist states -. And, I think that this historical legacy is a main issue, namely, that the efforts are directed to something meaningless to most Palestinian Arabs, other than as an interim solution.

N. Friedman - 1/11/2007


The correct URL address is http://emperor.vwh.net/history/br-role.pdf

N. Friedman - 1/11/2007


Happy New Year to you as well.

Addressing your point - and leaving it to Peter K. to defend whatever he has done (although I do not see why, if your view is correct, you retaliate rather than raise the level of conversation) -, Israel was founded by Jews seeking refuge from European oppression. The project, at the start, was largely their own and they had only on and off support from others - which is typical of a project which might, one day, seem advantageous to a foreign office but, the next day, seem ruinous and, the day after, seem important. So, International cooperation would not be the first word to come to my mind with reference to Israel's creation. It would not be my second word either. But, this is not to deny that some cooperation existed from time to time.

And, the project surely did not have real support from the British (i.e. the rulers of the land) when push came to shove - Britain, wanting to maintain its position in the region. See e.g. "The British Record on Partition as revealed in British Military Intelligence and other Official Sources - A Memorandum Submitted to the Special Session of The General Assembly of the United Nations April 1948," The Nation, Volume 166, New York, May 8, 1948 No. 19, Part II at http://www.tenc.net/history/pdf.htm . The information revealed in the article may help better explain the presence during the 1948 war of British pilots flying Egyptian bombers and a British general leading the Arab Legion (i.e. Jordanian) army.

Anyway, Israel did not have much cooperation from anyone when it declared independence. And, the world community embargoed the region although, in time, Israel found ways to obtain arms, most especially from the Czechs. So, again, the issue is not really one of International cooperation.

I might add: the issue I raised with respect to cooperating with Israel is its absence today, whatever it might have been historically. What seems most obvious to me today is that the US restrains Israel from attempting to solve Israel's problems and that is likely due to a number of reasons. Whether that is a good thing or how Israel would deal with its adversaries without US influence is anyone's guess. But, frankly, no one can seriously claim that any powerful country would take a thousand civilian casualties the way Israel has.

So, the question that an historian would ask, in my humble view, concerns the forces which persuade Israel not to deal forcefully with its problems. And, frankly, the answer is International pressure that, most likely, has to do with oil and with lucrative contracts in the various oil supplying states.

N. Friedman - 1/11/2007


No offense but you have, in fact, injected something you now say was not what you had in mind. Perhaps, more careful drafting on your part would be welcome.

Consider: on your view, Mr. Kovachev would be wrong whether he lives in Kiev, in Chicago or Judea. Which is to say, you too easily inject ad hominem supporters to arguments.

Now, I do not take things as far as the very astute Mr. Kovachev does. I do, however, question your assertions about potential International cooperation.

Frankly, I think the issue that will become more and more clear in time is that cooperation that might address the issues of the Muslim regions will not be had. But, lest it be unclear to you, consider the matter in purely traditional big power terms. Does Russia think it benefits if it helps the US clean up the Islamic radicals which attack the US? No. Is France really ever going to support a policy aimed toward cleaning up problems in the Arab Muslim regions? No. It would have bigger riots than it already has and it would lose big time contracts that it has with, for example, Iran. And, what about China? No. It benefits short term and long term by our weakness. Etc., etc.

Is there something the US can do that would align the interests of our allies regarding the Arab Muslim regions? I highly doubt it. The problems in France come to mind but there are even other issues that militate against any serious cooperation. The current arrangement in the Arab Muslim regions has brought great material wealth to the moneyed interests in Europe. Note all those terrific building contracts that go to European contractors. And, there is also the view, most notably spoken of by the French, that the US is just too powerful and that there thus needs to be a counterweight which, to Europeans since they are not going to build an army, means allying themselves, to no small extent, with the interests of Arab Muslim states in order to gain economic and political power.

European countries, in my view, do not want the problems in the Arab Muslim regions solved. I know. I am talking too generally, but my point is to note that there are really important forces at work in Europe that make it difficult for Europeans to act.

Now, you say that it is the International community that allows Israel do to what it does. That requires considerable explanation. Common sense dictates that no nation would voluntarily give an inch to create a hostile state on its border. I know no good example of one in any event. And, given the amount of violence from Palestinian Arabs, consider that were the International community in any way aligned with Israel - rather than in obtaining lucrative contracts in the Arab Muslim regions and a secure supply of oil and cheap labor -, Israel might do what any powerful state would do vis a vis an unruly group that blows up its citizens. So, frankly, I think your point is politically interesting but ahistorical.

Peter Kovachev - 1/10/2007

Odd that out of the blue, you would bring Israel into this. Well, maybe not that odd; sourcing all the world's troubles to the Jews by default has a long and "noble" history.

I don't know why you bother peppering your argument with current code words; direct quotes from Mein Kampf or Der Sturmer would have been understood just as well.

Obviously, your "analysis" of current events ... the "good" Gulf War," the "bad" Gulf War, "international cooperation" (as in the oil-for-food bonanza perhaps?) and associated drivel is not worth addressing, as that's not really what you want to tell us. It's just a hodgepodge of nonsense in support of your central message, your "political" paradigm: "the Jews are our misfortune" and "any enemy of the Jews is our friend." The only difference, it seems, is that your predecessors didn't feel they have to disguise their message by mumbling about neo-cons, Likudists, Zionists, settlers, "Palestinian" children or whatever, but kept it simple: it's always "die Juden"! I wish you would stop beating around the bush so much; time is such a precious commodity.

Peter Kovachev - 1/9/2007

Yes, Clark, "international cooperation," perhaps with the blessings of the same clowns who make up the current Human Rights Tribunal? An international court? You mean the kind with Chinese, Russians, Zimbabweans and god-knows-who-else in the glorious "international community"? Saddam was an Iraqi who primarily brutalized Iraqis and was tried, sentenced and executed by Iraqis. Good riddance to the beast and let the lesson stick. If you step outside on your lawn and take a deep whiff, you just might smell the poo-poo running off Assad Jr., the mullahs of Iran and other such shining examples of leadership. Now that's entertainment.

John D. Beatty - 1/9/2007

He can only be hanged once, for one murder or a million. Arguably, using this sort of logic, he could be on trial until he died of old age.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, or as my neighbor said, "to the man who murdered much of my family".

Can't argue with that.