I would venture to guess that there is great rejoicing in Freeperville and throughout Right Wingnuttistan today, following the execution last night of Saddam Hussein for war crimes. (Hell, no, I'm not going to go over there and peek to verify my suspicion. First of all, I don't have the time or the supplies necessary to perform the required full exorcism on my computer after surfing to any of those places, and second, I haven't had anything to drink today in the way of adult beverages, and that's the only way I could slog through Freeperville without blowing a gasket or two.)
As another story at Auntie Beeb put it, Hussein was "Hated by many, mourned by few." I think it is equally important, however, to remember who some of Hussein's relatively few friends in the world were:
The picture is old and grainy, but that's until-recently Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, grinning from ear to ear and shaking Saddam Hussein's hand in Baghdad just over 20 years ago (December 20, 1983). At the time, Rumsfeld was in Iraq as a special envoy from then-president and current conservative Republican idol Ronald Reagan. It was the oh-so-conservative and even more hawkish Reagan who decided, on the principle "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," to restore U.S. relations with Iraq about a year after the above photo was taken (November 1984). But the U.S. had been providing Iraq with intelligence and military support for years previously, more or less from the moment that Reagan took office in 1981. The important thing, apparently, was to beat the crap out of the Islamofascist crazies in Iran, and anything we did in furtherance of that aim--including providing aid and comfort to a sadistic dictator guilty of war crimes--was just fine and dandy.
Which makes both the execution of Saddam Hussein and what I'm assuming is the orgiastic response thereto on the other side of the blogosphere a piece of absurdist theatre that Beckett or Ionesco at their most antic would have rejected as too far beyond the bounds for sustaining the willing suspense of disbelief that drama depends upon. Although the execution was carried out by the present government of Iraq in secret, it's a sucker bet that it was largely at the bidding of the Beltway chapter of Tyrannical Enablers-R-Us.
In other, plainer words, the very same people who were so pathetically eager to kiss Saddam's ass a quarter-century ago that they were willing to sell him biological weapons technology if it meant that he'd do their dirty work against Iran for them, now have his blood on their hands. The chickenshit chickenhawks wanted him prosecuted for war crimes so badly that they were willing to commit a slew of their own to make it happen. The very ones who had the man hanged by the neck until dead for murdering his own citizens have now judicially murdered him (or at least caused him to be judicially murdered, which in my moral code is tantamount to the same thing).
Now, before I wind up hip-deep in tighty-righty talking points, let's clear a few things up, shall we? Yes, I believe the world is at least marginally a better place without Saddam Hussein in it. But no, that does not justify doing absolutely anything to get him to shuffle off this mortal coil. Neither does it justify the illegal and immoral war we started three and a half years ago under false pretenses, a war which has cost innumerably more than we were led to believe, and taken far too many American lives already, and which shows no signs of coming to an end any time soon. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a murderous bastard. No, that does not give us the right to murder him.
It seems likely that we'll be seeing no end of stories in the next week or so about Hussein's execution. Bloviators within and without the Beltway will blather without ceasing, speculating on the basis of little or no data whatsoever on what Hussein's death might or might not mean for the future of Iraq, the outcome of the war in Iraq and the War on Terra as a whole. The process of capturing and bringing him to trial will be covered in excruciatingly boring detail. The better networks might even bring in a panel of lawyers and consider the question of whether or not the trial was legally conducted or fair by the standards of justice we use and which we are in theory trying to export to Iraq.
I would wager long odds, however, that the photograph above is not going to play a prominent role in the coverage of Saddam Hussein's death. The fact that virtually the entire membership of the Shrubbery was for Saddam before they were against him, and that at least some of them played active roles in helping him to get the weapons of mass destruction that he later turned against his own people and on the basis of which we were led to believe it was necessary to go to war to turn him out of power again is almost certain to go unmentioned.
I propose we not let the Bush regime flush that inconvenient fact down the memory hole quite so quickly. I'd like to see that photo of Rumsfeld beaming and shaking hands with Saddam plastered on every television screen, every newspaper, every blog post that has anything to do with Saddam's execution. I don't want it to be possible for anyone to think of Hussein's execution without remembering that it was the United States, under a Republican administration, that helped put him in a position to do harm to his people and that they did such a good job of supporting their pet anti-Iranian whackjob that a different Republican administration had a shot at making a halfway plausible case for the necessity of taking Hussein down again.
Hussein's hands were stained with blood, and one might argue that if there were any justice in the world he is at this precise moment tucked into one of the warmer slots in hell. But no matter how many times they wash them, the hands of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and dozens of other Republican leaders are every bit as bloody as Hussein's were. If sauce for the goose is indeed sauce for the gander, then a rational animal might wonder why they're still walking about in the world of free men and women, instead of standing in the dock before a jury of their peers, on trial for aiding and abetting a convicted war criminal.