December 29, 2006

One More Death Doesn't Really Matter

Executions bother me. A lot! For moral and religious reasons, I am anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia because, except in war and self defense, I feel that God has given us life and we should be loathe to take it. For this reason, I am also against capital punishment and that sets me apart from many of my fellow conservatives. The pending hanging of Saddam Hussein is no different. As Rick Moran called it; "A Sad Ending To A Sad Chapter In History".

And yet, I do not feel sorry for Saddam Hussein, for he is as worthy of the death sentence as anyone has ever been. But we should also take a look at what Moran has termed the

... difference between his regime and the regimes of dozens of others around the world is only a matter of degree – thousands dead or tortured instead of hundreds of thousands. It says a lot about humanity at this stage of our evolution as a social species that we can be so sanguine about the murderous depredations of a Robert Mugabe or a Islom Karimov simply because the body count hasn’t achieved the elevated status of a Saddam or a Kim Jung Il. We in the civilized world can tune out the cries for succor from the oppressed rather easily – international law, free flow of oil, international commerce, even the War on Terrorism – take your pick. One excuse is as good as another.
Recently, Kofi Annan in an address to Human Rights Watch stated:
Sixty years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, and 30 years after the Cambodian killing fields, the promise of "never again" is ringing hollow. The tragedy of Darfur has raged for over three years now, and still reports pour in of villages being destroyed by the hundreds and of the brutal treatment of civilians spreading into neighboring countries.
And yet, and yet the world stands by and says little as the member states of the UN put the governments of tyrants on the Human Rights Commission. Where is the sense in that? Where was Kofi Annan's speech in 1994? For
... there has been scant mention in the media of the plain fact that it was Mr. Annan, when he was head of the United Nation's peacekeeping office, who could have prevented the slaughter of 800,000 Tutus and their sympathizers in Rwanda in 1994.

Maj. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, head of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, urgently pleaded with Mr. Annan to intervene before the killings began, because Mr. Dallaire knew of the preparations for the genocide. Mr. Annan refused to act, or to say anything publicly.

This appalling complicity in the horrors that followed has been documented in a book, "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998), by Philip Gourevitch.

The lethal silence of both Mr. Annan and President William Jefferson Clinton was also reported, in unrefuted detail, on a "Frontline" broadcast titled "The Triumph of Evil." The show was made in collaboration with the BBC and broadcast on PBS on Jan. 26, 1999.

It would seem that tyrants come and go, and tens of thousands, nay, millions have died as a result of civilized society's refusal and/or inability to come to grips with the brutal regimes of the world. And the murder goes on.

If the UN had done its job in 1991 through 2003, would the Iraq war have been necessary? Would Saddam now be facing the gibbet? Had Chamberlin recognized the futility of appeasing Hitler, would so many have died in a world wide war? If it were not necessary in the subjugation of Hitler's Nazi Germany, would Roosevelt have made common cause with the likes of Stalin? Would we have made common cause with Iraq because of our fight with the mad mullahs of Iran? I don't know the answer to these questions, though I have my thoughts. I do know that there are many, many more tyrants like Saddam that deserve hanging. Wouldn't it be better for all if the UN were a real United Nations and slapped down every tyrant that dares to raise his ugly head and attempt to stand with civilized nations? Who knows? And until we, as a world, are willing to stand for real human rights and not just a set of nattering nabobs who are more interested in only decrying the real or imagined violations of the "western world" as opposed to the real violators.

We have a chance to reform the UN now, to set forth principles of human rights that stand for something. It will not be easy, there will be those who favor inaction and the status quo over the tough choices. There will be those who will use programs such as "Food for Oil" for their own enrichment and hypocritical blathering about "the children" when they care not a whit for the children but are vastly interested in lining their own pockets.

It will take tremendous political courage to stop the slaughter, it will take uncommonly brave men and women ready to take up arms and let the dictators of the world know that their time has come, that they can no longer wantonly brutalize their own people. It doesn't matter if its stoning gays in Pakistan, the willful slaughter of Christians and animists in Africa, engineering pogroms in Russia or China or any other violation of the rights given by God to all of us. We need to start, now, not tomorrow. We need to put into practice what Annan said (as opposed to what he has done for all these years) "the promise of "never again" can no longer ring hollow. It will take our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to end this scourge. If many of us, as a people, can deplore the starvation and death by dehydration of a Terri Schiavo, cannot we also agree that the brutality of tyrants must come to an end?

Posted by GM Roper at December 29, 2006 07:49 PM | TrackBack

great essay GM. You are a voice of reason.

But I feel that there are too few that would gladly take up arms against the tyrants.....

Posted by Kender at December 29, 2006 10:14 PM

Ditto on what Kender said.

I feel no joy or relief at Hussien's execution. I doubt his death will make in difference in Iraq or the world.

The U.N. certainly has failed miserably in its mission of world peace, etc. and the likes of Kofi Annan are why. A lack of moral clarity and courage makes the U.N. a scourge on the world rather than a blessing.

Posted by DADvocate at December 29, 2006 11:25 PM

At such at time, you have done a great service by reminding us of the larger picture, And in that picture, Saddam is just one of many tyrants parading through history for a season.

However, for Iraq, Saddam's death will mean a lot - it means that he will never come back into power, that in conjunction with the death of his sons, the oppressive structure that he set up to terrorize Iraq will not be restored as it was. And this removes a great weight of fear and constraint off the backs of the Iraqi people.

Of course, many other would be tyrants are jousting for an opportunity to rule, and certainly the Sunni-Shia-Kurdish rivalries will continued. But the point of Saddam's death is that whereever Iraq goes from here, it will be a new story and new players, not a rerun of the past; and whatever the outcome, at least Iraq will have a chance (that it did not before) to fashion a better outcome.

So in this sense, one more death does indeed matter...

Posted by civil truth at December 30, 2006 01:13 AM

Have a chance to reform the UN? The next tyrant to be executed is Kim Jong Il, and new Secretary General is Ban Ki-moon of South Korea. Will Ban stand tough against the dictator next door?

Since the nuclear test this September, South Koreans are reconsidering the Sunshine Policy. However, Ban was the Foreign Minister under Chamberlainian president Roh Moo-hyun. I hope Ban acts on behalf of the global community, instead of doves in South Korea.

Talking of Saddam, doesn’t he have more charges? These are left to historians in the future. In any case, I have no objection to execute Saddam.

Posted by Shah Alexander at December 30, 2006 05:15 AM

Well of course, in a black and white world, killing anyone at any time for any reason is wrong. I'm willing to make a few concessions though. Saddam was one of those concessions.

Posted by Oyster at December 30, 2006 08:42 AM

Leaving Saddam alive would have opened the door to hostage situations.

Allah didn't save him, and justice was done.

Posted by Always On Watch at December 30, 2006 10:05 AM

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