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Saddam Hussein's Execution

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I know he was an evil dictator and killed many people. But did he deserve to be hanged? I mean, if he would have rotted his life away in jail, would that have been so bad?

I'm very unsure about this topic. I don't know if he deserved to die. I mean, if I think about myself....I don't know how I could ever kill someone, take away their everything in one rash act...and it'd be unchangeable. I could never kill someone! :)

And I know that he killed people himself...but does that justify his own death? Wouldn't it have been more torturous for him if they would have made him stay alive but live a meager life in jail?

Thoughts, my Objective friends! What are your thoughts?

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Wouldn't it have been more torturous for him if they would have made him stay alive but live a meager life in jail?

I don't really know how to respond to the rest of your post, but I can say that this is definitely not true... Why else would so many criminals cut so many deals and beg and plead and appeal to turn a death sentence into a life one?

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I don't really know how to respond to the rest of your post, but I can say that this is definitely not true... Why else would so many criminals cut so many deals and beg and plead and appeal to turn a death sentence into a life one?

I guess they're probably scared of death...and may even think that if they were alive, a chance of escape would still be possible. But how often does that happen, anyway? And I don't know much about jail life, but I've heard that they're not treated too badly. Still, though, wouldn't the fact that you're caged up and confined to a certain area just make you go crazy after a certain while?

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Well, most people if given the choice between any meager life and death, would choose life.

Isn't that the choice Saddam deprive so many of? Isn't that the choice, if any, that we ought to deprive him of? As an act of justice.

Is there nothing you love so much as to defend it from threat, even if it means killing somone?

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But did he deserve to be hanged? I mean, if he would have rotted his life away in jail, would that have been so bad?
Aside: The first question implies that you might opt for something more lenient than a death penalty; but, the second sentence carries the implication that death was a lenient sentence. An argument made that way comes across seeming like too obviously polemical, in this sense: your argument to yourself is one thing, i.e. "death was too harsh"; but you're trying to sway your audience with a different argument, i.e. "death was too lenient".

On the substance though... you're right that the death penalty is not something to take lightly. In fact, if a legal system without a death penalty is the price one has to pay (in injustice with respect to cases where death is deserved) for the value of knowing that people are not executed unjustly, then so be it. However, if we assume a legal system that can really identify the bad guys, there is no doubt that some deserve death. Since we're speaking of a specific case rather than the legal system as such, one has to ask if Saddam did things that deserved death.

My suggestion is to keep an eye on the History channel and some other such channels that show documentaries. Following his execution, one of them is bound to show some of the documentaries about his reign. Watch those and see what he did. "Rights violations" is just too mild a term for what he did. Find out the kinds of things he allowed his sons to do. Make a judgement about the premeditated way in which he killed his son-in-law. Personally, I'd go with your second sentence above of death not being justice enough. Without torture, the guy got off really light. (I'm not suggesting torture; just saying that he got off light because his captors were orders of magnitude better than he was.)

You can also try introspecting about how incapable of killing you would be if you had been living in Iraq and if Saddam had tortured an killed people close to you.

Apart from the issue of justice, there was the very real fear than Saddam alive had the potential to return, some time, some day.

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I know he was an evil dictator and killed many people. But did he deserve to be hanged? I mean, if he would have rotted his life away in jail, would that have been so bad?
The essential question is indeed about the concept of "deserve" and relatedly "justice". To play devil's advocate momentarily, would it be so bad if they had just exiled him from Iraq to somewhere in South America? That is, what is the function of any punishment? As Rand puts it, justice is never seeking or granting the unearned and undeserved. A man must take responsibility for his actions, be they positive or negative consequences. Just as a man may justly profit from his wise actions, a man should justly suffer from his irrational actions. This then is why thieves are punished, not merely stopped from stealing again.

The question of proportion is relevant: the draconian code of Hammurabi (an earlier Iraqi dictator) which prescribes death for most offenses was not just, because it was disproportional (e.g. breaking into a house, receiving stolen goods, or persuading a slave to leave the city would all result in death). While there might be some question as to whether a person who kills one man should be punished with death (we could dig deeply into that question, and have on other threads on punishment), Saddam Hussein is responsible for a huge number of murders, in the hundreds of thousands (best estimates, over a half a million). The callous brutality of his murders is almost inconceivable. He is up there in the top echelons of murderous dictators, with Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot.

The execution of this butcher was not a rash or hasty act. There is no question whatsoever that he is guilty. The only question is whether the concept of justice pertains solely to protecting evil-doers from the consequences of their actions. If you accept that evil deeds should be punished, and if you examine the actual facts regarding Saddam Hussein (I suggest looking for photographic evidence from some of his large-scale brutalities such as the destruction of Halabja, but don't undertake such a search on a full stomach), then I think there can be no question that hanging the pig the way they did as opposed to giving him an end-of-life similar to what he doled out to hundreds of millions of innocents was indeed humane.

Frankly, I think stripping and hobbling him, and freeing him in Sadr City would have been even more just, but I get the point as far as the rule of law stuff goes, so dignified noosing is okay too.

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When I heard the announcement this morning, I had two things happen almost simultaneously. I knew justice had been done, while at the same time it hurt my heart to see the end of a life. I have the same reaction to all deaths I hear of, to different degrees, because I value life, some might disagree with my initial feeling (hurts my heart to see the end of a life). Saddam Hussein very much deserved to be executed. He lost his right to life through his vile taking away of others right to life, among other things.

If he were allowed to live, he would have been very dangerous because he would still be able to direct his followers' actions and we already have a long history on the way he does things.

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There are only two things I can object to concerning Saddam's execution. One is rational, the other is not:

1) He didn't suffer nearly enough.

2) He can only be killed once (this one is irrational, since death, for any individual, can only happen once).

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And I know that he killed people himself...but does that justify his own death? Wouldn't it have been more torturous for him if they would have made him stay alive but live a meager life in jail?

An eye for an eye. If I steal $100 from someone the judge would make me pay back $100. If I take someone's life I have to pay for it with my own life. What's wrong with that?

And no, prison would not be torturous at all. If I had a choice between death and life in prison I would take prison in an instant. Why would you think prison would be worse than death anyway? Afterall, how many people on death row drag out the appeals process while rotting in prison?

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And no, prison would not be torturous at all. If I had a choice between death and life in prison I would take prison in an instant. Why would you think prison would be worse than death anyway? Afterall, how many people on death row drag out the appeals process while rotting in prison?

The argument as I have seen it before would be that a life where value or joy is no longer possible would be worse than death. Depending on how bad one's life was in prison, death may well be preferable. Prison's over there may be considerably worse than they are over here. I can see that and might choose that under the right circumstances myself.

Prison with cable TV, exercise rooms, conjugal visists, etc. could well be a preferably alternative to death.

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Can you explain that? Like, why do you value all life? What does it do for you?

Perhaps, DavidOdden, you will end up, unwittingly, being one of my teachers… :twisted:

I know that some of that thought/feeling has to be irrational. I cannot pinpoint it just yet, but I am working on it. You ask me ‘why?’ and ‘what can be done’ for me. I value life in general, NOT necessarily the individual people; some are not worth the air they are inhaling. I look at the now and the future as far as what can be done for me. The now directly relates to the future. Since I happen to value my life, I also by extension value life surrounding me, in general. To not do so would be a contradiction. Since I happen to care a great deal for my life and happiness, I, naturally, would like the same for others (that also benefits me). It hasn’t always been this way, not that I wished ill for others. I have had a very long road and still have a long way to go, but I go with a bounce in my step now.

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Since I happen to value my life, I also by extension value life surrounding me, in general. To not do so would be a contradiction.
I don't see the contradiction. There is no contradiction in saying "I value my life, but not his life". Indeed, if I were to say "I value my life and his life", then you can arrive at the contradiction of altruism.
Since I happen to care a great deal for my life and happiness, I, naturally, would like the same for others (that also benefits me).
There's no problem here: general benevolence is a rational virtue (it allows us to live in civilized societies). It is a recognition of causality -- virtuous actions should be rewarded. Correspondingly, evil actions should be punished -- it is not right to consider the peaceful trader and the evil butcher to be equally deserving of the good things of life. Benevolence should not be twisted into unconditional life-absolutism. The fact that you take your life to be your fundamental value and that you benevolently wish other rational men to enjoy the same kind of benefits of existence does not mean that you should abstractly worship life itself, regardless of the bearer of the life. Some life-forms are deserving of death, and Saddam is an example. Since (I assume) you were not directly affected by his atrocities, i.e. you have no friends or relatives living under his rule in Iraq, you would not have a reason to actively rejoice in his execution, but still you can be satisfied that justice was done. (Indeed, the conduct of the trial indicates to me that there is hope for that country).
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It's only fair to mention that it's hard to feel too celebratory at Saddam's execution given that it does the Sadrists' dirty work. It was a bit sickening to hear spectators at the execution chant in praise of Sadr as Saddam was executed.

Well that's just nice. The only reason Saddam was hanged is because of America, yet they are chanting for Sadr. Does anyone have a clue why they would praise that guy when it's clear he had nothing to do with the execution?

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Yeah, they see it as a fight between themselves and the Sunnies. If the US kills their enemies, they're happy; but, they have no love for the US.

While Saddam definitely deserved to die (and worse), I have misgivings about the way the US is handing over Iraq to the Shia thugs. If one thinks about it in realpolitik terms, what if the US had let Saddam go free and allowed him to regroup with his own thugs? Would it have been a disaster? I think the answer depends on the assumptions one makes about where Iraq is headed under the current regime.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Where tyrants once were beheaded in public, their heads paraded on pikes, and their names stricken from the written history, it now appears that the preferred mode of post-execution defamation is to spread viral cell-phone videos of the execution on the internet. CNN is running it on their website. I'll not be linking.

-Q

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When I heard the announcement this morning, I had two things happen almost simultaneously. I knew justice had been done, while at the same time it hurt my heart to see the end of a life. I have the same reaction to all deaths I hear of, to different degrees, because I value life...

That's exactly how I feel. I know that he was an irrational leader that sacrificed people's lives for his own gain...but just the thought of a life ending is so chilling because I value my own life so much, guess that doesn't mean that I have to value other people's lives, as well...not when they don't value their own lives. But I think that to value life in general, you need to value your own life first. And clearly Saddam didn't do that when he committed such brutal and unethical acts.

Edited by Mimpy
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Another problem with keeping him alive in jail for life, other than the possibility of a future release when a power shift occurs in the Iraq government, is that we'd have to see annual reports by Saddam-sympathizing reporters showing his poor conditions and how he's being mistreated. Then the UN would step in with human rights violation citations if Saddam isn't given a butt massage and a cigar every weekend.

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I just had the thought that if instead of invading, we had simply assassinated Saddam and his kin back in 2003, we would have all the benefits (toppling the regime) without the costs (civil war, trillion dollars, and dead soldiers). (We'd also still piss off Europe, but I don't know if that's a cost or benefit.)

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I just had the thought that if instead of invading, we had simply assassinated Saddam and his kin back in 2003, we would have all the benefits (toppling the regime) without the costs (civil war, trillion dollars, and dead soldiers). (We'd also still piss off Europe, but I don't know if that's a cost or benefit.)

Sounds like a great strategy for Iran, I think.

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I just had the thought that if instead of invading, we had simply assassinated Saddam and his kin back in 2003, we would have all the benefits (toppling the regime) without the costs (civil war, trillion dollars, and dead soldiers).
Ordinarily, I think that would be the right answer for the reasons that you mentioned. However, what research I managed to do in the two months before the war using publicly available facts suggested that he was vastly more security-conscious than leaders of civilized nations. It was impossible to know where he would be, impossible to get an agent close to him especially with a weapon. The dumb-ass Ford policy about assassinations (Executive Order 11905) also makes that a non-option, which should of course be countermanded. But it may well be a possible option for dealing with Iranian regimes, as Kendall says.
(We'd also still piss off Europe, but I don't know if that's a cost or benefit.)
You have a great sense of humor. Very good. Benefit, naturally. Especially if it bugs the French.
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But it may well be a possible option for dealing with Iranian regimes, as Kendall says.

Sure. But not with one assasination. That migth not even have worked in Iraq, not with Uday, Qusay and the whole Baathist structure intact (although they might have wound up fighting each other, like the mafia does and for the same reasons)

We could try a mix of blockade, strikes at their nuclear facilites (one way or another, and whatever the final outcome, those things have got to go), at their military structure, their national command structure, and the leadership. And if that means bombing the mosque the mullahs hide in, so be it (I know, I know).

You have a great sense of humor. Very good. Benefit, naturally. Especially if it bugs the French.

Does anything but craven submission to thugs not piss off Europe these days?

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Ordinarily, I think that would be the right answer for the reasons that you mentioned. However, what research I managed to do in the two months before the war using publicly available facts suggested that he was vastly more security-conscious than leaders of civilized nations. It was impossible to know where he would be, impossible to get an agent close to him especially with a weapon. The dumb-ass Ford policy about assassinations (Executive Order 11905) also makes that a non-option, which should of course be countermanded. But it may well be a possible option for dealing with Iranian regimes, as Kendall says. You have a great sense of humor. Very good. Benefit, naturally. Especially if it bugs the French.

Maybe I'm being naive, but I think that dictators generally don't want to die. If we simply dropped a MOAB or two on a palace in Bagdad or Pyongyang every now and then when they got out of line, I think it might work as a cheap incentive to keep them in line.

This is fantasy of course. If we had the principles to do that, such regimes probably wouldn't be around to begin with.

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