Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Check. The former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, has been sentenced by a court in Baghdad to death by hanging for his role in orchestrating the massacre of Dujail in 1982.

Should his automatic appeal fail, Saddam's sentence will be carried out "within 30 days" after his appeal is exhausted. The appeal is scheduled to take place within the next 30 days as well, meaning, quite possibly, that the world may finally be rid of the Strongman of Tikrit once and for all before 2007.

The reaction in Iraq has been generally ecstatic. After all: what captive nation hasn't secretly dreamed of the day their tyrants are brought to heel by their terrified subjects? As usual, however, the European Union is sniffing about how uncivilized this hanging business is, and even one of Saddam's harshest critics is arguing for mercy.

Irony pervades Saddam's date with the hangman on a number of levels. Many of the European nations now opposing Saddam's future hanging showed some fondness for the noose themselves when dealing with the Germans who had terrorized their nations during the second world war. On another level, Saddam and the Ba'ath party were extremely fond of using public hangings as a means of maintaining control of the state. Now, of course, he's almost certainly going to feel what it's like when they tie the knot right behind his ear during the last minute of his wretched life.

Yet another level of irony is present here. For those people who don't know - or don't want to know - about the death penalty, hanging is considered a punishment for the lowest sorts of crimes committed by common criminals, like thieves, murderers and rapists. Saddam, of course, considers himself a military and political figure, and therefore, entitled to a more "honorable" execution by firing squad as befits a man of his stature. With any luck, he's already starting to feel the rope tighten around his neck, and the world will finally be rid of one of the 20th century's most bloodthirsty tyrants.

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