January 01, 2007

Viewing Decebalus

If my memory serves me correctly, we react with fury when terrorists and their allies release propaganda videos of our soldiers being shot, blown up by IEDs, or on the rare occasions where our soldiers have been captured, tortured, executed, and mutilated.

And so I find it rather disgusting that so many seem to prostitute the gritty cell phone video of Saddam Hussein's execution by hanging early Saturday morning.

I have no problem with the fact Saddam was executed. Hussein was a monster who spawned and raised two sons to be even more monsterous than he, and the world is a far better place without him. But I do worry when people seem to revel in this final small measure of justice for his litany of crimes. We are, after all, sending our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines into combat day after day in hope of creating a culture where democracy under the law is respected and normal, where brutality and revenge can be usurped, and eventually fade from being part of the normal course of events to being a noteworthy oddity.

Knowledge of his death should be enough. Saddam's execution video is being prostituted (yes, that word seems most accurate) across the Internet like Decebalus' head on the steps of Rome, and in many cases, with the same triumphant flippancy among the denizens.

We should be better than that.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 1, 2007 12:43 PM | TrackBack

Agreed. I won't link to or promote that video in any way. The mass-murdering despot is dead and his many victims presumably partying in heaven. No more really needs to be said.

Except, perhaps, a one-word message to the Mullahs.


Posted by: Doug Ross at January 1, 2007 01:57 PM

Hmmmm, if we can do better than the Romans in that period, we would be doing well indeed.

I don't think much of the circus over Saddam's execution, but one of the reasons for the war, as I understand them, was to make an example of what happens to dictators, situated as Mr. Saddam was, who mess with Uncle Sam. In that sense Saddam's almost ritual humiliation served the same purpose as placing King Decebalus's head on a pike in the Forum Romanum. The King, it should be noted, had been let off fairly lightly in his own "First Gulf War." If Saddam, or King Decebalus had possessed any sense -- they'd have taken a lesson from their previous encounters with the Empires, and behaved accordingly.

I don't know how we can be "better than that." We have more gadgets, and computers that enable us to write these things, but I don't think science and education makes us different or otherwise improves us. Like the Romans, like it or not, we're an Empire.

Posted by: ElJefeMaximo at January 1, 2007 02:04 PM

I definitely agree. I also saw one analysis of the video (find link in my post 'Good Reads for New Year', at bottom) which says that the whole thing is essentially a Shi'a snuff film, based on what is actually said in the audio. Could this video actually cause more sectarian violence, rather than subdue the Sunnis with evidence that Saddam was really dead?

Posted by: Chuck at January 1, 2007 03:34 PM

Re the comment on "more sectarian violence," I wonder if it can get much worse as regards sectarian violence ? The Sunnis, by not working with the Americans, to induce the Kurds and the Shiites to give them some place in a post Saddam Iraq in which the Kurds and Shiites are the majority -- and the Sunnis deprived of their traditional means of control -- appear to have opted for communal suicide by betting all on a strategy of driving the Americans out. I don't know what more hanging Saddam can do to inflame them.

Posted by: ElJefeMaximo at January 1, 2007 04:10 PM

Some of the Sunnis are coming around. The dynamic in Ramadi and Anbar is changing.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at January 1, 2007 04:43 PM


I'm very pleased with the moderation of your comments.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at January 1, 2007 05:06 PM

Most are ignoring this aspect, but as a practical matter, given the heavy conspiracy theory nature of Arab psyche, the hanging HAD TO BE SHOWN WIDELY to demonstrate conclusively that Saddam was in fact dead and not spirited away or escaped somehow.

As it is, many are claiming a British/Israel/Space Alien, etc conspiracy to actually execute him, but few are denying the deed was done. That alone is a noteworthy minor accomplishment.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at January 1, 2007 06:08 PM

Sorry, but I have to agree with PA. The "Arab Street" needs to SEE him executed, not to mention certain Arab and non-Arab dictators.

Posted by: Bill Smith at January 1, 2007 08:31 PM

"Shi'a snuff film" is exactly right. Those executioners weren't government soldiers or policemen, it was a Sadr Death Squad, sanctioned by the President of Iraq. One of the witnesses praying to Sadr was Maliki's own National Security Advisor!

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at January 2, 2007 09:39 AM

CORRECTION: Maliki's NSA actually mentions Sadr's father, Mohammed Sadr, not Muqtada. See AP, see how easy it is to print a correction?

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at January 2, 2007 04:57 PM