Saddam Hussein has been hanged. My first thought on seeing the news was, “I wonder if this counts towards the ‘Three Famous Deaths’ rule, after James Brown and Gerald Ford?” Then my second thought was that wow, internet traffic’s going to skyrocket starting right now, so I’d better post something.
So what’s good about this hanging? Justice served, I suppose: Iraq gets to execute a tyrant and a murderer, under the watchful eye of the U.S. occupying forces, who achieve a powerful symbolic victory by handing over Saddam to the Iraqi government.
The bad part is that it doesn’t go far past symbolic. Osama bin Laden remains at large, Iraq is still a growing mess of terrorist insurgencies, weapons of mass destruction there are nonexistent, U.S. armed forces are overstretched between Afghanistan and Iraq, and the project to bring peace to the Middle East and safety to the rest of the world by planting the roots of democracy doesn’t seem to have had much success beyond this hanging.
(I wonder if it’s worth noting that today is also the anniversary of José Rizal’s execution. I think the prospect of Saddam’s death having similarly galvanizing effect on Iraqi resistance by raising him up as a figurehead martyr is pretty remote considering that Rizal was a lot less of a murderous demagogue.)