William Buckley offers some thoughts on the execution of Saddam Hussein. Among them, he got more justice than he meted out.
What one might loosely call "the prosecution," anxious to defend this mite of justice handed down by the Iraqi court, reminds the world that it is incorrect to assume that the execution of Saddam can measure up to what Saddam did. Remember, we are told, the court ruled on only a single barbarity, namely the Dujail massacre.
That involved murdering about 150 Shiites. They were being punished for conspiring against Saddam. Most of them were, simply, shot. But not all. Some, we learned, were inserted into meat grinders. If the trial revealed what were Saddam's motives in this alternative means of execution, word of what they were has not got out. Most would think it naive even to ask. The idea -- alternative means of execution -- wasn't a scientific experiment: Execution by bullet, or by giant blades that tear bone and flesh apart -- which is better? The idea, manifestly, was to exhibit the lengths to which Saddam was routinely prepared to go in order to discourage dissent.
For all that the Arab world seems crowded with young men who are prepared to blow themselves up provided they can simultaneously blow up other people, the indications are pretty clear that Saddam Hussein himself has no appetite to go to the gallows. His aggressive, contemptuous conduct during the trial, the scorn he has shown for the very idea of a tribunal that presumes to question his sacrosanct judgments, balances ironically with his claims to innocence. I didn't do it, and if I did I was entitled to do it. Saddam Hussein does not want to die on the gallows any more than the Nuremberg gang did.
But this is the point at which we are entitled to a measure of satisfaction precisely over what Saddam is going to experience. Even if it is prideful to take his life, it is something other than sinful to take satisfaction -- pleasure, even -- at its forfeit.
It was rumored, in 1946, that the hangman in Nuremberg adjusted the nooses of some of the condemned to magnify the pain of suffocation. Such sadism was not called for then and is not called for now. But if fornication is wrong, there is no denying that it can bring pleasure. The death of Saddam Hussein at rope's end brings a pleasure that is undeniable, and absolutely chaste in its provenance.