Saturday, December 30, 2006

Plus qu'un crime, c'est une faute

No doubt, those who suffered under Saddam Hussein's regime welcomed his hanging earlier today. As did those who masterminded the Imperial invasion of Iraq in 2003, some of the very same people who gave Hussein weapons and support back in the 1980s, and a carte blanche for the atrocities he was hanged for.

Debating the fairness of his trial or the legitimacy of the court is a moot point now. Let me dwell for a moment on the timing of Hussein's execution, though. You see, today is the first day of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice that marks the end of the hajj. It is a holiday marked by ritual slaughter of lambs - sacrifices - to celebrate the fulfillment of Muslims' religious duty to make pilgrimage to Mecca.

Because he was executed on this day, and his last words (reportedly) called for jihad, Saddam Hussein may well become a martyr for millions of Muslims. That's a long way from being a secular dictator who waged war on the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1980s. And it was American intervention that created "Saddam the martyr," of that there is no question.

Napoleon's foreign minister, Talleyrand, once commented on a politically motivated murder: "Worse than a crime, it was a blunder." ("C'est plus qu'un crime, c'est une faute." - Lucien Bonaparte Mem. an. 1804 (1882) I. 432, quoted here)

While I consider the 2003 invasion and the subsequent occupation of Iraq clearly evil, the execution of Saddam Hussein, and on a major Islamic holiday no less, is seriously stupid.

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