Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam Hussein: Good Bye and Good Riddance

By the time you read this short post Hussein will probably be dead. What is the broader social meaning of the execution? That's the question of the moment.

You may think that his execution is of no importance to you at all. Maybe the execution is only significant as a topic of weekend gossip. Naturally, conservatives (some at least) and radical leftists (some at least) are happy to see him hanged. Those conservatives and radicals have different reasons for being happy, don't they? Well, even if the details may differ the reason is really ideology. Radical leftists and conservatives have different ideas about how the world works and how it ought to work. Yet, both groups can find reasons for doing away with a (formerly) powerful bad guy. Conservatives and radical leftists hate dictators, but probably for different reasons.

The death of Hussein can create or reinforce social bonds in Iraq. Saddam haters can join together in thanking Allah that Hussein is finally dead. Supporters of Hussein will probably get a morale boost from his death, and then they'll make more trouble for regular Iraqis.

Then there is the question of justice. Is justice really served by this execution? I don't know. I do know that this execution can build faith in the emerging social order in Iraq. After all, the justice system worked, the executive branch of government went along, the peoples' sense of justice is reinforced. In a fractured nation like Iraq seeing the justice system working properly can be a big morale boost. 

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