12.30.2006

meaningless

So one man is killed. One man who called himself President, and caused the death of many human beings, is put to death. Another man who calls himself President, and has caused the death of many human beings, continues to live in the White House.

One man is killed. The UN estimates that 100 Iraqi civilians are dying each day in the violence caused, directly or indirectly, by the US invasion and occupation.

One man is killed. The US death toll in Iraq is now at 2,990. The other day on CBC, I saw a crawl that said, "US death toll in Iraq now surpasses the number of people killed on 9/11, which started the war..." My eyes popped. I shouted at the TV. Which started the war???? 9/11 started this war??? Please tell me I didn't just see that on CBC Television. 9/11 didn't start any war, let alone the one in Iraq. Orwellian revision happens so quickly, we get whiplash as the new truth spins around our heads.

One man is killed.

On the one hand, we should never celebrate the death of a human being. State murder is still murder.

On the other hand, the death is meaningless.

Do you remember when we were supposed to be celebrating the "elimination" of some Al-Queda "target"? Thank goodness that ended terrorism.

Work for peace.

34 comments:

James said...

Curious that Saddam was executed for a relatively minor atrocity in the list that can be attributed to him. Except that that was one of the few for which a court case wouldn't reveal embarrassing connections to the US...

MattinTO said...

Problems I have with the execution:

* The death penalty under just about any circumstance is backward, paleolithic and frankly, assuming power best left to whatever deity you worship, if any. Killing is killing. As a society we should have evolved enough that justice is not about taking life for a life. The Old Testament is just that. Old.

* If Saddam is to be executed, why not Donald Rumsfeld and many others in the US government who actively supported his use of chemical weapons against the Iranians in the 1980s? Do they not deserve the same fate for the financial and logistical support they provided him? A search of Google Image turns up several photos of hand-shaking.

* Really tacky to do it in the middle of Eid ul-Adha, Islam's holiday celebrating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Saddam's death is now, because of its timing, one akin to that of a sacrificial lamb. Is that the message they wanted to send?

* The whole thing's just sad. The US has now done its own sacrificing of more US soldiers than died on 9/11 for this pointless conflict.

The whole thing is just sad. If Iraq was a powder keg ready to explode, this is just the impetus. Meanwhile, a madman in a country next door, far more powerful, fortifies his defenses...

Just my two cents.

L-girl said...

Thanks for your two cents. I agree with you completely.

The death penalty is one of the few things I am absolute about. I believe it is wrong, period. Under any circumstances.

And if I can manage not to call for the execution of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, then believe me, my morals have been tested!

L-girl said...

Really tacky to do it in the middle of Eid ul-Adha, Islam's holiday celebrating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael.

I didn't even know of that "coincidence".

Do Muslims call Isaac Ishmael?

MattinTO said...

No. Ishmael was Abraham's son from his concubine, Hagar. When it was originally thought Sarah couldn't have children, she gave her handmaiden Hagar, to Abraham to have a child. When she eventually had a child on her own, supposedly Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael into exile. Long story short, Hagar's believed to have founded the city which is now Mecca and the descendants of Ishmael are believed to be the genealogical tree of the Arabic people.

L-girl said...

No. Ishmael was Abraham's son from his concubine, Hagar. When it was originally thought Sarah couldn't have children, she gave her handmaiden Hagar, to Abraham to have a child.

Oh, duh. Yes, of course, I remember this now. I was thinking (obviously) of the other near-sacrifice, which produced "the Covenant".

After learning about that for years in Hebrew school, it was only later on that I came to see the whole thing as barbaric. What kind of diety would ask a father to sacrifice a child? Bah.

L-girl said...

And since someone is bound to ask, yes, I know that's where the title of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale comes from, yes I've read it, no I didn't like it. Good politics, poor book, IMO.

I proofread that book for the publishing house when it came out in paperback. I'm the only Margaret Atwood fan I know who didn't like it.

redsock said...

Good stuff on Saddam and the USA.

Alan Friedman, author of "The Spider's Web":

"I discovered this at the end of the 1980's when I was reporting for The Financial Times of London and we uncovered the scandal of more than $5 billion of American taxpayer backed credits that had been funneled by the Atlanta, Georgia branch of an Italian bank to Saddam Hussein with the full knowledge of the C.I.A. and later on of the White House, under the [GHW] Bush administration. ...

[T]he very frightening part of it is that this group of intelligence agents outside the government [worked] with the blessing of people like James Baker and George Herbert Walker Bush ... continued to sell a whole variety of equipment to Saddam Hussein, including U.S. military rocket cluster bombs that were transshipped from Pennsylvania through Chile to Iraq, nuclear and chemical weapons technology, and missile technology."

L-girl said...

And now, his US-backed mission accomplished, Saddam can be removed, permanently. Onto the next puppet.

Thanks for posting that, Allan.

redsock said...

It is strongly suspected that Saddam used at least 3 doubles for safety reasons -- (The New York Times published a fascinating article about this on October 6, 2002 with various photos identifying which was which (slight facial differences and size of eyes, etc.) (here is a link to some photos and the Times article) -- so it would not surprise me in the slightest if it turned out that the actual SH received a nice severance package and some schlub was pulled from the spider hole and hung instead.

Or the US simply decided its one-time (and long-time) ally was of no further use and it set about to kill him.

From the Times article (by Tom Zeller):

"Intelligence officials have long suspected that the Iraqi president makes ample use of body-doubles — an idea reinforced two weeks ago when a German television news program asked a forensic pathologist to examine hundreds of archived photographs and video stills of the Iraqi leader. The pathologist, Dr. Dieter Buhmann of Homberg University in Saarland, determined that there are at least three Saddam Hussein lookalikes in rotation, making public appearances, firing rifles, smoking cigars, waving and strutting. (The doubles rarely speak, it was suggested, because Mr. Hussein has an inimitable lisp.)

Iraqi dissidents have told stories of impostor Husseins in the past — of recruitment schemes and plastic surgery, of training in mannerisms, strides and tics. The differences can seem remarkably subtle. In some instances, Dr. Buhmann suggested, the face of the doppelgänger was just a hair too wide. In others, the area under the mouth was just a bit too small and too low. ...

... Winston Churchill, who was known to have made use of a double himself. So too did George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Most world leaders, in fact — and the intelligence apparata surrounding them — consider doubles and decoys a part of their bag of tricks."

redsock said...

Click here for four pictures of "Saddam".

Which one is the real deal?

FormerOwl said...

Shirin, an Iraqi woman living in the US sometimes posts comments on "Daily War News" and "Angry Arab" blogs.

From "Daily War News"
FRIDAY:
re "What Saddam should have been tried for is putting down the rebellion after he was thrown out of Kuwait."

George Bush the First, his advisors, and General Schwarzkopf should be tried for that. Saddam was only doing what heads of state do when their rule is threatened by a rebelion. It was the Bush administration who decided that they could not allow the Shi`as to take over Iraq, and therefore gave Saddam permission to take his helicopters and tanks into the rebel-held areas. It was Schwartzkopf who allowed this day after day after day, and whose troops confiscated weapons and vehicles from the rebels traveling on the roads, and barred them from entering the conflict areas to assist their comrades. And it was Schwartzkopf's airplane crews who day after day flew overhead watching the slaughter take place.
Shirin | 12.30.06 - 2:02 am | #

SATURDAY:
Sam, I have no idea why they chose to execute Saddam on this particular day, but it has upset a lot of Muslims, and I am willing to bet not only Sunnis are unhappy about it. I suppose they were trying to send some sort of message, but what that could possibly be is a mystery to me.

I am also not sure who exactly decided that this would be the ideal day to perform this very blatant P.R. stunt. Of course, the Iraqi make-believe government cannot blow its nose without the Americans dictating the timing, the manner, and the brand and number of tissues used. However, I don't think this particular decision would have been made without both parties agreeing. ...

steel magnolia said...

I'm just glad he's dead. American by birth and smart enough to stay here.

L-girl said...

People who rejoice at the death of another human being make me glad I was able to get away. Thanks for your comment. Have a nice day - somewhere else.

L-girl said...

I was wondering how long it would take for this post to draw some wingnuttery. All day - a surprisingly long time.

David Cho said...

Agreed.

Hussein's past and future were to serve as a justification our invasion.

I say his future because of what he was going to do with WMD. That justification flopped.

Then the administration turned to his past atrocities which they hoped to parade before the world. Then the trial turned into a circus and kangaroo court which Bush was hoping to use to show democracy in action.

That flopped too.

Now I am reading that he and the executioners exchanged insults and one shouted "long live al-Sadir."

Democracy in action indeed.

FormerOwl said...

Interesting to hear from you, Ms. Steel Magnolia, especially today.

Any of your acquaintances unhappy in the US? Just recommend this, or similar blogs, to them.

Like you, I, too, am happy that you are smart enough to stay where you are.

redsock said...

I'm glad he's dead because now the war will stop.

L-girl said...

Like you, I, too, am happy that you are smart enough to stay where you are.

Ha! In this case, Canada's loss is the US's loss, too. Or is it Canada's gain is its loss?

L-girl said...

I'm glad he's dead because now the war will stop.

Is that the war that he started by using WMDs on the World Trade Center?

L-girl said...

Oh dear, I hadn't checked my blog email. That's where all the wingnuts were hiding.

MattinTO said...

Sadly, I actually discovered a wingnut here today. Not that I was under any illusion they didn't exist in Canada, but it was a slap in the face. I post over in a Live Journal community about Toronto now and then. Some idiot brought up the ridiculous subject of whether or not the new TTC chairmen and city councilor Adam Giambrone was gay because he sure "seemed effeminent" and "didn't he owe it to his constituents to tell them that" when he was running for election. Anyhow, long story short, I weighed in that it was no one's business among other things and Steel Magnolia's cousin weighed in with a particularly hateful comment aimed at me:

"Please go back to the States. We don't need another sniveling little marxist up here."

Normally, that would annoy me. Fortunately my skin has grown thick enough not to cry about it. (and he spelled snivelling wrong ;))

Not sure what my point was...doh!

James said...

so it would not surprise me in the slightest if it turned out that the actual SH received a nice severance package and some schlub was pulled from the spider hole and hung instead.

That's pretty unlikely. A very simple DNA test will distinguish any doubles from the real thing. Even if they didn't have a reference sample from Hussein himself, they could compare it to the DNA from his sons' bodies and establish whether the prisoner was their father.

This solves nothing other than silencing a potential embarrassment for the US, in exchange for giving half the fighting factions a martyr to rally behind.

L-girl said...

Heh, I know what your point was. There are wingnuts in Canada!! :)

There are, it's true.

But like so many differences between the US and Canada, this one is a matter of degree. There are fewer of them. They don't control the media, the schools, and (knock wood) (knock loudly) they don't control the government, or won't for long.

Steel Magnolia's cousin. Hee hee. :)

L-girl said...

A very simple DNA test will distinguish any doubles from the real thing.

And who is conducting this test? And who is the independently monitoring it?

Of course we don't know if it's really Saddam Hussein who was executed. Just because it could be proven doesn't mean it will be proven. This regime does not show their work. They just produce results and tell us to believe it.

loneprimate said...

I'm just glad he's dead. American by birth and smart enough to stay here.

Pardon me, but just how "smart" does one have to be to be a magnolia, rooted in the soil where the seed fell? :)

loneprimate said...

I'm glad he's dead because now the war will stop.

For myself, I'm simply pleased that now, nothing bad will ever happen in Iraq again. Now the people can really be free, hold elections for the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus won't have to boycott Baghdad anymore. Yes, those 650,000 "excess" Iraqi deaths that Johns Hopkins University estimates since the start of the war now have meaning... they died to avenge those 140-some people Saddam murdered. Glory... glory, hallelujah; His truth is marching on (so you might wanna step aside).

M@ said...

Woo! Snivelling! Go double-l. Yeah, that made me smile, Matt.

As for the question of a DNA test on Saddam, I am reminded of a line from the (excellent) movie Spartan, which I think others in this neighbourhood have seen. It was words to the effect:

"But how did they fake the DNA?"

"They didn't fake the DNA. They issued a press release."

Since the major media in the world is basically a stenography pool nowadays, it seems especially apt.

James said...

Of course we don't know if it's really Saddam Hussein who was executed. Just because it could be proven doesn't mean it will be proven. This regime does not show their work. They just produce results and tell us to believe it.

True, I was assuming the US would want to make sure they had the right guy, if only to spare themselves the embarrassment of having the real one show up later. But while I know Hussein inspired loyalty among some, but it seems unlikely that someone would go through months of trial and an execution for him when they could demand a (independently performed) DNA test to show that he's the wrong guy -- the trial was televised live, so there were plenty of opportunities.

Not to mention that the defense lawyers would almost certainly have to know if they had the wrong guy (there's only so much a double would be able to know), and it's unlikely that they'd put up with being murdered for defending Hussein when the guy they had wasn't Hussein.

While there's no way to be sure that it really was Hussein they had, I'd say it's on the implausible side unless someone can actually produce a real Hussein.

Some other commentary on the executions:

Pharyngula

What has been accomplished?

Saddam Hussein has been killed.

He was a venal little monster, but I don't see that we've gained anything by stooping to the level of a third-world thug, and the unseemly haste with which an irreversible act was committed makes it even more sordid and sleazy.


Sandwalk

Capital Punishment Is Barbaric

With the hanging of Saddam Hussein, Iraq affirms its membership in the group of nations that don't deserve to be called civilized.

L-girl said...

True, I was assuming the US would want to make sure they had the right guy

In this line of thought, the point is not that the US goofed, but that they purposely executed the wrong guy, for show purposes, while the real guy is sent off to a good retirement, like most dictators are.

But while I know Hussein inspired loyalty among some, but it seems unlikely that someone would go through months of trial and an execution for him when they could demand a (independently performed) DNA test to show that he's the wrong guy -- the trial was televised live, so there were plenty of opportunities.

Again, it's not that the double would want to do this. It's something like... they'll kill his family if he doesn't? They've already poisoned him so he's dying anyway, plus they'll kill his family? Something along those lines.

I'm not saying that it wasn't actually Saddam Hussein who went through the mock trial and was executed. I don't have an opinion on that one way or another.

I am saying that we have never seen evidence that this was actually Saddam, and if the evidence was presented by the US or their Iraq puppet govt, we couldn't believe it anyway.

We can never take anything those people do at face value, or believe anything simply because they say it is so.

redsock said...

I'm shocked that the wingnuts would chose to email rather than comment, thus denying our group their masterful command of language, grammar, spelling, and knowledge of world events.

In the photos I linked to above, the real Saddam is A.

If Saddam did have a distinctive voice, then it was likely him at the trial. Naturally, there is no way to know that the guy in the court room was the same guy on the gallows.

Like Laura, I don't really care. I was only saying it would not surprise me at all if SH was kicking back in Crawford, getting set to celebrate the new year.

L-girl said...

Naturally, there is no way to know that the guy in the court room was the same guy on the gallows.

That was my next comment. :)

The real Saddam could have been at the mock trial, a double not knowing he'd be swapped for the man at the gallows.

Like Laura, I don't really care. I was only saying it would not surprise me at all if SH was kicking back in Crawford, getting set to celebrate the new year.

Wouldn't that make a good video!

L-girl said...

"But how did they fake the DNA?"

"They didn't fake the DNA. They issued a press release."


Excellent. :)

I'm shocked that the wingnuts would chose to email rather than comment, thus denying our group their masterful command of language, grammar, spelling, and knowledge of world events.

Some have always preferred that route. Today's batch has been thanking me for leaving. Oh no, thank you, the pleasure has been all mine, I assure you.

The duck thief said...

This seems like the same thing when the US invaded Iraq and got rid of Saddam's regime. There seemed to be an expectation that because he's gone, everything's is fixed, which of course it's not.

I hate that people glom onto things like this as if it's going to make everything okay. It seems to blind people to the reality of what's really going on. For example, the reality of
Iraq.