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A lament for Saddam Hussein

November 7, 2006

In — where else? — The Guardian.

(Via Jason Soon at Catallaxy.)

I said in comments:

It’s generally been true of harsh dictatorships that if you keep quiet and do what you’re told, you will not be at risk. It’s not always been true: some dictators have killed people for what they were, not what they did. Hitler killed Jews, Lenin killed kulaks, Pol Pot killed the educated class.

Of course, the whole population was living on the knife-edge of a promise that the dictator would not see them as a threat, even though they offered none. The safest thing of all was to join the Ba’ath Party and become an enthusiastic and visible supporter of the regime. How foolish of so many Iraqis not to have done that.

There’s an extraordinary moral inversion here — holding out surrender and capitulation to tyranny as the more desirable outcome, waving aside (figuratively speaking) the deaths of hundreds of thousands at the hands of Saddam’s killing machine. If only they had had the good sense not to resist.

Dare I say that only today’s left would be capable of this moral reversal. It was left-wing Australian historian David Day who argued, after all, that Britain should have capitulated to Hitler after Dunkirk and saved all those millions of lives that it took to defeat him.

One can imagine the generations of commissars who confronted the emergence of each new Sakharov or Solzhenitsyn with the same weary, contemptuous response: Why can’t they just keep quiet, and they’d get no trouble from us.

As for David Cox’s article, it should be catalogued under “moral blackguardism of the darkest stripe”.

Exerpting a contrary view from Mohammed at Iraq the Model is apposite:

Saddam’s trial is a trial for all tyrants who oppressed their peoples and a tough warning to whose who think they have the right to control nations with fire and steel and get away with it. It is just a one trial in a series of trials yet to come; there are many more criminals in our land and they will eventually meet the same fate as Saddam’s.

This is the beginning to build the foundations for the state of law and accountability we’re fighting to establish, and the verdict we expect to come tomorrow will only shake the thrones of other middle east tyrants but will also send a strong message to some of the current mini-Saddam’s of Iraq who will also have their own days someday. I’m speaking about the leaders who try to hinder the process of building the nation of pluralism and rule of law; those are just as criminal as Saddam and even if we bore with them so far for one reason or another this patience will not last indefinitely.

And:

I salute the honorable special tribunal that challenged threats and risks and insisted on keeping up the work until the end, and today it brought back the pride of the land that wrote the world’s first laws.

I salute the witnesses who risked their lives to reveal the truth and expose the crimes of the dictator.

I salute the brave men and women of the coalition who came to this land and made this day possible.

Congratulations to all my Iraqi brothers and sisters on this glorious day.

This is one of those days where history should record which side we were on, for each and every one of us.

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