Hussein’s Death Will Not Advance U.S. Goals for Iraq

MAX SCHLUSSELBERG
Badger Herald
University of Wisconsin

(U-WIRE) MADISON, Wis. — In response to Saddam Hussein’s sentence to death by hanging, President Bush directed a number of encouraging words toward the feeble Iraqi government. He described the event as an essential benchmark to the shaky democracy and a symbolic end to the rule of a tyrant.

The eventual death of the former dictator is certainly a moot point for the Iraqi people at this place in time. In a country teetering on the brink of full-blown civil war, Saddam Hussein’s death sentence will either have no impact or will be counterproductive in the fight to stop sectarian violence. It is obvious that the death of the former Sunni dictator will only please a rigid percentage of the Iraqi population. With a ruling that falls surprisingly close to mid-term elections — an occurrence that could very well be more of a planned event on behalf of the administration rather than a coincidence of timing — it easy to wonder how much of this final ruling is propaganda.

It is hard to find solace in the sentencing of Saddam and his cronies. It’s great that an irrational dictator who was found responsible for the deaths of 148 innocent people, which took place 24 years ago, is finally going to pay for his crime. Yet, why is a man who is either indirectly or directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent victims not being put on trial? What are not only innocent Iraqis, but also young American servicemen losing their lives for?

The body count generated by the war in Iraq clearly proves that the war cannot be to the benefit of the Iraqi people. The country is marred by more violence, whether it is sectarian clashes or gang-related kidnappings, than it ever was under the rule of Saddam. This proves one of two things: Either the operation in Iraq was very poorly engineered and executed, or the invasion of Iraq was never intended to aid the Iraqi population. Whatever the intentions of the increasingly estranged Bush administration were, I’m personally not at all surprised.

Saddam is without a doubt a lunatic who carried out mass murder in the name of what he considered justice. It is a success to identify and stop a grotesque evil such as Saddam Hussein, but there would also be a sense of victory to the American people in identifying and rooting out a more pernicious and subtle evil. This is an evil that doesn’t present itself as such and is allowed to operate through the indifference of its people, broken promises, fear mongering and boldfaced deceit. However, are followers of this evil doing so because they truly believe they are all marching together in the name of patriotism? Or are there, among them, factions who are conspiring toward a greater position of power and control over their fellow Americans? When did it become patriotic to secretly practice extreme rendition? When did the pursuit of liberty and freedom come to include torture and abuse? What happened to a government by the people and for the people? Have we become a nation of one person, one conviction, and one agenda that seeks to deafen its leaders and silence its people?

As we desperately try to forge democracy overseas, it is crucial not to lose focus on our own democracy. Have we entered a period of fear and intolerance that blinds us to the dysfunction and chaos within our own government? How many heinous acts will be carried out in the name of American freedom before the masses speak up? The signs of an increasing corruption of democracy are all apparent. These are things such as illegal wiretapping, the gagging of the press, a Congress that has become alienated from the people it is supposed to represent, and an administration that is awash in scandal. How can the suspension of habeas corpus, one of the most important parts of the American Constitution, be considered at all patriotic? How far will this very familiar evil go before it becomes irreversible? Americans who take pride in being democratic citizens, regardless of political affiliation, would do well to take counsel with themselves as to the true meaning of democracy. Voters should put aside their ideals regarding gay marriage, or fear of immigrants or even loyalty to a political party, and just simply vote for democracy. It is more important that personal agenda be put aside and more attention be given to what vote supports the true meaning of a democratic government.