Saturday, December 30, I took to the radio waves to discuss, among
other things, the execution of Saddam Hussein, which had literally just
happened hours before. There was a general sense of relief and
jubiliation in the streets of Baghdad, and although there were two car
bombings reported that day, the violence was much less than had been
anticipated. I reported, as did so many others that day, that Saddam's
execution was good riddance to bad rubbish. We were already talking
about the effect it might have on the healing and reconciliation
process in Iraq.
Fast forward 24 to 48 hours. The American media---indeed, the Western world's media---got ahold of a cell phone video of Saddam's hanging and promptly turned a bookend of an event into a new cause celebre. "Saddam was taunted," they said. "The Shiites mocked him." "They hung him on Eid." "This has sparked more sectarian wariness and violence."
Actually, no. In the first 24 hours after his hanging, Iraqis were pretty OK with it. It was us---our media, our pundits, who want so desperately for the US intervention in Iraq to fail---who decided to turn the hanging into a PR nightmare for the United States. "WE were at fault," they argued. "How could this have happened?" "Is THIS what we've been fighting for?" Once some of our enemies got wind of our handwringing and bellyaching, they ran with it. And who can blame them? If we hand them the ammunition, they are going to use it.
Getting lost in all of this strum und drang is the simple fact that this mass murderer deserved to be mocked, deserved to be taunted, and deserved to be hanged. It's about time we started seeing our enemies as they are, not as we wish them to be. And to stop making apologies for our decision to fight them.