The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Blinkered Vision


Anthony McIntyre • Fourthwrite, Winter 2006

Thug, gangster, fascist leader of the Baath dictatorship, Saddam Hussein has had his life ended courtesy of a snapped neck at the end of an executioner's rope. The man, who almost certainly began his political life as an agent of the CIA while an exile in Cairo, should not be mourned. The Rushdie maxim holds good: when tyrants fall only hypocrites grieve. His malodorous presence no longer pollutes humankind. The world is a better place for his absence. But even that achievement is undermined through the calculatedly gratuitous manner of his death.

A state should of course be licensed to kill in explicitly prescribed and heavily circumscribed circumstances. The right not to be killed is never absolute in the sense that the right not to be tortured, raped or enslaved is; although US dilution of the right not to be tortured blurs the distinction somewhat. A state's legal right to kill is merely an element in the panoply of coercive measures that is essential to the functioning of any society. The more humane a society the greater is the inhibition against the exercise of that lethal right. Nevertheless, were there no circumstances in which the state could kill, then Emerson's notion that one indispensable function of government, the necessary coercion of thugs, would become redundant. When those in the service of the state are confronted by a life threatening situation, the neutralisation of which is impossible without the application of lethal force, there are few who would demand that murder charges be brought against those state officials who killed.

But outside the context of war, and in the realm of military operations, the state's right to kill either its perceived enemies or its citizens should never be permitted in a cold blooded and premeditated fashion. A state killing should be the preventive measure of last resort not the ultimate post-crime sanction against offenders. Capital punishment violates this principle.

The killing of Saddam had something of the vindictive and vengeful to it. Like Glasgow gangster killings it was up close and personal. Although clearly guilty, in the interests of natural law his trial for crimes against humanity should never have taken place in Iraq where not only were the verdict and sentence foregone conclusions but the concept of due process has been contaminated by the virus of prejudice. Other tyrants like Milosevic and Kambanda, were removed from the scenes of their crimes and tried in international criminal tribunals in either The Hague or Arusha, where the prospects for fairer proceedings were enhanced. While few would query the verdict on Saddam the US insisted on a trial in Iraq because it knew it would deliver the sentencing outcome it wanted, allowing President Bush a certain vicarious thrill.

Bush claiming that Saddam had been held to account must sound nauseating to the many who have survived US war crimes over the years. Saddam was without doubt a war criminal but his crimes were hardly on the scale of Henry Kissinger's. Yet Kissinger is feted as a statesman. Moreover, were Saddam's atrocities against Shiites really any worse than what Putin perpetrated on the Chechens? Yet, no US demands to place the Russian leader in dock.

Margaret Beckett, the British Foreign Secretary, is no less wretched than Bush in her grovelling comments on Saddam's execution meant to mirror his. The government she serves had Pinochet in its hands and determined that under no circumstances would he be brought to account. And only recently has it begun to initiate extradition proceedings against war crimes suspects wanted in Rwanda. They, alongside many other death merchants from the Hutu Power movement, have been living in Britain for years despite being suspected of involvement in a genocide that makes Hussein's pale into insignificance.

There may be a poetic justice in oppressed people being able to inflict a comeuppance on their tormentor. What Saddam received he had dished out many, many times. Con Coughlin's biography of the despot is replete with accounts of the executions of Iraqi citizens that took place on his watch. The unbearable angst of the self perceived omnipotent dictator being forced to stand before the powerless to face being rendered inanimate, must make for a sweet taste in the mouths of those he terrified for decades. Hence the joyous scenes that met the tyrant's death. The tormented are rarely disposed to outbursts of sympathy for their tormentor.

But acquiescing in such a barbaric form of justice is a grievous course for the wider international community to follow. Failing to recognise the manner in which such justice was engineered by some of the most immoral forces on the planet is the consequence of a moral cataract that ultimately leads to a situation where the crimes of our friends are rewarded and those of our enemies are punished. Blinkered vision inflicts vengeance and does not deliver justice.




























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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

14 March 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Legal Aid Wrangle Continues
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Statements on the Arrest of Gerry McGeough

Campaign for Noel Maguire
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Paisleyites & Peelers
Anthony McIntyre

Equating Spectacle at Stormont with United Irishmen is Perverse
Tommy Gorman

Seacht mbuicéad caca go dtite ar a gcinn
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Nothing But the Truth
John Kennedy

Snapshot, 1993: Voters' Rights, MI5 Wrongs
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh

Broad Church for Unionism
Dr John Coulter

The Man Without the Mask
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The New Boyne Harriers
Brian Mór

UUP Possibilities
Dr John Coulter

Blinkered Vision
Anthony McIntyre

Damned by Debt Relief
Pauline Hadaway

6 March 2007

Irish Republican Ex-POWs Against the RUC/PSNI & MI5

Whispering Past the Graveyard
John Kennedy

RSF Campaign Reports
Tony McPhillips – Election Agent

Save Derry
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Support Peggy O Hara
Ex-POWs and Concerned Republicans Against RUC/PSNI & MI5

Only the Beginning
Mick Hall

St Bore's Day
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SS Sinn Fein
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Election Guarantees Nothing
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Coulter's Pre-Election Report
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Others Promise...
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The Curse of the Caudillo Complex
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Rest, Do Not Surrender
Dolours Price

...We Deliver
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Super Six Dictator
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Anyone Up for a Serious Alternative?
Philip Ferguson

The View from Outside
Jerry Pepin

Boom to Bust?
Dr John Coulter

Tyre Trees
Anthony McIntyre

Cleanliness Not Next to Godliness in the Shankill
Marty Egan

Leadership Needed
Stephen Hughes

Where Does the State of the Union Leave the Rest of Us?
Richard O'Rawe



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