I NEVER really imagined that I would see the day, yesterday, when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was hanged for crimes against humanity. Like an evil being, he seemed to have more lives than a lucky cat and he seemed more destined to die in the American bombing of Iraq when they invaded in March 2003 than at the end of a noose after a trial conducted by a Shia-majority government.
Silly sentimentality seems to have overtaken the majority of Indians I know who were pining yesterday and today for the fallen dictator. Hundreds of them took to the streets in India on Saturday to protest Saddam’s execution, their anger seemingly fueled more by knee-jerk anti-Americanism rather than real love for him.
“He was a human being after all!” one indignant Indian told me.
“Yes, but a very evil one,” I replied.
Over the past year during the trial of Saddam in Baghdad I had to constantly remind people in my office that Saddam was a monster who had killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and had even killed the spouses of his children in cold blood when they dared oppose him.
“But he was such a strong man!” they would say in admiration, missing the fact that all monsters are strong by definition.
My friend Amin called me today from Cairo to wish me a Happy New Year, and said “I really think that all the Arab dictators in the region are peeing in their pants having watched Saddam be executed and wondering who might be next!” Indeed.
Click here to watch a mobile phone video of Saddam’s execution.
Killing Saddam on the first day of Eid Al-Adha was indeed tacky and vulgar as Khalid Al-Dakhil, professor of political sociology at King Saud University in Riyadh, told me in an interview for a New York Times story that was printed today.
The world is a better place without Saddam, but whether his demise will scare enough Arab dictators into shaping up and treating their populations in a better fashion is far from certain.***Happy New Year to all of my readers!