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Saddam execution: A beginning or end to global peace?

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A case of what goes around comes around

Iraq has seen its fair share of overthrown and executed Presidents since it’s independence from Britain in 1932. In 1930 the Monarchy appointed Nuri as-Said to be Prime Minister of Iraq. After much political tension, he was overthrown and killed in 1958 by Ahmad Baban. Immediately after Ahmad Baban took office, he was overthrown in a coup in the same year having served for two months, although he was not killed as a result of the coup led by Karim Qassim. Qassim then became the first President, and a republic was formed severing all ties with the Monarchy, however Karim Qassim was overthrown, put on trial and executed in 1963.{{more}}

A Baath Party which gradually came under the control of Saddam Hussein overthrew two more Presidents. A clear case of kill or be killed was established, hence the reason for the deaths of hundreds of Saddam’s opponents in 1979. But here we are again, yet another President ousted, put on trial and executed as it is in the case of Saddam Hussein. This being his second death sentence, as in 1960, Saddam was first sentenced to death in Iraq for his role in the attempted assassination of Qassim.

What is the underlying principle in all of this for us as Vincentians and for the citizens of the world? Simply, no man is above the law. The Rule of Law is a constitutional principle that is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance and requires government to be conducted according to law, and make all public officers answerable for their acts in the ordinary courts.

From friend to foe

Strange enough but true, at one time in history Saddam Hussein maintained amicable relations with the United States of America. It is important to note that long before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by a US led coalition, with the stated reasons that Iraq had not abandoned its nuclear and chemical weapons development program according to United Nations resolutions, that Saddam was a close friend of the United States. However, relations began to take a different color when the United States and the Allied forces saw many justifications for the recent invasion. These reasons included the purported link between the Iraqi government and the terrorist organisation Al Qaeda, claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the opportunity to remove an oppressive dictator from power, and the attempt to bring democracy to Iraq.

It has been claimed that before Saddam became politically prominent, he was part of a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) authorized six-man squad given the job of assassinating the then Iraqi Prime Minister General Abdul Karim Qassim in 1959, as he was a key ally in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Due to a death sentence Saddam was then assisted in relocating to Egypt by his American counterparts.

It is further alleged that the CIA was instrumental in the rise of Saddam’s Baathist party in the 1960’s. It did not end there, since legend has it that the CIA had a hand in two coups in Iraq during the darkest days of the Cold War that set an anti-communist Saddam Hussein firmly on the path to power.

Following the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979, the US actively encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Iran in 1980 as a means of undermining the newly established Islamist regime. Saddam was one of America’s closet Mideast allies during the 1980’s and a major recipient of US military and financial aid. His execution came as he was convicted of the 1982 Dujail incident which occurred amid a series of setbacks to the Iraqi army in the Iran-Iraq war. The execution of Shiite men and boys from the town of Dujail was carried out in reprisal for an attempt on Hussein’s life, where some members of Dawa were killed-the same Islamist party to which Prime Minister Maliki belongs. The beginning of the end of the Saddam-U.S. intelligence alliance started in 1990, when 100,000 Iraqi troops, invaded its neighbour, Kuwait.

Global peace

How should we define the concept of global peace? The utopian ideal of conflict-free interaction between all humans or even all conscious beings is seen by some as highly improbable, due to the wide range of behaviour and personal circumstances that exist. If we focus on bringing an end to armed conflicts, world peace may simply entail the resolution of all minor conflicts through nonviolent means and possibly, the strong guarantee that this will always remain, if we possess whatever is required. That may include a strict arms ban, continued peace negotiations and a global security agreement among other things. On the other hand, if global peace in whatever sense it is taken is unachievable, this does not imply that striving for it is not a worthy personal and global goal.

It is now clear that the most suitable progress toward world peace is a step-by-step improvement of current processes. All people would benefit by taking a long look at history and learning about the impacts of armed conflict and avoid it.

In the context of global peace, what are the implications of Saddam’s death? In an attempt to answer this question logically, is it the beginning of a more democratic Iraq or an end to the Western world extending their influence in the Muslim world? According to Saddam, one thing is certain, “the path of blood can only lead to more blood.” Then again Saddam is an executed authority. While we are in the spirit of cleansing the world of evil, it is imminent that we are not out of the woods of attacks. Where is Bin Laden? If we suspect that he is not dead, we must be concerned about his whereabouts, and as to what his mind is about. What is next on his agenda, and how achieving global peace will be impacted by any of his acts or omissions?

It is clear that the world is split about Saddam’s sentence, the timing of the execution and the way it was done as reactions widely range from celebratory, relief to grief. The hope is that the sectarian violence in Iraq does not intensify and spill over into other nations. Meanwhile, let us strive to do one more peaceful thing today than we have previously done. This will set us on a path to global peace which is a truly attainable goal.

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