That's what you'd think hearing not a few people talk lately. Did we honestly expect an Iraqi court, with an Iraqi judge to come out with any other type of punishment that didn't involve sending the dictator to the great beyond?
I've grown particularly frustrated by the indignant behaviour of some towards this trial. It's almost as if people are saying "How could you possibly even think about hanging Saddam for what he did?" Well I can think of many in Iraqis living under the fear of Saddam's regime that would say "How could we not?"
The question of the morality of sending Saddam to the guilotine is one thing. I don't believe in the death penalty personaly because I think giving the state the right to kill someone is like giving a criminal the keys to your bedroom and telling him where the valuables are. A healthy distrust for the state is well more than in order in the case of the death penalty.
That being said I've always believed that a valid moral case can be made for the death penalty in principle. If you believe that the only way to stop someone from comitting a crime or an injustice is to end their lives then I see a case where the death penalty becomes justifiable in a moral sense.
For those interested, the Cathecism of the Catholic Church mirrors that point. Which is interesting because a Vatican official does not agree with the recent decision. Keep in mind that this Cardinal is apparently not particularly overly agreable to some in the Vatican.
Particularly in cases where we are dealing with a dictator that was once powerful and could potentially rise to power once again, the death penalty becomes a morally justifiable means of preventing the aggresor from coming back to power.
Now that justification depends on the belief that the only way to stop Saddam from coming back to power is to end his life. At this point that is very dubious. His power is pretty limited. His chances on returning to power are pretty slim.
Then again to millions of Iraqi's who lived under his regime that possibility may not seem as far off to us "enlightened" westerners that know better than those base "uncivilized" Iraqi's as it does to them... I seem to remember another dictator by the name of Napoleon that attempted to come back to power after he was "imprisoned for life securely" on an island.
If you feel the compulsion to judge the Iraqi's ask yourself this question: if you were in the same situation would you feel so secure with the prospect of keeping Saddam alive? With the Americans and possibly the UN keeping watch over him?... It's not like they haven't screwed up before right?...
The west was in a similar yet diffferent situation many years ago as the Iraqi people.
Are the Nazi trials of Hitler's henchmen that ended in their execution so forgotten that we don't even remember them?
Regardless whether Saddam's execution is moral the question in the end is not ours to answer. And that's why I find the self righteous indignancy to be tirying.
This is a question that Iraqis and only Iraqis should and can answer. We're just outside observers with opinions and not victims or potential future victims that have faced or could face the risks we'd like to impose by keeping a violent brutal dictator alive.
Did we honestly expect anything different from Iraqis? Discretion would say otherwise.