At the End of His Rope: Saddam on Video

There is an old Jewish joke about a man about to be executed. He is entitled to ask for anything he wants as a last meal, so he opts for strawberries. “But strawberries won’t be in season for another six months,” protests the warden. “That’s all right,” the prisoner says. “I can wait.”

For a moment there, I thought the Saddam execution was headed in that direction. They asked him who his Koran should be given to, and he answered: “Bander.” Nobody knew who Bander was, but they went ahead anyway. Was Bander an aide? Was the execution just a band-aid? These were the questions that niggled. Well, at least he didn’t give the Koran to Congressman Ellison.

A batch of kibitzers are complaining the butcher’s sendoff was botched. A cell phone video of him being dispatched was conveyed with dispatch to news dispatches the world over. The execution was poorly executed, an indecorous mélange of trash-talking and rude catcalls, like a Democrat press conference. But why should we be surprised? The prosecution was poorly prosecuted, too; so what?

There was something funny about the way this was done, you say? You sold me. I’m easy. As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing was funny. A riot. The only thing the film lacked was a laugh track. If it was bloodcurdling, cool; it was done to avenge a lot of Kurd blood. To people who just find it unacceptable, I am prepared to concede: let’s have a do-over. “So shall all your enemies be destroyed, O God.”

This man was a brutal killer. Not only a proxy killer as a ruler. He personally murdered some opponents on his climb up the ladder. Later he sent henchmen, soldiers, eve his sons. He had his own sons-in-law offed. He had entire Kurdish towns gassed. There were torture chambers busily operating throughout his domain. Men were killed by being fed into meat-grinders, feet first to prolong the agony. Women were raped while their husbands were forced to watch. Children were imprisoned to punish parents. He started a macho war against Iran that lasted eight years, with over a million killed on each side. He conquered Kuwait, brutalized its inhabitants and pillaged mountains of wealth. Amid his spite of defeat in 1991, he had many oil fields set on fire. This was one vicious, destructive man. Evil, anyone? Or is that too preachy?

No, the new regime did not dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s just right, but you have to be dotty to look at this cross-eyed. The process of giving him his due was plenty close enough to due process. It certainly was a lot more than he accorded his own citizens. The U.S. Army wasted a lot of bags of Doritos, not to mention some good BVDs, on this guy the last few years, keeping him comfy so he could be tried in his best suit. His Maker may prefer not to meet a scoundrel like him, but I imagine that walking a gauntlet of his victims should keep him locked into primal scream mode for eternity.

The poor guy who filmed the cell-phone documentary has been arrested in Iraq, by the beginners who are trying to figure out how to provide good government. It’s a shame, because the guy has some talent, an eye for good camera angles, an ear for dialogue and a nose for news. It is absurd that anyone should be penalized one iota for overstepping their bounds in such a moment.

Incidentally, among the late unlamented Saddam’s crimes was his effort to incinerate me by lobbing missiles at my head. I was living in Israel in 1991 during the Gulf War, and scads of Scuds were sent flying my way. Maybe I am wrapped a little too tight, but I tend to take that sort of thing personally. So if the hanging went less than smoothly, I’ll be the first to… er, head off any criticism.

The man was a menace. He deserved to be hanged. His victims were entitled to see his ignominious end. It is a happy fate that allowed us to see this day. It gives us hope for humanity. For a brighter future. For a clear eye to see evil. For a pure heart to promote the good. It sends a chilling warning to those who would follow in his path. We may give an Ahmadinejad enough rope to hang himself, but eventually he will hang. And as for Bander, I say throw the book at him.


View All