Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death, and that is cause for great celebration – a brutal dictator who killed thousands has been sentenced to a punishment he most certainly deserves. However, it’s a good bet that Hussein will never be executed.
The reasons why he won’t be hanged are numerous. Islamic leaders have already warned that such an execution could energize terrorist activity. Unfortunately, this kind of warning is usually given credence by the West – see the cartoon controversy in Denmark as proof.
International pressure will be another factor in Hussein never receiving his punishment. The number of nations in the world that have banned the death penalty in all cases is far greater than the number of nations that maintain it as a criminal justice procedure. In fact, the European Union is already decrying Hussein’s eventual execution, according to a report by the Associated Press.
With President Bush’s approval numbers as low as they are – and with the reason for those poor marks often attributed to his unilateral attitude regarding both domestic and international politics – don’t count on the United States to take the unilateral step forward and do something, rather than just spout rhetoric, regarding the fact that Hussein needs to die. With the low international opinion of America at the forefront of the upcoming elections, this nation has grown far too watchful of international opinion for anything like that to happen.
Furthermore, the questionable nature of Hussein’s trial already has many human rights lawyers and “watchdog” groups affiliated with the United Nations in an uproar. Iraq – at least portions of it – is a fledgling democracy without a deeply established judicial system. In America’s well-established legal system, the appeals process between a death sentence and execution can take decades. Imagine how long such an appeals process could take in Iraq, where every international legal group is watching every legal event that transpires.
By the time Iraq could even consider executing Hussein, one of two things will have happened: Iraq will have descended into a horrible, uncontrolled civil war upon America’s departure, or Iraq will have a brand new, shaky democracy vulnerable to legal battling without end.
Either way, Hussein’s execution by Iraq is unlikely: There will either be no real state in Iraq, or the state will be new, conflicted and careful in its steps forward.
Hussein definitely deserves execution, and it’s good he has been sentenced to die. Unfortunately, like many things in politics, Hussein’s death sentence is probably just lip service.