One of the first things I did when I got to university was join the Amnesty International society (which I went on to chair) and the event I remember best was a vigil held to mark the first anniversary of the chemical attack that wiped out the city of Halabja. Salford had cottoned on early that foreign, full-fee-paying, students were a nice little earner and its science courses attracted many from the Middle East, including Kurds and Palestinians. So while I was naïve enough to be surprised at having my photo taken by police, those with experience of more repressive societies were genuinely fearful.
The dictator who ordered that attack (which killed 5,000 using chemical weapons, maimed many more and proved a willingness to develop and deploy WMD) was actively supported by Britain and the USA. It would be no surprised if we were to learn that Thatcher feels for Saddam Hussein in much the same way she feels for General Pinochet. Her silence on Iraq has been deafening.
Sadly the death sentence served upon Saddam Hussein will save him the indignity of having to answer for his crimes and spend a lifetime behind bars.
At least one prominent commentator is honest enough to express joy. Great crimes tempt great revenge, but are best met with great restraint. Writing as Skipper, Bill Jones presents the pragmatic case for hanging and shows the dangers of pragmatism; it inevitably pulls you away from the principles and values you claim to believe are right.
The manner of Saddam Hussein’s death will support the notion that the values and principles that inform the new Iraq are not so different from those that informed the old. This failure to export and nurture a superior value system for Iraq is the biggest tragedy of the war.