- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

Calls for postponing Saddam Hussein’s execution following this weekend’s guilty verdict for crimes against humanity are misplaced. They are over-intellectualized, and they ignore the political reality of Iraq today. The murderous ex-dictator, extremely brutal to Shi’ites and Kurds, was sentenced Sunday to death by hanging.

The trial in an Iraqi court, imperfect and assassination-plagued, delivered a type of justice for the families of Saddam’s victims and for the Iraqi people which a few short years ago they would have had no reason to expect. This is their victory, not ours. It is also theirs to complete. And in that regard, the fact that the verdict also spurred outrage among the remnant Ba’athist insurgency and its sympathizers and could embolden them is the operative factor as far as the politics goes.

Saddam’s sentencing must be executed, as soon as possible, to stamp out the conspiracy-mongering and to confirm that the old order is indeed gone forever. Iraq must be allowed to remove, in plain public sight, the cause of years of agony, the chief symbol of the old regime. In the short term this may even embolden the insurgency, but that makes it no less necessary. All Iraqis must understand that the old order, whatever they think of it, is finished. It is irretrievably gone, and there is no going back.

Toward that end, a speedy appeals process and a speedy public execution are the most valuable actions the Iraqi government can take aside from the ultimate goal of defeating the insurgency and restoring order to Iraq.

The New York Times thinks, wrongly, that because Iraqis have not received what it deems to be “full justice,” that a second trial for Saddam’s genocide against the Kurds must now take place. This over-intellectualizes the problem and substitutes outsider expectations for Iraqi needs. It’s just plain wrong.

The best justice and the best tribute to the memory of Saddam’s victims, including the tens of thousands of Kurds he gassed to death in the 1980s, would be certainty that order and justice will rule in Iraq and that a murderous dictator will never again be allowed to kill with impunity.

This is not Topeka, Stockholm or The Hague. It’s necessary to step outside the expectations game that now dominates Western discussions of Iraq. Let the Iraqis put their own interests first when it comes to reckoning with a dictator condemned to hang.

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