So, Saddam Hussein was dead and buried. But rather than usher in a new era in Iraq as U.S. President George Bush no doubt had hoped, his death sparked renewed sectarian violence.
No wonder. Far from being “an important milestone in Iraq becoming a democracy”, the hanging is widely seen as an occupying power’s jungle justice against a tyrant whose worst crimes were committed when he was an American ally but who was condemned only after he went against his benefactors. In fact, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and peace organisations the world over all opined that the former Iraqi dictator’s trial and execution were in blatant disregard of international humanitarian law.
The entire episode also laid bare the hypocrisy of the motives and actions of the western world. The reason why Saddam was toppled from power was not because of the crimes he committed against his own people, but because of the supposed threat he posed to the rest of the world, particularly U.S.’ interests in the Middle East. After all, Saddam Hussein is not the only dictator who has committed crimes against his own people. Similar crimes committed by other dictators (such as Sudan’s military dictator Omar al-Bashir, who’s responsible for the genocide in Darfur) have been much worse in scope. Despite this, the international community chose to turn a blind eye to such ongoing abuse in other parts of the world. The reality of the situation is that Bush decided on his own that Saddam should no longer be the president of Iraq. This is the very thing that the U.S. Constitution and international law were designed to prevent.
An oft-stated sentiment is that the wrong man has been hanged, given the tens of thousands killed under Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. Indeed, this means that under international law, Bush is just as guilty for war crimes and crimes against humanity as Saddam Hussein. The latter’s execution is but one more entry in a long list of U.S. war crimes.