Was Saddam Hussein’s execution an essential point in establishing democracy in Iraq?

This paper examines whether Saddam Hussein’s execution has led to establishment of democracy in Iraq. War on Iraq was mainly in search of weapons of mass destruction ultimately not found. It is argued that his execution was not necessary to establish democracy in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein became the president of Iraq in 1979 after having been a major force in Government from mid-1970s. Iraq experienced extreme autocracy under his regime for nearly twenty five years during which almost 1/3rd of the present Iraqi population was born, thus rendering a full generation to grow without any democratic attitudes, democratic minded leaders, democratic institutions and proto-democratic civil society.

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Democracies arising from established autocracies have to develop from the scratch. The present leadership who was born after coming to the power of Bath has no idea of pre-Bath era (Moon).

It is almost six years since Saddam Hussein was executed, yet nothing much has changed there. Scholars of are of the opinion that Iraq can never have democracy since no such system ever existed in that country. People in Iraq are not used to democratic system and they do not even know what democracy is. Iraq’s hoarding of weapons of mass destruction had also been disproved even before 2003. And until now, the U.S.A. has not been able to find them.

That the world could be better off without Saddam Hussein also has no rationale. In fact, in his absence some parts of the world have become more dangerous. Even within Iraq which is now under the U.S. control, school children are unable to go schools without fear. Under Hussein’s control, Iraq had been relatively peaceful. But it now witnesses violence almost daily.

The U.S. has already lost 4,000 soldiers which is not worth the cost of eliminating Saddam Hussein. Iran which is a Shi’ite nation is now emboldened to interfere in the affairs of Iraq, a nation of Sunni majority. Under his regime, Hussein had kept Iraq stable. Military experts believe that Iraq war was a lost war without clear objectives right from the start (Hubpages)

Iraq was invaded by the U.S. without U.N. Security council resolution and as a result the U.S. is not able to convince other countries that it can play a constructive role in bringing peace back to Iraq. Dethroning of Saddam Hussein could only help his sect’s arch rival Shiite sect settle scores with him.

The world cannot forget the scenes of his execution presided over by group of Shi’tes who appeared to be fanatics. The frequent airing of his execution scenes dominated by the voices of Shi’ites worried both Sunni and Shiite communities alike as it could further escalate violence in the country. Clearly, Saddam’s execution exposed the misplaced efforts of the U.S. in bringing peace to Iraq.

Though at the beginning, the Bush administration wanted to take control of Baghdad in order to put down growing insurgency and unite Iraqis; the U.S. troops were outnumbered and found themselves unable to stop looting and sabotaging of Iraq’s physical, economic, and institutional infrastructure. Saddam’s loyalists and foreign fighters have been still able to stage insurgency. By 2006, suicide bombings had become a daily occurrence.

A 2007 poll by BBC revealed that Iraqis had no confidence in the U.S ‘s ability to bring peace to Iraq. 53 % of those who voted informed that they had no confidence in their own Iraqi government. For the question whether Saddam’s execution would help bring about reconciliation in Iraq, only 62 % of Shi’ites felt that it would and 96 % of Sunnis felt that it would not(Stover, Sissons and Pham).

Bringing democracy in a country after removal of autocratic regimes depends on transitional justice mechanisms such as passing amnesty laws, pardoning past offenders or by pursuing criminal trials.

The new administration could offer apologies to victims, create memorials for the dead, locate and identify bodies of those missing, return stolen properties, and carryout legal and institutional reforms to achieve human rights standards. These are but a few of components of transitional justice. Six conditions are required for transitional justice to be effective.

1) The above measures are practicable only in a secure environment.

2) The majority of population must perceive that implementing authorities are “legitimate and impartial”.

3) There must be political will on the part of new authorities.

) Such measures must be implemented in a way that does not manifest in collective guilt.

5) Such measures must have been formulated through the due process of consultations with those affected by violence.

And 6) these measures will be effective only in conjunction with programs of political, economic, and social reconstruction as also freedom of movement, rule of law, access to correct information and educational reform (Stover, Sissons and Pham).

A 2003 article states Saddam’s record as a protector of Iraqi’s territorial integrity is in poor light. He failed to bring together the disintegrated of components of Iraqi society. On the other hand, he aggravated domestic factionalism. On many occasions, he had “brought his county to the brink of complete disintegration”. (Karsh).

With the harsh brutality of Saddam Hussein, no one would have shown him sympathy at the end of his life. But the execution of the Muslim leader took place in the midst of Hajj pilgrimages. The insensitivity of his hanging on the eve of Eid al-adha also was deplored. As a political analyst Nazem Jassour commented ““[t]here was no good reason why the execution could not be delayed until after Eid.

It’s going to be perceived by Iraqi Sunnis as one more example of how the Shia government is trying to humiliate them” The trial of Saddam Hussein would have been a positive experience had it been under the auspices of independent and international institutions (Falk and Milbank).

From the above analysis, it becomes clear that Saddam’s execution under the auspices of the U.S.’ puppet regime in Iraq has not helped bring democracy in Iraq. He need not have been executed for the sake of democracy given the fact of long history of rulings by the dictators in Iraq.

Saddam’s execution has only helped his rival Shiite groups to settle scores with him. Saddam Hussein should have been tried in the international justice institutions. Such international initiatives alone would deter autocratic minded leaders from unleashing violence against their subjects. The U.S. involvement and the ultimate execution of Saddam might have served its own interests but not the interests of Iraqi people. The execution was only to punish him for his misdeeds and not for establishing democracy in Iraq.

Works Cited

Falk, Richard A and Albert G Milbank. The Flawed Execution of Saddam Hussein. n.d. Web. 16 April 2012 .

Hubpages. Saddam Hussein’s Death was not worth it. 2011. Web.16 April 2012 .

Karsh, Efraim. Making Iraq Safe for Democracy. 2003. Web .16 April 2012 .

Moon, Bruce E. Can Iraq democratize? How long will it take? 2006. Web.15 April 2012 .

Stover, Eric, et al. “Justice on hold:accountability andsocial reconstruction in Iraq”. International Review of the Red Cross 90.869 (2008): 5-28. Web. 15 April 2012

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