Today's Blogs

Butcher of Gagdad

Bloggers debrief after Saddam’s execution and welcome the European Union’s newest members, Bulgaria and Romania.

Butcher of Gagdad: Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was hanged early Saturday morning for crimes against humanity. After videos of his execution emerged on TV networks and online, the Iraqi government pledged to investigate. Bloggers consider the procedure and its aftermath.

At the New Republic’s The Plank, Eve Fairbanks confesses to feeling “a pang of pity for the guy,” not to mention concern about the judicial process: “[T]he Mel-Brooks-esque comedy and two-bit pathos of his trial reduced the figure he cut from a powerful terror to a hollow, powerless, nutty, fuming, pitiable creature mincing around on the unglorified stage of the law.”

Michael Stickings at the Moderate Voice feels a similar revulsion, arguing that the video depicts not justice but vengeance: “[O]ne of the guards shouted that Saddam had ‘destroyed us’ and ‘killed us’. Us. Saddam was executed not just by those linked by sectarian attachment to his victims but by Iraqi sectarianism itself. … Would these executioners have behaved the same way towards a condemned Shiite tyrant? Surely not.”

Financial consultant Gregory Djerijian at The Belgravia Dispatch criticizes the judicial process that he says “positively reeked of victor’s justice”: “Could we not have tried him in the Hague, even if it lasted past Bush’s Presidency, say, on the whole panoply of crimes he was rightly accused of, with witnesses, prosecution and defense teams better protected, rather than under a state of seige, with fewer grave shortcomings in standards of judicial procedure, and above all, with a better sense that justice had been pursued deliberately rather than in a vengeful (however understandable) rush to execution?”

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters is dismayed by attendees who chanted Moqtada Sadr’s name just before the rope went tight: “The taunting reduced the execution’s impact from an orderly imposition of the death penalty to a Sadr rally—a mistake for which the Iraqi government will suffer some damage, and rightly so.” Lawyer and blogger The Uncivil Litigator also criticizes the witnesses for their rowdy behavior: “Ironically, the only one I can say acted bravely in that process was Saddam Hussein. His stoic and, let’s face it, statesman-like behavior as he was executed will serve as fodder for countless more enemies of democracy and enemies of America.” At liberal Talking Points Memo, David Kurtz thinks the executioners “look like a gang of toughs from a B movie—or, on further reflection, like the hooded terrorists who in the earlier days of our occupation were murdering hostages like Nick Berg, on camera, for maximum shock value.”

Protests have broken out since the hanging, including one in which a group of Sunnis who marched through the Shiite Golden Dome in Samarra while holding aloft a mock coffin with photos of Saddam. Liberal professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment calls the protest “very bad news,” given the symbolic importance of the shrine, which was bombed 10 months ago: “Can’t that site be properly guarded or something?” BooMan at Booman Tribune provides an analogy: “Imagine a bunch Protestants blowing the dome off of St. Peter’s cathedral. Then imagine them breaking into the church and parading around pictures of Hitler and Mussolini.”

In an eerily tongue-in-cheek item at Huffington Post, comedian Steve Martin eulogizes the former dictator: “Saddam, I will miss the way you would point to someone and then they would be dead … .”

Read more about Saddam’s execution. See the disturbing execution video here. Slate’s Christopher Hitchens writes that the procedure was “more like a lynching than an execution.”

New EU: Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union Monday, bringing the number of member nations to 27. The accession of the two former Soviet states, now the poorest members of the EU, raises the Union’s total population to nearly 489 million.

Filip, a Bulgarian at international blog Topics From 192 Countries, notes the costs associated with the new era for his country: “We’re expecting prices to go up a little bit, as according to the contract with the EU we had to close two nuclear reactors on December 31st. They produced cheap electricity not only for Bulgaria, but for the whole region as well. Now export is suspended.”

Nebuchadnezzar at the Australia-based Woolly Days speculates this addition will be “the limit of EU expansion for the foreseeable future. Europe is suffering from ‘enlargement fatigue’. Countries in the queue such as Turkey, Croatia and the southern Balkan countries will have to wait until at least 2010.”

J Clive Matthews at self-described “pro-EU” blog Nosemonkey/Europhobia perceives a lack of debate surrounding the new additions and chalks it up to a “profound sense of embarrassment. It’s hard, after all, to feel much enthusiasm about the addition of those particular bastions of economic might, and it’s far too late now to pipe up with ‘erm.. hang on a minute, chaps—are you SURE we want to let those two in to the club?’ ”

Read more about the EU expansion.