Monday, November 06, 2006

The death sentence of Saddam Hussein to some met with the reaction that it makes no more sense to sentence him to death than it does to sentence George Bush to death. After all, though Saddam Hussein was a mass murderer who willfully and explicitly ordered the deaths of thousands of people, he was in the end sentenced to death for ordering the killings of 148 people in connection with an assassination attempt. On the surface, this reaction seems ludicrous: Saddam Hussein was a tyrant whereas George Bush was freely elected, Iraq was a dictatorship whereas America is as free as any place on earth. Iraqis killed by Americans, ostensibly the largest source of non-political grievance leading to the above reaction, were neither killed intentionally nor did America invade Iraq expressly to kill Iraqis.

There must be some form of accountability for the prosecution of a war that, though I once supported it (and probably has something to do with why I started this blog in late March of 2003), is today baseless and unjustifiable by any stretch of the imagination or credibility. At some point, surely it makes sense to hold someone responsible in some way, shape or form for the damage done. Do the thousands of Iraqi deaths attributable to Americans for no mitigating reason (unlike in Afghanistan or elsewhere) not together constitute a horrendous wrong? Whether the intention was to kill them or not is immaterial in coming to terms with the fact that George Bush and at least a few other senior officials in his administration, have be considered killers. This is markedly different from morally questionable actions in the course of war which can be mitigated for the most part, though not always, by claims of utility and expedience. When the war itself is illegitimate, so too are claims of mitigation.

The absence of intent is a powerful blow in Bush's favour. Almost all of those who died were not killed in the way Saddam Hussein killed those 148 people, and those who were killed in that way were not killed at his orders. On the other hand, how many people can one person kill intent becomes a question? George Bush is not the military equivalent of a Charles Manson in the way that Saddam Hussein is, but he surely is the equivalent of a drunk driver who kills someone. A drunk driver may or may not be a good person on the whole, but he is certainly a bad person insofar as he has killed someone, no matter how unfortunate or how unintentional the death. If the law, be it American or international, is to be applied, a similar case should be prosecuted against George Bush.

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