Footnotes from the British Underground

This blog began as venue for my stories as I traveled in Africa. 18 months later, I return to it as I travel to study as a Marshall Scholar in the United Kingdom. My hope is that this blog can be a conduit for you - my family, friends and secret/strange admirers - to track my movements, see a photo or two and get a glimpse of my days in the UK. Apologies once again to Dostoevsky for the blog's name...

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Location: Bradford, United Kingdom

After graduating from Notre Dame, I'm off to England for graduate study. I'll be studying for a M.A. in International Politics and Security Studies. When not studying, I'm continuing to coordinate Uganda-CAN's efforts to end the 20-year war in northern Uganda!

5.11.06

Is Saddam Death Sentence Meaningful Justice for Iraqis or Just More Politicking?

The Swamp, the Chicago Tribune's news blog, reports today on Saddam Hussein's death sentence and questions whether this will be a boost for the GOP in the final days before Tuesday's midterm elections. The Swamp reports:
President Bush, calling the death sentence of Saddam Hussein 'a milestone' in the development of a free government in Iraq, said today that the 'rule of law' has replaced 'the rule of a tyrant,' and this never would have been possible without the 'sacrifice' of American forces...Nevertheless, the verdict and the way that Bush is playing it underscore the potentially decisive role that the war in Iraq itself will play in this week's elections – and Bush will be mentioning the verdict at campaign stops today, the White House says.
Of course we all want to see Saddam face justice for commiting war crimes and crimes against humanity, but I can't help but think how the politics of this all trumps a meaningful justice. First, it is indisputable that the death sentence will stir new resentment among some sections of the Iraqi population, giving fuel to the soaring levels of violence and sectarian killing. Second, this trial seems quite bizarre in the context of Iraq's current anarchic state. I have to wonder how much of it was about a meaningful justice for Iraqis, and how much was simply about entrenching the new Iraqi regime and self-congratulating politicking by the Bush Adminstration?

I spoke with an Iraqi woman today who asked me when President Bush will stand his trial. She was visibly angry and said this was just a staged act to overshadow the overwhelming violence throughout Iraq.

Amnesty International has also condemned the use of the death sentence. The use of the death sentence is particularly volatile and reeks of revenge, not justice or rule or law.

So I guess my point is that President Bush should pause before he immediately uses this in his stump speeches over the next two days. The American people are not naive enough to believe that the execution of one man is worth 655,000 Iraqi war deaths, increases in Middle East extremism, and the U.S. military overextended and caught in a Vietnam-like quagmire with no near exit strategy.

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