Home - About Us - Newsletter - Legal Corner - Learning - Resources - Commentary - Film - Lucasville - Contact Us

RealPolitics 101: Hussein's Execution Follows Political Tradition
By Dennis Boatwright,
Jan. 20, 2007

In my wildest imagination, I never thought I would write an essay that could be misinterpreted as sympathetic toward the former Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein. But the hypocrisy on display by Democrat and Republican officials, the fiendish
glee exhibited by news commentators, and the carnivorous demand for footage of the Hussein hanging, compelled me to depart from personal conventions.

Saddam Hussein's execution punctuates the ending of a turbulent U.S. political cycle that has been highlighted by haughty war-mongering, forced resignations, and major electoral shifts that have completely destabilized Iraq. Hussein's hasty execution caught most observers off guard at a time when journalists were taking off their partisan hats to write friendly eulogies extolling the illustrious lives of former President Gerald Ford and the Godfather of Soul. This congenial ambiance was coldly interrupted by rumors of Saddam Hussein's impending execution.

Hussein's melodramatic hanging came as no surprise to the keen observers who realized that it fell within the Bush Administration's tradition of offering Christmas presents to
the American people. During the 2004 Christmas season, the first present was Saddam's capture. During this holiday season the Administration's 2nd gift was his hanging. From the White House's perspective, Hussein's execution was timely, and it seemed to make sense considering the disgruntled mood that had led the country to elect a Democrat-controlled Congress.

Bush's presidency descended into lame-duck status sooner than expected, carrying with it an historically-low job approval rating. The White House has all but conceded that George
Bush's presidency has been an utter failure and a disaster for the Republican Party. Bush's order to send Hussein to the gallows was a desperate last attempt to boost his popularity
and perhaps create a memorable moment in his presidency.
Moreover, this surprising development crowded out the increasing attention given to the post-humusly reported statement of Republican President Ford, who remarked that he wouldn't have invaded Iraq on the pretexts Bush used.

Saddam's execution comes at a time when the White House is under mounting pressure to present an alternative plan for Iraq, in response to recommendations by the Iraq Study Group. Many expect the Bush Administration will offer only cosmetic changes to its
Iraq Plan, in order not to disrupt corporate economic interests. However, Saddam's execution did supply talking points for Bush's thin State-of-the-Union address.

There are no statistical models in political science that enable us to forecast tomorrow's headlines. Some events are spontaneous eruptions and many others are no more than sheer coincidence. The only reason why Saddam Hussein was hanged and not, for example, the enigmatic Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, is that the former was militarily weak and possessed the fix to America's addiction to oil. In terms of the degree of ruthlessness and barbarity, Saddam Hussein's crimes do not stand out from any of
the other current heads of states when such actions are distilled from the context in which they were perpetrated. In fact, in quantitative measurements, Hussein's killing of those who plotted his assassination pales in significance to the brutalities committed in neighboring Chechnya by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the ethnic cleansing ordered by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. In the Balkans, Ronald Reagan's containment policies in Central America, the jailing and torture of political dissidents in Husni Muberek's Egypt, the daily killing of Palestinian civilians by Olmert's Israeli
army, and the 653,000 civilian deaths caused by Bush's invasion of Iraq. A stronger case for hanging can be made for any of the above, and others not mentioned.

It is hard for one to feel sorry for Saddam Hussein with knowledge and understanding of the anarchy and cruel tragedies characteristic of international relations. Frankly speaking,
there is an iron law in international relations, extrapolated from The Melian Dialog which is reported in Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War, that "the strong do what they have the
power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept."

According to this realist maxim, power trumps morality and the use of force triumphs over right to independence. Power politics is not for the weak or the faint-hearted. Though
most of us strive for a peaceful world in which all humanity is regarded and treated with justice and equality, we must not allow our normative values to blind us to harmful forces
opposing these noble principles. Invasions, assassinations, and destabilization are conventional extensions of foreign policies. Any aspiring leader must take these horrible
scenarios into account before assuming leadership roles. Perhaps this is the real reason true statesman rarely emerge in the communities of African Americans and other groups.

Many in the Middle East interpret Saddam's execution as a signal of a new aggressive phase in the U.S. foreign policy, and others wonder why pale-skinned dictators, such as Slobodan Milosevic and former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet, dictators who surpassed the Arab Saddam Hussein in cruelty and viciousness, were not executed. This good point may never be addressed, but Saddam's execution sends a crude warnings to vulnerable non-Western leaders that have the audacity to go against Washington's wishes, that they, too, can be hanged next.

You may write to Dennis at:

Dennis Boatwright, #206715
Alger Maximum Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 600
Munising, Michigan 49862

Dennis Boatwright is a 36-year old, self-taught Detroit native who has been in prison since 1989. He recently founded The Center for Advanced Pan-African Studies, a public policy think tank that's on the inside, and draws contributions from the brightest and most intellectual inmates in maximum security. The group is preparing the first issue of its new
upcoming quarterly, The Bottom Line. He is multi-lingual and is an avid learner. Dennis is being held at a maximum-security prison, where he is kept in his cell for 23 hours per day. He appreciates receiving your mail.

The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners:

You may write to Dennis at:
Dennis Boatwright, #206715
Alger Maximum Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 600
Munising, Michigan 49862


If you'd like to contribute letters, articles, artwork, or educational materials to this website, please contact us at:
P.O. Box 422
The Plains, OH 45780
OR to:
[email protected]