For some it’s a promise fulfilled, a milestone reached, point scored and mission accomplished. For others, a sigh of relief, a subtle sense or symbol of freedom, even jubilation. Saddam was finally hanged on Saturday, Dec 30, 2006 – just before Eid, ending a reign that lasted over two decades.

For many Muslims however, both in Iraq and elsewhere, the event would trigger bursts of anger, frustration and bitterness, intensifying their sense of helplessness.

Not that Saddam was a great leader or a benefactor of the Iraqi people. But the context of his reign, his rise and fall, and ultimately his fate – the shift of interests (of world powers), their support, “values”, goals and “vocabulary” about Iraq and her leader is what makes the matter rather complex – and most importantly, the procedural controversies surrounding his trial, which is now cited as “deeply flawed”.

Through the two wars in Iraq, the international coalition has made a terrible example out of both Iraq and Saddam. An example that would continue to “guide” international relations and foreign policy, especially in the Muslim world (and third world in general).

While many of Saddam’s actions were indefensible, yet some of the most heinous crimes were committed during the period when he “served” as a western ally. While the coalition failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq during the current “war on terror”, it’s now known that both the American and British regimes actively supported and facilitated [http://www.ericmargolis.com/archives/2003/02/case_dismissed_for_lack_of_hard_evidence.php] Saddam in building and actually using biological and chemical weapons against Iran.

Saddam was charged and later hanged for his involvement in the killing of 148 Iraqis in 1982. When you consider the number of civilian casualties in Iraq in the two wars led by the international coalition (the figure is in hundreds of thousands) – the massive destruction of infrastructure – hospitals, schools, roads, housing etc. and the total collapse of law and order – the verdict and the concept of “justice” becomes a bit blurred.

The political system around the world (including the Muslim world) has corrupted over the past century to dangerous proportions. Or rather, its potential impact, owing mainly to technology (of control and destruction) has positioned humanity almost like an endangered specie.

While all societies have witnessed (and are responsible for) this decay of human values, some through their immense power, influence and control are bent to position themselves as more civilized, liberal, humane and just in the “comity” of nations. Over the past few decades they have forcefully emerged as the “guardians” of human rights and values. However, their past hundred year track record in terms of human casualties, destruction, exploitation, inflicted misery and indifference depicts a very grim picture of reality.

Another shameless facet of contemporary world powers is their double standards in international relations and foreign policy. While they themselves adopt a utilitarian philosophy in politics, they leave no room for the “less equal” nations in following suit in their domestic or foreign affairs. Thus through the instrument of “you are either with us or against us”, weaker nations are forcefully kept from adopting independent foreign (or even domestic) policy based on their own self-interest and values.

Based on the great imbalance in world politics today, and the “revised” ethical norms of international relations it is not difficult to conclude that the “best” model for governance in a third world state, especially an oil rich Muslim state is dictatorship. Be it through an autocratic ruler like Saddam, or a superficial democracy like Pakistan. Once the dictator has served past his utility, or has learnt a few “dirty tricks” from the powers themselves, all it takes to make amends is to “sacrifice” him on an Eid Al-Azha (The Festival of Sacrifice).

The author is an IT and Human Resource professional who likes to write on self-development and social issues. He maintains a web site, www.letsstartthinking.org as a platform for expressing on contemporary social issues, especially with reference to Pakistan and also for sharing information on human resources, self-development and Pakistan.

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