Hi 81 / Lo 73
|Volume 72, Issue 55,
Monday, November 6, 2006
Matt Dulin Chris Elliott
Democracy won't flourish from Hussein's sentence
President Bush hailed Saddam Hussein's death sentence Sunday as a milestone in Iraq's move toward democracy. The sentence was announced while 2,000 Iraqis protested in Tikrit, Hussein's hometown. Gunshots were fired into the air and government-enforced curfews were broken while Iraqis throughout the country celebrated or protested the court's decision. The country's Interior Ministry closed TV stations that might promote violent acts.
Whatever moves might have been made toward encouraging democracy in the country were drowned out by internal conflict. Hussein's formal condemnation signifies the end of a superficial obstacle in the country's path to democracy, but it in no way affects the real problems facing Iraqis.
Hussein's death sentence comes just two days before midterm elections and the world is showing signs of skepticism about U.S. involvement in the timing of the decision. Muslim cleric Vitaya Wisethrat from Thailand suggested Bush might use the death sentence to persuade Americans into thinking they're safe.
If the U.S. truly wants Iraq to appear a sovereign nation, it should have pressured the Iraqi tribunal to withhold the decision until after the elections. But instead the internal connections between the two countries have become, at least seemingly so, obvious. Even if the connection is in appearance only and U.S. had nothing to do with the timing of the decision, the doubts expressed throughout the world are enough to shake Iraq's credibility.
During his trial Hussein shouted obscenities and on the day of his sentencing he carried with him a copy of the Quran. Even in his most desperate hours, Hussein manipulates the situation. Using Islam to garner attention and inflame the sensibilities of Iraqis is unfair and misleading. A decision from a court that hosts this kind of theatrics doesn't do much to further the democratic ideals.
While the world turns its attention to Hussein's trial, the insurgents haven't changed to focus and American and Iraqi forces continue to fight. If the death sentence was a move toward democracy, it's still unclear how that's a good thing for anyone.
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