Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

The death of Hussein

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Nick Schweitzer asks if those of us opposed to the death penalty can reconcile that belief with our support for the hanging of Saddam Hussein. In response, we need to understand that support of the death of Saddam Hussein is a function of necessity in foreign policy. I commented on Nick’s blog:

The difference is that Saddam’s death is a matter of foreign policy and national security. It is a tactical victory in that it ends the possibility of Saddam’s return to power, no matter how remote it was (although the idea was floated recently by at least one pundit).

There is the additional factor of increasing the severity of risk to those opposed to the United States. Risk really has two elements: probability and severity. The probability of the United States taking action to remove a particular government may have gone down in the last year, but the severity of the risk (execution rather than mere removal from power) may cause some foreign power to think twice.

It does send a message to Syria, Iran and even Saudi Arabia. The penalty has just gone up.

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