So, Saddam Hussain has been convicted by a court of his own countrymen, of crimes against the Iraqi people. I'm not qualified to judge whether or not his conviction is fair - though I am concerned to hear that the highly respected Amnesty International think that there are major issues with the procedures. However, my principle concern is that he is to be executed for his crimes.
The debate has already started - between those who believe, (like Margaret Beckett) that it is appropriate for him to suffer the full force of local justice) - and those, (like Menzies Campbell) who are concerned that he will simply become a martyr.
My concern is more theological: it occurred as I've watched the news unfolding this afternoon, that there was another man, 2000 years ago, who was executed by his own people. Of course, I don't draw any parrallels between an evil dictator and the son of God - I simply wonder why, 2000 years later, we have not learned that executing people we don't like doesn't work!
The other - and perhaps main - point is this. Can it be right to treat one act of barbarism (the violence of Saddam) with another (the violence of the state)? Wouldn't it be better to keep Saddam alive, in prison, to meditate on the consequences of his actions, in the hope that one day he might be lovingly persuaded to confess his sins, and repent of them? Wouldn't that be at least one substantial way of interpreting the command to love our enemies?
I find myself deeply concerned about the use of the death penalty in all cases...and especially with Saddam. What do you think?