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Uday and Qusay Hussein: Still Dead (And Other Observations)
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Twenty-Six
by Brian S. Wise
29 July 2003Uday & Qusay

Notes regarding the deaths of the Hussein sons.

Uday and Qusay Hussein are dead.  There is a certain warm satisfaction that comes when someone who has long deserved a brutal death actually ends up receiving one.  You did not have to look far to see broad smiles when the news broke Thursday; they came from a basic understanding that sometimes it is for the better of humanity that certain people are dead.  The firefight was just the sort of end they deserved, the hope being that they fought mightily to live and suffered profoundly before finally giving way.
Over the weekend, we were again told everything we needed to know about the Hussein boys, in the unlikely event we had forgotten.  There were retellings of the beatings inflicted on Olympic athletes (some were made to play soccer with a concrete soccer ball), the feeding of women covered in honey to ravenous dogs, the raping and killing of random women walking through the streets, the gigantic porn collection (it was Uday’s, with a handwritten rating attached to each video, an enjoyable thing for all you anal retentive mass murderers out there), the mass consumption of American beer, et cetera.  The only amusing thing was that Uday was once thought so out of control, Qusay was named Saddam’s successor, which answers the old question, Just how insane must someone be in order to be seen as out of control by Saddam Hussein?
But you cannot please everyone.  And to prove it, there are ongoing discussions concerning 1) the reaction “on the Arab street,” 2) whether or not the photos and videos of the bodies should have been released, and 3) whether or not the killings go opposite the presidential order against assassination.
As to “the Arab street,” no one in their right mind would buy a share of stock if the dividend was based on the potential for outrage coming from “the Arab street.”  It is one of those popular, catch-all phrases meant to suggest the average Iraqi may be more upset about the deaths than we suspect.   Well look, there are positive things happening in Iraq – 38 of the 55 most wanted have either been captured or killed, thousands and thousands of police have been hired, a military force is being trained, electricity and water levels are at pre-war levels (except in Baghdad, which obviously took more damage to its infrastructure), all hospitals and clinics are open, 100 newspapers are being published, et cetera.  Those “average Iraqis” who cannot see, or are refusing to see, these things as positives are not intellectually prepared to consider the well being of the country, and are irrelevant to the process.  If they are mad, let them stay mad, the expectation being they will eventually come around.
Whether or not the photos and video should have been released is a particularly irritating debate, in that no matter what the Pentagon decided, it was going to be wrong if critics wanted it to be wrong, with no exceptions.  In the end, the ultimate authority was a moral one: in order for some Iraqis to be convinced forward progress was being made toward the complete end of the old regime, it helps to use whatever means necessary, as the Iraqis are a fearful and suspicious people (understandably so).  If it means releasing pictures and video, fine; if it means letting them stream into the air conditioned tent a few at a time to see the corpses, why not?
The assassination argument is a non-starter.  The eternally irksome Charles Rangel made a point of saying that “We have a law on the books that says the United States should not be assassinating anybody.”  Actually we have an executive order, first prepared by President Ford (later expanded by Carter, embodied by Reagan), which says “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”  Stephen Lee explains that “[Executive Order 11905] does not define assassination, which gives the United States some flexibility in its actions and allows it to pursue overt military operations even against specific individuals.”  That flexibility necessarily includes those instances where one is given an opportunity to surrender, only to respond to his opportunity by opening fire on American forces, under which circumstance the battle that ended the lives of the Hussein boys commenced.  The equivalent would be a cop yelling “Stop, or I’ll shoot!” to a thief running from a burglary, only to be raked over the coals for shooting when the thief refuses to stop.

Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com

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