I flew back from Al-Kut last night, just in time for a late night dinner with some friends at lovely Chez-Balad. Needless to say, the conversation turned to the topic of Saddam's execution. One of the folks at the table, our Battalion Surgeon, was Saddam's doctor on his last tour here. He expressed his anger at the execution.
When it became my time to chime in I said, "I have mixed emotions about his execution. I am not a proponent of the death penalty, but I can't think of a man more deserving of execution than Saddam." And that pretty much sums up where I am. I believe that life is a gift from God, and precious to God, and except in cases where life is in imminent danger, should not be taken. Add to that the fact that when we take the life of a wrongfully convicted person (and we do that more often than we would like to admit) we have no way of making meaningful restitution. I am against the death penalty as a matter of conscience, but I have to admit that I was happy to see Saddam walked to the gallows.
Realistically, I do not think there will be much of an effect on the situation here because of Saddam's death. Things have been pretty quiet, even as we have flown over Baghdad. There may be a spike in sectarian violence, or car bombings, but all in all, things will pretty much go on as they have been. This war, insurgency, occupation, or whatever you want to call it, became something completely different than Saddam a long time ago.
So, life and death go on here as usual. Tonight we'll ring out the old year, and ring in the new. The best part will be saying, "This is the year I go home!"