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Saddam’s Hanging Distracts from Real Problems in Iraq

On December 30, 2006 at 6:00 AM local time, Saddam Hussein, former dictator of Iraq, was executed by hanging. Iraqis around the world celebrated the death of a ruler who had been convicted of genocide. Despite what reservations particular people might have had about the death penalty, all were glad that Saddam was brought to justice. Too bad none of that matters, as the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, with a living Saddam or not.

False promises have been made before in Iraq. Such empty hope began at the moment when President Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared “Mission Accomplished.” From there, the series of supposed milestones have been unable to stop the country of Iraq from going deeper and deeper into what has become a civil war. All of the various highlights of the war have been accompanied by an increase in violence, an increase in sectarian divisions, and setbacks in the country’s development.

The first of such landmarks was the transfer of sovereignty from American forces to an Iraqi government. This did nothing to pacify the growing insurgency in the country. Indeed, because the new Iraqi transitional government had no military or police force, it was unable to do much at all. To this day the government has done little more than not completely fall apart, something that it looks very likely to fail at in the near future.

Next, the big “success” was the election of a democratic Iraqi parliament. Although public perception was that this event was to be the turning point in the war, this promise turned out to be false as well. Indeed, sectarian violence simply continued to increase despite any signs of progress that American forces seemed to be making. Public opinion soon shifted back to being against the war, and for the next several months the situation on the ground simply became worse and worse.

The bad news was punctuated with one piece of hope when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by helicopter missile strike. The Administration pushed this one death as a sign of a weakening Iraqi insurgency, the real beginning of the end of the sectarian violence in the country. This turned out to be yet another promise that proved to be a lie, as the violence in the country simply continued to increase. In fact, the country has now entered a state of civil war, with the Iraqi forces beginning to stop targeting Americans and start targeting each other.

And now with the execution of Saddam Hussein, there comes yet another promise of the future that will not be fulfilled. Saddam’s death, at best, will do nothing to slow down the growing civil war in the country. More likely, however, Saddam’s execution will cause a backlash in violence, leading to more intense violence throughout the country. This execution will be yet another in a long series of broken promises in the War in Iraq.