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The Saddam video

Eddie Mair | 15:21 UK time, Monday, 1 January 2007

Do you want to watch it? Will you avoid it? Have you seen it?

On the programme tonight - live debate. Feel free to add your view below. One of our guests, by the way, is from here.


  1. At 04:06 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    No, yes, no.
    xx ed

    And we've got a poodle who rubs shoulders with a shrub when any sensible dog would adopt a rather different posture.

    Conflicts Shaped Two Presidencies
    By Peter Baker
    The Washington Post

    Sunday 31 December 2006

    US, Iraq continue to experience aftereffects of their confrontations.

    The day after he ordered a cease-fire and brought the Persian Gulf War to a close, President George H.W. Bush ruminated about the status quo he had left behind in Iraq. "Still no feeling of euphoria," he dictated to his diary Feb. 28, 1991. Saddam Hussein, he recognized, remained a threat. "He's got to go," Bush concluded.

    It took nearly 16 years, but he's finally gone. ....
    Yet the history of animosity between the Bushes and Hussein is hard to ignore. The relationship actually began as one of pragmatic friendship in the 1980s, when Hussein was at war with the main U.S. enemy in the region, Iran, and George H.W. Bush was vice president in an administration that offered him help. A 1992 New Yorker article suggested that Bush, through Arab intermediaries, advised Hussein to intensify the bombing of Iran.

    Hussein soon became too much to handle. "People came to understand him as someone who was much less stable and someone who could not be trusted," said Craig Fuller, chief of staff to the elder Bush when he was vice president.


  2. At 04:13 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Fifi wrote:

    I can barely express my distaste at the whole business.

    Change 'barely' to 'not'.

    Horrible. And avoidable, if certain people had just used their common sense instead of economics to direct their actions.


  3. At 04:25 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    At the end of Saddam’s regime we should have witnessed the restoration of justice, truth and accountability; a fair trial being a fairly basic element of those rights. I am concerned that Saddam’s trial may not have been fair, and it was an opportunity missed which is compounded by the death penalty which appeared a foregone conclusion after the verdict was announced, with the appeal being a formality to bypass.

    Saddam’s death could hinder the ability to establish the truth of what happened under his rule, it will do nothing to halt the current state of almost civil war & I am ashamed that we did speak out to condemn the hanging, I wonder if Tony didn't want to offend George, who I imagine has signed off quite a number of executions.

    I don’t want to see it hear, I don’t’ even think it should be shown; the death penalty is a barbaric act which is an abuse of human rights and it is the pornography of violence to screen what anyone can imagine, without needing to be a voyeur.

  4. At 04:26 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Peter Jones wrote:

    Against my better instincts I watched the unofficial video. I wish I hadn't. Its just voyeurism. I think the behaviour of the witnesses demonstrates a profound difference in values between East and West, (I'm not judging - just saying they're different). To western eyes, the whole thing looked an undignified shambles, but then what doesn't in that part of the world at the moment.

  5. At 04:34 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Hussein the Rabbit
    By William Rivers Pitt
    Sunday 31 December 2006

    It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    - William Shakespeare

    My cell phone has been buzzing with regularity all day, alerting me to the arrival of text messages from my conservative friends. "Saddam is dead woohoo" reads the latest one, and that pretty much describes all the others. Somehow, a lot of people are finding meaning or gratification in the fact that Hussein met his fate at the end of a rope Saturday morning.

    I just can't get there. A portion of my ambivalence derives from my basic objections to the death penalty itself. My opposition to state-sponsored executions is not grounded in softhearted ideals, sympathy for the condemned, or the tenets of Catholic morality I learned as a child, but in the simple fact that death is an easy out. Justice is better delivered to the fiends of the world not by taking their lives, but by extending and prolonging their lives in absolute confinement. .....


  6. At 04:43 PM on 01 Jan 2007, whisht wrote:

    I just went to Y**Tube to see if the footage exists.

    Seemingly there is some there. I was pondering which (or whether, but mainly which) to click on, when the music I have on in my room changed to "We have all the time in the world" as sung by Louis Armstrong.

    If asked before whether I wanted to see it I'd have said no, but this blog made me curious. However, the music brought me to my senses and I know that I do not need to see this video.

    What would I learn?

    Its not going to convince me that capital punishment is a good thing. It won't convince me he is dead (I already believe that).

    Scarily, if the 'pictures on Radio' are stronger than footage, I fear for what will be in the report.

  7. At 04:58 PM on 01 Jan 2007, admin annie wrote:

    Like Ed I (for once!)

    no, yes, no.

    I have already avoided the 'official' pictures onthe news, and the still pjotos on the front of newspapers and I shall continue to avoid such things.

    This is not a comment on the death penalty, it's a comment on a society that thinks it is acceptable to make and distribute such images and on the people who subsequently look at them.

    As I have said elsewhere on the blog it's like the people who used to go and watch hangings for entertainment - public hanging was abolished in this country to stop this sort of thing, and rightly so.

    I'm obviously having a failure of imagination here because I just cannot understand why anyone would want to look at this stuff.

  8. At 05:13 PM on 01 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    I would definitely not watch the video. Why would I want to watch it? What would be my motives. I believe the man was executed I don't need to see pictures of it.


  9. At 05:15 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Peter Coghlan wrote:

    No I haven't watched the video & if possible I won't. What has made has made this sorry saga even worse has been the spectacle of 'celebration' seen in many US cities.

    It is ironic that in allegedly seeking to impose their brand of democracy they have taken both of their countries as well as Iraq back to the mentality of the Middle Ages.

  10. At 05:35 PM on 01 Jan 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Well Like Peter Jones, I did watch it, I haven't actively searched for the unofficial one.

    As regards to how I felt after watching the official one I'm not sure. I guess it's just my morbid curiosity really.

    Though not a related story, I covered an outside broadcast for LBC the evening of the Kings Cross fire on the 18th November 1987 which killed 27 people. At some point after the station was made secure I was invited with other member sof the press to venture in and survey the scene. Again I accepted, on reflection I wished I hadn't

  11. At 05:36 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Andrew Johnson wrote:

    I'm with Steve Safran on this.

    I watched the video yesterday. I probably would not have bothered but for the fact that the conventional media had censored it. My view is that it is up to individuals to decide for themselves what they want to watch.

    Was the unofficial video distasteful? In my view yes - it's not an event I would choose to film myself. However, someone did film it and they placed it in the public domain so why should it be censored?

    When it comes to the wider issue of the rights and wrongs of capital punishment, I think the mobile phone footage makes a more valuable contribution to the debate than the sanitised offical footage.

  12. At 05:36 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Stanley Mackintosh wrote:

    The phone video shows Saddam up the point where he drops out of sight. It does not show the moment of hanging to death.
    After some seconds of indistinct images as the phone is waved about, the video focuses upon Saddam's apparently unconscious or dead face.
    Conspiricy theorists may still argue that this video is far from conclusive proof of anything.

  13. At 05:38 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    If Saddam was guilty of war crimes, and if the Allied war was illegal, can we expect George and Tony to be hung next? And the contrast with the handling of Pinochet is rather stark.

    I find the whole video thing incredibly distasteful. A show trial that Mao Zedong would've been proud of, sent to the world by mobile phone. Only bad will come of this.

  14. At 05:53 PM on 01 Jan 2007, pinklefish wrote:

    Well I watched it. I'm kind of compulsive in a lot of things and when I saw the youtube link from that blog that was linked to, I knew I'd have to see it for myself or forever be curious. I don't feel damaged from viewing it, to be honest it barely seems real. I could go into how I'm desensitised by movie and tv violence, or I could claim that morbid fascination is natural... done all these arguments before. The fact of it is, it's not immediate to me so it doesn't bother me. The reality of it is so far distanced from me that it doesn't seem to have affected me. It seems very, very unreal.
    That's all I can say really.

    I'm just being really honest, although I am aware it might not do me any favours. I'm not callous or cold hearted though.

  15. At 05:54 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Peter Coghlan wrote:

    Re: Comment 10, I meant of course 'Bush & Blair' have taken their countries, as well as Iraq, back to the mentality of the Middle Ages... mea culpa.

  16. At 05:59 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Trevor Adcock wrote:

    Of course the video (which I have not seen) is in bad taste. The pointless illegal war is in bad taste. I don't know about Tony but what makes anyone think that anything associated with GWB is likely to be in any other kind of taste?

  17. At 06:01 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Brian Jackson wrote:

    Not in a million years do i want to see a crude video of the death of Sadam. Ok he killed and tortured many of his own people in Iraq but come to think of it so have Blair and Bush however indirectly. Murder is still murder who ever does it and all it ever achieves is yet more violence and death.

  18. At 06:02 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    I saw the footage that was aired on News 24 on Saturday morning, and that was more than enough. As with others, I can understand that the Iraqi pople may need proof that he is dead, but for the images to be shown again and again is goes far beyond the point of distateful.

    I have a real concern that the other trials that Saddam was due to be put before will now not go ahead. These concerned much larger crimes than those he was convicted for. I would have liked to have seen his guilt or innocence decided on all the counts.

    I'm also anti-death penalty, like many others here. I can't see a distinction between an individual or the state taking a life. If we are to say that taking a life is wrong, then how we deal with a murderer should reflect our values. If taking a life is wrong, then the matter of who does it is immaterial....

    Stanley (13) I hope you don't give the Daily Express ideas. I don't think I could cope with both Saddam and Diana on the fron page regularly. (I don't buy it, I just see it when I go in to buy my paper in the morning...)

  19. At 06:04 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Bob Harding wrote:

    Well, had there not been such hype and discussion about it, I probably wouldn't have watched it, but then, I'm a curious, rebellious kind of guy, so I clicked the link.

    It only proved to me what I already suspected, that I am as open to manipulation by the media as anyone. Given the choice of a "Do you want to watch this Yes/No" I would have clicked No, and moved on. However the relentless pummelling from all news/blog sites of "Have you seen it" "If not, why not" wore me down.

    I have only ever seen another human being die once before, in a car crash, before my very eyes. This video, showed me that awful moment again, and I wish I hadn't looked. When you can't avoid it, you accept it, when you look voluntarily? That's voyeurism.

    No matter what he did, no matter how bad, watching another human being die is horrific. If anyone (George Bush?) felt "glad", then I can only weep for the world.

  20. At 06:05 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Sean Copson wrote:

    The only image I have seen, and that unwittingly, is that shown in the Guardian Unlimited edition on the internet.

    I do not wish to see any further images but, perversely, I am glad that they have been shown because, like the images from Abhu Graib, they speak volumes to us in all sorts of ways. Apart from what the disgusting images portray, they also reveal what people think about them, by their responses. Witness the news media response and the responses by George Bush and Margaret Becket's to name just a few.

    The proverb 'a picture is worth a thousand words' comes to mind and thanks to the internet it is a lot easier for those who have a mind to, to obtain a more balanced view of what is really happening in the world than we get from the emasculated media in this country.

  21. At 06:06 PM on 01 Jan 2007, admin annie wrote:

    Andrew, if you are with Steve Safran which is of course your inalienable right,is there anything you wouldn't want available to watch?

    what about that little girl who was mauled to death today by her uncle's dog? if a member of the family had caught that on the phone would you watch that? would you watch a film made by a doctor or nurse of a very late abortion? how about watching Jews, gays gypsies and the handicapped being gassed to death if they'd had video cameras in Sobibor or Chemnitz? Saddam gassing Kurds? Pol Pot's soldiers massacring whole villages? 'clean up' squads in Latin America driving round cities at night shooting street children at will.

    I'm just wondering if you would draw any lines at all and if so where?

  22. At 06:09 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Confused of Sussex wrote:

    I didn't agree with the invasion of Iraq and haven't supported our troops being there. However, since they are there, and since Saddam Hussein was handed over to the Iraqis by coalition forces just 30 minutes before he was hanged, I honestly feel this was done in my name just the same as I feel the bombings of Iraq and the killing of so many men, women and children were done in my name. I pay taxes. It was done with my money.

    So yes, I did watch both videos on the internet yesterday. I did so with a very heavy heart but I felt that for me it would be hypocritical not to do so.

    Sadly, I have very little faith in mankind's ever really finding civilisation. The veneer is so thin I don't believe we should fool ourselves that it really does exist.

    I suppose the year can only get better. I live in hope.

  23. At 06:15 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Anna wrote:

    i watched the video (no music - just the background voices) and make no apology for it. It seemed to be, as the one other person above who also watched it said, undignified and shambolic.

    Whilst I got no pleasure from watching it did reinforce my opposition to the dealth penalty and the use of violence to resolve conflict in general.

    i assume that all those who are horrified at the idea of watching the video of Saddam Hussein's execution are also horrified at the idea of watching action movies where people appear to be killed in a whole range of realistic and violent ways for our alleged pleasure - from westerns to James Bond. I suspect not.

    There may well be a particular, prurient element for some but it also has to be said given the huge popularity of violent crime thrillers and action movies that there is also a general fascination with the terrible things that people are capable of doing to each other.

    Whether this fascination is a good or bad thing is an open question and I suppose depends upon where a person takes it - I suspect its just part of being a human being.

  24. At 06:16 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Mary Delaney wrote:

    I echo most of the comments on this blog. To parade a video of a person's death accross the globe is vile and debases us as human beings. We do not need to see everything to believe an event has happened. I also object to pictures in the press (which unlike the video I can not avoid as they are on the front page) which showed Saddam with a noose around his neck.

  25. At 06:20 PM on 01 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    admin annie, I get where you are coming from, but I also see the other point of view. There are after all, holocaust deniers. The documenting of atrocities may appeal to the rubber necker in all of us, but beyond that it's important that there is documentation.

    How many people watched the bombings of the twin towers? Is that not equally as horrific? I can't watch it as a matter of fact, but is that me not wanting to accept the reality? Or am I just being respectful. I think if I'm honest it's my squeamishness.

    I don't want to encourage goulishness so I don't subscribe to watching, but by the same token the more "windows on our world" that are available the more likely we are to have a true record or the ability to discover the truth.


  26. At 06:32 PM on 01 Jan 2007, confused of sussex wrote:

    (To admin annie) For what it's worth, I personally stop at where my responsibility ends. Anything done by me or those I'm responsible for or those using my money - even my taxes - I take responsibility for.

    Therefore, much as I disagree with it, sickened as I am by it, much as it is against everything I stand for in life, I take my share as an English woman for the responsibility of Saddam's hanging.

    And yes, I will bring it up with anyone standing for the next general election, though I note my current (Labour) MP will not number amongst them.

  27. At 06:56 PM on 01 Jan 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re: admin annie (22)

    Steve Safran's point is justified. Why should we accept filtered news ?

    I understand that certain people will watch it for morbid reasons, but surely we should make our own decisions.

    I recall years back critisism over the Michael Buerk BBC documentary in October 1984 on the Famine in Ethiopia due to the 'shocking nature' of the report. As adults we are free to make our own decisions and the media should not be censored.

  28. At 07:07 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Jo wrote:


    i agree with Admin Annie (9) and Brian Jackson.

    I especially avoided the television news on the day of his execution to avoid seeing the video. i don't agree with the death penalty and whilst, I do take MadMary's point about the video halting any attempt to deny his death, I do not see why it needs to be endlessly repeated by the news programmes.

    I did buy a newspaper on the 31st but if I'd had a choice I would have chosen one without any pictures.

    I think this whole thing is a shameful episode for humanity. Degrading someone, however evil they were, just provides those who have no respect for human rights with a model to follow.

    Anna, I disagree,. watching a movie with violence in it, although not my cup of tea, is not the same as watching someones death. One is acting the other is real.

  29. At 07:10 PM on 01 Jan 2007, admin annie wrote:

    but why should we take responsibility for things which we do not agree with and would stop our governments doing if we could? you say that these things are done in our name, but actually they aren't. Governments might say they are, but that is them passing the buck and clothing their naked ambition and power broking in the clothing of democracy - which has become very threadbare of late.

    and not just governements. if people buy battery eggs or cheap meat does that make them responsible for factory farming? and if they can only afford cheap meat, because they are low paid or on benefits does that make them more or less responsible than those who could afford to pay more and buy food produced in other ways, but don't.

    And to take the questionback to Iraq - who then should take responsibility for Saddam's regime. Are all Iraquis to be held accountable because Saddam waged war against his neighbours with their taxes? or because they didn't try to stop him? Are they all guilty because he stayed in power as we are all held guilty, by your measure, because Tony Blair was re-elected?

    I'm all for personal responsibililty and frequently deplore the lack of people taking it, leaving everything to be sorted out by some amorphous 'them', but I honestly believe there are limits to what we can or ought be held to account for as individuals living under a government.
    I do not feel that I am in any way remotely responsible for the hanging of Saddam Hussein. Tony Blair - a bit reponsible. George Bush snr and jnr - a bit more repsonsible. The judge at his trial and the people who carried out the sentence - more responsible again. But at the end of the day, if he hadn't been a murdering tyrant he wouldn't have ended up in the dock.I'm sorry if that sounds a bit trite, but it doesn't make it any less true.

    And I don't feel responsible for British soldiers who get killed in Iraq either. I feel mad about it and sad for them and heart broken for their families but the blame & responsibililty for their deaths I leave where it belongs - on the steps of 10 Downing Street.

  30. At 07:23 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Roberto Carlos Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR wrote:

    I watched the unofficial version of Saddam Hussein's Execution on the Internet. I could go on but I wrote in my blog about Miami Florida during the last hours of Hussein's Life.

    I want to share these reflections with my friends and family at BBC PM: here, here, and here.

    Unfortunately, there were attempts of sabotage by sympathizers of Bush.

  31. At 07:25 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Susie wrote:

    No, I shall not be watching it. I did not believe that he should have been executed anyway. It's nothing more than a 'snuff movie' that the news channels are broadcasting.

  32. At 08:02 PM on 01 Jan 2007, carol wrote:

    I wanted to see it, to see it all. I wanted to be a witness to the execution of a proffessing Muslim leader, brought about by two professing Christian ones. I wanted to be aware. I did not wan't to be ignorant of the reality of what was actually done. I made myself find it and watch it in full and uncut and repeat bits I had fuzzed out on, to be sure I had not missed anything of that reality.
    I was hoping there would be more of the whole environment, the witnesses, the room, the outside environment the process from the point of his condemnation right up to just before the point that the video began. Of that I will have to remain ignorant though I am mindful of the place chosen and that it was named 'camp justice' by the Americans.
    I am mindful too of the psyops skills of the Americans and how well they chose to coordinate the timing so that countless millions of Muslims would associate it with the Holiest day in their year. Here too, western celebrations of 'out with the old and in with the new' and letting go of the past cheering in the new year etc.. yes, Perfect timing and perfectly in keeping with the incredible skills of our political leaders in the way they use timing and languge to proceed with opperations such as ' shock and awe'.
    So, I watched it, all of it and only learned about hanging itself. I had thought that this means of death was a kind of passing out due to the circulation being restricted by the noose. I had no Idea that the head snaps off backwards from the spinal cord that then breaks through the skin to poke out of the throat. I had no idea that the circulation is not cut off and that death is not imminent. I had no idea that more than one volunteer was allowed to take part and surround this barbaric man with their hate and vengence.
    I was not emotionally shocked although my body was swimming a bit. I wondered why I was not shocked and why after a life time of avoiding images of horror, even in fiction and being disturbed by any I accidentally see, such as an unexpected news item of a beheading in Rwanda that haunts me still.
    It has taken a while to consider but the answer is plain. Since the build up to the invasion of Iraq, the shocks about the way things really are with our government (lets face it, it is the usa in all but name), have been so frequent that I have become somewhat desensitized and am in a pemanant state of one that is stunned with the profoundity of my disillusionment. Somehow, this execution was the literal and symbolic end of my naievity about any decency in Western politics. I actually needed to see it to believe it. I had to see it. I had to know, I do not want to be deluded about the times we live in or the true nature of our political leaders and their parties any more.
    Watching the uncut video was a kind of relief that all my suspicions about the demise of political integritry in the West were correct. At what point they died I do not know. perhaps it was too slow a slow death to notice any particular point.
    Any shred of idealistc hope for our nation was executed with Saddam along with our moral authority in the world that was on thin ice anyway and it is that which is so horrific and shocking. I am glad that I know the hideous reality of the cosequenses of that and not just for Saddam. Yes, he was a bad man but an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind and there is no escaping the double standard and double message and hypocrisy implicit in the death penalty. It would be less galling to take if our leaders were not both claiming to be Christian. I am glad they do, sickening though it is, as it reveals them for what they really are.
    Yes, I watched it all, full and uncut and although it has disturbed my dreams, it is better not to be ignorant and for that, and only that, I am glad I watched it.

  33. At 08:12 PM on 01 Jan 2007, barry wrote:

    I have not and will not view Saddams death by hanging.Words that cannot be printed that describe how i feel about this video.I was no fan of Saddam or am I for any dictator but it worries me greatly the way his final demise was sent around the world on a vidoe like this.It now raises the big question for me and I am sure many others,was his trial fair ,now i am not so sure but simply more a case of vengeance for the victors thats all.His fate was obvioulsy sealed the moment he was captured.The final demise of former head of state should have passed in private like all other executions,no matter what his record.Lets not forget it was the west including this country the USA and other European countries who armed Saddam to the teeth,gave him chemical weapons ,anything he wanted to fight the Iranians,our apparent foe,and this is what is allowed to happen,the final outcome of a dictator of sorts who went anti western and his hanging shown on a mobile phone for the world to see how uttlery sickening.Would the same happen to Castro,other leaders who defy our western point of view ,yes i think it would.The whole press community should be totally ashamed of themselvs,if they think this is worthy news on the basis of avoiding conspriacy theories and therefore let people make up their own minds what to view what a pathetic excuse for cheap journalism.So lets show every single exectuion of a prisoner on death row,why not lets see the whole gory businerss,lets see people having their throats cut by muslim fanatics,lets see all these people who are caught on police video cameras being kicked to death by yobs and thugs why not,go the whole hog press of the world,indulge yourselves.We have reached the bottom,so there is nowhere else to go is there.Thats unless we go back to the death penalty and have public hangings.

  34. At 08:12 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Steven Carrigan wrote:

    Another Grassy Knoll?

    The reason for viewing the video is to have first hand access to evidence on which reports are based. Some of the reports on this topic have not been based on evidence capable of automatic uncritical acceptance.

    This is what the internet has done for us: provide that access. We are now accustomed (if we want) to being able to access government enquiry reports and test the summaries of them in the press against our own analysis.

    The reports on Saddam's execution so far have not been based on much more real evidence than the videos.

    Here the reports conflict. Where accounts differ then, if you are interested in knowing the truth about a matter your only option is to examine the source material.

    The evidence does not here appear to me conclusive and the government of Iraq is going to have to go further if it wants to avoid years of speculation about the execution of Saddam along the lines of JFK and the grassy knoll. My reasons follow.

    Starter Pack for Saddam Conspiracy Theorists

    1. Whether the government paid a professional (The Guardian) or both videos are amateur (the short video is from a different angle) the quality of the long video can only be the result of ineptitude or careful planning.

    2. The “long videoer” frequently loses focus on the subject and points his camera at the floor or the stairs.

    3. However, for key moments (from a conspiracy theorist's point of view) his hands suddenly become remarkably steady e.g. just before the drop.

    4. For other key moments he goes back to filming metal plate e.g. just after the drop and before Saddam has fallen far enough for you to see how far he actually drops.

    5. He then stays out of focus long enough for the scene on the floor to have been arranged after Saddam's fall was broken in some manner (a platform? a safe pair of arms?).

    6. The insults and the rebuke of one of the insulters can be explained as simple theatrics designed to make it appear convincing.

    7. If the video was government sponsored that simply adds to the mystery: why choose an inept cameraman and film with such bad lighting? Answer: because they would have needed a top flight big stunt magician to have carried it off in daylight or in a well lit room.

    8. Contrary to some reports Saddam looks perfectly calm, just as if he knows it's all playacting and he is not really going to die!

    When the real conspiracy theorists get to work 2007 will see many more elaborate versions of the above posted on the net.

  35. At 08:38 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    Anna (25) I personally do not feel that "action" films that portray deaths like those you mention compare at all with things like the Saddam video (or the videos of hostages being beheaded as preceded this).

    In watching a work of fiction I know that the people involved were not actually killed. I personally do not like and do not watch strong horror movies (simply because they are not my taste), but I do not think even the worst (faked) slasher movie comes close to creating the feelings I feel go with the "real thing".

    I have seen the (quite old now) footage of a someone being executed by pistol shot and that made me feel very ill. I also have great trouble looking at the photo from (I think) Cambodia of the child in burned skin running towards camera.

    I guess the real things touch my humanity. Action movies are just escapism and bypass that part of my mind that is so offended by the real.

    I'm sure that isn't rational. But I am so unhappy at how this whole situation has been handled. Hey, though, it's become a sovereign nation again so it wasn't our doing........

  36. At 08:44 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Sorry I missed the programme this evening so didn't hear the discussion.

    I do understand those who feel they had to know what happened, but I have elected to avoid it. And I was furious when yesterday it appeared that the 6 o'clock news featured it as the main headline at a time when children were likely to be watching. I hit the off-button even though the only child present with me is 27. He didn't want to watch either.

    The whole war has been one long obscenity, now crowned by voyeurism of medieval barbarity. It's not a very long step from watching extreme violence to indulging in it.

    I watched the destruction of the twin towers in Philadelphia with colleagues who had friends and family in New York, and with a daughter-in-law in Washington a short distance from the Pentagon. In spite of all that immediacy the images seemed unreal - so many of us felt it looked like a bad disaster movie.

    Fifi mentioned Orwellian parallels somewhere in another post: if the repetitions of 24 hour news and YouTube desensitise people and conflate fiction and reality perhaps we are not so far from that nightmare.

    Oh dear, now I've really depressed myself - someone tell me I'm rambling and it's not really that bad?

  37. At 09:05 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    Anne P. (38): you *are* rambling and it's *not* really that bad.

    Did I convince you more than I convinced myself?

  38. At 09:17 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Jason (39)

    Thanks for trying - at least it made me laugh :-)

  39. At 09:48 PM on 01 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    I'm going to to an Ed I here and quote Riverbend

    A Lynching...

    It's official. Maliki and his people are psychopaths. This really is a new low. It's outrageous- an execution during Eid. Muslims all over the world (with the exception of Iran) are outraged. Eid is a time of peace, of putting aside quarrels and anger- at least for the duration of Eid.

    This does not bode well for the coming year. No one imagined the madmen would actually do it during a religious holiday. It is religiously unacceptable and before, it was constitutionally illegal. We thought we'd at least get a few days of peace and some time to enjoy the Eid holiday, which coincides with the New Year this year. We've spent the first two days of a holy holiday watching bits and pieces of a sordid lynching.

    America the savior… After nearly four years and Bush's biggest achievement in Iraq has been a lynching. Bravo Americans.

    Maliki has made the mistake of his life. His signature and unhidden glee at the whole execution, especially on the first day of Eid Al Adha (the Eid where millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca), will only do more to damage his already tattered reputation. He's like a vulture in a suit (or a balding weasel). It's almost embarrassing. I kept expecting Muwafaq Al Rubaii to run over and wipe the drool from the corner of his mouth as he signed for the execution. Are these the people who represent the New Iraq? We're in so much more trouble than I ever thought.

    And no- not the celebrations BBC are claiming. With the exception of a few areas, the streets are empty.

    Now we come to CNN. Shame on you CNN journalists- you're getting lazy. The least you can do is get the last words correct when you write a story about an execution. Your articles are read the world over and will go down in history as references. You people are the biggest news network in the world- the least you can do is spend some money on a decent translator. Saddam's last words were NOT "Muqtada Al Sadr" as Munir Haddad claimed, according to the article below. If anyone had seen at least part of the video they showed on TV, you'd know that.

    "A witness, Iraqi Judge Munir Haddad, said that one of the executioners told Hussein that the former dictator had destroyed Iraq, which sparked an argument that was joined by several government officials in the room.

    As a noose was tightened around Hussein's neck, one of the executioners yelled "long live Muqtada al-Sadr," Haddad said, referring to the powerful anti-American Shiite religious leader.

    Hussein, a Sunni, uttered one last phrase before he died, saying "Muqtada al-Sadr" in a mocking tone, according to Haddad's account."

    From the video that was leaked, it was not an executioner who yelled "long live Muqtada al-Sadr". See, this is another low the Maliki government sunk to- they had some hecklers conveniently standing by during the execution. Maliki claimed they were "some witnesses from the trial", but they were, very obviously, hecklers. The moment the noose was around Saddam's neck, they began chanting, in unison, "God's prayers be on Mohamed and on Mohamed's family…" Something else I didn't quite catch (but it was very coordinated), and then "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada!" One of them called out to Saddam, "Go to hell…" (in Arabic). Saddam looked down disdainfully and answered "Heya hay il marjala…?" which is basically saying, "Is this your manhood…?".

    Someone half-heartedly called out to the hecklers, "I beg you, I beg you- the man is being executed!" They were slightly quieter and then Saddam stood and said, "Ashadu an la ilaha ila Allah, wa ashhadu ana Mohammedun rasool Allah…" Which means, "I witness there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger." These are the words a Muslim (Sunnis and Shia alike) should say on their deathbed. He repeated this one more time, very clearly, but before he could finish it, he was lynched.

    So, no, CNN, his last words were not "Muqtada Al Sadr" in a mocking tone- just thought someone should clear that up. (Really people, six of you contributed to that article!)

    Then again, one could argue that it was a judge who gave them that false information. A judge on the Iraqi appeals court- one of the judges who ratified the execution order. Everyone knows Iraqi judges under American tutelage never lie- that explains CNN's confusion.

    Muwafaq Al Rubai was said he was "weak and frightened". Apparently, Rubai saw a different lynching because according to the video they leaked, he didn't look frightened at all. His voice didn't shake and he refused to put on the black hood. He looked resigned to his fate, and during the heckling he looked as defiant as ever. (It's quite a contrast to Muhsin Abdul Hameed's public hysterics last year when the Americans raided his home.)

    It's one thing to have militias participating in killings. This is allegedly the democracy the Americans flaunt. Is this how bloodthirsty and frightening we've become? Is this what Iraq stands for now? Executions? I'm sure the rest of the Arab countries will be impressed.

    One of the most advanced countries in the world did not help to reconstruct Iraq, they didn't even help produce a decent constitution. They did, however, contribute nicely to a kangaroo court and a lynching. A lynching shall go down in history as America's biggest accomplishment in Iraq. So who's next? Who hangs for the hundreds of thousands who've died as a direct result of this war and occupation? Bush? Blair? Maliki? Jaffari? Allawi? Chalabi?

    2006 has definitely been representative of Maliki and his government- killings like never before and a lynching to end it properly. Death and destruction everywhere. I'm so tired of all of this…

    See her https://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/


  40. At 10:02 PM on 01 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    The italics on my last post should have covered the whole of the post. They didn't. None of those words are mine.


  41. At 10:03 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    "if people buy battery eggs or cheap meat does that make them responsible for factory farming?"

    Why ever not? On the day when I cannot make anything else, I can always make an excuse, my most inexhaustible source of creativity...

    Trevor (18)
    "I don't know about Tony ..."

    What more do you need to know?

    Jason & Anne, it is actually worse than any of us want to know. Sorry.


    "And we'll put flags on our car antennas and tie yellow ribbons 'round our old oak trees. We'll send valentines and chocolate easter bunnies to our men and women in uniform. We'll proudly take stock of how we've "come together as a nation" and how "there is a new spirit of pride in America," and we'll pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. When the program's over, we'll sidle over to the Frigidaire for leftovers and the last beer of the evening. And then we'll fall asleep snug in our beds, content in the knowledge that Dubya is watching over us, and yes, he and Jesus love us, every one.

    "Meanwhile, in bombed-out office buildings and the rubble of ruined apartments, in cellars and cafes and mosques and vegetable markets, in Islamabad and Cairo and Karachi, a new nation will be born - first only in the form of unquenchable anger, an anger born of exploitation, deprivation, and desperation. It will grow in the form of a hatred as virulent and communicable as any biological agent born in the bowels of the Pentagon. It will spread from mother to daughter, brother to brother, father to son, to be carried from one generation to the next. It will be a nation without a leader, borders, or an anthem, but a nation nonetheless. A superpower forged in the hot coals of rage.The world over, tens of millions will look at America, and pray for revenge.

    "And when the next airliner plows into a packed stadium in Seattle or a nuclear plant in New Jersey, America will cry, wail, fume, and collectively wonder why They Hate Us So Much.

    or here

  42. At 10:09 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Thanks Mary and our thanks to Riverbend cannot be loud enough!

    Whether we like it or not, he contrived to die with more honour than any of those who condemned, tried, convicted and executed him can ever hope to possess. An unbelievably sad state of affairs indeed.
    in sadness,
    Houb Salaam

  43. At 10:37 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    For a lighter touch:
    From the Ironic Times

    Visitors view music great in Capitol Rotunda (above) while former president lies in state at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater.

    Pakistan Announces Plan For Fence Along Border With Afghanistan
    1500 miles long, three feet high.
    Former Turkmenistan President-For-Life Niyazov Buried In Golden-Capped Mosque He Built, Named For Himself
    Makes impressive entrance into Paradise.

    Bush, Britney Top List of
    2006's Villains
    Bin Laden, Kevin Federline top list of year's heroes.

    U. S. NEWS
    White House Adds Lawyers to Staff
    Supports rumor they're preparing an insanity defense.
    Military Considers Recruiting Foreigners
    They could play role of "enemies" in war games.

    Every day's a good day to bury bad news.

  44. At 11:00 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Couldn'ae resist this from the above source:

    Fill in the Blanks in This Reusable News Template!

    The Bush Administration is considering a "___ ___ ____" in Iraq, a new approach to the conflict. Reliable sources have said, on condition of _________, that the likely strategy will be an _______ in troops, rather than the _____ favored by __% of the American public. Most military leaders have _________ an increase, or "surge" in the level of U.S. troops in Iraq. But the Bush Administration is ___ing the opinions of the _____ Chiefs of Staff, and is ______ing the other military leaders who oppose the _____ in troops.


  45. At 11:12 PM on 01 Jan 2007, gossipmistress wrote:

    No, don't want to watch it, yes will avoid it (and have tried to avoid photos in the press), no I haven't watched it. I wouldn't want to watch any video of a real execution and am very 'anti' the death penalty.

    I even found the rather detailed description of the video content on tonight's PM distasteful enough (sorry Eddie).

    I think the whole media swarm surrounding the execution is appalling and I can't see what it will achieve, other than to fuel more violence. Having said that, I am not surprised by it. Unfortunately.

  46. At 11:24 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Stewart M wrote:

    Well I saw enough of the official video on the Saturday night news. To know you are watching someone about to die is quite disturbing. I have no desire to see the full unofficial camera phone version. As regards the actual sentence, I do believe that the decision on that is down to the land that the sentence is carried out in. State sponsored murder is however no better than the terrorist murder of hostages.

  47. At 11:37 PM on 01 Jan 2007, gossipmistress wrote:

    Mary thank you for posting (41), I haven't looked at that blog yet but keep meaning to

  48. At 11:45 PM on 01 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    The World of Robert Fisk: An Examination of Prejudice
    A review essay by David Orton

    _The Great War For Civilization: The Conquest Of The Middle East_, revised edition, by Robert Fisk, Harper Perennial, London, New York, Toronto and Sydney, 2006, 1368 pages, paperback, ISBN: 13 978 1 84115 008 6.

    "War is primarily not about victory or defeat but about death and the infliction of death. It represents the total failure of the human spirit." p. xix.

    "Europeans are used to free if sometimes bitter debates on the Middle East, where the old canard of 'anti-Semitism' flung at anyone who dares to criticize Israel has largely lost its power. There are, as I always say, plenty of real anti-Semites in the world whom we must fight without inventing more in order to smother all serious discourse on Israel and the Arabs." pp.1083-1084.

    This is a grand, educational, daring, depressing and exciting book to read. For Robert Fisk, a journalist and foreign correspondent (he does not like the term "war correspondent") has as her or his job "to tell the truth" (p. 35) and "'to monitor the centers of power.'" (p. xxiii) What seems to personally drive Fisk is "how to correct history" (p. 1286). Part of this, for Fisk, is in understanding past historical decisions made by Western states which have deadly implications for today in the Middle East. (The Middle East is hard to define precisely, but it is a geographical region where Africa, Europe and Asia come together, and where the predominant linguistic, cultural and religious community is Arabic-speaking.)

    It is clear to me, after reading this book, that where the oppressors and their supporters go to some lengths to try to control the definitions of reality that are publicly propagated, the oppressed, and those who want to contest prevailing definitions of reality, tend to see Fisk as a very informed neutral, and therefore, in some sense, an ally. Perhaps this might be a reason why he is still alive, although with some hearing loss from past Iraqi gunfire, after an extensive journalistic gadfly life spent in war zones! We need to read this book to see why we in the Western countries (for example, the United States, Britain, France and now Canada), are so wrong in "our" current foreign policies towards the Middle East. We need to read it to see how it has come about, that some discourses on the Middle East are considered legitimate, while other, contending, viewpoints have little articulation or official legitimacy, and how this can change over time.

    Sorry for "doing an Ed I", as Mary would have it, but I have a very high regard for Fisk, and some for David Orton.


  49. At 12:04 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Firstly, hi and happy new year to Eddie and all the guys.

    Secondly, this is a serious thread, so I'll put on my black hat and say that it's not something I'd want to watch, but I would not deny others the opportunity to do so, if that is what they wish to do. After all, that's what free will is all about, and the act of not watching - a statement in itself - would be diminished if it was imposed upon us.

    Regular bloggers already know that I'm against capital punishment anyway, as I regard it as licensed murder, which my logic tells me is a nonsense. So I wouldn't want to watch a hanging, would I?

    On a much lighter note, my photo has appeared in today's pictures, which is a lovely new year treat for me on my return from the Land of the Leek.

  50. At 01:14 AM on 02 Jan 2007, jonnie wrote:

    After re-reading previous posts I have to say I'm 100 percent with Carol (34) especially with regards to her last paragraph:

    'Yes, I watched it all, full and uncut and although it has disturbed my dreams, it is better not to be ignorant and for that, and only that, I am glad I watched it.'

    Susie (33) I believe that snuff movies are normally perpetrated, and distributed solely for the purpose of profit. This may hold some benefit for the commercial news channels but it would have been a questionable motive for BBC News 24 to have transmitted the material. Whilst I agree that what was shown was rather shocking, it's worth reminding ourselves that the moment of death was NOT transmitted.

    I found the pictures of bodies falling out of The World Trade Center on September 11th 2001 rather more harrowing to watch.

  51. At 01:57 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Steve Safran wrote:

    First, I'd like to thank the show for having me on. I am truly honored beyond all measure to be a part of the BBC's thoughtful discussion on this topic. Thank you for inviting me into your conversation.

    Ditto for those of you taking the time to post your thoughts so marvelously. I am blown away by how passionate BBC listeners are. And it's an honor to be a part of that.

    I just wanted to add a couple more thoughts. (Doesn't that always happen after you've had a conversation? "Oh, I wish I had just said...")

    For me, the issue isn't whether you should watch or not watch this video. If I weren't writing about it, I probably wouldn't have watched. What is relevant in 2007 is the availability of such materials. The genie is out of the bottle, so what role does that give journalists? I submit that one role is exactly what you are experiencing in this thread: the journalists provide a starting point for discussion, and the listeners take it from there.

    From a journalism POV, the video was invaluable. Why? The initial reports that came from the chamber relied on the eyewitnesses. As you all know, eyewitnesses all see and hear something different. The first report on CNN had Saddam's final words as "Muqtada al-Sadr," and his behavior as "Having fear in his eyes."


    In fact, that testimony came from one person in the chamber. Perhaps he wanted to spin it as especially humilitating. Perhaps he just remembered (or heard) it that way. In truth, Saddam's final words were a prayer, he was not weak, and if there was fear in his eyes, I didn't see it. As "madmary" rightly points out above in post #41, six people contributed to an article that turned out to be wrong.

    Recall, for a moment, the legends we all heard about Hitler "alive and well and living in Argentina." Why did those rumors persist? Because "we" didn't see his death. (There was no such problem with Mussolini.) What primary witness video provides history is a dispassionate view on the event as it happened. Surely anyone can see the value of that.

    I also believe (as a citizen, not a journalist) that we have to live with the consequences we choose. We have had desensitized coverage of war since 9/11. One of the reasons, I believe, that there hasn't been the same level of protest in the US over the Iraq War as there was over Vietnam is the lack of truly provocative pictures. The US government doesn't even allow journalists to show the coffins of returning soldiers. 9/11 was not about falling buildings; it was about murdered people. But we chose not to show the people and - for a long while - not even show the buildings collapsing. This was intellectually and journalistically dishonest.

    What I find especially interesting in this case is how few people have watched the video on YouTube. I count about 200,000. (It's a hard number to get an exact count on, since many copies are posted there.) That's a very small number in comparison to the "hit" videos there that do millions of views. Heck - there's a video of a laughing baby on there with nearly 7 million views.

    So what we see is that the availability of the video doesn't necessarily mean it spreads like wildfire. It simply means it's available as part of the whole story.

    We see images in our lives that stay with us forever. And we should. But what's marvelous about the web is that it gives us options. Unlike television's feeble "the following contains disturbing content" warnings, watching the video on the web is truly an active choice. I suggest, humbly amid this thoughtful crowd, that access to unfiltered news is ultimately the best way to go.

    Again, thanks for having me on the show and thank you all for this fantastic forum.

    Steve Safran
    Managing Editor

  52. At 03:45 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Carol (34) thanks for sharing but did know that "the head snaps off backwards from the spinal cord that then breaks through the skin to poke out of the throat. I had no idea that the circulation is not cut off and that death is not imminent." I am but a squeamish thing, & I guess it is all good that we all know stuff, but I don't want to watch such a vile death. Even the Americans inject people, hanging can just paralyse if it goes wrong.

    madmary, I have been reading Riverbend, & am held rapt, whether horrified or smiling. It is a testiment to her courage that she shares with us & it is a pleasure to read such fluid writing.

  53. At 08:31 AM on 02 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    Steve Safran has posted a rather nice compliment on his blog which is linked in Eddie's piece at the top here. I don't know if anyone has seen it.

    I trust he visits here again.

    Thanks Steve for your comments.


  54. At 08:54 AM on 02 Jan 2007, gossipmistress wrote:

    Steve (53) you are a very clear thinker in the middle of the night!

    Despite the fact that I chose not to watch the Saddam video, I agree that we should have access to unfiltered news and should be able to choose what we watch. Especially when that means seeing the results of our own foreign policies.

  55. At 09:26 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Andrzej wrote:

    I have tried to avoid seeing any pictures of the execution. Lifetime hard labour would have been a better punishment than a martyr’s death. (I am against the death penalty).

  56. At 09:39 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    gossipmistress *56): I guess time zones help ;-)

    Steve (53): you wrote "One of the reasons, I believe, that there hasn't been the same level of protest in the US over the Iraq War as there was over Vietnam is the lack of truly provocative pictures. The US government doesn't even allow journalists to show the coffins of returning soldiers. 9/11 was not about falling buildings; it was about murdered people. But we chose not to show the people and - for a long while - not even show the buildings collapsing. This was intellectually and journalistically dishonest."

    Over here things have been somewhat different. We are fortunate that the television news and the press are more willing to take slightly controversial stances towards the news in a way which seems less acceptable Stateside. And "foreign" news seems to be "where has key American statesperson visited this week" and "where is Tony Blair".

    I was in the US when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed, though, and the coverage was enormous. Just about every newspaper had a picture of a corpse on the front page, and it was the main story on every television news programme.

    I think the main reasons for the lack of protest about this war are things like the Patriot Act, which make people afraid to put their heads over the parrapet, and the defference shown to US Presidents and the decisions they make whilst they are still in office. This is GWB's show and, as Commander in Chief, the people seem to have accepted his word in a way that Tony Blair can only fantasise about.

    Most importantly, though, I think the issue is the reluctance of many Americans to engage with something happening outside "these United States". GWB pronounced it "job done" so long ago that it must be over, surely?

    Whilst in the US in 2006 I overheard a conversation in a merchandise store connected to a stage show. It sold DVDs of the show aimed at many different regions. One of the countries listed on one was "South Africa". The girl sorting the DVDs asked her colleague where South Africa was. The colleague didn't know, so the first girl went to ask the store manager. Fascinated, I lurked to await the return answer. "She says South Africa is in Africa, but she doesn't know where. I'm not convinced it's a real place so I'm taking them off the shelf."

  57. At 09:39 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Member of the Public wrote:

    Good day Eddie,

    THE decision to execute Saddam Hussein, so soon after the conclusion of his trial, has, predictably, brought about a reaction that I think epitomises the Iraq conflict.

    There has been unbridled joy from those who suffered mass persecution during the former dictator's reign of terror. Others fear that Saddam will become a "martyr" to those insurgents who resent Iraq's fledgling democracy and the continued occupation by US and UK troops.

    However, such a view neglects the severity – and brutality – of the crimes against humanity that Saddam allowed to be committed against his own people.

    The world knows now that these were crimes that bordered upon genocide, and the death sentence was the only realistic option that was available to the Iraqi authorities after Saddam was found guilty of ordering the deaths of 148 people following a failed assassination attempt.

    These people did not have the benefit of a trial. They were summarily executed by Saddam's henchmen and buried in unmarked graves. The first that many families knew of the death of a loved one under the tyrant was when they were presented with a bill to cover the cost of the bullet.

    They were not alone. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, if not more, suffered a similar fate, killed for no reason other than to satisfy Saddam's bloodlust.

    It is, of course, open to debate whether Saddam should have been spared death until these catalogues of abuse, which will forever remain a scar on the conscience of the world, had come before the Iraqi authorities.

    At least the former dictator had the privilege of a trial in spite of its imperfections; a basic human right that he always denied his own people.

    However, it is questionable whether the continuation of legal proceedings would have served any tangible purpose, given the inordinate length of time that this process would have taken and the fact that a death sentence had already been passed.

    Indeed, given the complete lack of remorse that Saddam had demonstrated, the swiftness of his execution should, in fact, be regarded as a decision that is, for once, in Iraq's best interests.

    There will, of course, be a violent response from those still sympathetic to the tyrant. This is to be expected. But it should be remembered that justice has finally caught up with Saddam Hussein – a pre-requisite for the creation of a lasting peace, however fragile, in Iraq.

  58. At 09:43 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Steve Safran:

    Like others who have commented above, I would like to thank you for taking the trouble to post here and to elucidate on your thinking. Your points are well made, and I for one totally endorse them.

    In my earlier comment, which slightly predated your own, I had been minded to add that the video served one valuable purpose, but I refrained adding it. However, you have raised it in your posting: namely, that the existence of this video footage does serve as an irrefutable record that the hanging did indeed take place, and we will therefore be spared endless speculation and conspiracy theories of the kind to which you elude.

    So now we know:

    Sadaam was a tyrant. Mass genocide was undertaken on his orders. The number of Iraqis who died at his instigation is unclear but significant.

    He was accused of developing and hoarding weapons of mass destruction.

    When Sadaam refused to fully cooperate with weapons inspectors, America, aided by Britain, invaded a sovereign territory based upon this accusation.

    There were no weapons of mass destruction and the premise under which the war was instigated was, therefore, found to be false.

    Sadaam is now dead.

    127+ British soldiers have died since the invasion.

    3000 US soldiers have met a similar fate.

    Anything between 150,000 and 600,000 Iraqis have been killed since the US led invasion.

    It has been conceded by all parties, including the American President and the British PM, that Iraq is now a far less safe place for Iraqis than it was prior to the war.

    And there was something else ..... What was it? - Oh, yes, I remember now. Iraq's principle source of wealth lies in its vast oilfields.

    Silly me. I nearly forgot that last point.

  59. At 09:57 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    A throw away line on TV news stuck with me and I meant to mention it before now. The reporter named the place that Saddam had been executed and said that this was where "the majority of the hangings happen now".

    How many people are being hung out there?

  60. At 10:24 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Frances O wrote:

    In haste - normal life resumes today -

    I'm just astounded that anyone got into the execution room with a mobile. Wouldn't it have been obvious to search witnesses/guards?

    Unless, of course, it was in someone's interest to have the hanging videoed... (sp?)

    Apols if this has already been said.

    But - but - this is not new in Iraq's history. I believe the shooting of King Faisal II and many of his family in 1958 was shown on Iraqi TV. Certainly their corpses were put on public display.

  61. At 10:26 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    MotP (59): "But it should be remembered that justice has finally caught up with Saddam Hussein – a pre-requisite for the creation of a lasting peace, however fragile, in Iraq."

    Sadly this somewhat ignores the way that Britain and America propped Saddam up through the worst of his excesses. We even supplied the wherewithall for the attrocities that saw his neck stretched.

    And I cannot conceive of lasting peace in Iraq by any reasonable definition. Fragile or otherwise, there is NO peace there and the death of Saddam is only fuel to the fire that will prolong the internal strife currently being played out.

    I do not for one minute imagine that Bush, Blair et al intended things to reach this point but, at the end of the day, they are the ones who have brought us here. With no way out other than abandonment.

    I know Saddam was a terrible person. But no worse than many terrible people running countries. But, heck, they didn't try to kill my Pa...

  62. At 10:57 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    MotP, I don't think that the brutality and inhumanity of the Saddam Hussein regime is being neglected when people raise the concern of what effect the execution will have on the insurgency. Rather, it is part of the current situation in the region that has to be thought of when taking or supporting action there. Our actions in this regard affect the daily life of the Iraqis. For better or worse, we have created this mess (the UK especially, as we were responsible for the creation of the country of Iraq, and some very brutal oppresion of our own there). What we do and say should be tempered with the realisation of the consequences for the region as a whole and the country in particular.

    Regarding your last sentence, I believe this is more a case of vengance, rather than justice. The people who suffered under Sadam wanted vengance. They've a chieved a modicum of this. However, what will be the cost to others in the country/region/world? It's entirely possible that this can now be cast into a US puppet regime executing a Muslim at the wish of the US government, thus cause for anger from muslims towards "The West". (Please note this is not what I believe, merely a suggestion of what could be said by some with the aim of increasing tensions between muslims and the west, even to the point of radicalisation.

    I'd like to refer you back to my earlier post (20) to reiterate my thoughts on why the death penalty is morally wrong. Also, a thought occurred to me last night. Surely both justice and vengance would be served better by making the convicted live a long life in prison, enduring the fact that the country is now free from him and his control, and he is at the mercy of those who despise him...

    Finally, having had a chance to listen to last nights' broadcast via listen again, may I add my thanks to both Steve Safran and Bill Thomson for a very interfesting and illuminating discussion. That's where PM wins every time...


  63. At 11:02 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Confused of Sussex wrote:

    I don't remember hangings, public or otherwise, being the starting point for the eventual peace in either Northern Ireland or South Africa.

    I saw an interview with Archbishop Tutu a few days ago. Despite a recurrence of his cancer, he stated that his wish for the future was "peace, peace, peace, peace. In Darfur, in Palestine, in Burma." Does anyone doubt there are murderers among the leaders in these places? Should hangings be the starting point for peace there?

    Or could it be that we've brought the wrong kind of democracy to Iraq? Is the right way to go only the American way, and even then only the way supported by GWB?

  64. At 11:07 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    All I've seen is the footage on News24 over the weekend.

    I won't be seeking out the pirated mobile-phone footage.

    Saddam's dead. End of his story. I could care less. As far as it matters to me; a ruthless and violent dictator slaughtered his way into power, lived by the sword and died in much the same way.

    That's good news in any language.


  65. At 11:14 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Ffred: Hear! hear! I agree totally with your views on the morality of the death sentence. On the other matters you raise, I share your reservations.

    One thing which, however, continues to trouble me, is whether it would have been better to condemn Sadaam to life imprisonment as an alternative.

    In principle, I also take this line in the case of convicted murderers, although I have frequently over the years found myself doubting the humanity of permanently imprisoning the frail elderly, or those who have committed a murder at an extremely young age - and there might be other extenuating circumstances applicable to some individuals in which I do not feel 'life as life' imprisonment would be necessary or 'right'.

    In the case of Sadaam my reservations lie more around the reality that, while he lived, he could have provided a rallying point for his supporters. And, yes, I realise he will now be regarded as a martyr. There could never be a perfect resolution to the issue.

    Am I alone in feeling truly torn on this?

  66. At 11:19 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Well, I saw it in the news. Mixed feelings about the pros and cons of broadcasting it. But I just hope we won't be subjected to numerous repeats over the next few weeks, as we were with that picture of the former Russian spy in his death throes. That photo was described in a R4 discussion programme as iconic. Bring on the iconoclasts!

  67. At 11:31 AM on 02 Jan 2007, Susan Orty-Boyden wrote:

    Does it make any difference? Will the execution of Saddam Hussein draw a line under events – in that overworked phrase so beloved of politicians – and let Iraq move on?

    Probably not. The old tyrant was already a forgotten piece of flotsam in the blood-soaked path of events in Iraq. A judicially ordered ending of a life is always a terrible thing, even when the victim is a monster.

    But Saddam has paid the penalty so often paid by fallen dictators in the past and justice of a kind has been done. So perhaps one should not shed too many tears.

    After all, it is a regrettable fact that human beings are being put to death daily around the world, sometimes with far more brutality than Saddam suffered. In Florida, a convicted murderer recently took half an hour to die. No-one really knows how many criminals are executed daily, and without appeal, in China. By those standards, Saddam received more mercy than he ever gave.

    I think it will take more than the execution of a tyrant to set things in the right direction in Iraq.

  68. At 12:00 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Has anyone else noticed that, in the Recent Comments section, there is a signpost to

    The Party Hostess

    on this thread?

    Whoever can that be, and where is their posting?

    Incidentally, when you click on it, you are directed to Eddie Mair.

    The age of conspiracy theory is not dead!

  69. At 12:03 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    MotP (59)

    Typically, you reiterate Saddam's crimes without mention or condemnation of those of our leaders (almost all are tainted) who encouraged and armed him, traded with him, and in the end, defied the will of the United Nations in a pre-emptive war (we have learned much from the Israelis).

    I assume you group all those who question this form of 'justice' among your catch-all, "those still sympathetic to the tyrant."

    "Proving someone is evil doesn't prove we are good." Resorting to the methods of the evil reduces our humanity.

    Sis (60),

    Your last point reminds me: It's because the oil revenues are there that it's been so PROFITABLE to destroy Iraq so that Halliburton and their ilk can engage in 'reconstruction'. One of the first actions of the occupiers was to re-establish trading oil in DOLLARS because Saddam had gone over to Euros (Dollar hu Akhbar!)

    Support for Steve (commented on his blogsite), Sis, Ffred, Jason and all. Remember:

    You can have revenge or security, but not both. If revenge worked, Israel would be the most secure place on Earth.

    Confused (28), "Therefore, much as I disagree with it, sickened as I am by it, much as it is against everything I stand for in life, I take my share as an English woman for the responsibility of Saddam's hanging."*

    Now there's a lass who knows what I mean about third-person pronouns! Respect!

    Salaam, etc.

    * (and angry as we are at the custards who are doing these things 'in our name') ;-(

  70. At 12:09 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Confused of Sussex wrote:

    I don't believe anybody is shedding tears for the man, whatever other views they've expressed.

    I can only see two real questions here (and no doubt find a third and a fourth as I type... ):

    1. Is the death sentence acceptable today? Do we still want to live as people did in the Middle Ages?

    2. If the death sentence is acceptable, should it only be applied to one of those responsible in an atrocity, some of them or all of them? (And remember the part the west played in selling him whatever evil weapons we'd developed.)

    3. Given the existence of the internet, do we want to be treated as grown adults free to decide what we see from as wide a variety of sources as we choose in order to make up our own minds or do we want to be told what we think, when to think it, etc., possibly not by the BBC but by the government.

    4. (Told you!) If we want to be independent, then shouldn't the BBC at least point us to where further information lies?

    5. (It gets worse - I must be rambling again) If we don't want the BBC to mention anything unpleasant, isn't that denying us the right to make our own decisions?

  71. At 12:20 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Ed I: I couldn't agree with you more. And you make the point about the profitabiity of the whole exercise so much better than could I.

    I, too, am ashamed at my own indirect implication in these crimes. There is nothing to feel proud of in any of this, which may be why some struggle to find 'reasons to be cheerful' about this mess.

    On a much lesser note, in every respect, could somebody please explain to me why we cannot strip Not a Penny More or Little Maggie's Golden Boy of their titles? I mention the matter in this regard as I feel, as a nation, we really do need to start to behave in a consistent manner.

    Oh, I forgot. Our dear Leader is an admirer of the first Woman Prime Minister. No connection, I'm sure.

    And, on the subject of women PMs, did anyone else read the article about the Queen Bee Syndrome at the weekend?

  72. At 12:37 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (70);
    All too often Geopolitics works on the principle that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. Churchill swallowed his pride and managed an unpalatable working relationship with Stalin against Hitler, despite a life-long loathing of left-wing politics. He knew that Hitler was the more virulent and aggressive short-term foe. It was the much-lauded FDR who condemned Eastern Europe into 50 years of Communist slavery as his health faded during the latter part of WW2, when he cut deals with Stalin against Churchill's better judgement.

    So it was with Saddam. At the time he seemed the lesser of two evils compared to the Islamic Revolution in Iran, which might have threatened to engulf the entire Middle East. So we backed him for the sake of short-term expediency, because the war he started against Iran helped to keep that nation supressed in it's infancy.

    But the world paid for it with long-term problems, including the gassing of the Kurds, the indiscrimante murder of all opposition to his rule, the invasion of Kuwait.

    As Eastern Europe paid for our mistakes at Yalta and Potsdam for 50 years after WW2 ended. So Iraq paid for the tyrant we helped to create.

    And yet there is hope. The former nations of the Warsaw Pact are joining their old enemy Nato and the EU wholsale. They have had their teething troubles since throwing off the Soviet yoke which held them in bondage. Democracy was not always an easy path for them to follow. But now they are masters of their own fates and free to determine their own destiny. Here is that hope; that Iraq will follow them in throwing off the residual chains of a tyrant and liberating themselves.

    The bombers and other terrorists in Iraq seek to undermine a nascent democracy, to strangle it at birth. Ever stopped to wonder why? They blow ordinary Iraqis to pieces just because they want to have paid employment in reconstruction. Why? They suicide-bomb police cadets and members of the fledgling security forces. Why?

    Because they are terrified of the outcome. A democracy in the Middle East is a threat to all who surround it. It might become an idea which takes hold and becomes a rallying point for the democrats who would do away with the Saud family, the Assad dynasty, the Emirs and the Ayatollahs and replace them with some form of representative political system, however imperfect.

    Unthinkable. Isn't it?


  73. At 12:39 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Valery P wrote:

    Big Sis - 67 - no you're not alone, and being so deeply torn, with no prospect of a pat solution, is what keeps me from posting on this topic. I salute those who still have the vigour to try to find an answer.

  74. At 12:47 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Big Sis (70)

    Yes, I went looking for it in vain. Maybe it's just the wrong thread; I haven't read very carefully of late, due to "Sheer volume of traffic".

    Talking of traffic, I was glad to hear Hazel Blears doing her bit to try and prevent the amount of traffic increasing (once more due to 'Government' decisions).

  75. At 12:53 PM on 02 Jan 2007, admin annie wrote:

    Big Sis, this matter - of why Archer is still a Lord in spite of everything and Naseem Khan is no longer an MBE - is an interesting one, and I would really like PM to have someone on the program answering it.

    Perhaps if they read this on the blog they will try and find someone to ask the question of.

  76. At 12:59 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Strip Lord Archhole. What an unpalatable image that conjurs up in my mind.....

    But I still don't understand why Geoff Boycott hasn't been knighted yet?


  77. At 01:05 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Daffers wrote:

    Archer paid more.

  78. At 01:10 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Ruth Arloff wrote:

    When the verdit was announced last week that Saddam Hussein was to be executed within the week, my son (15 on Thursday) said that it was 'out of order' because the other trials hadn't been heard, but in the next breath said "I wonder if it will be on the net". The day after the hanging, he told me that he'd seen it - I didn't believe him until I heard on the news that a mobile phone had indeed been smuggled in. This should have not been allowed; where was the security? I do not want to see it; I'm oppossed to the death sentance + although I believe that the reality of death/war should be shown, of course this footage is purient. It appeals to the blood thirsty media hungry generation such as my son + the adult population who do not realise that we are not far removed from the picture portrayed in science fiction such as 'Videodrome'

  79. At 01:22 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    "A democracy in the Middle East is a threat to all who surround it."

    Like Lebanon? Libya (more democratic than you might think)?, Iran? Turkey? All depends upon perceptions.

    Read at least the review of Robert Fisk's book (I know 1368 pages is a bit daunting, but it's a big subject)

    And, just wonder for a moment, if the way we have reacted to and meddled in the affairs of Iran over the last half-century or so has had the desired or a desirable effect. Palestine? Syria? Egypt? Afghanistan? Vietnam? Cambodia? Laos? Burma? Chile? Peru? ...? ...?

    I thought not.

    Houb Salaam

  80. At 01:24 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    Simon (78) perhaps they don't make a collar large enough to go over his head? (Runs and hides.)

  81. At 01:50 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Perky wrote:

    We sent our 9-year-old out for the papers on Sunday morning and she was quite distressed when she came back from the shop - all the papers on the shelf were bearing pictures of a dead man. It turned the morning into quite a discussion between us all, where we agreed that we were against capital punishment, but were torn, as are others on this thread, as to what the "right" solution would or could have been.

    I won't be choosing to watch the video coverage, but I respect that others want to and I agree with Jonnie that it's right that it's there as an option. The whole episode, along with our choices and actions since 9/11, leaves me unnerved and uncertain.

  82. At 01:52 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Simon/EdI: I know a cheeked tongue when I see it. You're clearly of one mind but two perceptions.

    As to stripping He Who Would Have Been London Mayor, I think I'd rather not view it in the buff, but a reduction in his address title would be appropriate. Similarly Golden Boy. I had no objection to his dad being knighted (given that the system exists, but that's another matter) - however, for Dullendim to inherit it and drag the title through the proverbial as he has already done, and will no doubt continue to do .......

    No wonder so many, including myself, are so sceptical about titles and awards.

    Ruth Arloff: I can understand your concerns and it is a point which has, perhaps, been ignored in this debate.

  83. At 03:28 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Roberto Carlos Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR wrote:

    Afraid that the sabotage of my articles in my blog by Bush Sympathizers would affect my BBC PM Family, I have decided to share with my BBC PM Family what happend in Miami Florida in the hours leading to Hussein's Death. The times were in Miami Time.

    I was at a restaurant and people were placing bets on what day Saddam Hussein will be put to death. Others who were witnessing such a thing were saying things like: "This is the beginning of the end".

    Others people started leaving the restaurant with the intention of selling their shares and cutting their links with the New York Stock Exchange.

    In a post office in neighboring Coral Gables Florida, there were three lines:
    One for those who need a passport [there is already a law requiring US Citizens to carry passports and others were finding passports to leave the country].
    One Line for those who were turning in their applications for US Citizenship.
    The Last Line were for those who were selling their Stocks and severing their links with the NYSE [New York Stock Exchange]

    29th of December 2006@10:30PM:
    I woke up with a terrible headache and took anti headache medication [secondary to a motor vehicle accident]. I went to the BBC News Website, and it said "Hussein to be executed within two minutes".

    My Mother In Law was watching TV and was sickened how Hussein's Impending Death was being turned into a "New Years Eve Style Party" by the local media.

    I told my Mother In Law [She and I were the only ones in the house awake] about the two minutes and she said: "Telemundo 51 [A US Latin Station] announced that Hussein was executed". Then the BBC said "Breaking News: Hussein Executed".

    I Attempted to see the execution which was necessary. I had to go to AzTV [Azerbaijian TV] and IRIB TV [Iran] [ as well as Independent Media] to watch the whole thing. I was aware that it was graphic but it was necessary to see this as it is part of our history.

    Afterwards, Telemundo 51 announced that two minutes after Hussein's Execution, Bush and his wife had to leave their Crawford Texas Home because of a Tornado [which destroyed the home].

  84. At 03:41 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Rhys Thomas wrote:

    From the moment that American and British munitions started to rain on Iraq it was clear that Sadaam Hussein's days were numbered. FOr all third world leaders who lacking adequate military power to form a credible challenge the USA the message is clear - tow the line, or be toppled.

    The outcome of Hussein's trial by kanagaroo court of U.S. approved judges was never in doubt. A fair trial should have been held in Brussels. Even Slobodan Milosevic was spared a Croatio/Bosnian trial in Yugoslavia.

    I'm utterly ashamed that the U.K. government, which opposes capital punishment all over the world, should have deposed the Iraqi leader, and made no protest at a U.S. proxy court's decision to have that leader executed.

    If you eat meat, you should visit a slaughter house. If you supported the invasion of Iraq, you should watch the uncut video of Sadaam Hussein's life.

    No more lies please. Give us truth and reason.

  85. At 03:55 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Happy New Year, Roberto.

    Sadly, the tornado missed the Shrub family and their guests.

    Better luck next time, I hope.

  86. At 04:09 PM on 02 Jan 2007, jonathan hood wrote:

    I saw the Saddam video on you tube.What have we come to when we parade 'heads on sticks' for all to see?The human race has sunk to new depths with this kind of thing.Welcome to the new Dark Ages.
    May you all have a Happy and Peaceful New Year

  87. At 04:24 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Hi Rhys,

    Isn't both truth and reason a bit much to ask?

    I'm arranging a group visit to the abbatoir for any interested parties, and following that we can all go on the Sellafield tour to see where Quatermass works....

    Then we can check this out for slaughter of innocents.


  88. At 04:29 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Admin annie (77) I would too! I am sure prison was appalling even for Geoffrey, but isn’t prison supposed to be THE punishment, & didn’t Naseem get punished therefore. The award was for his sporting achievement & stripping him of it only makes sense to me if he had been caught taking performance enhancing drugs, in the pursuit of that achievement.

    Ryhs (86) I am not going to visit a slaughter house, & am not ashamed of myself, even though I am a happy carnivore. Animal husbandry is of more concern to me than animal welfare, even if I would prefer a lack of cruelty. I am also not going to watch an execution, although I definitely didn’t support the invasion of Iraq, we can know about things and choose not to witness them.

    Roberto (85) “two minutes after Hussein's Execution, Bush and his wife had to leave their Crawford Texas Home because of a Tornado [which destroyed the home].” Divine retribution? I thought God might have something to say about the invasion of Iraq, despite the Christianity Bush & Blair purport to share; I don’t know any other Christians who are finding it easy to support the Labour party right now even at local elections.

    Si, lordy, I agree with you sir, I knew the day would come. Well I didn’t really, & still not sure I do now, but it is interesting to observe retrospectively the political alignments our leaders choose. They consistently learn little from history; the Balkans have been unstable for centuries, as has the Middle East. Politicians either choose their allies because they offer a political advantage in the moment, or because they are legacy chasing, I am not sure I can ever bequeath altruism to Churchill.

    Overall, I hesitate on the promotion of democracy, some benign dictatorships work better for some nations, but the liberal democracies of the world persist with flogging their own political philosophy. It isn’t as if democracy works very well for me here, I can’t remember the last thing the government supported which represented my views, & my own MP consistently responds to my agenda with his own refusing to listen to me on issues I find important enough to write to him about.

  89. At 04:35 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Susan Orty-Boyden (69) I think, from the rest of your post, that you know it does make a difference, if only because we are in Iraq promoting regime change. It is the changing of a political system, not just its leader. BUT, the death penalty is an abuse of human rights, & we should also be campaigning about its existence in the USA, particularly because they are taking the lead on how Iraq should live.

    It is an appalling double standard.

  90. At 05:14 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Alan wrote:

    Saddam was killed quickly by a long drop on a rope that broke his neck. He was not tortured or poisoned with nerve gas. That might put the verbal abuse into perspective.

  91. At 05:23 PM on 02 Jan 2007, D G Yarham wrote:

    This was a barbaric example of victor's justice.
    We in the UK should all be ashamed that we were party to the situation that allowed it to happen.
    The irony is that Saddam seemed to be the only one who could keep the lid on Iraq's warring factions.
    Certainly Blair and Bush are unable to do it.
    Are they lesser men?

  92. At 05:27 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Bert wrote:

    In my opinion it is crucially important that this video is in the public domain. I am against the death penalty and think that the footage will give rise to an important public debate. My hope is that people will veer towards a critical view of "humanely" putting people to death as a means of punishment. This execution also again underlines that killing people can never be a form of punishment but an act of revenge as exemplified by the taunting present here.

    BTW, I have not and do not plan to watch this video, however, I am sure it will be used in some future documentary work as did other images of killings before, so I might see it in the future even without specifically wanting to watch it.

  93. At 05:54 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Frances O wrote:

    Big Sis (73), where was the Queen Bee article? I've read a bit about this and think I know one. Rather well.

  94. At 06:08 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Frances O: Just found the reference in the online Times:


    Found this link, too:

  95. At 07:04 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Confused of Sussex wrote:

    So we now have John Prescott as the only member of the cabinet who's made a comment on the Saddam affair since the appearance of the second video, and he's standing up for moral indignation. You couldn't make it up!

  96. At 07:19 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Anne Maria Rennie wrote:

    Sadam was the leader of a soverine state. BRITAIN OR AMERICA had no legal right to invade Iraqi and we all know the excuses our goverment gave to the British public was in fact a lie, they also took us to war with out keeping minitues of this crucial decisions. However, it is the hard erned taxes raised in this country that paid for the invation and the imoral hanging of the leader of Iraqi by a group of cowerdace people that have shown their own want for blood shead having staged much of the bombs the Iraqi people have had to endure and encourage the continuation of more bombings untill they have compleat atonomy over the rule of Iraqi. Sadam Husain was removed from power becuse he had a the nerve to have a mosac of George Bush's father placed on the ground of the buisiest building in Iraqi. this war has damaged our standing in the world, fragmented our security, resulted in an enormiouse drain on our own resourses. most of all showed democracy is easy to manipulte and no differant to any other form of ruling.

  97. At 07:40 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I just watched Tony Benn's No 1 Son trying to avoid admitting we went along with it because the Americans wanted it. Pitiful!

  98. At 09:14 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Edward wrote:

    That we would want to see such gruesome pictures, especially if not just for news is scaring.
    Shows, unfortunately, that humans may have the animalistic instinct, if let ‘free’.

    The taunting shows, at best, that the government is not exactly in control of its institutions. Which is in itself is bad enough if they sincerely expect to rebuild an Iraq of reconciliation and equality for all.

    Not to mention, the wearing of hoods by ‘civil servants’ and government security forces almost every time to me is a very bad indicator, to say the least.

  99. At 09:52 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    That particular Benn has gone along with foreign office policy in a way Tony would never have without speaking out Ed. A shame, but symptomatic of trends in party politics, I wonder what dad thinks. I reached a point at which I don't care who speaks, I was even glad when Prescott did!

  100. At 09:56 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Alistair Edwards wrote:

    We invaded Iraq and set up a new system, new administration, new judiciary, new police force. The only condition was that the people involved must never have been involved in any of those areas before. Is it any wonder that they are not very good at running trials – or executions?

  101. At 10:06 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Carol wrote:

    Mssg 94

    "My hope is that people will veer towards a critical view of 'humanely' putting people to death as a means of punishment".

    Would it have made a difference to public opinion if Saddams execution had been sanitized?
    Would we have felt better about it and stayed asleep to the issue of capitol punnishment?
    If he had been put to death by lethal injection in a clean white room with a couple of Iraqi flags and a 'dignfied' solemnity from those doing the deed, would we see public opinion on state sanctioned killing become more popular and easier to justify?
    The politicians seem to be far more concerned that the truth of what happened got out rather than what actually did happen. They seem to be making far more fuss about finding the messenger and I wonder if they hope we will be distracted by that?
    I wonder too if they will shoot the messenger or if he will be found in the woods having commited suicide or something or will they charge the messenger with inciting violence and public unrest?
    Why are politicians so afraid of the truth and truth tellers when we have spilled so much blood in the name of democracy and freedom of speech?
    At least the Iraqis haven't yet mastered the dark western 'art' of spin and sanitizing that which should not be sanitized. At least we saw the death penalty for what it is and exactly as it is and always will be even under stage set veneer of flags and clean white rooms.
    Spin is the opiate of the western people and without it, at least the Iraqi folk are fully awake to the way things are and it need not be a bad thing that it got out. It could be used to make good foundations. I doubt that will be allowed but it could be.
    I hope they continue to seize every opportunity and expose all the rot before it morphs into our kind of palitable, sleep making form under the tutelage of western polititians with white paintbrushes.
    Will they learn from our mistakes? Even if they do, will they be allowed to do something to avoid becoming hypocrites like us?

  102. At 10:22 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Confused of Sussex wrote:

    102. All the more reason then, Alistair, that it should have been handed over to an independent, international court To do things properly, and with some integrity, should have been the first priority.

  103. At 11:55 PM on 02 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Have just been watching The Thick of Things. The depressing part is that it's probably very close to the mark. The uplifting part is that it's very funny. I missed Chris Langham, though. Nobody does lugubrious like him.

  104. At 01:48 AM on 03 Jan 2007, David Jones wrote:

    Regardless of the if you agree or disagree with Sadam beeing executed for his crimes the whole way his hanging was carried out sums up the Iraq war.

    An badly thought out plan, badly executed with no idea of what to do next.

    I have to admit I laughed when camera phone footage of it made it onto the web. Does no one learn anything in this world?

  105. At 08:28 AM on 03 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    BigSis (105);
    Not sure if this will make it past the mods, but here goes;

    Chris Langham gave me one of the biggest laughs of my laugh. He did a gag which went along the lines of;

    "Do you realise that if you sniff a lot of baking powder, rub the insides of your nostrils with very,very fine sandpaper and tear up all you money it's *exactly* like taking cocaine".

    Imagine CL performing that on stage with all of his vocal emphasis and body language and you might be 20% of the way there.

    The great thing was I could just imagine some coke fiend thinking 'Right, got to try that. A baking powder high'. Now you know why Fanny Craddock was like that on live TV...


  106. At 09:14 AM on 03 Jan 2007, Abdul Kamal wrote:

    Iraq a Sovereign Nation?

    As both the Bush, Blair and Iraq claim that the latter is a sovereign nation with a democratic government, I look forward to hearing George Bush's new intiative on Iraq which I gather requires a surge of troops despite Maliki's resistance.

  107. At 09:45 AM on 03 Jan 2007, John wrote:

    Can someone please tell me why on the day of Saddam's death, I heard someone explicitly say that his death was recorded so as to PROVE that he was actually dead? Now the news reports are making out as though they weren't aware that no one recorded it. Am I sensing some omission of news as if it never happened? Rather like the omission of Benjamin Netanyahu being told one hour in advacne about the 7/7 bombings.

  108. At 09:46 AM on 03 Jan 2007, Molly wrote:

    I have taken a decision not to look at the video or pictures of the horrific event.

    I wish I hadn't read one or two of the postings either-17 in particular ....


  109. At 09:51 AM on 03 Jan 2007, Molly wrote:

    I meant 14- sorry 17!

    I'll get back to my tasks now and leave you in peace...


  110. At 09:53 AM on 03 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    There has been a lot of discussion on here about whether or not the death penalty is right. Personally, I think it is right where guilt is clearly established.

    But I cannot help wondering, as Saddam deserved to die, how many "We" killed on the way to capturing him. Even on "Our" side the number must be approaching 4,000. More slaughter of the innocents. Once it was said to be expedient that one should die for the people, but we seem to have done the opposite.

  111. At 10:22 AM on 03 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Simon: Thanks for that. I think I can imagine it - I'm certainly laughing!

    I was a great fan of People like Us, and other CL classics. His present predicament has upset me (and doubtless many others) a great deal given his undoubted talent and the pleasure I've had from his very particular style of humour. I'll say no more now on this, given that his trial comes up fairly soon.

  112. At 10:41 AM on 03 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Molly - Don't go! We want you here! Well, if you want to go to do things, that's fine, but not to 'leave us in peace'.

  113. At 11:27 AM on 03 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    I'm basically pro-death-sentence, if only for the very worst categories of murder (law officers, children, the elderly, for serial killers, for terrorists). I believe that for certain people the monstrosity of their crime is so appalling that they should forfeit the right to live.

    But thanks to John Donne here is an alternative view of it, and two of the greatest quotes in the English Language;

    "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. .... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

    Meditation XVII; para 4.

    Who could read that an be in favour of a general death sentence?


  114. At 01:11 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    "But" for an "if" and we're in agreement.
    Proof beyond doubt is, of course, an absolute condition.

  115. At 01:28 PM on 03 Jan 2007, carol wrote:

    Re: Mssg 39

    Oh, it's not that bad after all...

    On the news just now, Americans reassure us they can advise on how to kill someone tatefully.
    "we would have done it better" etc.

  116. At 01:44 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Si (115) and Ed (116), can I ask why the murder of certain victims would warrant a Death penalty, while others wouldn't? Doesn't this imply that some peoples lives are "worth more" than others? I would counter that by saying a life is a life. Either the death penalty applies to all murder, or none...

    btw, why are Police Officers always singled out as a group when discussing this? They profession I would argue actually has a higher possibility of serious injury or death. It's a thankless job that they do, but they have chosen to put themselves in harms way on our behalf (a fact I am very grateful to them for). But, I come back to the point in my previous paragraph, iis their life intrinsically worth more than anyone elses?

  117. At 01:54 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    For Abdul (and any who may doubt who's in charge)

    Bush May Oust Top Commander for Backing Troop Withdrawal

    General Casey's strategy in Iraq was to transfer responsibility for security to the Iraqis and begin a gradual withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Bush seems all but certain not only to reverse the strategy that General Casey championed, but also to accelerate the general's departure from Iraq.

    A game of Lunatics and Asylums, anyone?

  118. At 02:01 PM on 03 Jan 2007, carol wrote:

    Is the American condemnation about how Saddam was killed a message that right and wrong, moral and immoral is not so much what you do but how you do it?
    Maybe Saddam should have accused Kuwait of having weapons of mass destruction and called thoes who tried to assassinate him "terrorists". He might have got away with it then.

  119. At 02:10 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    FF (118) I'm with you on that. I think the nature of some murders is worse, but the choice of victim should be irrelevant.

    We seem to have very inconsistent attitudes to sentencing. Have you noticed that sometimes a person get 3 years for each of a number of crimes, then is permitted to serve them concurrently? This is like breaking the speed limit (x3) and getting one £60 fine for all 3 offences (and only 3 points). Baffles me.

  120. At 02:12 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    It's an emotional thing, mixed with rationality. Hard to explain with any clarity, but when a horse breaks a leg, it's usually put out of its misery, and a dog which kills is terminated.

    Certain psychopathic conditions, including some of those on Simon's list do seem to be worth such termination, but I'm not sure about cops, though just like yourself I hold them in great respect for the job they do. (And one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter)

    Of the few Cops I know personally, most are itching to get out because of the frustrations of paperwork and targets, etc. And, (wouldn't I say so of my mates?) they are the best sort of folk who SHOULD be in the service, and I've been glad to know they were there.


  121. At 02:15 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Predictably, the moderators seem to have prevented my greeting you in Arabic, even though I noted the ironic possibility that you were a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Christian fundie, so here goes in ENGLISH:

    Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you.

    Welcome to the frog.


  122. At 02:15 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    FFred: I agree with your point re police officers. But, this isn't the only way in which, as a profession, they are dealt a different hand to other individuals. For example, it is striking that their mistakes are excused more readily than those of others.

    This is not an attack upon a profession who put their lives on the line for civilians. However, such differentiation does promote cynicism in us, apparently lesser, mortals.

  123. At 02:35 PM on 03 Jan 2007, carol wrote:


    Yes, exactly.
    As the law does not allow ordinary citizens to take a life under any circumstances, (and for all the right reasons), how is capitol punnishment justified by thoes that believe in, it just because it is done by the state?

  124. At 02:41 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (116);

    Oh my God. We agreed on something!

    FFred (118);
    The police are the defenders of our free and democratic society and the frontline guarantors of law & justice. Theirs is the often thankless task of willingly placing themselves in harms way, for the protection of the whole community. They are entitled to our utmost respect and gratitude.

    Those who would attack, even murder, law officers attack the central pillar of that democracy. They deserve nothing but contempt and the harshest punishment.

    Yes I think that some people forfeit the right to life. If I start with Brady & Hindley, Sutcliffe, Neilsen, Huntley, Shipman, West. You can fill in the rest yourself. Tell me honestly that, in your opinion, the lives of these people were worth persevering with? That they still had some major contribution to make to society. That they could, in time, atone for their crimes.

    Can I draw an inference that you agree with the other categories I named, since you didn't choose to challenge those?

    Personal opinion.


  125. At 03:04 PM on 03 Jan 2007, confused of sussex wrote:

    The 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights -

    ... Preamble...
    Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, ......

    ....Article 1.
    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    It's all there, you know. What a shame that Bush, Blair and their cronies prefer to turn their backs on it and sit precariously on their "higher moral ground."

  126. At 03:16 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Molly wrote:

    Big Sis(114)

    Thank you. What a lovely thing to say.
    But you are all so clever...
    I have to say that this brilliant Blog gives so many informed viewpoints through different styles that reaading the press is often dull by comparison.

    Hey, back to my tasks (for the moment)


  127. At 03:44 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Confused (127);
    There's an ambiguity there, which you may not perhaps have noticed.

    The UN Convention condemns the use of capital punishment. Except, of course, when the new Secretary-General sticks his foot in it on Day 1 in his new job and states "that capital punishment was for individual countries to decide upon". Leaving Ban Ki Moon's staff scrabbling to avoid a press disaster, whilst seeming to legitimise the actions over the weekend in Baghdad.

    Your excerpt from Article 1 finishes "should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood". What attitude ought the world to take to those who do not deal one another in that spirit.

    Let's say, I know, Saddam Hussein! His spirit of brotherhood to his fellow Iraqis involved the use of torture, summary execution without trial, use of outlawed poison gas, mistreatment of other Muslims on the basis of an age-old split in the Umma, Persecution of Kurds because they weren't Arabs, war on a neighbour for the same reason, coveting his neighbours ass (well, O.K., oil, but you get the idea), mass executions and mass graves. People who dared to criticise the regime had their tongues torn out and were crucified to telegraph poles until they died for retribution.

    That seems to me to fit the first bit of the Preamble, the bit about "disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind".

    That he did all of those things, or caused them to happen, is beyond doubt. What punishment best befits such a loathsome example of humankind?


  128. At 03:52 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Big Sis (124)

    Are you thinking about the 159 mph speed limit on the M54, perchance?

  129. At 03:57 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:


    Sorry to disappoint you, but no,, there's no inference to draw from my mention of only one of the categories. It's just one that keeps getting raised by people when this discussion comes up (Michael Winner seems to spring up every time a Police Officer dies in the line of duty). My stand on the death penalty is that it is morally wrong in all civil cases. War is a different situation that I still struggle with. My stand comes from the belief that if taking a life is wrong, then it is wrong irrespective if it an individual or the state performing the act.

    As for the persons you listed out, I agree that these are vicious, sadistic people. However, as soon as we allow the state to kill them, then we, as a society, begin to lose our humanity as a result. By killing them we
    a) exhibit the same behavour as the killer, deciding a life can be terminated,
    b) Open the possibility that the penalty can be valid in other, non-murder cases,
    c) Open the other possibility that in the future, state-decided killing may be mis-used in a grotesque manner. You only have to think of the holocaust to see the extremes that are in potential in such a decision.

  130. At 04:06 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    While, as Tom Paine so notably remarked, Virtue and wisdom are not heritable,

    For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and tho' himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS FOR A LION.

    I am somewhat proud to claim the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, George Mason, as an ancestor. I only wish I could claim Thomas Jefferson, who borrowed his words, as well, considering my tendency to borrow.


    And, as to hereditary succession, or rather the right of the ruled to choose their ruler, the Declaration of Arbroath also applies, and sets a satisfyingly Scottish seal on the idea.

  131. At 04:11 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Shirley Knott wrote:

    Simon (126) and by association Ed - can I give you another list for consideration:

    Angela Canning, Sally Clark, Stephen Downing, Michael McMahon, David Cooper, Paddy Joe Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter, Billy Power, Johnny Walker, Sally Clark, Robert Brown, Derek Bentley, Paul Hill, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, Carole Richardson, George Long, Philip English, Patricia Bass etc., etc.

    In there, you will find any number of “convicted” terrorists, murderers of children & the elderly, and police killers. Every one of them having their conviction quashed or being posthumously cleared.

    For the most part many years elapsed before the verdicts were overturned. I hope you envisage having prisoners on death row for a long time before exercising the death sentence.

  132. At 04:43 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Aw, Shirley,

    I did so want to agree with Simon on at least something, but I'm feeling like weaseling out a bit. Absolute certainty of guilt is a bit hard to come by, but Shirley we could do without Shrub & al Poodle for starters....and Rummy, Perle, Cheney,.....

    Anyway, Ma Earth'll be dealing with the crowding problem in due course.

    Houb Salaam

  133. At 04:47 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Shirley (132);
    Check out Ed's caveat in (116). Absolute proof required, which I heartily agree with.

    If I can take your list of names. Some were indeed overturned on appeal. So the judicial process took the proper course. No risk of execution there.

    Some, like the Guildford and Birmingham bombers were also freed on appeal, but not found innocent. The verdicts were found to be 'not safe'. That's a whole world away from 'not guilty', but the effect is the same. They walked.

    Derek Bentley was proven guilty a year or two back after DNA testing showed that he had indeed 'done it' beyond all reasonable scientific doubt. Paul Foot campaigned for years to have that one overturned, but it never will be.

    Some I'm afraid I'm not even vaguely familiar with. Sorry.

    It's a moot point anyway in modern Britain. The adoption of the Human Rights Act meant us giving up forever the notion of judicial execution as a punishment for the most serious crimes.

    And I would certainly agree it is better that 100 guilty men walk free than one innocent be wrongly executed. So I can't see that much separates us, apart from the end result.


  134. At 05:11 PM on 03 Jan 2007, James Howlett wrote:

    I don't think the filming of the video is the problem its the heckling Hussain had to endure during the process. Why is there no investigation about this. At least the video has shown the official video to be doctered propaganda.



  135. At 05:12 PM on 03 Jan 2007, confused of sussex wrote:

    So if it depends on numbers, whether or not there is a war (illegal or legal here, by the way?), how much suffering there was before death, etc., etc., who exactly decides on whether or not the death penalty should be invoked? And where, as 132. says, do you leave room for the oops, we might have got it wrong there chaps?

    If I can requote the UN DofR - "the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people" - the death sentence has more in keeping with the lowest aspirations. Ok, lock them up, throw away the key - but please let's have a civilised court hearing in civilised surroundings by people who have nothing to lose or gain by the outcome. That's why Milosovic wasn't tried in his own country. There may well be faults with this, but it's a whole let better than sinking to the depths of mankind by supporting the killing of yet more people.

    Let's go back to N. Ireland - do you kill everyone who had a part in any killing there, on both sides? And in South Africa?

    Once you decide to hang/inject some and not others, then human beings with all their faults, preferences, racial discriminations, religious preferences, etc. come into the picture and no two people will see it the same. What you may feel is right (killing Saddam) will be applauded by some and decried by others. But who is right? Nobody. We are all equal. We have different lives, different backgrounds, different beliefs. Across Europe for years now we have said no more. I shall continue to say it for the rest of my life.

  136. At 05:14 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    "Your excerpt from Article 1 finishes "should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood". What attitude ought the world to take to those who do not deal one another in that spirit.

    Let's say, I know,...."

    The Israeli state.


    Just so fellow froggers know we haven't signed some secret pact....

  137. At 05:29 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Carol wrote:

    mssg 126

    Re: "Some people forfiet the right to life"

    It is nearly impossible not to have sympathy for the above statement and all the well known arguements that support it.
    The trouble is, fundamental problems with this belief exist. These have nothing to do with having anything other than a feeling of extreme aversion for the individuals listed.
    If I were related to thoes individuals or any of their victims, this feeling would doubtless be homicidal. It is also totally understandable if relatives wish them dead and maybe even be willing to, or seek to do it. Understandable, yes, absolutely, but is it right to act upon such extreme feelings and wishes or get others to act upon them for you?
    In matters of life and death, decisions upon what is right and wrong can only ever be unreliable when they are driven by emotion, sentiment, for personal, political or corporate gain.
    It is uncomfortable but true that no matter how understandable the motive for believeing that some people are expendable, such value judgements are only one end of the same stick that enabled the original killers in the first place.
    Wether or not we believe a line can be drawn upon that stick that makes some willful killing right, depends upon individual moral frames of reference. It is precicely because these frames of reference vary so much that they too are unreliable. Even my own is 'unreliable' though I am passionately against the death penalty because I believe it is hypocrytical, more abhorrant that murder commited in rage, that it is not a punnishment, it does not help society or dimminish the numbers of homicide in countries where it is carried out, is against my own moral frame of reference, that implicit in its message is the statement that murder is o.k. and I do not believe that murder is ever o.k. and that Chritian leaders should uphold the fundamental message of Christ that was about forgiveness and mercy regardless of how you feel. I am not a Christian but share these values as I sincerely believe that if the whole of society practiced, upheld and reinforced them, it would be less violent.
    At the end of the day, most people feel/believe/know that killing is wrong, especially planned, disspassionate murder such as capitol punnishment, or we would all go around bumping off whoever we feel does not deserve to live and that can not be right.
    Of course there are very difficult grey areas such as in genuine war or if someone is comming at your child with a gun and the only way to disable them is to kill. These have to be exceptions from the arguement for obvious reasons.
    Given all of the above even with all its difficulty, it seems best, right even to resist rather than give into killing people on the basis of unreliable value judgements.

  138. At 05:55 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    I thought the email to PM tonight about the heckling was brilliant; all the fuss about the heckling must mean it is an abuse of human rights, not that silly execution business.

  139. At 05:58 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Well argued Confused and Carol. In fact, we're all not that far apart.

    How many are even jailed or demoted for these killings, I wonder?

    Obsessed? Not me, Shirley!


  140. At 06:14 PM on 03 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    Si I'm going to educate you about at least one of the people who was listed as having a conviction quashed. That is a solicitor called Sally Clark. She was convicted of killing her children. That is often seen as one of the worst sort of killings (you sort of alluded to that in an earlier post). Her conviction was overturned when the expert's evidence was undermined.


    People like Sally are lucky to have their convictions overturned. It is not particularly due to the Criminal Justice System doing it's job. It's more the result of a great many people campaigning and pressurising and just being plain persistent.

    The checks and balances are not perfect in our system and it is alway possible that people who have not committed crimes are in fact convicted.

    I want to focus on something else you said. You stated that some people's lives aren't worth preserving. How do you ever know that? Is my life really worth preserving? I don't do a huge amount of good in my life, I am a consumer of all sorts of things which are destroying our planet. I know I haven't killed anybody but you cannot justify state execution by reference to the worth or potential worth of any particular individual because that isn't the reason for imposing the penalty. That is a justification after the fact. A person who murders someone might live to repent that and do something good with their life, whereas someone like me might never kill anyone but never live to do anything useful with my life. Which person deserves preserving?

    Execution can only be justified by reference to punishment and thus a state that supports cold calculated killing is one which demonstrates a point at which it's members are not prepared to forgive. Should there ever be such a point?

    I don't think so. I think that to draw that line is to give up on hope for humanity.

    Needless to say I am not in favour of the death penalty.


  141. At 06:22 PM on 03 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    Helen as usual you and I focus on the same bit of PM. That was a great email.

    I've been rather puzzled at the outcry regarding the making of the video and the heckling when the issue is the disposal.

    And I shall remember that if I am ever to commit a capitol crime in a country where the death penalty exists I'll do it in the US where they do it nicely! So I'm told.


  142. At 06:35 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Shirley Knott wrote:


    The list was purely representative. But I think you missed my point so I'll try again.

    The vast majority of the list had been through appeals, had them rejected and had spent many many years in prison before finally having their conviction quashed.

    So how long do you think it would be reasonable to allow people to sit on death row before killing them? How many appeals do you allow?

    Two more points:

    I've no legal training but I'd like you to clarify something. Who defines the difference between the current "beyond reasonable doubt" and the concept of "proof beyond doubt", and how do they do it?

    What difference does it make to someone who has been killed in retribution for their "crime" if years after their killing the verdict is found to be "unsafe" rather than them being found "not guilty." Are they a different sort of dead?

  143. At 07:29 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Jeceris wrote:

    Is it not ironic that no one seems to care about Saddam being executed, only that he was jeered. And this in a country which outgrew capital punishment over 50 years ago!

  144. At 08:32 PM on 03 Jan 2007, confused of sussex wrote:

    Back to work, so can blog/frog no more - at least on any regular basis.

    Thanks for putting up with my ranting as politely as you have, and keep up the good work. I read it most days, even if I don't get the opportunity to join in.

    See you on the beach, maybe during the next hols.

  145. At 10:05 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Carol wrote:

    Mssg 141

    Thankyou Ed, I wasn't sure and as someone else said, one can always see required edits after post is sent.
    I regret missing one in particular especially having followed up your link.
    It was a mistake to describe the fundamental value in the message of Christ as "forgiveness and mercy".
    These words are emotive in their current use and I can not find a relevence for them in regard to this debate. I 'feel' neither for any of them, none at all, not even a philosophical speck and never ever will. Some things just are 'unforgivable' in this sense.
    In regard to the problem with capitol punnishment, it is the sanctioning of revenge that I can not believe is right for all the afore mentioned reasons. I should have described the fundamental message of Christ as 'do no harm to any one, not even your enemies, no matter what they have done or how you feel about them'.
    Forgiveness and mercy in that sense are not about sentiments and feelings, but about actions, right actions being self restraint and harmless behaviour. This value is in any path that aspires to rise above the agony of grief and injustice, destructive feelings and harmful reactions. It is a very hard path and few are thoes that find it.
    It does not have to be a religeous way but it is the only high road away from the likes of thoes listed and it is the only path to peace that I can trust.
    This is the value that capitol punnishment undermines and I believe should be upheld in practice not least by our leaders. This is especially true when you don't feel like it or what is the point in having a spiritual or moral frame of reference?
    This value is shared by many belief systems including Islam, Buddhism and it was Ghandi that pointed out how, "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind". (belief in eye for an eye is from the old testament).
    I only mentioned Chritianity because Bush and Blair claim to be Christians and are our leaders.
    Didn't Bush claim to have been guided by God on his decision to go and do no harm in Iraq?

  146. At 10:55 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    mary (142 & 143) I was driving home from an appointment when the email was read out & laughed for ages. So nice to know that the US wouldn't have done it like that at all, so reassuring & here is where I do an Ed.

    On June 17, 2000 the New York Times wrote about George Bush that, in his 5 years as governor of Texas, the state has executed 131 prisoners. This is more than any other state, and he has lately granted a stay of execution for the first time, for a DNA test.

    In Texas, 232 people have been executed since 1973, and more than 450 were on death row in 2000. If Texas were a nation, it would rank fifth in the world in executions.

    In May 2000, The Washington Post wrote how death penalty defendants receive lawyers who are chronically inexperienced, incompetent, and indifferent to the point of sleeping at trials. No matter. Bush said, ''I'm absolutely confident that everybody that has been put to death ... are guilty of the crime charged, and, secondly, they had full access to our courts.''

    In June of that year, the Chicago Tribune found that of 131 Texas executions done under Bush, there were 40 cases of the defense presenting no evidence during sentencing, 29 uses of psychiatric practices that have been condemned by the American Psychiatric Association, and 43 where a defendant was represented by a lawyer who was later disbarred or disciplined.

    To that investigation, Bush said, ''I've said once and I've said a lot that in every case, we've adequately answered innocence or guilt.'' Bush said all defendents have ''had full access to the courts. They've had full access to a fair trial.''

    Also in June, a Columbia University study found that two-thirds of death sentences in the United States and 52 percent of those in Texas from 1973 through 1995 were overturned because of bad or suppressed evidence. Bush again was unmoved. ''We have never put an innocent person to death,'' Bush said.

  147. At 11:18 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    The essential message of Christ is forgiveness & mercy Carol, but forgiveness does not mean any negation of wrongdoing. Having mentioned Tony & George, I know of few Christians who will vote labour since we went into Iraq, even in local elections. I don't think God would have had much truck with the number of people executed in a Texas where Bush was governor either.

  148. At 11:48 PM on 03 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Sister Mary (142) - Have just read this and feel very moved. Your comments are very thoughtful and we'd all do well to reflect on them. Thank you.

  149. At 12:36 AM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    But Helen,

    Shrub, like all Americans, is a very forgiving sort:

    Friday 22 December 2006

    Washington - President Bush gave a pre-Christmas gift to 17 minor criminals, but even after adding these pardons and one sentence commutation to his record he remains one of the stingiest presidents for such federal forgiveness.

    Six of the federal offenses involved in the 16 pardons and one commutation issued Thursday were drug crimes, while others included bank fraud, mail fraud, the acceptance of a kickback, a false statement on a loan application and conspiracy to defraud the government over taxes.

    And Shrub and his appointees always make sure the laws are clear and obeyed:

    First, Mr. Gonzales [the highest law officer in the land]recommended to the President that the Geneva Conventions should not apply to the war on terrorism. In a January 2002 memo to the President, Mr. Gonzales concluded that the war on terrorism "renders obsolete" the Geneva Conventions. This is a memo written by the man who would be Attorney General.

    Colin Powell and the Joint Chiefs of Staff objected strenuously to this conclusion by Alberto Gonzales. They argued that we could effectively prosecute a war on terrorism while still living up to the standards of the Geneva Conventions.

    In a memo to Mr. Gonzales, Secretary of State Colin Powell pointed out that the Geneva Conventions would allow us to deny POW status to al-Qaida and other terrorists and that they would not limit our ability to question a detainee or hold him indefinitely. So, contrary to the statements by some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, complying with the Geneva Conventions does not mean giving POW status to terrorists. Colin Powell knew that. The Joint Chiefs of Staff knew that. Alberto Gonzales refused to accept that.

    In his memo to Mr. Gonzales, Secretary Powell went on to say that if we did not apply the Geneva Conventions to the war on terrorism, "it will reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice ... and undermine the protections of the law of war for our own troops ... It will undermine public support among critical allies, making military cooperation more difficult to sustain."

    The President rejected Secretary Powell's wise counsel and instead accepted Mr. Gonzales's counsel. He issued a memo concluding that "new thinking in the law of war" was needed and that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the war on terrorism.

    And then what followed? Mr. Gonzales requested, approved, and disseminated this new Justice Department torture memo. This infamous memo narrowly redefined torture as limited only to abuse that causes pain equivalent to organ failure or death, and concluded that the torture statute which makes torture a crime in America does not apply to interrogations conducted under the President's Commander in Chief authority. That was the official Government policy for 2 years.

    Then relying on the President's Geneva Conventions determination and the Justice Department's new definition of torture, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld approved numerous abusive interrogation tactics for use against prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, even as he acknowledged that some nations may view those tactics as inhumane. These techniques have Orwellian names such as "environmental manipulation."

    Sorry to do yet another 'EdI' on y'all, but hey!


  150. At 01:07 AM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Sacrifice is the name of the game, eh?

    Sourced from and inspired by the BBC.


  151. At 02:05 AM on 04 Jan 2007, Carol wrote:

    Dear sparkley Helen,
    Yes, I agree that this is the scripturaly correct way to define the essential message of Christ. My reservations were about using the words forgiveness and mercy without defining what that means in practice.
    Most people think of them in terms of feelings and sentiment. Given that, I suddenly realised how galling, insulting even, it would be to hear these words encouraged as parents of a murderd child.
    I am mindful too of the priest that could no longer preach after her daughter was killed by the 7/7 bus bomb because she felt unable to forgive.
    It is tragic that she felt a hypocrite for, how one feels is involuntary and not a wilfull 'sin'.
    Indulging in/acting out, thoes feelings would be the sin and as I understand it, refusing to do so is the manifestation of forgiveness and all the more great given the measure of her pain.
    When Jesus was on the cross and said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do", it was not evidence that he felt all luvvy duvvy and sentimental towards the people that had sacrificed him as a political victim. I think the message in that was far more real, raw, difficult and great.

    A strange thing has happened that I've noticed before as a phenomenon.
    I wandered swollen as a cloud, having felt compelled to be on a soap box for light in this dark, dark chamber, and found a lovely beach with lovely, lovely people on it.
    It was such a surprise and contrast, that for the first time in days, weeping. "there is someone out there after all and more than one and they've all been hiding over here".
    Why is it that emotion so often comes long after the event? I remember handling a very bloody incident in complete cool and calm and hours after it was over, the body went into slight clinical shock. A friend of mine would always get severe migraine after exams were over and never before. Strange. Anyway, am feeling a bit bruised and need to swim and get all white and fluffy again before joining you in the sunshine.
    This needed doing though. It is a very important debate. Now, what did I do with my flip flops?

  152. At 02:48 AM on 04 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Carol, I think you are absolutely right that the answer is that forgiveness is difficult, painful & a process. I think also that is what Julie Nicholson would say; the priest who could not forgive, as would Anthony Walker's mother who did.

    The parent's of Catholic taxi driver, Michael and Bridie McGoldrick, forgave the loyalist terrorist through gritted teeth at their son's funeral, they didn't know they were going to until they did, but they made it their life's work even when there were days when they could hardly get out of bed.

    I think Christians would say that forgiveness isn't just a task, but something God wants for us, because he doesn't want us to live with the more painful & self-destructive alternative.

  153. At 09:06 AM on 04 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Confused (137);
    I do appreciate your very humane point of view, believe me. But Armed Forces and armed police are authorised by nations to kill in the course of their duties when all other recourse has failed. This is state-sponsored killing by another name.

    Regular readers will recall that my murky past was in the Submarine Service. What I never disclosed before is that, if I had not left after notice in 1998, then in all probability it would have been my hand that fired the first shots in the Kosovar War, which evicted the Serb army from that part of the world. I would have been responsible for killing, what, dozens, hundreds of people?

    Would I have rejoiced in doing it? Never, I'm not a psychopath. Would I have done it? You're damned right I would. Not because I would have been 'following orders', but because the rape of Kosovo required a robust response of that kind. Could I have lived with it? Yes, with no caveats. So by these standards I could well have been a mass-killer. But I believe that the end justified the means.

    If we set our faces against state-ordered killing then we must, of need, disband our Armed Forces. It's an ideal. But like all too many ideals it's not achieveable in Mankind's current condition.

    I would also point out that if an armed policeman had managed to discover one of the July 7th bombers about to detonate his device then he would have been absolutely justified in shooting him dead on the spot. That's state-authorised extra-judicial killing. Do you have the same qualms about that?

    Can someone more intelligent than I please adress the question of an armed servant of the state killing in the line of his duty and the hangman carrying out a judicially approved execution, after due process of the law? Why is one tacitly approved and the other reviled?


  154. At 09:17 AM on 04 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (138);
    Oh no, not again! And we were doing so well.

    Elsewhere I have accepted, in very large part, the criticisms you continue to make regarding Israel. They are heavy-handed and have undoubtedly broken the Geneva Conventions many times over.

    What about the Palestinians? They're like a pack of wild dogs. When given an external enemy they unite to fight it. When that enemy pulls back then they immediately fall upon each other and continue the senseless slaughter in pursuit of status within the pack.


  155. At 09:49 AM on 04 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (151);
    But Bush has reprieved something from Death Row every single year since being elected as Prez.

    I refer, of course, to the Christmas turkey!

    Si. (tongue firmly in-cheek)

  156. At 10:49 AM on 04 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Si, I'm not sure I am more intelligent & I object to both the armed servant of the state & the hangman, but I am I am probably a pacifist & would not agree that we had to rape Kosovo anyway.

    That said, given that we do authorise some to kill, I really object to the way they are reviled when they get it wrong which of course is a terrible event, and a personal tragedy for the family. I am thinking of the family of Jean Charles De Menezes, & of course there should be an enquiry, but isn't it an irony that thousands of people are killed in confrontations with the police in Brazil, often in situations described by the authorities as “resistance followed by death” (AI). It would seem that the intelligence was wrong, rather than the man with the gun.

    P.S. Si, I don't understand you comment on the Palestinians, can you explain?

  157. At 01:01 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Simon (155):

    You ask:

    "Can someone more intelligent than I please adress the question of an armed servant of the state killing in the line of his duty and the hangman carrying out a judicially approved execution, after due process of the law? Why is one tacitly approved and the other reviled?"

    My thoughts on this (though I would not claim to be more intelligent than you, or any other frogger):

    You have given an example:
    "if an armed policeman had managed to discover one of the July 7th bombers about to detonate his device then he would have been absolutely justified in shooting him dead on the spot. "

    My response:
    In that instance, the policeman would be acting to prevent further loss of life. This is why there would be widespread acceptance of his action, although there would also be questions around whether he might have been able to shot to disable rather than to kill.

    This is very different from the calculated act of killing a person as a punishment for a crime. I believe it to be a fundamental difference.

    Think manslaughter vs murder, to put it in other terms.

    I'd be very interested to know what others think.

  158. At 01:06 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Yeah! Somebody's gotta stop those kids throwing stones at the occupiers!

    I note your 'pack of wild dogs' imagery. How about "Godzilla" for those who appear from parts unknown to conquer the doggies playground....


  159. At 01:09 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I think Simon is pretending surprise that when the Israelis 'pull back' to the fences enclosing the biggest open air prison on Earth, the internal rivalries and frustrations have their predictable result. Meanwhile the 'screws' keep lobbing bombs and bullets into the prison yard.....and shooting kids at the slightest pretext.


  160. At 01:27 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Belinda wrote:

    I know very little about the intricacies of the Iraqi situation (much to the chagrin of my husband), so my reply is more from the heart than a logical study of history or facts:

    I haven't seen the video and never intend to.

    I will never not be shocked by the stunning and despicable ways that human beings hurt each other.
    I will never get over the arrogance that humans have in believing that they have the right to take away the life of another person.
    I will never not be disgusted at how an elected governmental administration can take it upon itself to kill and maim thousands of innocent and not-so-innocent civilians in a different country for the 'good of the planet'.
    I will never not be depressed that the whole Iraq escapade is just a blip in the history of selfish and thoughtless behaviour and pales into significance compared to many other events, since homo sapiens came out of the cave and started using pick-axes against each other.

    I'm beginning to think that death is the better option. Maybe Saddam got off lightly after all.

  161. At 01:47 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    It seems we're more interested in videos than in beach-lounging this week, or have we all gone wireless?

  162. At 01:50 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Sparkles (158);
    You may have misunderstood me concerning Kosovo. I used the phrase in the sense of the 'Rape of Nanking', when the Japanese army captured that city in the late 1930's and proceeded to systematically decimate the population, adding looting and sexual rape to the horror.

    Kosovo as a territory was being brutalised in the same fashion by the Serb army when 'the West' in the form of NATO stepped in and pretty much destroyed the fighting power of the Serbs, forcing them out of the province and stopping those awful events.

    We didn't rape Kosovo, the Serbs were doing it. NATO stopped it.

    Regarding the Palestinian thing; Ed I and myself seem to have a running blog-battle going on about the whole Israel/Palestine situation. Seen from my viewpoint I feel there is little merit on either side. I condemn the Israelis for their actions, often so heavy-handed, indiscriminate and dispropotionate. I also equally condemn the Palestinians for their equally indiscriminate use of the suicide bomb in the cafes, restaurants and markets of Israel.

    I can't presume to know exactly where Ed is coming from, or why he feels as strongly as he does. I would like to know what his connection is, and why this matters so much to him. Maybe one day he'll tell us.

    If I had to try and sum up his opinion (please forgive any inacuraccies Ed) then he feels that 100% of the blame is against the Israelis and none at all against any Palestinian. This seems one-sided and wantonly blinkered to me.

    He wants Israel to comply with all the UN resolutions against it, as I would like to see also. Yet he then denies that Israel is a legitimate state at all, despite that same UN having voted it into being. This is wanting to have and eat your cake, selecting which UN resolutions you want to see enforced and ignoring the rest.

    And so on.

    The particular comments above started in (127), then (129) and (138), finally to my (156). 'Confused' quoted the UN declaration of human rights as opposing execution. And certainly the UN opposes capital punishment. I pointed out that the Preamble denounces inhuman and barbarous acts, then went on to equate Saddam to an example of a man who has been responsible for many such acts and wondering what an appropriate punishment ought to be for such a man. Because it's Saddam, execution and the like which is the subject of this thread.

    Ed took that opportunity to introduce the Israel/Palestine conflict into the thread. Frankly I'm getting tired of seeing it pop up everywhere on the slenderest of pretexts. Sorry Ed, but that's how I feel.

    I'm also bemused by the actions of the Palestinian people who only unite in the face of an external threat, then spend the rest of their time in internecine power struggles, shooting each others children to punish the parents just for being part of the wrong faction. This is not the hallmark of a noble people but rather that of a savage tribe, utterly lacking any civilisation.

    I compared them to a pack of wild animals, constantly seeking to improve their status within the pack, often by killing other members of the pack who present a threat to their dominance.

    Compare also with a pride of lions. When the dominant male is deposed, the first thing that his successor does is kill all the nursing cubs in the pride. That destroys his predecessors bloodline and immediately brings all the females into season, so he can establish his own bloodline. Only his power and authority matters, no matter the bloodshed needed to get there and stay there.


  163. At 01:53 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    I don't blame you Belinda, sometimes I have to opt out of certain conflicts, despite others throwing their hands up in horror at my ignorance. It is rather like my antipathy towards environmental concerns, which isn't so far off a battleground, & I let others pick up my baton on that front. There is just a lot going on, & I protect my resources, but seem to manage quite well without me!

  164. At 02:46 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Simon: I do sympathise with your feeling that Ed I may keep bringing things round to the Israeli-Palestinian issue rather too regularly, but I fear that some of your posting at 164 is likely to be the equivalent of pouring oil on the flames of his particular fire, and I suspect EdI will respond in kind.

    Is this a 'man' thing?

    You're both great guys with lots of interesting things to say, I hasten to add.

  165. At 02:52 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    You are absolutely right, I did misunderstand you Si on Kosovo, as I have just said to Belinda, I opt out of some conflicts & really couldn't be said to know very much about that region.

    In the main I agree with you on Israel/Palestine, except for the bit about the Palestinians behaving like animals, but not the Israelis? Everyone in power serves their own interests predominantly.

    Ed seems to care a lot about a lot of issues & I can't pretend to know why this one crops up so consistently, although it would be beneficial to have an effective peace process in this unstable region. I have made an assumption which is as likely to be wrong as right;that perhaps it has something to do with being American because the Jewish Amercian vote is a powerful block and the reason the USA is oft loath to criticise Israel. Perhaps other Americans feel the need to decry this.

    It is important to me because my family are Jewish, and I grew up surrounded by an uncritical perspective of Israel from older relatives in particular. Funnily I encountered more pro-Palestinianism from Israelis I met on my visits there, but that has changed since the advent of the suicide bombers.

    I too though am becoming tired of it being raised so often, but I have enjoyed the lively discussion on this blog, and it has been good to know what people thought and to see their views being aired. Another salvo, if repetitive, is something I skip over.

  166. At 03:04 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Simon has it down pretty well, except I don't totally exclude the Palestinians from responsibility for their actions.

    The carnage is horribly disproportionate, and the Israeli State as 'established' by UN resolution 181 has never existed. The Zionists took it in their own hands to expand upon the proposed (already disproportionally large) partition and seized 78% of Palestine, displacing almost all of the native population, who remain (with all their descendents) sixty years later as refugees. Now, thanks to their pre-emptive war of 1967, they sit possessed of 100% of Palestine, running parts of it as huge openair priisons, while appropriating 80% of the water and establishing illegal settlements on the best land, with access roads restricted to the illegal colonists.

    Simon is right in that I do NOT accept Israel's "right to exist". Where in the world did the idea come from that a minority population has a "right" to establish, BY OVERWHELMING FORCE, an ethnoreligiously based 'state' in someone else's homeland? AND in the twentieth Century! 300 Prominent American Jews put the idiocy of such an idea better than I could hope to do, and in 1919!

    God alone knows why this whole business possesses me so, because I am neither Jew nor Arab, and only ethnoculturally Christian, But it does, and this flagrant violation of the founding principle of self-determination (of both the League of Nations and the UN) is and will remain the burr under the saddle which fuels ill will towards us ("the west") until it is dealt with.

    Please, for my own mental stability, can someone get this mess sorted out!

    For all the background anyone might wish, see the (predominately Jewish) sources at B'Tsalem, Gush-Shalom, Jews for Justice, Cactus48, and Mideastweb. Beware! It might make you as disturbed as it has done to me. If needed, I can provide copious links, but so can any search on the above terms. There is PLENTY of history at the UN as well.

    Sorry to rant, but someone has to.

  167. At 03:32 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Well, ValeryP (75) and Big Sister (67) : I am still torn!

    I've read all these thoughtful and in the main persuasive postings, and slept on the subject a few times, and I'm still left with this rather forlorn feelings:

    1. The BBC tricked me into watching the official version of the video by showing it on the 6 o'clock TV news. Gee, thanks.

    Had I been more alert, I would have looked away in time to avoid seeing any of it.

    2. The footage doesn't constitute proof that Saddam died. You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder which of his many doubles might have been 'persuaded' to stand in for him, if it suited enough of the right people.

    3. The death sentence, whilst probably inevitable in that part of the world in the circumstances, should not have been pronounced until ALL the charges had been tried in Court.

    Yes, it would have dragged the trial out even longer. But there are others who will not now have their day in Court, because Saddam can't give evidence (even if he had chosen to).

    I am instinctively, emotionally, morally and rationally opposed to capital punishment. But unlike many who share that view, I am always prepared to revisit that opinion in the light of fresh evidence and crime.

    So, I revisited. And my view remains unchanged. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    4. I find it difficult to separate out my revulsion and fury about the war itself, from this latest 'we are where we are' scenario. That's why I haven't tried harder to post here before.

    I only hope I haven't embarrassed myself too much by trying to put it into words now!


  168. At 04:07 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    A very sensitive moderation appears to have disliked my posting to Simon which amounted to a 'Calm down, it's only an advert' style message to him. And a reassurance of my undying admiration of his views.

  169. At 04:37 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Well put, and any embarrassment on your part is inappropriate. Point 4. is very germane, and applies to my above-referenced irritation/obsession with Palestine.

  170. At 05:17 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Ed (168) "Simon is right in that I do NOT accept Israel's right to exist."

    While I would agree with you on so much, here you & I part ways. I think Israel does have a right to exist, and Jews have a right to a post-holocaust state, but Israel’s existence has been achieved extremely badly. It was all our fault really, but banging on about that really doesn’t get us anywhere, and anything other than a 2 state solution is now entirely impractical. That doesn't mean that I don't think that Israel now occupies a great deal of the land which should belong to the Palestinians, I do.

    This has long been an unstable region, in a history where more recent times are a blot on the landscape of centuries of conflict, stability was only conferred during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, and the Middle East continues to be dominated by conflict. I believe there is no solution unless we work with the here and now; in a what is undone cannot be undone style.

    Even knowing the theology, politics, and history, I am really not sure why the state’s boundaries were exactly as they were drawn up anyway, & wonder if we couldn’t have negotiated a more isolated solution somewhere like Canada or something (-:

  171. At 05:25 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    My friends,

    It pops up so frequently because nothing is being done about it, and it is the running sore which lies behind most, if not all, of the hostility towards us ("the west").

    My irritation with Simon's view on the matter ("a plague on both their houses") is that it seems to assume equal guilt on both sides, while my deep delving shows anything but that. The Palestinian Natives have been done an ENORMOUS INJUSTICE, and it has NOTHING to do with the Holocaust which happened on another continent. Ironically the same continent provided most of the majority votes over-riding the local total opposition to partition in 1947. Look it up. Resolution 181. The votes are on the bottom (Perfidious Albion abstained)

    The very existence of Israel as an ethnoreligiously defined state is THE PROBLEM. That it was founded by the violent displacement and dispossession of the native population merely adds to the insanity of the idea.

    Allocating equal guilt, and accepting "Israel's right to exist", allows us to 'pass by on the other side' as in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

    Why haven't NATO or someone else intervened, Kosovo style? Why? Why? Why? Because we might be accused of antisemitism?

    Sorry to be the nagging pain that won't just quietly go away, but such pains indicate pathologies which are often deep and potentially fatal if left untreated.


    "All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."
    -- Edmund Burke

  172. At 06:13 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Wow, Ed (171) that is a compliment indeed from one as eloquent as you!

    * blush *

    I'll need a bigger hat from now on. Perhaps one of the hump-hats Belinda is busily knitting for the camels back on the Beach.

    Fifi xx

  173. At 06:23 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Fifi: I, too, remain torn. Some situations defy solutions, methinks, and these are always the most difficult to resolve.

    I saw some of the footage, in exactly the same way as did you, only at 9 p.m. What I saw was enough to realise that it was, indeed, a fiasco. However, given that the man is now dead, it's not an issue that he'll be worrying about. I don't mean that glibly, just as a statement of fact.

    I wouldn't like to see a repetition of that lack of restraint, but for me the core issue remains that of hanging, and capital punishment in general.

    As you so succinctly put it: Two wrongs have never made a right!

  174. At 07:01 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Jews, like all others, have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    But I cannot conceive of a situation where a "right" to forcibly found an ethnoreligious state in an area already occupied by a 2:1 majority of 'others' arises. So far as I am concerned, there can be such right, and the very idea is profoundly undemocratic.

    If, as you say, Israel has a right to exist, can you please explain to me just how such a right might arise.

    I do not wish anyone of any ethnicity ill, but the very idea upon which revisionist zionism is founded is anachronistic, absurd and horrific, as the results clearly demonstrate.

    I still love you, of course.

  175. At 10:28 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    A parable?

    Let's suppose, for example, that ethnic Asians, having fled to Britain from Uganda, have prospered and become a 33% minority of some British county, and to have purchased some 7% of the property in the county.

    If they proposed to claim 55% of the county as a new state based upon their ethnicity and legal traditions, how would the native Brits react? How would the native Brits feel if powerful foreign nations armed and supported the claims of the Ugandans?

    Suppose further that the Ugandans expanded the area claimed by force to create 'defensible frontiers' at the same time as driving the bulk of the natives out, destroying their properties and businesses and farms.....

    It's only make-believe, of course....

    Houb Salaam

  176. At 10:29 PM on 04 Jan 2007, confused of sussex wrote:

    This wasn't quite how I anticipated spending my time after a long hard day ..... but -

    Si, 164. - You slightly misunderstood my reasons for quoting the UN Declaration of Human Rights - my fault, not yours. Also, the rest of you (even Fifi! - thank you for that, it was well said) have poured out some deep-seated views and feelings, so I shall dig deeper too. Let's face it, we're unlikely to go this far on many topics so in for a penny ...

    Firstly then, I have no belief in any gods. That's not through choice, just how I am. This caused me to ask myself some years ago just what I do believe in because I felt strongly that I wasn't as many people describe we atheists - an evil or bad person with no beliefs, no standards and no morals. I read widely, thought deeply, and (having two children to raise made this particularly important to me) finally settled on the UN D of H R as the best thing on which to hang my hat that there is around. I still feel that way after some 20 years.

    It was drawn up after a terrible world war, and after the hangings that followed it I might add, and was the best those around at the time could come up with for the entire human race regardless of colour, creed, ethnic background et al, to join together as a starting point. There is no reason for any country to turn it down, not even now.

    Whilst it does not ask us to love each other, it does require us to respect the rights of others - all others. It doesn't say what should happen to those who fail to respect human rights, so the new UN Sec Gen was, sadly, right in saying it's up to individual states. OK, it's far from perfect, but I think it's the best starting point we have. "And freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people" - yes, a starting point.

    I have no wish to offend anyone, but I shall go on. As I see it, so many religions have been twisted in recent years to support personal opinions and I find so many so-called religious people supporting violence, both legal and illegal, almost as if they're hiding amongst their more highly moral companions.

    On the Christian side, we have Archbishop Tuto with peace and reconciliation, the Bishop of Lichfield (CofE) supporting the hanging of Saddam Hussein, born-again George Bush with hanging, war, hit 'em hard before they hit you - just in case they were thinking of it, Guantanamo Bay, no war crimes for US troops, a little bit of torture is justified if it's to protect the USA - and Blair, of course.

    The Israelis are presumably mostly practising Jews, but Ed has said enough on that front - albeit it with very good reason.

    And then we have Muslims, amongst whom there are peace-loving, law-abiding, lovely people but who also include the suicide bombers who, believing God to be on their side, will take out as many people of all religions (and no doubt none) as they can in the certain "knowledge" that the doorway to paradise will immediately open and 72 virgins will be awaiting each one (which is probably more than Mary Whitehouse would have found in her home town on a Saturday afternoon).

    Over the years, and still today, war doesn't seem to have bothered so many religious believers. Their God is always on their side. He pointed George Bush in the right direction. He's going to tell Tony Blair on his own day of judgement that he was right every time. And the very same God is right behind the suicide bombers. The same God is on the side of the Israelis and the side of the Palestinians.

    For me, of course, there is no paradise to come. Death will simply be an end. Also for me, there will be no god to forgive me for my sins and no god to tell me I was right all along. Again, I mean no slight - but how many of those who profess to be religious take refuge in this? How much does it protect you in life from your concience to believe that your god will sort it all out later?

    I try to have high standards. I try not to be a hypocrite. I try to respect the rights of others, and to ensure that my self-respect is not misplaced. I have to get it right now, because for me there is no second chance. The future of the world for me is not down to any thing or any one but ourselves, and I see what we do today as so important for the future that our children will inherit from us.

    I believe that sometimes, when the stakes are so high, short term losses are worth long term gains. I believe that sometimes you can win by losing and that equally you can lose by winning. America didn't want to lose - but it has. It would have gained so much more respect if it had simply taken 9/11 - the world, including some of those now its bitterest enemies, would have turned instead on Osama bin Laden.

    But regardless of 9/11, there is a huge difference between acting in self-defence and acting with only punishment or revenge in mind. I do not believe the hanging of Saddam Hussein was right if we do indeed want to live in a world where there is peace and where we respect each others' civil rights and liberties. I do not believe holding people in Guantanamo Bay without trial and with even low levels of torture is acceptable. I do not believe that we will ever see real peace and stability in the world whilst some countries, even within the UN itself, are "more equal than others" and where the rich and powerful bribe and threaten smaller countries to support them in areas which often benefit only themselves.

    As with educating or raising children, I believe that the rich and educated countries should set an example to others, and that has to include capital punishment being left in the dark ages where it belongs - where it came from in fact. A man was drawn and quartered in Afghanistan a month or two back for educating girls. We handed over Saddam Hussein for hanging in Baghdad. America prefers injections. Elsewhere women are stoned to death for being raped. Each example is obscene. Personally I consider life imprisonment an acceptable alternative to hanging, and I think it would have pointed the way to a more civilised future in Iraq.

    Was the BBC right to broadcast it? Certainly not before the 9pm watershed. They could have referred people to a website before that time. There's not much point in having the internet if we don't make use of it. I don't think too many people without easy access would have complained that they missed it, given the views of others here.

    The washing up awaits me. Goodnight all.

  177. At 11:00 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (160);
    No pretence. I genuinely cannot comprehend why the Palestinians resort to tearing each other apart whenever the other lot retire to their side of the wire for a while. You know all this stuff, you're into the history of these people. Explain it to me so I can understand.

    Ever seen 'Lawrence of Arabia'? There's a scene where Peter O'Toole says to Anthony Quinn that "So long as the Arabs fight amongst themselves they will be a little people". The reply of Quinn's character is " Who are these Arabs you speak of. I don't know them". So it is with the Palestinians. So long as they remain 'A house divided against itself' they cannot stand.

    BigSis (165);
    Not a 'man-thing' on my part. It's a genuine bewilderment that Ed seems to think is empty posturing.

    And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your final comment.

    And for your (169);
    I think you're quite wonderful too!

    Sparkles (166);
    Sorry that I didn't make myself clearer in the earlier post.

    I didn't say that the Israelis don't behave like animals. The essence is this; the Israelis, despite the rancour in their body politic, which is party political, personal, ethnic and religious, have a one-ness when it comes to viewing their enemies. The Palestinians will only hold together for so long as the Israelis are in their faces to be shot at. The moment they drop back into Israeli territory the primordial drive of Hamas and Fatah to kill each other takes over.

    Ed (172);
    Two wrongs don't make a right. Each person who fires an unaimed bullet or detonates a bomb indiscriminately or kills civilians or uses excessive and disproportionate force bears an equal measure of guilt for the crime they have committed. A Palestinian militiaman, an Israeli soldier, a US Marine, whoever and wherever it happens. When they do it in the name of a race, nation, state, religion or some other organisation that guilt devolves down to the people in whose name the atrocity is committed. By their acceptance and encouragement they shoulder some of the responsibility for the crime.

    On that basis a Palestinian who commits a suicide bombing in Haifa or Tel Aviv IS indeed as guilty as the Israeli who killed that man's brother in Gaza. In the laws of most countries retaliation is condemned as a crime in itself and is never justifiable.

    And their victims are all as dead as each other, and equally undeserving of having been killed. There is a true equality for us all in death.


  178. At 11:08 PM on 04 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Confused (176);
    Can I enter a plea for you to come back and post more often? Please!

    Your contribution was simply magnificent, congratulations.


  179. At 12:04 AM on 05 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    "I didn't say that the Israelis don't behave like animals."
    But you didn't omit to compare the Palestinians to animals.

    And you do seem reluctant to admit that there are four times as many dead Palestinians by IDF hands as Israelis by Palestinian hands including seven times as many minors.

    If you were Hamas, how would you behave? Legitimately elected and cold-shouldered, illegally detained, subject to targetted assasination?

    Let's just "Pass by on the other side" while an innocent resident is mugged, his land and home destroyed,....never mind. A plague on both their houses, eh? Oh, I forgot to mention, we arm the muggers and support them unconditionally with our taxes. Why should the muggee resent us?


  180. At 12:11 AM on 05 Jan 2007, confused of sussex wrote:

    That's so very kind of you - now I shall feel too embarrassed to come back !

    Seriously, my soapbox fell apart as I got off it that last time and I'm no good without it. It gave me the higher moral ground I needed ...

    But I'll try. Thanks again. x

  181. At 12:25 AM on 05 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Confused is brilliant, & not confusing, Si I think the misunderstanding are all mine rather than any lack of clarity on your part.

    Ed, I am afraid I am too tire d to delve into why Israel has a right to exist, but I do recall vividly sitting in a pub in Southern Ireland listening to the history right back to Cromwell through the potato famine etc. At that point in time, the peace process looked undo-able, some might say it still is, but there was never any point in working with history. It won't be a win win situation, as they say, unless we can find a compromise which works from where we are now.

    As far as anyone of any faith is concerned, it is human beings who are at fault, who will find a way to justify an unjust war. Of the Ten Commandments, 7 are a moral framework even if you don't believe in God, & all are consistent within all faiths in one guise or another.

  182. At 12:38 AM on 05 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    The Luckiest Despot in the World!

  183. At 01:35 AM on 05 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    "It won't be a win win situation, as they say, unless we can find a compromise which works from where we are now."

    In other words, we should let the mugger keep all the property he stole from the muggee, pay nothing towards his medical costs, and expect the muggee to plead and negotiate for a concession in a small fraction, but without any control of his borders, land, air or sea access, etc.

    That's "where we are now". A win-win situation, eh?

    Even the two-state 'solution' backed by most sensible folk, but totally unacceptable to every Israeli government from the beginning, amounts to a HUGE loss to the natives (78% of Palestine).

    Gush Shalom's position (and mine, considering that the ideal, a single, secular state is less likely than snow in Hades):

    a. The occupation will come to an end. An independent and viable Palestinian State will be established alongside Israel.
    b. The Green Line will be the border between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. Limited exchanges of territory will be possible only by mutual agreement, arrived at in free negotiations, and on the basis of 1:1.
    c. All Israeli settlers will be evacuated from the territory of the State of Palestine, and the settlements turned over to returning refugees. d. The border between the two states will be open to the movement of people and goods, subject to arrangements made by mutual agreement.
    e. Jerusalem will be the capital of both States. West Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine. The State of Palestine will have complete sovereignty over East Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount). The State of Israel will have complete sovereignty over West Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter. The two states will reach agreement on the unity of the city at the municipal level.
    f. Israel will recognize, in principle, the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees as an inalienable human right, and assume moral responsibility for its part in the creation of the problem. A Committee of Truth and Reconciliation will establish the historic facts in an objective way. The solution of the problem will be achieved by agreement based on just, fair and practical considerations and will include return to the territory of the State of Palestine, return of a limited and agreed number to the territory of Israel, payment of compensation and settlement in other countries.
    g. The water resources will be controlled jointly and allocated by agreement, equally and fairly.
    h. A security pact between the two States will ensure the security of both and take into consideration the specific security needs of both Israel and Palestine. The agreement will be endorsed by the international community and reinforced by international guarantees.
    i. Israel and Palestine will cooperate with other States in the region for the establishment of a regional community, modelled on the European Union.
    j. The entire region will be made free from weapons of mass destruction.

    That should work "from where we are now", but for Israeli intransigence and expansionism as witnessed by the route of THE WALL. (other maps are, of course available)


    Of course, Israel will never come close to accepting such a solution while in receipt of unconditional support and massive armament and cash aid from the USA (with tacit support from al Poodle), so what hope is there?

  184. At 10:39 AM on 05 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Simon: Can you drop Fifi an email, please? I've something I'd like to send you (dont' worry, nothing naughty!)

  185. At 10:42 AM on 05 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Blimey. I hadn't realised there was all this recent non-Saddam stuff. I was looking for a New Year's Day Beach, but found none.

    Not having read "This... stuff" I can't comment, save to say that according to some stats linked by Ed earlier, for every Israeli killed or injured by terrorists, there seem to be about 10 Palestinians (terrorist or otherwise) who are killed or injured. From that I wonder that the terrorists keep trying. I guess they maintain their local support rather like Hezbollah in Lebanon: "Embrace Islam and our cause or face the consequences."

  186. At 11:29 AM on 05 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Simon (This may come up as a repeat posting, but I posted the original some time back)

    Jus to ask if you'd click on Fifi and send her an email.


    Big Sis x

  187. At 12:49 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Really hard decisions have to be taken in the pursuit of resolving a conflict, witness the release of prisoners in Northern Ireland, not something I ever thought would happen but peace is radical.

    I don't agree with your ideal solution, although that might be an emotive response, but I also dwell on who granted the right to its statehood in the first place. We can't just rewind history, & yes sometimes that does mean letting the mugger go free, without compensation being paid. It is also the outcome of a war, I think this is one & I know that even a 2 state solution is problematic.

    One of the most useful things I have ever learnt is that all change involves loss, even good change, & I think the priority is to prevent any more of Israeli's & Palestinians.

    Condoleezza Rice was seeking to take a harder line with Israel but I suspect the real hope is with the new president in 2008. Tony has proven less than persuasive on the issue with Bush, who is now legacy hunting & not likely to take the risk.

    BTW whoever it was who was asking about Jews having a faith, I think the census shows most Israeli's are secular. Most of the UK Jews I know are also only culturally Jewish, but I don't know everyone in North London! (-:

  188. At 01:23 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Typical caricature. Both Hamas and Hizbollah operate extensive social welfare and community support systems.

    The 'terrorists' keep trying, because they are suffering occupation and oppression and gratuitous violence. What would you do? Knuckle under, I wonder.

    Blame the victims for resisting their dispossession!


  189. At 02:10 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Ed I:

    "Of course, Israel will never come close to accepting such a solution while in receipt of unconditional support and massive armament and cash aid from the USA (with tacit support from al Poodle), so what hope is there?"

    Vyle H:

    "Of course, Hamas will never come close to accepting such a solution while in receipt of unconditional support and massive armament and cash aid from the Arab countries ( ), so what hope is there?"

    I'm sorry, but we seem to be winding you up, Ed, and I am in danger of becoming wound-up myself. BTW, you didn't really mean that the "Wall" is making the central part of Israel into an open-air prison, did you?

  190. At 03:07 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (180);
    The reason I compared the Palestinians to wild animals is that they fall upon each other for little or no reason, the Israelis don't appear to, so far as I can discern?

    Re: proportionality of casualties. I've never denied it. You never asked. As it happens I agree, and in posts further up this thread and elsewhere I commented upon the sheer disproportionality of the Israeli response as being a breach of the Geneva Conventions which deserves a war crimes trial.

    And incidentally I have yet to see a single word of condemnation from you for the terrorism committed against Israel, despite an invitation or two from me in the past. Can one infer that you believe that murder one-way is fine, but not the other? I can't believe that is your position at all. You're too humane a man for that. So why do you not post to that effect here?

    Re: Hamas. Why do they and Fatah find it compulsory to slaughter each other? Why can they not make a common cause for the betterment of their people?

    I read and obey! Better go and find Fifi's address. Or check out my website, there's a 'Contact me' page on there somewhere.


  191. At 03:47 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Which "central part of Israel" did you have in mind? The wee fragment intended for the Palestinian bantustans?
    Houb Salaam

  192. At 03:59 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    For the sake of clarity:
    1. I condemn ALL violence.
    2. I understand and sympathise with why Zionism arose, but I consider it to have metastatised into something horribly malignant.
    3. I also understand why some people resort to violence out of six decades of violent dispossession, oppression, betrayal and frustration.
    4. It is clear to me where the greatest wrong lies, and it ain't with those who lived in Palestine before the Zionists arrived.

    Houb Salaam

  193. At 04:01 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Email on its way, Si!

  194. At 05:25 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Oh! (190 & 191) : I seem to have extricated myself from a little job today, with no effort whatever.

    Hurrah for modern communications!

    Shame it's so quiet on the Beach. I have to go shopping in a wee while, and I always need a bit of encouragement before venturing forth.

    Especially on Market Day ... although with luck most of the hordes will have already been and gone by the time I get there.

    Fifi ;o)

  195. At 06:24 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    & my post here didn't appear either. Oh well, too tired after tricky day to repost, maybe later.

  196. At 08:19 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    While we are making animal comparisons, there is one easily understood reason why folk confined and crowded into one of themost densely populated places on Earth might resrrt to internecine violence:

    ‘Population density and social pathology’, Scientific American [February 1962].Quoted from here:

    John B.Calhoun [13] did some very interesting, but neglected, work on crowding among rats, over a long period in the middle of the last century. Essentially, Calhoun put a few rats in various environments and then supplied them with all the food they chose to eat. The environments were ultimately limited by the size of the enclosures used, just as with the current limits imposed upon humans by planet earth.
    The groups of rats tended to breed to a point where the lack of space generated a slew of unpleasant or ‘uncommon’ behaviour patterns. Random violence; rape including indiscriminate sexual attempts on juveniles and same sex individuals; cannibalism; marauding gangs; and highly disturbed infant-care patterns. Remember, these rats lived in rat heaven with the one exception of limited space, everything was provided on tap for free.
    The only rats that were not effected by dysfunctional behaviour were a dominant few who, by virtue of the arrangement of the space, were able to control an area. For the rest, the growing crowd meant ever-greater opportunity for interaction with their neighbours, but with no place to call their own.

    Add to the overcrowding and open sewers, the frustration of six decades of trying to get ther plight recognised by an apparently uncaring and treacherous world, It's not that surprising. Meanwhile teenies shop and dance all night in the beach resorts of Telaviv and Haifa. Some pigs are more equal than others....

  197. At 08:49 PM on 05 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Sweet Helen,

    Cheer up! It only took five and a half hours for your post to get approved. We aren't that far apart, aside from my idealism. Those American Jews were so prescient, though. If Hitler hadn't turned the tide, revisionist Zionism might have remained an extremist minority,

    If only, If only, If only.....4 more dead Palestinians yesterday and around twenty wounded in 'routine' Israeli operations in Ramallah
    In sadness,

  198. At 03:45 AM on 06 Jan 2007, Carol wrote:

    Hello Ed,

    Deepest respect and sympathy for the perspective you throw light upon so very well. This whole business is so disturbing and you are not alone in being troubled and angry about it.
    Am likewise unable to find peace over the capitol punnishment issue and can hardly sleep for distress about it, the invasion,..all of it.
    I tried to escape feeling bruised by the news and this dark chamber, even though so many good people have come in from the beach to do their turn on the light soap box, summed up so beautifully by Confused.
    Regardless of where peoples sympathies are, everyone wants a solution and I am not convinced that it can be achieved by politics alone.
    It's that troublesome stick (mssg 138), that needs thoroughly questioning and with greater I.Qs than mine. As long as significant numbers of people believe that violence and murder are justified in or, that the only way to meeting their needs, that stick will always be valued and used by someone.
    There is no doubt that violence begets violence and on it goes. Somewhere along the line, one side or another have to be persuaded to put down that stick for there will never be significant numbers in agreement on on a just and fair solution and far too many that are so enraged and grief stricken they will be unable to bear with that pain without seeking revenge. They will genuinely believe revenge is the only justice and desperate/despairing enough to lay their lives down for it. We already see this.
    So how can the agrieved or determined be persuaded that the stick has no value?
    I know it is an idealistic dream,but If every one on earth believed the stick has no value then there would be no violence.
    And what should thoes of us who do not value the stick do, when being advanced upon by a group of thoes that do? This is the very good question Si asks (mssg146), as very few of us would be the kind of saints or true martyrs able to bow the head and really lay their lives down for peace in the way Jesus meant it.
    Again, Confused points out, that there is at least a starting point to aspire to. I happen to believe that the only way this can be developed is with the smaller disputes so it becomes established and accepted as a good habit. As a species, and even over minor issues, we are notoriously unwilling to accept defeat or be gracious about not getting what we need and or want.
    There has to be something that is more persuasive than belief in the stick. It should be the case that unadulterated religious values and uncompromising commitment to the DHR should be enough to make a massive difference.
    Unfortunately, mankind has either been unwilling to live with the difficulty of what observing theses values mean in practice, or have not understood them. In any event, they have not had enough persuasive power where it is needed most.
    As Confused pointed out, there are multitudes of so-called religious people that are not genuinely converted to the fundamental values in thir chosen moral frame of reference and simply pick and chose religious/moral language to dress up very imoral motives.
    The difficult truth is, that a line can never belong on that stick. The stick is the stick and either you beieve in it or you don't.
    Maybe we need a few more prominent Immams, Chistians and Rabbis the like of Desmond Tutu and Ghandi?

  199. At 12:12 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Thanks for your remarks and their empathy.

    Desmond gets my vote every time! May God continue to bless his feather-light Spirit!

    Maybe it's all to do with the fact that, in the modern age, we all want to declare our rights, but would rather not recognise that they are co-relative with responsibilities?

    Vaya con Gaia
    06/01/2007 at 12:12:29 GMT

  200. At 04:13 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    & there I was with the energy to re-post, nothing controversial there though, I think I was embargoed!

  201. At 06:49 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    A Yorkshire Tale

    Houb Salaam
    06/01/2007 at 18:51:58 GMT

  202. At 08:47 PM on 06 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    confused @ 177, as a fellow aetheist I was contemplating your search for moral guidance in the light of the idea that without a religion where do folk like us get our ethical values from.

    Then it hit me. If I believed in a god I would follow his or her dictats. I would think things right or wrong because they come from a god. How would that make things right or wrong?

    Do people not believe that gods approve stuff that people think are right or wrong? Isn't that why the rulers of the world believe god is on their side in any conflict?

    Isn't it better that people decide for themselves what rules they live by with the approval of their fellow human beings?


  203. At 09:02 PM on 06 Jan 2007, confused of sussex wrote:

    Well said, Carol. Here and there over these postings you've moved me considerably. Thanks for being so open and honest.

    As a young adult in the late 60's I thought we'd never make the mistakes of our parents' generation. I'm more ashamed each year over the utter mess and corruption that we've overseen. And most of it has been for personal gain, not even for racial motives. On another blog here Ed mentioned the corruption scandal attached to Allawi. But look who was taking democracy to Iraq - Bush, Cheney, Richard Perle, and co - and in Europe we have had corruption scandals in the German, French and Italian governments in recent years, and still have the Berlusconi/Jowell's husband farce to come. Look at the corruption across Africa, and Russia, China and North Korea. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The saying lives on. And they're just the ones we know about! (Look at Richard Perle's Wikipedia page to see his Israeli and weaponry links)

    I so agree with you, Carol, over small starts being the best hope. Allawi at least in his recent article made very clear the dangers of not making a go of things. Perhaps desperation will work where the corrupt intervention of others hasn't. I hope so, I hope so, I hope so. But it will need religious leaders to take a very, very strong stance for peace in every single country in the Middle East - Israel included. And where you have Israel, you have a lot of outsiders who take a very narrow view of the situation and support Israel no matter what, whereas a regional view, and a long term one, seems a necessity for peace.

    Will a change in the US government in three years be a chance for better things? Is that too far away? What will Blair's successor do? Keep a low profile, or get involved? And since the first, miserable, statement from the Sec Gen at the UN (Iraq is free to hang Saddam Hussein if it wants to) I haven't heard a peep from him. Will he improve? Time will tell I suppose.

  204. At 09:19 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Confused wrote:

    Mary, well thought out! Yes, I agree.

    One of the things that set me thinking years ago was talking to a crowd of my daughter's friends on the way home from primary school. None of them believed in God, so I asked them if they followed the ten commandments. They all looked surprised and then agreed "No" because these went with the religion they were rejecting. So I asked them what guidelines they used for deciding on right and wrong and after some thought they decided they went by what the majority of their friends thought. Not their parents, but their friends!

    It was following this that I made sure that my two knew the contents of the UN human rights document, because I really didn't think that 10 year olds, lovely as these were, were quite up to sorting it out for themselves.

    I wish that all primary schools, particularly the secular ones, didn't have to have a religious service which is often run by teachers who don't believe in what they're teaching, but do so because it's the law. Personally, I'd rather leave it to parents to teach the religious knowledge, or take them to a church, etc., and let schools teach decent behaviour, self-respect, respect for the rights of others, and the rule of law.

  205. At 09:29 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Ed (192) I was referring to the area which the Israelis are enclosing in order to try and prevent the entry of suicide bombers; they might call it "Israel".

    Difficult to read this thread now on dial-up. See you Monday, I expect.

    Epiphany today. Enjoy.

  206. At 10:15 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Power corrupts and wealth is power and
    Pioneering Study Shows Richest Two Percent Own Half World Wealth

    The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth according to a path-breaking study released today by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER).

    And, most of us here (admit it) are in the top 10%.

    So where do we go from here?

    Vaya con Gaia
    06/01/2007 at 22:14:32 GMT

  207. At 10:23 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Sorry you're on dialup, truly. Looking at the maps, it looks a lot like a huge animal pen, the largest openair prison in the world.

    Houb Salaam
    06/01/2007 at 22:27:00 GMT

  208. At 10:54 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Confused wrote:

    Had a quick look. This is based on assets less liabilities = wealth, so the UK with its high level of home ownership and high property values comes out looking better off than countries with historically low home ownership doesn't it? It doesn't really look at standards of living? I'm not an economist, mind you....

  209. At 11:20 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Carol wrote:

    Not so Confused,
    you are most kind and am equally moved by the perspective you shine light on.

    Not so mad Mary,
    I should preface the following by confessing that I am also an atheist in the literal sense but a believer in the symbolic sense. (Not a discussion for here).
    You also shine light on an extremely significant point that is relevant here because in all of these conflicts, people have used religion to try and endorse their position (and actions), including our leaders.
    We are all getting very close to the heart of the matter when it comes down to how we can collectively get an agreement on what is right and what is wrong in regard to how we proceed behaviourally.
    If we reduce right and wrong down to their deepest root, they can only be otherwise defined as that which is harmful and which is harmless. That, is the bottom line. It is not about me and mine but about the whole. What is harmless for the whole. Violence is not harmless.
    Imagine that you have two children in rivalry that you love equally. They despise each other for both rational and irrational reasons. Perhaps their conflict began wiith petty or selfish resentments and jealousy. At some point, long ago, one of them struck out in violence and the other struck back. This then evolved into a full on war. Both children have friends that support them. One child has friends that are bigger and stronger than the other. Both groups have lost sight of the origin of conflict and in the years that followed, both have now got genuine reasons for extreme grievance towards the other. Both are consumed with the desire to annihilate and or have dominant control over the other. Both have support in the belief that their grievance is so great, that any means what so ever is justified in order to achieve their emotion fueled ends. Both have given into and believe in the stick. (Violence and murder).
    Do you allow them to fight to the death because the majority of them believe in the stick or do you intervene? If you intervene, on what grounds do you do so?
    Most moral frames of reference have grown out of this dilema.
    Some moral frames of reference have grown out of religious belief and others have not. Most conclude that doing harm to another in order to get what one wants is wrong.
    Most of thoes engaged in violent conflict are too consumed with hate and or pain to care any more about having abandond their core beliefs. The more self consious of them try to misinterpret or mis quote from their belief systems (comitment to the U.N.D.C.H.R, Geneva Conv' or traditional/religious belief systems) in order to justify what is essentially a falling back into the primal animalistic drive: "get in my way and I will kill you".
    As Helen pointed out, the vast majority of all religious and moral frames of reference have a rejection of "the stick" at their core. They are fundamental and universal values
    As a loving heartbroken parent, how can you not but seek to find a value that is greater than; 'kill or be killed', regardless of the majority?

  210. At 11:35 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Confused wrote:

    I had a quick look at the UNU-WIDER paper, but it appeared to be based on assets - liabilities = wealth. It's based on different data from different countries and admits in several countries liabilities are under-reported, that non-profit organisations are lumped in with individual people, that some countries have no data for x, other countries for y, etc., etc. We have a traditional high level of owner-occupiers and high property values but another EU country will have lower property ownership. Different standard of living? You tell me. It could well be one of those reports in which spin-doctors delight. And froggers..... (joking, honest!)

  211. At 11:42 PM on 06 Jan 2007, confused wrote:

    Oops. Got the first one turned down because it was too soon after my last so sat reading more of the report, then tried to find the Israeli wall on Google Earth (and failed miserably) and then tried again. Sent it and hey presto! there was the first one up there. Read whichever one you like - sorry. Will it let this one through?

  212. At 11:57 PM on 06 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Confused, et. al.,

    I can't pretend to understand it fully, but they have gone through some complicated calculations to try and adjust for relative purchasing power, currency parities, ans such. We could probably have a week's seminar on the paper and still not fully comprehend it.

    For myself, i accept that 20% of us are in fact responsible for 80% of the annual harvest of resources, and that it is insane to expect that such a state of affairs can continue for long.

    Whether it takes wars, mass famine and pestilence, genocides, or whatever, Nature will re-balance, with or without our help or resistance. Dark times ahead are more likely than bright sunshine and flowers for happy folk, sadly, I fear.

    Whatever is coming, our position among the most powerful folk on the planet puts a very large responsibility on our plate. What we do (or neglect to do) will govern the fate of many, (as Gandalf said of Bilbo's act of mercy).

    I hope we are up to the task. I know there is no hope from governments of any stripe. It will come from people and neighbourhoods if it comes at all.

    Enjoy your warm beds and full bellies, as I will mine. Tomorrow's another day.

    Houb Salaam
    07/01/2007 at 00:01:44 GMT

  213. At 12:36 AM on 07 Jan 2007, confused wrote:

    Ed - I promise I won't give up my allotment just yet then. (Allotment garden that is, not my allotment of the world's wealth, though given my bank statement today showed I earned a grand total after tax of £4.30 in interest for the year I don't think that would make a lot of difference to the third world. I'm quite sure somebody's got it - but I'm also sure it's not me!)

  214. At 01:25 AM on 07 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Thanks for that, Carol and not-so-confused!

    The 'do no harm' ethic is deep and strong, but sadly observed in the breach more often than not.

    "It is not about me and mine but about the whole. What is harmless for the whole."

    I'm reminded of Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic:
    A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

    We are indeed getting near the heart of the matter.
    Sunday January 07, 2007 at 01:24:48 GMT

  215. At 02:00 AM on 07 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Part of the wall can be seen on GoogleEarth at
    32 31 03.09N 35 20 53.45E
    or you can find it in the East Jerusalem area, and you can see it in a lot of other places. Nowhere with as high definition as allowed for Heathrow (I wonder why).

    The less well-publicised "Eastern fence" is harder tofind, but its route is shown or implied on the B'Tselem maps. You can note that virtually all the fertile part of the Jordan plain is allocated to settlement municipal jurisdiction. (pale blue)

    As to property values and wealth, we may have high values, but we also have very high (alltime record) levels of indebtedness, both personal and institutional and government.

    A rare map of Palestine from 1946 is at
    signed in upper lefy by Moshe Dayan. Comparison with the map at
    will not help your sense of frustration.

    Almost all traces of the depopulated villages have been wiped out, and gthe folk living in Israeli towns, e.g. Asquelon, (was al Majdal (just north of Gaza) believe there was only sand and desert there before they came.

    As the Gush-Shalom animation says, official maps don't show the green line, or anything of non-Jewish historic note. They have been cleansed.

    Sunday January 07, 2007 at 02:04:16 GMT

  216. At 01:40 PM on 07 Jan 2007, confused wrote:

    Prince Hassan of Jordan would, I think, be a good person to be involved to pull the Middle East together. Vast experience (Hussein's younger brother), Sandhurst educated, turned down flat the throne of Iraq to which he would be first in line were the monarchy to be reinstated, was outspokenly anti-invasion of Iraq foreseeing all the problems that have evolved, and has written widely about his view of the way forward for the region - and the world. His website is a good starting point to learn more - https://www.elhassan.org/reg/media/articles.html

    Who else would be ideal representatives at a conference? Existing foreign secretaries, PM's and presidents I feel should not necessarily apply....

  217. At 02:27 PM on 07 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I've been an admirer of Hassan for a long time and thoroughly agree, especially with regard to the invites to sitting buttholes. I also suspect his voice is also one of those which stirs women in an indescribable way....

    Who else, indeed? Hassan was my favourite for UN S-G, had he been in the lists. Despite his almost total lack of charisma, I've got a lot of admiration for Menzies Campbell as a statesman, and he's been onside (i.e. ourside) from the beginning...

    The list is very short, eh? Alex Salmond is a longtime favourite of mine, for his sense of humour, and I believe he has the 'giftie' and can see himself...In fact, the Scots, as the only other minor ethnic group with almost as much instinct for achievement as the Jews, might be a good place to seek wise leadership.

    Why do Scots and Jews dominate world leaderships in business, finance and politics so far out of proportion to their numbers? Could it have to do with family values (nepotism, education, frugality, delayed gratification, etc.)?

    Did you see the Eisenhower clip I posted earlier? Now there's an example of statesmanship! Ironically, but for Lyndon Johnson's refusal (as Senate Majority Leader at the time), the USA would have gone into Vietnam to rescue the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954....Johnson argued that without a broader coalition, it would be disastrous.

    Sometimes I wish I weren't American, just so I could appreciate the irony.

    Sunday January 07, 2007 at 14:31:35 GMT

  218. At 01:19 AM on 08 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Only Jews could do this!
    Monday January 08, 2007 at 01:23:48 GMT

  219. At 09:38 AM on 08 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Ed (215)

    This certainly IS REALly frustrating. A huge map (which looks facinating) takes ages to download and is then too small to read!

    As for Jordan, always looks good. Was handed to King Abdullah by Britain in 1922, but it still did not stop violence of Arabs against the Jews inside what remained of the British Mandate.

  220. At 11:24 AM on 08 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I presume your browser is enabled to 're-size images', and does so automatically. Click on the image and your browser will render it back into the full size.

    If you click on the area of the (tiny) map you're interested in (in which your interest lies), you'll be zoomed in to that part of the map, which is indeed interesting, and has NO modern equivalents in Israel, I suspect, all official maps having been cleansed of all traces of non-Jewish history.

    Monday January 08, 2007 at 11:23:41 GMT

    The Zionist Organisations proposed borders for 'Israel' can be seen here.

  221. At 11:52 AM on 08 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Thanks, Ed. Good map. Not as big an area as allocated in Deuteronomy, and beyond the area currently claimed by the Israeli government, including buffer zones.

    I'll download the big map and browse it locally some time.

    I notice I omitted an "s" from fascinated previously. Pity one cannot amend one's entry after submission (as we can at work). But then there might be claims of "Oh, yes, you did [write...]." "Oh, no, I didn't."

  222. At 01:00 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    From the standpoint of defensible borders, the Zionist map may be a better proposition than the mandatory division between Palestine and Transjordan, but, of course gives the totality of the fertile (and mosquito infested) Jordan valley to 'Israel'. Better still, from a defensive viewpoint, is to draw the boundaries along watershed ridgelines, thus preventing either side exclusively controlling the high ground. Ridges and rivers have always made better boundaries than surveyor's straight lines.

    Of course, an 'Israel' in the shape proposed by the Zionist Organisation (or even in the shape of 'Palestine' as in the 1946 map) might have made a very sensible home and refuge for the Jews needing such, and if the promises made in the document had been kept to:

    ... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
    .... Promote Jewish immigration and close settlement on the land, the established rights of the present non-Jewish population being equitably safeguarded.
    The Mandatory Power shall encourage the widest measure of self-government for localities practicable in the conditions of the country

    There shall be for ever the fullest freedom of religious worship for all creeds in Palestine There shall be no discrimination among the inhabitants with regard to citizenship and civil rights, on the grounds of religion, or of race
    i.e. a secular and non-ethnoreligiously defined state, all might have gone quite differently, But Hitler intervened and attitudes hardened on both sides.

    I still find myself in complete agreement with the observations of those American Jews of 1919

    Ah, hindsight!

    M"onday January 08, 2007 at 12:53:44 GMT

    P.S. The Hope-Simpson report gives some perspective on the Palestine of 1930. Well worth a read if you're not already familiar with the material.

  223. At 03:14 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:


    I was looking at this bit last night (... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine ) and could not help thinking it could be used to render the preceding bit completely ineffective!

  224. At 03:40 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Treacherous Albion! "White Man speak with forked tongue!"

    Actually, to be fair, the Brits soon realised they were trapped by conflicting promises, and tried for decades to do as well as they could to balance the interests of the conflicting claimants, b ut you know what so often happens to someone who steps into the middle of a fight - think King David.

    In the interest of balance, the first link in the Hope Simpson intro should be followed. The report was comissioned to cover the Brits tracks as they began to try and re-balance, following the Arab riots of 1929.


    Zionism might have worked if there has actually been a 'land without people'....

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